As a kid I would spend hours watching my godfather slice peaches. He would use his pocket knife to make individual cuts, then eat each slice one by one. If I made myself obvious enough he would occasionally tease me then offer me a slice. Years later (2007) during my trip to Central America, I adopted the ways of that wise man and bought myself a pink pocket knife, interesting story in itself… “no i’m not looking for a knife to stab someone”. I bring up this story because while I was waiting for my stuff to arrive after the move to NC, all I had for cutting was my handy pocket knife. After these nectarines arrived, an entire week went by as I was cutting nectarines, onions, and other fresh fruit and veggies without any kitchen utensils. Thanks to a video tutorial from Mr. Texas I even learned how to open a can with a pocket knife… yes, I almost lost a finger.
So nectarines… this was actually my first time working with nectarines for the blog. I’ve always been quite partial to peaches over other stone fruit as I felt they offered the most juiciness per fruit. Alas, the people over at Washington State Fruit Commission and Sweet Preservation surprised me again. Brainstorming with flavors I thought, “what would go nicely on a salad with nectarines?” First I was thinking marmalade, then I opted for grapefruit juice preserves. Grapefruit and mint (?), awesome. Inspiration for this recipe came from the Local Kitchen blog, with an easy adaptation: I swapped out the watermelon for grapefruit juice. The result: sweet and tart, deep orange in color nectarine, grapefruit, and mint preserves. Tasty, simple, and perfect for your summer morning toast.
Also known as “lady fingers”, okra has always been a bit of a mystery to me. The texture, the sliminess, the odd shape? The first time I actually enjoyed eating okra was at an Indian restaurant in Ithaca, NY. Bhindi Masala. Yum! A few things I and maybe you didn’t know about okra: (1) it may/or may not (depending on your peer reviewed sources) provide some benefits for those with diabetes. “Okra has been used in some traditional cultures for generations to help stabilize blood sugar levels.” Curious… That being said, all the modern studies where the theory was tested on rodents used okra powder/seeds or soaked okra in water. Okra water? Eww. Ok, for another fun okra fact, (2) “in Louisiana, the Créoles learned from slaves the use of okra (gumbo) to thicken soups and it is now an essential in Créole Gumbo.”
Walking around the Durham Farmers’ Market it is evident that the peak season for okra in central North Carolina is right now. Every farmer and their neighbor is peddling lady fingers as of late. Last Saturday morning I gave in to the beautiful mixed display of green and red okra harvested from Ever Laughter Farm located nearby in Hillsborough, NC. The best thing about a mixture is the pretty purple brine the okra produces.
Stone fruit for dayzzz! Ever feel up to your ears in fruit? The feeling where you have so much goodness to preserve with so little time and space? Add the lack of canning supplies to that feeling and you get my peach stress situation. The day after I moved to NC I received my second shipment of stone fruit from the Washington State Fruit Commission and Sweet Preservation as part of their Canbassador program. Awesome, right? Well, kinda yes, and kinda no… As my canning supplies were stuck in moving limbo with the rest of my furniture in MA, meanwhile these poor peaches sat patiently waiting in my fridge. Luckily, my stuff arrived safe and sound (mostly) and I was able to put up these beauties in jars.
With little time to get creative I borrowed this recipe from Kaela over at the Local Kitchen blog. Yum! The taste, the color, and the aroma of this jam is amazing. Perusing the Durham Farmer’s Market last Wednesday I picked up a couple canning ingredients including red onions from Four Leaf Farm from Rougemont, NC. The basil came right from my front yard garden. A sweet and savory jam that I suggest pairing with cheese & crackers.
Hello! YES, I’m still alive, NO, the south hasn’t devoured me (yet), and YES I still love pickles. It’s be a whirlwind of a month, and I know, I know, I haven’t posted in a while. She says with her tail between her legs… While my pickling intentions have been strong, all my canning supplies are still with the movers (ugh). Even worse (double ugh), I have a huge bounty of fresh peaches and nectarines in my fridge that are just waiting to be jammed!
So just to give you a little update on what’s been happening with this pickle lady: I recently landed a new job working for the Environmental Protection Agency in Durham, NC. I officially start next Monday! After the epic road trip south in my beast of an unreliable car (we made it), I arrived in Durham on the 2nd to my amazing new tiny home, it’s called The Lil’ House. The trip was stressful, and the car overheated a number of times… but, along the way I passed through the tiny pickle mecca of Dillsburg, PA. Who knew a place of such magic and dill wonder existed?! Thank you Road Side America…
I call this my “happy 4th of July jam”. I get that today isn’t the 4th of July, but I made this Jam on the 4th, so that counts for something, right? If you recall from last summer, I’m pretty pumped about pick your own (PYO). My experience thus far in picking my own fruits and veggies is limited to apples, blueberries, raspberries, kale, herbs, and cauliflower. Picking your own veggies is so much cheaper and so much more fun. With the narrow picking window for strawberries, I had to get on it, as I’ve never picked strawberries nor made a strawberry jam before. Also, blueberry picking season just started!!
So what is it about picking my own? For me, it has to do with many things: saving money, keeping it local, helping out the smaller farms, etc. The one thing that I love the most though is the meditative aspect of it. Bare feet and a short skort I was looking for only the best berries at Applecrest Farm Orchards last week. The greatest feeling ever… Too small, too tart, too yellow… not for my jam.
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