Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Running Out of Excuses....

So, Good-Neighbor-Bri stopped by this evening...

See, I'd asked him, several weeks ago, if he would be willing to install the "heat-shields" on the Kiln-Korner Walls of my Studio - and he graciously agreed to assist...

Of course, he's got a full-time job of workin'-for-a-livin', and raising-a-family, and havin'-a-life, so he wasn't able to get to My Project right away... No worries!!!

So... Late this afternoon there was a light tap-tap-tapping at my door.... It was Good-Neighbor-Bri, asking if now was a good time to tackle my project.

Hell yeah!!!

So we wandered out back...

Well, Bri was unaware of our "Close the Garden Gate IMMEDIATELY" rule and, well, Tazz-The-Spazz (aka "Food-Hoe") managed to make her way back into the garden - AGAIN! And NOTHING (Not even the threat of Nuclear Holocaust) (aka "Momma's Wrath") would lure her out...

Fatty McTazz - Round II!

On the Plus Side: I *did* get my Heat-Shields installed! And Bri *even* moved the kiln out - from the living room (no more toe-stubbing!!!), to The Studio!!!

And - partial-payment - was a jar of my Most-Coveted Sweet-Corn-Apple-Relish (I *really* do have to make a second batch of that sh*t! It is WAAAAAYYYYY too good - and I *don't* want to run-out!!!)

Kiln and Heat-Shields, installed!

Sooooo... Other than re-arranging the cement blocks, under the kiln (which are uneven and the kiln kinda "rocks" a bit - oops!), I have officially run-out of excuses for NOT using my studio!!!

I'll still have bisque-firing (which takes 17 hrs!) done at "The Studio." But now I can do my own "final" mid-fire (or even high-fire) firings @ home!!!

Yayyyyy!!!! The Tiki-Shack / Studio is - officially - "Complete!!!"

Life! Is Good!!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

More Ramblings - Plus Frozen Squozen Maters - Part Deux

Well, we had a perfectly awesome weekend...

Pretty low-key, overall, but we did spend Saturday Morning over at Leo's house to "supervise" the mast-raising/rigging procedure for Albatross. It went well and I think he "gets" it. He just needed a little boost of confidence - which we were more than happy to provide...

Then we came home for some serious Poolsize-Lazing...

Princess Annie Supervised!

So, after an afternoon of heavy-duty poolside lazing, DH decided to fire up the grill. We had:

The Bestest Salad Ever, followed by thin-cut, smoked pork-chops (already-smoked - from the grocery store), which I'd lightly glazed with real maple syrup. Hubs warmed 'em on the grill: 5 mins one side, then flipped 'em over and cooked for another 3 mins. We served them buried in my (warmed!) Sweet-Corn-Apple-Relish. And I totally cheated and went with nukable side-dishes: Fresh Garlic-Butter Green Beans and Mashed 'Taters (both pre-made from the store - sorry!) (Yes, I'm a cheater! But my Farmshare Beans kinda, well, ended up being compost!). And we *shoulda* followed up dinner with a slice of my Orgasmic Peach-Blueberry Pie (Ooh - with Vanilla Ice Cream!), but we were so full from dinner, we skipped dessert!

Unfortunately, no pics of dinner - but it was both beautiful *and* delicious! Even hubs gave it a big Thumb's-Up (and he's a pretty traditional "Meat and Potatoes" kinda guy!). Just envision a pork chop buried under a mound of colorful corn relish. Pile of beans and a wad o' mashed taters on the side!

Gawd - That relish was sooooo good, I am seriously considering whipping up another batch before Corn Season is over! It's a ton 'o work, but definitely worth it!

* * * * *

Soooooo... On to Sunday! Sunday sorta turned into Run-Errands and Do-Chores. I spent about an hour at Home Depot, torturing myself by looking at tiles again. I found a bathroom wall-tile that I like - color is dead-on for matching the tub and not detracting from the "accent tile." But it's $4.90/sq ft which totally blows the budget. I'll probably yammer about that in a separate post - but the "cut to the chase" version is: I *did* find a tile that is "damn close" at Home Depot for only $0.99/sq ft. But I can't decide if it's "close enough!" :::sigh:::

Once I stopped torturing myself over the bathroom remodel (Tiles... Tiles... Tiles... Fixtures... Fixtures... Fixtures... AACK!!!), I wandered out to the Garden Dept and picked up a bag of potting soil (need to pot-up some house-plants and probably "freshen" the soil in the upside-down planters), and some composted steer manure (Yummmm!) Steer Manure will be tossed onto the straw-bale bed which will be revived for Cool-Season Veggies.

