It’s Fathers Day once again. My recipe won’t have anything to do with Fathers Day; my dad would have pretended to gag and turned his nose up saying I was getting too fancy when he saw what I had done to perfectly good peach jam. He would have then scarfed down half a jar on burnt toast (he liked it that way) when no one was around The man did love his sweets.
I miss my dad. He died in April of ’06. He was ornery, opinionated (you could not be right with my dad even if HE was obviously wrong lol), stubborn, narrow minded, broody and had problems with his temper. He was also funny as hell, tenderhearted and easily hurt by inattention and feeling he was unloved. He was generous to a fault, loved to cook (he made one hell of a Giardiniera) and loved to eat (his favorite tease for me would be to eat a gazillion pieces of my fried chicken, which he loved and tell me it was ALMOST as good as a Swansons TV dinner.) and was one of my biggest fans. He lived next door to me for the last 8 years of his life and I made 99.9% of his meals. I would cook dinner, plate his up, take it over and he would usually be sitting there watching Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy. He’d ask what we were having tonight, give the requisite “oooo’s and ahhhs”, I would get him what he needed to eat and he would go back to his TV show while I sat next to him and we chatted while he ate if I had time to sit for a while.
I remember long hours of Scrabble where he would teasingly gripe cause it made no sense to him that I always kicked his ass at the game . We would have Rummy marathons that would last for days. Back when he drank (he stopped later in life because he was on so many medications for various health problems and couldn’t drink with many of them) these game sessions would involve his contagious giggle when something made him happy. He had a giggle like a little boy…except when he started snorting lol. I also remember hours of talking during all of this. I could tell him anything and often did.
When I took him to do his grocery shopping, I learned to not eye anything on the shelf or pick things up or say that something sounded good. If I did, it invariably went into his cart no matter how much I protested. My kids of course loved to go shopping with him for just that reason
I miss his smile. I miss hearing him say “Hey hon. Come in and sit a while” when I’d come over. He would be sitting at his kitchen table working on his sweepstakes entries, candles or incense lit and classical music playing. I miss his overly greasy spaghetti or chili (took me years to get him to drain the grease lol.). I miss how everything he cooked had 300 jalapeno peppers in it. I miss his laugh. I miss our Scrabble games and card games. I miss hearing him cuss when people gave stupid answers on Jeopardy. I miss him saying “you’re gonna mess my hair up, girl!” when I would ruffle his mostly bald head. Most of all, I miss the man who was my best friend and my biggest cheerleader. He wasn’t perfect, but he was mine. Happy Fathers Day Daddy.
Lavender Peach Jam With Vanilla
Adapted from the Peach jam recipe in the book “Blue Ribbon Preserves”
- 3 lbs peeled and crushed peaches (refer back to my Peach Salsa recipe to learn how to peel them easily)
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 7 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon butter
- 5 large sprigs lavender (don’t chop; leave whole) plus more for adding to the jars if desired
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 3 ounce pouch liquid pectin
- In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the peaches, lavender and half the sugar. Cover the pan and let sit for about 2 hours, stirring frequently to infuse the Lavender flavor throughout.
- Remove the cover. Stir in the remaining sugar, the butter and the extracts.
- Over medium low heat, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar.
- When sugar is completely dissolved, turn heat up to medium high and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil (a boil that can NOT be stirred down), stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and skim off any foam (a ladle works best for this)
- Return the pan to the heat and again bring to a full rolling boil. Stir in the contents of the pouch of pectin. Again return to a full boil, stirring constantly. Boil for one minute and then remove the pan from the heat. Skim off any foam.
- To prevent the jam from separating, allow it to cool for five minutes, stirring every minute to help distribute the peaches evenly. Ladle the jam into hot sterilized jars, leaving a 1/4 inch head space and adding a small sprig of Lavender to the jars if desired. Make sure to wipe the rims well with a clean cloth. Apply the lids and boil for ten minutes in a boiling water bath. The recipe said that this made 8 half pints but I actually got 11 out of it.
This jam is really quite tasty. I was kind of tickled with it. It has a subtle (Almost too subtle; next time I think I’ll use more Lavender) Herby flowery flavor that melds very well with the delicate flavor of the peaches. I can see using this as a glaze for roast poultry with some Herbs De Provence added to intensify the hit of Lavender you get. Also just adding it to a plain old English Muffin is pretty yummy too . If you try it, please let me know what you think of it.