Peach Butter

Summer is fleeting and always fills up too quickly with plans. Do you notice that? I’ve had very few weekends since June without some kind of something going on. I’ve loved every planned, filled and busy minute, really. And I know that this summer has probably been extra busy because Michael is moving at the end of it all. We’re cramming. Aside from all that, the moments that stick out the most for me have been the quiet ones, unplanned or regular and weekly. I guess I’m a girl who likes routine and the familiar.

One of my best friends and I laid on her apartment floor shivering in the air conditioning, eating Mediterranean food and talking about everything and nothing. (Do you remember what you and your best friends talked about before you talked about everything and nothing? Before conversation just came and went? I don’t. It’s just always been this way for me. My BFFs have been around for lifetimes.)

I spent an entire quiet afternoon and evening in the kitchen, watching transformations happen with just Mira and my iPod for company.

homemade mozzarella cheese started as milk!

I lounge in bed with Mira and Lola on weekend mornings for at least half an hour before getting up.

Mom and I go to yoga twice a week. Mother daughter relaxation detoxification time.

Saturday is farmer’s market day. We started this last summer…getting up, riding our bikes to Broad Ripple High School, and shopping. Well, I shop, wander from stand to stand, gush over tomatoes and berries, and Michael follows along, agreeing that we could have sweet corn for dinner this week. I love moving through the dogs and people, selecting fruits that we sometimes can’t wait to eat til we get home.

This summer we’ve also been frequenting a particular ice pop stand, Nicey Treat. Avocado, pineapple-basil, mango-ginger, key lime pie…perfect on a hot day.

I can judge the passing of summer by the fruits at the farmers market. Strawberries mean the beginning of summer, but they go quickly. Raspberries mean summer is in full swing, but you can’t expect them to hang around too long either. Blueberries and blackberries show up at the same time and stay for awhile. But peaches, they’re my favorite, and thank goodness that they come with the strawberries practically and stay all summer long.

When peaches made their first appearance at the market, I bought an obscene amount. I kind of went crazy. In fact I’m pretty sure the girl thought I was nuts. Good thing I bought that many though. We ate a few fresh and right away. This summer marks Michael’s first experience with a fresh peach. He’s finally living for real. The rest of the peaches I promptly turned into peach butter.

Peach butter is magical. It’ll create those perfect routine and quite summer moments for you. How can it not? It’s peachy, sunny, barely sweetened, and so easy. Peaches, a bit of sugar, a squeeze of lemon juice, a pinch of ginger in a pot. I could easily go through an entire batch in a few weeks, but I try to savor the stuff. I’ve even gotten into canning, and make a few jars to last me through the winter.

Canning isn’t hard. I cross my heart. Promise. I’ll tell you how to do it. Actually Deb of Smitten Kitchen will tell you how to do it, but I’ll put it here on my site so you don’t have to click around and around the web.

I love these labels!

So please, make some peach butter, enjoy a quiet summer moment with it spread on toast, a biscuit, pancakes or right from the jar. Then get back to cliff jumping, road tripping, and concert going!

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Day 7 – Peachy Coconut Cookies

Just looking at the name of these cookies makes me think SUMMER SUMMER SUMMER! I almost cried when I spotted peaches on the list of produce I could get in my grocery bin last week. Peaches mean summer is here! Another hint may be the 90+ degree weather we’re having.

Anyway, my first instinct was to make a blueberry-peach pie. But Michael is out of town this week and I didn’t want him to miss out on one of my favorite pies. Plus the blueberries may have jumped into a few breakfast smoothies. It’s like they wanted me to do something healthy with them, the buggers.

About a month ago I marked a peach sugar cookie recipe on A Beautiful Mess. The cookies photographed were decorated so gorgeously with pastel-colored coconut that I couldn’t resist. But alas, no peaches yet for me. Until day 7 of Creative Fun Month!

Conveniently enough, today is a co-worker’s birthday. So I settled into the kitchen last night with Joy the Baker’s latest podcast and a beer. And so a mouthful of summertime prettiness was created!

