Homemade Quince Jam

Before my mother was an ICU nurse, she was a homemaker.  Her cooking and baking skills are unbelievable!  I’ve decided to publicly document as many of her traditional Persian recipes (and delicious improvisations!) as I possibly can.  Let’s start with her homemade quince jam.

Quinces for sale at my local grocery store

Quince is an interesting fruit.  According to Wikipedia, it originated in Iran and other countries in and around the Caucasus before being introduced elsewhere.  Not a very palatable fruit to eat raw, it’s nonetheless high in pectin and delicious as a jam!  Okay, here we go:


8 quinces
3/4 cup organic pure Florida cane sugar (or some other cane sugar)
2 envelopes (14.4 grams) of plain Knox gelatin
1 teaspoon powdered vanilla
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup water


Wash and slice quinces.  Remove the seeds.  Put the cut quince in a pot and then add all the other ingredients to the pot.  Cook on low heat until the quince turns red and the syrup thickens.

This is what the jam looks like:

Homemade quince jam, in a jar

I’ve discovered that it’s particularly delicious with almond butter atop my mother’s home-baked bread, with plain homemade yogurt, or just straight out of the jar!

High-fiber home-baked bread with almond butter and quince jam!

Growth and Happiness

Some months ago, I published this essay, in which I advocated spending some time, even a tiny amount, on each of your desired endeavors daily.

In that essay, I stated that daily micro-steps, punctuated regularly with larger steps, truly do result in a large difference over time when compared with the alternative of making massive but sporadic efforts.

What I didn’t say is that the person who spends the majority of each day along an endeavor will far surpass these two groups (daily microsteps or massive sporadic efforts).  This is obvious, of course.  As Robert Twigger states in this excellent article, the “monopath,” the super-specialist, is the role model of choice in the Western world.

The more you fragment your time and energy by investing in more activities, the lower your rate of achievement in any particular activity. The Jack of all trades is truly the master of none, at least in the short-term.

In other words, the more different types of work you do, the less prolific you can be in any of them, lowering your overall chances of success in any particular field (unless, say, you connect two or more fields and pursue that single connection heavily).

Which type of person should you be?  Should you strive for massive accomplishment along a single dimension while remaining ignorant of many others, or should you be more of a generalist whose skillset and knowledge span many domains without particular mastery of any?

This question brings us to another: what makes you happy or fulfilled?  Do you think you know, or do you actually know?  Was it programmed into you by your parents or by society, or did you discover it for yourself?

If you reach your potential along a single dimension (say, attainment of wealth, or attainment of great skill as an oil painter, etc.), it will be at the expense of reaching your potential along many others.  Also, in any field, there are many others who are spending every waking minute striving for monopathic success.  You will never be able to compete with them without a lot of sacrifice.

Here’s an excellent essay on achieving your potential by a beloved writer whose books and articles I read in my late teens and early twenties.

Houston Sketchcrawl: Central Market

We sketched at Houston’s Central Market on Saturday.  Our group sketched the shoppers, a band that was playing, and the cityscape from the second floor.  Here’s my ink sketch of the band:


I hadn’t drawn or painted anything in two weeks.  I used a Sharpie pen and a Pentel pocket brush pen, both of which ran out on me while drawing (I hadn’t used them in forever)!  Here are a few other freehand drawings I’ve created with the Pentel pocket brush pen:




The last two are of our former cat (it passed away some years ago).  You can sketch really quickly with a brush pen!  I sketched the last one in about five minutes!

Finally, here is a freehand copy of Van Gogh’s self-portrait followed by a freehand copy of another of Van Gogh’s portraits.  I drew both of them quickly with a Sharpie pen between 1-2 years ago: