Summer Peach Salsa

After picking peaches over the weekend at Southern Belle Farm I’ve had to work quickly to get them put away before all my girls and sons-in-law arrive for the holiday weekend! Tammie came over yesterday and we used up a good portion of them making peach salsa.

I love a good fruit salsa and peaches make one of the best! Not only is it delicious on tortilla chips like any good salsa, it makes a scrumptious accompaniment to grilled pork, chicken and fish!  Then there is always the option of eating it straight from the jar like my son is prone to do.

He is actually hoping I pack a jar … or three in his next package headed to Camp Pendleton.

I usually preserve my salsa so we can enjoy it throughout the year, but the beauty of this recipe is you can half it if you choose and serve it up immediately with a delicious summer supper. Just refrigerate and it’ll keep a couple of weeks.

Not that it’ll last that long.

Canning the peach salsa is not that hard. All of the ingredients are fresh, easy to pronounce which makes it even better.

Gather together all the things you need before you begin so that you’re not scrambling around while scorching your salsa on the stove.

I used Ball jars to store the salsa. These can be found at just about any grocery store as well as Walmart. Canning supply lists can be extensive, but I stick to the basics for this recipe: jars with lids, funnel, tongs, 2 large stock pots (one for sterilizing the jars & one for cooking the salsa mixture), a ladle and a couple of towels.

For a few canning basics you can check out these canning tips from Martha Stewart.

If you want the freshest salsa hit up your local farmers market (you’ll also be supporting a local business), but you can also purchase your ingredients at the grocery store.

For this recipe all you need is peaches, red & green bell pepper, sweet and red onions, cilantro, jalapeños, garlic, cilantro, honey, vinegar, cumin and cayenne pepper. That’s it.

You’ll chop your peaches, dice your veggies and cook together until it comes to a boil.

Talking with Tami / Oh Fiddle Dee Dee

Next you’ll ladle the salsa into your prepared jars, wipe clean, seal and process in boiling water about 10 minutes. Allow to cool and make sure the jars have sealed.

Is it necessary to sterilize your jars? Yes. Absolutely. If you are preserving this for later use you do not want any bacteria to have an opportunity to build up. Two things will happen: one, your hard work will be wasted, & two, you may have a major mess as bacteria builds in a jar the pressure can cause a huge mess.

It may or may not have happened to me.

For the full detailed & printable recipe, click Peach Salsa

I hope you enjoy this little taste of summer! Let me know if you make the peach salsa and what you think!

Old-Fashioned Vanilla-Laced Blueberry Jam

Summer is passing quickly, but thanks to a little time in the kitchen we’ll be enjoying some of our favorite summer flavors well into winter!

Preserving food has nearly become a lost art as the busyness of life has consumed every aspect of our being, but there is something so simple about slowing down, diving into traditions of the past, and savoring simple flavors all year long.  Making jams and jellies, canning fresh veggies; these are things that remind me of my childhood and my mother spending hours a day all summer putting away fresh food we could enjoy all year long.  She still does this and I love being able to have that bit of her in myself, even if so many think it’s out-of-date or old-fashioned.

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I would much rather savor old-fashioned traditions with my family, than get lost in the sad hustle and bustle of this modern world.  Y’all, we all need a little old-fashioned goodness in our lives to keep us sane and connected to all the amazing women in our lives from generations before.

Recently, after spending an afternoon picking blueberries with Madeline at Washington Farm in Bogart, Georgia, I took the time to do more than just freeze berries for cobblers, pies, pancakes, and smoothies; I also whipped up a batch of scrumptiously rich vanilla laced blueberry jam.

There are a couple of ways to make jam, from the simple very few ingredient SureJell recipe (don’t knock it, it’s absolutely delicious), to spending just a little longer on your recipe and relying on the natural pectin in the fruit for the gelling process.  While not using pectin does take longer when making jam, the longer time is going bring really bring out the flavor of the blueberries and give you a richer tasting jam.

I’m sharing my four ingredient blueberry jam recipe today using the fresh sweet berries  we picked which were just right for this method.  All you need is sweet juicy blueberries, sugar, a whole vanilla bean, fresh lemon juice, and time to relax, pretending its a simpler time so many want to forget!

Making the jam is time consuming, but actually pretty easy.  Wash your berries using a colander so they will drain, picking out any bad ones. Transfer your drained berries to a large bowl. I use a potato masher, but you can use whatever to have to squish the berries and release their juices, then measure out the exact amount of berries you will need for the recipe and add to the stockpot you will be using to cook the jam.  This particular recipe calls for 10 cups. Add the sugar you’ve measured and toss together.  This will sit for a couple of hours.  During this time you can make sure you have all your jar sterilized and the equipment you need to preserve the jam ready to go.

After a couple of hours you will begin to cook the mixture on medium-high heat.  During this process you’ll slice open the vanilla bean and scrape it into the blueberry mixture, and throw the bean itself in as well! The cooking requires your full attention as the jam comes to a boil, so do not leave the stove and stir the pot continuously.  When it is cooked to the cosistancy you desire (anywhere from 30-45 minutes) add the lemon juice and finish cooking.

When you’ve made this delectible treat, bake up some fresh buscuits and dig in!  Youre not going to want to wait!  The complete recipe for my jam can be printed here by clicking Vanilla-Laced Blueberry Jam.

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What are your favorite things to preserve in the summer months?

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Celebrating Galentine’s Day

Do you remember filling out Valentine’s cards when you were little? You would go through the entire box to find the prettiest cards for your best friends, the least “lovey” card for the annoying boy next to you, and ask your mom to remind you again why you had to even give a card to the meanie who stole your special pencil right off your desk!?!

I think I just dated myself here….

