Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Odds and Ends

Summer has dropped round again, after a few cloudy and cool days. Eighty-five yesterday, supposed to hit ninety-five today, maybe a hundred tomorrow.

In the make-hay-while-the-sun-shines mode, I yesterday afternoon cleaned out the roof's gutters. I hadn't intended to do that, I was just going to use the leaf blower to clear some of the pine and fir straw from the shingles, but once I was on the ladder, I noticed that there was four inches of stuff in the gutters. It is much more pleasant -- strike that -- less unpleasant to clean it out when the litter is nice and dry and toasty, as opposed to slimy-gunky wet.

Even with Mr. Leaf Blower assisting, cleaning out gutters around my house is not at the top of my fun-things-to-do list, but it needs to be done, and so it was. Probably will do it again just before fall monsoons begin at the end of October.

On a genuinely more pleasant note, I picked another small bag of plums on the dog walk. There is an Asian Plum tree behind the drugstore, (those little bitty ones not much bigger than cherries) that bears a lot of fruit that nobody seems to want. My lovely bride, who sometimes gets out her Mason jars and canning gear and makes things, discovered that she can make a pepper jelly using these that is, in a word, delicious. Tart, sweet, and just a smidge of heat.

She uses apples instead of commercial pectin for a thickener, and it works well.

It is trick to get the percentage of peppers right -- hard to tell how hot they are, since they vary so much. Usually jalapeƱo is enough, sometimes poblano, and the fruit tends to cool out the fire, but this makes an excellent spread by itself, and tasty adjunct to a sandwich or open-faced burger.

These can be frozen whole and used later, since they will be cooked, and freshness is not an issue. Ditto blackberries, some of which last weekend we also picked. The plums are about done, but the blackberries are still coming in, and we'll get more of them.

In the middle of the winter, a cup or two of blackberries used for a pie, or black-iron-skillet cake -- what we call a "wheat-thing" -- can really be a taste of summer. And the blackberry liquor, made with brandy and vodka, is outstanding, too ...

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