Chapter 3 – Margaret

Straw-be-ry, strawberry! Yay strawberries! …Cough, excuse me.

No, you know, Lady Adelaide’s field was amazing.
Not only did we have vegetables, but we also had a strawberry farm.
There were blueberry trees over there, and as a person who always went strawberry and blueberry picking every year, I was so excited.
When I heard that I could get other berries by going to the forest leading from the backyard, I couldn’t wait for that season.

And now, the strawberries.
I harvested them again yesterday.
I would do it again today.
Pick only the ones that turned red that day and eat them as they were or use them to make sweets.
Oh no, what a luxury, yummy yummy!

There were quite a few red ones today, so I could make jam.
I didn’t know how obsessed I was with strawberry jam.

I picked them quickly without a scratch and returned to the building.
Please call me an artisan for my skills.
Oh, and the fact that I was holding a basket lined with a red gingham check cloth in one hand just added to my excitement.
What was this Ann’s world? Even young grass was fine.

Buddy was waiting for me at the end of the field, I gave him a pat and we left together.
We enjoyed the clean air while singing a voiceless song, ‘Come back, come back!’… The morning sun shone softly on the trees in the forest, and the breeze was refreshing.
Then, there was the sound of birds chirping happily.

This side of the forest behind the house was Adelaide’s private property, and village people rarely came here, so even a little eccentricity wouldn’t go noticed… That was great.
I felt so good, I was spinning around.

Ugh, no, my ankle still hurt.

I’d been here for about two months.
I heard that there were four seasons, but I was relieved to hear that the summers were not so hot.
How hot and humid it was in Tokyo! No matter how many years I lived there, my northern-born body could not get used to it, and I lost about five kilos every summer.
I’d gain back in the winter.
Ah, the summer in Tokyo that made me broke out in a greasy sweat just thinking about it…

And there were many vegetables and fruits that were similar, but might not be exactly the same.
You see, in the original world, there was breeding and improvement, but here, it seemed to be closer to the original species, and fruits were about one size smaller.
The colors, shapes, and seasons were also slightly different.
Maybe I was just so used to the vegetables served in greenhouses that I didn’t know what was in season.

Well, but it tasted similar… I mean, to be frank, this one tasted better.
The taste of the ingredients was rich and straightforward.

Fresh vegetables could be quickly washed, cut, and sprinkled with salt or oil.
You didn’t need bouillon or fond de veau to make soup.
Add some garlic (or something like that), shallots (or something like that), and bacon, and you’d gotten, well, a Provençal soup! No, I honestly didn’t know what Provence style was, but that was just the atmosphere.
It was delicious.

Lady Adelaide’s wide variety of fields and the high-quality meat and dairy products were available in the neighborhood.
I was confident that I was eating the healthiest and tastiest food in my life.
My skin glowed better and I felt a little less flabby… This was probably because I was working on housework and cleaning.

I was not a mayo lover by nature.
I liked rice, but I also liked bread.
I was not that particular about Japanese food.
In short, I was just a foodie who was satisfied as long as I could eat something that tasted good.

The condition of my skin was so good that it made me realize that cosmetics were an aid, even though I was the one who sold them.

No, I think it was necessary, and it made a big difference how you take care of your skin.
You could change your life from the ground up, like eating and sleeping… Yes.
Sakashita, I hoped you’d recovered from your gastroenteritis.
It was a stress-free life we were aiming for! I couldn’t, though! I wanted to cry!

Early to bed, early to rise, a balanced diet with eight portions, moderate exercise, clean air and water.
Things that I knew I should have done but had been too busy to do were here in my daily life.

Sometimes, I felt a pang in my chest when I suddenly remembered the past, but since I was here, I was going to enjoy the present.

“Ah, you’re back, Margaret.
My my, so many.”


Lady Adelaide looked at the strawberries in the basket and seemed to enjoy herself.
She winked adorably at me, saying that we could finally make jam, and Buddy’s tail shook in surprise.
Ever since we started harvesting strawberries, we’d been talking about making jam, making jam, making jam.

I washed the strawberries briefly in the well’s sink water we had in the front yard of the kitchen to remove any soil or anything else.

I didn’t wash them when I made jam with packaged strawberries from the supermarket.
Because a girl I knew who worked as a pastry chef told me so.

If the strawberries were grown in the open air, they had dirt and straw on them, so they needed to be washed; but if the strawberries were grown and distributed in a sanitary manner, they could be left as they were.
I’d heard she said that washing left water on the strawberries, which was not good.
Certainly, anything you cared about other than soil stains was going to be sterilized by heating, and you could remove the scum as often as you liked.

When it was clean, gently wrap it in a cloth to remove the water.
Put them in a colander and let them air dry.
From the point where they seemed to be dry, use a petit knife to remove the stems and damaged parts, then halve or quarter the large ones and put them in a bowl.
Then measure the weight of the strawberries, excluding the weight of the bowl.

