Friday, September 16, 2011

Sweet Therapy

Two weeks ago, I drove to Idaho with my dog, the Best Dog Ever.  She and I have been on countless road trips together, logged thousands of miles across the Western U.S, and this trip began with high hopes and the excitement I always feel when I'm about to visit Idaho in the Summer. 

However, by the end of the drive through California, the high desert of Northern Nevada, and finally, my hometown, I realized that I had been in denial about what one of my reasons was for taking this trip.  My elderly dog's health had been sliding for the last year, and my head had come to terms with the fact that I was going to have to let her go to rid her of her pain.  My heart hadn't quite caught up.  The day after we pulled up to my parents' house, I made an appointment to rest my poochie to sleep and take away her pain.  My dad and I buried her in the backyard and had a funeral. My sister, Dad, and I sobbed over her little grave under the pine tree.  She was a wonderful dog.  I knew I needed to make this life change in the cradle of home.  I needed quiet, but also something to do to keep my mind busy.

That day, I began picking jalepenos and banana peppers from our garden, preparing lemons I had picked from a friend's tree in Burbank and brought with me on the drive, and immersed myself in what was an amazingly therapeutic task - preserving some of Summer's gifts in jam, jelly, and marmalade.  5 delicious batches:  Jalepeno Pepper Jelly, Banana Pepper Jelly, Lemon-Ginger Marmalade (a recipe I dared to adapt myself - bold!), Lemon-Strawberry Marmalade, and Apricot Jam (apricots picked by my sister from a neighbor's tree). 

I'm still trying to get used to the absence of my dog and best friend, but I am so grateful to have been in a place and time to use my hands and my heart to create something I can now share with all of you.

Lemon Ginger Marmalade - "Happiness in a Jar"

6 Large Lemons, freshly picked
1/4 c. freshly grated ginger
1 1-3/4 oz. package of pectin
6 cups sugar
2 cups water

Zest all 6 lemons.  Most marmalade recipes ask you to peel the lemons with a paring knife, but I prefer a less bitter taste, so I just zested the rind instead.  Using a paring knife, remove the pith from the lemons, remove the seeds and membrane.  In a large pot, combine the lemons, zest, water, and ginger.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to a simmer, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the pectin, increase to high heat.  Add the sugar, while stirring.  Bring to a rolling boil (this means it will boil even when you stir it).  Remove the pot from heat, and let it sit for about 5 minutes.  Use a skimmer to remove any foam or seeds.  Pour into 6 8-oz. jars.  Quickly place lids on the jars, move the jars to a boiling water bath on a rack.  Boil jars for 10 minutes.  Remove jars from water bath using tongs.  Place on a clean towel at room temperature.


  1. This post should have come with a "tear alert" - The marmalade sounds really yummy!

  2. The Marmalade is really yummy! Tried some today!

    1. Thanks! I picked some lemons from a friend's tree in Redondo...if I have enough I may make more of this marmalade (which is really more of a jelly but that's ok, I like jelly better!).