Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Today, I ate...

garden tomatoes with local goat cheese:

...vanilla ice cream with bourbon peaches (both homemade, natch)

...and meat on a stick.

At least the dough was homemade...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Peach seconds

This is the second 1/2 bushel of peaches we've purchased this summer. They are seconds, which means they look ugly, but are half price - perfect for jams.

Some of the bushels were pretty gross - moldy peaches or lots of fruit flies. But this one was good. It takes a little longer to inspect seconds, but it's worth the time. In this 1/2 bushel there were only 4 peaches that were questionable for human consumption and they went to the chickens. These don't look too bad after being blanched, eh?

They became jam. All of them! A few recipes below.

This is my summer jam set up. Far too hot to cook in the brick house, so we have a cast iron propane stove with three burners.

I try to keep the amount of exposed fruit and sugar low to keep the bugs down. Typically I do all the combining of ingredients in the kitchen and just bring the pot outside. That way fruit-covered utensils and sugar coated measuring cups stay inside, near the sink.

My Ball Blue Books (the blue one is from the 40s - I love it!) and a piece of paper to write down recipes as I go. This year I've been experimenting more, but it's helpful to have info on fruit to sugar ratios from the good folks at Ball.

The far blue pot is sterilizing my jars. The close pot is boiling some jam. See the steam! The poor middle burner never gets used.

Important utensils: wooden spoon for constant siring and a skimmer on the spoon rest (which gets washed about 80 times a day during jam season), and my teaspoon on a cup contraption. I scoop a little jam on the spoon and let it sit on the cup to cool a little to assist in finding the gelling point. This is more for the coarse testing - finer testing is done with a freezer plate - but the spoon lets me know when I'm close.

And a cookie sheet (which also gets washed 80 times a day) to help tote everything from the sink to the picnic table.

24 jars of jam! From farthest to closest:

  1. plain jam with pectin
  2. peach rum jam
  3. jalapeno peach jam (below)
  4. peach honey lavender jam (same recipe as the strawberry honey lavender)
  5. vanilla bourbon peach syrup (below)

Many of these are only soft set, which means they are a bit runny. Because the flavors aren't really what we're looking for on toast, I've left them thinner for ice cream, pancakes and yogurt.


Jalapeno Peach Jam
4 cups peaches
3 cups sugar
1.5 teaspoons jalapeno pepper flakes
juice of 1/2 lemon

Put it all in the pot and boil until gelling point (or a little thinner). Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath.

We're thinking this will go great with goat cheese or brie. Or maybe to accompany smoked chicken/turkey.

Vanilla Bourbon Peach Syrup
4 cups peaches
3 cups sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
1.5 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup bourbon

Toss everything but the bourbon in the pot and boil close to gelling point. When you've only got a few minutes left of boiling, add the bourbon. It's going to thin out a lot - boil until it thickens to your liking. Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath.

If you add the bourbon early, a lot of the flavor cooks out. Adding it at the end preserves the flavor, but makes the jam thinner. Because this isn't really a flavor I crave on toast, I'm cool with that. Most of this is destined for ice cream or maybe shortcake (if I don't eat it all with a spoon, first.)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fast Food Fix

From BBC News
Give out statins with junk food

Fast food outlets should consider handing out cholesterol-lowering drugs to combat the effects of fatty food, say UK researchers.

According to the article, we could save so many lives for the cost of a packet of ketchup. And no one has to change their eating habits!! Brilliant solution, yeah?