In the meantime, Hubs was busy with yard-work. Mowing, Blowing, Edging, Yada-yada. Dogs usually stay inside while all of this is going on. Once he finishes, he lets 'em out.

Welllllllllll.... *Somebody* forgot to close the Garden Gate!!!

No. Tazz is NOT pregnant!

Tazz the Spazz is THE most opportunistic little Food-Hoe EVAR! I can just imagine her sheer giddiness and glee when she raced outside and saw that *The Gate* (Leading to Heaven / All-You-Can-Eat-Splendor) was open. That little sh*t gorged herself on rotting peaches until she was about ready to burst!!!

I always swore she'd eat herself to death. And I suspect she came DAMN close, yesterday! Frankly, I'm amazed I didn't catch her in the act! But she is so worrisome and paranoid that, I suspect, as soon as she heard the back-door open, she ran OUT of the garden so as not to be scolded.

Nevertheless, her "sin" was QUITE clear to me! (and the look she gets on her face when she is "Busted" is absolutely priceless) (and can't be adequately captured on camera, unfortunately!). So I hustled her back into the house - briefly.

"Uhhh, Babe? C'mere and take a look at Tazz, would'ja?"

"Oh... My... GOD!!!"

"Uhh, yeah. *Somebody* left the Garden Gate open!

"Holy sh*t! You better get her outside!"

"Uh huh!"

Tazz. Sleeping off her "Afternoon Bender"

On the Plus Side: I probably don't have as many rotting peaches to rake-up and dispose-of!!!

Amazingly, she managed to digest everything (either that or - well, I don't want to think about the alternative - but we *did* keep her outside all day!). She is back to her normal, trim ("Oh-My-Gawd-I'm-STARVING!!!") self today...

* * * * *

Allrighty then! That brings us to TODAY and the "recipe du jour" - such as it is!!!

The tomatoes continue to multiply and they've been piling up in my bucket on the sink. I am about "Saladed-Out" at this point. I've run out of Balsamic Vinegar so that rules out my Tomato/Mozzarella/Basil/Balsamic/Olive Oil Caprese Thingy. BLT's only taste good when somebody ELSE makes 'em. And I'm too lazy to make Finny's Tomato Sausage Pie (although I *will* before summer ends - I swear). Well, crap. I know she posted the recipe but I can't find it easily (wish Blogger had a "Search" function - oh, well!). When/If I find it, I'll post it!

Addendum: Found it! (BTW - This was the post where I first "discovered" Finny's Blog. It was linked from another blog that I followed and now I'm a Full-on Finny-Fan!)


The Maters are taking over the kitchen (and some are starting to compost themselves - ooooops!). And I don't feel like eating them at the moment (:::gasp:::). Yet, I hate to let them go to waste! I already have a GALLON of frozen-squozen 'maters in the freezer and I decided, this afternoon, that I want some frozen, NON-squozen (aka Mostly Chunky) maters this time around.

I don't know about you - but whenever I make Pasta Sauce, I like to include "chunky" tomatoes. Ideally, fresh, but I've been know to buy Organic Diced "Italian Style" Canned tomatoes at the store - to add a little texture to my sauce (BTW - I'm not a total Birkenstock-Wearing/Tree-Hugging/Prius-Driving/Whole-Foods-Shopping Organic Phreak or anything like that... But I *do* try to avoid foods sweetened with High-Fructose Corn Syrup, so "organic" canned krep is the way to go...).

Sooooo... I consulted this site for some general guidelines on how to freeze tomatoes. Great, illustrated site (although she's using nice, uniformly-sized Plum Tomatoes). I, OTOH, was using a wide variety of Heirloom Tomatoes, so my illustrations aren't so "nice!"

Anyway, here's what I did:

I started with a bunch of non-rotting tomatoes :-)

Soon to be Freezer-Fodder!

