Quick peach cobbler.

How’s your summer going, everyone!? I hope you’re all eating and drinking and growing (veggies- not your waistline) and swimming and beaching your way through the season. I haven’t had much time to bake, plus it’s been hot. But after having some peaches left after my first foray into the 2016 peach/nectarine portion of my Canbassadorship, I really needed to bake up somethin’ a lil bit traditional. But yet not traditional. ‘Cause you know how I am.

Quick peach cobbler.

What ELSE do you do when you get 26 lbs. of fresh Northwest grown peaches and nectarines from Yakima, Washington?

Well, first you make peach jam and stuff. Then you make peach cobbler. ‘Cause duh.

Peaches (in Pyrex).

Are these not the hugest, most gorgeous peaches EVER? OMGYASSSSS.

Okay, anyway.

Peach cobbler. It’s like a summer staple.

Quick peach cobbler- from scratch!

I’m all about shortcuts, or making things easier for myself. If I can make a delicious three layer cake from scratch and have it not take two hours, then that’s the path I’ll take. It’s not that I don’t enjoy baking. I love it. But I have a life to live, and I’d rather get to the eating part, if you catch my drift.

 This one takes no time at all. The worst part is peeling the peaches. And peel them you must. I mean, MUST. You don’t want fuzz in your cobbler. I know it looks and feels so cute on the actual peach… but it doesn’t feel so good in your mouth while eating a nice hot cobbler with cold whipped cream.

I promise you, it’s easy. And its very, very, very delicious.

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Hot tomato & peach jammin’!

Tomatoes and peaches (and a recipe for hot tomato peach jam)

I’ve been harvesting a lot of tomatoes from the garden lately. I know, I haven’t done my annual garden post. I haven’t had the time (yet). But just know that everything is growing like crazy. I’ve picked about 12 tomatoes and so far other than the small Yellow Taxi tomatoes, each one has been around one pound- some have been almost 2 pounds. EACH. Big Beef, Brandywine and Better Boy have been doing just fine & providing us with a lot of ‘maters. And the peppers, too. I’ve got loads of Ancho Poblano’s if anyone wants. Just kidding. They’re mine.

So I decided, when I got my second shipment of the 2016 Canbassador program, to make something different.

Hot tomato peach jam.

This is the fourth year I’ve been a Canbassador, and it makes me love every summer even more because I eagerly wait for these beautiful shipments of stone fruits direct from Washington State. Let me tell you- the fruit from Rainier Fruit and Washington State just gets more beautiful every season. Over the years, with this gorgeous fruit, I’ve made vanilla brandied peach jamnectarine basil preservespeach & pepper salsavanilla bean sliced peaches in syrup, a beautiful (and easy!) peach, bourbon & black walnut crostatamint julep peaches, which were such a hit around here I’ve already had pre-requests for them if I get a batch of fresh peaches. I also made grilled peaches with ricotta cream & honey, which were also amazing and a great use for those peaches not suitable for canning (too many soft spots, overripe, not ripe enough, etc). Last year there was a triple stone fruit crispspiced nectarine jamnectarine & blackberry jam with purple ruffles basilcanned cherries in a light syrupcherry preserves with jasmine green teamini-cherry pies made with Pimm’s No. 1 Cup and a cherry sauce I served with vanilla panna cotta. This year alone I made sour cherry jam and canned whole cherries in coconut syrup on top of a delicious almond ricotta cannoli cake topped with fresh cherries (and strawberries).

Hot tomato & peach jam.

So, anyway, the garden. And those big, beautiful tomatoes. I was originally going to just make a tomato jam and a peach jam separately this summer. But why do that when I could combine them both and make one amazingly interesting jam? Add to it the fact that our pepper plants are cranking out some crazy amounts of Red Rocket chilies… and that’s where I got this inspiration from. Thanks to Love and Olive Oil and the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving for the technical & recipe help.

Hot tomato and peach jam with Red Rocket chili peppers.

Hot tomato peach jam.

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Larimar- my new favorite thing.

I’ve always loved turquoise. I remember as a little girl going in my mom’s jewelry box and playing around with her old silver rings and earrings. A couple of them being her turquoise from the 60’s and 70’s. I’ve always had love for that stone. I felt like it was so earthy- it seemed like it was more raw and true to nature than a lot of other stones. As I got older, I stopped wearing it in favor of other gemstones.

But I had never heard of Larimar until recently.

Larimar Bliss ring.

Larimar is a form of mineral that is only found in the Dominican Republic. It’s also known as also called “Stefilia’s Stone.” It is a rare blue variety of the silicate mineral pectolite found only in the Caribbean. Its coloration varies from white, light-blue, green-blue to deep blue.

This is, for me, the *new* turquoise.

