I turned twenty-five years old yesterday. I have been on this earth for exactly a quarter of a century. In many ways, I am having a difficult time wrapping my mind around it. For the first time I feel, well, older. Perhaps, somehow, more grown up. I am wrapping up my final semester of graduate school, focusing on coursework much more than the social life I prized during university. Soon, however, the shoe will move to the other foot. I have been offered a job teaching high school science this fall and will very soon have lessons to plan, homework to correct, and students of my own to tend.
The times they are a-changin'.
I feel very much an adult, as if the child within me has headed off to summer camp and I've been left behind, waving her goodbye. I go to bed at a reasonable hour each evening, balking at the idea of staying up beyond one in the morning for any reason whatsoever. My refrigerator is full of fruits and vegetables; I optimistically pack a healthy lunch each morning so I'll be forced to eat it when hunger kicks in (this trick, by the way, works wonders). My work ethic is an employer's dream, but I find myself working so frequently that I rarely let loose, leave the house, and do something fun. It's easy to get caught up in responsibilities and forget there is anything outside of them.
Perhaps, you could say, I'm learning how to become an adult, learning to take on new obligations, but not allow them to slowly take over the other pieces of my life. Trying to find a sense of balance in a world that is leaning too far in one direction. Growing up is hard.
I think we should all be allowed a moment to say goodbye to the age we are leaving behind, a moment to grieve, a moment to celebrate, a moment to embrace the future, a moment to call our own and for which no one can judge us. Turning twenty five caught up with me last weekend. I realized, for the first time, that any sense of childhood was officially behind me. I filled up a glass of red wine, and then filled it up again, lamenting my burgeoning spider veins and faint laugh lines to my boyfriend. I walked out on the third story balcony to the apartment, bemoaning my impending old age as the lights in the courtyard made slow circles through air.
As if to show my despair at leaving childhood behind, I threw baby carrots at a neighborhood rabbit who was scampering through the grass below simply because an adult would never do that (the rabbit, I might add, did not seem to appreciate the free dinner). I gave up when I ran out of carrots, collapsing on the couch in front of an episode of Game of Thrones. I had my moment then, a little messy, a little unrefined, and then it passed as if it had never arrived.
The birthday has come and gone since then. The gifts have been unwrapped, the wishes wished, the candles blown out, and the peace made with growing older. Twenty five no longer feels so old anymore and I feel ready and even a little excited to embrace a new number. Thirty? Now that's old. :)
Pineapple Jam has a unique flavor, both sweet and acidic, and complements a toasted English muffin well. Fresh, ripe pineapple is blended into small pieces and cooked down on the stove until it thickens and slightly caramelizes. The addition of vanilla adds a bright tone while a touch of molasses adds a greater depth of flavor. The jam can be finished with a bit of lime zest for a bold twist, but it isn't necessary to create a rounded flavor.
One Year Ago: Blueberry Lemon Crumble and Vanilla Cupcakes (my favorite cake recipe)
Two Years Ago: Strawberry Rhubarb Lemonade and Citrus Roasted Rhubarb
Three Years Ago: Chocolate Bowls and Sour Cream Sugar Cookies
Yields about 1 to 1 1/2 cups
1 ripe pineapple, peeled, cored, and diced large
1/2 cup (110 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon lime zest (optional)
In a food processor or blender, pulse pineapple chunks until they are quite small, but not pureed.
In a medium frying pan, stir together the pineapple and sugar. The larger surface area of the frying pan will make the jam-making process go faster. Over medium heat, bring the pineapple to a boil and cook until it caramelizes and thickens, stirring frequently. Cooking down the pineapple into a jam will take 20-30 minutes. Remove the jam from heat just before it reaches your ideal consistency, keeping in mind that it will thicken as it cools. Stir in the vanilla, molasses, and lime zest.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Serve on toast, over ice cream, or stir into a bowl of hot breakfast cereal.