Peach Season Recipe Roundup!

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About a week ago I ventured out in the pouring frickin’ rain to get my hands on a 25 pound box of fresh Georgia peaches and a big bag of Georgia pecans. Several things:

  • It hasn’t stopped raining in Indiana for what seems like months. Everything is flooded.
  • 25 pounds is A LOT of peaches.
  • These peaches were on the trees 2 days prior to me taking them home.
  • I got them from a company called The Peach Truck. Check them out here. They go all over the country!!

As I lug this big a$$ box to the car, I realize that I will need WAY more recipes to take care of this whole thing than the whopping 1 I did last year. After digging around my books and the internet, I settled on 5 different recipes. Yea. Five. What the hell am I thinking?

I canned all of this in a day, a sun up to sun down kind of day. I did this because you need to peel all of the peaches for these recipes. It is much easier to just get in a rhythm and do the whole box. If you don’t love to torture yourself, feel free to not do this. I, however, love self-inflicted canning pain.

LETS CAN!

We will be making Peach Pie Moonshine, Vanilla Bourbon Peaches, Peach Habanero Hot Sauce, Peach Scrap Syrup, and Peach Ice Cream. Get out your fat pants!

Getting started:

The most efficient way to peel peaches is by slipping their skins just like tomatoes. Make sure your peaches are all the way ripe, but not mushy. Unripe ones will not peel well. Bring a large pot to a full rolling boil, cut shallow x’s (just enough to break the skin but not gouge into the fruit super far) on the bottom of the peaches. Drop a few peaches into the boiling water for about 30 seconds. Transfer peaches to cold water to stop he cooking process. Skins should peel off with ease. Set aside in a cold water bath with some lemon juice to keep the peaches from browning. Need a visual? Check out this post for more detail. SAVE YOUR SKINS!!!! WE ARE GOING TO USE THEM!!

Peach Pie Moonshine (adapted from several recipes)

  • 750 mL Everclear, yes, the 190 proof stuff
  • 8 oz Peach Schnapps
  • 2 64 oz bottles of white grape juice
  • 5 cups white sugar
  • 5 cups brown sugar
  • 3 pounds of peaches, skins slipped and quartered
    • Save the skins!!
  • 6 cinnamon sticks

This recipe yielded about 6 quart jars

  • In a large stock pot bring juice, sugars, peaches, and cinnamon sticks to a boil, stir occasionally to dissolve sugars
  • Reduce to a simmer and cover for 1 hour
  • Remove from heat and allow for it to cool completely
  • Strain out the solids, reserve a few peaches to add to the jars
  • Combine the juice mixture, Everclear, and schnapps. Mix well
  • Divide evenly into jars, adding a few peach slices in each. Place jars in the fridge for a minimum of 2 weeks, but 6 weeks is better.
  • This stuff is strong. Don’t do anything dumb. Kthx.

Vanilla Bourbon Peaches (adapted from Food In Jars)

  • 6 pounds peaches, skins slipped and halved
    • Save those skins!
  • 5 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup bourbon, divided
  • 4 teaspoons, divided
  • 3 cups water

This recipe yielded about 4 quarts jars. Use regular mouth as opposed to wide mouth for the recipe if you can. The narrow opening will help prevent peaches from floating too much. Be sure not to overfill these jars!

  • Combine sugar and water in a pot over medium heat. Simmer and stir to dissolve sugar.
  • Pack peaches into jars as tightly as possible without damaging the fruit, pour in syrup leaving about 1.5 inches head space
  • Add 1/4 cup of bourbon and 1 teaspoon of vanilla to each jar, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.
  • Place lids and water bath for 25 minutes
  • Allow jars to sit for at least a week before opening

Options: I make some with spiced rum instead of bourbon. Also real frickin’ good. These peaches, regardless of booze choice, are a household favorite here! I’m sure you could make all kinds of awesome impress your friends with whatever, but we are impatient and therefore usually just eat them straight or with ice cream.

