Over the weekend we had the privilege of hosting one of the great influences in my husband’s life, Al Christian. Al ran the Swine Teaching Farm at Iowa State University for over 50 years and is a living legend in the pig-world as far as anyone I know is concerned. Mike worked for Al while he was at Iowa State and we’ve kept in touch with him over the years. My husband rarely asks for anything (besides bacon or cinnamon rolls), but when he mentioned having Al for dinner, I couldn’t put the evening together fast enough.
We worked on making dinner the entire day by smoking ribs and a pork shoulder, I baked a cake and made cornbread and cut up fruit. I also made my husbands favorite salad of quickly pickled cucumbers and onions. Let us not forget the strawberry preserves either. They were the star of the show. Simple and sweet, much like our dinner guest. The best part of the night was watching my son (who does tend to make strange with most people) really enjoy Al. They even joked around a bit, and with the back of his hand my son slid a piece of watermelon across the cornbread crumb laced counter to Al and mocked him until he picked it up and put it in his mouth.
Good friends and good recipes are hard to come by. The simpler the recipe or relationship, the better, at least I think. Strawberries, sugar and lemon juice is all it takes to create the most delightful accompaniment to cornbread, toast, biscuits, and these preserves are also UNDENIABLE on top of homemade ice cream.
Preserves are much like jam, but the pieces of fruit are left much larger, sometimes whole, depending on size. Jam is stabilized with added pectin, but preserves are not.
PS: Around town, you can find 2# packages of strawberries on a fire-sale for $1.99 per container!
Chop them up a bit if they are large. If they are small, you can leave them whole.
And if you know Al, and wouldn’t mind leaving a message for him in the comments, it would certainly mean a lot to him. We plan to have him back soon… breakfast next time maybe, and I’d love to show him this post and the comments from all of the people he influenced over the years. If you have a personal story you’d like him to have you may send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will print them out and give them to him next month. He sure means a lot to our family.
Until next time.