Weighed 'em - just for sh*ts 'n grins...

I'm calling this 4#

Set up a pot of boiling water for blanching, and a bowl for ice water, like thus:

It's like a Hot-Tub for Produce, right?!

Uhh, maybe not!

Boil 'em til the skins start to split (30-60 seconds). Then plunge them into an ice bath:

"Refreshing!" (NOTTT!!!)

Important Notes: I think, if I were to do this again, I would cut-out/core the green stem-end *before* I started blanching them. This would expedite the "peeling" process (and minimize the "cooking!"). Seems like the 'maters want to float topside-up. And it seems like the skins are easiest to peel from the "top." What I ended up with was tough-tops (that didn't want to peel easily) and squishy underbellies...

After blanching, the skins *should* peel right off:

"Ick!" (Wait! It gets worse!)
RolyPig, the Composter will be happy, though!

End up with a bunch of NEKKID 'MATERS!!!

Produce Porn!

Next, you need to de-seed them...

Helps if you cut 'em across the "equator"

The aforementioned site mentioned trying to save the juice. Uhhh, no! It all went into the sink. Pretty much, the procedure is, expose the innards by slicing it, then squeeze it with your hands to get the juice and *most* of the seeds out. Messy!

Ewwww!!! Not very appetizing, is it?!

End up with a bowl-full of de-seeded, partially squozen 'maters...

I'm calling it roughly 2# at this point...

I chopped 'em down til they were a bit more uniform in size. Probably ended up with 1/4-1/2" chunks, overall. I wasn't super-anal about getting rid of ALL the seeds, but I think I got most of 'em. I also squoze out most of the juice because I mainly wanted to preserve the "meaty-chunks" of tomato (I've got plenty of Saucy Stuff to work with!).

After that, I bagged 'em for the freezer:

Labeled and Ready to Freeze!

I think it'll be WAY COOL to make "fresh" tomato sauce in the middle of winter - using my very own home-grown produce!!!

This really is the first year I've ever done any significant "preserving." Yeah, I'd kinda tried to freeze peaches and made frozen strawberry jam. And - much as I'd like to - I can't ever forget my Plum Jam Debacle! But I think I've done a pretty amazing job of stocking-up for winter this year. I'm actually kinda proud of myself! :-)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Random Ramblings...

The Very Last Peach!
(It was delicious!)

So I wandered out to the Garden on Thursday night, expecting a small handful of peaches. :::sigh::: Only found one! (And no, I still haven't gotten out there with a rake and a scooper to pick-up the ones rotting on the ground!!!)

Anyway... It was delicious! And Peach Season is now "officially" DONE! Two pies and probably about a couple-dozen jars of jam. Can't complain, right?!

'Maters are still ripening like crazy - and I'm trying to figure out how to "preserve" my Stupice 'Mater plant in the cooler months ahead... For one: I think I want to let at least one 'mater rot so I can save the seeds. For two: I think I want to take a living branch and encourage it to take-root in a pot and see if I can't make it live-through-winter in the greenhouse. I have been Super-Happy with the output of the Stupice 'maters - and the fact that it's a cool-season variety leads me to believe that maybe, just maybe, it'll work in the greenhouse. It's certainly an experiment worth trying, right?!

In other news: A few weeks ago, we sold the Albatross (1967 16.5' Texas Tornado Sailing Dinghy - restoration page here). I had posted her on Craigslist and gotten numerous inquiries. Many were totally unsuitable ("Family of Five" as well as folks who had ZERO boating experience who were looking for a "cheap way" to get on the water). But one, in particular, stood out. Dude's name was Leo and his daughter had taken Sailing Classes (on similar boats) near where we dock out Mac...

Leo came out a couple of times and - happily - he decided to purchase her. He even made me a *very* fair offer which minimized my "loss" on the investment! (his offer was very close to my "Rock-Bottom Price" for the boat and NEW sails) (BTW - I was selling the boat *separate* from the sails b/c Albatross' new sails actually *do* fit our MacGregor 26M).

So... It was with Mixed-Feelings that I let Albatross go....

07/29/11 - My Last Night with Albatross
Gave her a good scrubbing and a wee bit of touch-up paint!!!

