It's been a long while since I've blogged, but there's been a lot keeping me busy over the last couple months. At the end of April, I finished medical school and then took a few weeks to work on some home projects since we were 1) getting ready to have some major visitors in May and 2) getting ready to move.
I took my bright pink desk and morphed it back into a kitchen table--this time white with fun-colored chairs. Since our new place in Milwaukee had a cute little dining room space, Nick and I picked up a gorgeous Crate & Barrel table off craigslist, and we had fun dip-dyeing some placemats and a tablecloth.
The first couple weeks in May flew by, and, before I knew it, we had a triple graduation weekend followed by a week's worth of cake baking and a wonderful, whirlwind wedding weekend.
We moved from Saint Louis to Milwaukee six days after we got married, and--man--that was a struggle. With my focus being on having visitors and getting ready for graduation and our wedding, I had not really packed anything or even gone through and gotten rid of excess things; it is quite remarkable how many things one can accumulate in the span of four years yet alone how many things two people can accumulate. I was in a panic the entire six days that I would never get everything in boxes before the determined move date, but we somehow managed much to my surprise.
We have taken a lot of the time since arriving in Milwaukee to do clerical business--new drivers licenses, new license plates, paperwork for our new jobs, orientation--but we've really been enjoying our time here so far. The "summer" weather here is seventy-five degrees and a much welcome change from a ninety-degree, ninety-percent humidity Saint Louis summer. Scout, in particular, has been reveling in these gloriously cool days.
We have gotten to explore the city a little bit, as well. We toured Miller shortly after arriving, and, though it was surprisingly a much smaller scale operation than the Budweiser tour (which I've done about a dozen times), I enjoyed it; however, nothing could beat our tour of Lakefront Brewery, which was comprised of two parts stand-up comedy routine, one part beer-drinking, and a pinch of beer-brewing information.
Lest you think our explorations of Brew City have been limited to the beer hot spots, we've also done some foodie exploring, including eating our fair share of cheese curds and local produce. Since we've happened to land ourselves a second season of Spring by moving further north, we've gotten to enjoy sugar snap peas and strawberries.
In fact (and as you can plainly see right here), we went and picked our own at one of the local farms. I couldn't resist a stab at making some strawberry freezer jam like we used to make when we were kids (and when picked copious amounts of strawberries because what kid has self-control when it comes to being set free to pick fruit yourself). I found Ball brand's instant pectin at Target, which was different than the Sure Jell pectin that we used growing up, but it required less sugar, so I thought I would try it out. Surprisingly, I couldn't tell that this was made with less sugar, and I really loved the fresh taste of this jam. Of course, the fact that it only required about 15 minutes of active cooking time (and no actual cooking or special timing) made me love it even more.
Adapted from FreshPreserving.com (there's a great calculator found here!).
3 tablespoons Ball RealFruit Instant Pectin
1 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups strawberries, washed, hulled, and crushed layer by layer (or pulsed in a few times in the blender or food processor)
Splash of lemon juice
- In a large bowl, combine the instant pectin with the granulated sugar. Whisk to combine.
- Pour in strawberries & splash in a little bit of lemon juice (probably 1 teaspoon or less); stir for 3 minutes.
- Ladle jam into clean 8-ounce jars or plastic tubs (should fill three to five 8-ounce jars). If using glass jars, use ones with straight sides. When filling jars or tubs, leave at least 1/2 inch headspace to allow for expansion during freezing.
- Let jam stand for 30 minutes at room temperature. After 30 minutes, you can 1) enjoy immediately (may still be a little runny), 2) refrigerate for up to 3 weeks, or 3) freeze up to 1 year.