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Peach Salsa

peach-salsa

When the Dear One and I talked about getting married – really, the hows and wheres and whos part of getting married – it became apparent to us that we wanted only two things out of the ceremony (1) it had to be small and (2) we wanted all of our children there. Wait, maybe we wanted another – we wanted to be married.

Between us, there are 4 children (I always in include my dear daughter-in-law in that number), 7 parents, 4 sisters and 2 brothers, as well as their husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends. There is NOTHING small about that group of people. There is nothing intimate about that group of people. There is nothing simple about placing all those people in the same place at the same time.

Okay, so how about just you and me, our kids, someone to marry us, a best man and maid of honor. Everyone else? Well, we’re adults, this isn’t the first time for either of us, this is our choice and, hopefully, they will just be happy for us. We chose to be married this way and at our age not anyone else’s place to have issue or commentary.

Trying to put the 4 kids in the same place at the same time was proving impossible. We tried for 6 months and just couldn’t manage. It had to be all of them or none of them. How do you explain to the ones who couldn’t be there on a specific date and time that others would be there and we would just go on without them. Sadly, after trying to arrange something, it had to be none. We didn’t handle it very well – correct that – one of us didn’t handle that very well and it isn’t the one typing. Okay, okay, I didn’t handle some things well either.

But I honestly believe that it’s all about how you recover from your mistakes that really counts. If you make a mistake, and don’t admit the mistake and do nothing to rectify it, you’ve learned nothing and will likely do something very similar again. I believe that parents should apologize when they’re wrong – and we were wrong. I believe now we’re in a very good place together as a family. Our definition of family.

There is, though, one person, who I doubt will read this, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your words meant more to us than you can possibly imagine. We will keep that note always.

We realized then, that as much as we love that small army of people, we married each other – not our mothers or fathers or sisters or brothers – each other. To a certain extent our children – it takes a village, don’t you know. We have a favorite son, a favorite older daughter, a favorite younger daughter and a favorite daughter-in-law. Mix them all together, add lots of love and a little understanding and patience, two adults who just love them to bits – oh, really, there’s no place else I’d rather be and no other people I’d rather be here with.

It’s that melding of people – all very different, things in common here and there, but somehow melded to make a family unit that bring me to … TADA! Peach Salsa.

peaches

This past summer we had TONS of peaches! You remember the Peach Liqueur – I think I do! There will be Peach Jam coming up.

I found this recipe in Small Batch Preserving. I’ve had it book marked forever, but I’m not quite comfortable with canning yet, so I would look at the book and cast it aside and then look and cast … the more I delve into it, the more I do like it.

The peaches bring a certain sweetness, a bit of kick from the jalapeño, tartness from the lime, they just all come together for one incredible bite.

The worst part of this salsa is peeling and chopping the peaches. IF – and that’s a big IF – I made a single batch, it might not have been so awful, but I doubled it. By the end of dipping them into boiling water, you JUST DON’T CARE.

  • 2 C chopped, peeled peaches (about 4 medium peaches)
  • 1/4 C finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 C finely chopped red pepper
  • 1 T finely chopped jalapeno
  • 2 T honey
  • 1/4 t pickling salt
  • grated rind and juice of 1 lime
  • 2 T finely chopped mint

NOTE: To peel the peaches, bring a large pot of water to a boil. On the counter next to that pot have a large bowl of ice water. Place a couple of peaches in the boiling water for 20 or 30 seconds, transfer to the ice water. After a few seconds, the skins will pop right off. By the end you and your kitchen will be covered in sticky peach juice, but it’s totally worth it!

ingredients

Combine peaches, onion, peppers, honey, salt, lime rind and juice in a medium stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

simmering

Stir in mint and stir for 1 minute.

NOTE: Not a huge mint fan so I used half the amount.

Remove jares from canner and ladle salsa into jars within 1/2 ” of rim (head space). Process 10 minutes for half-pint or pint jars.

NOTE: I process the jars in the dishwasher. I try to time the end of the dishwasher cycle to the salsa being ready.

 

Peach Liqueur

peach-liqueur

As you learned from the Pear Liqueur post just a few days ago, the Dear one and I were married in October. It only took us 45 years to get there, but the important thing is we got there.

