Man Jam

Ian Fleming's image of James Bond; commissione...

It’s hard to think of James Bond having anything but a dry martini to act as a quaffable accessory to his perfectly tailored tuxedo and a stunningly undernourished girl. You’d never see him handling a drink with an umbrella in it. (Of course, he would have no issue handling a girl who has a drink with an umbrella in it.)

And how often do you see men load up on yogurt? Especially something like Activia, which claims to “improve digestive transit?” I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard a gaggle of guys at the soccer field water fountain moaning while clutching their bellies, wishing they weren’t so bloated.

Sure, there are foods that are typically eaten by more females than males, and if you sit through five minutes of a football game on TV, you’ll find yourself fighting the urge to belch the alphabet along with the guys in the beer commercials. Although many get stuck on the letter B when the Beer, Beef & Babes subliminal advertising kicks in.

But what of cooking? Are there gender preferences there, too? I know plenty of women who handle the grill, but how many fellas make cake pops? Or madeleines? How many guys garnish? Author note: I do not.

portrait of Fanny Cradock

portrait of Fanny Cradock

But my husband does—and with great flare–but I attribute that to the fact that he’s English, grew up watching Fanny Cradock, and lived to tell of it.

Whether garnishing, soufflé-ing, quiche-ing, or mousse-ing, I’ve come across plenty of men who jump into the arena of artful technique and extreme creativity. However, it’s a little more unusual to come across one who will dip his toe into the pond of preserves. Seeing the average male come through the front door with an armload of Ball jars, a 33 quart enamel stockpot, and a basket full of freshly picked berries would make you look over his shoulder to see if he was carrying in June Cleaver’s groceries. Hearing the guy say, “Where’s my apron? Now clear out the kitchen, I’m about to bring Smucker’s to their knees,” is something many women would pay money to experience.

Is this so unusual? Not to G. Tilton Pugh II. He is a lineman at our local airport, drives a massive fuel truck, and probably performs his own tooth extractions. To top it off, this guy has made canning cool. He makes what I call MAN JAM. The jellies contain your average fruit, but he pitches in a load of jalapeños, allowing the more timid males at your breakfast table the opportunity to enjoy fruit preserves without fear of anyone eyeing his pinky when lifting a cup of tea.

Statements like, “Hey, pass me that kick-ass curd at your end of the table,” and “This stuff needs to be on a hunk a meat!” will likely float through conversation.

I expect folks will go through their closets, tossing shoes over their shoulders in the hunt for that old pair of cowboy boots gifted to them the year the whole high school thought them fashionable.

You’ll be greeted each morning with a quick nod and a, “Mornin’, ma’am.” Your husband may forego shaving for a day or two as it fits nicely with his new rough 24/7  five o’clock shadow. There may even be talk of trading in the minivan for a truck with a flatbed.

Visage de cowboy en profil

As heart-palpatatingly pleasant as it may be to find you’re suddenly living—if only temporarily—with the Marlboro Man, my point is that not only can fellas take it on their toast, but now they can make it for their toast.

All the raised eyebrows alone may be enough to encourage any guy to take a crack at it. Seeing the impressed faces at work as you leave a jar on someone’s desk with your own brand name like Men’s Meteoric Marmalade or Joe’s Jawbreaking Jelly can also become addictive.

The point, and I do have one, is that labeling activities as gender specific is wrong. Labeling jars by flavor and fire is fun! (If only as a cross off your bucket list activity.)

Men? Head on out to your local berry patch during the next month or two, or hunt the produce isles of your neighborhood Piggly Wiggly, and mosey on into the kitchen.

Pop some Dwight Yoakum, Johnny Cash, or any guy who’s spent some time in prison and came out the other side with a record deal into the CD player. Now make some MAN JAM.

Burning Bush Jams

Don’t forget the jalapeños. This stuff should scrape the tartar off your teeth.

Click here for MAN JAM recipes and ideas on how to use it elsewhere, or click here for G. Tilton Pugh II’s website, selection and order form.

