I’m one of those people who ogles the truffle collection at a chocolate store. So pretty and delicate, I can stand there for hours. I don’t want to get too many (no matter the quantity, they’ll be gone in less than a day) and need to get the perfect mix. Generally that means a high ratio of dark chocolate with salty or fruit combinations. I’m not sure you’ve been to a truffle counter recently, but they’re not cheap. Anywhere from $1.50 to $5 per piece. So what does the resourceful cook do? Well learn to make truffles herself, of course.
If you look hard enough there are still just a few peaches left. I almost overlooked them at the Fort Greene Farmer’s Market last week, mistaken them for another variety of apples among the already half a dozen or so other bins. Between canning, crisping and just straight out eating, I feel like I’ve gotten my fill of peaches for the summer. But when the last of a harvest is about to leave you for almost a full year, somehow you find the need to buy just a few more.
I haven’t put up whole (well, quarter) peaches in some time. I started canning three years ago and was perhaps a bit overambitious. I put up salsa, dilly beans and jams with ease. How much different could whole fruit be? I was house sitting for my mom for a few weeks and toted my trusty canning pot along with me for the ride. Her kitchen is about 3 times the size of mine with a gorgeous stainless stove and ample marble counter tops. How could I not want to spend every free moment cooking there?
I came home with pounds and pounds of peaches from their local farm, ready to can. Though I wasn’t prepared for the fickleness of peaches. Not too hard, not too soft they had to be just right, blanched for the perfect seconds of time then canned with care. I had a few instances of jars not sealing but eventually canned 5-6 pints of fruit. Though when I later went to enjoy them I found the texture of the peaches reduced to mush, and the flavor far too sugary. After all the stress, I ended up with sub par fruit that got carelessly thrown into a cobbler. I’d almost rather go without peaches than suffer through to make something so flavorless. I was off peaches for good, or so I thought. It was my friend’s perfectly canned bourbon peaches that forced me to go another round with the fickle stone fruit.
By now you should be very familiar with Smitten Kitchen and her glorious Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes. If not, you may be living under a rock or are not seeking enough creative ways to get your daily servings of booze. Both are unacceptable. I was first introduced to Smitten Kitchen and her boozy cupcakes at a friend’s St Patrick’s Day party. I’ve never done an Irish Car Bomb. After dropping in a shot of Jameson and Bailey’s, you need to quickly chug the beer before the Irish Cream curdles. Considering my idea of downing a beer still takes a good half hour, while others have already moved onto a second round, I don’t think the concept would work too well. Nevertheless, when my friend added cupcake to the end of the description, I was already in love.
I’m not Irish, not in the littlest bit. A pure bred Polish girl is what you’re looking at. But when my mom remarried over a decade ago, she chose an Irishman, with roots from Northern Ireland, just outside Belfast. I met his family for 5 minutes when they came for the wedding in 2001. When I really met them for first time we went to Ireland in 2002 and spent barely a week with them, but they welcomed me like I had always been part of the family. Two years later when my friend and I backpacked across Europe, my stepfather’s parents welcomed us into their home and insisted on taking us to visit every tourist location and castle within a 50 mile radius. I swear his mom, then in her 70s had more spunk and energy than we did at 21. We weren’t allowed to sleep in or lounge around–there was always something to see and do. His niece, my cousin in law, took us out on the town in Belfast and introduced us to Spuds (loaded baked potatoes–the Irish solution to our late night post bar diner food). So while I have no actual Irish blood in me, I think a bit has rubbed off.