At last, the timer made its distinctive beeping sound to let me know it was done. I sprinted down the hallway to the kitchen where on top of the counter top, heaven was awaiting me. I opened the lid, then used some mittens to pull the hot pan from the machine. A loaf of fresh bread was ready to be devoured at 9:30 PM.
It was unintentional to eat such a treat so late in the evening. That's usually when we are turning out the lights for bed, since we are up at 6:00 AM for Hubby to go to work. But one cannot simply let fresh homemade bread go to waste. I had started the batch in my wonderful bread machine (thanks, Sara!) as soon as I got home from my afternoon task. A task so full of delicious smells and laughter that it brought back countless memories of being a kid in my Grandma's kitchen in Ideeho. She was the Grandma who always had the sugar-filled cereal waiting for us when we arrived, knowing it wasn't something we ate at home. She was so neat. But my favorite treat by far was her homemade Freezer Strawberry Jam.
Yesterday, my sister and I had concocted a batch of the same stuff. I ended up with six small jars of jam that are even now basking in my freezer ready to be consumed. No doubt, it won't take long. I laughed after asking my sister how long they would last in the freezer before spoiling...there's no way in the world these little jars of goodness will make it even close to that time period. We ate half a jar alone last night for our night cap before bed. Can it possibly get any better than hot bread, smothered in butter, then topped with homemade strawberry jam? I could think of nothing more wonderful last night as we ate in silence only broken by our "mmmmmm" sounds during each bite.
This was my first jam-making experience, and I would certainly call it a success. We first stopped at Wally World to get the plastic freezer jars and the Ball Fruit Pectin, which uses half as much sugar as the other brands. Next, we were off to Costco to buy four pounds of strawberries a piece. The ones I didn't use for the jam are cut up in my fridge and are going to be a perfect snack later today. With all the necessary supplies in hand, we went to T'liese's house to make our batches. I cut up strawberries for what seemed like six hours while she put Evan down for a nap. T'liese brought out her Cuisinart Food Processor, which has been on my want-list for ages. It sure made our job easy by pulsating the strawberries into a smooth, yummy strawberry emulsion ready to be added to the pectin / sugar combination. After stirring for three minutes, we were ready to put the goodness into the small jars. We let the jars rest at room temperature for half an hour then placed them into the freezer. I left one out because I knew I was going to make bread as soon as I got home.
The first bite was indescribable. I really felt like I was sitting at my Grandma's huge kitchen table, watching her cook cracked wheat for our breakfast, and listening to her hum as she worked. What a magical lady. I can't believe she's been gone for over ten years. Thanks for making yesterday so special, Grandma.
From now on, I don't think I'll be able to wait the full ten minutes of necessary cooling from the time the loaf of bread pops out of the machine to be able to cut it into slices. Not when I have Freezer Strawberry Jam waiting to go on top! What a treat!