Albatross was definitely a "Labor of Love" - as far as the restoration goes... And she "served her purpose" in terms of getting DH 'amped' about the idea of buying a bigger sailboat. We had some fun-times (and some SCARY times) sailing her... But (given the sheer quantity of cars that we now own!) it was definitely time for her to move on...

Anyway, I was really glad that Leo was the one who wanted to buy her. He really was the "perfect match" for the boat - given his background in sailing, and the fact that his daughter was taking Sailing Lessons on strikingly similar boats...

They drove her away a couple weeks ago. I ended up with an envelope full of cash (which went, immediately, to pay for Corvette-Repairs!). And yes, I *did* cry - just a bit - when she went!

Hitching her up!

And watching her go!!!

Buh-Bye Albatross! Sail nicely for your new owners!!!

Well, I've stayed in contact with him - wanting to make sure that he was able to rig-her-up properly. Turns out, he was experiencing some "challenges" with that so we offered to come over and "supervise" him with rigging her up.

So we spent this morning over at his house, helping him with rigging the boat. Mast-Raising is definitely the most challenging part of rigging her - but it went well. And now, I think (hope!) he is Good-To-Go for Sailing Adventures with his daughter. I really hope we run into them (figuratively - not literally!) sailing on Redwood Creek one of these weekends!

After that, we spent the afternoon lazing at poolside (Sux to be us!!!).

All told: Not a bad way to start a weekend...

Yesterday I went to the Bathroom Renovation Shop w/a friend, Di. We also hit some Tile Shops nearby. We found some suitable tiles for the tub-surround and bathroom floor - but they're a wee bit over-budget, so I think I need to hit Home Depot and see if I can't find sometime similar - but cheaper!

Bathroom Renovation Project is a "Go" (scheduled to start 09/19/11), but I need to finalize all my selections (tiles, fixtures, yada- yada)...

So things are movin' along........................................

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

More Peaches... More 'Maters... Situation Normal!

I've been Jammin'!

Good Gawd have I been Jammin'!
And this doesn't include the stuff that's already been eaten,
Nor what's open and in the fridge
Nor all the Freezer Jams (and Frozen Squozen 'Maters) out in the garage!!!

Not much else to say today - other than I am "paying for it" for staying up 'til midnight - canning that Corn Relish! Gawd, I felt like a Zombie all day today!!! (Sux getting old!). And I am *super* glad that Aida, our maid, is coming tomorrow. Ain't no way I wanna scrub the kitchen AGAIN!

I picked about 8 more peaches today... And about the same number of tomatoes... And no way in HELL am I "canning" anything more tonight! In fact, I just dumped a couple bags of peaches on my neighbors' doorsteps tonight!

Gotta watch my step when I go out to pick peaches, though. It's like Land-Mine City back there with all the rotting fruit on the ground (which, unfortunately, attracts flies like CRAZY!). Too hot to go out there and shovel 'em up (which makes the fly situation even worse!). Maybe tomorrow morning...

Anyway, I feel like I've been pretty damned productive with all this Preservation Sh*t! Now if I could just channel that energy into getting back into Ceramics, I'd be set!!!

Today? Well today, I just wanna take a nap!!!

Although... I was scouring the intertubes today, looking for ideas of what to serve with this Corn-Apple Relish and I think I may have stumbled onto something interesting: Thick smoked pork-chops, heated with Maple Syrup. Then, corn relish and maybe fresh green beans - cooked with bacon and almond slivers - on the side (I'm sure I'll be posting the recipe). Oooh! And The Bestest Salad Ever.

Ohhh yeah! That sounds good. Maybe DH will get a home-cooked meal later this week (will wonders never cease?!) Yeah... Just let me grab my pumps and pinafore apron - and maybe put some ribbons in my hair... I'll just be June Cleaver reincarnated (NOTTTT!!!).

Okay... Naptime, I think!!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sweet Corn Apple Relish

Well, for being freaking exhausted all the freaking time, I somehow managed to "find" some energy today - Dayum!!!

I mean, in addition to working my usual eight hours (bona fide work, even!), I managed to put up a batch of Peach Blueberry Jam... Hung out at the pool and blogged in the late afternoon... And THEN I got *all* freaking inspired and made a batch of Corn Relish!!!

