Deliciously Simple

No-Knead wheat bread & freezer jam

Do you remember my mention of homemade strawberry jam and ice cream last week? There’s something about homemade jam and freshly churned ice cream that make people far more impressed with you than is deserved. Yes, the former is heaven in a jar, and the latter is heaven in a bowl and hell on your hips. But people assume both are difficult, hard, and time-consuming to make. They “wish” they could make something like that. Both are remarkably simple, easy, and fast. I swear. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll gladly take the ooh’s, ahh’s, and accolades such homemade gifts buy. You can too. How often do you find yourself saying “I wish I could….”

We’re not just talking about strawberry jam, people! There are many things in life our brains automatically register as too difficult, too hard, or too time consuming.  Something may seem overwhelming–maybe out of fear or sadness or because it’s unpleasant, but most things are NOT that complicated, and are in fact very doable and easy. We need to listen to what we say to ourselves.  Pay attention to that internal dialogue. If it’s anything shy of “Of course I can,” then you’re setting yourself up to fail. . We may mistake and equate things that are less than ideal with being too hard or even impossible. In fact, when you sit back and break it down, it’s usually not as hard or overwhelming as the voice inside your head first screamed. So, no time or desire to pick pounds of  strawberries in a hot field yourself? Problem solve—buy your berries at the local farmers market, or even the supermarket. Don’t really feel like sterilizing jars? No worries—I’m right there with you. Make freezer jam—it’s instant!

A more common unfulfilled goal is working out. Who has the time? The excuses are too familiar: I work. I’m not a morning person so I can’t wake up at 5am to run. I’m too tired after a long day at work to work out.  I have kids. Who will watch them while I work out? Who will take them to soccer practice? I can’t afford a gym membership or trainer. I hate gyms. It’s too hot/cold/rainy outside to run… Familiar, right? Chances are good this self-talk will at best add a couple of pounds a year to your waistline, and after a few years, you wake up in dismay and in pants two sizes larger. Change your self-talk so you can problem solve solutions—options that work in YOUR life. Something you can enjoy and embrace.

Really, the worst that can happen is you wind up with larger pants anyway. So why make life more complicated than you need to? Just do something, but make it mean something. In making jam, in taking a Zumba class, in rocking Downward Dog, you’re creating experiences and making memories. Each of these moments strung together is what makes a life. This is how we build a fulfilled life—by each jar of jam, by each mile we run. Find or create experiences that challenge. These moments fill us and make up who we are.

Jam and ice cream moments make us who we are.  OK, now insert your own “moment” at the beginning of that sentence.  When we listen to that initial, internal voice, then we don’t make fresh jam.  Instead, we settle for the sugary, sticky mess that comes off a fluorescent-lit shelf that tastes, well, sugary and sticky. But not like a fresh strawberry. And we get used to that baseline taste and assume that’s as good as it gets.  And more importantly, we deprive ourselves of the freezer-jam-making memories.

Risk is a funny thing, the worse that can happen is you fail and you end up with supermarket jam in the end. But imagine having a freezer stocked with 12 jars of jam to bring a taste of summer to your tongue throughout the year and freezer-jam-making memories.  And the hardest part is literally mashing and mixing for a few minutes.  How much easier does that get?

Freezer jam tastes wonderful on No-Knead 100% Whole Wheat Bread (the bread is SO easy to make, and so worth it. King Arthur Flour really makes amazing baked goods). Check out the recipes and give them a whirl!

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