The last month has been stressed and honestly, no great words can describe it. But that is life sometimes, the world stops and you have to just pack up and go where you need to be. When someone close to you suddenly loses his father, personally, for me, I stop everything and do what we need to do. The news came, I was ready to pack up and go, but with Easter weekend approaching, it was postponed and the rest of the week I just felt anxious.
(Sadly, this also changed my Whole30 month, but being halfway done, I learned a lot from it and hopefully will start another month soon).
Meaningful relationships are crucial to our happiness. We need the human bond to feel connected and joyful, and we enjoy life much more when we share it with people we love. There are times, however, when we are forcefully separated from our loved ones. Everyone copes with grief differently, and some of us never do.
When we lose someone we love, especially a parent, family member, or close friend, it distorts our universe and our peace, and nothing seems right. There is a future that will never exist and a past that we want to go back to, and we feel like we can't be further from the present moment and reality. You ask questions like "why" and "how" and don't receive any answers.
I have had tragic losses in my life. People who I loved dearly and that I remember on certain days or think about what would they have become if we hadn't lost them so early.
2016 has been a year of great loss already. But how do we deal with it? To me, I like to think that they are not gone-they had just changed.
They are still there-in the wind, in the air, in the sunshine, whenever I see a pink beautiful sunset, their music, talent and in my heart. So you are not coping with a loss, but a change. We tend to resist change as strongly as we can (I especially hate change), trying to stay in our current state of comfort and security because change is damn hard sometimes.
But life is constant change-sometimes severe, like the loss of someone we love; sometime wanted like a new home or baby, or sometimes surprising, like moving to another place and discovering you love it.
Our loved ones change, life changes, and we have to change too. Knowing that our loved ones are changed instead of gone makes it easier to accept reality. It gives me peace of mind.
In the South, we deal with this change with food. A lot of it. It's comforting to know that your community and church family are there to not only to feed your consoling, but also your body, because you still have to take care of yourself. There was an overwhelming amount of love and support that I saw for a man who loved his church, loved gardening and the earth and loved his family.
During conversations with visitors and family (some who had never met me), talked with and introduced what I did and took out my latest obsession with my jam making, Strawberry Cocoa Jam. Marisa McClellan who writes the blog Food in Jars, and I happen to own all her books that have taught me a lot about preserving and canning came up with this recipe and it's my new favorite.
I talked about it and opened up my jar and everyone tried it. They were amazed at the flavor and how it used coconut sugar rather than regular sugar. Needless to say, it was a hit. It's not your average strawberry jam. It is rich, dark, and amazing on buttery croissants. It's seriously like eating a chocolate covered strawberry, but it's a JAM. People literally ate it out of the jar with a spoon.
But it was also a time that brought people together, loving new things, while remembering the past.
Food is comfort and I'm happy to contribute in anyway of that and in that moment I did.
Strawberry Cocoa Jam
Recipe by Marisa McClellan from "Naturally Sweet Food in Jars"
Makes 8 (half-pint) jars
- 4 lbs. strawberries, hulled and chopped (about 10 cups)
- 2 1/2 cups coconut sugar, divided
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 3 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon calcium water
- 1 tablespoon Pomona's Pectin
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Penzey's Spices)
Prepare a boiling water bath and 8 half-pint jars according to the process explained here.
Place the strawberries, 1 1/2 cups of the coconut sugar, and the vanilla bean and seeds, lemon juice, and calcium water in a large, nonreactive pot. Give it several good stirs to help combine the ingredients and dissolve the coconut sugar. Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-high and continue to cook at a low boil, until the strawberries break down and the volume in the pot has reduced by a quarter. Depending on the water content in the berries, this will take 15-25 minutes.
While the fruit cooks, whisk the remaining 1 cup of coconut sugar together with the pectin and cocoa powder. Once the necessary amount of reduction has occurred, stir in the cocoa powder mixture. Return the jam to a boil and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes. When the jam has finished cooking, remove the pot from the heat. Funnel the jam into the prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Note: if your cocoa powder is really clumpy, push it through a fine-mesh sieve before combining it with the pectin.
I’m a girl that likes the pork, eggs, homemade soups..vintage books and children’s books, artists who love what they do, writers/bloggers who inspire me, and good food and music with fabulous people to share it with.