Sunday, July 29, 2007

Being the ant--my obsession with summer produce

This weekend I felt a bit like the ant laying up stores for the winter while the rest of my family played grasshopper. I am sure all my little bugs will enjoy it this winter. There is such great fresh food available right and I want to take full advantage. Next week we starting getting a weekly box of produce from Shaw Farm CSA. This weekend I put away 4 quarts of peaches and 4 bags of lima beans to eat this winter, as well as adding to my blueberry stash.

Friday night I picked these at Larriland Farm, putting my blueberry picking total for the summer somewhere up around 15 pounds (not bad for someone who never picked a blueberry before! It was a beautiful night, there was the threat of storms and a wind that cooled things off. I was out in the blueberry patch all by myself. Although there were a lot less berries than the last time I was out, the picking was a whole lot easier, no worrying about the green ones, they just weren't there. I can home and made blueberry muffins (with a little help from the girls) for breakfast on Saturday morning. I used this recipe from Food Network. Alton never steers me wrong. They were great right out of the oven. This morning I wasn't nearly so impressed, they were a bit dry. I would guess that has more to do with my over baking in the convection oven than Alton's recipe.

In addition to the last of the blueberries I picked the first of the summer peaches. I picked just over 20 pounds (to get the discount, I am a sucker f0r a discount). It was the first day of peach picking and the trees were heavy with fruit. I had a good time ducking into the middle of the trees to find the juiciest peaches--lots of them were still on their way to even "firm" ripe. Once home I spent lots of time on the computer trying to find new recipes to make with my bounty. So much for new recipes, I went for the tried and true cobbler recipe combining my blueberries and peaches.

Fruit Cobbler (from the Gilman United Methodist Church Cookbook)

Cover the bottom of a 9x9 pan with fruit

Mix together:
3/4 c sugar
3 TBSP butter
1 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c milk

Cut the butter into the dry ingredients and then add milk and stir until it comes together. Spread over fruit (don't worry about covering the entire thing).

1 c sugar
1 TBSP cornstarch
1 c water
Pour over the entire pan.
Bake 40 minutes at 375F.

I baked zucchini bread using Gretchen's recipe and put one loaf in the freezer. Gman and I loved it, haven't gotten the kids to try it yet. I also put together a peach pie and put it in the freezer as a surprise for dessert one night next week when we are on vacation with my family. So that is the end of the baking for the weekend.

I also gave canning a try for the first time this weekend. I LOVE hot pepper jelly so I decided to give it a try. I used this recipe from the nice folks at SureJell. I am not sure how it tastes yet but it did all set up and the jars sealed (love the little pinging sound as they go). Since the jelly went so well I was on a quest to make pickles as well. I am in search of the recipe for my grandmother's sweet pickles. My grandmother is in a nursing home following a stroke and my Mom can't find the recipe. I found one on a forum that I sent to Mom to go over with grandma and see if it sounds close. It will be a big project, its a 10-day process adding boiling water or syrup to the pickles every day while they process. The end product is so worth it, both in taste and for the memories of the big crock sitting in my grandparents kitchen for most of the summer as she made different kinds of pickles. Until I find the recipe, a crock and 10 days where I have time to tend to the pickles everyday that project is on hold.

To test my pickle making skills I started out on Sweet and Spicy Pickles. Next time I will heed the warning to wearing gloves while dealing with the jalapenos! My skin cracked on my index fingers kind after using the mandolin to slice all the peppers. It was kind of like when you put Elmer's on your hand as a kid and then moved it. Not so cool when its your skin. No long term harm though, things are back to normal if a little rough today. Again, all the jars sealed, now they need to age 10 days before we give them a try.

Very busy domestic weekend. It reminded me again how much I hate my kitchen, not nearly the room I'd like to do these big projects but thinking back its WAY bigger than my grandmother's kitchen and she turned out all kinds of good stuff.


joansy said...

Wow -- that is amazing. Billy is impressed too. I want to live somewhere with fresh blueberries. :)

Tree said...

I am seriously impressed!

The blueberries look amazing, but I love fruit cobblers!!! I may be using this recipe soon.

Also, pour milk on your hands after chopping the peppers.

aimee / greeblemonkey said...

holy YUM.

Gretchen said...

Very good!

Sorry I didn't get you emailed back with a recipe... It was one I'd found online anyway!

WTG - canning will start here shortly. Still waiting for the pick of the crop.