Did you know that peaches grow well in New England? I seriously didn't. I always associated them with the south. But I've been researching pick-your-own apple farms in the area, and everyone has peaches right now. Peaches, and late season raspberries. Craziness! Naturally, I had to go see for myself what this was all about.

Fred and I picked a rainy morning to head down and try out a farm. Well, we didn't pick the rain, it's been raining non-stop and we're running out of free mornings, so we went anyway. I won't say much about the farm, because it honestly wasn't that great. But indeed, they did have peach trees and we snagged an awesome ton of little peaches.


These guys were all on the small side, and the pits weren't proportionately smaller. Some of them were freestone, but a lot of them weren't. So we spent an awful long time slicing the peaches off their pits. But oh, the smell! Man, I don't know what grocery stores are hawking these days, but they sure don't smell like peaches quite like these did. And the taste! Every sweet juicy bite had us grinning like fools.

And then we made more peach jam than I can shake a stick at. Vanilla bourbon peach jam, to be precise, because with a name like that I couldn't resist. I adjusted this recipe a bit, and while mine didn't come out all beautiful and bright orange like the original, it still tastes like joy.

Vanilla Bourbon Peach Jam

Here's my recipe. I used Pomona's Universal Pectin, which allows for double batches and way less sugar. This is a rough amalgamation of the suggested recipe inside the box and my inspiration. Note that other pectins will have you add the sugar and the pectin at different stages in the process. Be sure to scale the recipe and follow the instructions from your pectin of choice!

Vanilla Bourbon Peach Jam
(makes about 11 cups)

8 c. chopped peaches (yield from that basket up there)
6 T lime juice
1/2 vanilla bean pod, halved and scraped
pectin as per the instruction in the box
3 c. sugar
1/4 c. bourbon (Jim Beam Black)
2 t. almond extract

Prepare your peaches as you'd like. (We didn't peel ours, and just chopped them roughly as we pitted them. One batch we blended into submission with a hand blender. The other batch we smashed with a potato masher, and later decided to blend partially. Do whatever works for you.) Mix in a giant pot with the lime juice, seeds from your vanilla bean pod, and the calcium water if required by your pectin. Bring this mess to a boil, stirring quickly enough to not get splattered. Next, as per Pomona's instructions, add the sugar and pectin and return to a boil, still stirring carefully. Remove from heat and pour in the bourbon and almond extract. Contemplate as to whether this delicious boozy stew might just be the cure for the common cold. Pour into sterilized jars and set into a hot water bath to boil for 10 minutes. Remove the jars, and listen for that tell-tale ping of sweet success :)


what we eat 2

Scrambled Tortillas

I realize this looks like a big pile of potatoes and mush with tomato sauce on top. It's scrambled tortillas from Moskowitz's Vegan Brunch, and even she says it's hard to photograph. Any picture of it at all is conspicuously missing from the cookbook. (Side note - I just found this recipe and about 20 pages of Vegan Brunch on Google Books!)

Scrambled tortillas are basically a pile of sauteed onions, jalapenos and corn tortillas that you cook with blended tofu till it turns awesome, mix with steamed potatoes, and top with a spiced tomato sauce. Yum. As Fred said, it's like getting all wrapped up inside a warm enchilada and then eating it. I could totally see a person making this with a few eggs instead of the tofu, adding other veggies, or topping with guacamole. Although unphotogenic, it's way tasty.


what we eat 1

Oh hi! How's your summer been? I just got back from a month teaching and coaching and performing and recording at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute with Bala Brass. Man, that was a whirlwind of a time! It was pretty fantastic, but I'm glad to be back in my own home again. Seriously, I missed my kitchen.

I realize my last 3 posts have been at least somewhat about food. This year I've discovered that my love for cooking is way stronger than I ever imagined. It's kind of over the top. Fred says that if I keep it up he's going to die fat and happy. Nothing is quite as rewarding as playing my horn, thank goodness, but cooking is quickly becoming my other first love. There's only one tricky detail. We're dietary vegans. Now this poses no problems as far as I'm concerned, but I realize that "vegan foodie" might come across as an oxymoron. So I thought I would spend some time on the subject.

Fred and I were vegetarians before we met each other, and decided to go vegan between Thanskgiving and Christmas of 2005. We like to say that we eat things that come from the earth rather than listing the things we don't eat. But that being said, we avoid meats, fish, eggs, and dairy products. We eat this way for purely selfish reasons, just because we feel good when we do. It's not an animal rights thing for us so we still wear wool and leather. For that matter, we still eat honey. We try not to proselytize and we certainly aren't offended by others cooking or eating meat around us. When we aren't in control of our cooking we're flexible as necessary, and we're extra flexible when desert is involved. As much as being vegan makes me feel good, sometimes a treat from the coffee shop feels good too!

Eating vegan doesn't feel hugely limiting to us. A lot of foods in this world happen to fall under the vegan heading. Heck, even Oreos are vegan! It means a lot of label reading and a lot of cooking, but it feels good so it's worth it to us. It's also pushed me to be creative in the kitchen, something that might not have happened without the "limitations" of our diet. But we eat some awesome and tasty foods, so I thought I would start to share that here.

Tonight I made my first attempts at a galette. Two galettes, actually. Deb over at Smitten Kitchen made this beautiful zucchini galette a while back, and I haven't been able to get it out of my mind. I wanted so badly to make one at Tanglewood. We even lived next to a farmer who sold his vegetables from a stand in his front yard. He always had such a pile of zucchinis. But of all things, our kitchen wasn't stocked with measuring cups. Cheap as I am, I spent the entire month cooking what I could without measuring cups. Ugh. Then when we got home the zucchinis at the grocery store looked pathetic in comparison and I couldn't bring myself to get a single one. But yesterday we were out visiting family in Western Mass, and they were trying to get rid of the extra zucchinis from their garden! Score on the zucchinis.

Then there's the matter of the crust. I'm habitually wary of pie crusts. My mom didn't make a ton of pies while I was growing up, and I've botched a few since then, so I just don't have a great working relationship with pie crusts. But yesterday I was flipping through one of my mom's old Cooking Light cookbooks and I found a recipe for greek baking-powder piecrust. It uses olive oil so it's accidentally vegan, and the book describes it as easy-to-make and convenient. Awesome.

Vegan Zucchini Galette

I used the tofu basil ricotta recipe from Veganomicon, added some sliced tomatoes and my zucchini, and here's what we've got. I can't wait to dig into this guy. And the pie crust recipe makes two crusts, so I tossed some leftover farm stand peaches we had lying around into the other one. Instant desert.

Vegan Peach Galette

So there you have it, the first installation of "what we eat." I'm hoping my posts come more frequently these days, but I'm guessing they'll come with more pictures and fewer words as school starts. I'm going to cook up a storm while I still can!