Not that I can actually share those names with you, though. That would defeat the anonymous nature of this blog. But my own name does start with a J, as does my baby brother's name. And I spent a lovely few hours in his company today, so he's as good a subject for today's blog post as any other. He even ran back the ten minutes to the car to rescue my phone after I had a brain fart and forgot to check I had removed all valuables from sight when we parked and headed off for a nice lunch.
He's a funny soul, my brother. He has a way of looking at things and a way of thinking that blows my mind sometimes. I have, on occasion, come across an idea or a philosophy and really struggled with wrapping my head around it and the implications of it. And then tried to explain it to my brother and had him simply make an off-hand remark demonstrating that he had come to the same conclusions all by himself, without needing to have ever read it in a book. And then there was the time that I was trying to explain about how I sometimes feel self-conscious going to the sauna in Germany (where nudity is the order of the day). It's more that I feel self-conscious about the idea of it than the actuality, especially since I'm so short-sighted that once I'm there and not wearing my glasses, I can't really see enough of myself to feel bad anyway. At any rate, I was talking about this to my brother once and he asked me why I was getting bothered about it and on my somewhat feeble reply, he simply stated the blindingly obvious truth that if it's body-shape that concerns me but I don't feel self-conscious about going swimming, then there shouldn't be a problem. Because when all's said and done, a swimsuit doesn't hide much of your body-shape at all. The kind of exquisitely simple thought that takes your breath away and makes you wonder what you've been making a big deal of it all in your head for.
So here's to my little brother (all six foot five or so of him, although as I have reminded him of since he first had a serious growth spurt as a teenager, I still win on overall surface area!), who is also one of my best friends, the one I know I will get no judgement from no matter what and the one who will put up with just enough of my bullshit and no more. As well as being the one who is always appreciative when I give him some homemade chutney or jam. Speaking of which...
...(did you like my segue there? Very clever I thought.) after having not gotten around to making any jam last year, except for perhaps one batch of raspberry, I've decided that it definitely needs to be on the agenda for this summer's preserving efforts. Plenty of strawberry and raspberry, of course, but also some apple jelly. And I'll probably be spending quite a bit of time on the Food in Jars blog, trawling for other ideas and recipes, too. There was one for a tomato and peach (although she used tomato and mango, which also sounds good) jam recently that sounded amazing. I need to expand a bit into the more savoury jams this season as well because I had a jar of onion confit that I bought last year in Brussels that was really delicious and I'd really like to have a go at that, too. We're still months away from the summer bounty hitting the markets, especially given how long this winter is dragging on for, but this is around the time that I need to start slowly psyching myself up for it all. It's a form of spring cleaning, I suppose. Reviewing my supply of jars, thinking about what to do and gradually giving the kitchen the deep cleaning it badly needs so that by the time things kick off in earnest, everything will be ready and waiting. With a bit of luck the mental preparation will have paid off by then as well so that it doesn't feel overwhelming and can actually just be enjoyed for the great pleasure that preparing foods to extend your harvest into the winter can bring.