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Category Archives: Recipes

Fate and Brandied Peaches

Yesterday, I bought a huge box of Blades Orchard peach seconds for $18 at the farmer’s market, with the intention of making brandied peaches last night. But I ended up working all day and ran out of steam that evening while I unpacked jars, the pressure canner and other equipment I’d need for the project. I decided to wait until today.

It wasn’t until this morning that I realized what day it was. My Aunt Teri’s birthday. She was the inspiration for making the brandied peaches in the first place — she was famous for them. They were coveted gifts and a beloved side at family holiday meals. After eating the peaches, we often used the leftover juice for making bellinis. But the world has been without Teri’s brandied peaches since she died two years ago. I still miss her (and her brandied peaches) terribly.

I truly believe fate intervened so that I would be canning the peaches on her birthday.

I used one garden pail to ice down the scalded peaches and another full of lemon water to keep them from browning.

I used one garden pail to ice down the scalded peaches and another full of lemon water to keep them from browning.

This was my first foray into large-batch canning. I knew it would be a lot of work and I was right. It took no less than two hours to get just the peaches ready for adding to the simple syrup. I boiled them briefly in an enormous stock pot to loosen the skins and then dunked them in a  large garden pail full of ice water to cool them down. Meanwhile, I put the canning jars in the dishwasher to heat them up and started boiling the lids.

I had to peel and halve or quarter the fruit, depending on the size of the peach (and there were some huge ones). Then I could finally add them to the simple syrup boiling away on the stove. I had looked up several recipes for brandied peaches as I didn’t have Teri’s. I finally settled on the Spirited Peaches recipe in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.

The box of peach seconds had some interesting specimens.

The box of peach seconds had some interesting specimens.

I ended up with about 25 cups of peaches to process, which filled 7 quart jars for the pressure canner and two bonus jars that I processed for keeping in the fridge. Some of the peaches ended up not being fit for canning, which is just as well — I had more than enough to work with!

I felt like my Aunt Teri was watching over me through the entire process, but whether she was guiding me like a guardian angel or laughing her ass off as I created a huge mess, I don’t know (probably both).

By the end, there was peach juice everywhere and just the smell of brandy in my kitchen was making me tipsy. I think I probably made some rookie mistakes. From what I understand, the fruit shouldn’t be floating to the top of the jars like they are in the photo below — I probably didn’t pack enough into the jars. I’m not the only one to have that happen though. I am hopeful that they will be edible, if not close in taste to Aunt Teri’s peaches.

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Spicy Peach Smoothie

I know this blog has been quiet for quite awhile. I think of it often, but haven’t gotten my butt in gear to write. But then I made this, and I knew I had to share it with the rest of you:

Spicy Peach Smoothie

Spicy Peach Smoothie

I recently started a fruit share from Blades Orchard and it’s peach season. This week, we got white peaches and regular (if by regular, you mean huge) peaches. They’re great to slice up and eat, but a coworker suggested that I make a peach smoothie.

Genius.

So I combed the interwebs for smoothie recipes. All called for either dairy or a non-dairy milk (meh). I then happened upon a couple of recipes that called for coconut milk (the real stuff, not that sweetened liquidy cereal-milk replacement).

And so I was inspired. Lately, I’ve been adding a lot of ginger and turmeric to stuff. The benefits of doing so are many (anti-inflammatory, tasty, etc.). This smoothie is no exception. The ginger really gives this smoothie some bite and the turmeric helps boost the yellow color.

I’m weird and don’t like to drink super cold stuff. You could make a cold smoothie by adding a few ice cubes to the following or freezing some of the fruit before blending it.

Spicy Peach Smoothie
Serves 2 (or 1, if you are me and not willing to share)

2 large peaches, pitted and sliced
1 banana
1/2 can coconut milk
1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled
1 scant teaspoon ground turmeric
1 scant teaspoon honey

Blend it all until smooth and enjoy!

The Boxes Are Back!

I just picked up my first order from Eating Out of the Box this season and it resulted in a lovely impromptu dinner.

