Peach #3: Peach and Blueberry Preserves

I'm at some seriously loose ends.  I'm feeling sad and trying not to feel dejected as well.  We've lost a wonderful Torontonian this week.  Jack Layton has passed on and may he rest in peace.  I'm going to miss  his smiling face and his warmth.  I really don't want to write about it because it makes me feel too sad so I'm going to move on to something else...
like canning.
I'm starting to wonder if I don't have a problem.  I'm canning everything in sight.  As you will see quite soon I canned grape juice.  Grape Juice People!  Who cans grape juice.

So the other day I canned almost a bushel of peaches.  It was traumatic and I think that I've already written about it.  My kids are traumatized (except in January they'll be thanking me just wait and see).  D is totally sick of all the jars and extra pots in the kitchen.  I'm watching the larder shelves fill up and feeling more and more excited about it.  So yeah... a problem.  We canned (me and Kid #1 that is) almost a bushel of peaches until Kid #1 declared independence and ran from the kitchen.  She said no more.  I still had about 20 or so peaches left though.  I honestly couldn't pit and peel another peach though either so I left it... for a day.  Then it started getting to me and I thought they might go bad if I didn't use them up.   What would I do with them.  There had to be something.  I already had peaches in the freezer too so I didn't want to do any more of that.  Next thing you know I've got the canner out again and peeling peaches.  Luckily I had some blueberries to throw in as well.
On a side note, I've been trying to find some witty, quirky, interesting tidbits to pass on to you and I'm finding that I'm flat out of ideas.  The last two weeks have been a whirlwind and I think that it's catching up with me.  My brain is thinking in overload autopilot.  You know, when you're going through all the motions that you always go through but your mind isn't in it.  It's like I have to reconnect with myself for a bit.  I don't like that feeling but it's life.
Side note done.
I don't know if you're the type to do canning but if you are then I would encourage you to try some new combinations.  I've got about 30 jars of preserves.  About 6 or 7 different fruit combinations.  I like that.  I think it will somehow make the monotony of winter a little bit more exciting.  If you do make some preserves then listen to some music while you do it.  It helps.

Peach and Blueberry Preserves 
makes about 6 500 ml jars

20 peaches peeled, pitted and chopped
2 cups blueberries (I used wild)
5 cups sugar
juice of 1 lemon
throw a used vanilla bean in there too if you've got one hangin' around

Combine all the ingredients together in a large pot.  Simmer over medium/low heat stirring as needed so that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot.  Simmer for about 25 minutes.  Test the taste to see if you need extra sugar

Sterilize about 6 500 ml jars and their sealing lids.  (Wash in hot, soapy water then dry and place on a baking sheet and into the oven @ 300 degrees F for about 10 minutes - NOT the lids though, they just need to be washed and dried).

Get a big canning pot ready with water and that tray thingy in the bottom so that the jars aren't sitting right on top of the heating element.  Boil the water.

Pour the hot fruit stuff into the prepared jars and place the lids on.  Carefully place into the canner and boil the jars for about 12 minutes.  Carefully remove the jars and then place on top of a towel.  Check the lids to make sure they don't need to be screwed on any tighter.  Cover completely with another towel.  Let it set for about 24 hrs.  Make sure all the lids are slightly concave - when you push on them they shouldn't give at all).  If any don't seal properly you could just use that one right away.  It will keep in the refrigerator quite a while.  The other jars can be stored for up to a year.

Peach #2: Peach Cake

This post is about a whole lot of random little 'nothings' so buckle up and let's go.

A lot of you really liked the post on my Sis-in-law.  Even my Sis-in-law liked it.  I'm glad and I meant every word.  Big, open hearted hug to Steena (and a kiss too ;-)

I've been thinking a lot about capitalism lately and what it is exactly that one can believe in about it.  I'm asking people.  I'm thinking.  I'm not convinced that what we are calling a capitalist society truly is one.  I'm still thinking.
A couple of posts ago I was talking about the John Mayer song 'Say'.  It's really sweet and sentimental and I felt that I needed to round it out for you by telling you that I've also been listening a lot to this (please excuse the language) and this.  I helps me feel 'bad-ass' which is strangely very important for me.  Plus I just like the songs.
I know it might seem from my posts that all we've been eating is sweets lately.  It's not quite the truth.  We've been eating lots of corn on the cob.  Simple.  Boiled for 3 minutes and then slathered with butter and salt.
I've been eating lots of fresh tomato sandwiches.  Nothing beats a toasted tomato sandwich unless it has a little bit of feta on it and then... it's sheer bliss.
My mind hasn't really been in 'proper food' mode.  I've been canning like a crazy woman and I don't even know why I'm doing it exactly.  I'm not really looking to stock my pantry for the entire winter but it's a cool idea.  The thought of maybe saving a little money is cool too but I'm not sure that it's a big savings at the end of the day.  I think that my recent trip to what felt like the largest grocery store on the planet or at least Toronto made me realize that they are not places I enjoy being in.  Maybe I'm just motivated by wanting to stay away from those places.  Ultimately though,  the idea of taking the vegetables and fruit at their peak and freezing or canning them so that I can enjoy that bounty in the dead of winter appeals.  I'm finding that there is even something comforting about it.  So I've set to filling my days pealing peaches (yuck) and tomatoes (not so bad), cooking up batches of every kind of fruit combination you can imagine and throwing it all into jars and letting them whistle away in the canner.  Kid #1 doesn't want to see another peach for a while and she's feeling like tomatoes aren't far behind.  All that to say that the stuff I've been making isn't exactly food blogger material.  Exciting it's not.  Creative it's not.  Interesting... well maybe only just a little.

