I'm not the best match for a teenage boy. Video games aren't my thing. (Especially games like HALO... they make me feel motion sick.) I'm not into robots or gizmos or wacky inventions. Manga? Also not my thing. Overall, you'd think that I couldn't manage to find activities that we would both enjoy.
But we're two-for-two lately.
While I'm not quite ready for another hiking adventure with my son, we did find something that made both of us happy on Sunday. We (Stinky and I) went with Kate to the orchards in Kimberly, OR. Actually, Kimberly might be the orchard, and the orchard might be Kimberly. I'm not sure which is which... I just know there wasn't much else out there.
Supposedly Kimberly is the place to go for peaches. Their peaches are legendary. Everyone in Bend talks about going to Kimberly to pick peaches. Since it's the thing to do... that's what we did. I had my camera with me but neglected to take any pictures. I wish I had. In case you ever have to entertain a teenage boy I suggest peach picking. Here's why...
First off they give you a "pole picker". It's a long piece of PVC with a wire basket at the end. You hold it against the branch near the peach and jiggle it until the peach falls off into the basket. It's genius really, because then those of us with balance issues or vertigo don't have to climb up wobbly ladders in order to pick peaches from high branches.
So basically, they gave my son a stick. And then send him off running through an orchard. And told him it was okay to hit the trees with the stick. And if he got hungry? Eat one of the peaches.
Another part of peach picking that is fun for teenage boys? (And probably kids of all ages...) Stomping and squishing the fallen peaches that were all over the ground while laughing maniacally.
- Getting dirty ... check!
- Making lots of noise ... check!
- Waving a stick around ... check!
- Food ... check!
- Something gross ... check!
And it's all allowed ... PERFECT!!
Kate and I stayed far away from my son with his pole picker and squishy shoes. We managed to pick many pounds of fruit that our families will enjoy for months to come. Also? Everyone had a good time and no one got hurt.
But by the way... if you pick 20 pounds of RIPE peaches and then bring them home? You have to do something with them, that night before you can go to sleep. Otherwise you risk a big flock of fruit flies moving in and making themselves at home in your kitchen. So that evening I made peach jam, peach cobbler, and froze the rest. We picked some smaller peaches that were a little green... but they are ripening nicely and are great "lunch box" peaches.
Personally, I recommend the peach jam. But if you want to try it you'll have to get your own peaches. It's so good that I'm not sharing!!
Peach Freezer Jam
Adapted from http://southernfood.about.com/od/jamsjellies/r/bl80711a.htm
I used freshly picked Alberta peaches. They were very ripe off the tree so I made jam the same day we picked them. Make sure you get "freestone" peaches so that the pits will come out easily.
Wash peaches. Bring a large pot of water up to a steady rolling boil. Fill a large bowl 1/2 way with ice, and then add cold water. Using a slotted spoon or strainer, put a peach into the boiling water. Remove after about 10 seconds and place immediately into the cold water. Repeat with remaining peaches.
When you remove the peaches from the cold water the skins should peel off easily. Discard the skins and slice peaches - you need 4 cups of fruit. Use a blender, hand mixer or immersion blender to crush the fruit, leaving a few larger pieces if you like a chunky jam.
Pour the peaches into a large saucepan, and toss with 1/4 c lemon juice. Using a wooden spoon slowly stir in 1 package of powdered fruit pectin (make sure you get the kind that specifies it's for use with freezer jam). Let stand for 20 minutes, giving it a stir about every 5 minutes.
Stir in 1 c light corn syrup, then stir in 5 1/2 c sugar. Blend well, ensuring all the sugar is dissolved. Cook over very low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. You just want it to get warm to the touch - NOT hot.
Remove pan from heat. Ladle jam into jars (I like the pint size ball jars labeled "for freezer") and cover/seal immediately. Let stand for about 30 minutes, or until jelly consistency. Store in freezer for up to one year.
Once you open the jar, store in the refrigerator - don't re-freeze! It will last about one week (if you don't eat it all in one sitting).
For me this yielded 4 pint jars and 2 quart jars. Your mileage may vary. Do NOT double this recipe - it works better if you make multiple batches!
This jam is fantastic on PB&J sandwiches ... or warmed up and served over vanilla ice cream (with a little granola or shortbread).