There is a song by Michelle Shocked, called “Strawberry Jam.” The recording of it that I’ve heard is a live recording, in which she introduces the song by saying, “If you want the best music, much as I love playing it for you, you’ve got to make your own.”
If you’ve ever made homemade jam, and I have, you know that it is not even in the same league as store bought jam. This is especially true if you make a flavor that you can’t get in the store.
That’s what life is like, isn’t it? We buy our jam from the store, just like most people, and enjoy the flavors that are there. Then we sit down to lunch with someone, and they pull out a sandwich unlike anything we’ve ever seen before: toasted bread, with bright yellow jam flecked with purple seeping out the side.
“What’s that?” we ask.
“Lemon Lavender Marmalade,” they beam.
“Is it good?” we ask.
They just nod before taking a bite, closing their eyes, and sighing in contentment while they chew.
“Where did you buy that?” we ask.
They swallow and chuckle. “I made it.”
Some of us will ask for a recipe that we’ll add to our collection but never make. Some of us will take that recipe with the best of intentions but lose the recipe before we get around to making it. Some of us will try to make it, and it won’t set. Some of us will say, “I don’t know how to make jam,” and leave it at that.
Only a few of us will take the time and the trouble to make that Lemon Lavender Marmalade as many times as we need to until we get it right. And that’s a shame. Once you know how to make jam, and you go though the time and trouble to make it yourself, and you get to taste that jewel bright edible delicacy – you will be changed. You won’t see the jam making process as intimidating, time consuming, or risky.
You’ll see it as a challenge. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment. You’ll get to enjoy that wonderful flavor no one else gets to eat. You might even go one step farther and start making your own bread.
After that, the sky is the limit. You create new jam recipes. You create new flavors. You start a business selling that jam. Suddenly you realize you’ve become the Jam King or Jam Queen.
You decided it was possible. Then you decided to figure out how to do it. Then you tried it again and again until you succeeded. Maybe you needed to adjust the recipe. There is a reason that there are “high altitude baking instructions” on packaged cake mixes. Whatever else happened, you kept at it and made it work.
Just like enjoying the best jam, if you want the best life, you’ve got to make your own.
Because my mouth is watering as I type this, and because Lemon Lavender Marmalade really is a delicious thing that I’ve made before, here’s the link to the recipe. Trust me, it is very much worth the effort to make it.