Monday, August 05, 2013

Weekend Review

Saturday was a work day. It was mind-numbing, not worth discussing further, except to say there's a new step to my editing work that slows down things just enough to make a 6-day work week more of a thing right now.

Sunday. was. awesome. I had specific ideas for work in the kitchen that day and around noon, I hopped to it. Fresh local peaches turned into peach jam. I need to start a notebook on my canning attempts because I learned several things yesterday:
  • Peaches don't necessarily have rock-hard stones (pits). 
  • Well water may contain noticeable sediment.
  • The Ball basket probably works fine for small stuff, like your average jelly jar. But I was working with wide-mouth half-pint jars and the basket only fit two. I fit a third jar outside the basket, and my canning pot has a grooved bottom, so it processed safely; but I'm recognizing that I need to just break down and buy a rack for the pot.
The peach pit thing was jarring. I've always purchased peaches from a grocery store, probably loaded with all the requisite pesticides to make them USDA approved. Those stones are so rock hard they seem impenetrable...I've studied them before, because I've wondered about growing my own tree and researched the subject online. These peaches were from the local farmers markets, a batch from Hendersonville and a batch from a guy at the Weaverville market. Started peeling the Hendersonville peaches first, and sliced the first one clear in half. While my brain screamed WTH, I examined the split pit area, because it was a mess and I was concerned about blight, fungus, or something. But the flesh seemed OK, so I just cut carefully around the stone. The Weaverville ones were beautiful, perfectly ripe and juicy, but I ran into the same issue with a couple of those pits too. I wasn't happy with the Hendersonville peaches at all; they were huge, but not ripe and sitting them out wasn't helping. I'll steer clear of their fruit for a while.

And from now on, I'll use filtered water in the canning pot. The residue on the jars afterward is definitely from our water. I let the water in the canning pot cool and settle afterward, because I was thinking of reusing it on my plants. The sediment settled to the bottom. I felt like a kid doing a science project, seeing that just hadn't occurred to me before then, because I haven't had well water since Above All. It doesn't affect the flavor, thank goodness, and I boiled the jars long enough where it's perfectly sanitary IMO, but it does change the smell of the product too, so I'll be more diligent next time.

After the jam was done, I made beef barley soup. I had stew meat from Hickory Nut Gap, a recipe from Martha Stewart, and Bisquick for biscuits. Thought about doing bread from scratch, but I was doing enough that day to recognize where to cut corners. Les is still raving about it. Around 9PM, I was still wired and we needed cookies for the week, so I whipped up some Toll House.

I'm still keeping the kitchen clean, and I'm planning meals so that we eat from home and don't spend money frivolously. Takes a pinch of time, but the benefits are ridic.

Image from here.

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