Sunday, August 30, 2009

Peach Preserves

My mom and I were discussing Red Haven peaches this week. Our family has long been of the opinion that these peaches, while smaller than average and full of stubborn pits, have the best flavor of any peach out there.

I have fond memories of day trips where our family would pile into the car and take a drive to more rural areas of Southwest Ohio, oftentimes searching for a park. Along the way we would see signs for farm stands and mom-and-pop produce carts. If we were lucky and it was the right season, we'd stop and fill up on some Red Haven deliciousness.

All this talk inspired me to make a batch of peach preserves this weekend. I HAD thought that I was done with canning for the year, but I've been giving away lots of jars to friends and relatives, and my husband has also been chipping away at our stash, so I figured what the heck.

Originally I was hoping to pick up some locally grown peaches at the Hyde Park Farmer's Market this morning, but unfortunately none of the vendors were selling peaches. On to Plan B, I popped up to Pipkins Fruit & Vegetable Market in Blue Ash in the hopes that they would have some farm fresh peaches, even if they weren't local. I was in luck - they had some very nice looking South Carolina peaches.

I brought them home and proceeded to dice, boil, sweeten, and jar. For some reason, this jam seems very feminine and beautiful. Not that my previous batches weren't easy on the eyes, but the soft sunglow color of today's preserves made me quite proud.

I can't wait to try some on a slice of homemade bread!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Baba Ghanoush

The past few weeks my mother has been bringing me some of the results of her bumper crop of Japanese Eggplant.

Eggplant is one of those vegetables that I'm pretty picky about. It has a texture that can be quite unpleasant if not prepared right. Nobody likes spongey or slimy eggplant. In my opinion, you can either bread/fry it, grill it, or roast it and puree into some yummy baba ghanoush, which is what I did today.

I roasted 6 or 7 long, thin eggplants until blistered and browned. You then take the smoky flesh and throw it in a food processor along with tahini, fresh garlic, fresh cilantro, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

We've been snacking on this delicious dip all afternoon, interspersed with breaks for my current home project - painting the kitchen.

Nothing like a nice lazy Sunday at home...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Lots of purty pictures to show off for ya. It's been a couple weeks and we've had some good fortune, both from my garden and from my parent's garden. I'll start with my garden.

My first cute Japanese Eggplant of the season, along with some Fish Peppers that have turned from a variegated green and white to a bright cherry red:

A good handful of Red Marconi Peppers - I finally let them stay on the vine long enough to turn a nice fire engine red. I roasted these guys in the oven last night and diced them into a pasta salad with smoked mozzarella, heirloom cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil:

Now onto the fruits of my parent's garden. While I didn't grow all of these beauties myself, I have to say that I'm still proud because they came from the seedlings I donated earlier this summer.

Firstly, some of those heirloom cherry tomato gems I mentioned earlier - these are from my adopted Gold Nugget and Black Cherry plants. They were both delicious, although I have to say I think the Black Cherries had a bit more flavor:

Kicking things up a notch, here is a MONSTER from the Pink Brandywine plant. I sliced this bad boy up tonight for dinner - heaaaaven! Juicy, meaty, sweet, and just the right amount of acidity. Definitely a keeper, although mine are nowhere near this size.

Lastly, my parents brought me two more flats of regular tomatoes for canning. On the heels of my whole-tomato fiesta the other week, I now had plans to can some tomato juice. Last night I canned 10 pints of tomato juice by simply cooking chunked tomatoes, sweet peppers, yellow onion, and a couple garlic cloves. This, along with the whole tomatoes, will make for great chili, marinara sauce, and sloppy joes this winter when the bounty of summer is long gone.



This is the time of summer I love - when you're literally swimming in tomatoes. Not a meal goes by where you don't eat a fresh tomato of some sort.