Do you ever wonder how you got to where you are? How you ended up in the town you live in, with the career you have? Were you someone who always had a plan, and if so, was the blueprint you mapped out in your head the same one you ended up following?
Look, I got married young. Colin and I met in college, and within a few years we were hitched.
And from the very beginning, one thing that has always amazed me about him is how he can see his own future. He's a big thinker, with grand dreams, and each day he wakes up, and with boundless energy and an endless sense of both possibility and wonder, he barrels towards that vision. I find it remarkable, really.
Me? Ah. I'm different. I can't see two steps in front of me. I reach towards some nebulous goal, veer off, course-correct, feel satisfied, feel dissatisfied, and spin around. This makes me, in Colin's words, "interesting."
I'm goal-oriented, in many respects, but I've never really dreamed "ahead."
So I take one day at a time. One project at a time. One small, baby step at a time.
Recently, I wanted to make jam.
It was a tiny dream, perhaps, but I could see it, right there in front of me.
And that was something.
Recipe for Apricot Vanilla Anisette Jam
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go cherry and apricot picking. I came home with a ridiculous number of cherries (have you checked out the What's Ripe Right Now Group lately? It's swelling!) and a bag heavy with Blenheim apricots. The apricots sat in the fridge for about a week, mellowing, waiting for me to stop fawning over the cherries, which finally, finally, I did.
The apricot jam in Kim Boyce's Good to the Grain served as my guide here.
Makes 3 cups
3 pounds ripe apricots (even slightly past-prime is fine), preferably Blenheim, halved and pitted
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
2 teaspoons Anisette, Pernod, Ouzo, Galliano, or your favorite anise-y liqueur, or more, to taste
Place a small plate in the freezer. Set a large bowl of ice, with a bit of cool water in it, on the counter.
Combine the apricots and sugar in a large, heavy pot. Halve the vanilla bean and scrape in the seeds; toss the pod in, too. Stir over medium heat until the fruit begins to weep its juices and the sugar melts.
Raise the heat slightly and continue cooking for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring constantly, until the apricots have largely fallen apart but some soft mounds of fruit still remain. Kim's book says the jam is done when it reaches 200 degrees on a candy thermometer, but mine never really climbed above 190. To test doneness, spoon a bit on the frozen plate, flip the plate upside down, and see if it clings. If it does, you're good. Pull the pot from the heat and stir in the liqueur.
Carefully scrape the jam into a bowl that will fit comfortably inside the ice bath; set the bowl in the ice. Stir occasionally for a few minutes, then spoon the jam into clean jars. Let cool, uncovered, then seal and set in the fridge. (I keep all my jam refrigerated because I'm not a proper canner.)
Finally, I like to keep the vanilla bean in the jam. It makes me happy.