Thursday, August 20, 2015

Peach Jam

When we were first planning our move out to Ohio, I envisioned myself as becoming some kind of pioneer woman out here - the kind of woman who cans tomatoes and darns socks.

Well, this past week I came pretty close to making this vision a reality:  I made my own jam... from fruit I picked myself. 

And just to be clear, this was not from one of those U-Pick farms next to the highway. Oh no. I scavenged my fruit from the wild.  Sort of.

The unoccupied rental property across the street has a peach tree out front, and last week the peaches reached the point where they were ripe and actually falling off the tree. So naturally, I went ahead and helped myself (along with my neighbor who I think might actually be a real pioneer woman).

They're smaller than the peaches you find at the supermarket, and they don't taste as sweet. In fact, the first time I ate one, I thought it was an apricot. The property manager says this is because we've had so much rain this year - peaches apparently like to dry out between waterings. 

Being organically grown (as about as organic as you can get since nobody tends to this tree), all of the peaches had spots or areas where bugs had gotten into them. We ate several of them fresh, but there were so many that I decided to try my hand at cooking them down for peach jam.

Now, these are the hot, lazy days of summer, so the only way this was actually going to happen was if I could find a simple recipe that didn't require a lot of work or a trip to the grocery store. And what do you know, I found one!

One of my favorite DIY blogs, A Beautiful Mess, posted a recipe for chia seed jam a while back. It's a little weird, but I had everything I needed on hand, and since I got the peaches for free, I didn't really mind if it turned out to be disgusting.

Since I linked to the recipe, I'm not going to write down the whole process - you can read that on A Beautiful Mess. But I will tell you that it came out great!! 

If I were to make this recipe again, I would use 2 cups of diced peaches instead of the recipe's 1 1/2, and/or I would use 1 1/2 Tablespoons of chia seeds instead of the recipe's 2. Other than that, this was a really simple and quick way to make jam. It was delicious on multi-grain toast with goat cheese. Yum!

Next I'm going to try the blueberry lemon one; already bought the ingredients this morning! 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Tomato Melon Salad

OK, everybody. You need to get your buns to a farmer's market pronto and find yourself some heirloom tomatoes. I just created the most delicious end-of-summer tomato salad, and I think you need to do the same.

Here are the ingredients:

  • a really delicious and hearty heirloom tomato (according to our local farmer, the one I used was an old seed variety "rescued" from Ukraine during the McCarthy era)
  • ripe cantaloupe (usually I don't touch the stuff, but the husband bought one days ago and was having a hard time eating through the whole thing by himself...)
  • fresh mozzarella cheese (you could use those cute little bocatini mozzarella balls to add some interesting shape to your salad)
  • fresh basil leaves
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • course salt

Now this couldn't be easier:  Cube the tomato, cantaloupe, and mozzarella (unless you're using the bocatini) and toss them all in a bowl in whatever ratio you would like. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of course salt, drizzle on a couple tablespoons of olive oil and about half as much balsamic vinegar, and toss to coat everything. Chiffonade some basil leaves (roll the leaves up and slice them very thinly to create little basil "ribbons") and carefully stir them in. 

Voila! A sweet and juicy salad, perfect for a relaxing summer day. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Hello Again

It's been awhile, I know. I've just been a little too scatter-brained and unmotivated to sit down and write anything for about the past year. But this is my attempt to get back into it! I have cleaned up our office and placed my laptop squarely on the now-empty desk with the intention of creating a space in which to focus and reflect.

Since this is still a warm-up post as I get back into blogging, I'll share mostly photos and write very little.

Ted and I just returned from two weeks in Bend, Oregon, and man, was it beautiful there. Nothing beats summer in Oregon. What also can't be beat? The flight into and out of Portland:

Mt. Hood

The purpose of the trip was family-oriented, but we also managed to reconnect with some old friends, kayak in a mountain lake, and tube down a lazy portion of the Deschutes river. It was a time to put away the phones and relax, so unfortunately there are not many photos of these blissful moments of peace.

However, we did get some quality time and photos with my grandparents who will each turn 90 by the time this year is through!

Married 67 years - wow

Grandpa finally gets the idea of the "selfie".

Many of grandma's quilts are on display at the senior home.

Brother, Grandma, Mother

Grandma treats us to lunch

Along with visiting my grandparents, we got to experience the unique scenery, artwork, and character of Bend.

Crux Fermentation Project patio

Local "fashion"

Bison sculpture made entirely from recycled scrap metal

We did our own "artwork" by assembling this 1000 piece, nearly impossible puzzle!

Sunset on the Deschutes

Cascade Cycling Classic

Leaving Oregon was bittersweet. It's hard to leave paradise, but we missed our kitties so! 

On a final note, I have left my full-time job as Associate Director of the English language program and am returning to part-time teaching this fall. Hopefully this means I will have more time, energy, and focus to resume writing weekly blog posts! Only time will tell...