Those were the good old days; the ones when how much you spent or who you were celebrating Valentine’s Day with didn’t matter. It was about friendship, camaraderie, and simple little things that have long passed as our lives grew complicated.

Now our lives are consumed with family, work, and oftentimes loneliness. As adults we’ve twisted what Valentine’s Day was all about and so many made it a day to hate instead of remembering what’s its for….… LOVE!

Not necessarily romantic love, but friendship …. Philia : an affectionate, platonic type of love that makes you crave friendship with someone. It doesn’t matter who you are, how old you are, or what stage you are in life, we all need Philia in our lives!

So what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than with brunch with a sweet girl friend?!

Galentine’s Day, as the social media world refers to it, is a day for celebrating those special friendships; the friends you would sort through the entire card box looking for the best one to give. It’s an intimate time to catch up on life’s hardships and beauties, laugh together, share a meal if you choose, and make a mess while making your own chocolate dipped strawberries!

Earlier this week I enjoyed having my sweet friend, as well as fellow blogger, Tammie (Talking With Tami ), over for a little Galentine’s Day brunch.

It was so relaxing as we made our own dessert together, and caught up on the projects, busyness and even stresses in our lives! We prayed together over our meal which just strengthens bonds with those around you.

It was so fun to set a themed table with the colors associated with Valentine’s Day, and pull together a super easy (but very filling) menu to let Tammie know how special she is and have her feel welcome in our home.

What was on the menu?

Mixed Fruit

A fresh salad with vinaigrette dressing

Quiche

and Chocolate dipped strawberries we made together

That’s it; simple and understated. Quiche is the quintessential brunch dish; you generally have many of the ingredients on hand. I’ll attach the full recipe for you, but you need to gather together eggs, fresh veggies (I used spinach, mushrooms, onion, garlic), bacon, heavy cream, cheese, and a pie crust.

Click here for my recipe for Simple Quiche

Believe it or not, quiche pairs well with a salad, and you can’t go wrong with fruit. I think so many times we get caught up in going BIG that we forget the simple things often speak the loudest. The purpose of celebrating girl friends is not to stress us out, but to foster friendship and build stronger relationships!

Take some time out to reconnect with the ladies in your life. Celebrate your uniqueness and embrace your differences! God puts people in our lives for a reason. Embrace them and treasure the simple moments, even when life tries to get in the way.

Happy Galentine’s Day y’all!

A Little Romance on Valentine’s Day

I have been a cheesy, hopeless romantic for as long as I can remember. This began when I was young and was fostered by the books I read, classic movies I watched, and creative writing in journals long gone. I adored the writings of the Bronte sisters, and the often tragic love stories of Shakespeare. I soaked up Lucy Maude Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables wishing for my own Gilbert Blythe, and dreamed of being Christy traveling to the Appalachian Mountains to teach school. Twenty-fours years with Audley and I’m still that same romantic.

Tulips from Mr. Jones … just because

It’s easy to keep romance in our relationship as I am married to a man who, while not as hopeless as I, romances me in his own sweet ways. During the years we’ve been together he has planned special dinners, brought home little gifts or flowers when I least expected it, and refused to take gift ideas from me or the kids because he wants to pick out that perfect birthday or Christmas present himself. Whatever it is, it’s always special because Audley thought of me. To be truthful though, it’s the little things that mean so much. He loves the cheesy dates I pull together, including the ones where we just stay in.

These are some of my favorite moments. There is nothing more cozy that being in your own space without the world and its crazy distractions closing in around you.

With Valentine’s Day just a couple of days away (and on a week day), we took the time over the weekend while Audley was off from work, for a little relaxation, quiet time, and “cheesy” romance. With a fire in the fireplace and a nontraditional snack, it was the perfect time for conversation and reconnecting. Being romantic is a way to savor each and every moment you and your spouse have together; enjoying the unique journey you are taking together. Romance is such a simple way to show affection, and is not as difficult as people would like for you to think it is.

For our romantic evening in, Audley built a cozy fire in the fireplace, we found a fabulous country station on Spotify playing a little George Strait, Alan Jackson, Shenandoah, Reba, and Randy Travis, and I put together a wine and fruit board that we could snack on while talking.

While simple, this is such a wonderful way to spend time together. In a time where we are always on the move, disconnecting from the world is very needed for every marriage. You never realize how much the world infringes on your time, space and mind until you unplug!

Baker’s Dark chocolate and white chocolate melts; I just used sprinkles, pecans & mini chocolate chips on hand for decorating.  

Evenings in like this are also wonderful when finding a babysitter is difficult. Find something to occupy your kiddos or send them to bed, then enjoy each other’s company. Schedule simple couple time regularly, just as if you were scheduling a meeting at work. Be mindful in keeping romance in your relationships, and unplug from the world!

Aldi’s special cheese collection for Valentine’s Day.  BTW, Aldi has a great assortment of flavorful cheeses on a regular basis.  Its worth checking out!

My favorite part about this simple night in is that it didn’t cost much at all! Since it is close to Valentine’s Day, Aldi had these fantastic heart shaped cheeses along with some unique flavors (Wensleydale cheese with raspberries and white chocolate, aged cheddar, & cranberries with Wensleydale) in the store. I just paired them with crackers and made my own chocolate dipped strawberries for 1/8 of the cost of Godiva. Paired with non-alcoholic sparkling grape juice (Aldi had a Rosé grape juice cocktail) and crackers, this was the perfect platter to relax with and enjoy.

By the way, the cost of our evening in was around $23. That’s it.

When you look back over your years together, these are the simple moments you will remember and treasure. Take some time and plan your own “cheesy,” romantic evening in. You won’t regret it!