How it all began is pretty simple. I was working at a place (actually I still work there) where I basically baby-sit a bunch of kids for a few hours a day, within that time period that I’m responsible for them I’m required, by law and a grant that funds the food program mind you, to actually feed the little rug rats. Don’t get me wrong I love children, but after a while the get on your nerves, and convincing a bunch of spoiled brats that the prepared food that is made daily and then shipped out to us, is tasty would test the patience of a saint (IMO).
Anyway, according to the grant we could not keep any of the food overnight, I mean not a single thing could be kept and redistributed, even if it was perfectly fine and didn’t require refrigeration. So every night, 5 days a week, we threw out milk, bread, fruit, juice boxes and not just 1 or 2 items, I’m talking about 20 to 30 8oz cartons of milk and the same amount in juice, fruit, bread, salads, tuna, chicken breasts, etc. everyday! This was sooo bad that even the parents would comment on the waste. Luckily, there is a loop-hole in the grant, it stated that the food had to be disposed of at the end of the day, not how it was disposed of. So we started offering the leftovers to the parents, most gladly took the extra food as a way to supplement their own weekly grocery bill. But, even then we were still throwing away a ton of food.
Then I had the bright idea of taking some of it home with me too. I mean I have 3 nephews that live with me, ranging in age from (at that time) 2-11, why can’t I benefit from this “free” food as well, right? So every night I started taking home a few items, well eventually even my family couldn’t eat it all and mostly the fruit would spoil. :-(. I mean what was the point of “rescuing” this food from an unfulfilled life just to watch them go bad anyway.
Then another bright idea hit me, one night while I was perusing my post WWII cookbook (yes, I own a cookbook from like 1948 or something, Don’t judge me!), I came across a recipe for orange marmalade, actually I’m pretty sure it was orange-grapefruit marmalade, but I didn’t have any grapefruit (and i can’t stand the taste of it), so I tweaked the recipe a bit. That’s the great part about an older cookbook the alot of the recipes are mostly in general terms, so shifting things about to fit what you got on hand is a whole lot easier than a newer cookbook. Plus, marmalade in the stores is freaking expensive so while i love the stuff on toast I never bought it.
So after a trip to Wal-mart for my Ball supplies, because I just HAD to have a Ball jar for my first canning experience, and I live on a shoestring budget. I attempted to make marmalade, it came out so well that, I gained some confidence and tried making other things (but that’s for another day). I even made a gift basket one year for my bff’s with my home-made marmalade in it! Of course, they loved it, and that was the beginning of the end…
P.S. Thanks for sticking around to read all of that