Roughing It: Buttermilk-Peach Corn Bread

We had a half peck of peaches that I had been hoarding to take to New Hampshire with us. With this whole no power thing, we knew they would go really quickly. But honestly, what do you make when the power is out and all you have is a grill?

I did a lot of thinking, and then just started cutting until they were all taken care of, but I still wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do. After some hemming and hawing and digging in the pantry I found my secret stash of powdered buttermilk and some cornmeal, and working up cornbread in the cast iron skillet seemed like the perfect solution.


Buttermilk-Peach Skillet Cornbread

1 cup corn meal
1 cup flour
1/4 cup honey
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk (or one buttermilk packet and 1 cup water)
1 egg
1/4 cup brown sugar

Peel and slice about 4 peaches and put the slices in the bottom of your cast iron skillet; drizzle honey on top to help caramelize. Chop remaining peaches and put them aside.

Mix dry ingredients together, and then incorporate the wet ingredients and the chopped peaches (minus the brown sugar). Pour mixture over peach slices, then top with brown sugar.

Throw in a hot grill until it looks done, about 30 minutes or so. Works as breakfast or dessert.


Vanilla Scented Peach Jam

There is an inordinate amount of vanilla in my house right now.  I’m trying to be careful about how we best use it up, but when I brought home some peaches from the orchard up the road, I had a feeling I wanted to try to combine these two.  I always love peaches in vanilla ice cream, so it made sense that these two would go together.

I will warn you–making this is going to make your house smell so freaking good that you’re instantly going to feel like a culinary rock star.  What happens after that…well, just know you’ve been warned.

Because I didn’t want to waste my resources in case this was a tremendous flop, I made just enough to fill two 8 ounce jars.  Below is the recipe expanded out for a bigger batch–just ask if you’d like the measurements for the smaller batch.

Vanilla Scented Peach Jam 
5 1/2 cups Peaches, finely chopped
4 Tbsp lemon juice
6 Tbsp pectin (or one box)
6 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, cut legnth-wise and seeds scraped out
  1. Prepare waterbath canner, jars and lids.  While water heats, prepare fruit and measure out ingredients.
  2. Combine fruit, lemon juice, pectin, scraped vanilla beans and the vanilla bean pod together in an heavy bottomed saucepan.  Bring mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly.
  3. Add all of the sugar, stirring to help dissolve.  Return mixture to a full rolling boil, and boil hard 1 minute.  Remove from heat and let sit, untouched, for 5 minutes (this will help make sure that the fruit is evenly distributed in the jars when you transfer it over).
  4. Remove vanilla pods (but don’t throw them out!  Wipe them down and stick in some sugar for vanilla scented sugar, or put in a small saucepan with 2 cups water, 1/2 sliced lemon, and 1 sprig of rosemary and let simmer on the back of your stove for an AMAZING potpourri).  Ladle hot jam into jars, put the lids on and process in waterbath for 10 minutes.  Remove from canner, and set in a safe spot.  Be sure to check in 24 hours to make sure all of your jars have sealed.

Food Joy

I don’t hide the fact, and neither does JGL, that we’re full-fledged bona fide Weight Watchers.  I’ve been at goal for a little over four years, and JGL is slowly but surely smashing through his small goals and can see marked progress with how he feels and looks–if he’s not at goal by the end of the year, I’ll be shocked.  I love the meetings, JGL…he indulges me.  The past few weeks, though, our fellow WW’s seem almost bitter about being on WW, and not really embracing the fact that they’re enrolled in a program that is a full lifestyle change, and is still pretty damn delicious.  A few weeks ago there was a rant about butter.  Yup, butter.  And granted, I get it–this time of year there are super sized ice cream delights partnered with deliciously fatty barbecue fare, and I even saw a 24 pack of variety beer labeled as a Summer Survival pack–and it looked AMAZING.  If you’re watching your weight, this time of year can be almost more tricky than the holidays.