Here’s what came in my *small* box:

1 bunch assorted color carrots
1/2 dozen Asian pears
2 small heads of lettuce
1 bag arugula
2 bags of Asian-style greens
1 additional bag of what I think is bok choy
1 bunch of red radishes

This box was gifted to me for some assistance I’m lending to the program this season. I also ordered a couple more pounds of Asian pears and 5 bunches of lemongrass, which I immediately froze for future use in teas and soups.

So excited for the lemongrass!

For dinner, I sauteed one of the bags of Asian greens with some soy sauce, oil, ground ginger and ground black pepper. I added this to some kelp noodles (I’ll leave these out next time; they were an experiment).

Here’s a kickin’ Asian salad/dish topper for you:

1 handful raw cashews
1 healthy dash Sriracha
1 healthy dash sweet chili sauce

Saute the above together and prepare to be wowed.

Back to Eating Out of the Box. If you haven’t read about them on my blog before, check out their site. Easton residents can order fresh produce, meat and more through this service on a weekly basis — no season-long signup necessary. That is a huge advantage to this program. The produce is organic and everything is produced locally. I highly recommend you try it out!

Chemistry of a R̶o̶o̶t̶ Beer Float

100_4830 A few weeks ago, I tried Southern Tier’s Choklat stout at a beer tasting. It was a-mazing. Never before had a beer evoked memories of childhood* as its subtle hints of Hershey’s syrup did.

I knew what I had to do.

A beer ice cream float.

My friend Brian recommended trying mint-chocolate chip ice cream. That’s my favorite ice cream flavor, so that sounded perfect. I ended up blending my own mint ice cream using peppermint patties and vanilla ice cream (all the mint ice cream I found, even at the organic grocery store, had “natural flavors” or MSG in it).

100_4825The ice cream tasted awesome.

The beer tasted awesome.

The two together… not so much.

But I was undeterred. The following night (last night), I tried again, but with the plain ol’ vanilla ice cream.

Magic.

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Now, a word of caution. Adding sugar to beer causes a very bubbly reaction. If you try this at home (and I recommend that you do), leave plenty of room in the glass for the foam that will ensue (not unlike in a root beer float).

Bonus pic of chopped up mint patties:

100_4824*Well, except for some crappy beers that remind me of the mostly flat half-bottle of my dad’s Michelob that I drank when I was 5. (Obviously, I was too young to know any better. I mean, Michelob? Really?)

BBQ Chicken Wings, Plus Haul-Type Stuff

I’ve been buying rotisserie chickens a lot lately, but have grown tired of them. With today’s nice weather, I decided to buy chicken to cook myself on the grill. I settled on this recipe for barbecue chicken. I made the sauce per the recipe, but did everything else differently. I bought a bone-in chicken breast at the Amish market, which I had them split for me. I also bought 1.5 pounds of wings.

Maggie was very attentive during the whole grilling process.

Maggie was very attentive during the whole grilling process.

I sprinkled the meat with a seasoning mix from Penzey’s and grilled them per this recipe instead of the indirect heat suggested in the recipe above. I brushed half of the sauce over the meat towards the end of cooking it. I was glad I had bought the wings because they cooked much faster. I was able to enjoy them while I waited for the breasts to finish cooking. Those I’m saving for meals later this week.

Here’s a photo of the wings before I demolished them. I removed the skins before eating them.

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Recent Hauls

Earlier in the day, I visited the farmer’s market with Maggie. We bought:

  • Strawberries
  • Carrots
  • Potted basil plant
  • Bulk bison burger (I’m thinking of making chili tomorrow)
  • Bison short ribs
  • A gluten-free cinnamon bun and gluten-free lemon pound cake

The cinnamon bun was okay — it wasn’t everything I’d built up in my head. Wishing I had those calories back. The pound cake I had after dinner with a sauce I made out of frozen raspberries and fresh strawberries simmered together. I drizzled some chocolate vincotto (I keep forgetting I have this) over the whole shebang. That was really good.

Thursday night, I picked up a small box from Eating Out of the Box. It contained lettuce, kale and two types of Chinese cabbage.

