Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Now I Have a Deadline

I finally checked out the exhibitors' guide for the Topsfield Fair and I have until September 7 to enter. I think I will enter the dill pickles and elderberry jelly I have already made, plus today's Salsa Verde and Bread and Butter pickles. The farm share was full of pickling cukes, onions and tomatillos today and I was able to make a batch of the salsa and 4 pints of Bread and Butter pickles.

Given the time constraints I have over the next few weeks, this may be it for my entries. I don't think I'm going to try to bake for the fair this year, either. I want to see how this year goes. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Dill Pickles

Provided things don't change too much, the Topsfield Fair is supposed to be happening this year. It seems like I should get a few things ready although I haven't really been making anything with the fair in mind until this week. Today's farm share had a lot of pickling cucumbers and I took my allotment (10) and made dill pickles.

The recipe I use, "Favorite Dill Pickles," from The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving, is nice because it has a little sugar and mustard seeds which temper the acidity of the vinegar. It's also really quick to make. In about an hour I converted most of the cucumbers to six jars of pickles. I say "most" because one was hiding under the bok choy and I didn't see it until it was too late. 

Wild Blueberries

Another thing that's been missed for the past few years has been wild blueberry season. We did find some when we were camping last year, but we hadn't trekked out to our favorite spot since 2017. Apparently, in the interim the bushes were sprayed again and have started to come back but aren't up to their usual bounty. 

Yesterday we went fairly early in the morning to go pick - partly because it was the coolest day of the week and partly because it was a weekday and hopefully not as crowded. As we're still fairly busy and everyone has been tired lately, we set a limit of two hours of picking. At the end of that we had just under 6 cups of berries. Last year I had made blueberry jam from the regular berries we picked in NH, and still have a bunch, and this was enough to freeze some and make a batch of scones. 

This morning I made a full batch of scones which made twenty. In addition to the blueberries I tossed in a bit of crystallized ginger. I froze a dozen and the rest we had throughout the day. Although they were at their best still warm from the oven, with soft butter. Mmm. 

Sunday, August 8, 2021


It's been four years since I made elderberry jelly. For some reason, I am always busy while they are in season and their season is relatively short. This year, I managed to catch them between travel and work, and so got enough berries to make a batch of jelly. Just like before, 5 cups of elderberry juice, 1/3 cup lemon juice, 6-1/2 cups sugar and 1 box of powdered pectin. If I decide to enter things in the fair this year which, so far, is going ahead as scheduled, I will enter this.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Peaches for Days

We finally went on a trip.

Two weeks ago, we piled in the car and drove to Ohio to visit family. It was our first big road trip with an electric car, and we charged it along the way without any problems. Nice to know that works well; the car plans the route and where to charge based upon what the battery level is when you start. While we were there, we went to a charging station a few times but also just plugged it into the 220 outlet at my in-laws' house which was slower but allowed for more visiting time. 

My mother-in-law had ordered a box of peaches from the Georgia Peach Truck, about 25 pounds. On a whim when she went to pick them up, she got another box. So there were 50 pounds of peaches to do something with in a relatively short time. We ate a lot of them, cutting up 4-5 peaches every morning for breakfast. However, between my brother-in-law and me, we made short work of the rest.

First of all, I made a peach cobbler. I always forget that the texture of cobbler is weird to me, and I should just make a crisp.

Over the course of the next two days, I made two batches of jam without added pectin. My in-laws often get jars of jam in the mail from me, and they had them there for me to take back, but I filled them with jam instead. However, we came up against the aforementioned Great Canning Lid Shortage of 2021. Since there weren't a lot of options, we decided to try paraffin like people used to do. It took a few tries for me to get the pattern down, but it worked just fine. I was even presented with some gingham and VINTAGE Wiss pinking shears from the 1940's, in the original box and hardly ever used. The shears were in amazing condition. We ended up with eleven jars, and by the time we left there were only nine left. 

Paraffin cooling

Looking adorable

Another thing everyone wanted was a pie. I looked up a recipe and used this one for the filling, but made my usual crust, this time half Crisco and half butter. I struggled a lot with rolling this one out, and the base was patched in myriad ways. Thankfully it was under the filling. (I nicknamed it "Frankenpie.") We ate it, still warm, out on a deck after some burgers. Summer is awesome.

After all that, my brother-in-law made two more pies, and he tossed a bunch of peach chunks in cornbread which I had never considered but now think is amazing. What is even more amazing is that we got through all 50 pounds of peaches in a week. 

Now we're back, and getting settled, and I made bread today and I'm making a different kind of pie, a custard pie from a recipe I saw in the NYT.