Peach Cobbler filling for camping cookouts

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As I wrote a few days back we had grabbed some fresh, local peaches and have been making things with our little crop – this time a Peach Cobbler filling. We are freezing this back for future use so I’m only focused on the filling part of the recipe.

When I was being pro active about batch cooking and freezing items back we were having the best home meals. It makes it easier to make decisions about dinner when there is lots of food to pick from, easier to meal plan, and provides choices when you are feeling in the mood for something but don’t know what.

I also know we are going on a trip in early September, staying at a cabin, where I’ll want to have a few goodies for meals and this would be awesome with ice cream sitting out on the deck! I also like to have cobblers during Thanksgiving and/or Christmas, when I can use my Dutch Oven on the back porch and keep my oven free for Turkey.

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I do prefer to blanch peaches to retain the color and to make it easy to peel them. It goes pretty quickly if you just prepare your ice bath while waiting for the water to boil but before you put any peaches into the water. After blanching, we did trim off the overly ripe areas 😉 and then cut them into chunks.

To peel peaches for cooking or freezing:

  • cut a cross in the bottom of each
  • dunk in boiling water for 30 secs, then put in ice bath.
  • remove skin & pit, chop or slice.
  • toss with lemon juice (1 tsp per peck) to keep color.

Next, we used this peach filling recipe.

Peach Cobbler Filling Ingredients:

  • 8 medium-size fresh peaches, sliced into thin wedges or bite size chunks – about 9-10 cups (we ended up using 10 large peaches)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

In a large glass bowl, combine peaches and coat with lemon juice. Then stir in all the other ingredients and thoroughly coat.

This made one large family batch but we divided it into 3 smaller batches in air tight baggies and popped these into the freezer. BTW we don’t use Ziplock type baggies; we prefer to use the FoodSaver food packaging system which gives a far tighter, airless, spill proof baggie.

If you live alone, you could freeze one cup portions in baggies to use as mini-cobblers as you wish.

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The plan is to use this on our camping trips in our Dutch Oven so I’ll try to make the crust topping beforehand and put in a plastic baggie for use on the trip. Or if you are not keen on making dough, you can use premade pie dough found at the grocery store (it’s just not the same though as homemade 😉

If using a Dutch Oven for cooking bread or something that needs a bit of browning on the top, make sure you put coals on the lid.

I also use a foil liner in the bottom of my Dutch Oven before putting in the filling to keep it easier to serve and to clean the Dutch Oven.

NOTE TO SELF: I would double or even triple this batch to make 4-6 peach cobblers to be used throughout the year.

Making Peach Jam

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This marks our second year for making jam. It takes time. It takes equipment. It sometimes doesn’t work out the way you expected. Pricewise, it’s probably about the same as buying a jar of jam at the grocery store.

So why do it?

Part of it is nostalgia. Our grandmothers always had jams and jellies which they made from scratch in their cupboard. It’s reliving a part of our childhood.

Another reason is the Farm to Table concept. By buying from the farmer, we are putting money into their pocket – no middleman. As a small business person myself, I like to turn my money around and give it back to others who are small businesses. This is my personal preference when I can (and often I can’t because of the thing I want has to be manufactured or produced elsewhere).

Most times the produce prices are no cheaper then the grocery store, but the product is usually 100% better because it is fresher. No traveling in a truck for months; no sitting in a warehouse until it “ripens” enough to be shipped to a store; no moldy strawberries because they kept watering the produce trying to keep it hydrated during it’s road trip and in the store.

For example, the fresh corn we bought last weekend at the Farmer’s produce stand was melt in your mouth delicious with huge kernels versus corn at the grocery store which was puny in flavor.

Price isn’t always the reason for doing things – quality and where you spend your money is also equally important to me and our family.

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We grabbed some fresh peaches from Porter and with one of the overripe 1/2 pecks ($6) we made Peach Jam. These were over ripe, which I wouldn’t choose if you want to freeze peaches for eating but for making this jam, which we prepped the same day, it went great.

