I've been blogging for more than a year now. In the blogosphere I'm way past overdue for a cushy, reflective post about how my life has been transformed through blogging--just so long as this post and this post don't count as cushy and reflective. This is the point in a blogger's life that they are approached by big time publishers to print the records of their trials now overcome by romantic love or self-love or self-actualization or blah blah blah and how blogging helped them live their life to the fullest. How recipe after recipe, each blogger has moved past fears, loneliness and illness to be a truer version of themselves. Transformation is packaged for film by film by film by bestselling novel by self-help book, and I buy it and you buy it and I totally believe in that I can change into this version of Lainey that lives the ideal life. But how much of change is opening up a door to what you already were. I change my clothes every day. I change my hair. I move into a new apartment. I get a new job. I write a different story. I use a new recipe. So yeah, I've changed. But when I look back, I always loved squash, I just didn't know it yet. I always had wavy hair, I just didn't know how to work with it. I've always been adventurous, I just used to be afraid to be alone. There isn't an ending; there isn't a final epiphany; it keeps going. Last week I made quiche, Monday I made ratatouille and Tuesday I made tomato salad with croutons. Sunday I was strong, Monday I was scared, Tuesday I fell in love, Wednesday broke my heart. I and you and we get knocked down, cry our tears, learn our lessons, and (however long it takes) we get back up and do it all over again. And in the meantime, we make jam. Not dramatic jam. Not lyrical jam. And NOT transformational jam. Jam is not a metaphor. IT'S JAM.Jam with handpicked strawberries--ones we gathered on our hands and knees along with a load of chigger bites, but we did it all by ourselves. Jam with juicy peaches and orange juice, vanilla and amaretto. And it tastes just like summer, as literally as a season can taste like something. We make a humongous, sticky mess in the kitchen and clean it up afterwards. And we share. (Now we're to the climax of this dooce-like monologue.) We share our runny, sweet jam. This is life people! Transformation happens every day.
Peachy Sunrise Jam: adapted from Barefoot Contessa and Crane Coffee's smoothies 2 pints hulled strawberries 2 peaches, diced 1/4 cup Jonathon apple, diced 2 cups fine sugar 1 tablespoon orange juice 1 tablespoon amaretto liqueur 1 teapsoon vanilla optional: pectin or citrus peal Wash all fruit. Cut up the bigger strawberries, otherwise leave them whole. Place strawberries and peaches in a heavy saucepan. Toss sugar, vanilla, orange juice and liqueur in with the fruit. Put saucepan on medium heat and bring to a rolling boil, stirring frequently. Add apples while the fruit mixture is boiling. Continue boiling until sauce reaches 220 degrees (on a candy thermometer)--takes about 25 to 30 minutes. Once sauce reaches desired temperature, turn off heat. Skin the foam off the top of the jam. My jam didn't get as thick as I would have liked. Adding citrus peal or pectin would have helped. I followed directions on Ball's (the mason jar people) Web site, FreshPreserving.com. But here's a quick rundown. To sterilize the jars, I placed the jars, lids and bands in boiling water. That was wrong. So I had to do it again in not-quite-boiling water. The only thing wrong with that is the rubber on the lids can't take the heat. So I used different lids. K, jars are sterilized. Without touching the lids or the lips of the jars, I poured the jam into the jars and placed the lids on the jars with a pair of tongs (also sterilized). With the jars filled and the bands secured, I placed the jam in boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes. Without removing the jars from the hot water, I turned the heat off and let the water and jam cool slowly. An hour or so later, I removed the jars from the water. The seals still hadn't popped, which caused a bit of concern. But as I was staring at the jam, all the seals popped in. And voila, preserved strawberry jam. Please also follow the directions on FreshPreserving.com.