The first day was hard. The second day was easier. Then easier. Then the intensity of Iceland that, unbelievably, I beheld with my own eyeballs, began to recede into a packaged, documented memory that I carry and share in snapshots and anecdotes. The most difficult part is not the longing or the missing or the denial; it’s the transformation of this staggering experience into an object that can be shared with others. It’s the question, “How was Iceland?,” and it’s the answer, “It was great.”
My solution to the post-travel blues? Make up projects for yourself.
Such as: put together a one-year wedding anniversary surprise picnic basket for two beautiful friends, filled with cheeses, apricots, salted caramels, and homemade wine jelly (recipe below).
Paint your bedroom yellow; then decide you hate it, it just won’t work, it’s too goddamn cheery. Dash to the hardware store 30 minutes before closing, buy new paint on the spot, and re-paint your entire bedroom that night in Winter’s Storm and India Ink. Sleep the deepest, most restful sleep you’ve had since returning home.
Frame and hang iconic photographs, antique postcards, and a vintage needlepoint from your trip to Iceland.
Spend a day curled up with your boyfriend watching Parks and Rec because it makes you laugh. He knows the noise and crowds at your usual go-to diner spot are too overwhelming for you (you just returned from the Icelandic wilderness, after all), so you share breakfast at the quiet New Orleans Cafe instead. You eat hot, sugary beignets and remember that America has its bright spots too.
Make the first hearty soup of the season with kale, butternut squash, CSA sweet potatoes, onions, lots of paprika and garlic.
Dive headfirst into organizing DC’s first-ever Food Swap. Make apricot skyr, pickled okra, and spicy pepper jelly. Basically, overdo it, like usual.
And, okay, okay. Allow yourself to reminisce.
adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
1 bottle cheap red wine
3 1/4 cups sugar
1 (3 oz.) envelope liquid pectin
3 T lemon juice
1/2 t. unsalted butter
In a small saucepan, boil 1 1/4 cups of the wine and cook until reduced to 1/3 cup, 15 minutes.
In a large pot, boil the remaining wine with the sugar, stirring often. Add the pectin, lemon juice, and butter, and bring to a hard boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in the wine reduction.
Pour the jelly into sterilized jars, cover with lids, and let cool to room temperature completely before refrigerating. The jelly will keep in the fridge for about a month. Alternatively, you can process the jelly in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes, and it will keep for a year. Enjoy with cheese and bread.