Monday, August 29, 2011

What I did on my summer vacation...

I'm baaccckkk!  Did ya miss me?  I thought so.

We had an incredible summer, and even though the temperature is still in the mid 90's here in balmy South Florida, I like to think that Summer is coming to an end, and Fall is just around the corner.  Gives me something to look forward to, like balmy mid 80's weather.

Rafting in Cocktail Cove with great friends, Lisa & Ken

We spent much of our summer in the most beautiful state, North Carolina.  The sky was big and blue.  The lake was cool and refreshing.  And the farmer's markets were beyond my expectations of all things good and good for you.

The Babe and our dogs on the hiking trail.

The Babe started a raised bed garden for me last Fall, and I excitedly planted my seeds in the Spring.  Prayed for rain, and for the deer to find their dinners elsewhere.  When we arrived this summer, we were thrilled to find that we actually grew somethings edible!

My first zucchini!  No, not a watermelon, that's a zucchini.

Next year, I've got to convince the Babe to expand my triple it.  We may need to invest in a horse and plow.

And so, this Summer, for the first time in my life, I decided to try something I always wanted to do, but fear kept me from ever attempting it.  It was the thing that always caught my eye (and my cash) when visiting Farmer's Markets or festivals.  The thing that was a complete mystery to me, but my love for it's contents were so attractive  I couldn't resist them...

My very first preserve - North Carolina Peach Jam!

Yep,  that's right.  I taught myself the art of canning!  You know, preserving, "putting up".  Believe really is an art.

Once I started with the simple Peach Preserves, I was hooked!  I rushed out to buy another book on canning, more canning jars, labels, and those colorful little squares of cloth that make your jars look so damn cute.  Next on to the fruit and vegatable stands - buying loads of pickling cucumbers, strawberries, tomatoes (the best are grown in North Carolina, I swear they are), blueberries, and cherries.  The Babe thought I lost my mind.  Again.

Next thing you know....

I couldn't stop myself.  I canned for hours.  I canned for days.  And I loved every moment of it!

If you are a novice "canning artist", I highly recommend the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.

This book was my go-to guide, and perfect for beginners.  The recipes were delicious, and the canning instructions were very easy to understand.  As my confidence grew, so did the ideas in my could I incorporate my love for good wines and cocktails into my new found obsession passion?

I hate to keep you in suspense, so I will soon share my most recent bright idea - you guys are going to love it!

How was your summer?