I blame P for this. She is nothing but a big ol' TROUBLEMAKER! See? When we went to the Santa Clara Master Gardeners' Cool-Season Veggie Talk, she'd brought along a Better Homes & Gardens booklet all about Canning, right? I thumbed through it and expressed "mild interest," right?

Well, P said she'd get me my very own copy - for my belated Birthday Gift - and I was all, "Cool," right? (although - like I said - I was really only *mildly* interested b/c most of the recipes are far more "exotic" than anything I'd ever try)...

So... In the meantime, P has "planted the seed" for the South Bay Canning Club and I have - well *obviously* gone completely off the deep-end, right?!!

Fast-Forward to today... P stops by this morning and brings me my Very Own Copy of the BHG Canning Booklet:

"Thank you, P!"

Well, as we're chatting (and eating Peach-Blueberry Pie which was Orgasmically-Delicious thankyouverymuch!!!), I stumbled onto a recipe for sweet corn relish that looks *most* intriguing!

Nevermind that I never planted my corn (and even if I had, it wouldn't have amounted to sh*t. I *can't* grow corn!!!). But we *do* have the Farmstand down the road (with THE sweetest, most delicious corn in the valley!). And P happens to mention that Snob Hill (excuse me - Nob Hill, our local overpriced grocery store) has corn on sale - "and it's pretty good!"

So I ended up making a jaunt out to Snob Hill, this afternoon, to procure pint-sized jamming jars, assorted spices, and a metric ton of corn on the cob!

Corn that I then proceeded to mutilate beyond recognition:

Turns out that each ear yields just-shy of 1 cup of corn
(I bought waaaaaay more corn than I needed. "Oh, well!")

Okay, so anywaaaaay... After lazing at the Tiki Bar 'til after dark, this damned recipe kept "calling" to me and I ended up spending the entire evening making Corn Relish.

So as not to do any kind of "Copyright Infringement" I will go ahead and give credit where credit is due - Thank Goodness they've posted the recipe on the 'net here (and yes, it did take the better part of an hour-and-a-half to make)!

But I will also note that I definitely did "tweak" the recipe to make it more to my liking. And that's what I am posting now! :-)

Sweet Corn Apple Relish - makes appx 8 x pint-size jars of relish

  • 10 ears of corn - yields appx 8 cups after it's sliced off the cobs
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups Granny Smith Apples - peeled, cored and chopped (note: I wished I'd chopped mine into smaller pieces). I think I started with 5 small-ish apples.
  • 3 cups chopped Celery (appx 5-6 big stalks)
  • 2 cups chopped bell peppers (I used green, red and orange varieties)
  • 1 chopped red onion (mine ended up being just over 1 cup, total)
  • 2 chopped beefsteak Tomatoes
  • 2-1/2 cups Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1-3/4 cups Sugar (I wanted to do 50/50 Sugar/Splenda - but I've run out of granulated Splenda :::gasp:::)
  • 4 tsp Dry Mustard
  • 2 tsp Fine Sea Salt (orig recipe called for Pickling Salt - but I couldn't find any!)
  • 2 tsp Celery Seeds
  • 1 tsp ground Turmeric
  • 3 Tbs Corn Starch
  • 3 Tbs Water
Okay, start by de-husking and de-hairing your corn cobs. Then grab a sharp knife and cut all the kernels off. I'm sure there are tools to simplify this process - but I just stuck with the sharpest knife I have (my meat cleaver!). Dump the kernels into a bowl (and stand back while the dogs feast on all the detritus that hits the floor, in the process!). Keep doing this 'til you've got 8 cups of corn kernels, like thus:

Yup. That's 8 cups!

Then dump 'em into a pot on the stove... You may, or may not, want to start cooking them slowly in 2 cups of water. I chose to hold off because I had a buttload of other fruits/veggies to chop up!

Corn in the pot. Waiting to start cooking...
(Sometimes, I'm a lousy multi-tasker!)

Chop up your celery. I measured out 3 cups, chopped. Chop up your bell peppers - 2 cups, chopped. Chop up your onion and try not to cry (one medium sized onion was just over 1 cup). Chop up your apples. I ended up with 4 cups (and - as mentioned earlier - I wished I'd chopped them smaller). I did end up drizzling just a little bit of lemon juice on the apples to keep 'em from browning... I also ended up tossing in a couple of skinned, chopped tomatoes (Brandywine and Kellogg's Breakfast) - just to liven things up a bit!

