Fresh GA Peaches Means It’s Time To Can Jam!

Oh yeah.. How I remember growing up with an abundance of sweet ripe juicy peaches during our Georgia summers… in particular the fresh peach ice cream, hand-cranked of course, was a taste I’ll never forget. But I’ll save that for another post.

Now one of my all-time favorites is peach preserves or peach jam depending on how much you crush your peaches. So today I thought I’d show you the “fruits” of my recent labor…my process of making peach preserves. If you have some nice chewy bread in the house, or better yet if you’ve made my sourdough bread from an earlier post, you will definitely want to put these preserves on top of a hot crispy piece of it. Double Yumm!

First let me stress the importance of having all your tools out and ready for use. Mise en place is a French phrase which means “putting in place”, as in set up. For canning in particular this is definitely necessary because in this case you’re ย going to be working with hot sugared jam and when it’s ย ready to be canned, you need to work efficiently and methodically. You can’t over or under-cook jam or else it won’t gel properly. Things will need your attention quickly and you’ll want to have your tools, food etc. within arms reach. So take the time to get everything set up before you start.

Here I’ve laid out all my tools, pots, jars, lids, everything I’m going to need, so these pictures are like reference lists for me for future canning projects.

Deep pots for water bath method of processing, along with helpful jar lifter, magnetized lid retriever and a wand that measures the head space. (All these can be gotten in a Ball canning accessory kit)

Deep pots for water bath method of processing, along with helpful jar lifter, magnetized lid retriever and a wand that measures the head space. (All these can be gotten in a Ball canning accessory kit)

 

Mixing bowls, jam pot, thermometer, funnel, spatula, spoons, paring knife, potato masher.

Mixing bowls, jam pot, thermometer, funnel, spatula, spoons, paring knife, potato masher.

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PIZZA NIGHT!

Well, it’s the busy season up here in the Smokies. So many vacationing visitors and of course the seasonal folks are up enjoying their summer homes. Therefore activity is everywhere! I must say life in the mts of late has been so full that I am just now finding time to write. I love to take advantage of all the Appalachian arts and crafts and history the area has to offer. So since I last posted I’ve made a few baskets, learned chair caning, knitting and crocheting, (something I’ve always wanted to do since my mom and grandmother were experts), and also taken a memoir writing class. Oh yes, and we did squeeze a short trip to New Orleans in there too!

I also have to admit that my intentions.. to write a blog entry sooner… were well founded but unorganized. I’d finally make time to cook up a great recipe in between all the activity, but then forget to photograph it! And I know y’all want to see photographs, right?! So tonight I got it together …with the help of my friends that is. I told them they had to remind me to take some pics before we devoured our meal/subject matter! So thank you Dwight and Lori Ann…loyal blog followers and treasured friends, for that reminder tonight!

It’s been rainy and foggy all day and into the evening, so everyone seemed to enjoy cozying up to the warm Aga. I still can’t believe it’s mid July and we were barely hitting 60 degrees tonight! So it was a perfect night for our PIZZA THEME dinner at home in the cabin. I made the pizza dough this afternoon, giving it ample time to rise. It rose beautifully, all squishy and soft under its blanket of plastic wrap and EVOO. I also flavored the dough with lots of garlic, cheese and Italian herbs. No plain tasteless pizza crust in this house! As the dough rose in sheet trays on top of the warm Aga, I put my guests to work chopping our toppings and by the time we were finished we had quite an array of pizza topping choices. Ok, so maybe too many for just the 5 of us. But I have been known to overdo it. If a little is good then a lot is better, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰
So here’s the array of topping choices we creatively arranged on our pizzas:

Lots of toppings to choose from!

Lots of toppings to choose from!

Mozzarella, Feta, & parmesan cheeses
red sauce
Sweet Italian sausages some crumbled some chopped in slices. I did roast these first for added depth of flavor.
Turkey Pepperoni (I swear you can’t tell the difference and it’s 70% less fat! That’s a no brainer!)
Artichoke hearts
Black olives
Baby Bella mushrooms
Roasted eggplant
Yellow and orange sweet peppers
Onions
Creole tomatoes…brought all the way back to NC from Louisiana on that recent trip to New Orleans… I might add I ALWAYS bring back special fav local La foods when we make those trips to see DH’s family there.

I’ll post my dough recipe tomorrow, but in the meantime here’s our pizza night…..

Now it’s always fun to get your guests involved in hands-on meals! That’s Lorie Ann and Debbie hard at work. ๐Ÿ‘

Having a hands-on evening with friends is both casual & fun!

Having a hands-on evening with friends is both casual & fun!

Voila, hot out of the Aga! YUMM!๐Ÿ˜‹

Voila, hot out of the Aga! YUMM!๐Ÿ˜‹

 

Meet Clarise: my red Aga & my daily inspiration!

So yes, it’s time to meet the inspiration behind My Red Stove. Meet Clarise, my claret red British beauty of an Aga. She’s a beast at 5 feet wide with four cast iron ovens serving up anything that can be roasted, baked, simmered, or warmed. Add two hobs..those double 12″ insulated burners on top that look more like giant closed waffle irons than burners, of which they can boil and simmer 6 pots at once if need be. And last but not least, add a large top warming plate. See why the love affair continues? ๐Ÿ˜˜ It truly was love at first sight many years ago when I first lusted after an Aga in an upscale kitchen display in Atlanta. Acquiring one became a reality when we built our log cabin and decided to design our kitchen around this stove. Nothing could stop me from getting my dream cooker at that point. So we traveled to Aga Thyme in Charlotte for the demo and to put a down payment on the order. (BTW, incredibly nice people, Bonnie Fleming is the “Aga go-to-person” to be sure!) They then begin to build my custom Aga in England and six months later it’s shipped to us whereby a lovely installer, Walter Sands, (who has also traveled to England to be trained in the nuances of an Aga), …who for the next two days lovingly puts it all together piece by piece! I’m sure a surgeon couldn’t be more skilled than Walter! That was four years ago now and many a delicious meal has been devoured in our log cabin kitchen, all lovingly and delicately cooked by Clarise. Well, I did have a hand in it too of course. I love cooking on my red stove but if you aren’t cooking on an Aga don’t let that stop you from trying the recipes we’ll be cooking here. They’ll work for anyone and will be amazing from your stove too… if you just make sure to put the love ingredient in them. So kick back and share our adventures in the kitchen with Clarise and me. We hope you will enjoy My Red Stove as much as I do.

My log cabin kitchen!

My log cabin kitchen!