The Art of Playing Hooky - and Living in the Moment

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Like most of us, I live a full-throttle life. I'm demanding of myself and everyone close to me. I start every day filled with obligations. I'm busy, and I love it. Sometimes, days come by where I indulge in some self-care, and nothing gives me more joy than spending time with family. And when I step out of my comfort zone and forget all the rules, nothing brings more joy to those in my life are when I am uncharacteristically spontaneous.

I woke this week to a beautiful Florida day, a house of kids on vacation, and the Madeleine Lou team needing a break from the Valentine's rush. Not wanting another day lost to electronics, we piled into a couple of cars and headed to Knauss Berry Farms.

The Farm has been a South Florida icon since the 1950's and is known for its farm-fresh produce, especially its delicious strawberries. They make the best fresh strawberry shakes. But it is their cinnamon rolls that cause people to line up for hours. I'm talking farm-to-table, artisanal cult following well before it became a thing.

And my favorite thing - u-pick. My mom, Madeleine, often brought me to the farm stands to get the best produce. She was a remarkable cook and taught me - well, everything.

So we picked perfect strawberries, slurped shakes, ate cinnamon rolls straight from the oven, talked about our love lives, family, food, memories, and laughed. When we got home, we had to make my mom's strawberry jam.

My mom used to buy flats of strawberries and make dozens of jars! This recipe makes a scant 6-7 jars and easily doubles.

Madeleine's Strawberry Jam

Wash and sterilize jam jars and lids - directions are on the Ball Jar website.

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds fresh strawberries
  • 6 1/2 cups sugar
  • juice of one lemon
  • a good pinch of coarse kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Add berries, sugar, lemon, and salt to an oversized pot (don't go small here)
  2. Mash everything together over low heat
  3. Bring to roiling boil - when the boil can't be stopped by stirring - skim the scum and continue boiling for 12 minutes
  4. When the candy thermometer reaches 220, take off heat
  5. let cool a bit and pour into sterilized jars
  6. Let Cool and top with lids
  7. Store in refrigerator and freezer. You can make them self stable by sealing them in a hot water bath.

Those few hours, with some of the people I treasure most in the world, doing something so simple yet filled with so much love - restored.

Whatever you do, find what brings you joy!

Stay safe and Enchanting!

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