Week 33: Jams!

19 Aug

Last weekend I went to my friend’s parent’s farm, Shady Acres Organic Farm, in New York. It was amazing. The farm is completely gorgeous – there’s a koi pond, plenty of shade, and a hammock to nap in. Not to mention the gardens, where Ana and Bob grow tomatoes, greens, peppers, carrots, beans, watermelons – pretty much anything you could ask for.

Amazing, right?

Because Nick’s mom Ana is a fabulous host, we ate like kings the entire weekend. Dinner on the first night was freshly-caught fish, lightly fried, served with a zucchini relish that was to-die for. We had mussels for an appetizer, a tomato-mozzarella-basil salad, and a delicious cucumber and dill salad. Everything was so fresh that it was one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten. The cucumbers and tomatoes taste a million times more amazing than those Shaws vegetables I grew up on.

Beautiful dinner table

The next morning we had an impromptu jam-tasting, using all the jams and jellies that Ana has made from the fresh fruit on the farm. We tried bluebarb jam, black cap/currant jelly, cucumber marmalade, spicy pear jam, and current jam. They were amazing! The cucumber marmalade was excellent, but belonged on a biscuit or cracker, not an English muffin. The spicy pear tasted like the fall and the bluebarb jam was sweet and delicious. I think my favorite was the black cap/current, which surprised me because I didn’t know what a black cap or a current was and didn’t think I would like it.

Breakfast jam-tasting

After the jam-tasting, instead of cozying up in the hammock or reading by the koi pond, we got to work. We made tomato sauce and bread and butter pickles and learned how to can them. Seriously! We did! It was so much fun too. We donned our aprons, stewed the tomatoes, chopped cucumbers, and tasted away. There were hours of  sauce-simmering and cucumber-cooling, and then we were ready to can. It’s a bit of a complicated process, which Nick’s mom makes seem soooooo easy. She  gets you right into the thick of things – we were stirring, tasting, pouring, boiling, and sealing away until we each had a dozen jars of delicious tomato sauce and crispy pickles to take home with us.

It was a completely amazing weekend at Shady Acres. We sat at the farm stand, picked fresh vegetables for dinner, fed the koi, napped in the hammock, played with the dogs, ate like kings, and canned like Martha Stewart. I fell in love with the farm and cannot wait until we visit again.

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