Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Peach Vanilla Preserves

So, the peaches. Peaches as far as the eyes can see.

What to do with that many?

Well, one of the things that I decided to try was peach preserves. I have made strawberry freezer jam, but never preserves and never with peaches. Here we go!


5 pounds of ripe peaches (I put them into a container and weighed them on the bathroom scale- I have no idea how many peaches would total 5 pounds and I do not have a kitchen scale).

3 1/2 cups of granulated sugar

1/4 cup of lemon juice (fresh)

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla  


Wash peaches and then cut an X in the bottom of each peach.

Place peaches in boiling water for approximately 45 seconds, then immediately place them in an ice bath to stop them from cooking.

The skins will pull right off  (if they are ripe). Remove the skin, pit and cut the peaches into 1/8ths, or so. Combine the peaches, sugar and lemon. Cover the container and place in refrigerator overnight.

In a large sauce pan or stock pot (the stock pot is usually a better choice since sugar can and does boil over), bring the sugar-peach mixture to a simmer, skimming the foam from the top. Continue to stir occasionally for the next 20 minutes or so. Remove the pot from heat and stir in the vanilla.

Fill the prepped containers with the preserves leaving approximately 1/8 inch of space from the top. Place the seal and tighten the rim, but do not over tighten. Wipe down the rims and seals.

Place the sealed cans in the hot water (BUT NOT BOILING- you don't want to break the cans) making sure that they do not touch or tip over. The containers need to be immersed in the water (check that the containers are covered with about 2 inches water). Cover the pot with a lid and bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, process the containers for 5 minutes.

Remove the containers from the boiling water and place on wire rack to cool for 24 hours. Once cool, check the container seal by pressing on it to make certain there is no give. If it pops back up, it didn't seal properly and you should place it in the refrigerator and consume it with in a month. The other properly processed containers can be shelved for up to a year in a cool dark place.

I had some left over preserves that didn't fit in my larger jars, so I reserved that for a little taste test. I found the preserves tasty and I hope you do as well!

Next up canned peaches.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Some Thing Blue (Making Jewelry)

While out with one of my dear friends scouring the streets of the fashion district for a ribbon shop, we came across Bead World. The draw of the word bead was enough for me to suggest entry into a world of beads of various shapes and sizes, all begging for a home. Glass beads, wooden beads, beads of clay, bone, metal, etc. adorned little squared containers creating a kaleidoscope of colors and textures.

While perusing the wares, I came across a lovely blue flower shaped bead. For $2.80, how could I pass it up? After deciding to buy the bead I looked helplessly at my friend, a seasoned jewelry maker, as to how to proceed. What do I need next? She effortlessly whirled me around the store showing me clasps, chains, spacers, etc. After hemming and hawing, I made my selections under her watchful eye- making sure I had everything I needed to commence my first jewelry making endeavor.

Once back home, I spilled my bag of goodies onto a table excited get started on creating my first necklace. I snipped and bent very small pieces of metal into what appeared to be normal "necklace" shapes, or at least ones that looked similar to the other necklaces I used check my work.

The most difficult part was attaching the clasp. I was warned that jewelry making takes a steady hand and patience. I would have to agree. I fussed with the chain and clasp hoping that it would miraculously form the loop that is was supposed to create, and the slight chain would not escape, once again, from the silver ring. Finally the loop lined up and sealed itself giving form to the pieces making up the necklace.

The final product is one that I will be happy to wear as the little flower will remind me of my wonderful and helpful friend, a nice getaway and a fun new project gone right.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Peach Time

Being that peach season is nearing its close, I made my trek to Michigan for some of the lovely fruit. This year I decided a camping trip was necessary to add to my journey. Sitting around a camp fire as a light evening chill falls upon me, watching the flames dance as they do. Too bad I forgot my vegan marshmallows! Oh well, next time.

My favorite picking place is in Sodus, MI. It is a nice drive up to Sodus- living in a city it is easy to forget how nice the countryside can be.

After picking a 1/2 bushel of peaches, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to stop at the various wineries in the area. One of the staple go-tos is Round Barn. They were having their harvest festival with music and such to celebrate another good year.

I am not a fan of Michigan's red wines, however, its white wines are quite pleasant. I think it has something to do with the temperature in Michigan. It feels like Germany and I have yet to find a good German red, but the whites are lovely. The Kerners, Gewurztraminers, Rieslings, Traminettes, oh my!
Then again, what do I know about grapes? I have yet to add vigneron to my list of things to try. I think I will stay on the tasting side rather than the growing side for now. Cheers!

At the end of the day, daydreaming of what to do with all of my peaches, I headed back home. Peach jam... canned peaches... peach pie... so many options!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Training It (A poem)

Step into the steel coffin bidding farewell to the light of day
Metallic teeth clamp tightly around fearing your escape
Moments pass and time stands still
Slowly swallowed deeper and deeper into its cavernous self
And, finally, the first level of hell

Voices of those who came before flutter around,
adhering to your already clammy skin
Broken time machines force you into queues,
questioning everything

When passing through Hades’ gates a fine must be paid
The gate keeper, with his vigilant eye,
tucked safely behind his oracle glass peers out at nothingness

Down deeper and deeper,
the temperature rises higher and higher with the smell of decay and loneliness fresh in your nostrils

Other lost souls surround you,
but remain unaware of the existence of god,
each in his own separate hell
You shed the limply fluttered voices with the roll of sweat down your back
Instead, you are covered in the worries of others and the worries of your own,
some converging, some alone

Booming voices commence
demanding respect, a response, anything,
from the lost souls, the gatekeeper, anyone
Again time passes, lined up like cattle for slaughter,
when will your number be called?

A rush, whirlwind of dust, more voices, ordering the cattle herd on
Hades intestinal snake slithers you through its dark cavities,
lulling you
Taking the herd further and further from sanity with its chortled vibrations contently
devouring all

Heat almost unbearable consumes even the most frigid of hearts
The sweat,
eyes darting anywhere but home,
touching anonymity
Time honored panic bubbling up
each knowing the journey may last for infinity

And then it stops
And then the gate opens
Released back into the sun and the rain
Free again, you smile along with the other souls, but only to yourself.

(J. Smith, copyright 2011)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

This Year's Glenwood Ave Arts Fest In Visual Review

Scarlet Mountain
Another fantastic year of...


B1g T1me

B1g T1me

 and more music,


 and artists,

Deals Gone Bad

 and more music,

and dancing,

Deals Gone Bad

and more music,

and hula hooping,

and more art.

Always an enjoyable festival!