Fortunately, D's cuz and my sis-from-another-mother swept through town last week with her two kids.  That meant the D's Mom served us meals quite a bit (saved my ass, for sure).  It also meant that we were going out for food more - like to the beach, to Niagara Falls, to Wonderland - all my favourite places (Ugh).  Not exciting food places mind you - where I could take pictures of the food and tell you all about how awesome it is and that you should find yourself there asap and all that crap.  Nope, just the junky, can-we-get-chicken-fingers-for-the-kids kind of stuff.  Kids liked it though.
I made this cake to celebrate their arrival this year.  I can tell you that it turned out just the way a cake should that has peaches and blueberries on top.  Nice and spongy but substantial enough to hold the fruit.  The streusel isn't over the top so you might want to mess around with that if you want something a little more present.  You can't beat the colours and the whole mess feels somehow special and homey all at the same time.

Peach Cake adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk (I used a combination of milk and sour cream)
3 peaches (or so) peeled and cut into slices
a sprinkling of blueberries
1/2 cup (or so) of streusel topping (find it here)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour a 9 inch springform (or just round) pan.

Combine the flour baking powder and salt together in a bowl and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar together in another bowl until it's light and fluffy.
Add in the eggs one at a time beating well after each one.
Add the flour and milk alternately beginning and ending with the flour.
Pour into the prepared pan.
Place the peaches on top of the batter.  Sprinkle the blueberries on top of that.  Sprinkle the streusel topping on top of that.
Bake for bout 25 min.  Turn the cake in the oven and bake for another 10 - 15 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Cool slightly before removing from the pan.

Inspired and Awed

Summer Vacation is quickly drawing to a close.
My weeks have been blissful, meandering, puttering and only just occasionally hustling.
I've read continuously and I won't bore you with my list of books already-read or yet-to-read but it's been like breathing deeply again after a long time of gasping for air.  I do want to tell you all that I feel a changed person as I look back over the last year and a half (or a little more) that I've been doing this crazy blogging thing.  I've changed in ways that I couldn't even have imagined.  I've allowed myself to articulate some ideas that even I was a little afraid of.  Still am a little afraid of, if you must know.
Lately I've been especially inspired.  Inspired by lots of things but definitely a big inspiration is my sister-in-law.  I wrote about her a little bit last summer (I know it's a long time but you can hope back and check it out... it's ok if you didn't read it the first time).  When I met my sis-in-law she was sweet, meek and nice and more than a little insecure, pretty fierce and fiery and definitely, deliciously opinionated.  I don't know how my brother did it.  But he did.  They were both just out of bible college and struggling under the weight of some pretty staggering student debt without significant work to support that debt or themselves.  They struggled in church work for quite a while and then my brother got work in an oil and gas company (I know... my brother - me, the 'I-feel-guilty-when-I-even-look-at-my-car-and-I-think-corporations-are-evil' girl).  That's helped them out a lot but they had to move away for it.  Far away.  Sad face.

My sis-in-law had ideas way beyond what most people expected of her and and she decided to see those dreams through.  Her dream was to write.  She knew she had it in her.  She had something to say and something to share.  She has gotten through a lot of crappy, stupid jobs to support her family and her work.  She's written things that not everybody agreed with or thought was 'decent' but she kept writing.  She's lost friends because of what she's done.  But she kept going.  She believed in something... herself and what was inside of her.  She worked hard to find the confidence to get it out there, she bore the hurt of losing friends because of her words, she sacrificed looking like 'the perfect MOM' in order to write (housework be damned)... and she got it out there.  She now has about 5 published works out there and more is happening for her all the time.
I'm proud of every single word that she has put to paper or punched into a keyboard.  I'm proud that she's not only found her voice but that she's found the strength to let it out.  I'm proud, most of all, that she's a woman and that she's my sister-in-law.  Every time I think albout her I think of all the stuff in my own head, that I'm still a little squeamish about giving words to, and feel just a little less afraid.  Every time I think of the years of everything that she's gone through to muscle that voice out I feel a little more inspired to put my fingers to the keyboard.

We all have stuff - stupid stuff, smart stuff, pretty stuff, ugly stuff - that feels so deeply rooted that we don't know if it can ever find words.  My sis-in-law has taught me to be less afraid of trying to find or articulate that stuff, at the very least.  So I'm feeling a little less afraid and apologetic about telling you that I can (as in bottle and/or freeze) food, that I bake bread, that I wish my whole backyard could be a garden, that if we all had farms then the world might be a happier place, that I do think corporations are evil and maybe governments aren't far behind (see I'm already getting more radical)... I'll stop there for now but who knows what will come out next.  Thanks SIS!  If you are looking for my sis-in-law then you can find her here.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

My Favourite Cookbooks

  • Naparima Girls High School Cookbook
  • The Silver Palate Cookbook
  • More-with-Less Cookbook
  • Moosewood Cookbook

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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