It always seems sad to throw out the Valentines roses Tom gives me, even if they're heading to the compost to eventually help make something else grow and bloom. While reading through Claudia Roden's book on middle eastern food recently, I paged past a recipe for rose petal jam. Today -- probably in some sort of sleep-deprived + dissociative stupor (90% of sitters have cancelled this week in addition to J still being sick and having adopted an incredibly irritating chapped nose-related wail) -- the idea of a rose jam came back to me in a memory swirl that whipped me back to Mont St. Michel, a stunningly gorgeous island community and Abbey off the Norman coast in France. T and I stayed for a few days in a lovely B&B there the summer after we married; we were living in Amsterdam, so travel throughout Europe was sinfully easy and cheap. Bliss. Anyway, at our first breakfast at the inn, the proprietress presented us with the most spectacular array of homemade jams, preserves and breads. The jellies ranged from the most common to those infinitely less familiar to us then, strawberry to Earl Grey, apricot to lavender, and so on. The rose hip jelly stood out immediately to both of us, its flavor equally matched, and impressively so, by its fragrance and color. The color and texture reminded me of the Mayhaw jelly I grew up eating, a fruit tree I've never seen outside of Louisiana, though I once befriended a Arkansan farmer via phone so as to procure some Mayhaw juice (you need it for my Nanny's cranberry sauce if you're being ultra-authentic). Don't ask me how I found this guy's number, some localharvest'y type of website, but he was great, we became fast-friends, he shipped me what Mayhaw juice he had left, I sent him my recipe, and we never spoke again. Delightful, yes? That was a hell of a special batch of cranberry sauce.
But back to Normandy, T and I just felt so fancy and indulgent with all these beautiful jams spread before us. We gorged ourselves happily, and I've never forgotten that morning. In thinking about that jam today, I looked back at the Valentines roses I was about to take out to the compost, and I reconsidered. I was wondering what the heck to do with the box of fresh red currants I bought a few days ago anyway, and how lovely it sounded to make a rose-currant jam, enlivened with the gorgeous floral citrusy'ness of Meyer lemon juice.
Right now, the petals (now cooked and drained) are macerating in the rose syrup I made by boiling said petals, water and lemon, straining and reboiling some of the resultant rosewater with sugar and more lemon. It's all quite beautiful, and I have high hopes it might provide us a little vicarious R&R, or at least a happy memory at breakfast sometime soon.