Happy cooking, cowboys!

~Shelley

Don’t forget to check out what’s cookin’ in the Scullery this week (here) and what we’re all talkin’ about down in the pub (here).

10 thoughts on “Man Jam

  1. Great Stuff, cooking. Although my rib prefers me to have me relegated to the washing up role, I love to get into the kitchen to bake BREAD.
    I trained ad a pharmacist in the days when we compounded various medicines and was delighted to find that cooking is JUST like compounding. You cannot complete your exam assignment by doing a tablet, mixture, suppository and an emulsion in a serial fashion. One has to have different things in the go at the same time, AND you have have to keep a tidy work area! So, gradually I have earned some space to do my thing in the kitchen. Happy Easter. Clean up that egg on the floor……

    • Yes, bread baking is my favorite food science. I sadly have a devil of a time convincing certain members of my family that you can’t pick and choose which ingredients to place in the bowl based on how they taste on their own. We end up playing a lot of kitchen hockey with the pucks that try to pass themselves off as biscuits simply because leavening agents taste foul. sigh.

  2. Once again, your writing is worthy of a page in the New Yorker. Continue to stretch your arms and words towards those who will listen and benifit. How nice of you to give advertisment for this person. I will forward his site to many.

    p.s. The girls just learned how to make Fondants de Becasse Castellane and Pellmenes Siberiens. Perhaps a jalapeno juniper jam would would compliment the flavoring of the woodcock in the Castellane.

    Kudos to your love for food and your life’s endevors for seeking out real food; food from traditon, family and love.

    Stosh 😉

    • This is really unfair. Your children know how to make the fancy French dish, and I have tried five times to pronounce it and have failed. Even Google backed out of trying to tell me what it is. Your kids are so lucky. Come cook for me and I will hunt down a woodcock. That is something we can eat, right? It sounds edible in French. 🙂

  3. I will be calling G. Tilton for a little man jam tonight! Jeez, that sounds terrible…(Seriously though, I’m psyched! Thanks for the tip!)

    • Hey, don’t you think this would make a cool 5th grade science experiment? Ha! I can just see the kids bending over a bunch of bunsen burners and the school halls filled with the smell of simmering strawberries! 🙂

  4. Thanks for another great read! We need a book! Author! Author! I grew up helping family work a garden, can, freeze, make apple butter (copper pot and all). To me it just seems natural. Younger brother (a.k.a. bother) and Dad were sports fiends, so I helped Mom in kitchen, and to this day have always appreciated the ability. Years ago, my ex asked about going out on Thanksgiving, since she did not cook, and I said nooooooo … it’s only a turkey … they are easy … its the stuffing that takes the time (yum, oysters). In recent years making jam from the local wine berries has been an annual pursuit. I cannot imagine special occasions and holidays without cooking. Pizzelles at Christmas, Choc Chip Cookies year round, Quiche Loraine whenever, Spinakopita and crab cakes for parties, and the list goes on. The cooking channel is a regular stop for a range of chefs from Paula Dean’s artery clogging goodness to Laura Caulders take on French simplicity. All Clad and Le Cruset are routine eye turners. The mailman delivers Cooks Illustrated and Chefs Catalog along with Vintage Jeep/Motorcycle, Shooting/Hunting/Reloading, NatGeo, and Travel journals. My cookbook shelves carry wild game to chuck wagon to dessert to appetizer variations on cook books. I even have tried some of the Jack Aubrey recipes from the famous Patrick Obrien nautical series from the Napoleonic Period … challenging and a bit adventurous.

      • Yum … (not) … LOL … great title! Now, on reflection, I dare you to list each different type of meat you have sampled in your life …

      • P.S. Thought you would enjoy the reference to the book –
        Lobscouse & Spotted Dog
        Which It’s a Gastronomic Companion to the Aubrey/Maturin Novels of Patrick O’Brian by Anne Chotzinoff Grossman and Lisa Grossman Thomas

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