And again, I get it–been there, done that, and have been very angry that I have to be really careful of what I put in my mouth while others keep their slim waistlines just by existing.  But JGL and I both agreed after today’s meeting that this time of year for us is not filled with that awful dread that comes with food you know is not good for you, or the frustration for lack of choices that taste good–for us, summer is pure food joy.  Currently sitting in our kitchen is a 1/2 peck of peaches, blackberries, fresh hickory peach salsa I whipped up, and cherry and heirloom tomatoes.  And cherries, glorious cherries that were on super sale!  And with the exception of the salsa, all of these gorgeous goodies are, wait for it, 0 points plus (the salsa by itself is about 1 points plus per serving since the only thing that has points in it is olive oil).

I’m obviously obsessed about food, how it gets to my table, and how I can make it better.  I’m not sure if the reason the collective “we” is so frustrated because we as the average every day Americans have very much lost touch with the basic fact that food is fuel, and the fact that it tastes good at all is very much an added bonus.   I am so grateful not only for Weight Watchers and how it gave me my health back, but for all of the fresh, local and delicious food sources that we have here in our own back yard, and just down the road at the Farmer’s Market.   I guess I get frustrated because I want others to have a positive experience with programs like WW, and I hate hearing that folks are frustrated with their food choices when such amazing options are truly in their back yard.

That’s the brain food I’ve been chewing on today–I’d love to hear any thoughts if you’re mentally chewing on something similar!

Gingerbread Peach Ice Cream Sandwiches

Growing up around the holidays it was always such a treat to get the ice cream sandwiches that had gingerbread flavor rather than chocolate.  Pure love, right in an ice cream treat.  Since then, I’ve had a love affair with ginger and ginger bread.  Last summer during the wedding canning I discovered what an amazing pairing ginger and peach are together, so in thinking about what to do with our mountain of peach ice cream, I immediately thought about combining those two loves again.

If I had it to do over, I just would have made round cookies rather than trying to make them into bars, but either way I think this is going to be a fun, delicious treat.

So here you have it–Gingerbread Peach Ice Cream Sandwiches, fresh and ready in a freezer near you!

Gingerbread Peach Ice Cream Sandwiches
Peach Ice Cream
Gingerbread Cookies (I cheated and used a box mix, but you can use any gingerbread recipe that you like)
Parchment Paper
  • Take gingerbread cookies and pair them with another cookie approximately the same shape and size
  • Scoop ice cream on one cookie, and then place the other cookie on top
  • Wrap in parchment paper and return to freezer to it can harden up
  • Enjoy!

Peach Ice Cream, Part Two

There’s an amazing shop about 10 minutes from our house that sells homemade pies, cakes, lunches, and shakes.  The peach shake is about as close to heaven on earth that you can get to around these parts.  Every year we try to replicate them, which is why when I asked JGL what I should do with these peaches he said, “Peach Ice Cream!.”

We haven’t attempted the shakes yet, but straight out of the churn this ice cream was as good as any shake out there.  Happy Dog-Father’s Day to JGL–I hope this ice cream helps make it extra special for you!

Peach Ice Cream
Adapted from Gourmet, June 2008 by Ruth Cousineau 
2 pounds ripe peaches
2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 3/4 cups half and half
1 3/4 cups 2% milk*
1 TBS Powdered Milk
4 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract

  • Peel peaches (you can blanch them in boiling water to help loosen the skins, but the variety I had didn’t loosen very well).
  • Dice peaches into 1/2 inch pieces, then toss with lemon juice and 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar in a large bowl.
  • Let macerate, covered and chilled, at least 8 hours.
  • In a separate saucepan, whisk together cornstarch, 1/4 tsp salt, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar and powdered milk.
  • Add half and half and milk and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly.
  • Add to yolks in a slow stream, whisking constantly, to temper, then pour mixture back into saucepan.  
  • Cook until custard coats back of spoon and registers 170°F on an instant-read thermometer, 1 to 2 minutes (mixture will be thick).
  • Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl and stir in extracts.
  • Chill custard, its surface covered with parchment paper (to prevent a skin from forming), until cold, at least 4 hours.
After the long wait….
  • Transfer 2 cups peaches with slotted spoon to a bowl and then purée remaining peaches and liquid in a blender until smooth.
  • Add purée to custard and freeze in ice cream maker, then transfer to a bowl and stir in reserved peaches.
  • Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, about 2 hours.  Or enjoy straight out of the churn for a soft serve texture.  Either way, it is good eatin’ on this very warm Daddy’s Day!
*You can use heavy cream and whole milk, but since we’re trying to watch our waist lines, I intentionally reduced the fat content

