I enjoyed a merry weekend filled with new grad school friends, costumes, dance parties, and baking. I often look ahead or dwell behind instead of being present. After a week of feeling disconnected and anxious for no good reason, it was fun to dance around to soul music with a bison and a bookworm, drinking keg beer and feeling happy.
Last weekend I traveled to the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois for camping and hiking with a lovely woman in my program. She took part in a climbing workshop all day Saturday and I had the opportunity to hike through Jackson Falls and enjoy the fall colors, fresh air, and solitude.
When I returned to work after the camping trip, the kind and knowledgable faculty librarian I work under handed me a large bag of green tomatoes from her garden. I decided to preserve this bounty by making green tomato jam. I'm not the first to prepare green tomatoes this way, but I still felt a bit brilliant as I savored one of the best sandwiches I have ever eaten: sharp cheddar and green tomato jam grilled between slices of marble rye.
Green Tomato Jam
2 lbs of green tomatoes, rinsed
3 C sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
(Note: I bypassed the formal canning process and split my jam between a refrigerator and a freezer container. Can if you please, of course.)
Cut the tomatoes into eighths, trimming off the stem. (The green tomatoes I used were small to medium sized and fairly firm. If your tomatoes are juicier, consider squeezing out the seeds and juice so your jam can properly thicken.) Combine the tomatoes with the rest of the ingredients in a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring often. Reduce the heat to medium and allow the mixture to gently simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally. When the mixture has thickened and darkened, remove from the heat. Allow to cool before transferring to storage containers. The jam will keep for two weeks in the refrigerator.