I ran home this afternoon with a brown paper bag filled with peaches to a fridge filled with blueberries (okay, not filled but containing blueberries). I had a few minutes, and wanted to put the fruits together into a baked something. It is too hot right now for me to bake a pie (my kitchen isn’t air-conditioned, and that makes for a wimpy crust, and lots of frustration), so I went for a cobbler.

It is important to peel peaches, and to do so, I dropped them into boiling water for 30 seconds (as per mother’s instructions!). The peels come off very easily after the quick blanch. Then I sliced the peaches and added the blueberries, sugar, a lot of butter and a squeeze of lime to the pans. I put the pans into the oven and let the fruit cook for about 20 minutes. While the fruit was cooking, I made a biscuit topping with cream, butter, flour, sour milk, etc. I topped the baking fruits with spoonfuls of biscuit batter and popped everything back in the oven to finish cooking.

The finished cobblers were really runny right after I took the out of the oven. I was taking them into town with me, and every curve, pothole, and stop sign made the juices come close to dripping out of the pans. I used pie pans, and I think that it would probably be better to use casserole pans to contain the juices.

After the cobblers sat for a while, the top crust soaked up a lot of the juice, and the desserts were a lovely balance of fruit, crust and juice.


My friend Mary has a sweet red plum tree. I stopped by this morning, and we rigged a ladder in the bed of her little cart thingy, and picked most of the ripe plums off the tree. Now to the preservation of these delicious morsels!

I decided to make two different batches of  jam to test different methods for pitting the plums. For the first batch, I placed the whole plums directly into the pot. I added a little water, and cooked them until the pits came away from the fruit. I put the entire mess into a food mill, and removed the pits and peels. It was a little bit too tricky to remove just the pits, so the peels went too. I would have preferred to leave the peels in though.

I cooked the resulting puree with sugar, and jarred it as usual. It was a bit thin, so I let it cook down for a while.

The jam has a bit of a sharp taste which I think is from cooking the fruit with the pits. There seems to be a bit of sourness surrounding the pits of plums, too, which carried across in this jam. It is good, but maybe not my favorite. Tomorrow I am going to make the second batch of jam, with pitted fruit this time!

I drove up to visit Swati in Minnesota last night. Just about the first thing we did Saturday morning was go and pick blueberries. We wanted to bake a pie, and figured that we should use what was fresh and pick-able.

We got to the berry patch around ten, and apparently it was a busy day, and we were late! Fortunately they found us a row to pick berries, and we got going. We noticed that there were more berries on the bushes to either side of us. After we finished our row, we went back to the house to ask for another one, and they said there weren’t any, and to look in our row for more berries…we took the opportunity to jump a few rows over and RAID.

We got a lot more berries that way, browsing the vacant rows.

When we got home, we promptly ate berries with cream. Then we baked a pie.

We ate pie for dessert, then for breakfast. With vanilla ice cream.


apricots in stages

June 29, 2010

Today I picked up apricots from my friend’s tree. I didn’t pick them off of the tree, but from the ground. Little apricots, that are a bit spotty, but absolutely delicious! They are abundant, like little quail sized easter eggs, all over..

I brought the little speckled fruits home, and sat on my porch to pit them. Today was a perfect day to sit outside. Sunny breezy, and only a few bugs…after the apricots were pitted I covered them in sugar and a little lemon juice.

The power went out, so I couldn’t finish making the jam, but it doesn’t hurt to have the fruit sit in sugar for a bit. A few hours later, I turned on the heat, cooked the apricots, washed my jars, and heated my water for a hot water bath. The usual steps for jam, with a kitchen full of sweet apricots.

The finished jam was thicker than I expected it to be, and some of the cute little spots on the skin still showed up. And I have already had a huge spoonful of jam in my yogurt!

black raspberries

June 28, 2010

Black raspberries remind me the most of my childhood. We would go out into the woods and fields and pick as many as we could. We would bring the berries home and my mom would help us make jam, pies, and crumbles. It would always be a few precious jars. Black raspberries are sometimes all over the place, but more often few and far between. And it is way too easy to eat the berries while you are out foraging…

My friend Bob took me to some really good spots in a field next to his house a few days ago and we picked and picked and picked. He has a good system for picking berries. Belt an empty milk jug with the top cut off around your waist, and have both hands free to pick, balance, and navigate through the undergrowth.

After picking the berries, I took them home and was way too busy for a few days to do anything other than eat a few here and there. This morning I got them out, sat on the porch, and sorted out the sticks and leaves.

Then I sugared the berries, and added a little lemon juice to make a batch of jam.

Black raspberries are incredibly dark, sweet and full of seeds, which I love. I made a simple jam, and bottled it to save mostly for my brother, who lives in the city.


For the dutch oven cookoff we made a whiskey sour cherry spoon bread. A not too sweet cake, rich with butter, and filled with fruit. Cherries soaked for a few days in whiskey and sugar.

We preheated the dutch oven, melted the butter, and then added the cake batter. Then we carefully spooned in the sour cherries.

Then lidded the dish, making sure not to get any ashes in the cake, and set it aside to cook.

We whipped cream with vanilla and powdered sugar to serve with the spoon bread.

A simple and satisfying dessert.

I have a jar of cherries on my porch. They are solar cooking in a broth of sugar and whiskey. I got sick of pitting all the cherries, and this recipe called for unpitted (and unwashed) cherries, whiskey, and sugar. I had all the ingredients, as well as a quart jar, so I made use of them.

To pick the cherries, which were on a huge tree, my friend Duncan helped me out. We backed his pickup truck under the tree (over the sidewalk) and placed an 8 foot ladder in the bed of the truck. I used a pail with a handle attached to my overalls so that I had both hands free for picking the cherries and balancing.

The cherries “cook” for a month, and are supposed to last up to two years.

I found the recipe (originally made with brandy) in a cookbook on preserving fruits and vegetables according to French tradition, without canning. I am not one hundred percent sure that I trust this method, and might not end up leaving them in the sun the whole time…not sure.