Part of our week's activities (to be listed below) involved the final photo shoot for the Canning & Preserving book in the Homemade Living series. I took the opportunity to teach Devan and Theo the joys of water bath canning. They rocked it like only the Adams sisters can.
In honor of the season, and North Carolina's proximity to, well, South Carolina (well known for its peaches), we made Peach & Lavender butter. The recipe is included in "Canning & Preserving" (get ready to whip up some jars yourself next Summer, as by then, you'll hopefully have your hands on my book, slated for release April 2010). Here the girls are using an immersion blender to render the cooked chunks of peaches into a smooth, buttery sauce.
Theo deftly removes any trapped air bubbles in the jars with the aid of a wooden chopstick.
Devan secured the lids and screw bands, while Theo moved on to expert (and repeated) bowl licking.
This was the first time I've taught the craft to anyone. It felt so empowering to pass on the knowledge, and inherent joy, of water bath canning. They told me on their way out this morning that they're already beginning to feel the urge to make jam out of every piece of fruit in sight. They've got the FEVER!
Here's a run down of our week together:
-Summer Solstice potluck at a friend's house
-Lavender Festival on a mountaintop, complete with chocolate lavender ice cream, baby goat petting, and lavender lemonade
-Tour of the Biltmore House and grounds, prefaced by a forest picnic in a bamboo grove; we capped the evening with dinner and "The Hangover" at Cinebarre
-Indian food at Mela, followed up by haircuts at Adorn; next, we shopped downtown, imbibed Lychee cocktails at an outdoor cafe, and gorged ourselves on Glenn's homemade pizza
-All-day Jam Session, Jar-Decorating, and Gift-Basket Creation (for the next day's photo shoot); homemade mac & cheese for dinner (YUM!)
-Photo Shoot (We were documenting a "Canning Party", where you get together with your best pals, whip up a batch of something delicious, can it, giggle, and bask in each other's wonderousness)
-Hike through a rhododendron and fern forest alongside a creek in Montreat, followed by shopping and homemade gelato in the gorgeous postage-sized town of Black Mountain (we're already looking for real estate), and a beer with an old high-school friend at an outdoor Mexican cantina
-River tubing on the Green River, followed by a garden, bee yard, & honey extraction tour at a friend's house, cocktails at dusk, grilled food, and late-night s'mores around the fire pit
I miss them already. My older brother and his wife came up from Charlotte yesterday to enjoy the tubing and feasting. I love a house full of family. Devan, who was infinitely gracious enough to masterfully paint our upstairs hall during her visit, is already planning to return in Autumn for more house projects and sisterly fun. We're collectively plotting for my father and stepmother to relocate to the area (got that Pops?). It officially feels like Summer!
*Small Measure: Visit local farms. In fact, this weekend, the annual Family Farm Tour was happening. I had too much going on to attend, but we actually visited one of the participating farms during the Lavender Festival. Local farm visits, especially during Summer months, are fabulous ways to harvest produce at its peak, both nutritionally and flavor-wise. Check out pickyourown for locations of local farms in your area.