First, we blanched the peaches which goes pretty quickly. Blanching keeps the color of your peaches so personally, I would go the extra step. Just prepare your ice bath while waiting for the water to boil but before you put peaches into the water. After blanching, we did trim off the overly ripe areas 😉

We adapted our Peach Jam from this recipe. I used 20 small/medium overripe peaches (1/2 peck) which made about 14 cups peeled and diced. How much produced is going to be determined by the sizes of your peaches.

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 4 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves

The “Jell point” for this recipe was  220 degrees but like many of the other reviews on that recipe, our jam did not set. We boiled for 1-1/2 hours and it never got over 115 so we added 1/2 cup pectin + 1/4 cup sugar and boiled for 1 min more, then jarred it and processed in a hot water bath for 5 mins.

We ended up making 7 cups (7 jars); two of which are set back for Christmas gifts.

We always do a hot water bath for our canning jars. It’s not difficult once you get the right equipment. If you have an Atwoods near you, that is where we bought our Canning equipment – they also sell individual lids to replace your old ones (lids cannot be reused as the seal is never the same). You can also buy this equipment from Amazon or sometimes Target or Wal-mart if you catch them at the right time in the summer.

Once you get the system down it really isn’t as difficult as you might think. It does though take time as this was a half day project. If you still feel uncertain about how to can, check out Youtube for videos or attend a local canning class (see your Home Extension Office for details).

Cubby for media and charging station

Long ago we had extended this wall to shrink the opening from kitchen to family room. When this wall was built we had carved out a niche that we used as a telephone station. But now who uses landlines? So it’s become a television for the chef to watch and a charging station for phones and other media.

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When we built the wall we had run electricity up to the area to power the answering machine. So in the rebuild we had the power but just needed to reconfigure how it would work to charge phones, tablets and television.

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The drywall was cut back to enlarge the area to fit a wall mounted television. Since this wasn’t a weight bearing wall we could do whatever we pleased on the hole and the framing. The electric box was turned so it could provide power on the right and the left side. It sits in the middle of the charging shelves.

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Next angled shelves were installed. These allow the phone or table to sit on a slant so when the door is open, the face of the device can be seen easily. When planning your own, just make sure that the size allows your hand to go into the cubby to pull out the phone; as these shelves were originally planned they were too tight for easy in and out, so we adjusted their size.

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The front was then framed out (as above) and doors were installed on hinges to fold down and up. These were recycled drawer fronts from the island drawers which I pulled out when we redid the island.

When building the unit, we matched the top height lintel and crown molding to the pantry door that was on the same wall as well as the breakfast bay window lintels. The entire thing is painted the same white as all the molding in the house.

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It really turned out looking good and its been great to have our phones and tablets so handy as this is the hub of the house!

Lemon and Vinegar garbage disposal cleanser

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I thought I had referenced this before in this blog, but I’m not seeing a post so here we go again.

We were going to need lemon juice for our peach recipes, so after draining out the juice, I cut the lemon rinds up, and stuck them into an empty ice cube tray. In the original recipe, you use lemons with the liquid and pulp intact but I find this is a good way to use up the lemon rinds from other projects. Pour in enough white vinegar to cover and freeze.

After they freeze, you can throw a few into the garbage disposal, sprinkle with baking soda, turn on the hot water and then start the disposal. Leaves a lovely lemon smell throughout the kitchen!

DIY Kitchen Island, updated

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We had big plans on building a completely new island but as time passed we asked ourselves why we were going to go to all the trouble and expense since we are looking at this renovation just to sell the house?

When we discovered that the table legs we had our eye on vanished from the online store and we would have to go with a different size we decided to change plans altogether and make life easier. However, we had also trashed the doors so what to do!?

Here is the finish and countertop with dimensions of the original island:

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We ended up using the same 3 drawer format and built new drawers that were flat against the surface to provide some interesting counterpoint to the other drawers in the kitchen. In any future kitchen I’m putting in lots and lots of drawers! We use these island drawers for spices as they are located across from the stove.

