The Preserve Swap

I have been looking forward to this evening's preserve swap for weeks. Finally an opportunity to speak with people who are perhaps as crazy about preserving as myself:).

I stood downstairs in my pantry for about 20 minutes perusing the lined up jars to determine what I would bring.

Raspberry Jam - selfishly I only have 4 jars of that left and it is my personal favourite, so the decision was that it would stay right where it was.

Angry Pickled Garlic which was made on a day when I was burning with anger. Those crispy spicy bite sized delicacies should be shared with others. Angry Pickled Garlic - check.

Spicy n' Sweet Pickled Carrots. What goes better in a Caesar than these other than perhaps pickled green beans. I love chopping these babies up and adding them to a salad. Add them to the swap list.

Pickled Shallots with Tarragon - these really need at least another 3 weeks before they are ready to be opened. I don't want anyone to get a substandard preserve, so I will save those for the next swap

Pineapple Jam - with the gorgeous winter weather we have been having it almost feels like spring out there. What better to accompany a sunny and mild winter day than a taste of the tropics. Some lucky preserve swapper will walk away with a jar of these.

Tomato Basil Jam - ooh another personal fav of mine. Great as an alternative to ketchup and so tasty in a toasted panini. The fresh basil from my indoor planters add the perfect snap of spring.

Meyer Lemon Marmalade - I have a few other marmalades to bring, so perhaps these can be saved til next time.

Marmalade with brown sugar and vanilla - an experiment with my favourite ingredients. Fresh vanilla pod which I looooove, brown sugar which adds a nice molasses flavour to the jam and the tartness of seville oranges. Nummies

Onion Garlic Jam - this jam might not be something one wants to eat while mingling at the preserve swap or on a first date. But the flavour of sweet onion, garlic and white wine married with a sharp cheddar or cheese of your choice is a delicious snack and a must bring.

Grapefruit marmalade - I go a bit marmalade crazy in February with Seville Oranges finally being in season and decided why stop with oranges. This refreshing marmalade is so good in the morning.

Apple Earl Grey Almond Jelly - I can't make shortbread cookies when I have this Jelly in the house. Their marriage of flavours would be sure to add 15 pounds to my frame.

Spicy Zucchini Relish - your burger will thank you. Do they serve burgers at The Avro?

Pickled Cauliflower - this is my favourite way to eat cauliflower. Pickled in brine with a bit of a bite, these crunchy pickles will find a good home on someone else's shelves....I hope :)

The jars are all ready to be swapped and find new homes and now I can't wait to see what I can swap these babies for!

Let's keep it positive people!

All day long as I chopped carrots in the commercial kitchen so that I could turn them into delicious spciy pickles, the song that I remember from Sesame Street was playing over and over in my mind. Some days it is a positive feeling, like today. It feels good to break with what is expected or what I have always done and do something that is more of a passion than a career path.

But then there are the dark days, when I wonder what the hell I am doing. That was yesterday. While I sat at my breakfast bar trying out the pineapple jam I made the evening before I decided to catch up on some reading on my ipad while I drank my tea and ate my toast. I stumbled upon this article titled '3 Reasons Not to Start a Food Biz'. I should have shut it down right there. But as the saying goes, Curiosity Killed The Cat. It didn't quite kill me but it sure was a punch in the gut on a Monday morning.

If you don't feel like reading it, I will summarize in my own words:
- It is a horrible time to enter the artisan food market
- the market is over saturated
- margins suck on preserves
- farmers markets are expensive to participate in
- major retailers aren't interested in you
- your current job is easier

After repeatedly bashing my head on the table for several minutes after reading that article, I decided that the best course of action was to walk away from it and come back to it in a couple of hours and see if I could pull something positive out of it.

The first time I went back to it, I clicked through to another article listed at the bottom of this article which had tips for startups and pulled the positive that there is still room for people making good basic jams. I can make good basic jams. So yah - positive. But that nagging awful feeling still stuck with me.

So again today, I re-read the article and this time after a day in the kitchen, even with an aching back, sore feet and a whack of dishes still to be washed, I found a positive even more encouraging than the 'basic jam' positive from yesterday.

What was that positive you ask? Well let me tell you :). It was that this article focuses on people who want to take the road most travelled. But there are other "out of the box" routes that I don't think have been explored in the same over saturated way. This made me smile. This made me feel good about chopping carrots for 5 hours and having orange fingers.

So remember - when something comes up that takes the wind out of your sails, it is up to you to change direction or paddle for an hour or two until you come upon a different wind that will take you where you need to go.