Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Apricot jam is my favorite.
When I was a little girl, my grandparents lived right next door to us.
We have always joked that my Mom was the only person on Earth crazy enough to live 60 yards from her in-laws. Now, as an adult with a husband of my own, I can totally see that those jokes held more than a little bit of truth.
Lucky for my Mom, she as one of the fortunate few who had a great relationship with her in-laws - we all know (or maybe are) people who can't sit through a holiday dinner with their in-laws, much less live 60 yards away for decades. (I will plead the 5th on my own in-law situation. LOL)
And lucky for my brothers and I, having Granny and Pop as our neighbors was any kid's dream come true. We lived out in the country, away from everyone else - our "neighborhood" was our house and my grandparents' house. We saw my Granny and Pop every single day.
Granny was our grandmother, our babysitter, and mostly our friend. She always greeted us with a hug and a smile. She was always happy to see one of "The Neighbors" coming up her front steps. It was truly a heavenly way to grow up - raising kids takes a lot more people than just a mom and a dad, and how lucky we were to have a whole tribe right there to raise us.
I spent countless afternoons in the summer over there. My Granny taught me to sew and paint, baked cookies with me, played dolls, let me help her with any little project that she was up to, listened to my problems, and usually made me a sandwich.
And in Granny's house, that was a PBJ with Apricot Jam.
Apricot Jam is like a little blob of sunshine.
It takes me right back to my Granny's kitchen on a hot summer afternoon. I can almost hear her voice and feel her cool skin on my face as she gave me a hug.
My Granny bought her jam at the store (though she did lots of other types of canning), but when I got my hands on these little beauties (21 pounds of them!) I knew exactly what I would do with them.
I made a bunch of different jams and jellies last canning season - various flavors of apricot, apple, cherry, plum, raspberry, blackberry and mango) and my house must be the nation's leading consumer of jams and jellies because supplies are dwindling. My girls eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches three times a day sometimes. My Apricot Jam batch last year consisted of some "adult" flavors, like habanero and rosemary, which are dreamy with goat cheese on a pizza or as a glaze on chicken, but the few jars of "regular" PBJ-style apricot just wasn't enough. It was gone in no time. I just love it. I love it in the traditional PBJ, on toast, with cream cheese on a baguette, on thumbprint cookies, as a filling for a cake - everywhere.
So I decided that I would turn all 21 pounds (okay, minus the ones that I made into a tart and the ones that the kids ate) into regular old Apricot Jam.
I spent all afternoon over the canner, jamming away. This was my first canning project of the season. I love canning for the same reason that I love Apricot Jam - jars rattling around in there remind me of countless afternoons spent with my Granny. I don't mind pitting and chopping, as those were the jobs of my younger days with her. I love the smell of steam and the sweat on my brow. Nowadays, the sore feet and clean-up after an afternoon of canning seem like a small price to pay for the time I get to spend with her there in spirit.
And now I have a stash of sunshine to get me through the next year.
10 pints of sweet, sticky sunshine. <3