The heat this summer seems more oppressive than usual. It is hard to find the energy to do much more than the bare essentials. All spring I looked forward to summer bounty from the orchard and gardens and now it seems a bit overwhelming. Peaches still cluster on tree branches despite the bushels that have been harvested. I bought jars to make Peach Freezer Jam but as each day passes I think, “I’ll do it tomorrow”. Our peaches are so ripe that juice drips from my fingers as I eat one. That’s the way peaches should be, sweet and juicy and delicately flavored. I used to be frustrated that I couldn’t buy peaches that were actually ripe. Picking them while still quite firm is better for storing but, to me, a peach has to be soft and juicy. Contrary to common belief, peaches may soften after they’re picked, but they don’t actually ripen more.

Tomatoes, peppers, and onions are just some of the vegetables that call to me. Once upon a time I would have been canning tomatoes, simmering tomato sauce, filling jars with dill pickles and grinding up cucumbers, green tomatoes, peppers and onions for piccalilli. This ennui makes me feel guilty, I should be taking advantage of all this bounty.

Blueberries are still plentiful, blackberries look to be a bumper crop, cherries, currants, and raspberries are finished but looking out the window over my desk, I can see apple trees hanging heavily with apples. I would soon be able to make applesauce and apple pies for the freezer but I won’t. When I had a family of seven to feed, the freezer and fruit cellar shelves couldn’t hold too much food. Now even if I found the ambition to preserve all these wonderful fruits and vegetables, two old people wouldn’t made a dent in them.

Even so, we have fresh blueberries on our cereal, tomatoes daily, salads with lovely greens from the garden and juicy peaches for dessert. I will make the jam, probably peach-blackberry, and put a few bags of sweet corn in the freezer. That’s one of the best vegetables to freeze and one of the easiest. I blanch the ears in boiling water for a minute. Cool them in an ice water bath, cut the kernels off and freeze serving size portions in plastic bags.  Last year I froze mounds of corn on a waxed paper lined tray and then vacuum sealed them. Out of the freezer, I just put the pouch in simmering water and serve when hot.

I found a new vinaigrette recipe that we like a lot. It is made with Balsamic vinegar that is reduced by half by simmering, before being combined with other ingredients. I is a bit more complex and holds up well to spinach and romaine salads.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
1/2 cups olive oil
1 scant tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 scant tablespoon honey
Salt and pepper to taste

Place vinegar in a small sauce pan and bring to boil. Boil until reduced by half, 3 or 4 minutes. Pour into a bowl with other ingredients and whisk until completely blended. If it seems too thick, thin with a little water. The mustard seems to keep it pretty well emulsified. I usually put it into a glass jar and shake vigorously until it’s blended, then store it in the jar.