preparations and peach preserves

Farewell, August. Hello, September!

And just like that, we are a mere 8 weeks away from meeting our Little Tomato.

September is gearing up to be a month of pre-baby “lasts”, from baby-moons in Greece to symphony date nights. But for all of the anticipations of September, August will forever be remembered as our month of exhausting yet exciting preparation.

So much happened this month.

We took a series of childbirth classes, began our biweekly midwife checkups, got some much-needed highlights, dined with a bunch of our favorite people, escaped for one last summer hike, nested like nobody’s business, fit in our dentist appointments, sang in a series of choral concerts, hosted an exceptional book club gathering, and still managed to find time to pickle and preserve every summer crop in sight.

Of all of our pre-baby preparations, however, none were as special as our baby shower celebrations last weekend.

To be clear: I never asked for or expected a baby shower. But we have been undeniably blessed by the kind of friends and family who insist on its happening, plan its details from afar, and fly in just for the occasion.

It was a weekend of reunions and quality time with some of our most beloved people in the world. It consisted of leisurely brunches with the girls, the first time many of us had been in the same place in almost a year; pizza nights in the McCarty’s backyard, recounting our most memorable shenanigans and laughing as though 9 months apart was no time at all; celebratory Saturday dinners featuring a Ward family quorum, all of us miraculously in Denver at the same time; Jason-planned bike rides and brewery stops for all of the significant others [read: the boys not invited to the shower]; and one-on-one Monday lunch dates with best friends who never fail to make you feel at home in your own skin.

linger

That’s really what this weekend was about — being with our people, our community, and those we consider our home.

It was what I kept coming back to during Sunday’s baby shower as I soaked in every detail. Surrounded by a delicious local food spread, fun farmer’s market themed decor, beautiful and benevolent women, unbelievable mountain views, and an abundance of love, I couldn’t help but be grateful for the home this baby is being born into and the people that will no doubt be a part of his or her journey from the very beginning.

Indeed, of all of the appointments, classes, and to-do’s that graced our August calendar, spending time with these people was the only preparation we truly needed.

We can’t wait for our Little Tomato to meet them all!


Basil and Balsamic Peach Preserves

Every August brings with it the promise of Colorado’s finest Palisade Peaches and the subsequent rush to get them all canned for year-round enjoyment. We’ve perfected almost every traditional preserve, honeyed syrup, and sweet pie filling out there, but this was our first attempt at something a bit more savory. The result is a concoction that goes perfectly with a soft, spreadable cheese or on top of a piece of grilled fish. It served an especially lovely addition to our Baby Shower homemade bread and cheese board spread.

Ingredients
  • 10 medium peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced into 8ths
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Zest & juice of one lemon
  • 3 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 20 fresh basil leaves, sliced
Instructions

1. Peel, pit, and slice the peaches. [To peel, submerge the peaches in a large pot of boiling water for 45 seconds, then transfer to a bowl of ice water. The peels should come right off.]

2. Mix peaches with sugar in a large bowl and let macerate while you prepare the other ingredients. [Peaches can macerate in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.]

3. Heat oil in a stockpot or Dutch oven and toss onions to coat. Lower heat to medium-low and sauté onions until lightly browned all over, about 10 – 15 minutes. Sprinkle with pepper and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

4. If canning, this is when you should begin preparing the water, canner, jars, and lids.

5. Add sugared peaches, lemon zest and juice, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and about half of the basil to the onions. Bring to a boil over high heat, and continue to boil until the mixture thickens and an instant read thermometer reads 216-degrees F, about 30 minutes. Add the remaining basil and stir.

6. Peaches should last for 3 weeks refrigerated. If canned and stored in a cool spot, they should last for up to a year.

7. If canning: fill hot, sterilized jars leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe rims of jars and apply prepared lids and bands. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 – 20 minutes and let sit undisturbed for 24 hours. Makes about 4 pints.

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