By Letizia Mattiacci
f I told you I spent the better part of today picking and canning wild peaches, you might start pining for my idyllic country life. I can understand that if you were stuck indoors with bored colleagues or irritating clients. My life might seem quaint, privileged, and uneventfully sweet.
But trying to run a small B&B business in a depressing economy and everything that much less idyllic, not to mention that I was out picking peaches to avoid dealing with the pile of paperwork that's been accumulating on my desk.
Peaches are impatient. They can't wait.
Yet all this picking, canning and baking has had an unintended consequence: my 73-year-old aunt just unfriended me from Facebook.
I honestly didn't grow up with the idea that anything like this could ever happen. In the world I knew, aunts didn't have Facebook profiles, let alone surf the net. I still have a fair number of friends my age and younger that don't know a thing Facebook, let alone know much about the online universe. For whatever reason (never mind how much I depend on the web), I was somehow convinced I belonged to a generation whose aunts still focused on making pies and dispensing age-old wisdom about how to raise babies or keep husbands from running off with their secretaries.
But things change, even in remote, peach-picking Umbria. I'm busy make pie while my aunt decides who to friend or exile.
How exactly I managed to upset her I don't know. Maybe it has something to do with my independent (others might say rebellious) streak. And it's true I haven't been paying her lots of Sunday visits recently.
Or maybe she didn't like the pickle recipe I posted recently.
In any case, if you're listening, dear auntie, just know I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. Your pickle recipe is definitely better than mine. But one thing does worry me: now that you're on Facebook how do you even find time to cook?
My advice: leave the computer behind and head for the kitchen. It's a much happier place, especially for aunts.
Peach Preserves in Syrup
Note: Use only very firm, unblemished, aromatic peaches. They may be packed in syrup, unsweetened apple or white grape juice, or just in water. But they should fresh enough to eat.
My own peaches are aromatic but not particularly sweet so I mix them with heavy syrup made from equal doses of sugar and water. Feel free to go lighter for fewer calories. A little sugar helps to retain the natural color and texture of the fruit.
— Sterilize mason jars and their lids in boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain them and place upside down on a clean cotton towel.
— Peel the peaches with a potato peeler. I slice mine but if you're using cling-free peaches you can divide them in halves.
— Pack the peeled peaches tightly into the sterilized jars. Boil water, adding sugar until it's completely dissolved. Pour the steaming sugar-water syrup over the peaches so that they're completely doused. Close the jars.
— Boil the jars in a hot water bath or canner for 30 minutes. Let them cool undisturbed. Remove from the pan, label and store.
— Return to the computer and waste as much time as possible telling the Facebook faithful how much you love peaches and friend all those who agree, uncles included.
When your 73-year-old aunt decides to unfriend you on Facebook, it's time to focus on peaches.
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