Yes, 45 years. We met in grammar school in the mid-1970s. Not a lot of spark, but we weren’t even teenagers then. Went to separate high schools, but ended up in the same high school. I remember the first day being in a new school and seeing him standing at the top of the stairs. My heart exploded and I was in love. We dated, didn’t, dated, didn’t, dated,he went to Antarctica for the first time and we lost touch. There was always a space there for the ONE who got away. Sigh …

We went to a teeny, tiny Catholic grammar school in Greenwich Village. The Sisters of (un)Charity, the order of nuns that ran our grammar school, which had closed right after graduation, allowed us to use the building for a reunion. This was to be – and was – a reunion of epic proportions. Alumni were invited from the very first class of students through to the last graduating class.

I was somehow (thank you, Sandra!) was dragged into planning and coordinating this event, though someone, whose name I will not mention, hogged all the credit – well, he shared it with someone who didn’t do a single thing. Part of what the Sisters sent us to use for the reunion were CDs filled with photos; some candids, some class photos.

As one does, I sat in front of the computer looking for photos of me, my sister, my friends. While scanning through the class photos, laughing the whole time at the outfits and hair – WAIT! There HE is wearing groovy Davy Jones-esque stripped pants, a hair cut from I don’t know where and a goofy smile only a tween-aged boy can have. My heart did a pitter-patter.

To make a very long story short, I emailed him. Three sentences and the photo. I wasn’t looking for anything, just to share a photo, check in.

He didn’t answer.

And he didn’t answer.

But then HE DID.

And here we are … finally. I feel as though all the pieces finally fit together, not a feeling ever experienced before in my life.

Perhaps it’s a bit like that old sermon about the fellow who gets to heaven questioning why God didn’t save him. God’s reply, I sent you a log, a boat and a helicopter …

This was more like I put you two in each other’s paths in grammar school, high school and now. Well, this time I got the message LOUD AND CLEAR and I grabbed on and won’t ever let go.

peaches

But we’re here for peaches!

Lovely, sweet peaches. Look, there are a few in the trees! Wait, here’s more. O.M.G. look at all of these peaches! Now what will I do!?

I’ll tell you what I will do – I will make peach liqueur (look at how well the pear experiment worked!), and peach salsa, and peach jam, and freeze some just sliced, and eat many, oh, wait Sangria. Peaches were easier. The very nice thing about this recipe is the no fuss, no muss, no cooking side to it.

  • 3 peaches (about 10 ounces)
  • 5 ounces sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 or 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 500 ml vodka

NOTE: Again, do to the number of peaches I had I quadrupled this recipe.

Rinse the peaches well and pat them dry.

lemons

Remove the peel from the lemon and cut into thick slices.

ready-to-sit

Place all the ingredients in an air tight jar and leave to infuse for 6 – 8 weeks, shaking every few days to dissolve the sugar.

2-weeks

NOTE: After about two weeks the liquid turns a lovely pink color.

After 6 – 8 weeks, strain the liquid through cheesecloth or coffee filter lined sieve. Refrigerate. Enjoy!

 

Mini Peach Pies

Baked

Ah, New Year’s Eve … the time to renew one’s self, make virtuous resolutions to ourselves regarding health and wealth and family, look forward to a bright shiny year with hope, promise and anticipation.

I am fortunate enough to have had the one thing I wanted to accomplish this past year come into being … but for the most part, let’s face it, all our good intentions on New Year’s Eve, while giddy with champagne, fall by the wayside before that little cherub comes along with his bow and arrow.

So, for this year, I plan to love more, live better, be kinder to those around me, and take it easier on myself. I can accomplish any goal I set my mind to, but I do need to learn to take it easier on myself when that goal doesn’t come to fruition instantly.

I learned that the hard way this past year. Moving to Maine was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. I cried and screamed and fell to pieces, but with the help and support of friends I made it through the long dark tunnel to a bright future waiting on the other side.

As I sit here on New Year’s Day, freezing, looking out the window at our beautiful snow covered landscape, I realize I am much stronger than I ever gave myself credit for … and with love anything can be accomplished.

Perhaps that should be the resolution first and foremost on everyone’s list. LOVE. Love your friends and family, love those who may not always deserve it (they need it the most), but most importantly love yourself, take it easy on yourself, with that small word, everything is possible.

Enough mush.

It’s cold and blustery and the snow is still here (as if a fairy were going to come along and make it 40 and melt the stuff HA!), but it’s New Year’s Eve and sinner should be special. I’m not quite sure why. It would seem that dinner on New Year’s Day, that first meal on the first day of a new year should be the special one. A special meal on the last day of the year is sort of like a man’s last meal before the gas chamber.

