Relative Peace And Quiet And Nectarine Vanilla Bean Jam

nectarine_vanilla_bean_3_mfbOur family reunion is over.  One year of planning and preparation, countless emails and phone calls, and trying to keep it all together without losing it completely, is now over.  It feels a little anti-climatic, to be honest. What am I supposed to do with all this free time I have?

The weekend was filled with fun and family.  Registration began Saturday morning, followed by a self-serve cold lunch, kids games, Ukrainian dancer cut outs for fun photos, family group photos, baseball and visiting.  Supper was a lovely Ukrainian dinner which consisted of perogies, cabbage rolls, scalloped potatoes, baked chicken with dill sauce, meatballs in mushroom gravy, Caesar salad, coleslaw, pickles, and buns, followed by an old-time family polka dance party with a live band.  The kids loved learning how to do the chicken dance and the adults loved grabbing their partners for a spin around the floor.

reunion_collageSunday morning we served pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausages and fruit salad for breakfast. In the afternoon, we had our wedding dress fashion show which featured dresses from 1914 through 2010.  It was so much fun to see how the wedding fashions have changed in the last 100 years. I was thrilled with the number of dresses that we received from family near and far, and loved that we could feature a dress from every decade. A big thank you goes out to all the wedding dress models because apparently dresses shrink if they hang in the closet too long.  Also thank you to my nephew for walking all the “brides” down the aisle.  I think his mom should be able to catch her breath by now, right?  The sight of seeing her “baby boy” walking down the aisle, even a makeshift aisle, was giving her a mild case of the vapors. Immediately after the fashion show we had a 10 year anniversary vow renewal ceremony between my cousin and her husband.  It was very special for them to celebrate with everyone because for their original wedding, they were unable to have any family present.

nectarine_vanilla_bean_6_mfbThe weather cooperated, even though during one part of the afternoon the sun disappeared behind a fairly dark cloud, only to emerge victorious on the other side. It was great to meet family I’ve never met before and to reconnect with those I haven’t seen for a while.  It was, all in all, a wonderful weekend that will hold many memories for years to come.  I hope that we continue to keep in touch and bring the family ties even closer together.

nectarine_vanilla_bean_7_mfbBut for now, I will take a few days to unwind and enjoy my solitude.  I will relax in the back yard, catch up on some neglected chores, read my book and enjoy my coffee and toast on the patio in relative peace and quiet, relatively relative free.

Nectarine And Vanilla Bean Jam
Original recipe from Better Homes & Gardens Can It Cookbook
Makes 6 – 7 half pint jars

Ingredients

  • 4 cups chopped, peeled, ripe nectarines (about 8 medium nectarines)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
  • 7 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 to 1-1/2 pouches liquid fruit pectin

Directions

To peel the skin off your nectarines, drop whole nectarines in boiling water for 30 – 40 seconds.  Remove the nectarines from the boiling water and immediately submerge the fruit in an ice water bath.  Use a sharp knife to gently peel the skin away from the flesh. Chop the flesh and measure to equal 4 full cups.

Place the chopped nectarines and lemon juice in a large pot.  Use a potato masher to crush the fruit, leaving a few larger fruit pieces if you prefer.

Use a sharp knife to scrape the caviar from the vanilla bean pods and add the caviar to the pot. Add the vanilla bean pods and sugar to the pot and mix well.  Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves.

Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the fruit mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly.  Stir in liquid pectin.  (I’ve used 1 pouch for a slightly thinner jam, or 1-1/2 pouches for a thicker jam.) Return to a full boil.  Boil hard for 1 minute.  Remove from the heat and skim off foam with a metal spoon.  Remove vanilla bean pods.

Ladle hot jam into sterilized half pint jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.  Wipe jar rims and add lids.  Process jars in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.  Remove jars and cool on wire racks.

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