Under a makeshift blue plastic roof, he stood wiping his brow, arranging and re-arranging the oranges. His precious wares gleamed and shone like colorful jewels in the mid morning sun. The time he scrubbed an apple till it shone reminded me of a cricket ball. Don’t bowlers polish their toy before flinging it to the batsmen? Ah. A little bit of cricket is good once in a while 😉
Well, he was a newbie but the stall was not. The baba from whom I usually buy my fruits was missing and in his place stood this diffident young man, with unsure hands and a shy gaze. As I headed towards them, he straightened his back and stood at attention. I smiled, assuring him I don’t bite.
“Apples ache dikh rahe hai”, I said. Apples look good.. He beamed. Immediately he grabbed a couple of apples and plonked them on the weighing scale. Oh! But I did not want any! I gestured him to stop and very sweetly but firmly told him that apples is not what I was looking for.
“Kya chaiye didi?”, he asked earnestly. What do you want
But I saw no strawberries on his little display. But wait, he was still arranging his exhibit, remember? So with a ‘fret-no-more-I-have-all-that-you-want’ look, he dived some where back and returned with a handful of luscious beautiful berry boxes! Not wanting to turn me away, he upped his sale and told me to buy 2 and get one free! I raised an eyebrow. It was the young man’s first day at work, and if he continued this way, it would most probably be his last.
Just one box is what I need, I requested. He thrust two in my grocery bag and stood at attention again. Sigh! Why do they have to look so young, so earnest, so innocent.
In all probability, six months down the line this same guy will turn smart(extra smart), crooked and dishonest. But for now he was still sincere and simply not aware of the wile ways of the wicked world.
I bought 4 boxes that day.
Coming back home, I kicked myself. He is not naive, you are – I muttered under my breath for the umpteenth time. 4 boxes!! Ridiculous. I hid them in my refrigerator so that I would quickly forget my manic act and get on to a more productive part of the day.
I did come back to those beautiful berries, but with a recipe in hand. I’m going to make Jam I announce to one and all at home – in all to my lime loving 6-year-old and an impassive husband who has not eaten a crystal of sugar in the last 6 months. Their indifference did not buckle my high-on-sugar spirit.
A recipe that simply calls for four ingredients and some flame time should not be let gone easily. If all goes well, this was definitely a keeper. I had all the stuff at home, vanilla, sugar, lime and of course the strawberries 🙂
To make 2 cups of Jam –
- 3 cups of chopped strawberries
- Extract of 1 vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
- 1.5 cups of sugar
- Juice of half a lime.
In a large pot, put all the ingredients – strawberries, the extract, sugar and lime juice. Bring it to a simmer over medium heat. I did not mash the jam, coz we like it chunky. But if you want it smooth, mash with the back of your ladle.
Stir well and bring it to a boil.Cook until it turns thick and glossy.
Note: To test if it is ready or not,place a spoonful of jam on a plate and place it in the fridge for a minute or two, if it is still runny cook for another 5 minutes and check again.
Let it sit for 10 minutes.Transfer the jam to a sterilized jar and cool to room temperature, before sealing the jar. (Refrigerate upto 10 days)
My daughter did lick a few spoonfuls because the aroma was so irresistible, but she refused it on bread. I satisfied my craving with a huge dollop on butter smeared bread, and it was SO good. It had been ages since I ate jam, I don’t even buy jam anymore because no one eats at my place. But since this was made at home, I gave in to the temptation.
I guess some flaky warm fresh croissants would do justice to this lovely jam. Hmm.. have to find a recipe for some croissants now, don’t you think? 🙂