It’s that weird time of the year when the rest of country gets ready to buckle down for Fall while San Francisco enjoys our brief summer. It’s kind of like we’re on the same page as New Zealand and I kind of love it. Unfortunately, I feel like I’ve hardly taken advantage of it this year. By the time I get home from work, it’s usually getting dark, and with the Pairings Box, weekends have been off limits to anything that pulls me away from the apartment for longer than a couple of hours. I’m not complaining — we’re super excited about it all — but the one thing I miss the most when I get busy is just getting outside.
When Matt and I first started dating, we developed a Sunday ritual of walking to the Richmond neighborhood, on the other side of Golden Gate Park from where we live. We’d stroll, often hand-in-hand, through the park, past the museums, bikers, chatting away. Sometimes we’d stop to grab coffee on the way. We’d pop into a random Asian market so I could look at little Japanese sushi dishes and teapots. Sometimes we’d pop into a Middle Eastern store to browse their tea selection. Sometimes we’d walk out towards the ocean and visit the Russian stores. Our end destination was always the same: Green Apple Books. A true book lover’s bookstore. It’s split into two separate stores and I always start on the right (always with new fiction, then ‘lightly used fiction,’ followed by cookbooks). Matt would often grab dim sum — shrimp gao and an egg roll, with an occasional sweet treat — from a place with a yellow awning.
At the time, we didn’t have a car, so we’d try to make the most of our outing — picking up milk or cereal at the grocery store on the way home. The weekends never felt long enough, even back then, when I seemed to have so much more time. They’re never long enough, are they?
But tonight, in the full glory of our Indian Summer, we skipped cooking dinner after I got home and instead, grabbed our bikes and rode out to a sushi restaurant. I haven’t ridden my bike much at night, but racing through the park, devoid of people and cars, felt thrilling. I could barely hear the wind blowing past me (it’s THAT warm of a night). At home, I sit with every window open and my hair nearly glued to my face. Full, happy.
I can’t think of a better way to close out the summer than with my favorite fruit: the peach. Even though I’m starting to see apples and pumpkins, the last of the peaches are still making their appearance. They don’t last long and their flavor is richer, meatier. They’re the kind of peaches that are perfect for an end-of-summer jam. Aromatic and almondy, this jam’s peach flavor is heightened by the use of crushed peach kernels which — amazingly — smell just like almonds. September, you’re a good month.
Peach and Amaretto Jam
adapted from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook
*makes approximately 4-5 eight ounce jars of jam
3 1/2 pounds of large, ripe yellow peaches
1 1/2 pounds of white sugar
splash of amaretto liquor
2 ounces of fresh squeezed lemon juice, strained
1. Bring a pot of water to a light simmer and drop the peaches in, letting them simmer for a few minutes. Drain and use your fingers to peel the skins off the peaches.
2. Half and pit the peaches, setting the pits aside. Cut the peach halves into thin slices and put them into a large container with a lid. Pour in the sugar and lemon juice. Stir, cover with the lid and place in the refrigerator overnight. Place the pits in a separate container and refrigerate.
3. The next day, put 5 small metal teaspoons on a plate and set it in the freezer. Take the peach pits out of the freezer and place them between two towels. Use a meat tenderizer or hammer to crack the pits. Remove the kernels and toss the shells. Chop the kernels and put them into a stainless steel tea infuser (preferably with a handle).
4. Transfer the macerated peaches to a large non-reactive pot. Stir and add the tea infuser, pushing it down into the peaches. Meanwhile, sterilize your jars (I describe my preferred technique here)
5. Heat the mixture over high heat until it begins to boil. Continue cooking, stirring for five minutes. Skim off any foam that develops. Remove the pot from the heat and use a potato masher to gently mash the fruit, leaving a fair amount of chunks.
6. Return the pot to the heat and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 25-40 minutes. Dial down the heat if it starts to stick or burn. Towards the end of your cooking time, add a splash of amaretto, and stir it in. Skim off any foam that develops while cooking your jam.
7. Start testing the jam to see if it’s done: remove one of your teaspoons from the freezer, scoop up bit of jam and place the spoon back in the freezer for 4 minutes. Remove the spoon from the freezer and touch the underside of the spoon with your finger. If the spoon feels warm, put it back in the freezer for another minute. Hold the spoon vertically. If the jam runs quickly, it’s not ready. Continue cooking it for another few minutes, then repeat the test with another spoon. Continue testing until the jam runs very slowly when the spoon is held vertically. Remove the tea infuser from the pot and pour the jam into your sterilized jars. Process accordingly.
*We do have a limited number of Pairings Boxes still available for purchase.
Musical Pairings: Os Incríveis – Mingo, Nenê e Risonho + Peach and Amaretto Jam
There’s more on the Turntable.