Shirley tells us why she started making jams, how to make the yummiest grilled cheese, and why making people laugh makes her happy.
Shirley Landis Vanscoyk is the Chief Cook and Bottle Washer at Spread Love, Jellies Jams and Condiments. Aside from making a Story Slam Video we think youâ€™ll love about her pigs, Shirley shared with us how she was once chased by a Grizzly Bear. Weâ€™re all thankful she’s alive, well, and able to share such an awesome story.
What makes Shirley happy? Interchanges with people and making them laugh, making people say â€˜Yum!â€™, and ice cubes (She has 12 trays in her freezer so she’s always prepared if she needs one.)
Shirley gained her knack for people and laughter from her parents. Her father was super funny and was more interactive with his family than anyone else.Her mother, however, engaged in conversation with everyone, including strangers, and could speak with anyone about anything. Because she immigrated from Australia during World War II, Shirley explains her mother was pretty fearless of engaging with others. This is something Shirley absorbed early on.
Ironically, Shirley identifies as an introvert. She developed a persona to make people laugh when sheâ€™s in a situation that would typically make her anxious. After a day of selling her products at a festival or teaching a class, she feels depleted and likes to take a day to recuperate alongside her dog. People that know the talkative Shirley are very surprised to find out she is shy. Still, making people laugh makes her incredibly happy.
Shirley compares making people laugh to scoring. Whether she is able to do this for 30 seconds or 3 hours, if she sends people home in a happy mood, she feels like she is sending people home in a good mood and maybe counteracting their tendency to complain or be in a bad mood. Getting people to laugh, she explains, is like solving a problem. Itâ€™s assessing what she can say to make them happy. Does she always make people laugh? No. Does this make her sad sometimes? Yes, but she doesnâ€™t dwell on it. She knows she canâ€™t be everyoneâ€™s cup of tea.
In fact, she’s usually the person that brings up the elephant in the room. Growing up, Shirleyâ€™s dad taught her that it wasn’t enough to be charming or pretty. You have to be intelligent also. Hence the debates he purposefully started at dinnertime.
Moving on to the â€˜Yum!â€™ factor, Shirley discovered after retiring she liked to make people happy through food as much as she liked to make them laugh. When she shares a taste of her jam and someoneâ€™s eyes light up, she knows sheâ€™s exchanged something good. She loves seeing peopleâ€™s reactions to food in general. Like the little girl who works at the local deli where she sells her jams and her reaction to eating a warhead for the first time. Or her grandson trying baba au rhum for the first time in Rome. How about the reaction her grandchildren had seeing her mother eat lobster for the first time? It’s a miracle they’re not more traumatized, she says.
Speaking of people and food, Shirley believes that relationship has become more complicated. Allergies, intolerances and dietary choices are much more elaborate than they used to be and people are often careful to know what they’re eating. Not to be confused with tasting something you don’t like or aren’t genetically prone to liking. For example, Shirleyâ€™s intolerance of asparagus.
Shirley shares a few recipes and remedies weâ€™re excited for you to hear. Weâ€™re also hoping you can try her jam at some point! Primarily for taste, but also for the pretty awesome names such as Sgt. Pepper Jam, WAM!BAM! Thank you, Jam!, and all the others she invents when thinking about making jam at 3 a.m.
There are only a few foods Shirley doesn’t like, including asparagus, but also salmon and eggplant. One thing that will always make Shirley happy is both the taste and smell of apples and cinnamon. Although her mother was a bad cook, she has wonderful memories of her grandmother bringing her delicious apple pies to events.
Last but not least there are ice cubes. Why do these little bits of frozen liquid make Shirley happy? Especially in hot weather, she puts ice cubes and fruit in her immersion blender and makes iced fruit. To Shirley, there is nothing better than eating this on your porch with your dog or your cat. Simple pleasures.
What else makes Shirley happy? Eating roast chicken, the movie â€˜The Color Purpleâ€™, watching her grandchildren, being on her little farm, and memories of lying under an elm tree as a child. You can learn more about Shirley virtually by visiting her Facebook Page or in person by going to The Glenmore Deli and Country Store on Rt. 282.
Links / Read / See / Hear
From Shirley: Spread Love, Jellies Jams and Condiments (Facebook)
Jason Zappolo for editing and mixing this episode; follow Jason on instagram.
Orly Margulis for social media support; follow Orly on linkedIn.
RocÃo CastaÃ±eda for ongoing support; follow RocÃo on instagram.