Figs and Peaches

Mom has been here a little over a week.  She adapts very quickly to our routine.  It takes me a little longer to get back in the caregiving swing.  Constant scrolling of my mental list keeps me on task: Mom’s bath; underwear before pants; socks; shoes; undershirt; sweater; breakfast; pills; brush teeth; situate in lift chair; turn on Good Morning America; take Mom to the bathroom; get Mom a drink and snack; change channel to Let’s Make a Deal; bathroom; lunch and the beat goes on…..

Yesterday, I made fig preserves from figs picked from my neighbor’s tree (with permission) across the street from my house while Mom watched morning TV.  It is the biggest, healthiest tree I have ever seen and it is loaded with figs.  There are figs for the blackbirds, the deer, friends, family and Alyce, my kind neighbor.  She is very generous with her figs.

The recipe I used is from The Classic 1000 Italian Recipes.  Conserva di Fichi begins by combining 3 cups of sugar, 3/4 cup of water and 1tbsp grated lemon rind in a large saucepan and cooking it for 5 minutes.  Then, I added 3lbs. of sliced fresh figs and lemon slices from 1/2 lemon.  The figs and lemon simmered for 20 minutes.  The pan was covered and allowed to stand overnight.  The next day the mixture simmered another 20 minutes until thick.  The citrus scent from the lemon made my mouth water.  The balance of sweet and sour is perfect.  1/2 cup of Cognac and 3 cups of sliced almonds, which I toasted in 350 degree oven, were added and simmered one more minute.  Yum, yum!  I filled 7 jelly jars and sealed them in a water bath for 15 minutes.  The recipe reads “Serve spooned on Milk Sponge Cake, topped with cream, or spread on Ciabatta bread for a snack.”  I think it will also be wonderful served with goat cheese or Brie and on ice cream.  Alyce was happy to received the first jar.  The succulent figs will be enjoyed for the rest of the year.  The preserves with almonds and Cognac are a nice departure from the traditional southern fig preserves.

Mom’s health has improved over the past few weeks while she was in Florida.  She had two badly decayed teeth filled.  She is even enthusiastic about food.  Helen, my good friend, gave her some peaches when we stopped for a visit on our afternoon ride.  She said “Oh, boy!”  Just to hear those two words made me very happy.  Aphasia leaves many gaps in our conversations, but delight can be read on her face.  The flesh of the “Lauren” peach is white.  It is the one in front of the picture.

Being in the kitchen, working with the fruit of the earth, is meditative for me.  It is a journey down a side road that holds new adventures.  I can be a better caregiver if I can participate in activities that provide diversion while accomplishing my mental list.

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