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.

 

Bread and Butter Pickles

Done

This falls under the posts I wasn’t able to do during computer-geddon.

So, what should we plant in our garden, says me.

Well, we need to have cucumbers. Ava loves cucumbers, says the Dear One.

Well, okie dokie, thinking to myself … I don’t really like cucumbers. Do we have to plant A LOT of them? Strike that … I like tzatziki. I like pickles. I like to use them in a sauce for salmon. I do like a little bit raw and in a salad. L-I-T-T-L-E bit.

In the cucumber plants go. Off goes the gardener (a/k/a the Dear One) to work in Russia for 3 weeks. And suddenly KA-BOOOOM it’s cucumber hell.

You know that neighbor you have or have heard about? The ones that leave zucchini on your doorstep and run away? Well, that was me! The cucumber monster.

Even with giving them away there were tons around. Now, the Dear One does not eat anything pickled … sigh. But I DO and he was away and I was bored and I needed something to do to entertain myself. (lotso justifying going’ on here)

And then I came across this recipe for Bread & Butter pickles over at Recipe Girl and realized I had this great cookbook Cooking Light’s Cooking Through the Seasons on my bookshelves. Ta da! I was set!

What I did do, though, being the only pickle person on the premises was ‘can’ them. Something I have wanted to try for quite some time, and there will be more of this following. My mother now refers to me as ‘my daughter, Laura Ingalls’.

I was a bit nervous about this canning process at first, but once I started it was off to the races. I didn’t can much this year. I much happier with things in the chest freezer we have. But now I’ve started this there are a host of things I have ready to try for next year!

To very loosely quote Bob Wiley (and if you don’t know the character or the movie … sigh) – I’m canning! I’m canning! I’m canning! I can! I’m a canner! I can!

I was surprised at how easy the pickle part of this project was. For some reason I had an entire saga that went on when you pickle something.

  • 5 1/2 C (1 1/2 pounds) thinly sliced pickling cucumbers
  • 1 1/2 T kosher salt
  • 1 C thinly sliced sweet onion
  • 1 C granulated white sugar
  • 1 C white vinegar
  • 1/2 C apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 C light brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 1/2 t mustard seeds
  • 1/2 t celery seeds
  • 1/8 t ground turmeric

Combine cucumbers and salt in a large, shallow bowl; cover and chill 1 1/2 hours. Move cucumbers into a colander and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Drain well, and return cucumbers to bowl. Add onion to the bowl.

NOTE: When you’re slicing the cucumbers, don’t slice them too thinly. You want them to have a bit of substance to them so they’ll hold up in the pickling liquid.

Add onions

Combine sugar and remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Pour hot vinegar mixture over cucumber mixture; let stand at room temperature 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate 24 hours. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 weeks or give them a hot water bath to seal the jars and they’ll store forever … for a very long time … until you’re ready to use them.

Pickled Peppers

If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, this would be the pickled peppers Peter Piper would pick!

Tommy is addicted to – YES, addicted to – pickled peppers on his sandwiches. He goes through at least a jar a week. That really adds up after a while!

I have been dying to try my hand at pickles, pickled beets, dilly beans, SOMETHING! I want to can and preserve and see jars lining my pantry shelves.

The problem? I AM A CHICKEN! What if I get too overwhelmed? What if the jars EXPLODE in the water bath? What if after the water bath the tops don’t vacuum close? What if, after all of this work and horrors, whatever I put up tastes YUCKY!?

This sort of stuff keeps me up nights.

And then I happened upon the wonderful blog Seasoned to Taste! What did she make? Pickled peppers! It was fate!  Come on, girl, put on your big girl pants and give it a try! What’s the worst that happens? They’re terrible and you throw them out!

So off I went  – I bought peppers. I bought jars. Shaking in my boots, I started –

  • 3 C sliced peppers
  • 3 C white vinegar
  • 1 C water
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed

 

NOTE: I used Italian frying peppers. And, although Seasoned to Taste used hot peppers, for my first try I decided to stay sweet.

Sanitize jars and lids. Once clean, remove without touching insides to cool on a clean towel.

NOTE: Okay. I am a canning dunce. I washed the jars and lids in my dishwasher – which doesn’t have a sanitize button, but does have a super hot wash and dry cycle. Also, I waited to begin the dishwasher until I was absolutely ready to start. I cut up the pepper first, started the wash, put the water up to boil for the water bath.

Set two large stainless steel (or non-aluminum) pots on the stove, one filled with enough water to submerge jars. Heat water-filled pot.

In second pot, combine vinegar, water and garlic. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and boil for 5 min. Discard garlic.

Pack peppers into sanitized jars and ladle hot pickling liquid in, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Tap to remove air bubbles, wipe rim. Center lid on jar and tighten.

NOTE: This centering and tightening had me completely a little nuts. Is the lid on straight? Wait, that rim feels crooked.  

Place jars in canning pot of water, bring to a boil, cover and process 10 min. Remove lid, wait 5 min. then remove jars and cool. Once cooled, you will feel that the seal has snapped shut. Store, or open and eat!

NOTE: I placed a dishcloth on the bottom of the pot so the jars wouldn’t clank around as much. Of course, I didn’t read the directions properly and put the jars in water already boiling! My second batch I re-read and slapped myself in the forehead and did it the right way! Now, my question is: “Remove lid and wait 5 minutes.”  Is that 5 minutes lid off, heat on or 5 minutes lid off, heat off? See why pickling drives me insane!?

I have now done this twice. Once totally sweet, the second with a hot chili involved. They’re sitting on a shelf. The boy walks by and stares at them. A few more days and he can have at ’em!

By the way, when you first take them out of the water, the lids are tight. Then suddenly they are loose! Then I go in a panic and walk away disgusted. Then I come back when the jars are much cooler and like magic the lids are tight and sealed!

Now, how easy was that? What were you all so worried about?