jam

A Thanksgiving Story

Genevieve "Neve" Sophia Lawlor, born October 25th, 2016 to her adoring Mum, Dad, and big brother Life

Genevieve "Neve" Sophia Lawlor, born October 25th, 2016 to her adoring Mum, Dad, and big brother Life

So much can happen in just 3 years. 3 years ago, I summoned my extended family to our Thanksgiving table, filled not with a brined and roasted turkey, homemade cranberry sauce, buttery mashed potatoes and bacon glazed brussel sprouts...but with cases upon cases of the inaugural Girl Meets Dirt jams - handmade by me, with local fruit handpicked by me, in a borrowed kitchen, with all the love I could muster - with all the love I couldn't expend on a little baby, which I so desperately wanted. This little company that could, was launched in the midst of loss- in between miscarriages number 4 and 5 - in between bouts of grief and intense moments of longing - but after a bountiful fruit season that taught me to have faith in renewal, and rebirth - and to await the blossoms of spring.

Around my Thanksgiving table that year, piled with rolls of our original labels (they seem vintage now!), we made something real together, and gave each other hope (husband, mom, dad, sister, brother, sister-in-law, friends). Jar by jar, each by hand, picking up one single jar, affixing a crooked label, removing a crooked label, trying again with steadier hands, passing them to my mother who ended up being quite adept at affixing a straight label in just the right position, we launched Girl Meets Dirt into the world. It was a small gesture, a small launch, but it meant something big.

Sitting here today, 3 years later, with a toddler sleeping in his big boy bed, a 4-week old napping in my arms, and my mother baking Thanksgiving pies and wondering what cheese to serve with the Fig with Bay preserves I've brought her - this business is life as usual around here, in the best of ways.  Things change. Sometimes in very big ways. We often don't know why, or how. And yet we can and do adapt. We make do. We love even more deeply. We squeeze harder, lean longer. We give thanks for the things going right. We give thanks to those who've stood by us in the worst of days (label by label), and in the best.

And around here, we eat jam, together. My son, who I doubted would ever come, had it in his yogurt this morning- a recipe I'd made yearning badly for him, spilling love into hot sugar, a copper pot, and hand chopped pears. And now, he has a sister, and I feel like I have no words anymore. And that's a very, very beautiful thing.

Happy Thanksgiving.     

xo Audra

Genevieve & big brother Life

Genevieve & big brother Life

Burnin' Love for Valentine's Day...or Galantine's Day!

Burnin' Love jam is spreadable perfection for Valentine's Day.

Burnin' Love jam is spreadable perfection for Valentine's Day.

Well, Amy Poehler, a.k.a. Leslie Knopp on Parks and Recreation, has done it again. She outsmarted me. She beat me to the punch. She proved once again that Leslie Knopp is very likely based on the junior high me.  

I sat down this morning optimistically wearing pink and red --inspired to write about reclaiming Valentines Day.  To explain how, despite many years of heartache and listening to the unrequited love songs of Patsy Cline and Billie Holiday, I maintain affection for the fourteenth of February. To admit to the world:

Valentine's Day is still my favorite holiday. 

In grade school Valentine's Day meant carefully decorating shoeboxes to hold mini bags of M&M's, Red Hots and Jelly Belly's, boxes of Sweethearts, and silver wrapped Kisses. Deciding under the florescent lighting of the grocery store (usually the night before) which theme of paper cards to hand out almost always resulted in a meltdown. "What if someone brings the same kind as me? ...that would be so not cool. Am I too old for Little Mermaid this year?"  Etc. Thanks to their many years of experience (and probable personal encounters of suffering) our teachers had only one rule for Valentine's: you have to give a Valentine to everyone. So, for the first decade of my young life, Valentine's Day was about sweets, sharing, and friends. It was just a special day where things got a little more girly and lunchtime got a lot more sugary. 

Then puberty hit and the world worked very hard to convince me that Valentine's Day without a sweetheart meant you must be miserable. That really, you're nobody, 'til somebody loves you. Even more it said, "Valentine's Day is dumb." (In hindsight I appreciate this disdain for romance. I think it's healthy for this age group. But, I digress..) It only took two years of this wallowing before I decided to attach my own meaning to the holiday. From then on I've used Valentine's Day to celebrate the ones I love, my friends. Being completely obsessed with Martha Stewart as an adolescent, I would stay up all night piping royal icing onto sugar cookies and drizzling chocolate onto paper thin florentines for my girlfriends. I'd get out my great aunt's vintage pumps and throw dinner parties with a dress code. My friends started calling me 'The Valentine Queen'. 

I thought these traditions were unique to me. The self-protective theatrics of a goody-goody girl determined not to feel bad about herself and her lack of suitors. But now I realize I had it all wrong. I haven't been celebrating Valentine's Day, I've unknowingly been celebrating Galantine's Day. (The writing staff of Parks and Recreation must have read the same NPR article as me on The Dark Origins Of Valentine's Day where we learn that 'Galantin' means "lover of women".)  