Garden Update

Today, I used up the rest of my landscape fabric to cover the ground around my raspberry and blackberry canes, and under my Vegtrug. Fingers crossed this makes weed control in those areas easier this season. I’m not planning to mulch the entire area, though I may eventually mulch around the base of the berry bushes. I’m also hoping the barrier fabric really does allow moisture through, as promised. Otherwise, watering those berry plants is going to be a pain.

I also planted some seeds I bought last summer at Monticello. The flowers are meant to attract butterflies. I sprinkled them in a bed by my garage where I threw down wildflower seed bombs last year. Some of those seeds and plants have returned this year. Hopefully the new seeds take too. Tomorrow, I’m hoping to plant some of my remaining vegetable seeds. I also need to devise a trellis system for the berry bushes and amend my compost mixture. Oh yeah. And mow the lawn.

Meaty Butternut Chili

DSCN4240After my trip to the bison farm yesterday, I thawed a pound of the ground bison for tonight’s dinner. But I’m still not in the mood to grill burgers (too cold out) or make tacos (not eating tortillas at the moment). Then I had a brain wave. I haven’t made chili yet this season! It was already 2 p.m. when I had this thought, so I raced to get out my crockpot and start thawing some of the frozen ingredients.

I’m not eating grains right now, so no rice or cornbread for this chili. To make the chili hearty enough to eat on its own, I decided to add butternut squash to the pot. But the huge squash I had dwarfed the quart of tomatoes and pound of bison I started out with. I ended up adding another quart of tomatoes and a pound of ground pork as well. The crockpot is filled to the brim as I type this!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground bison
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1.5 onions, chopped
  • 2 quarts diced tomatoes and juice*
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 heaping tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 chopped unseeded jalapeno
  • several drops Tabasco
  • other seasoning, including salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 tbsp Thai sweet chili sauce
  • Lime wedges

*My tomatoes held enough juice to give this chili a nice broth, but you could add beer, stock or water if needed. You also could add any number of things to the ingredient list above, like beans, etc.

I tossed the frozen tomatoes into the crockpot unthawed and turned it up to high. While I had it working on the tomatoes, I browned the bison with half of the onion and then added that to the crockpot. Then I did the same with the remaining onion and ground pork. I added the squash to the pot and then the remaining ingredients (except the lime). I added a bit of Penzey’s 33rd & Galena spice mix to the pot as well as each meat mixture as it was browning.

After a few hours on high, the chili was ready to eat! I squeezed a bit of lime juice over my first bowlful and it was quite tasty. It would be really good with some sharp cheddar grated on top.

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I’m letting the chili simmer for another hour on low before I cool it down for the night. Looking forward to taking leftovers to work for lunch this week!

Gluten-Free, Egg-Free Meatballs: Version 2

Yes, Virginia, you can make cocktail meatballs without breadcrumbs or eggs. (Note: Okay, I lied. I said in my last post that this post would be about pineapple. That’s the next post, I promise).

I started out with this recipe, written by my grandma:scan0104

2013-02-23 03.34.12I of course had to tweak it. I used powdered egg substitute for the eggs. I bought blackberry “fruit spread” in place of the grape jelly (lower in sugar and I *love* blackberries). I couldn’t find traditional chili sauce at my organic grocery, but happened upon some Thai sweet chili sauce instead. I was dubious about it, but it worked out in the end.

I halved this recipe because I only had one pound of ground beef (yes, actual ground beef this time; not bison). Since the original recipe didn’t call for much cornflakes to begin with, I wasn’t worried about omitting them entirely. I was worried about the chili sauce. I didn’t think it was the same consistency as that called for originally. I ended up adding a tablespoon of tomato paste and 1/4 c. of water to the sauce before simmering everything together. I probably could have halved that amount of water and been fine, but I’m glad that I added both.

I was a bit concerned that the recipe didn’t advise to brown the meatballs before simmering, but that ended up being unnecessary. They soaked up the color of the rich sauce. Per the recipe, it was definitely necessary to spoon off the fat from the sauce.

The result was spot-on taste-wise! I’m thrilled and can’t wait to make this again. That’s two successful meatball recipes without gluten or egg. The sky’s the limit from here.

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