beautiful red number 6

Two more reasons why this April has changed my life for the better. The much much better:

1) I now have a nephew. Yes!!! He's a week-and-a-half old and so tiny. I've spent much of this week memorizing his perfect face.

2) Number six from the list. It happened yesterday. Oh my.

Like I said, I've been at my sister's place a lot this week. It hasn't been a week for writing, but it has been a week for living. Living so that there's something to write about. My next book will be peppered with nephews and jam-makers. Quite sure about this.

Yesterday, after some quality time with stuffed animal acrobats (my niece's stuffed white rabbit can do a wicked cartwheel, that's all I'm saying), I collapsed next to my sister on the sofa. Niece and nephew both napping; she in her room, he on my sister's lap.

And as I looked down at him, Adrienne and I had a conversation that went something like this:

Me: You're the mother of two! That's so crazy! That's so awesome!
Her: Also crazy: I have two pounds of strawberries in the fridge.
Me: Whoa. ... Let's make jam.

I used this recipe, and found it supereasy. You mash a bunch of strawberries, sprinkle some sugar and pectin into it, squeeze a bit of lemon, boil it, and let it cool. I mean ... so easy.

Even after the stuffed animal olympics. And with half a brain functioning. It was still easy.

We tasted it before it had cooled properly, spooning bits of jam on some quality bread. We popped that bread-and-jam into our mouths and then burst out laughing. In spite of the sleeping infant on her lap.

This is true: Wide-eyed laughter is my highest compliment to a recipe. Laughing over food usually means: We Just Made Something Good.

And this strawberry jam, my friends. Oh. It's just so good. Really. You'll laugh too.

(Some of the reviewers on that recipe say that it makes for a runnier jam than they'd like. And yes, I needed to spoon this over bread. But we were all too busy exclaiming at the astonishingly good flavor to say "hey, wish it was jellier." Besides, it thickened a little more overnight. So, no complaints here.)

You really must try it. So easy, so impressive, and it will make you think of summer and all things good.

If you're very very lucky, you'll also get to watch your niece smear it all over her cheeks.

A strawberry jam grin is a beautiful thing.

I may or may not have made a few ultra-lame jam puns. (A strawberry jamboree? Jam sessions? I wouldn't have said such things, would I?)

I may or may not have eaten this jam by the spoonful.

I may or may not have licked my plate clean, like a four-year-old.

Oh toast. The newest fine dining experience.

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