I finally made it back to the kitchen. Thank goodness – that’s just about all I can say at this point. When we built our house many years ago, I remember working with the architect to tell him what our dream house would look (hoping we could afford something close to it), and I specifically spent a lot of time talking about the kitchen. I told him I wanted a really big kitchen, that I plan on spending most of our time there, and I needed a big counter for all of my crazy food projects. On the plans, it definitely looked like he centered the house around the kitchen, which was ideal. It wasn’t really a “great room” concept, it was really just a big kitchen, with some other spaces next to it. Although I was still worried that wouldn’t be enough.
Soon the framers came and the kitchen was framed in – that’s when it set in that I actually got what was hoping for – and maybe it was even too big. Of course, over the years I have found use of every inch of my kitchen, and when I am stressed, there is nothing I want more than to be in my big kitchen all by myself – no music, no talking, no nothing – just me and the food. This last week, that was a big void in my life. In fact, with the little sleep that I got, I actually spent more time in my bedroom (awake typing on my phone), than any other room in my house – with the office being a close second. It was a week that I have not experienced in quite a while – one of the most intense work weeks of my life. The kind that makes you wonder if it is time to try something new. Fortunately I got through it though – and this weekend, I went back to the kitchen. I didn’t care if it was nice out – I needed to spend as much time possible making up for lost time.
So what did I do? I jammed. It was soothing, and peaceful, and wonderful. The farmer’s market is abundant right now – and the apricots are just the most beautiful color and texture. I used the recipe from the Food in Jars cookbook – and I don’t even like apricot jam. But I am telling you – there nothing better than homemade. I was scraping the side of the pot it was so amazingly delicious. I can’t wait to get that onto my English muffin in the morning…wow.
We all have stressful weeks – but what is most important is how you recover. I feel fortunate that I know what I need to regroup – it is actually a gift – because it gives me the ability to continue to forge ahead. I always think back to that day when I first saw my kitchen – all framed with wood. Little did I know that room would become so important in my life – so much has gone on in that room, but most of all, it is my space. My space to be calm, be creative, and start fresh. My space to forget about the past – and find the strength to think about the future.
- 6 cups peeled, pitted, and diced apricots (about 3 pounds whole fruit)
- 3 1/2 cups sugar
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
Prepare a small boiling water bath canner and 6 half pint jars. Place lids in a small pan of water and set to a bare simmer.
Combine the apricots and sugar in a roomy, non-reactive pot and bring to a boil. Boil for 10-15 minutes until the fruit thickens and runs slowly and thickly off the back of a spoon. Add the lemon juice and zest and return to a boil. Insert your candy thermometer into the jam and attach it to the side of the pot. Let the jam boil vigorously until it reaches 220 degrees for 2 minutes.
Carefully ladle jam into four half pint jars (depending on the concentration of the sugars in the fruit, it may reduce down further and leave you with just three half pints. Prepare to be surprised). Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process in your small boiling water canner for 10 minutes. When time is up, remove jars from pot. Let cool. When jars are cool enough to handle, remove rings and test seals. If seals are good, store jars in a cool, dark place. If any of the jars did not seal, put those jars in the fridge and use within a month or two.
Yield: Makes 3 pints
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