Thursday, August 22, 2013

Peach Season is upon us!

When the air starts to feel heavy with sunshine and the days begin to shorten, I know that peach season is right around the corner.  Peaches in Northern Michigan can be found at farmer's markets and fruit stands for a few weeks, typically during the month of August. The small golden orbs require lots of golden sunshine to ripen. Then glorious summer of all summers, the wonderful sweet fruit makes its way to our tables in the form of fresh peaches, peach pie, peach crostinis, peach parfaits and one of my favorite recipes for my friends and family that require low sugar diets ( although all of us would benefit from lowering our sugar intake); peach butter.

 Natural and nourishing, this peach butter preserves the best of our warm summer fruits without the addition of sugar. The pure sweet taste of peaches is the star in this low calorie butter.


Peach butter always starts with fresh and nicely ripe peaches.  There are lots of places in Northern Michigan to pick your own peaches.  Jacobs Corn Maze on Hwy. 72 heading out to Empire has a U-Pick Peaches.
And, if you'd rather just buy your sweet beauties, then right across the street is Gallagher's Farm Market and Bakery.  They usually have at least two varieties of peaches along with lots of other local produce to fill your basket


 Peach Butter Recipe

Peach Butter is simple to prepare and rich in flavor with the addition of warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Make sure that you are using only ripe peaches.


  • 8 lbs. fresh, ripe peaches
  • 1 1/2 T of cinnamon
  • 1 t ground ginger
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 1/4 t cloves
  • 1/4 cardamom
  • 1/4 allspice


Mix all of the spices together in a separate bowl.
Parboil your peaches for one minute in a boiling water bath to remove the skin.  Immerse in a water bath immediately to stop the cooking of the peach.
Remove the pit.
Throw your peach sections into a food processor and blend until liquid and chunky.
Pour your peach puree into a dutch oven or thick bottomed pot and stir half of your mixed spices into your peach puree.
Taste and add additional spice mixture, or salt to taste.
Simmer your peach puree for approximately one hour on medium low heat.
Blend until smooth with an immersion blender and pour into pint-sized mason jars and refrigerate or can using the water bath method.

 Parboil your peaches for approximately one minute to loosen
the skin.

Place the peaches in a ice cold water bath after their parboil.

Peach butter is one of the easiest things to make from peaches.  The sweet fragrant peach is the star in this melody of flavors that includes some deep, warming spices.  This flavor, to me, slathered on some toasted and buttered 9 Bean Rows  sourdough   means the end of summer and yet,  the beginning of fall. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Picnic at Sylvia's

what a lovely and enchanting night.
 i don't know if it was my new blue toenail polish or the garden party with queen anne chairs and wedge wood china that put me in such a lovely mood last night.

Oh, to be invited to a lovely and elegant picnic in the woods in the middle of summer... it is just a special thing...

So, we dined in quiet certitude that all was well
and then we waited for the moon to rise.

It is a special thing. To be invited to a Lewis Carrol
garden picnic and fall down into the hole and wake up
munching on cherries and lathers of blue cheese laid on blue crackers.



To be taken "away" during your experience/meal. To take leave of your sensibility. Not your senses... because your senses
are working over time, looking at this, admiring that,
savoring it all.

that is any hostess'  accomplishment...  to transport her guests
to an even lovelier place for a forest feast...and feed them
sumptuous fare.

After that sumptuous picnic dinner in the woods, i slept on cloud nine.  what a lovely dinner and lovely experience!!!

Monday, July 29, 2013

U Can Pick the Raspberries!

Up on the Mission, after you pass the blue bay on the right and the blue bay on the left, then up and over the big hill with the scenic turnout and then,  past  a mature orchard of sweet and tart cherries lies a little farm called "Shang-ri-La Too".  Lou and Irene manage this wonderful farm that multipurposes itself as a respite, a farm, a vineyard, an orchard, a b & b, an artist's studio and most likely a few other functions that i don't even know about.  I stumbled on this friendly place when i was looking for the last of the season's strawberries for one last shortcake recipe for some desperate friends from Texas. Irene and Lou happened to be having a garage sale but were out of strawberries. As luck would have it,  Linda my friend from Texas talked me into a ceramic cow with measuring spoons, a cylindrical orange mod a go-go vase and a retro copper tray. (No regrets!)  We chatted about fruit and they told me that what i REALLY wanted was to come back to their farm in a couple of weeks to pick raspberries.

So, i marked my calender and showed up one Thursday morning to pick my share of raspberries for some jam.  Irene took me out to her "patch" and Lou pointed me in the direction of the sweet and small raspberries that make fragrant jam.  In fact, Lou doesn't even like his raspberries that much, since they have the aroma of "perfume".
Well, that works for me.  I'll take perfumey raspberries any day. In fact, I wonder if lavender and raspberries would work. Hmpfh.  Well, I picked enough to almost make a batch of jam so Irene had to finish off my pints. 

