So fickle…

Umm, I changed my mind.

The whole reason I left WordPress (back in–what? March?) was because I couldn’t install the Shelfari bookshelf, and that annoyed me (oh! but look–I took a picture of my on-screen Shelfari shelf, and now you can see my books if you click on the photo! Ha! So there!). DSC02105 I couldn’t even entertain the possibility of getting ads through Google AdSense.  So, in a fit of pique, I moved to Google Blogger.  But I don’t like it, and I haven’t been writing.  What can I say?  It is my prerogative to change my mind, right?  I’ve decided to abandon all hopes of making any pin money whatsoever, and just go back to what I like to do–write.  It helps to relieve my stress, and it’s either this or wine, and I think writing may be the slightly healthier option. At least at 8:03 a.m. Unless I decide to go all Dylan Thomas on you, then 8:03 a.m. and wine would not be at odds with one another.

Why the stress?  A job with a split schedule, so I basically feel like I work full time.  Fortunately the split schedule will soon go away and things will be more part-timey feeling.

And children.  Aren’t children just inherently stressful, even when said children are all grown up?  I just read Stephen King’s new book Joyland (which I very much enjoyed), Joyland and at one point a character says that children are such a risk.  It’s true–you love them so dearly it leaves your heart very, very vulnerable.  These children, what with all their…their…milestones and life changes and independent decision making…well, they are stress inducing.  But I wouldn’t change it.  I look at people I know who don’t have children, and they look so young!  “Oh, it’s hard to believe Biff is 57! He looks like he’s in his early 40s!”  Well, that’s because Biff doesn’t have kids!  I, on the other hand, look about 72.  But for all the wrinkles I have from worry, I have just as many from laughing. And Biff doesn’t have that kind of laughter in his life.  My children are both floor cleaner and dessert toppingfloor cleaner and dessert topping (remember that old Saturday Night Live skit?)–wildly difficult and wildly joy-giving.

And then the apricots!  They got ripe the same week I had a sit-down dinner for 20, and I had to set aside time to make jam!  Yes, I could have just let the fruit drop and let the deer have it, but I just couldn’t do that.  And anyway, even after two batches of jam and one of apricot syrup (which, by the way, is the best thing EVER on pancakes), 6-21-12 002the deer, turkeys, and rabbits still got to eat their fill–there are hundreds of apricot pits on the ground.  The deer are all a bit round of tummy (nothing wrong with that–ahem!), they have water from a leaky dripper–no stress for the deer here.

I guess that sort of lightly skims over the topic of my stress–I won’t talk (this time!) about what’s going on with the weather–the apricots and figs were ripe a full two to three weeks earlier than usual, there are yellow leaves on some of the trees–what’s up with that?  Climate change? Or natural random weather patterns? Fortunately I’m not stressing over it too much.

It’s supposed to be sooo hot this weekend, so I will be awash not only in chlorine, but also in Sauvignon Blanc pool with raft(mixed with seltzer water! and ice! in a plastic cup! what a rube!)–after all, I have to stay hydrated.  Well, I guess I’m back now, and I’m pretty sure I won’t change my mind.

Oh!  I feel so much better!

What Should I Do with All These Apricots?

The crops

The jam

Whilst sitting by the pool today with my good friend Mr. Heineken, enjoying a gorgeous Vacaville day, listening to Danger Mouse‘s latest disc, Rome (which is wonderful, by the way), it slowly began to dawn on me that if I have something to say about apricots I had best do it posthaste.  Apricot season is short but intense, leaving one with a frantic need to quickly do something with a lot of apricots.  Apricots are my very favorite fruit, but one can only eat so many. So, yes, yesterday I made yet another batch of  jam.   And then I also made a batch of Apricot Chutney.  My mother made this every year when I was a child.  I have only one apricot tree, but the house where I grew up came with about six.  Sort of an embarrassment of riches.  This chutney smells wonderful as it cooks, instantly taking me back to my childhood summers, where the kitchen was hot, the windows were flung wide, and chopped apricots, onions, and limes, as well as little piles of chilies and raisins, covered the counters.  This is a spicy chutney,  and it goes well with Indian food, as well as with your average roasted chicken or grilled pork tenderloin.  Chutney is so much easier than jam–no skimming the foam, no water bath needed. It’s a nice change from Major Grey, and makes a good Christmas gift, too.  So here you go.

Chutney in progress

Apricot Chutney    

makes 4 pints (or 8 half pints)

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup cider vinegar

1 Tbl. minced fresh ginger

1 tsp. allspice

1 tsp dry mustard

Dash ground cloves

3 small dried chile peppers, crushed

1 small whole lime, finely chopped (peel and all)

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 cup raisins

1 clove garlic, minced

Chutney complete!

4 lbs. pitted apricots, cut into 1/2″ pieces

Put all ingredients except apricots in a large pan and bring to a boil.   Add apricots and bring mixture back to the boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking.  Ladle into hot sterilized jars and seal with hot sterilized lids and rings.  Yup, that’s it.  We’re done.  This recipe is from the ’60s–feels very M.F.K. Fisher, n’est-ce pas?

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