See, I really love foods that score high on the acerbic acid scale. Give me bitter over sweet any day. Give me bittersweet, and you will see a woman with a tablespoon leaning over an entire casserole dish of rhubarb crisp refusing to share because "it's poisonous."
And then something miraculous happened. I stumbled upon a rhubarb apricot jam recipe last year and knew I had to try it. Those two together were bound to have enough sour in them to turn my entire mouth inside out. I was all about it.
I think I told you a couple months back that I thought the apricot tree had made it through the cold weather with its dream of fruit still intact. It didn't. In fact, there are fewer fruits and blossoms on just about everything this year. (I'll find out why one of these days. Once you start growing stuff and watching nature grow stuff, you're always asking yourself, "Now why would God make it work that way?" It's like unpacking a little of the Creator's heart when I discover a garden secret.)
Anyway, the jam.
Let me explain the recipe: Marry 6 cups of rhubarb and 6 cups of apricots. Don't worry. They'll get along just fine because you are going to sweeten their relationship with...uhhum...8 cups of sugar. Okay, I can see all you moms out there who only use 1/2 a cup of sugar in your koolaid throwing up your arms or possibly unfriending me on facebook. Let me ask you this, if you knew that all it took for you to get along with each other was 8 cups of sugar, wouldn't you eat the sugar? That's what I thought. You only live once. Sugar is not even close to being the enemy here. Shoot even lower, folks. You can fill a cavity, but you can't fill the time you lost worrying about tooth decay.
The other challenge attached to this recipe is that you have to stir it for an entire hour, nonstop. I'll tell you a secret. I love stirring. I love the slow movement of the wooden spoon, the open space of a kitchen window and the world beyond it, and an excuse to stand in one place for longer than 3 minutes.
And after you've stirred and stirred, and you've felt your own heart stirred in the process, the consistency thickened, strengthened and sweetened in the slowness of jam-making, you'll be looking at 5 pints of the best jam you've ever had in this "one wild and precious life."*
*from a poem by Mary Oliver