blackberries, dessert, giveaway
comments 26

i was told there would be no math (+ a giveaway!)

Blogging is a pretty glamorous pursuit.  Not only does your family groan when they see you taking pictures of the salad, but you gain access to a fascinating underworld of knowledge that you access via your “stats” page.  Yes, I have a Stats Page.  Pretty soon a badge and a toolbelt will come my way, I can feel it.

Having a Stats Page makes me want to call up Lincoln Moses, my statistics professor in college.  He looked like Santa, and behaved a lot like one might hope of same.  At the school I attended from grades 5-12, the math classes were divided, not into “A” and “B” or “I” and “II” or “Tomohawks” and “Mohawks” but into sections called “Regulars” and “Specials.”  Just to save us trouble figuring out what the section names might indicate about us.  But despite my checkered and very Regular career in mathematics up to the point where I took Lincoln Moses’ Statistics 101 class (at the last possible moment prior to graduation in order to fulfill the math requirement), despite all the remedial numerical classroom experiences I had been subjected to since I scored so low on the math section of the bubble test I took at the age of 9 that they had to call in a specialist to interpret the alarming results, which, when adjusted for the fact that in my panic I seemed to have shifted all my answers either one column to the left or one row to the south, indicated that I was only in the 30th percentile (phew!), and not, as the first scoring seemed to indicate, too low to measure–despite all that, I signed up to take Professor Moses’ class for a grade.  I could have signed up to take it P/NC, (officially “pass/no credit,” but known to students as “pass/no clue”) but I did not.  Do not look to me for an explanation.  I do not have one.  But St. Nick called me in to his office right as the deadline for changing one’s mind about classes was about to glimmer off into history.  In a friendly way, he urged me to reconsider.  “We have a phrase in statistics,” he said, in our chat about how a career in mathematics and allied professions was not likely on my radar, “‘Close enough for government work,’ we say, when we aren’t looking for too specific a measurement.”

Point taken.  Squeaked my way to a “P” on that one.  It was a long quarter for all of us.

But now I have a stats page.  Ha!  Guess I showed him.  Except, true to form, I don’t really know what anything on it means.  It tells me about “referring sites” and “referring URLs.”  It doesn’t say what the hell the difference between those two things is.  If my nice friend Alana links to my site, her website might show up as a referring site, and it might show up as a referring URL.  Or both.  But the numbers will not match, or add up to anything familiar.  One of my referring sites, I am told, is “,” which is kind of alarming.  One of the keyword searches that led someone to me, it seems, was “typo render in blender.”  I pretty much only look at the pageviews now, but even those can be confusing and I won’t bore you with just how confusing except to say that they are counted both by day and by post and those numbers never add up either, even if I only (ever) post no more than once per day.  What I just noticed, though, is that since I began this little enterprise, one measure of something seems to have hit, as of today, a number a little over 10,000.  This could mean any number of things.  Maybe AirportCigarettes is involved.  But it seems like it’s worth a little party.
photo here and below by lovely middle daughter
It’s been a funky season here. Warm, dry winter and rogue late frost and ongoing drought do not add up to a big harvest of anything other than zucchini. Last year was a boom year so we can’t really complain.  And there are still the blackberries!  Some years picking blackberries is like shoplifting in a jewelry store (albeit one guarded by angry cats): each berry a glistening stunner worthy of a platinum setting.  Thanks to the dry conditions, the berries this year are kind of small, but they are still plentiful enough, and plenty delicious, and we’ve been jamming.  

I am not going to try to lure you into canning by telling you how to do it; if you are already canning, then you know the counting and re-counting of your jars as they march proudly across the counter after the steam clears has nothing to do with poor math skills or with not knowing the tally.  If you are not yet a canner, there are many people more informed than yours truly who can talk you through the doorway (see below).  Look them up.  Fear not the canning pot.

hmm…anything low enough for me to reach?
But I will taunt you with a jar of blackberry jam, if you will come out of the shadows and leave me a little story about any old jammy thing.  Have you made jam, this year or ever?  What kind?  Did some beloved adult in your youth make jam?  Are you a little afraid of the prospect of doing it yourself?  
On August 1, I’ll select a name randomly from the comments on this post–provided there are more than 20 of them, as I think we don’t want to repeat the whole Ryan Gosling episode–and wing the winner a little jar.

