Monthly Archives: August 2013

Fresh Southern Ginger Peach Cobbler

   

Fresh peaches in bowl

Fresh peaches in bowl

     This has been a great fresh fruit year. I headed into to town on Tuesday and found peaches the size of softballs for 99 cents a pound. So what did I do after canning 60 lbs of apples, I bought 25 lbs of peaches of course. I actually got these at the local feed store and made a deal with the owner for a discount and free bushel baskets because these guys were over ripe and some were already  bruising and soft. These I would not have tried to can, they were just to soft to really handle. I did on the other hand cook and freeze all of them.

   I made 2, 13×9 old fashion southern ginger peach cobblers, two 8 inch peach pies, froze 2 gallons of peach slices without sweetener and made 6 half pints of ginger peach butter all in two days.The peach butter I let cook over night in a slow cooker before canning. 

     After informing my husband that I was going to make cobbler, he asked if I would make one for his work. I know there are ten on his crew and I had a birthday party that I was bringing a cobbler to, so I needed at least 16 servings between both places and extra for home. I ended my day with 24 servings total. After our busy day only one serving of cobbler made it back home… All of us eat too much, but nothing says summer better than fresh peaches.

    For a single 9X13 cobbler I used 5 cups of fresh sliced peaches = 6 or 7 slightly over ripe peaches do the very best. The flavor of peaches actually improves with age and at times the bruised ones are the most flavorful.

The time-consuming part of any fresh peach receipt is scalding and pealing the peaches.

scalding peachs

scalding peachs

dunking peaches in cold water

                                                                                                                                                                                                                           The process involves boiling a pot of water and adding the peaches for about 1 1/2 minutes then removing them. I have a hand strainer I use to drain the excess water. I then plunge them into a cold water bath to release the skins. In my case, many of the skins started to pull away before I even pulled them from the cold water bath.  

   Once pealed, pitted and sliced, I measured my amount of peaches into a stock pot to weep the peaches with a 1 cup sugar and heat. This allows me to remove a little of the peach nectar to stop boil overs in the oven.

cooking peaches

cooking peaches

  The cobbler is made from either canned peaches or fresh at this point.

     Southern ginger peach cobbler

  1. 5 cups fresh or canned peach slices
  2. 1 1/2 cups sugar… 1/2 cup for crust and 1 cup for light canned peaches or fresh,simmered as directed above.
  3. 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  4. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  5. 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  6. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  7. 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  8. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  9. 1 cup milk.
  10. 1 stick of real butter.

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To a 13X9 pan add one stick salted butter. Let melt and brown in oven while cooking peaches on stove top.

bubbly brown in pan

bubbly brown in pan

    If using home canned peaches a quart of slices will work well , drain off 1/3 of juice in jar or if using fresh drain off about 1/3 cup juice from peaches add the remaining cup of sugar and ginger, cinnamon and corn starch. Simmer on stove a couple of minutes and remove from heat to cool slightly.Peach mixture will thicken a little while simmering.

  Next mix the batter for crust. This crust goes under the peaches and will rise to the top of cobbler and brown on its own. In a med bowl mix sugar, flour,baking powder, baking soda together and slowly add milk. Do not leave batter lumpy. Pour over warm melted butter.

flour mixture

flour mixture

 Add  the warm peach mixture. DO NOT MIX …. peaches should be on top.cooking

   Bake in already warm 350 degree oven for  40 minutes. I always place pan on cookie sheet to prevent juice running over the side.Check that the cobbler is done with toothpick and set to cool on rack. This size makes about 12 servings.

brown top of cobbler

brown top of cobbler

  Our family eats cobbler with whole milk instead of ice cream or whipped cream.So here is what we all got at the end of a long day. It was yummy.peach cobbler with milk

                                            Hope you enjoy our friends and family sure did,Jolynn

Categories: cakes and family deserts, country cooking, peaches, Preserving | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Preschool and Learning to Let Go

christopher dyeing easter eggs with shaving cream and food color

Christopher dyeing easter eggs with shaving cream and food color

   Ok so everyone family has gone through this and it is nothing new, but some how it is harder this time. I got through sending Cody off to school fine 15 years ago. I  just wish I felt more confident with our plans to send Christopher to a public preschool program this time.

