Posts

harvested-peaches

harvested-peaches

 

I love peaches. Every year, I look forward to May when the peaches on my tree are ripe and ready. While May might seem a little early for peaches, in the low desert garden, this is when they are ready for being harvested. 

picking-peach-tree
There are several things that I like to make with my peaches. Of course, peach jam, peach cobbler, and pie make the list, but also something a bit unusual.
A few years ago, I was inspired to make peach vinegar after I read the book, “The Backyard Homestead”.  So, you may be wondering why I would want to make homemade fruit vinegar? Fruit vinegars are one of my favorite ingredients in homemade salad dressing.
It is very easy to make fruit vinegar – especially when compared to making jam out of peaches.

You will need the following:

Peaches
White wine vinegar
Glass jar with lid
Strainer
Paper towels
 First, remove the skins from the peaches. If the peaches are very ripe, you can often peel them off in large sheets. Or, use a paring knife to peel them as you would an apple. 
Roughly chop the peaches into 1-inch sections. Plan on using 2 – 3 peaches per pint-sized jar.
Add the chopped peaches and pour white wine vinegar over them until it reaches the top of your jar.
Place the peach/vinegar mixture in a dark place for 4 weeks – I use my pantry. At least once a week, shake the jar to help mix the contents.
After a month has passed, pour out the mixture over a strainer to remove the peaches. You can see that the white wine vinegar has taken on the beautiful color and flavor of the peaches.
Strain the peach vinegar needs through a coffee filter (or paper towel) to remove the remaining peach solids.
*I’ve found that paper towels work better than coffee filters.
 
After straining the peach vinegar – pour into clean jars with lids. They can be stored in your pantry for 3 months.
 
Peach vinegar tastes wonderful when used on fruit salad and it makes a great pork glaze. It also makes a delicious vinaigrette and marinades. Some people even drizzle it over peach ice cream.
 
Don’t have a peach tree? No problem. You can use peaches from the grocery store or your farmers market. Just make sure they are ripe.
 
My favorite use for peach vinegar is for my grandmother’s famous salad dressing. This recipe has been in our family for years and I am going to break all the rules and risk being expelled from my family by sharing it with you. It’s easy to make and creates a sweet dressing that is popular with kids and adults alike.
Click the link below for the recipe. 


GRANDMA SMITH’S HOMEMADE SALAD DRESSING

 

I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does!

 

Do you like to use herbs to flavor your favorite dishes?  If so, than you’ll want to try herb salts.


So what are herb salts, you may wonder?

They are created by mixing the herb of your choice with kosher or sea salt, which is used in place of plain salt to add delicious flavor to food.

Herb salts are easy to create and make great gifts.

I’ve made several different types of herb salts in the past and recently set out to make a batch of rosemary salt.


Since I don’t have rosemary growing in my garden, I drove to my sister’s house to clip some fresh sprigs of rosemary from her garden.  (You can also use fresh rosemary from the grocery store).


You will need 3 1/3 cups of kosher salt and 1/3 cup of fresh rosemary along with a jar to store it in.

1. Rinse the rosemary sprigs in water.
2. Remove the leaves, starting from the top downward.


3. Put the rosemary and salt in your food processor and pulse until the rosemary leaves are approximately 1/8 of an inch long.
4. Place the rosemary salt onto a baking sheet and put in an oven that is heated to 200 degrees and bake for 30 minutes.
5. Let the herb salt cool and then put in jars with a lid.

That’s it!  I told you it was easy.

Rosemary tastes great on your favorite meat dish including beef, chicken or pork.  I also like to sprinkle it on the top of buttered rolls – yum!

While rosemary salt is delicious, it is just the beginning – there are other herbs that can be used to make herb salt.


Basil salt is a great flavoring for Italian dishes such as marinara sauce or sprinkled on pizza.

To learn how to make basil salt, click here.

If you love cilantro, how about a sprinkle of cilantro salt on your favorite Mexican dish?

Cilantro is one of those herbs that many people can’t get enough of.  Click here for instructions to make your own cilantro salt.

Whether you use herbs from your own garden, the farmers market or grocery store – they are a delicious addition to your pantry as well as a great gift idea for the ‘foodie’ in your life.

Are you someone who adores cilantro, looking for more ways to add it to their favorite Mexican food?


Here is a new use for cilantro that deserves a spot on your pantry shelf – cilantro herb salt.


Cilantro herb salt can be used to flavor food where you would normally add salt and cilantro separately.  It is so easy to make, you’ll want to create a huge batch for yourself and friends and family.

