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home : lifestyle : encore   February 5, 2016

9/24/2012 11:16:00 AM
In a sugary jam

Nancy Dinelli-Prill

It’s one o’clock in the morning. I’m sitting at my computer, writing and doing a taste test. Beside me is a “sleeve” of wheat crackers and a mini test jar of what I worked on all day. By bedtime, I could hardly think.
I need to talk crackers for a minute. I referred to a “sleeve” of crackers, which makes me want to ask, do crackers come four to a square like they did when we were kids? Or, are they all sleeved? Which brings me to the point that you can’t even make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a “flat” of four crackers anymore. Actually it would be eight crackers. One four flat on the bottom, peanut butter and jelly in the middle and another four flat of crackers on the top, that was living. Who had the right to change the way we eat crackers, anyway?
About 10 years ago, I planted a store-bought apricot fruit. It has never produced a single blossom let alone a piece of fruit. In fact, it even died one year. Dead! Then it started to grow again. I left it because it produced shade for Mandy Dog to snooze under while I gardened.
Low and behold, this year, the now 8- or 9-foot tree produced tons of blossoms. I talked “The Farmer” into spraying the tree when it came time for the petal from the blossoms to fall. Professional fruit growers have a scheduled time for different sprays at different stages of growth for the fruit on their trees. I felt lucky to get one of those scheduled sprays done.
I’m up to my earlobes in fruit. If you ask me what kind of fruit this apricot tree has produced, I would label it a peach.  I’m convinced when this tree died and grew again, the growth came from the original tree and the apricot was grafted to a peach. So, I have a whole mess of “peaches.” There was so much fruit on two branches that those two branches fell to the ground with the peaches still on it, but there still are many remaining on the tree as we speak.
However, when you look at these “peaches,” they appear to be so gross that anyone but a kid who grew up in really, truly tough times would just pitch them. You see, they look like trolls on the outside of the fruit. They are taking forever to ripen, are green on one side and yellow on the other, they have brown spots all over them even to the point that some are black and on many there is a gross looking blob of some kind of jell hanging on to them.
When two branches broke out of my “peach” tree because it was loaded with heavy fruit, I took one of “The Farmer’s” little red wagons and collected the peaches off the fallen branches and then set them in the sun to ripen.
After a couple of days I took a panful, set them to blanch on the stove and proceeded with the painstaking job of saving what was good and what was bad.
I never knew what I was going to get until I peeled and cut the peach. To my surprise, they were beautiful inside, but Lord what to do with all these sliced peaches. We don’t eat things like peach pie or cobbler or that kind of stuff. I did make two cobblers to take to Platteville. It didn’t even make a dent in the fruit.
There are still more on the tree. I’ve made probably 10 jars of jam, but the tree still has fruit. It is good over pork chops simply fried on the stove. I don’t fry them long, I put a bay leaf in with them and anise seed, brown them on each side and then add a white wine and some of my “peach” jam. Oh, buddy, is that good.
But what to do with all the rest? I’m really in a jam! Ciao

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