Thursday, March 29, 2012

Basil-Infused Strawberry Jam

In the past, I've made Strawberry Basil Jam, which includes chopped bits of basil within the jam.  While I love the taste of it, I personally didn't always appreciate the texture of the pieces.  So this time around I opted to infuse the basil in the jam, removing it before pouring the jam into jars.

Looking for the recipe?

Follow the directions exactly for strawberry jam on your powdered pectin box.  However, after you pour the sugar into your pot, once your jam starts to boil again, place 1 oz (about 1/2 cup) whole basil leaves into the pot, stirring it in as you stir your jam for exactly one minute.  When you go to skim the foam from your finished jam, remove the basil as well.  Process jars for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Important Note:  So that the basil wouldn't be floating around in separate pieces, I bound it in a bunch with a small twisty tie.  This made it easy to remove in the end.

So far I've sampled the jam mixed directly in with softened cream cheese as a cracker spread, added it to a bit of vinegar as a salad dressing, and marinated chicken near the end of a fiery grilling.  This I loved the best.  YUM.

Monday, March 26, 2012

My Favorite Sea World Moment

Nope, this is not about jam, and it's not really about Sea World either.

While some of our political views don't support wars between countries for the purpose of solving problems, sometimes it comes to that.  And so, we have a massive trained military to defend and maintain all the opportunities and freedoms we have as Americans.  I'm obviously simplifying things here.

I didn't know Joe when he was in the military.  Before we met, before he became an engineer, before he attended college, Joe was in Navy for 5 years, during which he trained to be a Rescue Swimmer.  He did all kinds of incredible and crazy stuff like completing SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) school, and later jumping out of helicopters into the ocean to save lives.  Again, I'm simplifying, but you get the idea.  My hubby is such a nice guy, you'd never know he was such a bad ass.

This has all come to the forefront of my mind lately as the result of a couple of public events.  While in the second row (Joe's idea) at the Shamu show at Sea World a few weeks ago, the announcer asked all former and current US and US supporting military to stand up.  There was this brief moment where no one stood.  Then seemingly one by one, many dozens of grandparents, dads and moms and young adults rose up all over the huge stadium.  Joe stood, nodded his head to others who were standing, and we all clapped and cheered for a long time.  It was an interesting few moments for our family since although our children know their daddy was in the Navy, they don't really understand at their age just what it means.  I couldn't help but come to tears, witnessing Joe as a part of this bigger, really important group of people with a common experience, history and understanding.  I was seriously proud and moved.

Luckily for Joe this moment happened before the girls and I realized that the second row "Soak Zone" literally meant that when you leave the show, it will be as if you were dunked in the tank with the whales for several minutes.  Charlie and I went along with it cheerily as Addie and Ruby cried until the end of the hazing.  How could we be upset at Joe with all that lingering pride soaking through us too?  Let's just say we sat further back at the dolphin show.

We chose the photo of Joe above to use in a video the girls' dance teacher is putting together to honor military veterans at their spring recital.  Her own husband has served for many years and is away from their family many months at a time.  That must be very difficult, and yet she is very passionate about honoring what her husband does.  Again, moved.  Thanks to him and Joe and all our veterans.  I can't imagine the experiences you've had and the sacrifices you've made to have our backs the way you do.