Peach Ice Cream, Part 1

It’s been a busy last week of staycation here at the homestead–we had my folks visit for a few days, there were projects to wrap up, and this has been the first week that I’ve started to slow down.  I even was able to sit down and read for a bit last night, which I was thrilled to be able to do.

The most exciting part of this week, however, was the realization that early peaches here in Virginia are in.  And let me tell you, they are DELICIOUS!  We picked up some white peaches from my favorite orchard up in Nelson County earlier this week, and yesterday when I went blueberry picking with my neighbor we discovered that they had a beautiful array of seconds for just under $7.  To say that we have peaches coming out of our ears is an understatement!

And since I just can’t help myself, I have close to twenty pounds of peaches in my fridge, on my counter…it kind of looks like we have peaches coming from every which way.  I’m working up a cobbler recipe, but in the meantime  I’ve whipped up the bases for what looks to be an amazing peach ice cream.

I make homemade ice cream most every summer, and every time I’m just so struck at how long it takes.  It’s not about whipping up a bunch of ingredients, throwing them in the churn and BOOM you’re done.  Ice cream takes time.  Time well worth it, but time.  So this morning when I got back ironically from my Weight Watcher’s meeting, I started on the two bases with the hopes that we’ll be able to have this ready to churn tonight after dinner.

Most ice creams that I’ve made in the past have had one base.  This one, however, has two separate ones–the milk/cream base and then the fruit base.  Later tonight we’ll combine the two bases together in the churn to create the peach ice cream.  From there, the possibilites are endless–peach shakes, peach pops, peach ice cream sandwiches, or my personal favorite, just straight from the container.

Recipe and final product to come soon!

Peach Barbecue

At some point along the way we acquired a subscription to Bon Appetit.  I don’t remember signing up for it and neither does JGL, but faithfully it has arrived month after month, and faithfully I read it.  This month’s issue was A to the Mazing–tons of fresh ideas, and many of which we’ll be able to start doing soon with fresh local (homegrown) produce.  This peach barbecue sauce was in the section with the fabulously and sickeningly talented Gweneth Paltrow, for whom I cannot work up enough ill will to loathe, even though I should–the woman is freakin’ perfect.  And so is her grilled chicken.  I served it over a mixed salad of greens and grilled zucchini and summer squash, and it is good enough to put on my “need to can” list for the later part of the summer.

It’s sooo close to being peach season here I can almost taste it!  The pick your own blueberries should be ripe and ready by next week, and if our notes from last year are good and true, the peaches will be soon thereafter.  I’m planning on canning a bunch, making jam, and hopefully canning some of this amazing bbq sauce.  I hope you all enjoy it as much as we did!

Peach BBQ Marinate/Sauce
Adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2011 Issue, pg 75
1 cup chopped peeled fresh peaches
1/2 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp red pepper flake
1 cup plain yogurt
salt and pepper to taste
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast
Combine the first six ingredients in a small sauce pan, and boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes until peaches are soft.  (at this point, I should note, I walked away from the stove and forgot about this for about 10-15 minutes LONGER than the recipe called for.  This happy accident left the sauce the consistency of apple butter, and we quite liked it!)  Remove from heat, add salt and pepper to taste, and let cool.  
Split sauce in half–put half in the fridge for later, and mix the other half thoroughly with the yogurt.  Place chicken breast in yogurt/bbq sauce marinate, and let refrigerate at least overnight (I let mine go 24 hours).  
Prep grill, and be sure that the grates are hot and well oiled so the chicken will not stick.  Split remaining sauce that was a part of the marinade in half.  Grill chicken until cooked through (about 4-5 minutes per side), and use part of the remaining sauce to baste chicken during grilling process.  When chicken is cooked, let rest and then use last of the sauce to coat the chicken while it rests. I sliced the chicken crosswise and served over a salad.  This would also be delicious served as a whole breast with potato salad or any other quintessential summer side treat! 

