Saturday, August 21, 2010


Pears are wonderful, but like apples, they are a more fall-like (or near fall) fruit, that usually cannot be grown in Georgia.

But, someone new at work moved into a house with a HUGE pear tree, and the pears are ripe and falling off the tree. So, we went over and I got about a dozen good pears before the skys opened up to an enormous thunderstorm. So, this morning, I canned a half dozen pints of pears, in a syrup made with 4 cups of water, a cup of local honey, and a cup of granulated sugar.

They look pretty, and we will find out how good they taste soon.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Garden Planning and Books

The green beans have died. We're getting a bit of drought in Atlanta this year. The onions died from the summer heat, as they do, and it is August.

I picked up seeds to get a few things lasting through the fall.

On the docket once I do some weeding is: new beans (for a late crop or two - for canning), snow peas, beets, and broccoli, although I haven't had much luck yet.

I've been doing more reading on local living.

A new book just came out, called "Canning for a New Generation" From looking at it at Borders, it seems to have some interesting recipes that are better than most of them that are heavy sugar around a little fruit. I'm going to order it, and the author will be at the Decatur Book Festival. That is one of my favorite free festivals in Atlanta.

The book Plenty is a great read about a couple in British Columbia who decide to eat local for a year. In many ways, it launched a bunch of local food movements. Great read and many of the issues and challenges are universal throughout North America.

I am about halfway done with Farewell, My Subaru. This guy is a little crazy, but the challenges he is facing are interesting, and written in a very humorous demeanor.

Read the books, especially the last two. They really bring light to the thoughts of eating local and the challenges in today's world. Did you know that an average tomato travels 1500 miles to get to your plate. That is further than most people travel. Not to mention that most climates can grow tomatoes at least in the summer.

On one last note, why is it that the stores in Georgia (the Peach State), where the peaches taste the best and are currently in season, have decided to stock peaches from New Jersey, California, and South Carolina?

Muscadine Grapes are wonderful

For those of you that don't realize it, the southeastern US is a bit too hot to grow normal varieties of grapes. Only one variety really does well, the muscadine.

Many wineries have recently popped up throughout Georgia, where they grow mainly muscadines. The flavors of the wine tend to be a little sweeter, but usually taste pretty good. I found muscadines at the Dekalb Farmer's Market a week and a half ago marked 20% off, and with some family coming in town, I thought that I would include them on the traditional fruit tray. The family liked them and I did too, so I bought another bag this week.

I made grape jam with them, and it is amazing. I decided to try a version of a recipe that uses honey instead of sugar, as I thought that these sweeter grapes should take the center stage. Here's the recipe.

Muscadine Jam with Honey, a delicious Southern Jam.

1.5 pounds of muscadine grapes, de-stemmed and de-seeded.
1.5 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 c honey (Use that tupelo honey from Georgia for a great flavor)
1 package Sure Jell for reduced sugar recipes (probably could get by with less than this)

After removing stems and seeds from muscadines, puree them with a food processor. Bring to a simmer and then add the lemon juice, honey, and a dash of salt. Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute. Put in sterile jars and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Now, I am not one to say this often, but I honestly believe that this is the best grape jam ever made by a human. Seriously. My wife almost never likes jam on things and after I made her try a bite, she wanted more for her own piece of bread.

Peaches, take two

Whole Foods can be a great resource for local eating. Sometimes.

The problem is that they can also be renamed "Whole Paycheck". It isn't a sustainable grocery location for us.


Every now and then, they have a great sale, and when they do, you luck out.

Lane Orchards partnered and offered peaches at 49cents a pound.

I bout 13.3 pounds of peaches. I made 10 pints of canned peaches, which I will enjoy in the late fall through winter.

That filled the canner, and I still had about 5 pounds left. So...

I made a batch of peach conserves. Here's the recipe - and it is great over french toast made with a baguette, milk, and some local eggs.

Peach Conserves.

3-4 pounds of fresh, ripe peaches, skinned, sliced, and pitted.
1 cup of golden raisins (or if you prefer, regular raisins; or a mixture if you realize while making it you don't have enough golden raisins; oops)
1.25 cups sugar.
0.75 cups lemon juice
1.5 tbsp cinnamon

Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for about 40 minutes. When it thickens and has a more gel-like texture in the syrup and the peach slices are small.

Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Makes about 4-5 8-ounce jars.

Serve over french toast for a wonderful breakfast.

An entirely local dinner.

OK, been busy lately, and that means I forget or procrastinate on the blog. This was a few weeks ago.

Dinner was:

Fresh made bruschetta with heirloom tomatoes, and onions from the garden. A little sea salt, fresh basil and oregano, and garlic for seasoning.

That went on top of a baguette that was locally made (although not with local flour) at the Dekalb Farmer's Market. I also picked up fresh made pasta there.

On the side were summer squash that were breaded and baked and a homemade pesto made with that garden basil for the pasta.