Christopher in my office chair summer 2013

Christopher in my office chair summer 2013

    I actually like the school we are sending him to and was notified a couple of days ago of the name of his teacher. I was happy and relieved when I received the name and felt comforted that we are old family friends and she chose to have Christopher in her class.  I am total confident that his teacher is and will be able to do an outstanding job with him and that he will learn more than he ever would from me and my limited knowledge. I understand that he needs to get more socialization and spend time with kids his own age but none of this comforts me. I am not sure why it is so different with the second child.

  I wonder if it is my knowledge of public schools that makes me so sad. Maybe it is my lack of faith that our children are safe . Maybe it is remembering the first time Cody came home with hurt feelings and tears in his eyes.  I know at some point  it will happen to Christopher and apart of me will die when it does.

Christopher in bathtub at the louise Bennett Library

Christopher in bathtub at the Louise Bennett Library

       Even after hearing the great news about his new teacher, somewhere deep inside I think something broke.  I am not sure but I think it was my heart. I was totally unprepared for the feelings of despair and loss that run through me yesterday afternoon. I am not sure I am ready to hand him over to the world. That mean cold world where everything is out of my hands and in someone elses. It is similar to the feeling of loss I had when Tom was shipping out to the Gulf War. A feeling that  you have no say in what happens to you and those you love. You are a buy standers in the situation and from now on you just have to fallow what others say is best your loved one.

Christopher and me river swimming

Christopher and me river swimming

   I had thought about Home Schooling and may still if I find that Christopher is not unhappy at school but for now I also realise that I am not a great teacher for a preschooler. I have limited skills and my tolerance for normal preschool behavior is well let say… ok… but not great. So I know he needs some one who is more skilled than me and I do not think Christopher needs me 24-7 now that he is almost 5. He needs to grow roots that are deep and strong away from the shadow of his family. I just need to “Let Go” a bit and I am finding that hard.

Christopher with old car

Christopher with old car

  I love my sons and husband beyond words and want the very best for them even if that means I have to step to the side so they can grow and shine in their own right. Letting go is part of that growth but boy I feel like it is me who is having growing pains. I did not expect this when he was born… I though ok I have done this once I am experienced and the second will be easier. I was wrong, about so many things with this second child and I am not sure if everyone feels this way or not but everything is different.

Christopher and Me on vaction in Ky

Christopher and Me on vacation in Ky

   Maybe by next week I will be able to put him on that bus and wave as he drives away with out going hysterical. I hope that will not need to fallow the bus through town and into the parking area of his school. I hope that when that bus arrives Christopher and I will both be ready for a new day and new story in our lives. But the lesson of letting go of him is taking me by surprise.

tom and Christopher ramp digging and giggling

tom and Christopher ramp digging and giggling

                                    Wish Us Luck I could really use it about now!

Categories: Christopher, Jane Lew Elementry, Preschool | 12 Comments

Canning home made apple sauce

   A couple of friend commented to me that they wished they knew how to make home-made apple sauce. I am currently in the process of making my second batch( 6 quarts)as we speak.I thought this post might be useful to learn a bit more about the process before fall weather finishes ripening all the apples.

finished apple sauce 2013

finished apple sauce 2013

     I love to home preserve  apple sauce.It is a simple easy way to use up extra apples and make something naturally good for you. I am actually over run with apples this year, friends are begging me to pick their apples as the trees are in danger of damage from the heavy load. I use the apples from several trees in our friends and families yards so they are free and of unknown verity. The best apple for sauce if you are buying or growing a tree for that purpose is the Golden Delicious. I Think that I am actually using a Macintosh apples this year and they seem to cook down fine also.

  Of course the first step is to collect or buy apples. I pick mine and use about  8 pounds of apples for one full batch (6 quart jars) of sauce. In this case I had a 5 gallon bucket full of apples so I used about 3/4 of a bucket to get what I needed.

60 pounds of free apples

60 pounds of free apples

 I had some wonderful helpers this year and we had a ball picking the apples.

the boys apple picking Christopher and Caden

the boys apple picking Christopher and Caden

   Once you have the fruit,you will need canning jars pints or quarts and rings and lids. These items are available at almost at any grocery store or Wal-mart. It is your choice if you want wide mouth jars or regular. In most cases it is normal to use the smaller mouth jars and lids and rings. Wide mouth jars are great for pickles or food that you would process whole like tomatoes or large slices like pears.  In the above photo of the finished apple sauce I have used both Pint and Quart jars and processed them together with out any problems. Wash jars in hot soapy water,checking jars to make sure they are free from any chips or cracks. Either of the stated problems may cause the jar to break or not seal correctly and waste your time and ingredients.