Slump, Buckle…I don’t care what you call it, it’s delicious!

I think cooking and cleaning will be the closest I’ll ever get to really being able to meditate.  I love how my mind kind of sorta goes blank, and for one of the few times during the day, I really focus.

This weekend has been “deliciously cool” by the standards set by Mother Nature this year.  Whereas last weekend was in the mid-high 90s with wretched humidity, yesterday and today were in the low 70s with little to no humidity.  Glorious, Glorious I say!  Yesterday we were lucky enough to catch the golf tournament at the Green Brier (and eat a delicious fried green tomato sandwich…but that’s another post for another day!), but today we were home and I was bound and determined to take full advantage of the weather.

I made a ton of stuff (let’s say, I was UBER focused today) but the one that JGL and I ended up being the most excited about was the peach and blackberry brown butter buckle.

I adapted my recipe from one I found on Smitten Kitchen a few days ago, and JGL and I are both still in a food coma. This was totally worth having to run back out to the store for butter, and waiting the 40 minutes for it to bake off in the oven, AND wait until it was cool enough to eat.

So what did I change?  I used half whole wheat flour and half graham cracker flour instead of all purpose;  almond milk instead of buttermilk; ground ginger and nutmeg instead of allspice; and peaches and blackberries instead of nectarines.  If I had it to do again, I probably would have just used the blackberries.  While the peaches were good, they really lost a bit of their punch during the cooking process.

Too bad, we’ll just have to keep taste testing 😉

Can-orama Part 2

My sister is getting married in October and her shower is in a few weeks.  After kibitzing with mom, we had decided on homemade jam for the shower favors.  See, I have a practical theory when it comes to favors–if you can’t use the leftovers after the event has gone by, then what’s the point?  Now nothing against the heart shaped cookie cutters and the teaspoons of lovin’, I just don’t want fifty of them hanging around my house after this thing is over.  Same goes for weddings–we ended up giving away bars of soap, and I’m thankful everyday we did–there’s a ton of it leftover, and I’m constantly cleaning.  Match made in heaven?  I think so!

So jam it was…until I heard that Beth didn’t have a favor for the wedding yet.  You know that scene from Friends when Rachel ends up taking Monica’s baby name?

I had a sneaky feeling that the favors would go down this path.  So I offered up the jam to Beth straight up, and as predicted she loved it. So we’re jamming for the wedding.

She’s experimenting with raspberry jams, and I’m sticking with my personal favorite, peach.  After a great morning of blackberry and peach picking yesterday with JGL, the jamming commenced.  I was able to get three cases done, and now I need more fruit.  But hey, they’re going to make awesome favors, just like I thought they would 😉

Betty and Matt’s Signature Ginger-Peach Love Jam
4 cups peaches (run through the food processor until chunky)
1/2-1 inch of fresh ginger, grated (to taste)
2 TBS Lemon Juice
1 box fruit pectin
5 1/2 cups sugar

Place peaches, ginger and pectin into a large pot; bring to a continuous boil.  Add sugar and return to the boil; boil continuously for 1 minute.  Meanwhile, wash and prep jars and canner.

Fill jars to 1/8th inch headspace, process in canner 10 minutes.

Let set for 24 hours, then enjoy!

**Note:  I love the flavor combo of Ginger Peach, but if it ain’t your thang, just simply omit the ginger.  Either way you choose, this recipe will come out each time.  One of the many reason’s it’s my fav!