Friday, June 24, 2016

Blueberry Cardamom & Clove Jam -Pectin Free!

It's blueberry season. 

Earlier this week, I took the boys to our special spot to pick and we got a bucket full. We had enough for munching and enough for jam. Yes! 

So, today, I made jam. I wanted to try something different tho. I searched Pinterest and Google for recipes that sounded tasty, but none were quite what I wanted. So, in typical "me" fashion, I made it up. 

Here's what I know about blueberries: They are low in pectin. They congeal when mashed up. I don't like them too sweet.

Here's what I came up with: 
Blueberry Cardamom & Clove Jam

Here's how I did it:

-8 cups of blueberries (whole, unmashed)
-3 cups of brown sugar
-2 lemons
-a squirt of vanilla
-a generous sprinkle of cardamom
-a generous sprinkle of clove
***those last 3 ingredients can be omitted, decreased or increased based on your tastes!***

Mix washed blueberries, brown sugar, juice of the lemons into a pot and get 'em boiling. Add the vanilla and spices whenever you want to. My opinion is that the later you add the vanilla, the more you taste it, but the earlier you add the spices the more time they have to do their magic! My best advice...experiment! ;)
Once this is boiling, lower it to a steady simmer until the mixture is reduced by about half. 
***While it's simmering and reducing, prep your jars and lids! I used 3 1/4 pint jars (4oz each), 1 pint jar and had about a quarter pint left plan on 2 pints.
When it has reduced by about half, fill the jars, leaving about a 1/4" of head space. Can them in a water bath (about 10 minutes).  
Listen for that ever-satisfying "POP", and enjoy that leftover little bit on some fresh bread! 

Monday, June 6, 2016

I'm Thankful for Eggs and Bread

Lately, my depression has been sneaking up on me. Instead of a rapid attack, Satan used the slowing down of life at the end of May to ease me into a state of apathy and…how to describe it…fuzziness. Now that life is at a slower pace, I am out of survival mode. There’s nowhere to be. No homework to do. No games to attend or practices to be on time for. It’s a relief, really. April and most of May were exhausting.

So here I am. A few weeks into summer break. The new house is looking good; there’s nothing pressing or overtly ugly to fix. The kids are home all day; for better or worse. We only leave the house when we WANT to; playdates & errands, usually. And Satan is trying to use this idle time against me. This time that I was so looking forward to is being clouded with fuzziness and a distinct lack of motivation. Well, suck.

Then, this morning happened. I got up to feed the baby at 5:45 (the fact that he still wakes up for feedings at 10 months is a whole other post!), and stayed awake. I made coffee. I did a short yoga sequence. I drank hot coffee and studied the Bible. This is not a new routine for me. This is a routine I have had for the past year, but has been interrupted lately for a variety of reasons. But, this is a routine that gives me life. More about that another time though. J

After my morning routine of “me” time, I made breakfast for my family. This particular breakfast brought with it a renewed sense of gratitude. You see, I made French toast. With homemade cinnamon sugar raisin bread and eggs from our chickens. In the past few days, when the cloud of depression has been looming dark and low, I pushed through and made bread for my family. I took care of the chickens. In these particular moments of bread making and chicken tending, these things were chores; not particularly enjoyable and requiring an extraordinary amount of motivation…something I’ve been lacking lately. However, this morning, I saw a break in the clouds. A sliver of light shining through when I found satisfaction in feeding my family with my own hands. The bread I made. The eggs I collected. When I was sad, unfocused and would have rather been hiding in a dark hole…or at least binge watching Army Wives on Netflix ;)

Glory to God, y'all. (I’m still trying that word out. Yankee to my core, apparently!) Praise be to God for fighting for me. When I could hardly function under the cloud, Jesus said, “Screw you, Satan! You can’t have her!” Seriously!? The God of the universe fights for ME! What an incredible love I feel from my Jesus. The One who saved me! The One who continues to save me every. Single. Day. Glory to God.

So, today, I’ll find the small things to be grateful for. Eggs. Bread. Blanket forts. A fat baby who finally rolls (God help me!), PBS kids, sunshine, and on and on and on. But, I’ll also look for where God is moving, and be thankful for those things too. His providence. His protection. His grace. His mercy. His love. Definitely His love.