Whether you're celebrating Galentine's Day, or Valentine's Day, this Valentine Queen demands you serve up some of our Burnin' Love Pink Pearl Apple jam. Spicy and sweet, it is the grown up equivalent of a bag of Red Hots. Made with Fireball Whiskey and gorgeous local Pink Pearl Apples, it is Valentine's Day in a jar. I literally squealed when I tasted it.  My plan this year, grab some ricotta and some lady friends and feast on some crepes 'a la Burnin' Love. ('Cause let's face it, angst has been out since the 90's.)

Pink Pearl-3 copy.jpg

I haven't forgotten about all the lovers out there, looking for a more traditional spin on the holiday. For you, I suggest our Bittersweet Chocolate Conference Pear. Skip the dinner reservation and gift your sweetie a cheese board at home with some champange. It's positively naughty when done as Brie en Croute (puff pastry wrapped and jam stuffed, sprinkled with sea salt). Seduction, Girl Meets Dirt Style! This can get messy so an apron is recommended, what you choose to wear (or not wear) underneath is up to you. Girl meets dirty?  

A handmade Orcas Workshop Cheese Board for serving up Valentine's night in. 

A handmade Orcas Workshop Cheese Board for serving up Valentine's night in. 

Can't you see your sweetie serving up some Chocolate Brie in this? 

Can't you see your sweetie serving up some Chocolate Brie in this? 

How do you feel about the holiday and what are your Valentine's Day plans? We'd just looooove to hear from you in the comments below. 

Our small batch reserves are limited and go fast, order yours today!

Our small batch reserves are limited and go fast, order yours today!

The Times They Are A Changin'

"You better start swimming or you'll sink like a stone -- for the times, they are a changin'."  I've loved Simon & Garfunkel since my mother introduced me to them as a little girl.  Imagine me, a nine year old, along with my best friend, equally innocent, belting out "Cecilia" at the top of our lungs on the rooftop outside my bedroom window.  I don't think we knew what it was about, but we felt it - felt the drums, the rhythm, the pounding, the call to action, and we couldn't help but holler and hoot and pound our little paws on the shingles -- that is, until the neighbors complained.  I've come back to Simon & Garfunkel's music so many times over the years, usually when I'm feeling particularly thoughtful, or contemplating a new path.  There's something about their music that brings me back to my roots.  Not surprisingly, when I sat down to write this post, the first thing that came into my mind was this song, the title of this post (props to Bob Dylan for the original version).

Growing pains

We've had an incredible Spring rise from the dirt here on Minnow Creek Lane -- the wisteria is in full bloom, arching over our stone patio.  The jewel pink roses I inherited have begun to blossom, and the blushing peonies have opened their pom pom eyes.  We've been eating gorgeous greens for over a month now - Bordeaux Spinach, with its red-wine stems, sautéed over toast and topped with a poached egg; Roquette Arugula pureed with walnuts, garlic, and parmesan for a refreshing pesto; French Sorrel gratineed with potatoes, cream and gruyere; baby Valmaine Romaine tossed in a mustard vinaigrette and topped with blackened Coho Salmon; Lacinato Kale stewed with shallots and finished with apple cider butter; baby Rainbow Chards with sesame soy glaze over soba noodles; and countless mixed green salads with garden radishes and a simple vinaigrette.  I'm thankful this season for the distraction of an armful of greens and thinnings.  Greens are good for the body, but lately, they've been feeding my soul.  

Jammin'

Thank God I married an Irishman with an affinity for Kerrygold buttered toast slathered with preserves.  If you know much about me, you know I fantasize about trips to the candy store.  Just thinking about a visit to Dylan's Candy Bar in NYC could easily bring me to a state of delirium.  I love sugar.  But enough is enough.  I've had fruit coming out my ears all summer.  I inherited two frost peach trees, a yellow plum tree, a purple Italian plum tree, five pear trees, oodles of strawberry plants, and several blueberry bushes.  I just planted three apple varietals, a mulberry, and a fig tree. I am a glutton for sugar induced punishment. Learning to 'can', has not made this situation better.  Don't get me wrong: there is pleasure in biting into a juicy peach just a moment after picking it from the tree.  But come on, let's be honest, a few sticky fingers later, and that gets old.  Why eat the fruit raw when you can cook it down with sugar and lemon zest - and spoon it over butter cookies... in January?  Canning has made me a very happy girl...for sweet better, or for sticky worse.

She is a temptress

Not my mother in law.  Though it's possible I haven't heard that story yet.  My mother in law (actually, 'mum'), Hazel, is visiting from Ireland so I've taken the opportunity to slow down and walk the paths around our house with her, instead of rush through my standard run. I should be honest; what I did was rush through my standard run and THEN walk it with her, but I'm thankful to her that I did.  The double loop allowed me to first, notice the plethora of Salmonberries, in all shades of jealousy, ripe for the picking, and second, to spend the afternoon picking them with Hazel and to enjoy her tales of being a youngster let loose to berry pick in the wilds of Ireland.  We came home with nearly eight cups, juices oozing, our legs sore, and scratch laden arms to evidence of our inability to resist even a lone jewel berry dangling over the ravine.  Salmonberry, she is a temptress.