I ate crepes both days this weekend. Yesterday I wrapped slices of butter in the eggy folds. I thought of jam loathsomely, wanting instead the deep, sweet fattiness of pure butter promising the most fill for the hunger that is big in my stomach by the end of the work week. A day later and again with a plate of crepes before me, I craved a certain kind of sweetness, the kind that comes from a tart plum jam. I emptied a jar of Plum, Prune and Apricot Conserves. (Conserves? The preserve contained dried Royal Blenheim Apricots and I think of jams including dry fruit as conserves.) See picture above.
In a clear moment on Saturday, Amy and I walked the Rose Geraniums outside into the garden. I bought them last year for jam-making. Rose Geraniums are everywhere in jam recipes. Rub the leaves and place them in the finished pot of jam to infuse a few minutes. The two plants I claimed at a nursery last spring summered in my Seattle P-Patch and spent the winter in my apartment. They are gangly from seeing a Pacific Northwest winter from behind smudged window glass. Not a lot of light in that position. The word for our current weather here in Seattle is dynamic and now the geraniums are in the thick of hail, spring wind and dumping rain. After we placed the two potted geraniums, Amy spent a while propping the plants, weaving their spindly stems onto supporting stakes. Some natural, wind-driven pruning might occur in the next month but hopefully the geraniums will find their strength for this quickly oncoming growing season.
But even as I plant seeds in my garden and pat the soil around them there is a sense of dormancy and limbo within myself about the honey preserves project. I am slowly moving in the direction of going commercial, renting a commercial kitchen, buying insurance to cover the risk associated with working in that kitchen, submitting my jam recipes to the WSDA and seeking out permitting from Seattle King County. It is a complicated and expensive process and venturing into commercial jam making as a micro-business where I continue to work full time in my restaurant cooking job and produce jam on the side means I will work non-stop. And I also want to devote time to my love, Amy, and enjoy that same summer that produces so much fruit as not just a time to preserve in jars but also take as afternoons in the park and ride bikes in the sunset.
Big subjects for producing jam commercially involve issues like the high cost of seeking permitting in Seattle (about a thousand dollars if all goes smoothly), storage of several thousand jam jars and where to place a 650 lb. barrel of honey? I literally don't think the floors of my apartment could handle the weight, especially once all the jars contain jam. And I'm doing this without a personal vehicle.
I voice these concerns out loud and afterwards I picture a maze that for just a moment I see from above. I also see there is a definite thruway and a squiggling line (that's me) oozing along in the maze. You know, snail's pace. With my momentary aerial view (that's really a metaphor for my adamance that I will get this project off the ground one way or another) I attempt memorizing the maze so I can pass the route along to the snail on the ground.
This evening talking on the phone to my mother in Vermont about the daunting financial and logistical aspects of commercial jam-making on a micro level, she suggested I look at commercial kitchen space elsewhere, like Whidbey Island. I used to live there and am still connected to food people in the community. When I consider the idea I still see myself buying my fruit at the Saturday University District Farmers Market. I still see sizable transportation costs because of not having a personal vehicle, but I also see the chance of forming agreements with people for rental and storage that better fit the current stature of my project. In the next week I will research permitting in Washington's Island County.