The first home of my own was a rented attic room. Plants froze on the radiator--still I hauled my oak furniture up the spiral staircase and never want


The first home of my own was a rented attic room. Plants froze on the radiator--still I hauled my oak furniture up the spiral staircase and never wanted to leave. Since my new home looks like somewhere Katherine Hepburn lived in a vintage Hollywood film, the pleasure I now find there may be greater, but no different.


Summer in Wisconsin has been lovely, the climate suits me, and with my new kitchen on-site I only rarely have to leave for errands and ingredients.


Everything I need can be found in the Bay Area—Green Bay, that is—and as promised, new pleasures await in this much altered culinary landscape. Friends came last week to point out a wealth of delicious fall mushrooms below the garden. Then there’s the world’s finest strawberry jam!


Every spring into her last years our Mom insisted we trek to Merry’s Berries in Antigo for their Earliglow strawberries to make her next year’s worth of jam. This year I followed that tradition, rushing the fragile fruit from field to kitchen. A vivid matrix of pale rose jelly with translucent chunks of the finest fruit and a touch of lemon juice—Strawberry Jam supreme! Then the bad news came: the owners are retiring, closing down next year. The few jars I can part with won’t last long, but I do need to share them!


Currants were once a common garden fruit, but when the bushes were suspected of being an alternate host for a disease killing White Pine, the timber industry reacted with force. Though the charges were later debunked, currants were all but eradicated, even in memory. (Dried currants in your scones are Zante grapes.)

For my English Grandmother piquant red currant jelly on toast or spiraled into a jellyroll was a staple. Brother Jim is growing red currants again in Grandma’s old garden, and I drove over to harvest. High in pectin, all I did was add sugar for a perfect set. A clear and tart glowing ruby jelly—nothing else like it. They’re tiny and mostly seeds so the yield is low, but I share what I have.


Earliglow Strawberry Jam


Calamondin Marmalade


Red Currant Jelly

Of my marmalades Calamondin is back, hopefully with a reliable source that will keep it in stock. Good news for fans of Wild Blueberry Lemon Jam -- I’ve found a source here for wild berries so that is now back in stock as well! The Five Grapefruit is in its last batch, unfortunately, with 4 of the 5 varieties from the Gene Lester Collection no longer available now that he’s gone. Enjoy it while it lasts! Another ending: the Rangpur Lime Syrup—if you love it, get it now, these are the last bottles I will make.


P G Menton plate, oranges, lemons and limes, 1880

On the fruitcake front, I try to never pass a year without improvements. In the White Fruitcake and Winter Fruitcake I now use Hunza raisins, a small golden raisin with a greenish cast and bright, unique flavor from a pristine Pakistani valley high in the Himalayas—the best raisin I’ve ever had.

All the glaceed red cherries in Dark and White Fruitcakes are now halves and pieces; more diffused. In this season’s Dark cake I’ve added dried pear soaked in Pear William eau-de-vie—to come upon a morsel is ambrosia! 2021 is the last year for the Mandalo pommelo peel, however, the source being lost.


This will also be the last season that both the White Fruitcake and Dark Fruitcake will have the rare candied Shekwasha peel. A hauntingly fragrant Japanese variety vanishingly rare here, Gene Lester had the only tree, and I picked the last fruit in January. It will only linger as an echo in the aged stock for as many years as I can hold them back. A new garnish for 2021, however—the California bay laurel leaves I’ve been using for 20 years are no longer outside my door, but festive, fragrant cedar is!

For those who work so tirelessly to bring us our much anticipated mail and packages, understaffed and overworked, holiday deliveries will be challenging this year, so please plan accordingly and be patient, knowing they’re doing their best! To all who savor food, family and friends, I hope something here can add pleasure to the coming season, and another reason to enjoy being ‘stuck at home!’

All My Best To You,

Robert Lambert
October 2021