Here is how to make your own:

1. Add 1 bunch of cilantro (cutting the stems off first) to your food processor.


2. Add 1 1/2 cups of kosher salt and pulse until the cilantro is mixed in and the salt turned green.


3. Place the cilantro salt mixture on a baking sheet and bake at 225 degrees for 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and lightly mix up and bake for another 30 minutes.
4. Allow to cool before putting it in an airtight glass jar.


Your cilantro herb salt will keep for a long time, but the flavor is strongest when used within 6 months.
So what are you waiting for?  Grab some cilantro and kosher salt today and make some delicious herb salt for yourself and more for gifts.

**Cilantro herb salt is just the beginning.  Learn how to make basil or rosemary herb salts too!


Do you have a lemon or other type of citrus tree growing in your backyard?

Chances are, if you live in California, the Southwest or Southeastern United States, you do or your neighbor does.

While many people throughout the rest of the nation are waiting for snow to disappear, we get to enjoy the sight of colorful citrus fruit hanging from our trees, just ready to be picked and enjoyed.

During this time of year, neighbors give bags of excess fruit to neighbors or local food banks.

I have a young lemon tree, that isn’t old enough to produce fruit for me, but that hasn’t stopped me from having lemons to use.


Between my mother’s prolific lemon tree on the family farm to those from my vet (who happens to be our neighbor), I have plenty to use.

I’ve used lemons in a variety of ways from freezing the zest, the juice, making citrus cleaner, natural air fresheners and was looking for another way to use them.

I recently learned about lemon salt and how great it tastes on my favorite dishes – chicken, fish, homemade salad dressings, salsa and much more – basically anything that you want to add a hint of citrus and salt too.

Making lemon salt is very easy to do and can be done using grapefruit, limes or oranges instead.

Citrus salts make a great homemade gift and are also a great way to preserve the taste of your favorite citrus when they are no longer in season.  

Whether you grow your own lemons or buy them from the store, lemon salt is easy to make.


1. You’ll need 3 lemons and 1 cup of kosher salt.

2. Zest 3 lemons.


 3. Add together 1 cup kosher salt, the lemon zest and the juice from 1 lemon.

(Of course, you can make a lot more, like I did – I had a lot of lemons and wanted to make some as gifts.)


4. Mix together the lemon juice, salt and zest.



5. Pour the lemon salt mixture into a shallow baking dish or cookie sheet.

6. Place in a 200 degree F. oven for a half hour.  Then lightly mix it up and bake for another 20 minutes.
(If it hasn’t dried all the way, cover it with a clean dish towel and let sit overnight.)


7. Use your fingers to break up any large clumps or you can put it in your food processor and pulse it 2 – 3 times.


That’s it!  I told you it was easy.  You can use it right away or store it in a sealed jar to keep it for longer.

Lemon or salts made from other citrus fruit last a long time – at least a year if put in a sealed container.

If you love lemon pepper, you can simply add pepper to the mixture for a delicious addition to your steak!


I’ve been enjoying making flavored salts for cooking with.  Last year, I made basil and herb salts, which were delicious too!

Two of my favorite things are birthdays and dessert…

Earlier this month, we celebrated the birthday of my daughter, Ruthie, and my sister-in-law, Marisue.

Ruthie turned 14 and I won’t tell you how old Marisue is, but she is much younger then me 😉  She is also the mother of the twins, Danny and Dean.
When we celebrate birthdays, I usually volunteer to make the dessert.  I just love baking (but not anything I have to fuss over).
For this double birthday celebration, I made two different desserts AND I broke one of my baking rules…
I didn’t try out the recipes out ahead of time.
I decided to make ‘Heath Angel Food Dessert’ and  ‘Hot Fudge Marshmallow Monkey Bread’
Thankfully, the Hot Fudge Marshmallow Monkey Bread didn’t fall apart.

The Heath Angel Food Dessert turned out okay too.  It was an Amish recipe that I picked up during a visit last year.

Here is the recipe:

HEATH ANGEL FOOD DESSERT

1 Angel Food Cake, cut into 1-inch cubes
16 oz. whipped topping
1 (12 oz) jar caramel topping
6 – 8 Heath Bars, crushed or toffee bits

Mix the whipped topping and caramel together.  Put angel food cake in a 13 x 9 pan and pour the whipped topping caramel mixture on top.  Sprinkle the Heath bars on the top.  Freeze until ready to serve or serve without freezing.

The Hot Fudge Marshmallow Monkey Bread also tasted very good.


My daughter, Gracie, is a major chocoholic.  This was her favorite dessert.

If you would like to see the Hot Fudge Marshmallow Monkey Bread recipe, check it out here.

Do you like to bake?  What is your favorite recipe?