It’s not your typical color or texture. Its not just the same old thing. It looks so unique. It’s opaque like turquoise but yet translucent-ish.

Larimar ring.

I find it to be so gorgeous, don’t you?

I happened to get this ring from Larimar Bliss as a gift, and it arrived right before my birthday. I wore it to dinner that night and I got so many compliments on it. The organic shape is perfect for the stones’ quality and the striations and colors.

It’s the perfect birthday gift for a summer baby like me. It reminds me of the summer sky, the beach, and the ocean, which is where it comes from.

If you’re into the metaphysical;

“In metaphysical work, the larimar stone reflects the symbolic meanings of its elemental origins. Related to the sea, it radiates with deep feelings of peace and tranquility, having the power to quell emotions. Water is the element of deep emotions, and the beauty of the Caribbean ocean represents a calm, transcendent place. Few human hearts are not opened to peace and serenity in the face of radiant blue waters.”

Also, Larimar is said to enlighten and heal in a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual way. It stimulates the heart, throat, third eye and crown chakras facilitating inner wisdom and outer manifestation. It represents peace and clarity, radiating healing and love energy.

Larimar Bliss ring

In this picture and the others where I’m wearing it, it’s not as easy to see the bright sky blue color. It looks more like turquoise. But the above photos are more true to color.

It reminds me of playing in my mom’s jewelry box again. Except this time it’s mine. Alllllllll miiiiiine.

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Almond ricotta cannoli cake with fresh fruit.

(This was originally written for a contributor post on eighteen25, go take a look and see! And look for more posts by me over there soon.)

Almond ricotta cannoli cake with fruit.

July 4th was America’s 240th birthday, and July 5th was my mother’s (definitely not 240th) birthday. So every year I usually ask her what she’d like me to bake for her and I do the baking on the 4th. This way, she gets to squeak out two days worth of celebrations.

This year she gave me quite a few suggestions, but I decided to make something I haven’t made in a while: ricotta cake.

Almond ricotta cannoli cake with fruit.

While this cake looks incredibly complicated, fancy and difficult to make… it is not. The hardest part is pitting the cherries and cutting the fruit. For real. It’s an absolute breeze that requires no mixer (none at all) and nothing more than a few bowls, a whisk and a wooden spoon. It’s a good old fashioned easy cake.

The cake itself is just ricotta cheese, eggs, melted butter, baking powder, flour, sugar, salt and either almond extract/lemon zest or orange zest. The “frosting” is ricotta, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract. That’s it.

I swear.

Almond ricotta cannoli cake with fruit.

You don’t even really need the “frosting” on top, a nice sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar is good too. I just wanted to up the ante for mom’s birthday.

And besides who doesn’t love cannoli cream? Fools. That’s who.

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Whole cherries in coconut syrup.

Last year, I made whole canned cherries in a light almond syrup. This year, I knew I wanted to do something different, but I didn’t know what. Enter: coconut.

Cherries in coconut syrup.

I heard from my dad about a coconut, cherry and pistachio cake (because he wanted me to make it, natch) and I thought maybe I could use coconut in the canned cherries to spice things up a little bit. Plus I figured, I have enough cherries to experiment and play around… and if it doesn’t work out, whats the worst that can happen?

So I made just two pints of this experimental blend. And it turned out pretty sweet!

Canned cherries in coconut syrup.

I used real coconut, but I suppose if you aren’t thrilled with the slightly cloudy look of the syrup, you can use coconut extract.

I actually cracked one of these bad boys open fairly quickly. I served it over ricotta mixed with a little sugar, with a sprig of fresh mint. A simple, gorgeous summery dessert.

Cherries in coconut syrup, served over a sweetened ricotta with fresh mint.

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Sour girl cherry jam.

Sour cherry jam.

I met Scott Weiland once, back when I was 16, in 1997. It was the height of Stone Temple Pilots fame, 92.3 WXRK (K-Rock) was the hottest rock station, and I was a punk rock kid who happened to love some good ol’ “alternative.”

Why am I telling you this? No reason. Only because the entire time I made this sour cherry jam, I sang “Sour Girl.”

She turned away… what are you lookin’ at?

She was a sour girl the day that she met me…

Sour cherry jam.

Sour cherries are something I rarely get my hands on. I find them so rarely here, and when I do they’re usually something ridiculous like $6 a pound and they don’t look all that great. But this year, as part of my yearly Canbassador-ship for the Washington State Stone Fruit Commission, they sent me not only sweet cherries, but these gorgeous sour cherries.

Sour cherry.

