My head is full, my heart is ready. A few more days and it all shall pass, as they say. The last few days of the semester are the hardest, but most important, times to practice balance and moderation. In Sanskrit, moderation is matannuta, knowing the right amount: where well-being and contentment come together. I’m thankful for this Buddhism exam. It throws me beautiful and thought provoking buoys while navigating the sticky stuff.
Cooking provides the time and space to step away from what crowds our day planners, our thoughts, and helps us to practice “the right amount.” Too much vinegar will overpower your salad, not enough yeast will leave your loaves lifeless.
I love this fava bean crostini, for it is just the right amount.
In sync with the changes in season, Shaun and I spent this past weekend closing a chapter of our lives by packing up his apartment and moving into the little house down the road that will give him, and us, more room to grow. Moving may sometimes seem like a stressful endeavor, but going through closets, bookshelves, and old boxes helped us to slow down and savor the little mementos of our past that remind how far we’ve come as individuals, and as a couple. Tickets to baseball games, race bibs, old photos from our teens, letters from friends, clippings of the Times that inspired us on Sunday mornings past – just the little things that made us pause to honor the blessings in our lives. When I was boxing up the kitchen supplies I found an old egg-timer that I had accidentally set too close to the open flame of the stove and had half-melted into the tile counter top. It was clearly non-functional and why I didn’t just toss it back then, who knows. But it made me smile – this was the kitchen that Happyolks was born, and even though it was so small we could barely share counter space, it provided us with more memories and laughs than I can count. Late Sunday afternoon after some hardcore deep cleaning, spackling, and trips to Goodwill, we stood in the empty space glad for all that has been and excited for all that is still to come.
Seventy-five percent of our meals this weekend can be found at your local Whole Foods cold case (Golden Beet and Fennel salad for me, Calzones for him), but I did get around to experimenting with marmalades and preserves as an excuse to test-drive my new mason jars. Yes, I just used “test drive” and mason jars in the same sentence. First, a Grapefruit Ginger Thyme Marmalade and second, a Strawberry Rhubarb Basil Jam. They’re both sweet, and a little savory. That’s kinda what life feels like right about now around these parts. The marmalade is on the sour side, and I think it pairs well will poultry and mild greens. The jam would be lovely with biscuits or shortcake. If you’re feeling virtuous try a gluten free biscuit recipe at either Whole Life Nutritionor Gluten-Free Girl. Wanna splurge? Go for the shortcake recipe with cream from Joy the Baker.
For the Grapefruit Marmalade, you’ll need
3 large ruby red grapefruits
2 Meyer lemons
2 cups of raw sugar
2-3” nub of ginger, grated
a handful of fresh sprigs of thyme
With a paring knife, peel away the rind and pulp of a grapefruit and set aside. Cut in half, then remove the white membrane from the middle and discard. Cut the grapefruit into 1” chunks and place into a medium sized pot with 3 cups of water. Cut the rind and pulp into very thin strips no more than 2” in length and add to the pot. Repeat with the other two grapefruit and the lemons. Fill the pot with more water until just barely covering the top layer of fruit and rind. Bring to a rolling boil and cook for 30 minutes until the rinds are very tender. If the water level falls too low, add a bit of water. After 30 min, stir in the sugar and let the mixture come to a boil again. Reduce heat to the lowest setting and let simmer for another 25-30 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the thyme. Spoon the marmalade into sterilized jars to store in the fridge, or go through the heat bath process for long-term storage.
For the Strawberry Rhubarb Basil Jam, you’ll need:
3 heaping baskets of strawberries
6 (9” to 12”) stalks of rhubarb
2-3” nub of ginger, grated
**1 1/4 cup of ground flax seed
1 cup of raw sugar
Juice and zest of one meyer lemon
Handful of fresh basil
Rinse the strawberries and rhubarb in warm water and veggie spray (even if they’re organic). Remove stems from strawberries, cut large pieces to 1” chunks and add to deep pot. Remove tough ends of rhubarb and chop into ½ inch chunks and add to pot with the strawberries. Cover with 2 cups of water and bring burner to medium heat. Let the mixture simmer down to a near liquid then remove from heat, stir in flax, sugar, lemon juice, zest, and grated ginger and return to a low simmer. Stir off and on for 20 minutes to thicken and to prevent sugars from burning at the bottom of the pot. Remove from heat when the mixture has taken on a jelly-like texture and add the basil. When slightly cooled, spoon the jam into sterilized jars to store in the fridge, or go through the heat bath process for long-term storage.
** I used ground flaxseed as a thickening agent because half-way into the process I realized I didn’t have pectin! At first I thought it was going to be a disaster and that I had just destroyed $6 of fresh strawberries, but it turns out it worked really well! Who couldn’t use a little extra flax in their diets anyway, eh?