Tired Feet

It was a day spent on my feet yesterday. Sue and I were out early for our Friday morning walk. We walked out by my house this time, and we met up at a rental hall down in the valley. The Laurel Community Center, pictured below, was built in 1923. For a while, it was the home of the Laurel Valley School of Dance. The building has gone through many permutations in its life, but we just refer to it as the "Dance Studio." It's also earned itself a spot on the Quilt Barn Trail of Washington County.

We've been watching for some time as this garden has been created and planted at the rear of the building. It seems to be funded by a grant from the Tualatin Soil & Water Conservation District.

The garden is lovely right now with lots of flowers, including many different colors of hollyhocks.

At my feet were these painted rocks.

Looking up was this giant sunflower, about eight feet tall.

Behind were some pretty dahlias.

Also, these little purple guys...about the size of a quarter.

But time was a-wasting, and so we got on our way. The wheat has been harvested, but the oats await their turn.

It was lovely yesterday morning. The weather was coolish, and there was just the slightest hint of mist in the air. This is the expanse where my favorite barn is. You can see it off to the left and near the middle of the image below.

Here's a picture I took in the spring.

Walking on, we saw apples on a tree. These must be close to ripe.

Also, wild Oregon blackberries ripening on a vine.

Some wildflowers blooming by the side of the road. I thought that was a spider when I first saw it, but it was just a bee with its legs spread wide.

Some walnut trees.

When we were finished with our walk, I drove just a few miles down the road to Puck's Peaches. We've purchased peaches here before, but we've always picked them up on our way home from somewhere, and so we arrived from the opposite direction. Until yesterday, I didn't realize how close they are to where we live. Look at how pretty the peaches were on the trees.

Inside and making my purchase, I noticed these by the cash register.

And I scored two boxes of these lovelies. They are drip-down-your-elbows juicy. I'd better get busy canning them before they are all eaten. Oh, but wait...I can go back and get some more!

The peaches will probably have to wait until Monday, however, because yesterday's business was all about the CSA carrots. They were transformed into seven 12-oz. jars of Spicy Dilled Carrot Spears. I can barely keep these on the pantry shelf.

Also, I wanted to take care of the cherry tomatoes from Erik and Mae's garden. These were transformed into 10 half-pints of Moroccan-Spiced Sweet and Hot Cherry Tomato Preserves  emphasis on the hot. It won't knock your head off, but it's pretty spicy. I'm trying to decide if its the full teaspoon of cayenne or the 8 oz.(!) of fresh ginger that goes into them. Or maybe it's the combination of the two.

The recipe is from this book:

I acquired it last year when the Kindle version was just $1.99. The price is back up now, but I'll share the recipe. It says to cook it for 15 minutes, but mine cooked for about an hour before I thought it was ready. So, here you go:

Moroccan-spiced Sweet and Hot Cherry Tomato Preserves
Yield: about 5 pints


8 ounces fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced across the grain
1 teaspoon ground cayenne
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 cup apple cider vinegar
8 cups (4 pint baskets) cherry tomatoes, stemmed
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large juicy lemons, sliced paper-thin on a mandolin, seeded, and cut into eighths
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Place 3 or 4 small plates in the freezer. Prepare a boiling water bath and prepare jars according to manufacturer's directions.

In the container of a food processor or blender, grind the ginger with the cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, and vinegar.

In a large preserving pot over high heat, combine the spice mixture, tomatoes, brown and granulated sugars, lemon slices, water, salt, and pepper, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for about 15 minutes.

Decrease the heat under the tomatoes and cook the mixture, stirring frequently, until it is thick and passes the plate test (see note). It should not be very runny. Season to taste with salt. Remove the pot from the heat.

When jam is ready, ladle into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Wipe the rims clean and set the lids on the mouths of the jars. Twist until finger tight.

Using a jar lifter, gently lower the jars into the pots. When the water returns to a boil, decrease the heat to an active simmer, and process the jars for 10 minutes. (Add 5 minutes of processing time for every 1,000 feet of elevation.) Turn off the heat and leave the jars in the water for 5 minutes.

Using a jar lifter, transfer the jars form the pot to a folded kitchen towel and allow to set for at least 6 hours, until cool enough to handle. Check seals. Label and store sealed jars for 6 months to 2 years. Once open, store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

Note: To do a plate test, drop a spoonful of hot preserves on a frozen plate and return to freezer for one minute. Then, turn the plate so it is vertical to the ground for a second or two. If the preserve is finished, the spoonful will not run much and, after a few minutes back in the freezer will set up semi-firmly if the preserve is ready for jarring. Some say to run your finger through the dollop. If the jam wrinkles it is set.

For today's activities, we're building a wall for our new peony bed. It's taking the place of the iris we took out last year. The peonies are expected to arrive in October. We're getting a head start because we're traveling in September, and we want the bed ready when we return. I'm not sure how much my efforts will be required beyond loading and unloading the bricks, and so the rest of the day's agenda is TBD. If there's time, I'll get after the piles of zucchini and transform them into something that fits into a jar.

It was a two-kitty day at my office window for the writing of this blog post.

You could do a lot worse than this.

8 comments from clever and witty friends:

Julierose said...

WOW--you've been so busy with your canning--those recipes look amazing. I've never canned, but both my Aunt Priscilla (Father's sister) and my Grand-mere did--I was the tomato peeler many times for
their piccalili (sp?) and chili sauces...
My computer went down two days ago and hubster has worked on it 24/7 for two days and VOILA!! he actually fixed it...I baked a loaf of French bread for him as a thank you...hugs, Julierose

kc said...

Your jars are beautiful! Yes, the finger/wrinkle test is a valid one! Oh, I could about smell those lovely 'maters and peaches!!! Color me jealous!

Nope, two kitties in the window is about as good as it gets, especially THOSE two kitties!

Violet Withey said...

Zucchini relish is a great canned item

piecefulwendy said...

Boy, after a day like that, I can imagine you'd be "woofed" (sorry, kitties). Eight ounces of ginger - whoa. While I'd love the hot, zingy flavor, the rest of my family probably wouldn't (but then I could have it all to myself!). Those jars look lovely, all filled with tasty goodness. I'd love to have some peonies in my yard. We used to have some and they seemed to die off.) Hope you can rest up today!

Kate said...

Beautiful scenery for your walk yesterday. Looks like you made a good dent in the canning too. I guess the kitties are still confined to the house?

quiltzyx said...

Love all the bloomin' stuff you & Sue saw on your walk. Seeing those painted rocks has me wanting to paint some too! I do like the one rock at the Peach farm that is looking aghast at the funky peach! LOL

What do you use the Moroccan-Spiced Sweet & Hot Cherry Tomato Preserves with?

Nope, nothing better than having your cats hanging out with you while you work! We almost had a kitty for the office, but Melinda is VERY allergic, so we had to stick with the weiner dog & now, Hank, a Newfoundland-Lab mix (part time). Hank is so sweet & funny. This week when Brett came to get him to go home, he was laying by my desk. Brett came in, fussed & petted him, & gave him a couple smooches then "C'mon Hank, let's go home!" Hank sat up & pushed into my legs...every time Brett called him, he got closer to me! LOL Brett finally had to grab his collar to get him to go out to go home. Ahhhh, my super power strikes again.

QuiltGranma said...

Me too! I'm inspired to go find my outdoor craft paint and do some rocks again. Hubby is the canner and I will NOT be showing him this post. (but I did copy and paste it to my computer!)

betty-NZ said...

What wonderful summery things! The dahlias are just fantastic to see in my wintery days here.

My Corner of the World