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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.

photo 4-10

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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!

Out with the Old, In with the New

Honey Peach & Blackberry Cobbler

I made Honey Peach & Blackberry Cobbler to take to a dinner with friends last night. It turned out pretty well, considering I messed up in halving the recipe (too much sugar) and I didn’t have fresh lemon juice for the fruit. Luckily, I was using frozen peaches that I’d stored in a mixture of lemon juice and simple syrup, so they didn’t brown too much. I also used frozen blackberries from last summer.

This was all part of my attempt to continue clearing out my freezer. I’m going to need to defrost it soon, before I start filling it up again from the (hopeful) bounty from my garden and what I buy at the farmer’s market.

Speaking of the farmer’s market, here’s a fun video done by the Easton Star-Democrat about yesterday’s opening.

This morning, I had fresh berries on my oatmeal for the first time since the last of the blackberries were available last summer. You really appreciate things like fresh berries a lot more when you only eat them in-season. I love this time of year!

I like a little oatmeal with my strawberries.

Christmas Dinner Redux

My sister requested turkey for Christmas dinner. For those who might be curious, here’s the full menu. What possessed me to cook for 12 when there was only two of us is beyond me. At least we both ended up with lots of leftovers!

  • Sweet Potato Crunch
  • Cornbread Stuffing (a hybrid of my mom’s recipe from the back of the Pepperidge Farm stuffing bag, but using homemade cornbread adapted from this recipe, without the cheddar and jalapeno)
  • My Aunt Teri’s brandied peaches
  • Aunt Teri’s canned green beans (cooked in bacon grease!)

My moment of genius came when I saved the bacon grease from the bacon I made with Christmas breakfast for sauteeing the veggies for the stuffing (I also used butter, but I didn’t have enough butter for all the dishes I had to make). I think my favorite (at least new-to-me) dish was the sweet potatoes. So good!

Hope everyone’s having a great holiday season!

Food Processor “Ice Cream”

Blackberry-Peach Food Processor "Ice Cream"

I don’t own an ice cream maker and don’t really want yet another gadget in my kitchen cabinets. So, when I put out the call for peach recipes a couple of weeks ago, I was intrigued by the suggestion of a friend that you could make ice cream in your food processor. Here were her instructions:

“Put 1 c. frozen peaches, 1-2 T. vanilla yogurt, pinch of salt, sugar to taste, 1 t. lemon juice, and just enough milk/cream in a food processor. Puree. The less milk you use, the more like ice cream it is. All the above measurments are guidlines.”

I did the following:

Blackberry Peach Food Processor “Ice Cream”

2 c. frozen peaches, defrosted slightly
3 tbsp. blackberry puree*
1/4 pint honey yogurt
Squeeze of a quarter lemon

I didn’t add milk because I was adding more yogurt proportionally than was originally called for. My peaches were frozen in a sugar syrup, so I didn’t add any extra sugar. I put all of the above in my food processor and let it go. I went in a couple of times to loosen some of the peach clumps so they’d process easily.

The result was a beautiful, purple concoction with the consistency of slightly thawed sherbet. I spooned one cup’s worth into a tea cup and stuck it in the freezer to firm up and poured the rest into a quart container for later and stuck that in the freezer too.

This came together so quickly and easily, I can’t wait to try it again with different fruit combos.

* Yes, leftover blackberry puree from the Purple Martini Nightmare.