It was so much cheaper to pick my own raspberries! Two pints for $5.00. And not only that, but i got to visit their lovely farm. See their many farm animals. ( See wild, native owl at left).  And peek inside the B & B. 
For more information on picking raspberries, cherries or apples call Shangri-La Too at 231-499-0106.
And for information about their farm stay B&B ... well, call the farm number too!
oh! darn! i forgot to ask about the eggs!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Red Garlic Harvest at Meadowlark Farm

It's summer now and it's hot.  Lots of things are pouring in from the farmers markets. We're way past asparagus and rhubarb, even the strawberries are gone. Next up are the cherries, blueberries and raspberries in the fruit department. Onions, squash, carrots, broccoli, potatoes and every other kind of vegetable is grown here as well.  The flowers are so wonderful too and come in every color.  There are things going on behind the scenes too, and garlic harvest for Meadowlark Farms is in full swing.

Meadowlark Farm owned by Jon Watts and Jenny Tutlis,   has been growing and reseeding the same beautiful big red cloves of delicious garlic that originally came from a farm in Idaho for about 20 years now. Once the tops of the garlic plants start to die back, then you know it's time to harvest. Growing garlic is an act of faith, since you seed in the fall and then sit back and wait. And then all of the conditions merge for you (or not) and it is time to harvest garlic.
  I showed up late for garlic harvesting and much of the work was already underway.

First, a tractor pulls a "tool" through the field to undercut the garlic in the dry field so that it is easy to pull from the ground.  Then a crew of people walk along the row pulling and gathering the garlic, laying them in stacks so that the snipping crew that follows can find the bulbs and snip them from the green stalks. The bulbs are layered in black, breathable crates that get stacked and left in a barn to cure.  I never knew that garlic cured. Fresh garlic, Jen says, ..."is juicy, full of water and not as strong as it will be as it cures and dries and the pungent flavors condense."

I love garlic but I probably won't see these beautiful bulbs again until later in the season once they've had a chance to dry a bit and cure.
oh well...

Every harvest, especially on a hot day is accompanied by a refreshing snack and today at the farm was no exception.  Jenny prepared a smorgasborg of fresh items to snack on; watermelon, carrots from the farm, chips and salsa, some other dips and fresh made lemonaide.  Soon, hands were moving around the table gathering plates of snacks and jars of cool lemonaide. There was munching, laughing, spitting cherry seeds, swinging on swings and gulping fresh cool lemonaide.

This was my first Meadowlark garlic harvest and oh, what a joy to be part of the gathering, cleaning, snipping and layering of this famous Meadowlark Red Garlic...  Thankyou Jenny and Jon.
You can see more pictures on my facebook page;

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The End

Just like that, the puzzle project was over.

When i realized that the cat stepped onto the table and  pulled the puzzle off spilling it to the floor, i just couldn't believe it.  I knelt close to the floor and tried to pick up the pieces as carefully as i could.  To preserve the linkages.  To keep the integrity, somehow.  I retraced in my mind how this happened and how i could have prevented it.
But, i wasn't looking.  Not directly, anyway.

But it was no use.  Just like that, the puzzle spilled to the floor and it was over.

I thought about that, and i thought! What a great ending to my puzzle project blogpost.  How in an instant everything can change.  That's a great metaphor. Now you're married, now you're not.  Now you have it, now you don't.
Now you're alive, now you're not.
Whew. Big one.
But, we can all relate to that.  We all know that all too often something or someone slips away so elusively. We ruminate.  We fantasize about how it could have been different.  But, no conjuring up fantasies changes anything.

We simply have to accept the inevitable.

It's over.

The Puzzle Project ( a Christmas present)

The puzzle project was begun in earnest two days after Christmas.  2012.  That was the year that i gave my mom a 1000 piece Wasij puzzle for Christmas. 

At first we thought that we might be able to finish it if we worked diligently enough, that we could finish it by New Years Eve.  But, by Monday afternoon, that was the day that New Years Eve was in 2012, well, it was clear to me then, that it would take a few more days to finish.  Strike that.  It would take alot of additional hours since Mom was going home and I had sole possesion of the puzzle.

You see, being only afficionadoes of the amateur type, we didn't think to put our puzzle on a surface that we could move around, or  that was even in good light.  So we dumped the puzzle pieces on my dining room table complete with planks  burrows and  brought in excavated  table lamps with extension cords to make our puzzle mastery easier.

Of coarse, all along i thought that my mom was a puzzle maven and to her distress, i gave her a puzzle without a map!  A puzzle without a picture.  We had nothing to go on.  Only the picture on the box that "suggested" the possible outcome. 

So, this was difficult .  And captivating.  What was the picture?  What were we trying to put together? What was the message of the puzzle?

Mom said it was best to start at the edges.  Put the edges together and then you can figure out what fits inside.  It creates a boundry.  A side.  Definition.
Hmmmm.   Good idea.  Makes sense.  Most of us do need boundries.

The funny thing is, the puzzle started talking to me even before Mom left.  Like one day, sitting at the dining room table, mulling about the pieces,  the puzzle whispered to me that if i didn't think too hard about finding the RIGHT piece , that it would just somehow jump out all on their own... "when i was ready to see them". So, i practiced that.  I thought that if i could just gaze over the pieces, that i would find them more readily. If i noticed the nuance of the colors, that my brain would fit the pieces together.  And, sure enough, that was true.  If i stopped searching for something so succintly, and  I just looked for similarities, then the right piece would jump out.  Like it was looking for me.
That made me think of how I try to fit things together in my own life. I think that what i need is a 4x6 piece of wood that will fit inside this doorway- when what i have is a portal.  And i need a compass and something more round.

Hmmm.  Maybe this puzzle was more than just a pretty picture.  

Wednesday, January 4, 2012