Peach Habanero Hot Sauce (adapted from several websites)

  • 2 pounds peaches, skins slipped and sliced (again, save skins!!)
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 4 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 limes, zested and juiced
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 20 habaneros – please please please wear gloves!! Feel free to use a bit less cause OMG

This recipe yields about 4-5 pints. Seriously guys this is spicy stuff! Please use gloves and eye protection when dealing with these peppers. You do not what this stuff transferring anywhere!

  • Put all ingredients except hot peppers into a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer for 10 minutes
  • While simmering, slice up the habaneros. Take seeds and ribs out to ease spice if desired
  • Puree everything in a food processor, blender, or my favorite an immersion blender right there in the pan
  • Jar up leaving 1/2 inch head space, water bath for 10 minutes

Peach Ice Cream 

  • 3-4 medium peaches, skins slipped and halved
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 5 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • Pinch of salt

This recipe will fill one round in your ice cream maker. Make like 9 or 10. This shit is amazing.

  • Puree peaches until slightly chunky or totally smooth, whichever you prefer. I always leave some good size bits in there
  • Mix peaches with all other ingredients in a large bowl. Stir to dissolve sugar
  • Use your ice cream beast however you normally do
  • Pack into freezer safe containers and save for later……lol yea right

OK YOU SAVED ALL YOUR SKINS RIGHT!??!! Good! You shall be rewarded!

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Peach Scrap Syrup

  • Peach peels (I add one or two peaches in too if I have some left)
  • Water
  • White Sugar

This is a mystery yield and will hinge on how many peels you have. I got 3 pint jars from my 25 pound box

  • Put your peaches and scraps into a pan and cover with water just enough to cover the peaches. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 35 minutes
  • Strain out the solids. I strained directly into my large measuring cup. This is important. You need to know exactly how much liquid you have
  • Add liquid back to the pan. Add an EQUAL amount of sugar as liquid to the pan. 1:1 ratio sugar:peach liquid. IE 1 cups suga for 1 cup liquid. Got it? I know you do. So smart.
  • Simmer until sugar is completely dissolved. This syrup tends to be a bit thinner than others
  • Jar up, water bath for 10 minutes

BONUS!! I used those pecans I got as a mix in for pancakes and then shoveled them down topped with this syrup….holy eff.

Ok now that you have been canning for like 15 hours, go whine to your husband to get dinner because you obviously didn’t cook actual meals today. #sorrynotsorry

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Canning 101 – I swear you CAN do this!! (Holy shiz I’m funny)

I have a whole mess of canning posts coming up, so I figure it would be a good time to reassure you if you are thinking about tip toeing into the shallow end of the canning pool.

You too can whip up a batch of Mango Jalapeño Jam!!

You too can whip up a batch of Mango Jalapeño Jam!!

Find my Mango Jalapeño post here

Repeat after me:

  1. Nothing will explode sending shards of glass into every eyeball in the house.
  2. I will not kill everyone I love with some space bacteria in my jars.
  3. I am a strong, independent person and ain’t no jars gunna scare me!

Ok, therapy session over. Canning looks scary but I pinky promise it is stupid easy, just time consuming. There is some science behind canning and I do recommend you read up from a REPUTABLE website. Swear on your dislike for botulism that you will NOT take some random blog’s word for it that you found on Pinterest with cute pictures. Ok? OK???? Good. Super important. As long as you stick to recipes that are from legit people, you will be fine.

For these reasons, I am going to provide a link from the pros at Ball on the basis of water bath canning. Read up, this is the place to start.

http://www.freshpreserving.com/tools/waterbath-canning

Here are some products you will need. I provided links to some products that I use.

  • Water bath canner with wire rack 
  • Funnel, jar lifter, lid lifter, head space tool. One stop shop here.
  • Canning jars, lids, and rings. No link here, read on pretty please.
  • Kitchen towels to set processed jars on
  • Recipe books galore! I own a few, but the library is the stuff! Free books with alllll kinds of awesome, SAFE, ideas. Any county extension or university website is fair game too!

