Today, winter came to stay. The wind is blowing and I’m watching leaves leave. The backyard is ankle deep in crackling colorful oak, hickory and dogwood leaves, the trees now stripped bare. The Japanese maples are the last to turn, and the last to let go of their leaves.
When we moved in to the house nearly fifteen years ago, this maple at the top of the stairway took my breath away. We constructed the stone wall with the maple in mind, and I paired the squat miniature spruce with the range of colors the tree produces.
I adore this laceleaf beauty, all gnarled and structural in the winter when I prune away all the tiny dead branches with miniature clippers. In spring, little bright green buds unfurl, first pink, then salmon, then light green. By summer, it is a deep green and moves with the breeze like the lace for which it is named. And then, just as the other trees have passed their folial prime, I watch as it turns to fire.
In the kitchen, there is something elemental afoot, as well. This is the time of year when I start to look at the pantry in a new way. It’s not about filling it up any more, but about enjoying the fruits (ha!) of my labors. There’s great satisfaction is standing in front of these shelves, uber-organized (for now). Every time I stroll by, I’m reviewing all the meal starters. When I walk on the treadmill, I am surrounded by recipe prompts.
All of my canning life is exposed on those shelves. There are no marmalades (don’t like ’em) or peach jams (not my thing). There are dill pickles, and hot pickles, but not a single bread and butter pickle (meh). There are quite a few homemade fruity booze infusions. (ahem.) Yes, I may have gone a little overboard with the canned apricot halves (12 pints*), too.
Walking on that blasted treadmill, while the cold wind blows outside and the bright fall light sends false hopes for higher temperatures, I had to own up to the overabundance of apricots. I wondered if I might be able to convert a jar into gelato, and what do you know… it worked like a charm.
Change is definitely in the air. The book is in the hands of the copyeditor and I am suddenly free of it. It’s a strange feeling, a little unsettling. I’m trying to get back to my life, if only I could remember exactly how. For now, I’m reading novels, dabbling in the kitchen, and planning a trip for the two of us. And eating gelato while I watch the leaves fall.
Yield: About 1 quart
Active time: About 15 minutes
Freezing time: About 15 minutes
2 pints apricots (or any fruit) in syrup
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
1/3 cup honey, or more, to taste
Pour the fruit and syrup into a blender. Puree thoroughly.
Empty the cream into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or, whip the cream by hand with a big metal whisk and some elbow grease) beat the cream until it has thickened and is starting to form slumpy peaks. Stir in the apricot puree. Add the honey. Stir well.
Taste the mixture. If it is too tart for your liking, stir in additional honey, one tablespoon at a time.
Freeze in the ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. It took 15 minutes in mine.
Spoon into a quart container and freeze for a couple of hours before serving.
*There were twelve pints of apricots for a reason. This is how recipe testing goes. Back in July, apricots were abundant and peaches weren’t in season yet. Those are the two fruits I most often can as halves or slices. I was puzzling out some theories of mine on hot pack v cold pack and light v medium syrup. Twelve pints later, I can say that the apricots lose structure in a hot pack, but are more likely to float with cold pack. And a medium syrup balances the tart nature of the fruit. Light syrups do nothing for the final product. Just my opinion, mind you! If you canned fruits last summer and the jars are less than gorgeous, just make them into gelato.