I used to use granulated sugar or white sugar.
Granulated sugar gave a clean taste and color, while white sugar gave a rich sweetness.
At the usual supermarket, granulated sugar was pricey, so I used mostly white sugar.
And white sugar went on special sale now and then!

The amount of sugar should be exactly half the weight of the strawberries.

I thought this might seem like a lot to some people.
Who? Who said you had to go easy on the sweetness if it was homemade? Jam was a preserved food.
If you reduced the sugar, you wouldn’t be able to preserve it.

In fact, I’d even made it with sugar down to 30% of the strawberries.
It was nice to be able to taste the fruit directly, but I had to store it in the refrigerator before opening the package and ended up using a lot at one time, so I went back to the original one the next season.

I figured if you were worried about calories, you could adjust it with the amount of sugar.
If it was not sweet enough, I ended up using a lot, so I’m more satisfied with “a little of something sweet”, I guess.
You could add it to tea instead of sugar, and it went well with yogurt.
Yeah, that was good.

So, definitely half as much sugar as strawberries.
This was an ironclad rule.

Put the strawberries and sugar in a bowl, cover it with a lid to keep out dust, and leave it for a while.
If it was not a hot day and you were not worried about spoilage, you could leave it overnight.
The water from the strawberries should moisten the sugar before you started to cook.
If your pan was made of enamel or stainless steel, you could melt the sugar and strawberries in the pan from the beginning and heat it directly.

The one that Lady Adelaide brought for the jam had a calm gold color and looked like a copper pot… The kind of copper I’d always wanted.
I didn’t know about metals in this world, but in my mind, this was a copper pot.
I was already grinning.
What a wonderful life, using a copper pot to make jam from strawberries picked in the field behind the house.
But copper rusted easily, so I only used it for boiling.

I was never interested in the stylish slow life, but… It’s just not very realistic, is it? I thought you had to be a very generous person in many ways to do that.
The fields and kitchens were as beautiful as ornaments, and I felt like I was lying when I said that.

Real life in the countryside was much earthier, and human relationships were troublesome.
On the back porch were not sneakers but boots with mud stains stuck to them.
Real farmers were really busy and didn’t like to do anything time-consuming, so their houses were full of convenience goods and plastic products.
For detergent, the priority was to remove dirt rather than to be eco-friendly.
That was the kind of real life I knew… Well, the world seemed to be small, but it was big, so there were probably people who practice a stylish slow life.

Even in this world, farmers and handmade products didn’t seem to be very popular.
That was what Adelaide talked about when she said, “We’re too far behind,” and “We don’t have any useful magic tools”.

Well, it seemed that Lady Adelaide and this house were in the early Showa period or pre-war period in Japan, or something like that.
There was no rice cooker, no microwave or electric kettle.
There was a hand pump for water, electric lighting, a septic tank for toilets, but not a broom for cleaning.
And the ladies of this village were a bit too much for me…And they seemed to shy away.
Isn’t that fine? No personal problems.

I didn’t have a rice cooker to begin with.
Because I just couldn’t get the rice to taste good in the small rice cooker my brother had given me.
The rice cookers that cooked well were for family use and were surprisingly expensive.
I couldn’t cook for myself every day anyway, so I cooked in a pot.
It was delicious, rice cooked in a pot.
If you excluded the soaking time, you could eat it in about 20 minutes.

I was attached to my grandmother when I was little, so I was used to cleaning with an old-fashioned brush and rag.
Okay, this one was clear.

In fact, I didn’t have any confidence that I could use a magic tool with no magic power.
They said it was made for everyone, but I couldn’t handle it if something went wrong, I never could.

So, I was able to get used to it quickly.
I thought I was probably much faster than the young girls in this world, partly because of the way Lady Adelaide taught me.
I didn’t mind mud or bugs… Oh, I’m so sorry to say that I was not very cute.
That was why I was alone – it was okay.

I put the bowl of jam in the kitchen’s corner and prepared lunch.
Lady Adelaide ate a hearty breakfast and dinner, but a very light lunch.
It was like a German cold plate.
Bread, cheese or fruit, and a drink.
Sometimes there was not even bread.

In the beginning, she was very careful with me and had a solid lunch, but when she found out I wasn’t like that to begin with, she relaxed.
If you pushed yourself too hard, living together will ruin you, especially your lifestyle.
I didn’t really care that much about lunch either, I had a lot of things I wanted to do during the day and a lot of things I needed to do.

So, I laid out a lunch that didn’t even need to be cooked and made a cup of tea.
I rang the bell and called Lady Adelaide, we smiled at each other, and clasped our hands together, saying, “Thank you for the food”.

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