Lets talk about buying this junk. I have found absolutely everything I need at garage sales and on craigslist. Waaaaay cheaper, especially when we are talking jars. You must have jars intended for home canning (no saving old pickle jars please!) for this process to work. This means picking up cases of Ball, Kerr, or Golden Harvest jars. Sh!t gets pricey.

Garage sales are always stumble upon finds, but jump on craigslist and search for canning equipment, canning jars, Ball jars etc. They almost never have lids with them, but you should be 100% sure those are new anyway. Rings though, use and abuse! I am pretty loyal to Ball products, but I have plenty of the other two brands hanging out on my shelves. I stay away from generic or OMGthesearesooooocheap.com because you get what you pay for. If you are picking up jars second hand, please inspect those puppies for chips around the rim and general damage. You don’t want those, so cast them off into the depths of hell. I mean not really, just don’t put them through a hot water bath. They won’t seal properly and could break in the canner.

I buy many, many lids on Amazon throughout the year to budget for them a little better. Keep in mind that the rings are reusable and technically do not need to stay on the jars that have been through a water bath and sealed properly. Don’t buy a zillion. Just reuse the ones you have.   Same idea with your jars. Take good care of them and you will get many years of canning use without having to replace them.

Ok, generic tips time from someone who didn’t have grammy teach them this stuff:

  • Canning is time consuming and takes up every inch of your kitchen. Make sure you have the time to dedicate before you start. You can’t really walk away once that train is a movin’
  • Freezing is NOT a cop out. I totally do that. Bonus tip! Using fruit for jam/jelly/sugar potions? You can totally freeze clean fruit, thaw at a later date and can away. This is super helpful when you can’t get to canning for a few days/months.
  • You will never get jars back from people. Every. Single. Time. I give someone a jar I ask them to save the damn thing with the lids. I’m running at about a 15% success rate. Whatever. I just love them $2.50 less every time.
  • “Finger tip tight” is a dumb phrase in every canning anything. What they are trying to say is ‘Make sure the lid is on there, but don’t go all Hulkamania on it’
  • People want your stuff. They will gladly take it away from you (and never give the jars back….im not bitter I swear….). Consider making extra of the fun stuff like jams, pie fillings, syrups, i mean really anything and giving it as gifts for holidays. I mean who wouldn’t love a jar of homemade marinara made from your fresh grown produce. Throw in a loaf of bread and you’re a damn super hero.
  • I legit love canning. The satisfaction of looking at all those beautiful, full, colorful jars is pretty frickin cool. Along that same idea, making chili in the dead of winter 100% from veggies that YOU grew and stored is enough to make you proclaim your superiority from the mountain tops.
  • The thought of hand washing every jar to sanitize makes me want to claw my eyes out. If you are lucky enough to have a dishwasher (I was without one for the past 3 years) put your glass buddies in there and run um through. All done and all clean!
  • Start with something easy-ish. Stick with water bath canning for a little bit before you dive into pressure canning. I personally started with pickles and tomatoes packed in water.
  • FOR THE LOVE OF SWEET BABY JEEZE have some fun! I recommend music, a friend to help/watch you work, and a bottle wine!

Ok my internet friends! Go forth and can!! Ask me a million questions! Tell me what recipe you are starting with! WEEEEE!

Fried Green Tomatoes & Too Much Zucchini

Tis the season for zucchini and green tomatoes fa la la la la o m g!

  
But seriously, what in h. e. double hockey stick am I going to do with all of this monster zucchini!? After neglecting my garden for 4 days of sun burn and fireworks, I lugged these bad boys back to my kitchen. The biggest one is over a foot long. Lawd. Here is my go to summer squash recipe. Who has new ideas for me!?

Roasted Summer Squash

Preheat oven to 350

Slice summer squash into 1/4 inch rounds and arrange on a lightly greased cookie sheet. 