End up with a bunch of chopped stuff:


Okay, *then* I started cooking the corn on medium-high heat 'til it was almost tender. Then I drained the water off. Then I added the chopped fruits and veggies to the pot.

Dayum that's a lot of stuff in there!!!

Add the vinegar, sugar, salt and spices and cook it on medium heat for appx 10 mins...

Then, in a separate bowl, mix up the Corn Starch and 3 Tbs water. Add it to the pot to thicken it... Cook it for a couple more minutes... Then ladle it into your hot, sterilized jars...

I ended up with 8 pints of relish!

Process in your canner for 15-20 minutes. Let 'em set for 24 hours, make sure they're sealed up and you should be Good-To-Go!

This is supposed to be excellent on Pork Loin or Salmon. No clue, yet! But what I sampled tastes Fan-Freaking-Tastic!!!

Okay, I am officially exhausted (Jeez, it's pushing midnight! No wonder!). So I am off to bed!!!

Low-Sugar Spicy Peachy Blueberry Jam

Allllrighty then... I've been busy!!!

Remember yesterday's gross tonnage of tomatoes?

Well, I'm now up to 4 quarts of Frozen Squozen 'Maters!

I attempted to mostly segregate them by color (So much for Embracing Diversity!). The first bag was from a couple of weeks ago. All Stupice Tomatoes. Small, red, salad tomatoes. They're sweet with a little acidity. The second bag is a mix of Stupice and a Croatian Brandywine - both are classic tomato red. Third bag is a mix of Carbon and Black Zebras (purply color). They're both pretty sweet, but the Zebras are pretty acidic. And the last bag is all Kellogg's Breakfast - a super-sweet and meaty orange tomato (Verrrry tasty!).

For now, they are in the freezer (which beats the hell out of getting all mushy in the kitchen!). I'm sure I'll be thrilled - mid-winter - when I decide I want to whip-up a batch of fresh Pasta Sauce!

I still have a few maters in the kitchen (and a zillion more on the vines!) - might fire-up the Dehydrator and make "faux" sun-dried tomatoes out of 'em. Not sure yet...

So: What about the @#$% peaches?!!

Ohhhh, there were a few more pick-able peaches on the tree today (and a boatload rotting on the ground - bummer!). I think I gathered up about 8-10 more peaches today. And there might be half-a-dozen more, tomorrow! But then - I swear! - we're DONE!

Annnnnd, I still had some Blueberries leftover from this past weekend's Pie Adventure

I enjoyed the pies soooo much, I decided to adapt the pie recipe into a Peachy-Blueberry Jam Recipe. Here goes:

QT's Low-Sugar Spicy Peachy Blueberry Jam - Makes 5 x 12oz. jars of jam

  • 8 Peaches (you want to end up with 6 cups, coarsely-chopped). I'd started out with a dozen peaches and had leftovers (that went to make plain ol' Peach Freezer Jam)
  • 2 cups smashed Blueberries
  • 1/2 cup granulated Sugar (you might bump that up a notch - maybe 3/4 cup would be better)
  • 1 cup Splenda
  • 2 Tbs Lemon Juice (bottled)
  • 1/2 tsp ground Cinnamon
  • 8 Tbs Low/No-Sugar-Needed Pectin
First, rinse the blueberries and remove any stems and/or nasty squishy ones. Toss 'em in a small bowl and lightly mash 'em. Sprinkle 2 Tbs sugar on 'em so they'll "sweat" a bit. You do want "recognizable" berries, but you also want to release some of the juice. You'll want 2 cups of mashed juicy berries. Let 'em sit and sweat for a few minutes.

Mashin' the Blueberries w/Sugar

While the blueberries are sweating, blanch/peel/de-pit the peaches and coarsely chop them up. Drizzle 2 Tbs Lemon Juice and 2 Tbs Sugar on them while you're chopping 'em up. Again, you want the peaches to de-juicify - and you want to end up with 6 cups of Juicy Fruit.

6 cups of Juicy Sweaty Peaches
Oops. I had "Extras" - so these ended up getting transformed into Plain Ol' Peach Freezer Jam!

