Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Peachy Keen

Kim's Peach and Pink Garden Roses
in front of Nik de Masi abstract painting
You may recall I had a lot of fruit to  use, courtesy lovely gifts from some friends who had bumper crops in their backyard orchard.  I made peach tartes and two crust pies, red plum jam, and a lot of fruit has been eaten for snacks.  Mostly by Ian, I am still on a strict weight loss regime...perhaps living vicariously through food preparation.  Because I do not get to consume all the goodies, for sure.  And I cut up nectarines, peaches and plums, and have frozen some of the fruit in freezer bags to use for crumbles or pies in months to come (when stone fruit no longer is in season).  But still we had some more peaches.  I put the last lot of them in the fridge in bags, but needed to use them lest they go overripe.  I had such a good result with red plum jam and felt I needed more practice at jam making.  So I set about to use the last 1.2 kg of peaches to make jam.

I borrowed a huge stainless steel stockpot from a friend for jar sterilising and processing.  And I was a bit handicapped by size of jars available for which I had proper lids to create a properly processed jam.  Never mind, I forged ahead anyhow.  I found several recipes and settled on Peach and Rosemary Jam, which allowed me to take advantage of some sprigs from our huge rosemary hedges in the back yard (growing along/above the stone retaining walls).  Peaches got stones removed and then peeled.  And got put in a big bowl with just over 1 kg of sugar, lemon juice, and four generous sprigs of fresh garden rosemary.  This all was left to macerate half the day, and I turned it over with a good stir every hour on the hour.

skimmed off foam in bowl left of jam pan
peach and pink foam in boiling ja
As before, it took forever to boil all the water needed for the sterilisation, since it is such a large pot !  I did not start the jam cooking until it was half way to boiling.  The jam took a fair bit of time itself, and it foamed up  a lot more than the red plum jam had, which required me to skim a lot of thick peach sugar foam off the surface.  I was surprised to see the foam to be peach and pink coloured, it was very pretty actually.   Eventually the peach mixture reduced and I tested it for a set and found it seeming pretty good.  By this time the jars were ready.  I managed to get them out of the sterilising bath and filled them, using a funnel I made from an empty 2 litre milk jug.  I only had enough to fill one 500 ml jar and a bit under half of the next one, but hey...learning here and clearly need more supplies !  Still, the processing seemed to work OK, though the part full jar would not set down in the boiling water bath, and bobbed around the pot.  I had to manage to keep it away from edge and other jar too.  Eventually it came out, sealed.  And then the full one as well.  So success.

White Nectarines and Peach Syrup over
Vanilla Ice Cream
Peach Syrup and
Peach & Rosemary Jam
When I looked at the bowl with the skimmed off foam, I saw I had a lot of peach syrup underneath.  I skimmed off the foam from that, and sterilised one more jar I had...not intending to seal it properly for longer term keeping, but just to cleanly bottle the syrup for Ian to have with ice cream in the coming week.  I made it up for him tonight, over vanilla ice cream and white nectarines.  And he seemed to like it well enough (wanted to know if there was any for tomorrow's dessert--a good sign).

And on the subject of peach and pink coloured objects, just happen to have stunning roses in the garden in these colours, and ready to bring in for a vase.  I put them in a pretty clear blue glass vase.  And photographed them to add the shots to my photo reference library (for art and artistic inspiration).  I believe all the flowers in the vase to be David Austin varieties.  Two are known by name and two are not.  The warm mid pink on upper and far left and peachy at middle are Eglantyne and Evelyn respectively.  The peach on right are believed to be one of the D. Austin Leander group, and I am not sure which exact name they are (A Shropshire Lad ?  William Morris ?  those are my best guesses).  They are on a shrub that wants to climb and the flowers are in clusters and weigh down the ends of the branches they are on.  The arrangement here has another (just one, on lower left, more cup shaped and cooler pink hued bloom) pink rose which has a heavenly scent and whose name I do not yet know.  I am still working out what varieties and names  roses we have in the legacy collection here (some like Eglantyne and Evelyn had small metal ID tags, but others do not, or their tags have gone lost).
same roses as above in front of
Hydrangeas by Jacqueline Coates

again, roses in front of abstract painting
by Nik de Masi

I have not before thought to photograph flowers in front of some of the paintings we have, using the paintings as backdrops.  Today this just happened, by accident.  But I liked it.  Two of the shots (top and below) are in front of a stunning abstract painting in greens and orange I have in my office, by Nik de Masi.  The second is in front of Hydrangeas, by Jacqueline Coates.  I like both of these paintings as backdrops for this arrangement.  Very much in fact.  (hard to choose which I like the best).  Inspired compositions !

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