Give the rounds a light drizzle of olive oil over the top. Sprinkle garlic powder, pepper, and Parmesan cheese. 

Bake for 30-40 minutes until slightly golden and tender. 

  
ON TO FRIED TOMATOES!!

This sh!t is awesome. Trust me. Go forth and fry. Don’t invite anyone over to share. I grow a variety called Green Zebras specifically for frying and making spicy pickled toms. You can also just snag a few from another variety before they ripen. Technically speaking, you can fry red tomatoes, but they come out kinda mushy. Opt for greens if you have the choice. ONWARD!

Panko Fries Green Tomatoes 

You will need:

All purpose flour, 2-3 eggs, Panko bread crumbs, green tomatoes sliced into 1/4 inch rounds, vegetable oil for frying, salt to taste. 

Get yourself 3 bowls going, one for flour, the second for beaten eggs, and the third for panko. I like to use those square ziplock containers. Eyeball the amount of flour and panko. You can always add more. The amount you need will vary based on the number of slices you have. 

Heat oil in a large frying pan to about 375. (If you drop a small piece of panko into the oil it should bubble. This is your indication to get to fryin)

Take a slice of tomato and dunk into the flour. Coat that sucker good. Now, dip in the egg, and then into the panko. Get the panko on there really well. That’s the crispy delicious part. So to recap: flour-egg-panko. 

Place breaded tomatoes into the hot oil. 2 things: do not burn yourself and do not over crowd the pan. Fry on each side for 2-3 minutes until golden. 

Remove from pan, place on cooling rack or paper towels to drain, salt lightly right away. I stash mine in my oven set at the lowest temp to keep warm while I fry the rest. 

Scarf down with a side of ranch or make some remoulade if you want to get fancy. 

BONUS ROUND! Top with melted mozzarella and fresh basil. Consider dunking in marinara. 

You’re welcome. 

Eat ya beets!

Blog?? Is that you?? Life is a funny thing. I thought to myself many times ‘girl you get back to writing stuff down’ and then decided I would rather knit. Anyway, enough on that topic, let’s jump into a green thumb topic!

  
Gigantic beets, grungy gardener for scale!

Beets. I love them. For some reason I light up like a kid getting a new Nintendo 64 for Christmas when I pull them out of the ground. My husband chokes them down and whines about how they taste like dirt. What a trooper. Dealing with the root is easy enough and many, many ways to prepare them. Today I would like to focus of the above ground half that is getting the ugly step sister treatment. I’m talkin beet greens! Don’t, I repeat DON’T, throw those out! I’ve put together some simple ways to prepare them and some ideas to incorporate into already sweet meals. BEGIN!

Each of the following requires that you wash (duh) and chop the greens. I recommend you seperate the center ribs from the greens and chop that way. Much easier. 

Foil Pouch

  • I recommend you use heavy duty foil when making packets
  • Place greens on foil. Add salt, pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, and a bit of any kind of stock you have laying around. I add 1-2 tablespoons. 
  • Place on the grill or in a 400′ oven. Allow to cook for 20-30 minutes.
  • Shovel into your mouth.

Add Bacon

  • Chop up 4-5 pieces of bacon and brown in a good sized skillet. Transfer bacon to a bowl and reserve about 1 tablespoon of bacon fat in the pan. 
  • Reconsider step one and cook the rest of the pack of bacon. 
  • Add 5 chopped scallions to pan, soften for about 1 minute. 
  • Add greens (in batches if you have a lot. Don’t cram too many monkeys into bed. They fall out) to pan, sautéed about 5-6 minutes until tender. 
  • Mix greens, onions, and bacon together. Salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Tell your husband he can’t just pick the bacon out. 

Lol I forgot to make dinner method

  • Heat up some trusty olive oil in a pan. 
  • Add minced garlic and brown those bits up. Bonus points!! Add shallots if you have them. 
  • Add chopped greens, cook 5-6 minutes until tender. Season with salt and pepper. 
  • Bask in your own glory. 