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The three sections below were originally hinged doors which I found really inconvenient as they opened into the aisle across from the stove and you couldn’t access anything in them easily as they were too deep. In this new version they are now pull out, appliance storage drawers (i.e. bread machine, crockpot, waffle machine etc…) with a pierced pattern on the front similar to a Farmhouse pie-cabinet look. LOVE THEM!

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Here is a diagram plan with measurements that we were working from:

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The exterior paint is a latex I found in the Lowe’s bargain bin and we added a black glaze on top to tone down the green. Two additional coats of Velvet Finishes, Protect poly were put on top of that. The stain on the doors and drawers is by General Finishes and is Antique Oak. The hardware is from a local store, Garbes, and the black granite countertop is by Hoffman, a local installer.

We still need to put in supporting brackets under the overhang (something I decided to add when the counter people came out to measure) and some touch ups on paint.

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We ended up loving this color so much that we’ve decided to go with it and repaint the entire base cabinetry to match.

The cream-white chalk paint we’ve lived with for 3 years is far too much trouble on base cabinetry – as this is where the spills mostly happen. Keeping it clean is almost impossible and any stain shows up on the cream -white. The cream-white base cabinetry against the white floor also doesn’t show up as well as I would like either as there isn’t enough contrast between colors.

The repaint is going to be a big pain in the neck, repaint job but it needs to happen. It was a mistake to go this direction but sometimes you don’t learn until you try something out.

Next up though is getting a new backsplash to show off our new granite counters.

Planning a kitchen island

This post I wrote as a draft three years ago… the island will have its new countertop Tuesday and I’ll update with photos. So this is a blast from the past. We decided to go a different direction but I still love these choices so check them out.

Redoing the kitchen included updating the kitchen island as part of the complete kitchen renovation.

The original cabinet is a three drawer and three door cabinet sitting on the cement foundation. Because there is no tile underneath, and we don’t plan on re-tiling the kitchen, the renovation has to take that factor into account. The island’s electrical box will also be moved to improve aesthetics.

One thing to help in the redesign is take photos from different angles you would enter the room. It helps to visualize the entire space. With this kitchen it’s three directions and these are the two most highly trafficked directions:

From the photos, the island looks just like a box, nothing special. It also blends in with the other cabinetry and just looks like more cabinetry. Fashion wise, today’s kitchen islands look more and more like furniture, preferably an “antique” that has been added to the kitchen either before or after it’s construction.

BTW changing your current island or installing a new one, check your code. There are specifics about how far the island can be placed from the stove, fridge, and dishwasher, as well as the width of walkways through the kitchen. You don’t want to change your island, only to find out you can’t remove your stove!

Looking over alot of ideas for kitchen islands and these were my favorites and why:

The blue island has awesome cornerlegs and I really like how the base molding is done. The only fault is the countertop should have been thicker too for better proportion.

I like the proportion of the upper with the lower, shorter leg on this table from Osbornewood.com. I also like the base shelf being completely open. Our design would need the baseboard to go all the way to the floor to conceal the lack of tile.

Another design with the bottom completely open from RealSimple.com. I think the advantage this design would make the kitchen appear larger. My only problem is how this space would be used for storage and is it realistic for how we use storage in our kitchen?

After reviewing what I liked and why, I know I want to keep the drawers. They are way useful and the kitchen runs a bit short on drawers. Another choice for storage would be baskets for holding onions, garlic, potatoes and other dry pantry items and/or vegetables. I like this idea as it would provide texture and country to the kitchen without going overboard.

Our original plan was this, which I love and may use one day however, for this house we completely went a different direction (and I’ll post later about why).

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Television media stand from vintage sideboard (part 3)

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Wow! This project went a lot faster and was easier then I expected although we did have a few bumps in the road. Not sure why I waited so long!

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First, the vintage cabinet got some repairs and changes made to its structure. The inside shelf was removed, the height was shortened by removing two drawers, and veneer was replaced or repaired.

TIP – if looking to do the same find furniture that is made from 100% wood and is preferably with construction that is tongue and groove (hint: look at the drawers and inside corners).

