Are there times, people or situations that are etched in your memory? I bet you have many, as do I. One of my close friends and I had a long phone chat yesterday just going over some life periods, and there are plenty as we’ve been friends since we were 8, mulling over certain people who are still in or out of our lives, marveling over life “coincidences” (though I strongly believe true coincidences are rare and everything else is exactly as it’s planned to be). We were just strolled down the memory lane on a leisurely Saturday afternoon.
I mentioned to her that I’ll stay up late on Sunday night waiting for a Skype chat with one of my “young days” boyfriend when it’s already Monday morning in Europe. We had a multi-year relationship when I was just on a brink of getting out of my teens and he was entering his mid-20s, we were friends first and then lovers and then friends again (or rather say, we never stopped being friends) and we were also partners, we worked together. He was a young dentist, I was a young dental technician (in my pre-America life, I had another college degree and a beginning of another career field, which I decided not to pursue once in the USA so I embarking on a completely new journey of a mental health education and further graduate school, I don’t regret it though, it’s more of a fit for me). So we had our own thing going, kind of being “wrapped” around each other just because we spent so much time together working and also hanging at the same places.
And, of course now some of those memories are faded and probably romanticized a lot as I do remember we had our share of drama going on too. Almost from the beginning, we both knew that we’d not make it as a couple in a long run, we needed life partners of different qualities from what we’d have been able to offer to each other, that didn’t stop us from having a relationship though, or more importantly, friendship. And we remained so till the day I left the country even if we were already in other relationships at the time. How we both intuitively knew at such young age, especially me being just 20, something I fully understood only years later, is beyond me. Just because a relationship isn’t meant to work out in a way you want it, doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful or valuable, people should feel free to remain in a type of a connection that works the best, be it friends, partners or advisors, or just a close person who you want to interact with once in a while because their presence in your life, however tangential it may seem, is still precious to you. We remained in touch when I was already here, and I remember his young daughter was sending sweet baby gifts when my son was just born. We had some sporadic communications over the years and then lost the connection only to have it reappear again a couple years back.
So, I told my friend yesterday I have nothing but love and fond memories about him and our relationship. I told her that my fondest memory of him is the exact time I knew he was falling in love with me. We were strolling around the city one summer evening after work and got caught in a quick downpour. We were completely drenched standing under some cover. Watching a man being overwhelmed with a feeling of love as it was setting in, seeing that light illuminated through his big blue eyes is what will stay in my memory forever.
And, by one of those life coincidences, my friend taught his daughter in elementary school years later before she left the country herself to come here. We’re all connected I think, those who are meant to be in your life in whatever plausible or crazy way the Universe see fit, will remain, even if there are breaks and seemingly lost connections for a while. So when you find people who spark your soul, keep the connection, in whatever way is best for you all. His birthday is coming up in September, you can bet I’ll be singing happy birthday to him over Skype. I feel in my heart, one day, we’ll have an in-person chat too.
What’s Cooking This Week
With a post like this, the recipe has to be full of nostalgia too. And, I think it’s exactly that. Making jams reminds me of childhood and summers spent alongside my mom preserving fruits and vegetables for the winter to come. Today’s recipe combines traditional jam with some innovative twist to bring out almond undertones with a splash of liquor. It’s also a healthier way to enjoy summer fruit during the cold season as this jam is honey, not sugar, sweetened and drives its sweetness mostly from the fruits, plus a bit of butter adds creaminess and binding instead of pectin.
Cardamom-Amaretto Peach and Apricot Jam
Makes 6 8 oz jars:
4-5 large ripe peaches
7-8 large apricots
1/2 cup Amaretto
1/3 cup of honey
1 Tbsp of butter
2 tsps of cardamom
1 tsp of cinnamon
a pinch of salt
In a food processor, pulse together cut peaches and apricots, or cut them in small pieces, don’t over process though, some larger chunks should remain.
Pour Amaretto over and let it sit for at least 30-40 minutes so the flavor would infuse.
In a mean while, sterilize the jars. The best way to do it is in a large pasta pot that has a perforated colander insert and another small pot for lids and rings. Bring two pots to a boil, place jars in the big pot and lids in a smaller pot, reduce the heat and boil them on medium-low for at least 10-15 minutes. Remove jars and lids and place them on a clean towel and cover to keep them sterile and warm till jam is ready. Don’t drain the water out from the big pot, you’ll need it again.
In a another pot, combine fruit (don’t drain any Amaretto liquid), honey and a pinch of salt and start cooking on a low flame stirring often. Cook until most of the liquid evaporates and fruits are soft, it can take you from 45 to 60 minutes, depending how much liquids you had. Stir in butter and spices, finish cooking.
Bring water back to a boil in a big pot. Ladle jam in into each jar leaving at least 1/2 inch of empty space so jam can expand and be kept safely later on. Cover each jar with a lid and screw the ring on tighty. Place jars in boiling water and boil on low flame for at least 10-15 minutes. Carefully place them on a towel again. When you hear popping sounds, don’t worry, it’s the round push buttons creating a seal, that’s exactly what you want.
Leave jars on a counter and check that all seals are created within the next 12-24 hours: you should see the center of the lids being pushed in and not moving when you press on it. If some jar doesn’t create a seal, keep it in the fridge and consume it within a month. The rest of them could be kept in a cool dry place.
I left some unsealed jars on purpose though, I knew we’d want to enjoy this jam right away. It’s not overly sweet and with a distinct almond flavor. Makes a great gift too.
I made spicy cherry-pitaya jam a few days after also, and my kid and I have enjoyed both jams with our morning pancakes.