When I was younger, my mom and I used to go strawberry picking and make jars and jars of strawberry jam. Since we haven't done that in a while, and I have been itching to make some sort of jam, I thought a peach jam would be perfect. Fresh Ontario peaches are in season (you know, those peaches that are in those trademark "Ontario Fruit" baskets that are everywhere nowadays), and I wanted to do something with them other than just eat them out of hand (which there is absolutely nothing wrong with).

I woke up actually feeling really excited at the prospect of making this jam. The recipe called for 8 cups of fruit, so I spent a good amount of time prepping for this dish. The recipe was very straight-forward, using ingredients that I already had on hand. The actual cooking-the-fruit-down-to-jam-like-consistency was a very easy process, requiring only occasional stirring.

The result? To be honest, I haven't tried it yet. I'm going to bring a couple of jars with me to school, once I move in, so I can tell you how it tastes then. Until then, make yourself some jam! I can't belive 16 peaches basically boiled down to 7 mini-jars of jam. That's some heavily concentrated peach flavour!

Fresh Peach Jam

  • 8 cups peeled, pitted, and slice peaches
  • 1 peeled, cubed apple (I used Granny Smith)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated citrus zest (I used lemon and grapefruit, because I only had one lemon)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1. Put all ingredients in a large pot.
2. Cook over medium heat, for about 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. 3. Mash the fruit up a bit, if there are large chunks (leave the little ones...this will give your jam a nice chunky appearance).
4. Check for the right consistency: place a bit of the jam on a plate and put it in the freezer until cool. If the jam is still runny, continue cooking. If the jam is thick and jam-like, the jam is ready.
5. Ladle the jam into sterilized mason jars (to sterilize them, just stick them in a large pot of boiling water and let them boil away), and let the jam cool slightly.
6. Seal the containers with a thick layer of melted wax (make sure it's canning-safe!) and let the wax set before putting the lids on.
7. The jars should keep at room temperature (probably for a while, considering it has been sterilized and sealed).
8. Once open, keep the jam in the fridge.
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I'm writing this post with a heavy sigh. It is now August 23rd, and school is just around the corner. This means that summer is pretty much over, and fall is just around the corner as well. The last of the summer berries have ripened, and this has paved the way for late-summer corn and baskets of peaches. Although I am excited at the prospect of comforting fall/autumn flavours, I don't think I'm ready to give up the sensation of biting into a perfectly ripe peach just yet.
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I can't remember the last time I went to Taste of the Danforth. It was a looong time ago. Last Friday at 6pm was Taste of the Danforth 2009's official start. Since my Grandmother lives within walking distance to Greektown, my mom offered to go with me.

We left the house around 6pm, and arrived to see the festival in full swing. The weather was very nice and mild, so I think that also contributed to the huge crowd. It was actually pretty crowded. Line ups for food were bearable however, although they only got longer as the night progressed. Good thing we got there early and avoided all the giant line ups. My mom first went for the $5 rack of ribs at Gabby's, which was causing quite a stir.

Throughout the night, we bought different things to eat along the way. I bought a small cup of lima beans that were sauteed with tomato sauce and oregano. The beans were giant! And it was a pretty tasty dish too. We also shared what was called a "butterfly cake," which was basically a mini sponge cake filled with sweet custard, topped with whipped cream. The top of the cake was sliced off, cut into two, and then placed back on to resemble butterfly wings. Later on in our walk, we passed by Caffe Demetre's, which was selling $3.00 scoops of ice cream in a waffle cone! So, of course I had to get some. I know it was a Greek festival, and you must be thinking "what about the baklava?" Truth be told, I don't really like baklava and loukoumades. They're basically drenched in honey, and I find it to be tooth-achingly sweet. Way too sweet for me. And besides, if I ever have a craving for it, I can just walk over from my Grandmother's house!

I got back home around 10:45, and I was actually really surprised at how long we stayed at the Danforth. I had a good time, and it was nice to see everybody out and about supporting everything Greek!
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Why have I waited so long into the summer to make these? Everyone who knows me KNOWS that I am a peanut butter freak. I can live off the stuff. I just haven't been baking much with it. I like my peanut butter straight up. Yum...

One day when I got home from work, I had this sudden urge to bake something. And I thought, of course, peanut butter cookies are delicious, really easy to whip up, and require minimal clean-up and hassle. So off I went.

I adapted a recipe from an old September 2008 Food & Wine magazine that I happened to have lying around the kitchen. The recipe was much like the one on the back of the Kraft peanut butter jar (which is a recipe that I didn't really like when I tried it out a while back). However, these cookies turned out really tasty! They're pretty addictive too. I woke up this morning to find only a couple left. When I saw the plate last night, it was still full. I guess someone in my family had the late night munchies. The cookies are nice and soft and slightly chewy. I would have like it to be more chewy though. Maybe I'll up the amount of brown sugar next time. I think I want to increase the amount of rolled oats as well.

Today I'm off downtown for the Taste of the Danforth festival. Since the festival starts at around 6pm tonight, we're probably just going to hang around the East York/Leslieville/Little India area and eat lunch, shop (for cheap produce at Chinatown!), etc.

Peanut Butter Cookies
  • 1 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy, your choice. I used smooth because it was what I had at home)
  • 1/4 brown sugar
  • 1/4 granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a bowl, mix together all ingredients until well blended and mixed.
3. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving some space inbetween cookies.
4. Bake for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant (you can really smell the peanut makes the whole house smell like it...mmmm).
July 26th was my sister's 20th birthday, which is just another excuse for me to bake a cake. I wanted to make a more complicated cake, but I didn't have enough time! So I settled on making a chocolate buttermilk cake with a white chocolate pastry cream filling. I knew she didn't want anything with fruit in it, so I obviously looked for something chocolatty. I made the filling and the cake one day, and then filled it and let it sit overnight (so that the pastry cream could kind of soak into the cake a bit and let the flavours meld).

So for her birthday, we went out for dinner at Memories of Japan, and then we went for some gelato at Hollywood Gelato. This was my first time there, and it was extremely busy, especially for a Sunday. I walked in and was overwhelmed by all the people and possible flavours. In the end, I chose a scoop of pistachio and a scoop of roasted marshmallow (you can get a max of two flavours for a small cone). The flavours were very strong, and it tasted exactly how it should taste. The pistachio tasted like you were eating pistachios, and the roasted marshmallow tasted like you were eating roasted marshmallows! The gelato was so creamy and light, and the portions were very generous. Make a trip down there if you can!

Back to the cake! It's not the prettiest cake, but it tasted okay. The pastry cream didn't really taste white-chocolatty enough, but it was still a good filling. The chocolate buttermilk cake was very moist and rich. Another successful receipe from Caprial's Desserts (I know, it's as if this is the only cookbook I use)! The pastry cream kind of squished out around the sides when I put on the top of the cake.

Happy (belated) birthday Jessica!
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