In Praise of Homemade Strawberry Preserves

08/05/2011 03:15 pm ET | Updated Oct 05, 2011
  • Peter Smith Author, 'A Porch Sofa Almanac' and 'A Cavalcade of Lesser Horrors'

A friend of ours laid an eight-ounce jar of her fresh strawberry preserves on us last week, and for the briefest moment (the jar only lasted for one breakfast) life was as sweetly normal as the Eisenhower Administration.

I spread a spoonful on my toast, took a bite, and suddenly no one from Minnesota was stumping for presidential votes in Iowa. There was no political sniping in the halls of Congress, on the Internet, or on morning cable news shows.

There was only that fresh, warm toast and those strawberry preserves of hers.

Mmmmm... her homemade strawberry preserves. This wasn't just how breakfast should taste. This was how breakfast was meant to feel... sweet... peaceful... pleasant...


The sun shone. Birds chirped. Sitting there at the kitchen table, I closed my eyes, savored my toast and the fact that I wasn't angry or unhappy about anything anymore.

I didn't want to talk politics or set anyone's thinking straight on any issue -- not even my know-it-all brother-in-law. I would have passed those preserves to people on my political left or right with a smile.

Awash in old-fashioned normalcy, I sure could have gone for a cup of that bland, blond, electric percolator coffee -- the kind that came from an old fashioned grocery store, not from Starbucks or Caribou.

I don't know what our friend's secret is -- how she makes her strawberry preserves so good they make life feel so wonderfully normal. I suspect that there are other women out there putting up preserves who know the secret, too.

In the interest of science, for the good of the human race, I am willing to serve as a guinea pig in a statewide research project to find these women and learn more. I will selflessly travel from kitchen to kitchen, sampling fresh strawberry preserves, searching for the secret that makes them so darn good that they induce tranquility and trigger a delightful sense of normalcy -- even in times like these.

I will do this at no charge to the state (we have that budget problem). All I ask is that Minnesota supply me with unlimited amounts of fresh toast and electric percolator coffee.

Toast, coffee and an authorization to conduct a similar study of blueberry preserves next summer.