The story of the Town Mouse and the Country Mouse continues to nibble on my thoughts from time to time, in spite of the fact that I read it more than a decade ago. The disparity between country life and town life has perhaps grown slightly less distinct in the UK these days, or at least for where I live, with woods that back onto railway lines taking you directly to London and friends that walk their dogs while sharing hopes to move to the financial capital.
Maybe it was because I live a stone’s throw from fields and I spent a lot of time outside – acting out Age of Empires with my twin, princesses on horseback wandering through deep woods on the way to a castle – but I always took the country bumpkin side. Summer after summer I dreamed, naively, about spending a week or two living in the gazebo at the bottom of the garden in some sort of Bohemian tranquillity, living on berries. First off, there is no bed in said gazebo. Second, there are no curtains. Third, I can hardly imagine that my voracious appetite would be satisfied by eating the two muddy berries that probably arrived in our garden via an animal’s behind. It was not one of my most practical ideas.
Nonetheless, I love being in the fresh air and surrounded by leaves and green and brown. I also love the feeling of having something homemade or home-grown on my plate. Mum and Dad’s greenhouse tomatoes always had the most beautiful scent of any tomato I’ve ever had my nose pressed against. While I have never really relied too much on ready-prepared things, making my own pasta sauce and whatnot, I want to improve my ability to do this. So, the other day I made jam.
It would have been better if I had picked the fruit myself, but frozen did the trick. I used mixed forest fruit and dumped some sugar on top, without any clue of quantity because I have no scales here. Anyway, it set beautifully and was slightly more tart then shop-bought jam but so much fresher and fruiter. Spread on a freshly-baked baguette, I felt like a country mouse with my red berries. Plus, it was so easy! Boil the fruit and sugar until it won’t stop bubbling even when you stir it, then let it simmer for some minutes until it is the consistency you like.
It has really made my mornings having my own jam for breakfast in the mornings and it’s super that the number of ingredients was miniscule in comparison to shop jam. So, my inner country mouse was squeaking with delight. Find yours with your own home-made jam today.