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  • Writer's picturecoffeeandwoodsmoke

Good Neighbors

On Monday, May 25th, we celebrated Memorial Day, a day of remembrance, respect, and recognition for those who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.  The holiday offers an opportunity for reflection, a chance to honor those who have given their lives so that we might live ours–so that we might do our best to lead our lives in an honest, genuine, and gracious manner.

Throughout the holiday weekend, I was reminded time and again of how many honest and genuine people grace my daily life: my family, friends, and neighbors–all people so kind and so true.  People who are there to buoy me up when hard times fall; people with whom I am blessed to celebrate life’s joys.  A weekend of special moments with them: a rainy day walk along the creek, a long-distance telephone call, an hour on the yoga mat, a wildflower hike, a sunset conversation over wine and cheese.

And: an offering of rhubarb from one neighbor whose bountiful patch is overflowing.  More rhubarb cooking is sure to ensue in the coming week, and in the meantime, here is what became of one deliciously tart stalk:

Strawberry Rhubarb Chia Jam

Ingredients: 3 C chopped strawberries 2 C sliced rhubarb stalks 6-8 medjool dates, pitted 1/4 C lemon juice 1/4 C chia seeds

  1. Rinse the strawberries, and trim the tops.  Chop small strawberries into quarters, larger berries into eighths.

  2. Rinse the rhubarb, and slice the stalk(s) into pieces about 1/4″ thick.

  3. In a high-powered blender, blend the pitted medjool dates and lemon juice until they form a relatively uniform puree.  Use 6 dates if you like your jam more tart, 8 if you like it more sweet.  (If you use more than 6 dates you may have to add a tablespoon or two of water to help the mixture puree.)

  4. Scrape the lemon-date mixture into a 3-quart saucepan.  Add the strawberries and rhubarb, and stir to combine.

  5. Turn the burner on medium heat and set a timer for 10 minutes.  As the mixture heats, the berries and rhubarb will begin to release their liquid.  Stir occasionally as the mixture begins bubbling.

  6. When the timer goes off, mash the berries and rhubarb down with a fork.  The mixture will still be somewhat chunky at this point.

  7. Reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan, and let simmer for another 10 minutes.

  8. Turn off heat, and mash the fruit again until it is your desired consistency.

  9. Stir in the chia seeds.

  10. Pour the mixture into clean glass jars (makes a scant 3 cups).  Cover jars and refrigerate.  Enjoy within a week (on toast, oatmeal, waffles, pancakes, crepes, yogurt …).

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