Make New Habits, but Keep the Old

June 5, 2008

I have what one might call a slight magazine problem. I like them. A lot. Too much, really. I suppose it’s not that surprising, seeing as though I was a journalism major in college, with a magazine concentration. The food magazine problem, in particular, has gotten a little out of hand. There are piles of them all over our place, bookmarked, dogeared, stained and all around loved. (It must run in the family: my parents have a collection of back issues of Gourmet that makes my knees go weak.) I have a kind of ritual for savoring my food magazines: I like to read them cover to cover, getting lost in menus and grocery lists and serious armchair cooking along the way.

But I’ve made an exception to this tried-and-true routine lately for Bon Appetit. For the past few months, I do not pass go, I proceed directly to the column authored by Orangette‘s Molly Wizenberg. Without fail, I’m transported by her story and convinced to make something—a savory souffle, fresh mayonnaise, homemade sausage patties—that I had never before dreamed or dared to make. Like clockwork, it happened again this month. Molly spun a story that had me determined to make jam.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

I should probably mention that I don’t even really like jam. The door of our refrigerator is jam (ha)-packed, but there is nary a jar of jam or jelly or preserves or the like. So I was a little apprehensive about making several jarfuls of jam, thinking I’d be eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Instead, I planned to use my jam—strawberry-rhubarb flavored—in another recipe (more on that tomorrow!). Really, I just kind of wanted to make the jam.

And the making part was so fun: the slowly macerating fruit, the frothy pink pot of stewing fruit, the play-with-your-food test to ensure the jam had gelled. It all felt a little Frontier Woman, too, like I was getting ready to stock the larder (even though I completely didn’t even attempt the whole canning business). But I expected all this. I didn’t expect to fall head over heals in love with the jam itself. Let’s just say that I had to tap into my will power reserves to make sure I saved the cup and a half of jam for its original purpose (tomorrow, tomorrow: I promise). I’m now officially a jam lover and I can’t wait to see what Molly’s got up her sleeve next month. I foresee a new jam habit accompanying my old magazine habit.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam
Adapted from Molly Wizenberg via Bon Appetit

1 16-ounce container strawberries, trimmed and chopped
3 to 4 stalks rhubarb, trimmed and chopped
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Combine fruit, sugar, and lemon juice in large bowl. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Put 2 saucers in freezer.

Transfer fruit mixture to large saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Mash to thick puree with potato masher.* Reduce heat to medium and boil gently until mixture begins to thicken, stirring often, about 18 minutes.

Remove saucepan from heat to test jam for gelling point. Drop 1 teaspoonful jam on chilled saucer and return to freezer 1 minute. Remove saucer and push edge of jam with fingertip. If jam has properly gelled, surface will gently wrinkle. If not, return saucepan to heat and cook jam a few minutes longer; repeat test.

Ladle the hot jam into clean jars, and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.**

* I used my immersion blender here, as the rhubarb didn’t seem to yield to the masher.
** Good luck with making it last two weeks. You’ll see.

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10 Responses to “Make New Habits, but Keep the Old”

  1. Katie Says:

    Too funny! Molly’s articles have the same effect on me. I haven’t eaten jam in ages, but I’ve been obsessed with the idea of making it since I read about it in Bon Apetite. Thanks for the post! Now I’m twice as excited…

  2. Steph Says:

    I seem to have the same problem. I need to buy a seperate bookcase just for my magazines!

  3. Sarah Bell Says:

    I get five food magazines a month! I love to look through them to get inspiration, then I forget which magazine the recipes I really liked were in. I tried cataloging them but then I couldn’t be bothered looking through 200 back issues when I wanted to cook something for a dinner party. So essentially I look at them for the pictures and make the odd recipe out of them, I can’t quit my habit, but at least I admit I have a problem. ;-)

  4. parsnipsaplenty Says:

    Food magazines are never a problem. I don’t think “glut”… I think “bonus.” :) I love the sense you hone after awhile for the better recipes. And making preserves is way fun – you feel so productive! You’re now that much closer to being prepared for the hard winter ahead, haha.

  5. hiphostess Says:

    I too share the magazine hording habit! Nice to hear there are others out there (I am endlessly teased by friends and family for my collection). The jam looks great.

  6. C Says:

    For my magazines I flag them but I also write down recipes I want to try on a piece of paper with the magazine name/month/page number and tack them to my bulletin board and on the days when I’m at a loss for what to cook – scan down the list and pick something off.

  7. Dana Says:

    I have the same magazine problem! I wait all month for them to arrive, checking the mailbox anxiously, read them cover to cover in one sitting and become impatient for the next issue. As a concession to my boyfriend (gasping beneath the piles!), I now keep them for a year, save any recipes I like on my computer, and reread (and sadly dispose of) last years issue shortly after devouring the new one.

    I also fell in love with Molly’s jam recipe. I am determined I will conquer my fear of botulism and tackle some canning projects. Jam is first on the list!

  8. Dana Says:

    I have the same problem with food magazines…and cookbooks… It’s getting ridiculous. And I, too, saw this recipe and am dying to try it. Soon!

  9. marie Says:

    The jam looks heavenly! I loved making this with my mom using fresh rhubarb from our garden. Did you use wax to preserve the preserves (ha ha ha)? i saw some at the grocery store next to the canning supplies, and wasn’t sure if i should buy it for when i make the jam.


  10. marie: I didn’t use anything to preserve the preserves (ha). I just put it in a jar and it kept in the fridge for at least a couple weeks (at which time, it was all gone!). But there are canning instructions in Molly’s original recipe: here.


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