02 August 2010

apricot jam's back in town (oh, and so am I, I think)

So it took an apricot to get me back here. And I don't even
like apricots. After Durian, they are possibly my least favorite fruit in the world.

But last year I made the brilliant discovery that
cooked apricots are sublime fruits. Cooking an apricot (and adding sugar in the process, no doubt) does something to the texture that makes a mealy, mushy, chewy, tart lump of orange something tantamount to a nectar of the gods, at least for me. That year I gorged on apricot cake with fresh cream and made my very first successful batch of jam. And the apricot won my heart in the process.

This year when the signs went up at our corner produce stand announcing apricots for cheap, my heart actually started racing. I started thinking of all sorts of ideas on how to get myself there so I could fill the biggest basket I could find. This is no small feat for me these days. I've tried to pop into the store with Kasper a few times this year and it's always ended in disaster, with him tossing baskets of fresh berries on the floor, fondling every soft stone fruit within reach, and, finally, screaming his head off as I restrain him so I can just get to the cash register and pay for the one thing I've managed to grab while fending him off the cherries.

my naked chef (no, he didn't touch any actual jam fruit)

I have to stop to tell you that, while I'm typing this post, I can hear the gorgeous *pop*of jam jars sealing next to me. It's quiet in our house, save for the buzz of the exhaust fan and the murmur of the TV in the other room. Both boys are asleep. Neither went tonight without a fight. Some things just don't seem to change.

And of course one of the things I'm happy to see stay the same, forever if you please, is the return of the apricot. After another failed attempt at making strawberry jam this year (it didn't set, but at least I didn't burn it this time), I can't tell you how satisfying it is that something's going right for me in the kitchen.

Cooking these days has been a real struggle, and to do it right I'm finding I have to do it when both kids are asleep, which is usually in the evenings or the weekends now that Jules no longer naps and Kasper's only averaging an hour a day. As you can might be able to tell from the light in the photos, what started as an afternoon project took me well in the evening to finish. Such is my life these days.

But all things considered, I'm pretty proud of what I've been able to do. One of my biggest feats so far has been getting rid of the majority of
food like substances in our diet. So for the most part we're eating stuff in it's whole state. No more (ok, not much) pancake mix, boxed cookies, pre-packaged frozen meals (except for the occasional pizza), boxed mac and cheese, etc. etc. I've even started cooking up pots of dried beans and freezing them. This is a big deal for me. Needless to say I'm a little tired trying to squeeze this in to our schedule, but I persevere...

What I do love about this (for us) new way of eating, though, is knowing exactly what we're putting into our bodies. If we're eating cookies, they might as well be a batch I baked myself. I even made a batch of homemade ice cream a few weeks ago. Next up, frozen yoghurt.

But back to the apricots. Or even better, back to the jam. The beauty of jam is its simplicity. Fruit, sugar, lemon juice. That's it. What I think I've finally learned now (on jam batch #4) is not to be afraid of sugar. Of course, that's something that's hard to do with two small kids in the house, but I keep telling myself that jam, in small quantities, is nothing less than a glorious thing and certainly not yet another fount from which my mommy guilt must gurgle. So I'm at peace with it. I have to be.

Welcome back to me. I'll try to stay a while this time.


  1. Welcome back! I've been periodically checking all along. Thanks for the stories. I can't believe how big Kaspar is now!

  2. nice come back...still waiting to trade you a jar for a jar of strawberry


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