Meantime, here is a little set of links to some jammin jam sites:

and a few Beyond The Toast ideas for how to use the jam in your life during a heatwave:

(these involve ginger–yum–and get layered for beauty; the link takes you to the translated site, I hope, or you can cook it in Spanish)


  1. Since this is the berry of my anniversary, and I too had an experience with a Philosophy of Logic class in college, which pinched me in all the wrong places, I will pitch in here to tell you there is no better berry for jam and no better time for jam because right now, what you capture in the jar will cure whatever ails you in March.
    I follow the regime of Christine Ferber, a French chef who has loosened my grip a bit on the Rodale approach to jam. I love to use apricots, if I can get them. I make fruit sauces when I think I don’t have time to make much else. And, I just love thinking about jam and what I will eat it with in throughout the winter, which is usually just a choice of cutlery.
    Adoring you and this post,

  2. I got a D in statistics; my lowest grade ever. But I get high marks for my cocktails that start with a spoonful of jam. Some blackberry would come in handy…

  3. Yes, please and thank you.

    Unsolicited stat-encourging advice: since you’re so stubborn about Facebook…I suggest you start a page on Pinterest of images from your blog with captions that describe the post, so your fans can be randomly reminded to click.

  4. Am I qualified to enter this contest? I can attest that it is fun to get a box of jars in the mail from you! And I will share this opportunity with all 100 of my Twitter followers. 🙂 A jammy story is that I love blackberry jam but now that I pick with three little girls I rarely find myself with enough berries to merit canning a batch of jam.

    • Let me check–yes. Yes you are. And thank you for being my press agent! Your three little helpers problem is what’s known around here as KerplinkKerplankKerplunk or “Little Sal” syndrome. Have you read Blueberries for Sal with your picking assistants?

    • Oh, yes! We love Blueberries for Sal. We have four blueberry bushes and like to fantasize about having a whole mountainside of them. But we DO have whole mountainsides of blackberries in Seattle, so there’s that.

  5. I just made some red currant jelly. Does that count? I have some freshly picked blueberries that are screaming out to be made into a jam. Food in Jars is one of my favorite blogs and her book is beautiful.

    • Oh, it counts. It definitely counts! Our blueberries never make it into jam–mouths or the freezer!–but I always mean to make some with lime.

  6. Five years ago I wrote a novel about a Scottish immigrant who can’t find Silver Shred lemon marmalade in Kansas in the 1930’s. Other things happened to her, thank God, or the novel would be even more boring than it sounds so far, but that’s the part relevant here. While I was working on the first draft, I found a recipe for lemon marmalade and made eight jars of it. I still have some in the back of the fridge, and I’m still working on the novel, and sometimes I spread lemon marmalade on my toast. To be honest, I think blackberry jam would be more delicious.

  7. I love jam BUT I love fresh fruit so much that I cannot bring myself to cook it for jam. Maybe I need to buy way more fresh fruit!

  8. I have only recently stumbled on your blog but you have me hooked and I keep on coming back for more. I am here to say that I’m really grad you are writing.
    As for jam – I just started canning this year and am finding it much easier than I was led to believe. Rhubarb is my “fruit” of choice – if one can call a stem fruit – simply because it grows well where I live. Like your blackberries.

  9. I made some wild black raspberry jam from the berries growing in my neighborhood. However, we ate it already… Some things don’t make it to the pantry despite my best intentions 🙂

  10. After only ever trying jam making once, we have caught the bug in our household this year. We picked strawberries & blueberries and jammed those right up. Got some sour cherries and made a killer chunky preserve out of those too. And this weekend, on Alana’s suggestion from her blog, we are heading over to Love Apple Farm for the first time to hopefully score some peaches and will spend Sunday making my favorite jam of all!

    • I love peaches in jam and straight-up canned, but I have to have a ton of them if any are going to make it into jars, or they just get eaten!

  11. Since I am only now realizing that Ryan Gosling is an actual person and not another of your beloved poultry pals, I will offer something not exactly a jam, but close enough, I hope….This is actually what the Greeks (and Turks and other neighbors) call a spoon sweet. It is usually served to visitors in small amounts and eaten from a tiny saucer with a tiny spoon and accompanied by a tall glass of cold water. Rose petals (they have to be wild, I’m told) are boiled with sugar and water until they are suspended in a thick syrup–then topped off with a few robust squeezes of lemon juice. These sweets come in all guises: grape, quince,bitter orange, fig, apple, apricot, peach– even eggplant, tomato and unripe and still-soft walnut, shell and all….

  12. Mom made blueberry, raspberry, peach, plum and assorted spicy variations of the same. My son favors strawberry rhubarb, which my husband makes year round. My daughter’s step mom made a strawberry ginger version last year I really enjoyed. Your blog makes me laugh AND want to cook, which is a feat in itself … I’ve passed the Quinoa Flingers recipes to a dozen people, and it’s a great way to use up failed goat cheese efforts! Wish you lived close enough to dye wool with me … and some day we’ll take a cheese class together.

  13. I’ve never made jam before. The thought of a jar exploding in my face has deterred me from ever trying. This year I’m going to give it a try.

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