Hey!! What about us???

Okay, next you add the mushy gushy blueberries to the juicy sweaty peaches and stir 'em up. Add another 1/4 cup of sugar at this point...

Mix 'em up good!

Okay, we're Embracing Diversity again!

Then toss the whole mess into a big pot on the stove. Start heating it up on Medium-High heat. Stir just enough to keep it from burning. While the pot is heating, mix your Pectin with your Splenda (dry), then dump it into the pot and mix it in. Toss in 1/2 tsp of ground Cinnamon, while you're at it.

Bring the pot to a full, rolling boil (meaning the bubbles keep blorping while you're stirring). Cook it for one full minute, at this point. Once the minute is up, remove it from the heat!

Don't forget to check for "set!"

Fill your heated, sterilized jars. Let 'em rest for five minutes. Give 'em a good stir, clean the rims, pop the lids on, then process them in the canner for 15 minutes...

Yummy Spicy Peachy Blueberry Jam!

I ended up with 5 x 12 oz. jars and about half of an 8 oz. jar (which went straight into the fridge). To be honest, I don't know if the "stir after 5 minutes" trick really worked or not. After the jars had sat for awhile, it looks like I may still have some Fruity-Floatiness action, but I think I can live with it!

By the way, I did sample the jam and it *is* rather tart. I'm totally okay with that - but you might want to bump-up the sweetener "just a tad..."

Anyway... *I* like it! And it is "All About Meeeee," after all!!!

So there's your Recipe Du Jour. And yes, I am still a Canning Phreak!!! In fact, P brought over a book of canning recipes and there's a most delightful-sounding Corn Relish recipe that I might attempt to make, later tonight...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Peach Blueberry Pies are DEEEE-LISH!

Okay, I'm keeping my word - AGAIN - and posting a follow-up on my Peach Pie Adventure (Man, that takes some serious effort to drag out simple pie-making into three separate posts!)

Here is a crappy Droid pic of my not-very-pretty, but-trust-me-it's-ohhhh-soooo-delicious pie!

Crappy pic on a Paper-Plate, no less!
(all the dishes are in the dishwasher, okay?! Jeeeeez!!!)

Final Verdict: Perfecto-mundo! I wouldn't change a thing in the recipe! There was enough Tapioca to make it "set-up" properly. Okay, the first couple of slices goozed a bit - but that's cuz DH was being impatient and didn't want to wait for the pies to fully cool (That's right - Blame the Spouse! 'Cuz Gawd-knows *I* put up such a huge fight when he wanted me to slice into it!). Pre-baking the bottom crust: Not necessary! I was afraid I'd end up with a soggy-bottom (and dont'cha just *hate* Soggy Bottoms?!). Didn't happen! Flavor is sweet and slightly tangy. Definitely delicious! Now go out, pick some peaches and blueberries and bake this pie for yourself!!!

Someday, maybe, I'll figure out how to make "pretty pies" - but for now I'm just happy with "Stupendously Delicious!"

In other news: I pillaged my garden again, today. Here's today's haul:

Yep - there are still a *few* peaches left on the tree. Not many.

And I really have to "watch my step" out there 'cuz there's a BUNCH that are rotting on the ground :::sigh:::

I think I'll be able to squeeze out a small batch of Freezer Jam - but after that, we are done.

And the 'maters...????

Oh, Good Gawd, the 'Maters!!!

I ended up consolidating the last couple-three days' worth of harvested maters. They filled my new Ginormous Bucket. I tried putting them on my Kitchen Scale. No-Can-Do! Had to put 'em on my bathroom scale. That's 12.8 lbs of 'maters from just the last three days!!! With MORE on the way!!!

I think there will be some sauce-making action............

So there you have it!
  • Peach-Blueberry Pie = Delicious.
  • Peaches = Almost Done.
  • Tomatoes = Completely F*cking Insane....
  • QT = Happy :-D

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Peach Blueberry Pies are DONE!

Haven't tasted 'em yet, but they're done!!!

Last few minutes in the oven...

Golden Brown
And the kitchen smells HEAVENLY!!!

But the fruit did gooze out during baking.
There will definitely will be some scrubbing...

