My Brother’s Kittens Update and Bruised Peaches

So Seth was able to contact the rescue people, and they gave him a trap, which she ignored last night because he had fed the hell out of her, but this morning he put some chicken in it, came back a bit later, and had captured her. She and her kittens are now crated upstairs in his house:

There are also FIVE kittens and not three. Seth reports that the mother is not, in fact, feral, and has had human contact because now that she and the kittens are safe, she has been coming up to Seth and letting him pet her. Seth is already in love and it would not surprise me if he keeps the momma and several of the kittens. His working philosophy is you don’t go out and get cats, you just keep the ones that show up to you. He’s been dying to have a cat around since Speak and Whisper both died, so we are hoping things work out with his dog Boghan.

He also has given them amazing names already- he has named them “white feet” and “grey feet” and “white stripe” as featured here:

OMG WOULD YOU LOOK AT THOSE PINK TOES!

At any rate, I was giving him shit about the names and he just said they were temporary, and we both agreed that my stupid ass would have named them Gary and Fred and Agnes and never been able to tell them apart, so maybe short term descriptive names are for the best.

In other news, I went to the strip district in Pittsburgh to get some things for my dad and to pick up some olive oil (It’s cheaper for me to drive 30 miles to pick up a gallon of imported olive oil at 25 bucks than it is for me to drive 5 miles and get half that in whatever shit Bertolli is passing off as olive oil), and on the way home I stopped by a farm and orchard I had never been to called Simmons Farm. I had no intention of buying anything but then discovered that they were basically GIVING away bruised peaches for 35 bucks a bushel. That’s an absurd price. So, of course I bought them.

When I got home I discovered that much to my surprise, what they were passing off as bruised peaches are really just mostly oddly shapen or ugly peaches. Some were misshapen, some had some bruises, many were smaller than average (so I assume those fell prematurely when they were picking other ones and they just threw them in the shitty peach bin), etc. All told, there were only about 20 peaches that had portions of them that were unusable. I carved those up and threw the bad parts over the fence for the deer that come by every night and put the good parts in an 8 qt cambro and refrigerated them until tomorrow, and I will make jam with them. When the others ripen, I will can them. I might try to dehydrate some, too, for snacking.

Send money to my paypal account and buy stock in mason jars, I have a problem. In all seriousness, though, 35 dollars for a bushel is just ridiculous. Prepared, that’s like 300 bucks worth of product, and my parents want some more, my sister will want some, etc. And I like the activity and the thought of saving all that money and using something that might have been thrown away.

*** Update ***

Speaking of bruised peaches, my friend had his dog Zero fixed, and the vet told him to ice his sack five times a day for 20 minutes. I’ve never had to do this so I have no idea if the vet was just messing with him, but it’s happening and this picture is equal parts sweet and hysterical:








In the Kitchen With John- Pickles and Sun Dried Tomatoes

Again, I am writing this basically for me so I have a refresher what I did for next year. If you see something I am doing wrong, correct me!

Easy day today- pickles and sun dried tomatoes. Sun dried tomatoes first. I actually started drying yesterday, and that was a mistake. I thought six hours would be enough, and it was not, so next year I am going to start first thing in the morning. I have a Nesco dehydrator I bought a few years back to make jerky and I never used it and it just languished in the basement, so I brought it up and used it. First step was to select big round beefsteak tomatoes so I could have thick, wide slices. I washed the tomatoes, and cut them in about 3/4 inch strips (and next time I may even do wider!) and placed them on the dehydrator- I set it at 135 degrees, let it go six hours, and it was not done, but I was ready for bed, so I put them in the fridge. Took them out first thing this morning, and let them go. I checked every hour or so near the end, and felt for any moisture, and on slices that had none, I took them out. Continue this until finished.

The next step is a quick vinegar bath.

Throw one in the red wine vinegar, flip it so both sides get wet, shake it off, and throw it into a container with olive oil on the bottom. As you add tomatoes, add oil to keep them covered until you are done. I threw in a little basil from the garden:

I’ll transfer these to glass containers when I am done making them this year. I should note that a lot of people get rid of the seeds and I do not know why. I don’t have diverticulitis so YOLO.

Pickles were easy, too.

Sterilize your jars in the canner with a splash of vinegar to keep from getting hard water spots. Dump all your cukes into the sink, and wash them thoroughly. While they are soaking, start making your pickling juice. I used a couple cups of distilled white vinegar, water, some pickling spices, some black peppercorns, some dried chilis, salt, and brought it to a boil on the stove.

While that was coming to a boil, I cut a tiny sliver off the ends of the pickles after washing them. I stuffed them into all the jars, poured the hot brine in, threw in a sprig of dill in each, put my lids and rings on, and gave them a 20 minute process. I did that for six of them. For two of them, I let the pickling brine cool to room temp, and then poured the juice in, put lids on them, and just put them in the fridge. I’ll eat those and they will stay crisper without cooking them. Pickles keep forever uncooked, but I just don’t have room in my fridge for eight quarts of pickles. The finished product:

I hadn’t planned to do more than 2 quarts, but I was at the farmers market at closing time and the lady just wanted to get rid of them so she gave me a peck for five bucks. Also, this is the first year I have had any success growing dill- it always flowers on me- the trick is to just keep it in the shade, so mine is growing in a planter on the front porch on a portion that gets only a couple hours of morning sun every day.

Easy day today- only about 90 minutes in the kitchen total.








And Done (For the Day)

21 qts of peaches, 11 qts of sauerkraut, 15 jars of jelly, and the two qts of stock Tammy made which we can now save for a special soup where it will really shine.

The peach jelly is really the wild card here- I have never made jelly before because I don’t much care for it (I like jams and preserves more). I used the right amounts of sugar and pectin, but it still seemed runny after canning. Hope it sets up or Tammy is going to be drinking a SHITLOAD of peach margaritas.