I get sidetracked so easily!

Steak and baked potatoes, salad … pretty simple. So dessert had to be something special.

There are still peaches in the freezer … hmmm … I saw Mini Peach Pies one day over at Dessert for Two and have had it bookmarked for quite some time. With temperatures hovering at 0 and only expected to get colder, what was better than a little bite of summer?

Happy New Year, my friends! I hope 2014 brings you happiness and health.

Makes 4 small pies in regular muffin cups, or 2 pies in Texas-sized muffin cups

For the pie crust:

  • 2 1/2 T unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 T fresh lard (or solid vegetable shortening)
  • 1/2 C + 2 T flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 1/4 t sugar
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2-3 T cold water

NOTE: I cheated. I just couldn’t face making pie crust. Pillsbury pie crust, you are my savior! I used a biscuit cutter a bit bigger than the cupcake mold.

For the filling:

  • 1 medium ripe peach
  • 1/4 t apple pie spice
  • 2 t sugar
  • 1 t cornstarch
  • milk for brushing on top
  • coarse sugar for dusting on top (optional)

NOTE: And this is where my having prepped a bunch of our peaches for the freezer comes in handy! I took a handful of slices (I figured about 10 for a medium peach) out of the freezer, let them thaw, and carried on with this recipe.

Peaches

First, make the crust: place the butter and fresh lard onto a plate, dice it into small pieces, then place it in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together all remaining pie crust ingredients (except the water). Once 10 minutes has elapsed, add the slightly frozen butter and lard to the flour mixture and cut it in until it is the size of grains of rice. Use a pastry cutter or two butter knives.

Next, add 2 tablespoons of the water and press it into the dough with a spatula, turning and smashing it in to the dough. Add extra water if it’s not coming together or appears too crumbly. Dump the mixture on a piece of plastic wrap, shape it into a disc, then store it in the fridge for 20 minutes to let it rest.

While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 375° and peel and dice the peach. In a small bowl, stir together the peach with the apple pie spice, sugar and cornstarch. Set aside.

After the dough has rested, flour a clean counter and roll it out to 1/4″ thickness.

If you’re using a standard muffin pan: use a 3″ round biscuit cutter to cut out 4 circles of dough, placing each one in the bottom of 4 muffin cups. Divide the peach mixture between all 4 cups. Then, use a 2″ round biscuit cutter to cut out 4 more circles of dough and place them on top of the peaches. Pinch together the bottom and top pieces of dough, then cut a slit in the top of each pie before brushing with milk and sprinkling with coarse sugar.

If you’re using Texas-sized muffin cups: use a 4″ round biscuit cutter for the bottom crusts and a 3″ cutter for the top crusts.

Crust

Bake for 30-33 minutes, or until the peach filling is bubbling and the bottom crust is golden brown (use the tip of a knife to peak). Let cool slightly before serving.

Freezing Peaches

Peaches

The peaches are multiplying. Really, they are. Every time I gaze through the window there seems to be more of them. I know it totally absurd to think that. But after a grueling anf frustrating lovely day of making peach pie filling for the freezer, I could not face another day of submerging peaches in boiling water, dunking them into an ice bath and then PEELING them. Standing there for hours, sticky with peach juice on every exposed bit of skin and my clothes, hair, counters, floor, various and sundry people, all covered in peaches and bits of peach skin and flesh. OH.THE.HORROR! I would have begun to throw these beauties out the door (when no one was looking, of course) for the critters to munch on or throw them onto the compost pile!

But, the question still remained, NOW WHAT? I’d like to make a cobbler … down the road. Kids would like smoothies … down the road. Perhaps peach ice cream, or in a cake, or mini peach pies, oh, and peach salsa … the possibilities are endless. BUT NOT TODAY!

I could FREEZE them! But how.

If you just slice them and freeze them, you end up with a gigantic peach pop, all the slices frozen together and useless. Most importantly, I don’t want to boil them or cook them. I don’t want to peel all of them now.

The solution was, slice them, a little sugar and lemon to keep them from turning color or to be too bruised from being in the freezer. We’ll see how this pans out.

  • 8 lbs ripe peaches, thoroughly washed [approx. 25 medium peaches]
  • approx. 1/2 C lemon juice [about 2-3 lemons]
  • approx. 1/2-2/3 C pure cane sugar

You will also need:

  • 1 or 2, 1 gallon freezer bags
  • baking sheets
  • parchment paper
  • 1 large bowl
  • pairing knife and cutting board

With a sharp paring knife, cut the peach all the way around. You want to hit the pit as you’re cutting. Hold each half of the peach and gently twist in opposite directions.

