Spirited Jam Session

 

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Who can resist an entire basket of fresh peaches for only $2.00? Not me! Husband immediately ordered up a peach crisp with the rest destined to be cooked into jam. First order of business is the peeling, pitting and slicing of the fruit. It is a days work, but very worth it. Sadly, peaches don’t peel themselves. To easily peel them they require a quick dip in boiling water and then a plunge into an ice water bath to loosen the skins.

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Now raise your hand if you have ever had the drink called a fuzzy navel? It’s a combination of Peachtree schnapps and orange juice. A sweet girly drink, served on the rocks, it was quite a popular libation soooo many decades ago. I happen to have a dusty (“cough cough” a very dusty) bottle of the schnapps in the back of the pantry and thought it just might mix well with the peaches in a jam. Amazing how liquor never goes bad and a spirited recipe comes to life. ❤

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Jam is pretty easy to make. Basically, all the ingredients into the pot, stirring and boiling until it is done. And it’s done when it passes the jell test. Place a few drops on an ice cold plate, wait about 10 seconds. Tilt the plate and make sure it doesn’t run, but stays in a bead form.

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not ready

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not ready

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READY!

Ladle it into sterilized jars and seal. Plunge the sealed jars back into a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Think about how good this will taste come fall and winter. A summer peach pick-me-up.

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Properly sealed jars will last for a year in the pantry.

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Spirited Peach Jam

4 pounds fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped (4 ½ cups after prep)

½ cup Peachtree schnapps

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 cups sugar

1/2 box (1.75 oz) Sure Jell Fruit Pectin for less sugar needed recipes

1-teaspoon butter

In medium saucepan, combine peaches, schnapps and lemon juice. Mix ¼ cup of the sugar with the pectin in a small bowl and then stir into the fruit. (Note: mixing the pectin with some of the sugar prevents clumping).  Add butter and bring mixture to a full rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly to avoid scorching on the bottom of the pan. Stir in remaining sugar and return to full rolling boil. Boil 1 minute and then test the jam for jelling. Ladle jam into prepared sterilized jars and seal as directed per Sure Jell instructions.

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Make plenty and enjoy. Happy 4th of July Week. I hope you are surrounded by those you love most. ❤

Fresh Picked Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

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Warm, but overcast, yesterday was the perfect day for strawberry picking with my family. Highland Farms in West Chester, PA is the place to go for all sorts of fruit picking throughout the year. The scent of strawberries was in the air as we approached the field.

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photo by Caitlin

Do your littles watch the show Daniel Tiger? Annabelle loves the animated Mr. Rodgers version and on one episode Daniel and his friends go “fruit-picking”. My Annabelle could not wait to try it. She ate as much as she picked and was covered in warm strawberry juice by the time we were done. Want to have some fun? Go pick some berries!

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photo by Caitlin

Fresh picked berries are at their peak of sweetness compared to the more tart berries found in the grocery store, so less sugar is needed for the perfect pie. Make sure your filling is really bubbling (see video below) before you pull it from the oven to insure all the juices gel and don’t leave a soupy mess when the pie is cut. If the crust edge is over-browning then cover it with a pie shield or foil.

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Find a pie dough recipe here. It’s my favorite go to recipe and enough for a double crust, so wrap and freeze half of it for another time or just bake two pies.

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best baking buddy ever

Fresh Picked Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Pie dough for a single crust pie

2 tablespoons gingersnap crumbs

Crisp Topping

½ cup all purpose flour

¼  cup brown sugar

¼ cup old fashioned rolled oats (not instant)

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

4 tablespoons salted butter, cut into cubes

Filling

4 cups of fresh picked strawberries, slice large ones in half

2 cups sliced (1/2-inch thick) fresh picked rhubarb

2 tablespons heavy cream

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon vanilla

½ cup sugar

¼ cup all purpose flour

Heat oven to 400F. Line 9-inch pie plate with dough. Trim and flute edge.  (Roll out dough scraps and cut shapes for decoration. Sprinkle shapes with sugar, if desired.)

Sprinkle cookie crumbs over bottom of pie shell and chill while preparing topping and filling. For topping: combine all ingredients in a bowl working the butter into the dry ingredients until clumps form. Chill it. For Filling: Place berries and rhubarb in a large bowl. Drizzle with heavy cream, lemon juice and vanilla; gently toss to coat. Add sugar and flour; toss again. Spoon into pie shell. Sprinkle crisp mixture over the top. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until pie is bubbling and crust and topping are golden brown. Let cool to room temperature or serve just slightly warm. 

 

 

Garden Fresh Fig Coffee Cake

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I never dreamed that I would ever be able to grow fresh figs until this move to southeast Pennsylvania. The climate here is warmer and the growing season longer. With a little winter protection my fig trees have thrived. As grocery produce goes they are a pricey commodity, so it’s a great example of why tending a small backyard garden is worth it. Here we are on the edge of November and these fresh figs are ripening fast and furious.

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Once picked figs don’t last long. They are quite perishable. We love them sliced and caramelized in butter with goat cheese and balsamic glaze, but we can only eat so many that way. Simmering a large pot of figs with honey and orange yielded two nice jars of jam. Still so many figs, so I baked a fresh fig cake recipe that I present today.

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This is a dense fruit cake filled with toasted pecans, chopped dates, dried cranberries and the fresh figs. It’s flavored with cardamom, citrus zest and a little orange liqueur. It is a moist cake that is delicious for breakfast topped with plain Greek yogurt or can be served as an elegant after dinner dessert topped with whipped cream.

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Garden Fresh Fig Cake

1 cup dried sweetened cranberries

1/2 cup pitted dates, quartered

2 tablespoons orange liqueur or orange juice

3 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups canola

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

3 eggs

1/2 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

1 cup chopped toasted pecans

 

12 ripe figs, quartered

Heat oven to 350F. Spray a coffee cake pan with no-stick baking spray. In small bowl, toss cranberries, dates and orange liqueur or juice; reserve. In medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt and cardamom; set aside. In large mixing bowl, beat sugar, oil and orange zest on high speed for 5 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla; blend well. With mixer on low speed gradually add flour mixture blending just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in pecans and reserved dried fruit mixture. Spread half the batter evenly over bottom of pan. Evenly space half the figs on the batter. Spread remaining batter over figs. Top with remaining figs. Bake for 70 to 80 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes. Invert onto a plate and then invert again on to a cooling rack. I prefer the fig side up.

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I prefer to flip this over and serve it fig side up