Sunday, August 12, 2012

Summer Vacation - Day 1 - Peaches, Peaches & Beets

Today is (according to the calendar at work) the 1st day of my summer vacation.  Well - almost.  I'm actually going in to the office for 1/2 day on Wednesday & 1/2 day on Thursday.  I have meetings that I don't want to miss & there's follow-up after a big meeting on Tuesday that needs to be done.  Yes - someone else could do it, but I'd rather go in & take care of it.
So - summer vacation day # 1 - how did I spend it?  Yesterday - (like most summer Saturdays) started with a trip to the Farmers Market.  I picked up DS & off we went - chatting as fast as we could & then taking in the smells & sights of the market.  I knew that we were having about 20 people at our house for the afternoon & evening & I was drawn to more veggies than usual.  I wanted to have fresh vegetables & dip, a big green salad with a beautiful buttermilk dressing (recipe from Yankee magazine & David pronounced it "his favorite" when he finally had salad today for lunch), a fresh tomato salad to highlight the amazing heirloom tomatoes available & next to 2 loaves of fabulous soudough-base bread.  The main course was pizza, but I wanted to have the healthy stuff on the table, too.  I had made a Georgia Special cake (late birthday cake per David's request), but worried that I'd need a 2nd dessert.  Stay tuned for the 2nd dessert details (it's in the title & isn't beets).
On the way home (after leaving my beet greens for the chickens & admiring 5 fabulous new puppies) I stopped by the orchard run by UMass in Belchertown.  The sign said it opened at 10 & I was there at 9:45, but there were plenty of cars coming & going & I went in a few minutes early.  The orchard store opens on August 1st, but we've had such a hot weather that the fruit is coming in quickly.  Right now it's peaches, peaches, peaches.  They had freestone peaches available (which are so much easier to use for jams, etc).  I purchased a good size box of 2nds for $16.  For my purposes they were just fine.  I made a peach cobbler for the 2nd dessert.  My Alabama sister-in-law & Texas son-in-law were quite happy with the results.  I don't eat peaches at all so I can't say if it was good, but there's not much left.
My stepdaughter has been here this week for visit before she moves to Utah.  She asked if I'd teach her to make jam.  I was up earlier than her so made a quick batch of peach jam to start the day (8 jars on the counter).  She loves berries & I'd frozen blackberries when they were in season so that's what she made (8 jars on the counter), after she finished I was still looking at a lot of peaches so I made spiced peach jam (8 1/2 jars), & then saw that I had some local blueberries in the freezer to made blueberry peach jam [see recipe below] (8 1/2 jars).  At this point - I wanted to use up the peaches, but didn't feel like making any more jam - 2 quarts of canned peaches added to the counter.  The peaches have officially been used up.  I picked up beets at the market yesterday & wanted to get them put up ~ 4 pounds of beets yielded 2 quarts using the recipe from the last time.  I still have Fortune plums & a box of tomatoes to put up but that will be on day 2 of my vacation ;-)

Grandma's Blueberry Peach Jam Recipe - Blueberries and peaches with a hint of cinnamon - Delicious! You might want to make an extra batch for gift giving.

3 cups fresh blueberries
2 cups fresh peach slices
1 package fruit pectin
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
7 cups sugar

Crush berries
[note:  I was using frozen blues & did not crush - kd] and put in a medium saucepan. Cut the peach slices into pieces and grind in a food processor or food mill [note:  I did not grind up peaches – kd]; add to the berries. [note:  I added the cinnamon, sugar & ½ t butter at this point] Mix fruit pectin and cinnamon into the fruit mixture and cook over high heat until mixture comes to a boil, stirring constantly. [note: I had added the cinnamon to the fruit & sugar & processed as I normally do using Certo – added after the mixture came to a full boil & cooking for 1 minute – kd]

Add sugar all at once, bring to a full boil and boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim and stir to remove foam. Ladle into hot jars and seal.
[See above – kd]

Yield:  8 half pints & 1 quarter pint

Correction to my previous blog entry - they are not elephant EAR plums - they are elephant HEART plums.  All of my jars are labeled wrong & I'm not correcting them.
We cleaned up the house post-party, did 4 loads of laundry, ate some leftover tomato salad & helped unpack a new TV since it's tax-free weekend in Massachusetts.  This doesn't feel like much of a vacation. 
I've got plans to go to several scrapbook stores on Tuesday with Mary C. & I'm taking a class that night.  Right now it's looking to be the highlight of my week ~

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