Extra inspo!!

  • Eggs + sweet potato + avocado + sautéed greens = breakfast of champions. That’s just solid math. 
  • Toss into a fritatta. Really impress people by also adding goat cheese. 
  • Making soup? IN IT GOES!
  • Hide in quesadillas and sneak unsuspecting guests a boost of vitamin goodness. 
  • Pasta, greens, a bit of butter, and parm is another great ‘oh $hit I need to eat today’ meal. 

Now go forth and preach the good word of beet greens!

Controlling Potato Beetles Organically

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Happy June Everyone!!

In honor of my birthday tomorrow, I would like to talk about the murderous rampage I go on every time I work in my garden. 🙂

But seriously, the Colorado Potato Beetle is my mortal enemy in my garden. These little jerk bags are relentless multipliers and will COMPLETELY defoliate every potato plant you have and then move on to your tomatoes without missing a beat. The best part?! They spend all winter camped out in your dirt just waiting for the first sign of tasty, tasty potato leaves! Hooray! (Can you hear the sarcasm…..)  I would like to share the tools I use to keep these (expletives) in check.

1. If you are trying to stay organic, this one isn’t for you. However, if you are over run with beetles try a dust insecticide. Sprinkle liberally on your plants. This will wash away with any rain or water, so be sure to give your plants any necessary drinks before you apply. Personally, this is a last resort for me. I don’t like anything that has instructions for waiting many days to harvest your crop after applying. This isn’t to say I haven’t. Last year’s infestation was so bad that I gave in. It provided me the extra 2 weeks I needed to still get a medium harvest out of my red potatoes.

2. Use an organic spray. Get yourself a dedicated spray bottle and mix in a teaspoon of cayenne pepper (powder or fresh) and 1 teaspoon of organic liquid dish soap. Fill the bottle up the rest of the way and shake to combine. I like Seventh Generation or Meyers soap, but you can use any organic brand. Stay away from other common soaps like Dawn or Dial as they are not organic. The soap makes for slippery leaves and the cayenne will deter existing bugs and any newcomers. This solution is great for pretty much any bug on any plant. Feel free to mix in some fresh garlic for an added kick. The rain rule still applies here, so be prepared to reapply quite often.

3. My personal favorite weapon for this is my garden gloves. Pull those puppies on and get to squishin’! Yes, it is gross. Yes, they do pop. Yes, you will learn to enjoy the carnage. The spray is great for existing bugs, but does not kill the eggs. Let’s refer to the top right picture of the bright orange dot things. These are the Potato Beetle eggs. They only lay on the underside of the leaf, but luckily they are neon orange, so they are easy to spot when you turn leaves over. SMASH AWAY. Catching the eggs before they hatch is key. As you can see, they lay a ton of eggs in one go. If you let a few rounds of these hatch, you will be reaching for the poison before you know it. The top left picture is a recently hatched beetle. They are dark red in color and teeny tiny. Again, Hulk smash. If you find one little one, chances are there are several more on the same plant. Look in the joints of the plant for campers. The last picture shows the fully mature beetle. These guys are easier to pick off and stomp on as they now have a hard shell. Jerks. I hunt down these intruders at least every 2 days. Sounds tedious, and it is. However, I would rather spend some time in the sun and in my garden to avoid using chemicals.

Anyone else have any tips?? As you can tell, these bugs personally offend me, so I am always up for new ways to slow them down!

 

Mango Jalapeño Jam

I have officially made my first batch of jam! I have canned in the past, but venturing into jams and jellies was completely terrifying to me. Now that I’ve done it, I feel really silly for being worried because it was about the easiest thing ever. That goes for canning in general. If you can boil water, you can use a hot water bath to can all kinds of good stuff! Below is the recipe I used for this sweet and spicy jam. Enjoy!

