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Archive for January, 2015

marmalade

This weekend I got to check something off my long running list of things I want to make.

marmalade

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I’m still new enough at hot water bath canning that I don’t feel a real ease and rhythm with it, and the preparation for marmalade is fairly tedious, so I kind of understand now why it took me so long. But now that I have done it once, I will definitely do it again!

 

I used Marisa McClellan of Food In Jars recipe for Three-Citrus Marmalade, but since I didn’t have grapefruit I used the lemons and oranges I had on hand, which happened to be exactly the amount of fruit called for. I also ran out of sugar right away, so I substituted some honey which worked out great. I cut the sweetener down by a fair bit – using a total of about 3 cups instead of the 6 called for (I used about 1.5 cups of honey, 1.5 cups sugar). It is plenty sweet – not too sweet, and maybe could do with even a little bit less. I love the bitter of the peel, but the right balance of sweet is important.

marmalade_0b

marmalade_0

It seemed like it took forever to cook, and I didn’t reach a steady 220 until later in the cook time. I ended up with quite a thick jam though, and 1/2 pint less than the recipe estimated, so maybe I cooked a bit longer than necessary.

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The result is the best marmalade I’ve ever had. This is the first time I’ve ever had home made marmalade though, so not to toot my own horn too much ;) Tonight we had biscuits with brie and marmalade and Steven busted out with some crazy analogy to quality speakers… like how the specs on a speaker are conveyed in a range… Tweeters cover a certain upper range, midrange covers a certain range in the middle, bass a certain part of the low range…  and so with a nice 20hz/20khz speaker it would cover a range from low to high that goes beyond human hearing, making it sound spectacular. By this point I was looking at him like, “huh?” And then he finished up by saying, well this marmalade goes outside of the range of normal human taste. Uhhh, yeah!

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On my list for tomorrow is a loaf of bread, so we can butter some marmalade toast. Mmmm.

 

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a new year

Happy New Year, friendly folks.

This year I’ve been letting the concept of “New Year’s Resolutions” stir quietly, without mental inputs or particular expectations, and it’s been refreshing to see what has been coming to me. I appreciate opportunities to check in and consider how to do things better – improve on myself, on my life, on my relationships – and Steven and I tend to do this together a few times a year, usually on birthdays and sometimes at the new year. Checking in with ones self, with honesty and humility, is important for maintaining a healthy, balanced life.

This year feels clean and quiet, with a few areas that create a subtle rise of my heart rate. Those are the areas that require the real honesty and humility :)

A few of the things that have been naturally coming together –

Morning meditation. We go in and out of the habit of making time to be still and tune in, and it’s been quite a while since I have felt so naturally, wholly and peacefully interested in making time for this again. I wake up looking forward to it each day, and have had some excellent realizations, inner adjustments, and heart opening changes taking place.

Cooking dinner with intent and creativity. I love to cook, and dinner is our main meal where we always sit down and eat together, but usually it’s prepared as simply as possible, with as little hands-on time as possible because we are both wrapped up in work or projects. I have been making a point to set my projects aside each evening, gather a few seeds of inspiration and decide on a meal I think we would love. I find I’m going out in the garden more for ingredients, clipping more fresh herbs, and the house ends up filled with the incredible smells of a slow cooked meal. It is so much more satisfying, and our simple diet is becoming slightly more diverse.

Reading; good old fashioned reading, from books written with purpose. My first read this year was “Kinship With All Life,” by J. Allen Boone. This was actually a gift to Steven from my mom (thanks, mom!). I picked it up not knowing what to expect and was a little unsure at first. But then I couldn’t put it down, and I only wish it had been longer! I want to read it again. It honestly has changed the way I go about my day, particularly when out in the world amongst others. One of the things that has stuck with me most is the importance of living, moving and perceiving with pure intent and pure motives, and to see the best in the life forms around me. I feel I already live with pure motives and intent, and I love all life, but really, it can sometimes be hard to see the best in people… and in dogs, which I have become afraid of after being bit a few times in recent years. With people, I have sometimes become cynical, wary and unsure. Maybe dogs are suffering the same plight as their people. It’s important to be alert and discerning in this crazy world, but wariness and cynicism is not what I want the foundation of my perception of others to be built on. A couple days ago, I actually had the best experience I can recall in a long time with a pretty big dog, and I couldn’t help but feel like that wise animal was having fun with me for my own benefit.

Expressing kindness (to strangers): This is something I started trying to do more of a few months ago. It is easy (for me) to go about my way, and not engage the strangers I pass. I easily tend to keep to myself. However, I have been practicing looking out more, seeing all there is to see around me with a clear, open view (rather than the tunnel vision that often happens when you are on a mission, just getting things done), and the result has been that I am pretty much in a whole new world. A simple act, but try it with intent and I bet it will be interesting, at least. In doing this, I tend to look at people’s faces more and longer than I would otherwise, and then I might share a smile, and often a smile comes back. In those moments, it feels almost old fashioned, to see eye to eye and share a smile, and it stirs a feeling that all could be right in the world. I have had some interesting, unusual conversations come about from this as well. Does this sound crazy? Can you relate? I feel things have changed so much in the world, and some of what were once the most basic behaviors that we all took for granted, are now hard and feel ‘unnatural’ for people.

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I’d love to hear any thoughts you guys have, things you are working on for yourself, ways you can relate or not, anything you want to share. Would also love to simply know you’re out there. Stats tell me a number of someones are there! Blogging seems to be losing it’s place in the realm of social networking, or at least the place it once had, with all the faster paced, more visual outlets there are. Maybe we are getting quieter as readers. Or maybe the remaining readers are the quiet ones. I am also pondering how to blog this year. All business? All personal? Keep on as usual? … Is there even a need to segment one’s life between business and personal? So many questions : )

Love to all,

Abby

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