June 8, 2021
I am having waves of dread and trepidation as we approach Father’s Day this year. We lost my dapper, smart, strong father in March. This is news that I have held close to my chest. Owning up to it means it actually happened which I have been reluctant to accept. My dad was vivacious and warm, he had a passion for tradition, family, crossword puzzles, his Basset Hound, fly fishing, golf, and beautiful things. He was my favorite tastemaker; a freshly shaven face sprinkled with cologne, telling you a joke while he poured you a cocktail in his Brooks Brothers jacket and loafers (no socks). He was old school, a lost breed of a man, my confidant, my dad, and I miss him every day.
There are so many stories of him and my mom in the book which I dedicated to them both. Growing up, a rare break from our typical supper of grilled meats and salads meant breakfast for dinner—this felt like we were playing hooky from school at midterms. I remember the excitement of coming into the kitchen after swim practice and seeing the waffle iron on the kitchen island. Certainly, there were scrambled egg and bacon nights but waffles with apricot jam topped the list of most celebrated. Not a man to mess with tradition, this is a story my dad shared over our meal and one that I share with my apricot jam recipe in Lush Life.
In the early ’60s, my father flew to Belgium to ask my mom’s parents for her hand in marriage. When he landed in rainy Brussels, he was totally wiped after days of travel. Luckily, he was picked up from the airport by a dear family friend, Gill Van den Broeck, who quickly put him to bed on a sofa in her apartment. He awoke from his nap to a plate of fragrant, fluffy Belgian waffles stuffed with apricot jam. A “Welcome to Belgium” doesn’t get better than that. Since that day waffles and apricot jam are never served without one another in my mom’s and now my home. So my dad is gone from this earth, but his traditions and stories live on in our hearts and plates.
I wait all year for our Blenheim apricot tree to fruit (and even then I load up on extras at the farmers market). The fruit is small in size, but not in flavor! By the end of the week, it’s rare that any apricots will be left in the fruit bowl, so this small batch of jam is a nice way to keep the apricot season alive in your fridge.
Incidentally, you can use this jam recipe in so many ways: Try it on a cheeseboard, dollop it on top of a panna cotta, swirl in Greek yogurt, use it to glaze a summer tart, or add a tablespoon to your cocktail shaker with your favorite booze and a squeeze of citrus—in addition to squeezing your people and your dad tight this Father’s Day. Cheers to you dad.
1 1/2 pounds apricots (about 8 to 10 apricots), pitted, sliced
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice or more if needed (from one large lemon)
1 sprig of fresh lemon verbena
Combine apricots, sugar, and lemon juice in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Continue to simmer until the jam begins to thicken, about 15 minutes, still stirring occasionally and taking care to skim off any of the foam that rises to the top. Taste, adding more lemon juice if needed. Continue to cook 2 minutes longer. Add lemon verbena; remove the pan from heat, Let rise in the pan an additional 5-10 minutes. Discard the lemon verbena, then pour the jam into a clean jar and seal. (Can be made 3 weeks ahead. Refrigerate.)