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Friday, June 29, 2007

Bullet Jam

Every year after the last day of school the children and I have our own version of a "Strawberry Social". This is an important bonding time for all of us. I gather up all the baskets we own and we trot off to the local PYO (Pick Your Own) field. In order to have my children understand how to pick berries, they have to taste them. They try an over ripe berry - one with no blemishes. An over ripe berry has a slight funny bitter aftertaste and squishes when picked. An under ripe berry makes them pucker and makes their mother laugh.

When we're in the field, it's a constant PR campaign to have them engaged. I tell them stories about when I was young (queue violins) and we would pick wild strawberries. Each one was so tiny it took forever to fill a basket but the jam my mother made had an intense pure strawberry taste.

Then came the year of the bullet jam. We picked strawberries one year when it had been particularly dry. The end of the berry was packed with seeds since the lack of rain never swelled the fruit to its full potential. Wild strawberries are a scarce commodity and my mother did not want to waste any part of the berry. She hulled the berries but left the tightly clustered seed end intact. She mashed the berries and made a terrific tasting jam - but the little seed clusters did not break apart. They remained intact. We teased her by always asking for the "bullet" jam. However, we never stopped inhaling it. It was that good.

The social part of our "Strawberry Social" is the enjoyment my children get out of the teamwork of a job well done..... hey, I'm building character here - I'm not an amusement park.

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