Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Spiced Peaches

Today I received my ten pound box of peaches from Full Belly Farm. Truly a beauty to behold. I picked them up after work and when I got home my wonderful husband was just finishing cooking dinner so that I would have a clean kitchen to work in. He stashed dinner in the oven and took the kids to the swimming pool while I started working. The first thing to do was to sterilize jars and make the syrup for the peaches.

Then I had to skin the peaches. The recipe I had said to dunk the peaches in boiling water and immediately transfer them into cold water, then the skins would slough off. Not even close. After the first batch resulted in a lot of peeling with a knife (which leaves a peach that doesn't look so great) I learned that I needed to dunk them in boiling water, and then wait for the water to come back to a boil before transfering them to the cold water. I got much better results - beautiful blushy smooth skinless peaches.

Cut the peaches in half and poke some cloves in them and then boil them in the syrup...Here's the first batch in the syrup while I wait for the water for the second batch to come back to a boil to do the skin thing.

At this point the husband came back home with two hungry kids. I was too involved in what I was doing to eat, so they ate while I started peeling the second batch. When the first batch was ready to come out of the syrup it went into a jar...

Two more batches like these and the final result is beautiful to my eyes. Ten pounds of peaches yielded four quarts of spiced peaches and another quart of the syrup which was left over. Number One Son is really looking forward to this winter, when we can open these and savor them with ice cream while remembering (and looking forward to) summer.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Orey - gone

The best part about the drive up to Oregon last week was that the kids discovered a great game which consisted of putting blankets over their heads and being REALLY QUIET.

These were the two kids who were crammed into the back seat of the 1994 Honda Civic Hatchback along with a cooler, a diaper bag, three bottles of water and two bags of their assorted toys and books. We took the hatchback because 455 miles at almost $3 a gallon adds up, and the Civic, bless its little metallic Japanese heart, gets 42 miles to the gallon. One tank of gas gets us *almost* to the Oregon border, actually we could probably make it to Brookings but I start getting nervous when the needle is in the red.

We got a measly 41 miles to the gallon on the way back, because we ran the air conditioning.

But on the way back, after a week of running around on the farm and visiting Grammy, those same two children couldn't seem to play that same game again, and nobody would sleep, either. So the best part about the drive back to Oakland was the thought that after we move next year we won't have to do that drive as often. Oh, and we fantasized about minivans.

Oakland had a rousing welcome for us. First, somebody was shooting something off up the street from us at around 9pm, then the police helicopter started circling over our house at about 1am, and then at some point after that some ding-a-ling lingered at the stop sign opposite our house with the music turned up so loud that it was making the car vibrate and rattle. That has got to be bad for the engine somehow.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

At least one of Bush's neighbors is human

Mother's vigil moving to bigger spot
Ranch neighbor offers land after car runs over anti-war memorial

I'm glad that somebody local down there is understanding.

And how about that wacko from Waco? I guess it's ok in Texas to not only desecrate the flag, but to mangle crosses placed in memorial to soldiers who have died in the service of their country. I actually heard somebody on the radio yesterday call him an "American hero." Right. I thought they liked to burn their crosses, first.

OK, OK, I guess I just like the headline phrase, "Anti-American Asshat."

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

A photojournalistic account of today's accomplishment: Canning 20 pounds of tomatoes!

Today the husband and kids went off to visit friends in Catheys Valley, there to build forts with legos, enjoy the heat, and celebrate our dear friend Tiffany's birthday. There will be birthday cake made and consumed. I will miss this part, because I stayed home to CAN 20 POUNDS OF TOMATOES.

I ordered the tomatoes last week after getting a notice in our CSA box that it being the right time of year, they are selling these boxes of tomatoes in order to prevent them being used in tomato wars between their workers (think water balloon fight, only more acidic and messy).

Today I picked up the box of tomatoes at just after 1pm, brought it home and began my task:

Here's my dish drainer full of the jars I would use. There's 18 of them, which was my estimate of how many I would use today. I washed these before I left to get the tomatoes.

Here's my "Bouquet Garni" for making tomato sauce. It's sprigs of rosemary, parsley, and oregano bound between a leek sliced lengthwise and a stalk of celery. Beautiful, no? I'd never made proper tomato sauce before today, so here goes...

Here's what 20 pounds of tomatoes looks like. There were 78 tomatoes there, not including the four over on the side, there, that were the ones in our regular CSA box. Thanks, Full Belly Farm!

Now time to get down to the serious business of making tomato sauce. I used the recipe for "Rich Tomato Sauce" found in Perfect Preserves: Provisions from the Kitchen Garden by Nora Carey. The recipe called for 6 pounds of tomatoes - lacking an actual scale I had to estimate this by dividing the number of tomatoes in my box by 20 pounds - I wonder how accurate the weighing was at Full Belly...Anyway, I wound up being short by one expected pint.

The first soon-to-be-boiling water bath: Three pints of tomato sauce and four pints of regular canned tomatoes. After this boiled I set the timer for 40 minutes and prepared the next batch of canned tomatoes...

There's the boiling water bath going on the left. On the other back burner I'm heating up four more pint jars which will be used for the tomatoes you see on the front burner. They're being heated up for a hot pack.

When I got to the end of these four jars in that pressure cooker (and one more that was left over from the first batch), I still had some tomatoes in my pot...but not really enough for another pint. Quickly I ran out to my garden and picked a bunch of my own tomatoes that were red. I got enough to round out two more pints. So I actually canned something OVER 20 pounds of tomatoes today. But, lacking a kitchen scale, I could not tell you exactly how much. If this information becomes vital to society it shall be researched.

Finally! The finished product. There's three pints of tomato sauce on the left, four pints of tomato juice on the right, and 11 pints of canned tomatos in the middle. Whew!

I had been thinking about ordering another box of tomatoes, but I may have my hands full canning what will be coming out of my own garden in these next weeks. However, in two weeks I am expecting a box of peaches, so stay tuned!

How to tell you've made a bad career choice

SF Chronicle:
Molesting driving instructor gets two years
San Jose man claimed he feared being in a car


Yesterday's accomplishment...pickled jalapenos with carrots, onions, and garlic. Yum!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

My union's union is suing the Gubernator. It's probably going to cost a lot of money. And I wonder if they have a snowball's chance in hell of winning.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


...comes with accomplishment. Preserved lemons, today:

And #1 Daughter is still enthusiastic about Mr. Potato Head:

Shiva Rea STILL annoys me

"Doing yoga is like giving birth and being a mother..." Yeah, right. I don't recall ever having to yell at my yoga mat to go clean its room. What is your trip, lady?