puttin' up peaches

Preserving peaches can be a bit of a pain mainly because you have to peel every. single. peach. But in the end, it's totally worth it. Rather than stick with a traditional heavy syrup, I went for a less-sugary version infused with aromatic vanilla beans. I'm most excited about pulling a jar off my shelf in mid-December and re-visiting their sweetness.
Big thanks to Arounna for giving me that beautiful Weck jar in the front!

makes 5 pints
4 lbs freestone peaches
1 lemon, sliced
2 C sugar
5 C water
2 vanilla beans, split and each cut in thirds

1. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Fill another large bowl with cold water and lemon slices.

2. Peel the peaches by dropping 4 at a time into a pot of boiling water for about 1 minute. Remove peaches with a slotted spoon and dunk them into the ice bath. The skins should slide off easily. Once peeled, slice into quarters and put them into the lemon water.

3. In a pot combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil.

4. Tightly pack peach quarters into sterilized mason jars. Top peaches with hot syrup leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Slip a vanilla bean piece into each jar. Screw on lids.

5. Process jars in a pot of boiling water for 20 minutes.


some new old things

I did a bit of antiquing over the weekend and found some great stuff.
I've been looking for some vintage pyrex mixing bowls for a while now, but it was proving difficult finding a set that was in good shape. When I spotted these I knew they had to be mine. 
I couldn't pass up this old pop crate. I plan on hanging it vertically and using it as a small shelf. I should have grabbed two.
I bought this little enamelware soap dish because I thought it would look nice in a cottage bathroom or kitchen. I don't have a cottage (yet), but I like to plan ahead. 


peach hand pies

I love peach pie and these little hand pies are a smaller, portable version. They're best served warm with a couple scoops of homemade vanilla bean ice cream.
I used this dough recipe (cut in half) and it made 6 hand pies. For the filling, I chopped up a couple ripe peaches and added a bit of sugar and cornstarch. To get a golden crust, I brushed the tops with egg wash and a sprinkle of turbinado sugar.


more succulents

The different textures and shapes of these succulents are what makes me love them. It's exciting watching my collection grow. I may be turning into a crazy plant lady.


deep-fried at the cne

I played good host and took some family friends to the CNE over the weekend. I mainly agreed so that I could check out the food, especially the deep-fried items that have gotten a lot of press lately. Although I was slightly tempted to try a bunch of them (uh, deep-fried twix bar?), I only ate one: deep-fried butter. It sounds pretty gross and for $5 for 4, they were also pricey, but I had to do it. Verdict? Tasted like a pancake ball with some warm butter stuffed inside. It didn't seem like a lot of butter, I was kinda disappointed. 
Deep-fried butter 
Deep-fried butter innards


dinner for one

Solo dinners for me usually mean toast and eggs or crackers and cheese. But over the weekend, while Joe was in NYC, I decided to put together a couple semi-decent meals for myself. Sadly, I'm a creature of habit and my meals pretty much looked the same.
 instant Japanese Hiyashi Chuka cold noodles, too many dill pickles and a Rowe Farms striploin grilled medium-rare. I found that Stewart's cream soda at the back of the fridge. Classy.
* instant Japanese Hiyashi Chuka cold noodles (again), dill pickles (surprise), Japanese potato croquettes


buttermilk banana bread

I like my banana bread straight-up. No nuts. No chocolate. Nothing. 
Slathering each slice with creamy butter is a must though.
1 1/2 C flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 C salted butter, room temperature
3/4 C sugar
1/4 C brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 C buttermilk
2-3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 tsp vanilla

1. Sift flour, baking soda and baking powder together in a bowl. 

2. Cream butter and sugars until smooth. Add the egg and mix until incorporated. Mix in the bananas.

3. Fold in the buttermilk and flour, alternating between the two and ending with buttermilk. Do not over mix.

4. Pour into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 325 degrees for about an hour or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.


turning japanese

I've made Japanese food for the last three days. This wasn't really planned, but once I started, I just kept going with it. It began with crunchy chicken karaage (which I like to dunk in sriracha)...
...then there was tonkatsu...
 ...and last night Japanese curry...


roasted pistachio ice cream

I was supposed to be on an ice cream hiatus. Mostly because over the last month, I've consumed way too much of the stuff. But I just had to try one more flavour. My favourite: pistachio. Now the hiatus really begins. Sigh. 
You can find the recipe online here. I use tapioca starch rather than cornstarch and chill the base mixture overnight rather than use the ice bath.


onion strings

A new favourite side: steakhouse-style fried onion strings. Not really healthy, but so crunchy and good dunked in sriracha mayo.
To make these bad boys, simply soak thinly-sliced rings of vidalia onion in buttermilk for an hour, toss them in a mixture of flour seasoned with salt, shake off the excess and deep-fry until crisp and golden. 


where to go?

Joe and I are planning a short vacation next month, but are having trouble pinning down a location. I'm thinking New York, but there's also talk of Portland or maybe just renting a cottage. I tried to get inspired by looking at some past vacation pictures. 
* frites w/ mayo - Amsterdam
* various forms of encased meats at Hot Doug's - Chicago
           * macarons - Paris            * kaas souffle - Rotterdam                                                   (deep-fried Dutch cheese) 

All food pics because our travel plans usually centre around eating.                                 


buckeye state ice cream

More ice cream success using Jeni's cookbook. This time a peanut butter-based ice cream with specks of crunchy dark chocolate. I thought the combination would be too sweet for me, but using natural peanut butter instead of the sugar-loaded kind and dark chocolate rather than milk resulted in a perfectly balanced ice cream. 

2 C whole milk
1 tbsp + 1 tsp tapioca starch
3 tbsp) cream cheese 
1/2 C natural peanut butter 
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/4 C whipping cream
2/3 C sugar
2 tbsp corn syrup
2 tbsp honey
4 oz dark chocolate, chopped (I used Lindt 50% dark chocolate)

1. Mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the tapioca starch in a small bowl and set aside.

2. Whisk cream cheese, peanut butter, and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. 

3. Combine remaining milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, and honey in a pot and bring to a rolling boil on medium-high heat. Boil for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in cornstarch slurry.

4. Place the pot back on the heat and bring back to a boil and cook, stirring with a spatula, until slightly thickened (about 1 minute). 

5. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the peanut butter mixture until smooth. Place plastic wrap directly over the mixture to avoid a skin from forming and refrigerate until cold (the cookbook says to place the mixture in a freezer bag and submerge it in a bowl of ice water until chilled which would be faster, but I can be bothered to make ice cubes). 

6. Pour the chilled mixture into an ice cream maker and churn for about 30 minutes or until ice cream is thick and pulls away from the sides of the canister.

7. While the ice cream is churning, melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Set aside until cool, but still pourable.

8. When the ice cream is almost done, drizzle the melted chocolate through the opening of the ice cream maker and allow it to solidify and break up in the ice cream (about 2 minutes). 

9. Pour ice cream into a container and freeze for at least 4 hours or until firm.


lucky peach magazine

I finally received my first issue of David Chang's Lucky Peach magazine and it's all about ramen. I attempted to make ramen from scratch once (actually using Chang's recipe from the Momofuku cookbook) and the entire process took days. Not sure I'll be doing that again.


blueberry picking

We eat a lot of blueberries over here. It's our fruit of choice for morning smoothies so when blueberry season rolls around, Joe and I go on a mega picking spree. Last summer we picked and froze enough to last us well into 2011. Over the long weekend we dropped by The Blueberry Patch in Prince Edward County to re-stock our blueberry supply.