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Meet Our New Staffer

Aug 15, 2011

Today’s an exciting day at the office. We began the day with some wheat bread and homemade raspberry jam, brought by our newest staffer, Laura Johnson. Laura is our assistant marketing director. She will be working with Heidi Marsh to be sure fresh, entertaining material is always available to you on our website.

Gardening and cooking are some of Laura’s favorite hobbies, so she might start contributing some recipes and food articles. Laura wrote a couple of paragraphs to introduce herself to our web readers. We asked her to share the raspberry jam recipe with you, too.

Our new staffer, Laura Johnson.


I started out life on a farm north of Mission Hill. I can remember hot summer days spent out in the bean field spraying weeds with my dad and brothers. Every now and then, Dad would suggest we quit early for the day and head over to Ponds of Fun to relax. By Ponds of Fun, he meant the scummy, snapping turtle-infested pond in Mission Hill. It had its hazards, but the water was cool and it beat working. 

After 13 years spent in exile in Minnesota, I moved back to South Dakota in 2006. One of the things that brought me back home was the desire to spend time with aging grandparents, but another draw was the ability to see the sky again. When you grow up loving farmland and prairie, being hemmed in on all sides by trees and buildings can be rather oppressive.

Last year, I was allowed access to a friend's abandoned raspberry patch. I wasn't even sure I liked raspberries, but was lured in by the idea of free food and the ability to indulge in my passion for pulling weeds. Once I had experienced the thrill of seeking out the little red berries while fighting off insects, thorny raspberry canes, and giant weeds, I was hooked. Once my friends and family tried the homemade raspberry jam that resulted from my labor, they were hooked too. Be careful who you choose to give a jar to - they will pester you for more.

Raspberry jam glows atop a slice of peanut butter toast.

Red Raspberry Preserves

4 cups raspberries
3 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

Makes about 3 cups.

Sort fresh raspberries, discarding any that are soft, moldy, or otherwise dubious looking. Rinse and drain them well.

Stir the raspberries, sugar, and the lemon juice together in a bowl, using a rubber spatula. Let the mixture stand, stirring gently once or twice, until the sugar has dissolved, about 2 hours.

Scrape the mixture into a stainless steel or other nonreactive large skillet or sauté pan. Bring it to a boil, stirring constantly with a straight-ended wooden or nylon spatula, and boil it rapidly, stirring often, until it passes the jelly test; this will take from 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the juiciness of the berries. Remove from the heat.

Skim off any foam and ladle the hot preserves into hot, clean half-pint canning jars, leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Seal the jars with new two-piece canning lids according to manufacturer’s directions and process for 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath. Cool, label and store the jars. The preserves will keep for at least a year in a cool cupboard.

If the jelling doesn’t work out, do not fret. Even if it does slide off your toast, the cooked berry-sugar mixture will still make a fine sauce for ice cream, waffles, or anything else that would benefit from a sweet, fruity topping.

From “The Good Stuff Cookbook” by Helen Witty 


02:54 pm - Mon, August 15 2011
Katie said:
Welcome to the magazine, Laura! And thanks for the jam. I think it's all gone, by the way! Or else someone stole the jar.
03:28 pm - Mon, August 15 2011
Laura said:
Thanks, Katie ... although I am a bit disturbed to learn that the magazine may be crawling with jam thieves.
04:10 pm - Mon, August 15 2011
Rebecca Johnson said:
Welcome! I look forward to more goodies.
07:17 pm - Mon, August 15 2011
Katie said:
You can't beat the price on that cookbook - three cents plus shipping!
06:39 am - Tue, August 16 2011
Heidi said:
So happy to have you on board Laura. And yes, one of your job requirements is a lifetime supply of this jelly. It was DELICIOUS!
08:54 am - Tue, August 16 2011
Inez Harris said:
Welcome to South Dakota Magazine from a former part time employee. You have joined a great group of people and a superb employer, Bernie. He is the best--a bit of a politician as you know, but also a great human being. And Barb Hanson is one of the best advertising gals you will ever meet. She was my immediate supervisor during the 13 years I sojourned there. For health reasons I had to cease my association. What a bummer! Good Luck. I am not a "canning person", but your raspberry jam recipe sounds petty simple. Inez L. Harris
09:09 am - Wed, August 17 2011
Emily R said:
Just tried some of the jam and it was excellent! Welcome Laura and thanks for sharing your talents with us... especially your cooking!
06:53 am - Tue, August 23 2011
Glenda Wiese said:
Hey Laura, Congratulations on your new job --and, because I just read this article, I subscribed to SD Magazine. Can't wait to see some of your recipies in it along with all the other interesting news of our beautiful state!
08:18 am - Tue, August 23 2011
Diane Drake said:
Great to see you on the magazine staff. I have enjoyed the magazine for several years now and look forward to Laura's contributions. I agree about the need for open spaces. I live in the Red River Valley in Minnesota and find it breathtakingly beautiful with its open spaces. Having gone to graduate school in Vermont, I know what it is like to be hemmed in. While others raptured about the mountains, I raptured about open spaces. It's nice to see a sensible woman who finds them as beautiful as I do.
09:46 pm - Tue, August 23 2011
Richard Nelson said:
Congratulations on your new position. We have subscribed to the South Dakota magazine for about a year now. I am a highschool classmate of your mother and knew your Grandpa and Grandma Mark. Given your Danish ancestry, we hope to see more articles like the "Legacy Bridges" of Turner County. The ethnic migrations to the Dakota Territory are a part of our South Dakota heritage. The country schools that many of us attended were also attended by our grandparent when they were children but also by our great grandparents during the evening to learn enough English and America history to pass the citizenship test that had to be passed in order to take title to their homesteads, i.e. non-citizens could homestead before becoming citizens but had 5 years to both prove their homestead claim and become citizens. Best wishes!
07:17 am - Wed, August 24 2011
Laura said:
Thanks for the warm welcome, everyone!

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