   The next few items a person needs are staples in most kitchens, with exception of a jar lifter and food mill and/or ricer and an apple peeling tool. To make 6  quarts of sauce you need to use an 8 quart stock pot stainless steel is ok but most home canning families prefer enamel. It is less reactive with high acid foods like tomatoes and keeps food the proper color. A food funnel, wood spoons, a ladle and a couple of rags and towels. The jar lifter is cheap and makes moving hot jars from a very hot canner to cooling area easier. The food mill I use is a life saver with making any smooth sauce. I use mine for tomato juice, apple sauce, apple butter and tomato sauce. I think the average cost for one today is around 40 dollars.

foodmill over stock pot

foodmill over stock pot

apple peeler, corer and slicer

apple peeling tool, this one also slices and cores the apple

    I did purchase the apple peeling tool a couple of years ago after trying to peel and core about 30 lbs of apples with out it. It is worth investing in one if you hope to make more than 6 quarts of apple sauce. The tool peels, cuts and cores the apples all at the same time so it is a real-time saver and does have replaceable parts in case the blades get dull or broken.

    The basic receipt that I fallow is this:

6 quarts of peeled sliced cored apples.

2 and 1/2 quarts water

4 cups sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves.

 makes about 6 quarts apple sauce

Always sterilise your jars, lids and rings in a boiling water bath for 6 to 10 minutes before starting applesauce.

  The frist step is wash, peel, core and slice the apples. I stack the apples to the top of my stock  pot even if some of the apples have some peel still remaining. The food mill will remove any missed skins and seeds later. Add the water and put one stove over Med heat. The hallow apples will cook down into my pot about 4 inches and with the water reach about the 6 to 7 quart area when done.

The Trick to apple sauce is to never ever cook anything on high heat.

apples reduced to ruff sauce

apples reduced to rough sauce

apples on stove with water

apples on stove with water

                                                        Once the water begins to simmer allow the apples to cook at least 20 minuets to reduce the apples into sauce.  Sir frequently to help the apples break down and keep them from scorching. As you can see in the above photo they have reduced and some skins are floating in the sauce. The next step removes any remaining skins or lumps from the apples sauce.

  Place a kettle or stock pot in sink and top it with a foodmill. Pour hot lumpy sauce into mill and turn handle several times and then reverse the motion until the sauce is through the mill and the dry-looking peels are all that remain. Scrape out old peals and add more lumpy apples and repeat until all the sauce is passed through mill.

getting ready to put hot apple sauce in foodmill

getting ready to put hot apple sauce in foodmill

    Return sauce to stove and add sugar, cinnamon, cloves and heat over med low heat until sugar melts and a slow bubbles form. Taste your apple sauce and add more sugar or spices as needed, raise temp to med high and cook until a slow boil occurs. DO NOT STOP STIRRING  SAUCE!!! it may scorch at this point. In my case I look for large hard bubbles that splash sauce around the pot. You can use a candy thermometer to make sure the sauce reaches 212 degrees.

bloiling lids and rings

boiling lids and rings

  I always sterilise my rings and lids separately from the jars. I like to leave the lids on the stove in the hot water while I make the sauce and put the jars on the counter or table  ready to fill before I make the sauce. When the sauce has cooked and is boiling hot you are ready to fill the jars and put on the rings and seals.

sauces ready for jars

sauce ready for jars

 As you can see I place the jars on several towels and drain lids and rings just before use. Next ladle sauce into jars using a jar funnel to keep as much sauce off the lip of jar as possible and to prevent burning your hands. The apple sauce is very hot and is sticky and will blister skin in seconds. I wear rubber gloves to fill jars to prevent burns as much as possible. When all jars are full I clean the rim of each jar with a dry rag and place a lid on top and place a ring on tight enough to keep lid in place but too tight.

cleaning jar lip

cleaning jar lip

  Then place jars in a boiling water bath for twenty minutes add time if you live above 1000 feet in altitude. If I am processing pints, my stock pot works well, so I wash it and return 6 pints back into the pot cover with hot water and boil the jars 20 more minutes. If I am making quarts I boil water in my pressure canner and use it to process my jars. Next, Remove jars with a jar lifter and place some where it is safe for hot jars to cool away from drafts. I put them back on the towels I used to full them on and wait to hear the sound of the lids popping closed. Some jars may actually seal and pop before they reach the table, others seal as they cool.  After about an hour I check to see if all the jars have sealed by touching the top of the lid and pushing down. If the lid pops when I touch it, the jar did not seal and must either be recooked or eaten fresh to prevent food poisoning or mold or both.

