i believe it is safe to say that spring is finally here. we are getting more rain and showers and the grass is turning the deep dark green with the bright green highlights that normally mean new growth! (and the pollen – always the pollen).
the other day i was washing a rag out in the utility room sink and looked out in to the backyard and there were dots of dark purple all over. i smiled a little bit. a few days later i went on the screened in porch and was welcomed by a sea of purple mixed with different shades of green covering out back yard. i smiled a lot.
i have a ton of fond memories of visiting tn when i was younger. from playing with all the animals i got to play with and feeding all of them, to playing in the dirt at the green house and helping people load their cars with their plants, and “camping” in the back yard, and baking bread and cakes, and visiting different historical sites and horse creek and the hands no museum….i could list out a ton of things that i remember doing and seeing without really having to think about it or search my memory for it. but there are things that aren’t on the tip of my memory that a sight or sound or smell with instantly pull from deep inside and brings it flowing out. seeing that sea of purple reminded me of picking violets for jelly. when we first moved into the house i looked and looked for the recipe for dee dee’s violet jelly but couldn’t find it. it made me sad, but went towards the back of my mind. when i saw all that purple i knew my window for making the jelly was slim so i found a different one and compared it with mom’s memory and realized that it would be close enough if it wasn’t the exact same. we used to give jelly to our teachers for Christmas since it was an easy gift (at least for us) and when i would tell people about it the first question is “what does it taste like?” my answer is i don’t know how to explain it. it is unique and in my weird opinion it taste like purple…all of these answers made andy raise his eyebrow (and i am sure start researching some mental institutions).
i told andy i wanted to make violet jelly and he was excited about it (he has been on a kick to raise our own food and be independent – which i think is mostly a joke but it would be fun to have a garden and have some fresh veggies) so he was like YES let’s make jelly! i think he became worried when i got a bucket and said ok we have to pick violets. he seemed concerned about eating weeds but was more concerned about not helping me i believe. we picked violets and picked them and picked them until we had enough to make one batch. as i was sitting in the middle of the yard picking them i realized why dee dee had me and will pick them…it seems like it takes forever to get enough to do anything with and i am sure she wanted to hurt us when we got done because you are only supposed to have the flower part and no stem or grass and i know that when will and i helped we got handfuls of grass and stems…
i had to use google a lot to understand the recipe…like steep….did you know that doesn’t always mean a sharp incline it can also mean to soak something in boiling water to extract flavors (you knew that? oh…) we also had to go buy some cool things to be able to do it. i had to buy some little jars (which took us the longest to pick out because i didn’t want a certain size but andy didn’t like the design on the ones i wanted so we compromised and got
the ones he wanted some cute ones. we had to get a “canning” starter pack with instructions, a jar grip, a magnetic wand (which is awesome), a funnel, a jar rack and recently a larger pot since ours were all too small. we didn’t get cheese cloth…couldn’t find it so we improvised and used a coffee filter and that worked fine (as far as we know).
before we started making it i freaked out a few times. i was worried that we would mess it up and poison ourselves if we ate it. i was worried that it wouldn’t be as good as i remembered it being. i was worried that i wouldn’t boil something long enough or that my water wasn’t the right depth or temperature and so i freaked out a few times (like when the juice was blue and i thought it should have been purple). andy got beyond his weariness about cooking weeds so he calmed me down and said we would make it together. (he is so good to me). and of course i took pictures to document our process.
after our first batch when andy’s back was turned i tasted the jelly on a spoon and it was instant flash back. it was exactly how i remembered it. we completed the first batch and had enough to do a second and so we did. when we got done we stood back and andy had the bright idea that we were going to go into business making jelly! (yea right). but we had to have a name and thus cow lick jelly company was born. (we decided that if it isn’t good you can at least use it for hair gel to make cow licks).
the next night we made breakfast for dinner and debuted our jelly. it was WONDERFUL! andy said it was good! we have had it a few more times (breakfast again and snack).
we picked a few more violets for more batches and froze the juice so that we can make more later on. i am going to pick some more soon and do another batch so that i can be sure i have enough juice saved up for “emergency batches” when we need them for gifts or for toast! our last time picking we were done and walking back to the house when i saw the most beautiful purple bloom and bent down and reached for it and when my fingers were almost there something reared back and scared me to death. my first thought was cobra (because of the way it jerked up) after i screamed and cussed (it is a good thing we don’t have neighbors) and andy got right next to me i was able to see that it was actually a HUGE crawdad. it was a foot long (ok maybe 3 inches) but it scared me half to death. we relocated it near the creek instead of in the middle of the yard. but i got my purple flower and that will be the difference when we make that batch.
i will say that after making it and tasting it i was pleased with how it turned out (color and taste). i am anxious for my family to taste it and see if it is what they remember too.