Monthly Archives: September 2009

Restoring My Faith…

…in the human race. I’m not affiliated with either of the churches listed in the pictures below. As a matter of fact, I’m not affiliated with any church. I grew up attending St Rose of Lima, a Catholic church, you know the kind, kneel-sit-stand, Repent Repent Repent!!! By about 16 I’d had all I could handle of that scene. Last year while working on the farm people would always invite me and the guys, mainly me, to join them during a Sunday service. I would politely decline and tell them…in my best Lancaster County accent “O, we do that at home” Then they just think I’m Mennonite or Amish and leave me alone. But that is enough on that subject.
I’m just glad to see people doing some good. The world grows enough food to feed its inhabitants, unfortunately, it’s getting it to them where in the problem lies.
The second picture is clearly field corn. I would assume the monetary gain of that feed goes to help those in need because it’s pretty F’ed up to feed people field corn.

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Just Peachy

Part 2: Canning Peaches
When canning peaches, I blanch them, remove the skins, and then slice them.  For instructions on blanching and peeling skins, see this post.  I then made a light simple syrup consisting of 2 C sugar per every quart of water used.  Boil the mixture until the sugar is dissolved and then cook your peaches for a few minutes.  Ladle peaches and syrup into hot, sterile mason jars, and process for 10 minutes at 6 lbs of pressure… at least that is the instructions for my altitude.
Loring have been my favorite variety as far as flavor goes, and are the best suited freestone for canning and jam making.  After hearing my neighbor go on about a variety called Blake, I decided to try them out as well, seeing as how they are named after the father of peaches M.A. Blake an all.  While they aren’t quite as sweet as Loring, they are aesthetically superior!  You can clearly see the Blake peaches are darker in color.  When the light passes through the jar, they glow a beautiful red!

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Movin’ to the country, gonna eat me a lot of peaches!

OK, so maybe I already live in the country, but I am definitely gonna eat me a lot of peaches this winter!  Nothing compares to opening up a jar of fresh summer peaches in the middle of winter.  For my mother, that definitely ranks at the top of her nostalgia list!  As a little girl she spent her summers on the farm and canning peaches was the yearly tradition she liked best!

Over the past 2 weeks I’ve made 2 types of jam, canned several pints & quarts, and made honey from the left over skins!  I really, really love peaches!!  Rohrers Orchard is only a few minutes from me, and since I don’t have the room to grow fruit trees of my own, I support local farms that do!  I also plan on getting my apples there come October.  Rohrers last peach picking of the season will be Thursday, so I am stopping by Friday morning for one more half bushel.
This is going to be a 3 part peach post because there is so much deliciousness to share!

Part 1: Peach Jam

Whenever you are using peaches you will first want to remove the skins.  You don’t have to, but they tend to get a bit slimy if you don’t.  I am not overly sensitive to textures, like some people; however, slimy just doesn’t sit well!

Fresh is always best, and canning over-ripe fruit does not improve the quality or flavor.  So, with that being said, make sure your peaches are ripe, but not mushy.  I normally let them sit out in a single layer for about a day or two.  Any peaches with brown spots set aside, you can just cut that section out and slice those up for snacking on while cooking!  Wash your fruit and place it into a large pot of boiling water for about a minute, then transfer to a large bowl filled with ice water. This is called blanching and it is how you remove skins with ease.  If your peaches are not ripe you will have to boil them a bit longer.

After the peaches have cooled in the ice bath the skins just slip right off!  This is also how you remove tomato skins.  I always save the skins to be used for making peach honey.  Not to worry, a post is soon to follow on that delectable diabetic coma inducing sweetness!

Slice your peaches and remove the pits. 

If you are making jam with your peaches, cut them into small chunks and then mash with a potato masher.  You can add either lemon juice or citric acid to keep your peaches from oxidizing and turning brown.  I use Ball Fresh Fruit, which is citric acid in powder form.  Don’t let the name scare you, it’s completely safe and all natural!
For my peach jam, I used 5 cups of mashed fruit and 1 1/3 C sucanat.  Remember how I went on and on about it in this post?  I also used 1 cup unsweetened apple juice and the low sugar pectin.  I have a wicked sweet tooth, so I was a bit nervous about how the jam would turn out.  Fear not sugar lovers, it rocks!  Combine the fruit, sucanat, and juice, and bring it to a rolling boil, then add the pectin.  Once it returns to a hard boil, cook for 1 minute, then remove from the heat.  Ladle it into hot sterilized jars and process for 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath.  Remove the jars from the water and allow to cool on a wire rack while anxiously listening for your jar lids to plink and seal.
I happen to have crappy hard-water, so there is constantly a white chalky residue left on my mason jars!  Simple solution to a pain-in-the-arse problem, add a bit of white vinegar to the canner and cleaning crisis averted!


I also tried out a spiced peach jam this year!  MMMM Baby!  Is it ever good!  Imagine apple pie filling, but with peaches.  Oh yea!  I used the same recipe for the low-sugar jam, but added 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon.  I think with my final half bushel, I may try a ginger peach jam. 🙂

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Hello Lover

Can I just say how much I am IN LOVE with my new Nikon.  Seriously, I want to make sweet sweet photo love to it!  No seriously, I DO!  If it hadn’t been raining today I would have been off in the woods pretending I’m on location for National Geographic!  haha  Instead, I had to settle for my backyard and garden. 🙂
 
I think I have a Gea heptagon Orb Weaver living in my hedge.  I have to do a bit of research but I am pretty sure that is what she is.  I was able to get some cool shots of her enjoying a fly.  I uploaded the original file so if you click on them, they should open much larger than shown here.


I’m also happy to see my Black & Yellow Garden Spider has stuck around.  Since the slow and steady rain has softened the ground, I think I will dig up some bugs to put into their webs tomorrow.  I love watching them spin silk around their dinner!!

 
I replanted sunflowers in August and they’ve started opening.  Unfortunately, they are much smaller than the ones I had last year.  I’m attributing that to the fact it is so late in the season.  This variety is Strawberry Blond, one of my favorites.  I made sure to harvest and dry the heads from last year’s flowers.  Maybe next year I will put in the second planting while the first set is still in the ground. I was afraid the mammoth sunflowers would block too much of the light, and the next generation would not fair well.  I have to see how it works next year.
 

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Please Stay Tuned

I promise you I have lots of tasty goodness to share!  Yea, yea I know, I said that about 2 weeks ago, and since then I’ve only shown you a picture of sucanat and a spider.  I know big whoop right?!  But I really do have some good stuff in the works!  Honest.  This picture is proof.

See, I told you I was super busy! 🙂  Most rows are 3 jars deep, and some are double stacked.  My kitchen is a disaster and just now in this moment I realized I have something uber sticky all over my knee… I’m guessing it’s some of the peach honey I made and canned today.  Yes, you heard me right, PEACH HONEY!!!  I have a wicked sweet tooth and this stuff hits the spot!

I’ve got several half-finished posts just hanging out in my draft box.  OK, so they are more like a bunch of pictures that need words to go along with them, but that’s kind of the same thing, right?  Well at least it’s a start!

Images and content copyright © 2009 Danielle R Limoge.

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End of Season Guest

I have an Argiope aurantia that has taken up residence in my bean plants!  I’ve decided to avoid picking those plants to encourage her to stay a while.  I haven’t had a black and yellow garden spider since 07, her name was Gretchen, and she lived in my cherry tomato plant.  She hung out all summer and grew quite large! Clearly, I am overly excited about this common arachnid!

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