The Mensa member makes jelly.

Last week I got permission to pick grapes from a nearby fence. My first batch of jelly turned out a lovely wine-purple color and my apartment smelled like communion.

But it was a lot more work than blackberry jam: You pick, then crush, then simmer, then strain the pulp through a cheesecloth-lined colander, then add sugar and cook.

On Sunday I picked pretty much all the ripe grapes that were left. Yesterday I patiently pulled out the stems, made sure there was a one-to-four ratio of underripe to ripe fruit (I don’t use commercial pectin), washed them, crushed them, simmered them, and poured about half the results into a cloth-lined colander set over a bowl.

The yield was three cups of juice. I scraped out the drained pulp, poured the rest of the simmered grapes into the colander and walked away to do another chore.

And then.


Then I returned and realized I’d set the colander not over the bowl, but into the sink.

All that work, literally down the drain.

That crackling sound you hear is my Mensa card, which I set on fire once I got done swearing.

Grand total for the evening: One and a half pints of jelly.

Sometimes I wonder why they let me walk around loose.

468 ad


  1. ….Thank goodness it was only half?

    • Donna Freedman

      @Revanche: “The jelly jar is half-full, not half-empty.”
      Thanks, guys. I feel a little less, you know, dumb.

  2. That sounds like something I would do … dumping it down the drain that way.

  3. If it makes you feel any better, I burned…BURNED…an entire batch of pear butter (from the beautiful pears on my backyard tree) in the crockpot….on the LOW setting! We all have a culinary setbacks now and then! πŸ™‚

    • Donna Freedman

      @Jill: Oh, man…! I feel better about my own li’l setback. Thanks!

  4. Oh my goodness Donna, how depressing! Just think though, you’ll probably be telling that story for the rest of your life and that is priceless! πŸ™‚

    • Donna Freedman

      @SimplyForties: It’s priceless, all right. Wow. On the bright side, I’ll be twice as careful in the future.
      Thanks for reading, and for leaving a comment.

  5. Haha, Donna! I love how you’re willing to share such a great story with us. This really made me smile. Good storytelling job too…I was on the edge of my seat! πŸ™‚

    • Donna Freedman

      @Andrew: Glad to help. And see how much smarter you get to feel in comparison to me???
      Thanks for reading, and for leaving a comment.

  6. Oh, I feel for you. I hate when things like that happen! I spilled about a half a gallon of scalding hot pepper jelly down the front of my stove, in oven, in a set of drawers on the front of the cabinets and down my legs into my shoes. I would have gladly exchanged pouring the whole mess down the sink. What I did not clean up is like concrete except that it is sticky and collects dust.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Practical Parsimony: Ouch! That must have been a horrific burn! Boiling sugar…yow.
      What does not destroy us makes us stronger. Sometimes it also makes us feel dumb.
      But I’m glad that I made the three cups into jelly. I got a pint and a half-pint plus a little extra. I had some of the little extra on toast this morning. My, was it good. I wish I’d been able to pick sooner, when there were more grapes available. I doubt that the rest are going to ripen at this point.
      Oh, well, there’s always next year. And next year I’ll be a lot more careful with the colander.

  7. oh no! I’ve done things like that too. Especially with the colander… it’s just so automatic with the spaghetti…

  8. We’d make good friends, sounds like one of my escapades. I’ve done things like that so much, I now have trained myself to move along without a thought. I am not very attractive when I cry!

  9. Grammababy

    At least the grapes were free. Think how ticked you’d be if you’d had to pay for them!

    • Donna Freedman

      @Grammababy: Exactly! All I wasted was my time. πŸ™
      Welcome to Surviving and Thriving, by the way. Nice to see more crossover!

  10. Hilarious! The first thing I thought of when I read your post title was “Gee, I will have to ask Donna for permission to use it for a weekly/semi-weekly/whatever topic on my blog!” LOL Seriously, it does seem that I could easily post one per week. (Admittedly, however, I haven’t been posting in a while. I haven’t posted regularly since Lent 2010. ~~ Thanks for the great story πŸ™‚

    • Donna Freedman

      @Unavocis: Thanks for your kind words. And feel free to use the “Mensa moment” tag. I can only hope that Mensa doesn’t rescind my membership.
      Oh, well, there’s always Densa.

  11. You made me feel like a Mensa member…haha! πŸ™‚

  12. I just signed up to your blogs rss feed. Will you post more on this subject?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *