The Lovely Luscious Loquat (Jam)

I wish all of you could taste a freshly picked juicy loquat. It’s not a kumquat or even a distant relation…

loquatsI posted a pic of our loquat tree on my Facebook page and was really surprised to learn how many have never tasted this juicy sweet fruit.

Thin velvety skin embraces yellowy orange flesh that tastes  like a cross between an apricot and a peach.

loquatseededIf you have a chance to try them, just remember, the seeds are extremely toxic! They contain many toxic alkaloids like cyanogen-glycosides.

The grow all over my neighborhood — everyone seems to have at least one or two trees and they’re very prolific producers — but no one knows what to do with them. A lot of fruit is wasted — birds love them and so do fruit rats…ick.

Of course, they’re very healthy, too.

  • Low in calorie,, rich in insoluble dietary fiber; pectin.
  •  Excellent source of vitamins A and C, rich in potassium and some B-complex vitamins such as folates, vitamin B-6, and niacin.

Plus, loquat jam is delicious.

Loquat treeA couple days ago, I made a batch of loquat jam with this simple recipe:

Loquat Jam
Twelve cups seeded loquats. Leave the skins on but cut off the blossom end. Five to six cups of sugar. I used white sugar, but I’m sure you could play around with the amounts and use agave nectar or honey. I’m a cinnamon lover and added a couple tablespoons. Loquats are slightly bland and really respond well to spices. Add enough water to cover the fruit. Cover with a lid, quickly bring to a boil, and allow to boil for five minutes. Turn down the flame to simmer, uncover, and cook for a couple of hours, stirring with a wooden spoon so it doesn’t burn.  After a couple hours or so, I used my immersion blender and pureed the jam (the skins disappear), and continued to cook for another hour. After tasting it, I added a bit more cinnamon and three tablespoons of lemon juice which really helped the flavors develop. I wanted to turn it more apple butter-like and thick, so I carefully poured it into a crockpot and let it cook on low all night.

Loquats in bowl

Just started the cooking process.
It was a real surprise to watch the cooked loquats turn a deep rich burgundy.

Cooking loquats

Use an immersion blender to puree.
Time to sleep in the crockpot all night and get nice and thick.

Crockpot loquat

I’m really happy with the results. It looks a lot like apple butter.

Loquat in bowl

Jars and jars of jam!
I’m refrigerating jars; didn’t feel like going through the hot bath canning process.

Jars of loquat jamMore ways to preserve the bountiful abundance of loquats:

  • I’m freezing some fruit whole to use in smoothies.
  • Drying the leaves to make loquat tea.
  • Loquat salsa, like mango salsa.
  • Loquat cobbler. YUM.
  • Chutney

How to Bring Joy to an Empty Nester Mommy

Skypevintage adAnswer: Enjoy an hour-long Skype video conversation with her son.

That’s the highlight of my day. My Angel Boy and I Skyped for over an hour and it was rainbows and sunshine and glitter all rolled into one. The wonderfullness of seeing his face makes everything OK.

When my son first went to college, it was just down the road at UCSD (University of California at San Diego), about a half hour away. He lived on campus in a dorm for a few reasons: traffic on our freeway is horrible and would have been too stressful to drive every day, we wanted him to have a true “college” life experience, away from home —  for the first time — although we were close enough to be around if needed. He was seventeen when he was a freshman, and I really worried about him for all the reasons you can imagine.

8414969-empty-nest-isolated-on-white-with-space-for-textHe did just fine; I was the basket case.

Talk about empty nest syndrome; I was bereft, tearful, wandering into his room at all hours of the day and night…the silence was  hardest to bear. No doors slamming, “I’m home, mom, I’m hungry!” No one saying, “Hey, the guys are coming over to skate. Can we have snacks?” No one to need my help — not with anything.

That’s the hardest part of being an empty nester, I think.

It’s not being needed every day.

Sigh.

That was in 1998. We didn’t have the luxury of Skype — and mobile phones hadn’t yet attained their ubiquitous status. He had a laptop with an Ethernet connection and we thought that was a big deal.

We talked on a landline several times a week and he came home most weekends. We drove down to get him (and his laundry) and take him back with clean clothes and enough brownies and cookies and snacks to last the week.

In his junior year, he had the opportunity to go to Germany for his year abroad experience. He left for the University of Goettingen in September and I flew there in February and stayed for a week.

I met his friends and his professors and we walked for hours and talked and laughed non-stop the entire time. That’s what we’ve always done and that tops the list of what I miss most about him being all grown up and everything – besides the hugs and smiles and his messy room and being hungry all the time — he and I can talk for hours about anything.

It was a tradition started in Kindergarten. We’d leave the house every morning around 7:30 a.m. to walk our dog  before school began at 8:05 a.m. During that half hour he’d practice arithmetic, spelling, brain teasers, chat about his day in school, and what I would be doing with my time. With a final kiss and hug from me and a goodbye from his dog, he skipped off to meet his friends. Never looking back. Self confident and prepared for learning. That was my goal, and I think I accomplished it.

It’s full circle time for my Angel Boy — he’s taught freshman and seniors at Yale.  I couldn’t be prouder. When you’re a mom of a little one, you hope to plant the seeds for future life success; it’s a happy day when you see the fruits of your labor — a magnificent, tall, strong bountiful harvest. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t miss him terribly! Sigh…

Our bountiful garden

All You Need is Love, Love is All You Need

…there’s nothing you can do that can’t be done, nothing you can sing that can’t be sung, nothing you can say, but you can learn how to play the game, it’s easy, all you need is love, all you need is love, all you need is love, love, love is all you need. – The Beatles

lovely blog awardIf only that were true, right? I am the honored recipient of some hot love from Cowboys and Crossbones in the form of One Lovely Blog Award. With lots of love right back to CBXB, I’ll try to do justice to the love! THANKS CHICKA! YOU ROCK!

The rules are simple:  to share seven random things about myself and to nominate seven other worthy bloggers.

Where to begin. Where to begin.  I’ve shared so much, I wonder what’s left? (It’s no secret I love seashells and shopping and my Angel Boy child.)

1. I totally crush on Tina Fey. She’s smart and funny and pretty and very powerful. tina fey

2. I’m petrified to walk across running water, like a creek.

3. When the captain’s gone, I change all of the buttons on his car radio to my favorite station and place Hello Kitty stickers all over his truck-interior and exterior, just to annoy him.hellokittycup

4. I’ve been to Greece and Germany.

5. I was once the bathing suit centerfold model for a trade magazine for police officers. Don’t even think about me posting any pix.  Don’t even think about it.

6. I like to watch fifties and sixties sitcoms: Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best, I Love Lucy, My Three Sons.

7. The day I fell in love with the captain, I felt the earth move.

Check out these seven awesome bloggers-there are tons more I could include, but seven is the magic number!

PeachyTeachy
Why am I here in a handbasket
Freepennypress
The Cheeky Diva
IBDesignsUSA
The Fur Files
Misifusa’s Blog

Winner, winner, winner! Liebster Award

One of my new besties, a very lovely lady who writes Tonettejoycefoodfriendsfamily, nominated me for the prestigious Liebster Award. This is a wonderful and unexpected honor, albeit a teensy bit sad, because it’s meant to draw attention to deserving blogs (the happy part) who have less than 200 readers (the sad face part). However, I will carry on with a smile as the glass half full kinda gal I am, and proceed with the rules.

Rules
I need to nominate 11 other under-appreciated blogs with less than 200 followers. Hey guys, I appreciate you! Please visit them and give them some love because they are very interesting to read and are authored by brilliant and creative writers. Some have a bit more than 200 but I really enjoy them so much I wanted to help others make the discovery, and I think I actually have chosen 12, but whatever, I never like to follow rules.  And since most of the time I believe the world revolves around me (well, it does around MY house!) and it’s all about me, I can mess with the rules just a bit. Next comes 11 juicy tidbits about myself, then answer 11 questions sent to me, and create 11 questions for my chosen group.

Eleven random facts about ME you really want to know!

1. My grandfather was a rabbi

2. I was in the movie “Stuntman”

3. I fell down a manhole when I was three-years-0ld

4. I once interviewed Bob Hope

5. I know someone who knows someone who went to the Skyfall premiere

6. I love animals more than 90% of all the humans on Earth

7. I’m from the midwest

8. I could probably have a big win on Jeopardy-my head is full of useless information

9. I’ve taught school

10. My husband says I use a shovel like a man (he meant it as a compliment; I was not amused)

11. I haven’t eaten meat since I was 16-years-old

I nominate:

The Fur Files 

Snipewife 

Beach Treasures and Treasure Beaches 

Michelle at Play

Life on Wry

Red Dirt Kelly

Jewels for All

Better Half Weddings

Seashells by Millhill

Misifusa’s Blog

Midlife Crisis Crossover

Elyses’s Life as I Know It

These are the questions that I had to answer:

Where is the farthest you have even been from where you were born? Not sure which is further from Detroit; Germany or Greece, but I’ve been to both

Do you live now where your family lived? My mom and dad and I moved from the mid west to San Diego, and my brother lives in on the west coast but not nearby; don’t keep in touch very much with the rest of the family

Do you like to live in the city or the country? I like where I live now, near the beach with a bit of hills, and the city about 30 minutes away. I want a little bit of everything!

Do you prefer to visit the city or the country? Definitely the country– to go hiking, camping, skiing. The city is only good for shopping

In what ways do you consider yourself the most creative?(Name as many ways as you’d like.)

I think I’m a pretty creative gluer of seashells and I try to put words together like I arrange my shells and rocks and beach glass

What do you see yourself doing in 5 years? I would like to build my copy editing/proofing business and maybe have the two books I’m currently working on done and published as well as the reality show I want to pitch to ANYONE and you’ll be seeing me on all the talk shows looking very fashionista

What would you like to try that you have not done before? Ski without being petrified of going too fast and falling.

Is there any place in particular that you have never seen that you would like to visit? France

What would you change about the world if you had one quick wish? No animal or child abuse

Rank these(1,2,3,4):books, music, sports, movies You did it for me, I would keep them arranged exactly the same!

What are your 3 favorite holidays? (Whatever you celebrate) My son’s birthday, Christmas, Hannukah, wedding anniversary (I chose 4)

Here are my questions for you: 

1. How old were you when you first learned to read?

2. Name two of your favorite books.

3. What’s your favorite holiday dessert?

4. What is a Merchant Marine?

5. Who is your role model?

6. Who is your favorite movie star?

7. Do you make new year’s resolutions?

8. What’s cluttering up your life?

9. Do you drive a car or a truck?

10. Do you know how to change the battery in a smoke alarm?

11. What is your best home remedy for a sore throat?

KRISTALLNACHT

Jews arrested during Kristallnacht line up for...

Jews arrested during Kristallnacht line up for roll call at Buchenwald, 1938 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: On November 9–10, 1938, the Nazis staged vicious pogroms—state sanctioned, anti-Jewish riots—against the Jewish community of Germany. These came to be known as Kristallnacht (now commonly translated as “Night of Broken Glass”), a reference to the untold numbers of broken windows of synagogues, Jewish-owned stores, community centers, and homes plundered and destroyed during the pogroms. Encouraged by the Nazi regime, the rioters burned or destroyed 267 synagogues, vandalized or looted 7,500 Jewish businesses, and killed at least 91 Jewish people. They also damaged many Jewish cemeteries, hospitals, schools, and homes as police and fire brigades stood aside. Kristallnacht was a turning point in history. The pogroms marked an intensification of Nazi anti-Jewish policy that would culminate in the Holocaust—the systematic, state-sponsored murder of Jews.

My brother sent me an email today and I got his permission to reprint it as a post. It’s brief but powerful and reminded me that we must always be vigilant against hatred.

This week my wife and I went to the Oregon Holocaust Memorial. We had an intense and unsettling experience.  The memorial is in a hilly wooded park near downtown. We started off in a European town square setting, a cozy stone bench. Everything was covered in leaves from the trees around it. We noticed a doll (sculpture) had been left behind on the bench. As we walked down the cobblestone path other items had been left. The cobblestones gradually turned into railroad ties. The path ends at a large curved stone structure with the story of the Holocaust. It has powerful quotes from some of Oregon‘s Holocaust survivors. The structure rests on a huge boulder that covers dirt from each of the death camps. On the back of the structure are names of some Jews who died in the Holocaust and their Oregon relatives. The names are engraved on shiny black stone. As I walked along reading the names I could see my own image reflected in the stone. We’ve been wanting to visit this memorial for years, but kept putting it off. For me, part of being a Jew is finding the courage to walk around while carrying a heavy load of vulnerability and grief inside.  State sponsored anti-Semitism “could” happen here. It probably won’t. But if it does, I won’t go passively to the camps. We all have developed ways of coping that work for us.

Laughing and crying
You know it’s the same release
-Joni Mitchell

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
-Dylan Thomas