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Rose Petal Jam

When we’re in England, we spend a lot of time at my in-laws’ house in the countryside. It’s an old oast house, and my husband says that judging by the plumbing it was built in 200 BC. It’s also rumored to be haunted, which freaks me out, because you know that some old 16th century English ghost is going to take a look at me and go, “Hey look! A Chinese person! I want to talk to her!”

At the oast house lives a dog, Musty. My kids beg me 382.7 times a day on average for a dog, and when we’re over they make it their personal mission to be Musty’s personal trainer, working with him for 90% of the day. They start with a morning run through the fields, during which Musty is required to fetch sticks through wheat, streams and over equestrian-type obstacles.

Here, my father-in-law Chris observes a never-ending game of fetch, shortly before Musty begged for mercy.

I write about Musty to offer these quality personal training services to your dogs. I’m not ready to commit to a pet, so it would be a great help if there are canine volunteers out there looking for some endurance training.

One thing you see a lot of in English gardens is roses.

And these flowers, whose name I forget, so I’m just going to call them St. Agnes Himmyhocks, because it just feels right.

My mother-in-law, Georgina, who is as famous as I am usually famished, had an idea that we should make rose petal jam with the roses in the garden. So she and the girls went around the garden and gathered petals.

They smelled soooo good.

Start by prepping a syrup of sugar, water and lemon juice and let it boil down until syrupy.

Throw in the rose petals — we had mostly pink but some blue (violet) roses which added some nice color — and let them boil 20 minutes.

Once we were done boiling we found that the petals were still rubbery, so Georgie ended up fishing them out of the jam.

I know, that’s not really the right picture for what I just said, but I didn’t get a picture of that.

The result? A brilliant violet-colored jam that tastes like it smells — a wonderful combination of the sweetness of roses and the brightness of lemon. Up top you can see that I had it drizzled over vanilla ice cream with raspberries on top…divine!

There are a number of different recipes online for rose petal jam, some of which involve soaking the petals in advance, or coating them with sugar overnight — they may result in softer petals and perhaps you would be able to leave them in. We haven’t yet experimented with those. But this one was lovely all the same. See how happy Georgina is with the jam?



  • 1/2 lb rose petals, rinsed, brown petals removed
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 3 1/2 TBSP pectin


Combine water, sugar and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add in pectin and simmer for 2-3 minutes longer.

Add in rose petals and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Jam will begin to take on the color of the petals. With a slotted spoon, fish out petals, pour jam into jars allowing room for expansion, and cover with jar lid. Allow to cool and use or freeze (tip: if you freeze, use only jam jars with straight sides to avoid glass breakage from jam expansion).

Makes 2 1/2 – 3 jars.

Anyone else experiment with rose jam? Would love to hear your suggestions!


Want Some Protein With That?

You think back to the fresh mulberry pie you had last year. You go to your friend’s house and pick mulberries. You wash them inside with your friend who informs you that after soaking, refrigeration drives the maggots out of the berries. You look closely at the berries and watch in vivid horror and fascination the writhing of fruit fly larvae. You cannot unsee this. You put the mulberries in the freezer because Google tells you that this kills the maggots. You pull them out of the freezer and stare at them because you realize that though the maggots are dead, their carcasses remain.

Do you eat the berries? Do you make your pie and jam?

Kathie’s garden: where it began. If you think it looks massive and amazing and like a vacation destination, that’s because it is. In this picture it looks like ancient China to me. Not that I know what ancient China looked like, but that shouldn’t stop me from making similes. Because I’m probably not going to make the jam.

The mulberries have been out of the freezer and in the fridge now for a couple of days. I know we eat two pounds of bugs a year without knowing it. A friend argues that I eat escargot, it is sort of like a really big maggot, but I counter that when I eat escargot,  I am eating it on purpose (and anyway, I haven’t had it since the Great Snail Jihad of 2006, where I battled an infestation in my back yard).

I begin to rethink this whole organic thing. I text Kathie.

ME: Still scared of the mulberries. Want them back? And in other news, a mulberry plant started growing in my yard. It’s mocking me.

KATHIE: If you haven’t eaten them by now, toss them. The maggots are disturbing. Better to sleep well at night.

ME: OK. Read online that we should go for the fruit that’s less ripe. Was reading online that the larvae secrete ripening agents that ripen the fruit. Ewwwww.

KATHIE: Good to know for next year. Just remember, you ate the larvae last year from your friend’s tree. You just didn’t know it until I pointed it out.

I flashback to an image of her trying to pick a maggot off of a berry, but it’s only halfway out. “The rest is stuck inside,” she says.

Ew. Would you use these berries?

Cooking Food

Strawberry-Raspberry Dessert Jam


Things have picked up for me on the work front and I am kind of embarrassed to even mention that I might have a food blog. The days have been frenzied and though I have had the luxury most of this past week to work from home, I am ashamed to say that I have eaten the following things for lunch:
  • One of my husband’s Men’s vitamins
  • Frozen dinosaur chicken nuggets
  • Burnt (because I wasn’t paying attention) fried eggs
  • Jam
Yup, jam, like straight. off. the. spoon.
The way I ended up with this jam is that my friend Leesa and I spent a morning hiking the canyon in our neighborhood a while back, and she started talking about the jam that her grandmother used to make. Strawberries are going strong right now in our area, so we decided afterwards to head to the store to get a bunch. If this were a reality show I’m sure the ratings would be really high on this episode where we talked about the grocery store strawberry sales.

So we bought strawberries and made this jam.

Did I mention Leesa, raised Mormon, is my personal tutor on Mormon swearing? Frickin’ frickster!

Motherfather this is good jam!

And so easy. Cut up berries til you get 4 cups worth.  I used a 50/50 mix of strawberries and raspberries.

 Toss them with pectin and sugar.

I know, my pictures are always blurry after I type “sugar”.

Boil for a minute and then put into a glass jam jar.

My family went through three jars in about as many days. This works really well if you have tart berries too — I like my jam a little tangy, which is why I mixed in raspberries.

It is fabulous as jam. As a topping on ice cream. As a topping on strawberries (I really did that). And of course, all by itself (nutritional value not provided).

Now the recipe:

STRAWBERRY-RASPBERRY DESSERT JAM (adapted from ANY-BERRY JELLY featured in August 2011 FamilyFun magazine)


  • 2 cups crushed raspberries
  • 2 cups diced and crushed (use a potato masher) strawberries
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3.5 TBSP powdered pectin


Put berries in a large, heavy pot and mix with sugar and pectin. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.

Let berries cook at a boil for about a minute, and then ladle into jars, leaving an inch of headroom for expansion if freezing. Cap, cool to room temperature and eat it like there is no tomorrow.

Makes 3-4 cups.