I had the good fortune this week, to happen across some bargain strawberries, what I would call ‘jamming’ strawberries. These over ripe jammy delights were soon in my Maslin pans and bubbling away. It’s been a while since I got time to make strawberry jam, or indeed any jam for that matter and I had forgotten how much I enjoy the simple pleasure of preserving what is in seasonal abundance.
As I stirred my sweet smelling, bubbling pan of strawberries, I reflected over how much preserving I used to do and indeed how little I do now. Indeed I wrote a book back in 2014 called ‘The Pleasure of Preserving’ and I used to be the ultimate ‘hedge botherer’, out at every opportunity to pick the seasonal delights from the hedgerow and spending plenty of time preparing vinegars, jams, conserves and of pickles. Since the days that I wrote my book on preserving my life has changed dramatically; my two little ones that were featured in the book hedgerow picking with me are now much older, with Olivia being nine years old and Hattie starting senior school next month and of course another three babies have been born since my book and they have more than filled the time that the preserving pan might once have claimed.
Indeed as I prepared my strawberries for the jam pan with the help of my three year old, Beatrice, I reflected over how it seemed like only yesterday that it was Harriet in the same little apron happily hulling and eating the strawberries. As I spooned my batches of strawberry jam into the warmed jars, I couldn’t help becoming a little nostalgic about the passing of the years. It is often uttered that children grow so fast, but I don’t think any parent really comprehends the true meaning behind the words, until their babies are suddenly in the same shoe size as them and the reality of them growing up hits home.
I have been a very busy, working mum and probably like every other parent on the planet, I can’t help feeling that there are a lot of things I haven’t done and lots of plans that never came to fruition. It got me thinking about the importance of life and of making time for the little things that we enjoy. It’s funny how making a batch of strawberry jam took me on a little trip down memory lane and yet I am not surprised because food and drink are often the things that we attach our memories to; indeed food is not just fuel for the body but is often an edible memory. One of my latest book commissions is on nostalgic food and it’s one that I will relish writing, because when it comes to food we all have very vivid memories attached to specific dishes; whether that be a grandmother’s apple pie, school custard or a parents roast dinner.