For a month long of freezing cold weather and home confinement, I was silently hoping to witness spring soon and I am glad its here. Its not because I don't love winters, it's because I would love to venture out and explore this place more. Its because I have very little time to spend here and lots I would love to travel, sightsee and explore over the next two months. I wish to carve some beautiful memories and take them back home with me. And this probably is not possible if I stay indoors concealed in blankets to shelter from the cold.
There is an innate silence in this part of the world. Its far from the hustle bustle of city life that I am so accustomed to. I don't wake up to stressful mornings of chasing my daughter to wake up, brush and get her and myself ready to leave home early. Instead, I gleam in joy as I watch her sleep till late mornings. It's the sleep she deserves for her childhood. As I draw the blinds on the windows, bare trees stand tall and far till my sight can see. There is peace and serenity that's soothing to my mind and body. Its got me health and time to appreciate nature that I had been long awaiting for. Over the past week after the last snowfall, the sun emerged out of its hiding. It spread its warmth slowly and casually, bidding farewell to the last few patches of snow melting away steadily, giving way for the dry leaves and twigs from the fall to emerge from beneath. Spring is here and soon the trees will bloom new leaves for the season. And hopefully, it will stay on till I am here.
These winters made their way to some amazing recipes I managed to cook in my new home. Blessed with gas burners and a big oven, I used it fairly to cook and bake many dishes and wile away my time while indoors. Some pizzas and many pastas, some warm and comforting soups with grilled vegetables, perfecting some sinful chocolate chip cookies, trialing some delicious muffins and cupcakes, some that failed and I learnt, many I succeeded and won. Many of these I would love to share here with you all, as in case with this jam here. It's simple and easy to make and just under 3-4 ingredients. A bit of slaving over the stove many be intended, but its worth every effort.
For several years, Raspberry remained a fantasy fruit to me. Its not something we had seen or heard of in our part of the world. I had read them in books and novels as a kid where they appeared twined in stories - Noddy's love for raspberry and cream, the Famous Fives adventurous trips with their raspberry pops and tarts; often leaving me wonder if these were fancy meals that were made up for fantasy novels. I had little known then that Raspberries did exist in the real world and they indeed look dreamlike, beautifully pink and plump. Unfortunately, they don't store long. They mold easily and are subject to rot if not consumed soon. Instead, these jams make it up to trap their flavors and enjoy them over several meals. Addition of strawberries may be skipped totally and substituted to raspberries alone, but strawberries add deep pink hues and volume to the otherwise seedy raspberry jam.
Warm Spiced Raspberry & Strawberry Jam
1 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup strawberries, quartered
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. of all spices mix (a blend of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and nutmeg)
Wash and clean the berries thoroughly. Combine the raspberries and chopped strawberries in a heavy bottomed pan and heat till they begin to release their juices. Next add the sugar and cook over low heat, until the sugar is dissolved. Add the spice mix and continue to cook over low heat for 20 minutes, until the berries become soft and mushy. Allow the mixture to boil slowly stirring very often. Cook and reduce until a small amount of the jam gels on a cold plate and you are able to draw a line across it with your finger. The jam will thicken further as it cools. Allow to cool partially and pour carefully into glass jars. Cool completely and then close the lid. Use immediately or store refrigerated.