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Makes approximately 5 pint jars

5 ripe mangos

6 fresh jalapeños

1.5 cups apple cider vinegar

1/4 fresh lemon juice

6.5 cups white sugar

1.5 – 2 packet of powdered pectin (One packet comes in  a box that is about the size of the boxes that Jello comes in)

1. Rough chop mangos. Send for a ride in your food processor until chunky. You do not want to puree as your jam will have no texture! No food processor? Chop up the good old-fashioned way!

2. Rough chop jalapeños and give them the same treatment in the food processor, again being careful not to puree. Adjust the heat of your jam by removing the ribs and seeds of the jalapeños if desired. I left 2 in tact and cleaned out the other 4. This combo is nice and sweet with just enough heat to let you know there are peppers in there.

3. In a large stock pot, combine all ingredients,except for the pectin and simmer for  30 minutes.

4. Stir in pectin and bring to a full rolling boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and skim off the foamy stuff on the top.

5. Ladle into sterilized jars and process in a hot water canner for 10 minutes.

6. After removing from the canner, allow the jam to sit for 24-48 to let the pectin do its thing. Should a jar not seal, refrigerate and eat with crackers, toast and goat cheese, mix in cream cheese, or on chicken. Honestly, you can’t go wrong.

 

Pinky promise there is an article on canning basics to come!! This jam is a really impressive gift when wrapped up with some gourmet crackers and cheese. How is everyone’s garden doing!? Mine is packed full and I still am searching for more space!

 

 

Budget Gardening – Starting Seeds

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Hey Everyone!

Today I am going to go over an additional way to start seeds. Earlier I posted about starting seeds with a grow light to get a jump on the year. This method involves a little planning for a big, money saving result. Throughout the year I saved about 20 of the large water bottles we buy when they are on sale. This could easily be done with any clear (or opaque) plastic container. Milk jugs are a great option, but the hubs and I only drink almond milk. Don’t forget to ask friends to save bottles if you need a boost! Paying them in cucumbers later is a great bribe, just make sure they give the milk jugs a rinse so they don’t stink later! Also, keep in mind a packet of seeds is a fraction of the cost of seedlings from a nursery!

Here are the materials you need and what I dished out for them:

Plastic bottles (on hand)

Potting Soil ($5 for a bag)

Packing or Duct Tape (packing tape on hand)

Plastic cups (on hand, totally optional)

Sharpie (who doesn’t have one of these?)

Seeds!! ($1-$4 per packet usually. I have a giant stash!)

Scissors or box cutter (on hand)

Total cost: Less than $10 if you have these things around the house!!

photo-9_fotor1. Set up shop outside and gather all of your goodies! Ditch all of the caps, you won’t be needing them. Cut the bottles several inches from the bottom all the way around, leaving about 1-2″ attached to create a hinge of sorts. Label them with that sharpie before you fill/tape. Trial and error. Trust me.

photo 4_fotor2. I used the plastic cups I used to start the earlier crops in again for this project. I trimmed off the rigid rim at the top so they are pliable and easily adjust to the odd shaped container. Fill them with some potting soil and add in your seeds. Give them a good drink! I ran out of cups, so a few are just filled with soil and seeds were planted far enough apart to allow them to be separated later for transplanting.

3. Tape the container shut and place in a sunny spot. They will get all greenhouse-y very quickly. The opening at the top allows for temperature regulation and for some rain to get in. This should be more than sufficient to keep the seedlings happy. Being outside in full sun will avoid the leggy plant syndrome that is very hard to avoid when starting seeds under a grow lamp inside.

4. Wait for sprouts! Once your plants are a good size, remember to harden them off a bit. Cut the tape off and hinge open for a few hours for a couple days!

This method is excellent for my ‘i love late season frosts’ zone 6A, but really this is a great tool for anyone in the midwest that wants to get a jump on the season. Buying veggie seedlings from a nursery adds up very quickly, and lets be honest, we would all rather keep our money!

How are everyone’s early season plants doin!?

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