I’m tired and need to drink a gallon of water, so I will post the pics of the process tomorrow if I have time. I have a lot of work in the garden to do tomorrow.








In the Kitchen With John- Canning Peaches

Hey all, spent the morning canning peaches, and though I would write this up for both me and you. That way, if any of you want to give it a go, you can try what I have learned from my dad and from reading and watching videos, and also I will have this to read next year before I do it again so I don’t forget anything and ruin any product.

Obviously the first thing is to source your peaches. I got mine on Monday, and I placed them all stem side down on my counter to ripen.

They told me the name of the peach but I will be damned if I can remember. At any rate, the peaches are ripe, so today was the day or I would start to have spoilage and then get fruit flies I would NEVER BE ABLE TO GET RID OF. So I filled my canner with hot water and a little vinegar and started sterilizing jars, filled up my 24 qt stock pot halfway to scald the peaches, put all the rings and lids in a pot to bring to a simmer, created a simple syrup in another stock pot, cleared off my workspace, sharpened my knives, fill the sink with ice and water, and fill another large pot with cold water and an appropriate ratio of fruitfresh produce powder. Here’s a picture of the simple syrup:

I like a light simple syrup made with something other than sugar because these peaches are super sweet already, but a little sweetener helps round it out a bit. I also made more than I did the last time, because I really like drinking the ice cold syrup, and since it is no extra calories because I am not using sugar, I will fill the jars just a little bit less so I can enjoy that delicious peachy nectar.

So I have all four burners rocking, the sink is prepped, and now it is time to get down to business. Take every peach, and make a circular incision across the top of the peach in line with the natural seam of the peach. Then make another incision across the top to quarter the peach. It should look something like this:

When you have a bowl of them done, throw them in the not quite boiling water for a minute to scald them:

A lot of people wash their peaches before doing this, but I see no point- this can be accomplished at the same time as scalding. If that grosses you out, fine, wash your damned peaches first and don’t eat mine. As you can see, after a minute,the peaches change color a little and you see a lot of the fuzz come off.

This is a very important stage for quality control- CAREFULLY ladle them out into the ice bath. The peach is a delicate fruit to begin with, and you have made it mushy by near boiling it, so if you are rough you will lose a lot of fruit and have an ugly product. Go ahead and do this with a bunch of fruit, then go back to quartering and repeat the process until you have a sink full of chilled fruit:

You will read some people who will say you don’t have to have an ice bath and it is not important, I think that is nonsense. I didn’t use enough ice the last time, and my results were not as good as today. The ice bath immediately firms the peach back up and makes it easier to twist the fruit with your palms to get rid of the pit. If you just use water, it will not get the same level of firmness back and be a mushy mess to work with. The last time I stored ice from the freezer for a few days, and it just wasn’t enough, so this morning I went and got a 22lb of ice from the general store.

Pit all of the fruit, put it on the cutting board, and then get down to peeling and putting the fruit in the water bath with fruit fresh powder:

As you can see, I keep all the skins and just throw the pits back into the ice bath to deal with later. At this point, if you are doing a lot of fruit, every time the water bath fills up, fill a couple of your sterilized jars, move them aside and cover them with something (I use kitchen towels) so no fruit flies or anything else can get in them. This is also an important time to use your pairing knife to get rid of imperfections on the fruit slices (just throw them in with the peels- we’ll use it later). Just continue doing this until you have all your jars filled:

At this point, take your simple syrup off the burner (you can also turn off the boiling water for scalding- just look over the deck before you dump it because you don’t want to boil Steve who may be lounging below) and put it on a trivet. Slowly ladle the simple syrup into the jar, and fill it to the neck line. You don’t want to overfill. Do this for all of them. At this point, I put a little squeeze of lemon in each jar, and for half of them I put a teaspoon of good vanilla extract in half the jars. You can use an actual vanilla bean, but I am not spending that kind of money for something that is going to only marginally improve what is already amazing.

You then want to tap every jar on the counter and use a spatula to make sure there no air bubbles (there shouldn’t really be with the simple syrup in there) and then with a clean moist dish towel, gently wipe the lid of every jar. Grab your pot full of lids and rings, and use the magnet to put a lid on each one. Gently screw the ring on to hand tightness.

Place your jars in the water bath canner with an inch of water covering them, and bring it to a boil:

Once it comes to a boil, set a timer for thirty minutes. I’m not using the pressure cooker for these because there is no need to do so.

And that is that. While everything is rotating through the bath, I am packing the sauerkraut that I cleaned up (I’ll post that process later) and boiling down the peels for jelly:

DON’T THROW OUT YOUR PEELS!

*Obviously there are lots of ways to do this- this is how I am doing it. And no, you don’t have to be an insane crazy person and do this a bushel at a time. If you want less, just buy fewer peaches. I like doing it, though, like the price when you do it in bulk, and want to share with friends and family.








BABY BIRBS

I HAVE VERY EXCITING NEWS.

I went to water the ferns on the front porch and a momma bird flew out of one and I had not seen a bird in there all summer and I took the plant down looked and there was a nest and a baby hatchling. It is SUPER new as in no feathers so I am going to wait a week and maybe I will get some pics.

Also, I have not motivation to write about politics, but I did love Buttigieg last night pointing out something that needs to be said more often:

“It is time to stop worrying about what the Republicans will say. If we embrace a far-left agenda, they’re going to say we’re a bunch of crazy socialists. If we embrace a conservative agenda, you know what they’re going to do? They’re going to say we’re a bunch of crazy socialists,” Buttigieg said, earning applause from those in attendance.

Barack Obama, were he white, would have been a liberal Republican in many regards thirty years ago. And you saw how he was treated.