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Chilly Fruity Soup

I’m officially cooking on a budget. Welcome to the saddest grocery trips ever. But I’m doing well so far. It takes focus and willpower and math. At the grocery tonight, I had $24 in my wallet to spend. I kept a running total as I added items to my basket. When I got to the dairy section I didn’t have enough for heavy cream. So, no heavy cream.

Good thing sweet and wonderful fruit is super cheap during the summer. And very good thing my friend Marian sent me this summer fruit soup last month. It’s from Mark Bittman originally. I love how easy it is, how much it makes (talk about leftovers!!), and how deep the flavors are.

mmm fruity soup

Plus, with the intense heat that’s been suffocating us lately, this doesn’t steam up your kitchen, and won’t steam up your body. Though maybe a steamy body is what you’re looking for…

I didn’t stick with all the fruits in the recipe Marian sent me. I just kinda went with what I have. But I’ll note in parentheses the original fruits just in case you’re wondering! No matter what fruit you use, make sure it’s ripe but not squishy. Continue reading

Ginger Peach Muffins

Sometime between Thursday at 3pm and Monday at 12pm I have to customize my Farm Fresh Delivery bin. This means I get to fill my bin with as many of the fruits and vegetables available that week as I can for f$25, and then go virtual grocery shopping and add things like fresh, local pasta, local coffee and mustard, farm fresh eggs, and organic soy milk. If I forget to customize my bin, Farm Fresh delivers my standing order – the grocery items I’ve designated to be automatically delivered every week and the produce they automatically select to go in bins. This is not a bad thing, but sometimes, like last week when I forgot to customize, I end up with four peaches and four apples. Too much fruit for me to consume.

only sad pic I got because lighting at 9pm in my kitchen sucks balls

After eating peaches in my oatmeal for a few mornings, I decided to stick the rest of the peaches into a baked good of some sort. Ginger peach muffins to the rescue!

I hate the way fresh ginger smells. Kind of like cleaning solution. So I don’t really cook with it too much, which is a real mistake I think. Turns out ginger pairs amazingly with peaches. I also hate grating anything, so grating fresh ginger for this recipe was  chore, but a chore well worth it. I think my favorite part about these muffins is the nice, buttery smell of the peaches on the tops.

This was also my first attempt at baking with agave nectar instead of sugar. I think it went well. The general rule to subbing agave for sugar seems to be use 2/3 – 3/4 the amount of sugar in your recipe and reduce any liquids (milk, water, soymilk, etc.) by 1/4 – 1/3. Also, drop your baking temperature by 25°.

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North Carolina feasting

Last weekend I went to North Carolina. Oh yeah, I already told you that. I’m obsessed with North Carolina, particularly the mountains. Hm, told you that already too. Oh well, it’s good to reiterate the important things. I drove down to Tryon, NC, this magical little horsey community just almost tipping into South Carolina. Ivey, one of my best friends Bette’s mom, has a house there. The front porch looks west towards the mountains and sunsets. There’s a three stall barn next to the house where Bette’s retired horse Johnny, Ivey’s superstar Joseph, and her newest addition Gus, live.

Renée picks tomatoes for gazpacho

And this summer, Ivey’s planted a little garden filled with okra, tomatoes, basil, and marigolds, too.We spent many of our days off from camp at this house. It’s like my summer retreat. I love it. So I could hardly wait to spend four days there with Bette and Renée, a fellow Green Cove counselor, and Bette’s friend Jennifer. (There was a fifth girl, but I’d prefer not to mention her as she put a big fat blotch on the weekend.)

We rode ponies, went to Bele Chere, visited camp (where I got to hug Lee, the riding head, and my summer momma), and cooked so much good food.

I’ll go in the order we cooked these items.

blackberry peach pie

1. Porch Swings, our beverage of choice. Pimms (a tradition for us in Tryon), gin, cucumbers, 7Up, and lemons.

2. Gazpacho. Tomatoes from the garden, cucumbers, avocado, spices, jalapeños, green peppers.

3. Blackberry-Peach pie. Peaches and blackberries in a buttery crust. Oh and a little vodka.

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