The peach should easily turn and separate with a gentle pull. If it doesn’t, you may not have cut deeply enough OR the peach is not ripe enough.

Slicing

The easiest way we found to cut the 1/2 of the peach with the pit still in it, is to make angled slices hitting the pit. Then, pluck each slice off. This is much easier then trying to dig out the pit. You can see my dear helper had the same thought!

In a large bowl, place the slices from 4-5 peaches, sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon of sugar and a good splash of lemon juice. It’s easier to toss them with the sugar and lemon if there isn’t an unwieldy amount of sliced peaches in the bowl.

Ready to freeze

On parchment paper lined baking sheet, line the slices up, so they are just shy of touching. Repeat all the steps until you’ve filled as many baking sheets as will fit in your freezer. For us, it was two at a time. so we repeated this a couple of times.

Set on a flat surface in your freezer and freeze until peach slices are hard.

Carefully, and quickly so they don’t thaw, remove the peaches from the parchment paper. Pack into freezer bags. I marked the date they went into the deep freeze on the bag.

Place the bags in your freezer! TA-DA!

Freezer Peach Pie Filling

Peaches

Peaches, peaches EVERYWHERE! Baskets of peaches! I love peaches, but there are only so many peaches 4 humans can consume, and heaven forbid a single one of these beauties goes to waste. It is an absolute joy to pick them (in my pajamas and wellies – oh, yes, quite the visual) from just outside the house.

But, seriously, you can only eat so many, make so much jam, make so many smoothies, and find you’re still left staring at a mound of peaches (you know, resembling the RCA dog – oh, too young for that reference, Google is a wonderful thing), scratching your head and wondering what to do with them all.

I gave it some thought, did a little research, wanting to freeze a couple of pies to have in the middle of the winter when the snow will be up to our tushies.  What’s better than a summery peach pie during the gloom of short, dark days?

This recipe is perfect. You freeze the pie filling in a pie tin so when once you’re ready to bake, all you have to do is plop it in pie dough and bake away!

Great to have had many hands on deck to help with this one!

  • 9 lbs fresh peaches
  • 2 t Fruit Fresh (fruit preservative)
  • 3 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/2 C quick-cooking tapioca, plus
  • 2 T quick-cooking tapioca
  • 1/4 C fresh lemon juice
  • 1 t salt
  • 4 aluminum foil, pie plates

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Scoring

Using a paring knife score the peaches with an X into the skins only.

Into boil

Carefully drop the peaches into the boiling water for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. I would tend to say, at least for this batch, it was over a minute. They may not have been quite ripe enough.

Into ice

Using a slotted spoon remove the peaches to a large bowl of ice water for 1 minute (the skins should slip off easily, if not place them back into the boiling water for 30 seconds).

Slice the peaches then put them into a large bowl; sprinkle with Fruit Fresh and sugar; toss to combine.

NOTE: Could not, could not, could not find any Fruit Fresh! And didn’t think of trying Wal-Mart until the pies were safely tucked away in the freezer. I added a little lemon juice with the sugar to keep them from turning color.

Filling

Stir in the tapioca, lemon juice and salt and mix well to combine.

Ready to freeze

Line 4 foil pie plates with heavy foil or freezer paper, placing a piece of plastic wrap over the foil.

Put 4-5 cups of peach filling into each pan, then loosely fold wrapping around the pie; freeze until firm.

When the filling is frozen solid remove from pans and wrap tightly, then return to freezer until ready to use.

NOTE: This seemed to take a ridiculous time to freeze. Be patient. You really want the filling frozen solid. I also wrapped the filling in a few layers of plastic wrap and then slipped them into a 1 gallon freezer bag.

NOTE NOTE: I’ll post on baking day to let you know how this turned out. Perhaps even a photo of the happy people munching on the pie. But in case you need to know NOW what the next step is, see below!

FOR BAKING DAY

2 (9 inch) pie crusts
4 T cold butter, cut into pieces
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg

For each pie, place one frozen pie filling in an unbaked 9-inch pie shell. Top with butter pieces (1/4-cup) and sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Top the pie with second pie crust; seal well, then flute as desired.

Bake for about 50-60 minutes in a 375 degree oven.