My dear friend Della is a pioneer woman of sorts; she has taught me to craft a sock puppet, raise chickens, make mozzarella cheese, and grow bell peppers. This last endeavor has led to yet another old-time skill: canning. Della and I now spend all summer tending our red, yellow, green, habanero, and jalapeno peppers in anticipation of our favorite late-fall ritual.
We load up her kitchen with hundreds of Ball jelly jars (and about a ton of sugar) and prepare batch after batch of hot pepper jelly. Equal parts high heat and mellow sweetness, this jelly is a big hit with our friends and family at Christmastime, offered under the high-fallutin name of Salwells Farms Two Hot Mamas Pepper Jelly.
I love the jelly (mighty tasty), but I also love that canning our fall harvest epitomizes two concepts I have become more deeply attached to through The Power of Half: abundance and sharing. At harvest, we have more peppers than we can eat. That's abundance. Our hot/sweet condiment is the gift of our hands and hearts that we most enjoy lavishing on friends. That's sharing.
About six months after our sharing begins, we start to run low on supply, and it starts to feel like those summer days when everyone has emptied their closets of Girls Scout cookies. There's no better summer hostess gift than a box of Thin Mints.
Two days ago, I took one of my very very last jars of jelly off the shelf. I had been hoarding it for an Academy Awards party, but I decided instead to share it with our host in Seattle, Melinda Gates. When I offered the package to Melinda, she lit up (as though she knew its reputation?) and asked if she could look inside the bag right away.
I told her the story of growing the peppers and preparing the jelly with my friend, and she was visibly pleased to have been included on our exclusive gift list. I was joyous that my homegrown and made offering elicited such a response, and I felt rich indeed.