On Saturday, we went to the farmer's market and they had some gorgeous apricots. I bought a huge bag of them and decided to make a small batch of jam with some of them. My grandma makes the best jams so I called her to get her recipe. She was topping green beans from her garden so that she could can them this afternoon. This meant we could have a nice chat. We talked about how the late freeze had killed off all her orchard fruit for this year to the point that she's been climbing the 8 foot ladder to get a few cherries to eat.
Just so you know, my grandma is 91 and has a small orchard of 20 or so peach, cherry, apricot, walnut and apple trees and a HUGE vegetable garden. She and her husband, 96 do all the work themselves.
Before I'd called I looked up some apricot jam recipes and they all called for half apricots which in my opinion would leave you with big slimy chunks in the final jam. Ughh texture issues!!! I remembered that grandma's was a much better consistency and sure enough, she puts her apricots through a hand grinder with a course blade. I just used my food processor to chop mine. I hate to think about it but if I hadn't been able to ask, I never would have thought to chop or grind the fruit up that fine.
It really got me thinking about what other recipes I might not have in my hands. I started making a list Saturday afternoon of the different foods that I remember from my childhood and am going to make sure that I have the recipes for these things. I'm also going to be asking a lot more questions about procedure too!
I will say that there are some recipes you just have to be there in person to watch how they are made. My grandma make a penuche candy that is to die for. My mom and I asked her for the recipe but she said that she didn't have it written down, she just made it. When were were visiting a few years ago, we made her make a batch so that we could write down the recipe and figure out how to make it. She never used a candy thermometer she just knew when it looked right. So when it looked right, we'd take a temp and wrote everything down. Now we'll always have that recipe.
I'm also going to take the time to get more family history from her. Stories about her growing up and my mom growing up and record them for future generations.
What things in your life do you love but have no idea of their background or in the case of food how it's made? Take the time this week to make a list of your favorite family foods and hunt down the recipes. You don't want to be left with only a memory of how good something was and an inability to recreate that for your family. Take the time to build a history before it's too late to do it.