Have you seen the uber antique reality show "Pioneer Quest"? It was filmed in Canada in the early 2000s (See? It's practically vintage.), and the two couples chosen to participate had to live in the middle of the Canadian prairie for a year, using only the tools and animals and clothes that would have been available in the mid-1800s.
They built log cabins and learned how to plow a field with the help of two draft horses and canned venison and survived the coldest winter in 120 years by burning wood they split pretty much non-stop with their own two hands.
Chris immediately decided we should re-up the show and started mentally rehearsing how he'd build a barn and where the chickens would stay and what to feed the cow and why hay wasn't enough to keep the horses from losing weight over the winter.
I was just enthused he thought I could make it for a year living like a pioneer. Personally, the insane amount of mosquitoes, the poison ivy and the unending rain would have done me in about 30 seconds. I'd have been like those women you read about who went nuts living in their little shanties on the prairie and wandered off into blizzards with no coat, only to be found frozen to death months later.
Yeah. I'm that girl.
Since -- Lord willing -- we'll never star in a reality show that apparently didn't take off, canning is as close a second as I'll get.
The ladies on Pioneer Quest canned meat and beans. I'm over here with blackberry jam -- blackberries courtesy of the neighbors -- and feeling pretty good about it. No one's asking me to stick diced partridge in a jar, and I'm not complaining about that. I didn't even have to split the neighbor's firewood for a winter in return for the berries. Winning!
Thanks to my mom's recipe, air conditioning, electricity to keep the stove nice and hot, and the Internet to remind me about headspace, our pantry is now filled with jam to sustain us during the long, hard winter.
Or the winter where we'll sit in our warm house drinking hot coffee, not worrying a bit if the pig will survive the freezing weather or when the outhouse seat will thaw.
We've got it pretty good after all, haven't we?
Black Raspberry Jam
5 cups prepared fruit (buy about 2 quarts fully ripe black raspberries)
1 box fruit pectin
1/2 tsp. butter
6 1/2 cups sugar
Bring canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready for use.
Crush black raspberries thoroughly, one layer at a time. Strain half of pulp to remove some of the seeds, if desired. Measure 5 cups prepared fruit into 6-8 quart sauce pot.
Stir pectin into prepared fruit in sauce pot. Add butter to reduce foaming. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim off any foam with a metal spoon.
Ladle into prepared jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with lids. Screw bands tightly and place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner so that water covers jars by 1-2 inches. Cover. Bring water to a gentle boil. Process 10 minutes. Remove jars and place upright on a towel to cool. After jars have cooled, check seals by pressing middle of lid with finger. If lid springs back, lid is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.