Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Boozy Jam Shoppe: a love story

Well, or something like that.

Okay, okay, so I know it's been a while. More than a while. AEONS. I've probably gone back down to tens of readers (ones?) from my previous nineteens. I have many blog posts that I started and then just never got back to - about the election, my ensuing rage, more rage, a trip to Costa Rica, and more rage. But what could I rant about that hadn't already been ranted about? What was the point, when our country was going into the toilet? Well, maybe I'll still get to writing about Costa Rica, the most amazing place in the world, and how we wound up trapped in our room by carnivorous monkeys and other fun things.

But. In the meantime. Yours truly finally decided to go with her calling in life, namely that of Jam Mixologist. Yes, I opened a boozy jam shoppe, called The Canning Underground. The story of how this came to be and why in these dark days we need all the booze we can get, that's below, from the blog on my jam website.

So it was spoken, so it was done.
Sure, people think I’m joking when I say that it’s a requirement once you move to Oregon that you have to take up canning. This is not a joke, my friends. Oh no. I think it’s pretty much like Wisconsin, where the WBCP (Wisconsin Border Cheese Police) check your cheese credentials when you leave the state. “Enough Gouda? Edam? Did you buy cheese in the shape of a cow? Okay, you’re good.” No lie.

So of course when I moved to Oregon three years ago, I was faced with The Jam Rule. Start canning, or else. Luckily, the grounds of The Manor are replete with fruit trees, including one that bears the famous “soft yellow apple that sucks for eating.” Yes, THAT one. I think it might actually be an heirloom translucent or something, but its main selling point is that it’s not hard, and thus not the kind I like to eat.

Now, I’m sure I’m like everyone else in the world, whereupon when I see an apple tree stuffed with apples, I think……apple butter. Apple butter was my first JCoT (Jam Cellar of Terror) creation, other than the jugs of fruit liqueur I had been advised to make, by Most Excellent Neighbor Laura. Who knew that simply adding alcohol and sugar to fruit would make the aforementioned liqueur? Not me. At least, not then. Ah, we were all so innocent then.

Now, even before my jams went from the simple recipe-following ones to extravagant boozy concoctions limited only by nothing, friends were clamoring for me to set up shoppe. “Miss Tasha, are you selling these? Sell them! WE WANT JAMS!” All of which I pooh-poohed, because let’s face it, jams are a tough business.  Low barriers to entry if you go renegade (anyone can throw some shit in a pot and call it jam and not bother with licenses, though yes I am TOTALLY LEGIT), uncertain ingredient supply and pricing, and the most important thing, no economies of scale, at least in terms of time. That’s the problem with jam – you can’t just triple the batch and makes tons at once. Oh no, of COURSE not. Because that screws up the pectin and it won’t set, and if you don’t use pectin for certain things (like marmalade), it won’t cook down enough without scorching.
So yeah, you’re fucked on that too.

Thus, I resisted (#RESIST!), and just mailed people jams for fun, toted them places in my suitcase when traveling (and yes the TSA checked them EVERY TIME), and so on. Until. The week before Christmas when I was meeting up with my Cancerchick friends in the Chicago suburbs for dinner. And Cori, being the smart person that she is, brought each of us our own bottle of chocolate tequila. Yes, CHOCOLATE tequila. What the hell, right? Which led to the following conversation.

Me: Damn, Cori, you’re brilliant. God knows we all need as much booze as possible these days.
Cori: Right? It’ll be pretty much a non-stop drinkfest for 4 years.
Adrienne: Where’s the shotglass?
Sherri: Let’s rent a house and drink all weekend!
Me: Maybe what the world needs for 4 years is boozy jam. Yeah, a jam of the month club, with jams based on whatever latest shitshow is coming out of the WH.
Cori: Yes! All marmalade!

(Cori loves her marmalade.)

Adrienne: Hello, shotglass?
Sherri: Look, I found this cute chalet on vrbo!
Me: Hmm, a jam of the month might be a hassle. But HEY, I could totally sell themed boozy jams! Omg, THEMED JAMS. This is brilliant! It would be entertaining AND fulfill our boozy needs!
Cori: Themed marmalade, I love it!
Adrienne: Cheers!
Sherri: We could eat a differently themed jam each night at our chalet!

And here we are.