Second, the television cabinet former sideboard was painted with two coats of Black Onyx semi gloss latex premium paint from Glidden. My other blog post has a lot of tips on how to use the HomeRight Paint Sprayer to make it go much easier and faster. However, I would not use this paint brand again (see below on why).

Now for the finishing touches:

First, we used a coat of paint stripper on the top of the cabinet. This was to remove any old topcoat of varnish or poly as well as clean off any gunk.

Next it was sanded using mostly a fine sandpaper on an electric sander. Again this was just to lighten the wood from the original stain. Husband did this for me and was very industrious! He got it down to bare wood and almost all of the damage out, except for one round stain that remains.

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The stain I used on the top is a water based, wood stain by General Finishes called Antique Oak. I like this color because it has a gray undertone in it and not the dreaded yellow or red color you see in other oak stains.

You may be more familiar with the wipe on Java gel stain this company offers due to the many, many Pinterest projects that use it 😀 If you haven’t used General Finishes before, I highly recommend their products. Very easy to use and a great result.

This water based, stain product is a bit thick like their Java Gel stain, and it is also grainy which surprised me. It went on darker then I expected but that was okay. It dried very fast! So work quickly! I used a foam brush applicator, wore latex gloves and wiped off with a lint clean rag.

TIP: This top was down to bare wood and it was very dry. It soaked up the stain very quickly so be aware you might need to work faster on old wood, vintage pieces then you would on projects that use new wood.

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After one coat of stain, I put on two protective coats of Velvet Finishes Protect on the top and Howard paste wax in neutral on the bottom. The first time using this wax and I’m impressed. Went on very easy (unlike Annie Sloan’s wax) and had the most delicious smell! Easy to buff too.

Behind the Scenes: I tried VF Protect on the black paint area and boy was that a mistake! It immediately started stripping off the paint! Whoa! So if using this product on anything but their own line do a test patch first. I already knew it worked well over this stain due to the kitchen island project where I used them both in combination.

The cabinet originally had wood knobs which I felt made it too country and dated for me. Those I replaced.

The doors didn’t close right and that wasn’t because they were warped (very hard to fix) but because they needed new hardware. Replaced!

Thoughts on this project:

I made a few mistakes. First one, is that I should have treated the bare wood panel we used on one side with a primer or sealant. Once the paint hit it, it raised the wood grain, giving a rough appearance to the surface. Solution? I gave it a slight hand sanding to smooth it down and then repainted that panel with the black.

Second mistake, when I put the cabinet up on 5 gallon buckets that wasn’t really high enough. I should have waited and used the sawhorses which would have allowed me to approach each side at a different angle by simply adding a step stool or not using a step stool. When you can’t change the paint approach slightly (instead you approach head on so to speak) it is hard to get coverage into crevices. I later touched that up with a foam brush.

Third mistake, I used the Velvet Finishes Protect on the black area without doing a test and disaster! It removed the black paint like a paint remover! Egad! Immediately cleaned it off with denatured alcohol, let dry and reapplied the black with a foam brush on the damaged areas.

I do wish I had sprayed on a primer. I think it would have given more grip for the paint and when I do the next project, the King Poster Bed, I will use a primer.

I also wish we had put some sort of ornamentation on the front kickboard area as it looks a little too plain next to all the other carving. OTOH, I’ve since swept in this room and the kickboard allowed me to get a clean sweep across without shoving dust under the unit. Yay!

I think this project would have looked even cooler in a color! Like a red, coral, turquoise or blue. However, I know we’ll be moving in a few years and wanted this in a classic color that would work with a lot of different furniture colors so black it was.

Future thoughts…

The inside of this unit is to store dvds but the current containers I have for them isn’t quite the right size. I looked at Target, Walmart, and Bed and Bath and no one has containers for DVDs??!!

I need a bin that has a straight side, not tapered (that removes the interior space) and with a lid. I found these small and large box at the Container Store so that looks like the storage solution there. Though still looking through various possibilities at Ikea.