When was the last time you did something for the first time?
For me, it was last night.
I’ve never been much of a joiner and along with that, not much of a competitor, either. Adventures? Absolutely. Contests? Really? Not me.
Not until last night, that is.
Bauman’s Farm and Garden is a local farm near where I’ve been staying and recuperating these past few months that has all kinds of plants and garden stuff, as well as a bakery, coffee bar, hard cider bar, fresh produce, locally made cheeses, and well, just a lot of very cool things. They also have events like harvest festivals and Easter egg hunts, along with one called Chicks Night Out where women from all over the area come to enjoy food and cider tastings, have a bite to eat, listen to live music and little mini-classes on topics like how they make their pies, and get 15% off of everything on the property, including plants, ceramics, garden accessories, fruits and veggies, and well, everything.
I’ve never been to Chicks Night Out before (see above statement about not being a joiner) but somehow found myself agreeing to go with Debbie and Mackenzie (my hosts here in Oregon; they go every year) – when I saw that a Jam-Off was happening too, I decided to enter my recently-made Obsidian Blackberry Low-Sugar Jam. (In case you’ve never heard of one, a Jam-Off is kind of like a bake-off, only with jam, jelly and preserves, instead of cakes, breads, and cookies.) I’m not a big jam-fan, mostly because I find it all to be so super sweet it’s like eating spoonfuls of sugar straight from the jar, but I had a huge bag of obsidian blackberries from Bauman’s left over from the liqueur I had already made from them, so I decided to tweak on a low-sugar recipe that I found online and see what happened. If I do say so myself, it was pretty tasty, but because it wasn’t crazy sweet, I wasn’t sure it would taste good to anyone else, especially people who like their jams sugary-sweet.
I filled out the registration form, printed up the recipe I used, put a label on the jar, and delivered it to the Jam Judging Table to be jam-judged, along with twenty-nine other entries – everything from berry jams to tomato butters to lemon marmalade to cherry jams to you-name-it jams… all colors and textures.
Having never submitted anything to be judged before, I really had no expectations but I thought it would be fun. And it was! The anticipation, the signing in, the looking at the other women’s jam jars (seeing what they made jam out of was especially fun!) – and then walking away to enjoy the rest of the activities. I got myself some dinner (a big salad bar with grilled chicken and marionberry cobbler for dessert), sat down with my friend, Tricia, and we caught up on our lives. I wandered around, checking out the plants for sale, the pottery, the apple cider donuts, the freshly-picked corn-on-the-cob, and then took myself over to a corner area where a couple of massage therapists were offering free 15-minute back massages (it was absolutely wonderful! I might have to go get a real massage from her…).
Just as my little massage was finished, the loud speaker said the three winners of the Jam Off were going to be announced so off we went to the main area to see who won!
Third place went to a woman who made a berry jam of some kind (I wasn’t really paying any attention) and second place went to… me! They called my name!
Now that’s something that’ll make you sit up and pay attention, isn’t it? I know it sure did me. What a hoot!
My prize was a big planter with 6 or 8 different plants in it, including purple oxalis with white flowers, red and orange lantana, bright orange gerbera daisies, variegated grasses, yellow pansies, ornamental chilis, and some other green things, along with a $40 gift card to spend at Bauman’s! Crazy!
I didn’t take any photos of the jam table or the judges or any other part of the event because I never really thought I’d have anything to write about it. I mean, it was just going to be a few hours of food, music, catching up with friends, hanging out. You know, just a regular day in my life.
It sure did turn into something more than that, didn’t it? Just goes to show, one never really knows exactly what one will get when one heads out for some fun.
By the way, the third place prize was also a planter and a gift card, and first place was a diamond necklace valued at $500 – personally, I’m very happy with second place because it’s something I can use; a diamond necklace is pretty but I’d never wear it so I think I won the best prize possible! Yay!
So when was the last time you did something for the first time?
Me? It was last night…
Tell me about your last first-time! What did you do? Where did you go? Who did you see? I want to know all about it!
In case you’re wondering, first place went to a jam made from zucchini, peaches and apricots, and yes, it was good but it was also insanely super sweet. Congratulations to all the winners!