   If you are lucky like I was every jar sealed and is cooling. I usually wipe the jars down one more time and on the lid with a Sharpe marker put the name and date on each jar. This way the oldest gets eaten first and food rotation is easy.

You now have 6 quarts of home-made apple sauce with no artificial flavors, colors, and no preservatives,congratulations.

finished apple sauce 2013

finished apple sauce 2013

Categories: apple sauce, canning, cooking, organic food, Preserving | Tags: , | 16 Comments

Comfort Food Sunday… Ending with Apple Pie

     Sunday family dinner is a tradition at our house as long as everyone is feeling well. I make dinner for my kids, grandkids, sometimes family friends and the In-laws. This week felt different the food was more comforting and everyone was so excited to eat. I made old-fashioned food from the garden and from the neighbors apple tree. I had a simple menu of meatloaf, fried potatoes, ramps ( I have another post about these wild onions and greens,check it out.) cucumber onion salad, sweet tea and home-made apple pie à la mode. It wasn’t much work and I had everything except a pie crust on hand. It was as if my family was rejoicing in the food and company. It was a celebration of our garden and being blessed with 60 pounds of fresh free apples from our neighbors tree that made the night so wonderful.

60 lbs of apples ready to use

60 lbs of apples ready to use

    My husband and oldest son love  Grandma Powers’ meat loaf and she has instructed me on how to make a tender and juicy one. I haven’t made this for about two years and just thought OK it’s time. Also,the flow of cucumbers has been steady from the gardens so I needed to use them up. I had two bags of frozen ramps that needed eaten to make more room in the freezer for fall and the apples you see in the photo were also sitting on my back porch and were ready to eat. I think this meal planed its’self or maybe the bounty of the earth planed it for me. It took about an hour of time to put the whole thing together.

      I sat on the back porch and peeled the apples while Christopher and my granddaughter Paige played in the yard. I was laughing and talking to Cody and my daughter-in -law Jamie the whole time I peeled the apples. It was so nice to just sit and visit with them. Then off to the kitchen I went, I needed to get a few things started. About hour later, Bill my husbands best friend arrived, and we were finally ready to eat.

with help we were able to repair the back porch that was 4" off level from front to back

 

    Everyone went on and on about how nice it was to have MEATLOAF???? for dinner??? Really??? They all oohed and awwwed about the apple pie. It was the topic of conversation for several minuets. Their complements took me off guard. I didn’t expect the reaction I was getting. In my mind it was just another dinner that I cook 5 nights a week, it was just part of my day. Then something else ran through my mind…. This was simple food, nothing fancy or expensive. Heck, I got a great deal on the burger so the whole dinner for 5 adults and two picky kids cost me 10 dollars. Much of the food was free… foraged ramps, garden cucumbers and onions and free apples. I bought beef, potatoes and a pie crust and ice cream. I sat back contented that I had made everyone  happy and everyone had a great time. 

Cody and Tucker in the recliner

Cody and Tucker in the recliner

   If you were to attend one of my family dinners you would realise  that it is totally craziness for the 5 hours my family and friends are together. With all of us together on the porch or dinning room, my sons new puppy underfoot , the two little ones  laughing and crying and the cell phones wringing, it is a little hectic.

 Sunday is the only day of my week that my home over flows with voices and laughter. Back doors slam open and closed, footsteps run back and forth across the porch.The kids are free to run from room to room screaming as  the pup chases them. The yard is usually full of cars, a parking lot forms.  Christopher drives his Gader around in huge circles greeting everyone as they come up to the house. Sometimes Cody even brings the mini bike and we all go for rides. It is truly Grandmas house and I am proud of it.

