Peach Season

Kite Flying on the Cape 1988, pastel on paper, 41 x 30 inches

Our summer has been busy with artist visitors.  In late June Claire Sherman, Jon Cancro and their daughter Iris were with us for eleven days.  Claire made a lovely new litho with Bud while Jon and Iris took many hikes in the mountains.  At dinner each evening, 19-month-old Iris entertained us with her unusual tastes including spicy chile crunch, pickles and, her favorite, olives. She discovered cherries and ate them with gusto.  One night she enjoyed red beets and cherries ending up with a vampirish red mouth.  Delightful.

Robert Kushner is here now working on a large two-paneled print.  I enjoy cooking for Bob who is an appreciative eater and knowledgeable cook.  We have had lots of vegetables ─ zucchini and beets from my garden, and green beans, eggplant, lettuces and cabbage from Zweck’s farm stand.

The big news is that it’s peach and apricot season.  I scored a box of organic, Colorado apricots and made 17 jars of glorious deep orange jam.  While jam making, I remember my friend Maggie who delighted in apricot season and always gave me a jar of her concoction.   This is how I make it.

For each cup of sliced apricots add ½- ¾  cup of sugar.  (I use ½ cup sugar then add an additional cup to the batch).  Stir and let sit until sugar starts to dissolve.  Crush some of the fruit with a potato masher or a pastry cutter.  Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the fruit is translucent and the juices thickened.  Crack apricot seeds to extract the kernels and add two to each jar. (I use a hammer on the stone wall outside my kitchen). Ladle the hot fruit into hot, sterilized Ball jars and seal with the lid and ring.  Twelve cups of fruit and 7 cups of sugar yielded about 12 pint jars of jam.

Dinners with friends have brightened the summer after many months with no socializing.  I am often called on to bring dessert and have made a couple of peach sweets ─ a peach and apricot crisp using ground almonds in the topping instead of flour to accommodate a gluten-sensitive friend, and stuffed peaches, an Italian recipe from my book.

For four servings, halve and pit four peaches. Scoop out some of the flesh to form a cavity. Mash this with ½ cup ground almonds, 2 tablespoons softened butter, 1 egg yolk and 1/4 cup sugar.  Mound the filling in the peach shells, top with sliced almonds and bake in a buttered baking dish at 350° for 20-30 minutes until the filling is set and the peaches soft.  Serve warm or at room temperature with a dollop of créme fraiche, plain yogurt or ice cream.

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