Whenever I am stressed, I find great comfort in simple chores. Spring has given me the urge to purge but my time has been most limited. My two great Spring Cleaning accomplishments have been cleaning out and re-organizing my spice cabinet and cleaning out my freezer.
This shallow cabinet used to be the built-in ironing board. It makes a great spice cupboard. How do you like my old-school-step-stool-media center? I've played many a TED talk on my lap top while stirring jam. The fancy speakers are out of frame on the floor.
The older I've gotten, the wiser I have become about riding the waves of life. There are very many things I cannot control, change or fix - although it is my impulse to try. Something greater than my mind is in charge of things. This is a good thing, because my mind is extremely imaginative - and not always in a way that I enjoy. When I feel overwhelmed or worried, I know what to do to bring my mind back:
Get dirty in the garden
Make jam or pickles
Prepare a great meal
Take a walk in Nature
Journey and/or pray
Take a nap
Have a reality check with my smart and loving people
This list is not presented in any particular order. All of them work for me. One thing I've left out are the efforts I make to bring comfort to those who are suffering. I think I'm pretty good at it. The things I've listed here are the things that restore me. These are the ways I bring comfort to myself. This is a worthy and necessary pursuit. Maybe you don't need convincing, but sometimes I do.
This jam is a result of Spring Cleaning therapy. I found a bunch of frozen plum pulp in the bottom of my freezer and decided to make jam with some of the spices. I used the reduced sugar Sure Jell in the pink box. While I've enjoyed learning the ins and outs of natural pectin, sometimes I want the brighter flavors that come with a shorter cooking time. This jam is simple but sophisticated. It's very tangy and makes a perfect complement to cured meats when mixed with the mustard of your choice. I must admit, I love plain old yellow mustard.
Chicken Mango sausage on whole wheat with mayo and spicy plum mustard.
Spiced Plum Jam
6 1/4 cups plum pulp (I am lazy and cook the plums whole then put through a food mill)
4 whole cloves
1 tsp. rainbow peppercorns
2 cardamom pods
3 sticks cinnamon
3 slices fresh ginger
4 1/2 cups sugar
Place the plum pulp, cinnamon cinnamon sticks and ginger in a large pan. Bash the cardamom pods to expose the seeds. Place the cloves, peppercorns and cardamom pods in a mesh tea ball and add to the pan. Mix the pectin with 1/4 cup of the sugar and stir into the fruit mixture and bring to a full rolling boil. Stir frequently to prevent scorching. When a full rolling boil has been reached, stir in the remaining sugar. Return to a boil and boil exactly one minute. Remove from heat and scoop out the spices. Skim any foam. Carefully ladle jam into hot, sterilized jars. Wipe the rims with a clean, damp cloth or paper towel. Cover with lids and rings. Process in the boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Carefully remove from the boiling water bath to a towel lined tray. Allow to cool and seal before labeling.
Makes 8 half-pint jars.