Once they've cooled, we'll sample 'em and I'll post an update! I'm *sure* they're delicious - but I'm not sure how well they "set-up" and/or how soggy the bottom crust will be (Should I have pre-baked the bottom crusts?). Details in my next post.........................

Low-Sugar Peach Blueberry Pie

Yesterday's harvest necessitated a bigger bucket than usual!

Peaches and 'Maters a-plenty!

Wahhh-Wahhh-Wahhh - What am I gonna do with all these #$%& peaches?!!

Actually, we are nearing the end of the peach harvest, so I don't think there will be any more peach-jams. But I think I've got enough to make a couple of pies!

One dozen peaches - ready for blanching
Is that gonna be enough, I wonder???

So I pondered the possibility of *not* having enough ripe peaches for two pies and consulted the Great Oracle, Google. Found a recipe for Peach-Blueberry Pie here. Had to run to the store anyway and found a big basket of blueberries on sale. Okay, that'll woyk! (although - for the record - I do want to plant my own blueberry bush at some point!) (If I can find room, that is!)

What follows is my "adaptation" of the aforementioned recipe.

Low-Sugar Peach-Blueberry Pie - Makes 2 x 9" deep-dish pies

  • Appx 1 dozen fresh-picked Peaches. You ultimately want to end up with 10 cups, coarsely chopped.
  • 2 cups fresh Blueberries
  • 1/2 cup granulated Sugar
  • 1 cup granulated Splenda
  • 5 Tbs quick-cook Tapioca
  • 2 Tbs Lemon Juice (Bottled is fine)
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 4 Tbs Butter
  • Pie-crusts for 2 @ 9" Deep-Dish Pies - with crusts for the top as well (I totally cheated and went with frozen, pre-made for the bottom crust, and bought a package of pre-made, rolled-up, refrigerated crusts for the tops)

Pre-heat your oven to 425* F. While the oven is pre-heating, take your frozen pie-crusts out of the freezer (if you're a cheater like me!) and let 'em start thawing. Peel, pit and chop your peaches. See my Peach-Jam Post for blanching/peeling instructions here. You want to end up with 10 cups, coarsely chopped. Drizzle the Lemon Juice onto your peaches to keep 'em from browning.

Rinse your blueberries. Pick out any squishy nasty ones and remove any stems you happen to find. Add the blueberries to the peaches and mix it up.

Add the sugar. At this point, I had to split everything in half because my bowl wasn't big enough (and I was too lazy to drag out the Big Mamma-Jamma Bowl!). Measure out your sugar and add it to the peach/blueberry bowl(s). Let 'em sweat for appx 5 mins. Then add the Tapioca, Splenda and Salt. Stir it up and, again, let 'em set for another 5 mins.

I was debating pre-cooking the crusts for a few mins in the now-hot oven. I chose not to (I'll report back, later, as to whether or not that was a good idea!).

Spoon your Fruit/Sugar/Splenda/Tapioca Gooze into the pie crusts. Pile it up 'til it's "mostly even" with the top of the crust (it can mound-up a teeny bit - but don't overfill 'em - otherwise they'll gooze out!). Daub little blops of butter on top of the fruit mixture.

Next, carefully unroll your top crusts and lay them over the tops of the pies. Pinch the edges with your fingers. Here's where I'm a little sloppy - but I'm all about the "FLAVOR" moreso than the "Prettiness" of the pies ;-)~

Anyhooo... You mainly want to make sure you seal the top crust to the bottom crust - as best you can - otherwise, you'll be doing some serious scrubbing!

Then cut vent holes in the top crust. Put 'em on a baking sheet (so - hopefully - you'll only have to scrub the baking sheet and NOT your entire oven!!!). Put aluminum foil around the edges of your pies (so they don't burn), and slide everything into the oven.

Appx 35 mins into cooking, the pies will start to brown, on top. Open your oven and remove the foil edges. Close it up and cook for another 10-15 mins 'til everything is Golden Brown!

Take 'em out. Let 'em cool. Then ENJOY!!!

Random Pics below....

I am a Pie-Crust Cheater!!!

Mixing the fruits and sugar (and tapioca and Splenda)
Filling the crust and daubing with blorps of buttery goodness!

Ready for the Oven!

And INTO the oven!


View my page on Meet the Phlockers