This is my fourth year being a Canbassador, and let me tell you- the fruit from Rainier Fruit and Washington State just gets more beautiful every year. Over the years, with this gorgeous fruit, I’ve made vanilla brandied peach jamnectarine basil preservespeach & pepper salsavanilla bean sliced peaches in syrup, a beautiful (and easy!) peach, bourbon & black walnut crostatamint julep peaches, which were such a hit around here I’ve already had pre-requests for them if I get a batch of fresh peaches. I also made grilled peaches with ricotta cream & honey, which were also amazing and a great use for those peaches not suitable for canning (too many soft spots, overripe, not ripe enough, etc). Last year there was a triple stone fruit crisp, spiced nectarine jam, nectarine & blackberry jam with purple ruffles basilcanned cherries in a light syrup, cherry preserves with jasmine green tea, mini-cherry pies made with Pimm’s No. 1 Cup and a cherry sauce I served with vanilla panna cotta.

WHEW.

Sour cherry jam.

Anyway, usually I make all kinds of fancy jams and jellies, with unique ingredients. But I felt like these sour cherries needed to just be appreciated for what they are. So here we go… a basic, simple, sour cherry jam. No bells and whistles. Just jam.

SOUR CHERRY JAM (via Serious Eats)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons Pomona’s Universal Pectin
  • 3 pints sour cherries
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 teaspoons calcium water (included in the Pomona’s packet)
  • 1/4 teaspoon unsalted butter

Directions:

  1. Combine the sugar and pectin in a medium bowl.
  2. Pit the cherries and transfer them to the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse the cherries 8 to 10 times, until they are coarsely chopped but not pureed. Measure 4 cups of the cherry puree and transfer to a large, heavy bottomed pot. (Discard any remaining cherries or reserve for another use.) Add the lemon juice and bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cherry pieces have softened and are beginning to break down, about 10 minutes.
  3. Stir the calcium water and the butter into the pot with the cherries and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the sugar-pectin mixture and return the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard for one minute.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat and skim any foam from the surface of the jam with a cold metal spoon. Ladle the jam into hot sterilized jars and process them in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Sour cherry jam made with Pomona's.

If you, too, have been canning up a storm so far this summer, or you plan to be, add the Sweet Preservation “Of Course I Canned!” badge to your blog. Click here to view & save the file, then add it. Also be sure to visit SweetPreservation.com for recipes & FAQ’s.

Of Course I Canned!!

Soundtrack: Stone Temple Pilots – “Sour Girl”
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Peanut butter maple syrup!

Peanut butter maple syrup.

I’m baaaaaaaaack! And with something totally fun and awesome and kid-friendly and husband-friendly. Peanut butter maple syrup. As in, peanut butter mixed with maple syrup, all ready to pour over waffles and pancakes. Or ice cream. Or cake. Or salad, if you’re kinky. Whatever, no judgement.

I know I’ve been gone for a long time. But work is crazy, life is crazy, and I’m trying to balance it all with renovating parts of our house little by little. There have also been some “family emergencies” mixed in that weren’t so pleasant, and some not so great news as well as some awesome news. We’re all okay, so don’t worry or be concerned. Just the usual life kinda stuff interrupting my blogging reverie!

Peanut butter maple syrup.

*sigh* No excuses. You can stop playing the violin for me now, I know I should be posting more. But honestly, I haven’t really even been cooking much lately. That will change I promise- our garden is in full swing and it’s time for jams and pickles and goodies!

So… this is not my idea. I got this idea from Jess Seinfeld (yes, Jerry’s wife) on Instagram. However I thought it was brilliant, and that it could be adapted to anything. Like, for example, mix some strawberry jam with maple syrup and butter and you have strawberry maple syrup! GENIUS.

Peanut butter maple syrup!

You can also use ANY KIND OF NUT BUTTER. Sunflower, almond, peanut, pistachio (is that a thing?), whatever. Whatever floats your boat.

All you have to do is gather up:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut butter
  • 1 heaping tablespoon peanut butter (or other butter)
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Melt the butter over low heat. Add the nut butter, whisking the entire time, then pour in the maple syrup. Whisk like crazy until it’s all combined and smooth. Pour in a jar, or right over your pancakes.

Peanut butter maple syrup.

Isn’t it so gorgeous???

Like I said, the same principle applies to any kind of jam or butter product. Even a fruit butter, I’m sure, like apple butter or pumpkin butter would work. Think of how a blueberry maple syrup would be! GAH!

I bet.. and this is me just being wild ‘n’ crazy here… you could make peanut butter and jelly maple syrup. Wow. I just blew my own mind. 

Peanut butter maple syrup.

I’ll be back soon with more recipes- including more yummy stuff involving Rainier cherries! And other super cool stuff. I promise. I never lie to you, do I?

In the meantime, go have some fun with your nut butters. Heh.

Soundtrack: “Ex’s and Oh’s” – Elle King
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