Christopher and the Gader

Christopher and the Gader

Christopher and Paige sitting on Codys mini bike

Christopher and Paige sitting on Cody’s mini bike

   Our life style is from a generation that has already passed. It is family dinners and loud kids and puppies barking. It flashes back to a grandma pealing apples on a porch and a meatloaf in the oven from the 50’s. I don’t understand how I got here, but I love it and all the crazy work that it means. It’s so traditional  my life could be confused for Norman Rockwell painting. As I cut and serve a home-made  apple pie and Tom starts to scoop ice cream to two whiny kids that don’t like pie just ice cream. I think of my grandmas house and her cooking and wonder if she is smiling at me with all these people in my house just like hers 40 years before.

   At times I can hardly believe that this is my life. I well up with tears when I remember my childhood that was so similar,full of love, joy and family. I am so thankful that God has blessed me with this life. I know it was just a dinner with meatloaf and pie but some how it felt like so much more.

Freah apple pie for dinner

Fresh apple pie for dinner

Categories: About me, cakes and family deserts, country cooking, family fun | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

Rabbits our new 4-H project

   I have been a rabbit lover forever.We had them as kids and my  family raised some for meat and fur at one time. Over my adult life I have personally owned with or with out my kids about 26 and we have lost a few, sold a few and some have passed away from old age but this little guy is different.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

   By different I mean this is the friendliest, calmest and coolest tempered bunny I have ever encountered. He is a total joy and will be excellent for Christopher to show and use for his 4-h project. “Ratchet” as Christopher named him is a 7 week old Sable Chinchilla.The buck was a gray Chinchilla crossed with a black New Zealand doe…. the sable gene is from the Chinchilla side and Ratchet has all the signs of a Chinchilla with two toned fur and light guard hairs but also inherited the sable markings of dark ears, nose and toes from his dad as he had points of darker gray also. GE DIGITAL CAMERA

    As a 4-H mom you are always looking for ways to keep you kids involved and learning. Raising rabbits is an easy way to teach them all about animals, responsibility, breeding and in some cases about meat production and even the harder life lesson like death. Rabbits are a wonderful introduction to the world of showing animals and competition with-in the world of 4-H. At our last year-end show called, 4-H jamboree, I think their were about 20 rabbits on display and at least 6 were part of the market auction. The market auction rabbits are Pens of three that the member raises for a meat project. The child member bred, raises, and is judged on the weight, size and quality of the animals. Then the child member sells the Pen at an auction at the end of the week. Here the Pen of three usually sells for a price of about 200 dollars . Not a bad price for one litter of bunnies. The money goes directly to the child who raises the animals and is usually used to buy more project items or feed. The buyer has the option of keeping the pen or donating the pen back to the child so that it can either be sold later, eaten or bred again for the following year.

  With Ratchet being so clam and quite ( the best quality for a young child just starting out) I will be able to help train him. He must be comfortable with lots of handling and grooming. Ratchet will have to handle having his toes examined, flipped on to his back to check for missing hair, sex and age. He will need to have his ears checked for cleanliness, carried without jumping over board and sitting quietly when sitting on a display table. All things a child of 5 willbe able to do with help from judges and parents.

   There is no requirement for papers or purebred animals for children this age. the object is to start with the basics and  show what works for you. Only the market rabbits have breed requirements, they need of the meat type and in the correct weight range. older members show purebred and line bred animals for breed classes and thier are 47 listed breeds on the American Rabbit breeders Ass. website at www.arba.net/breeds.htm. Eventually I will pursue another New Zealand for the meat classes and a purebred “REAL” sable for breed classes. Then breed Ratchet to the New Zealand rabbit for the meat bred category.

   Thankfully, Christopher has fallen in love with Ratchet. This is really the first time I have seen him attach to an animal although we had others. He really likes spending time with him. I hope the bond continues and they spend this winter getting to know each other. At this point we have Ratchet in an indoor cage because he is so tiny. His move outside is still up for debate. At some point he should reach a weight of about 10 lbs so he will be too big to stay in a small cage.

Christopher with Ratchet

Christopher with Ratchet

    I am so happy to add another little fur ball to our family and our “living off the land” life style. Ratchet and his babies will further lower my families dependance on the world’s food supply and will offer us another organic meat to eat. I personally love rabbit meat so starting to raise my own for food, fur,fun and profit is a natural way for us to progress. I just hope that as Christopher gets older he will enjoy these animals enough to want to raise a few babies for later projects and is able to sell a few along the way.

 Welcome, to the family Ratchet may you live a long healthy life full of love!

Categories: 4-H, animal health, bredding rabbits, rabbits | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

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