I don't prefer jelly, but I will eat some on toast as long as I don't have to eat any more than necessary. Jelly is just too congealing. Jam, on the other hand is a better spread.
IF I WRITE about a certain product, about whether it performs as advertised or about how I just recently discovered that it's to my liking, I do so because I'm convinced it's good and believe it deserves recognition.
No one pays me to write about a product. I receive no gratuity from those who control them. I'm not saying I've never been offered any. I'm saying I never accept them. To do otherwise would compromise the integrity of this column. And I love to write.
I'm not talking about humorous articles, our goofy, talking, summa cum laude, computer wise hounds or other silly, humorous columns I've written over the years that are so imaginative it would take naïve individuals who have led sheltered lives all their years to believe them. No! Those are for entertainment, nothing more.
I'm referring to the fish fries I choose during lent, the best of the summer sweet corn I've tasted, the restaurant that serves an unbelievable dish or other products I've tried … or even an outstanding homemade pie.
A few weeks ago I raved over the silver and gold sweet corn that Andy Figley grows and sells at his Figaro Farms vegetable and fruit store on East Turkeyfoot Lake Road in the Portage Lakes. Figley never knew I was writing the article. He found out after customers told him. Today I'm about to share with you another product.
Save for huckleberries (of which I'm not that fond), I love fresh berries – blueberries, strawberries, elderberries, wineberries, black raspberries … you name them. Of all, red raspberries, which we always called wineberries, are okay but to me, they're not quite as tasty as the black ones. My next favorite is the blackberry.
I also enjoy toast. I don't prefer jelly, but I will eat some on toast as long as I don't have to eat any more than necessary. Jelly is just too congealing.
Jam, on the other hand is a better spread. But most of the time jams have those little tiny seeds that get stuck between your teeth and it takes you until your social security checks start arriving to remove them. But Smucker has seedless jams and that's what I buy; either seedless black raspberry or seedless blackberry jams.
Recently, while accompanying my wife shopping, I remembered we were low on jam. To the jam aisle I trotted, hoping to find at least one jar of Smucker's Seedless Black Raspberry Jam. Instead, I discovered a new item. At least it was new to me.
"Smucker's Seedless Black Raspberry/Blackberry Jam," the label on the jar read.
"What's this?" I said to myself, only out loud. "A marriage of my two favorite berries in one jam, and seedless no less.”
Page 2 of 3 - Others in the same aisle stopped shopping and immediately stared my way, noticing there was no one with me and wondered whom it was I was addressing. They might even have wondered how long my unassisted leave of absence was from the Funny Farm. One elderly gentleman gave me the strangest of looks; some of which I couldn't describe if I wanted to.
"I've never seen anything like this," I spoke to myself again, only more delightfully.
This time the others pretended I wasn't there. They turned their collective heads, almost on cue, and returned to their shopping. Very nonchalantly, each one placed an item or two from a shelf into their cart and made a beeline for other aisles elsewhere in the store.
"And I may never see anything like it again," I continued speaking freely. "My two favorite flavors! I better stock up with a baker's dozen."
In short time, Peggy showed up next to my side. After witnessing the mad exodus of shoppers from the jams and jellies area to other different spots in the store, my wife heard them discuss "that stranger who spoke to no one about his favorite jams" and suspected I was behind the controversy.
“Frank, why don't you just try one?" she recommended after seeing 13 jars of the jam in my cart. "Then, if you like it, we can always buy another jar," she diplomatically suggested.
"If I like it? It's Black Raspberry/Blackberry jam. It's seedless and it's Smucker's. What's not to like?” I asked.
Not one to openly argue in public, she commented, "Well I suppose it looks as if we'll be eating toast smothered heavily with your jam all winter."
"Hold it. Hold on one second," I said, holding up my opened palm. "What's this 'we'? You don't mean I'm to share this with you, do you?"
She nodded her head in the affirmative.
Well, folks, I'm not ashamed to admit I was abso-tutely-lutely mohr-ti-fied that she'd even think of such a proposal. After all, it wasn't elderberry, her favorite. Besides, I certainly didn't recognize any promise of this sort in the marriage vows we took almost 41 years ago.
From the stern look on her face I realized I was treading on thin ice and tried for a recovery.
"But you don't eat foods loaded with sugar," I reminded her. "And because you're diabetic, I'm concerned, Sweety." This time, in a struggle to save face, I used that wrinkled forehead look of deep worry, and then added, "Or have you forgotten?"
Before agreeing with her suggestion of buying just one jar, and to fully convince her of my concerns, I gently slipped all the jars in my cart but one directly behind the Huckleberry jelly jars on the shelf, the ones with seeds. This way I could be assured of buying some when I return alone … for more.
Page 3 of 3 - Well, after all that, I tried it folks, and it was simply delicious. My mother, God rest her soul, made wonderful Pennsylvania Dutch jellies and jams, and I loved them. But if she were still alive I'd be at deep risk writing this. After all, hers were never quite as good as Smucker's Seedless Black Raspberry/Blackberry Jam.
At home I removed the label and slipped a hand written one on the jar. It read "Sour Huckleberry Jelly With Many Small Seeds," and beneath it I added, "Fresh if used before 1983." Then I hid it way in the back on the refrigerator's third shelf. It's directly behind the big yellow container of mustard, mayo, the bread and butter pickle jar and the tall, red catsup bottle. No one will ever find it.
Next time I'll buy a case.
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