Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Jam and bread 

A while back, the charming and talented Bakerina offered a prize for identifying the source of this title. As I am good with Google (and a hint or two), I was the first to identify the song. I won! Among the several yummy edible prizes that I was offered were homemade lemon curd (Bakerina wrote a wonderful post about this, which for the life of me I can't find now) or damson plum jam. Now, I have made plum jam before, and while plums make a very nice jam, I thought that I knew all there was to know about plum jam. And so I asked for lemon curd, which I adore, but have never made.

Only days after choosing the lemon curd, I read Bakerina's lyrical essay on the very good thing that is damson plum jam. Have you ever developed a crush on a friend's new love - one whom you haven't yet met - just because of the way that she talks or writes about him? Well, I got a mad crush on damson plums just from reading Bakerina's paean to them. I thought about emailing her to ask if I could change my mind, and choose the jam instead. But no, I had made my choice, and for all that I knew, the lemon curd was already on its way west.

Instead, I started thinking about how I might get my own damson plums. We have been planning to completely tear out the landscaping (and I use the term loosely) around our house, and replant with a number of edible plants, including some small fruit trees. I found that Raintree Nursery, one of the best regional sources for fruit, nut and berry plants, sells damson plum trees. I figured that, if we planted a couple next spring, I might have plums in a year or two. Then I would make my own jam.

And then I learned that Bakerina had not yet sent the lemon curd. She was apologetic; I was thrilled. I could ask for damson jam instead! On Saturday, I received an email entitled "Release the biscuits," warning me that the jam was coming my way.

The jam arrived yesterday, a whole pint, carefully packed in bubble wrap. I held the jar up to the light in the kitchen; it was, as described, a beautiful magenta-purple shade. And I could tell by the movement in the jar that it was the sort of soft set that I prefer in jam - somewhere between syrup and the hard set of most commercial jams. I didn't think I could do it justice after dinner, so I saved it for this morning. (It is rare that I resist this sort of temptation, but I wanted to really savor it, rather than approaching it with a full stomach and dulled palate. That is one of the reasons that sometimes one really should eat dessert first.)

This morning, I warmed the brioche that I had acquired for this purpose, as sadly I do not have time to make biscuits on weekday mornings. While it was warming, I opened the jar of jam. I heard and felt that perfect hollow pop of the seal breaking. When I removed the lid, there was a marvelous aroma of fruit, and a hint of flowers. (Old fashioned roses, the kind that have a slightly spicy scent.) I took the brioche out of the oven, and pulled it open. I spooned jam onto the brioche.

And then I made myself stop, and take a picture.