Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Things that are Good to Know

Do not microwave beets.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Going "Off Script"

I don't usually deviate from canning recipes. There are usually strict warnings in all the cookbooks, on the order of, "If you don't follow these directions to the letter, you will get food poisoning and DIE." Sometimes I really want to vary the recipe, though, and I'm starting to get a little braver. The cranberry habanero jam (aka "Cranbanero") was one of my first deviations. The other day I found blood oranges in the local Whole Foods. I love blood oranges. I don't really like marmalade. What could I possibly do with these things other than just eat them? Blood oranges...sangria...sangria jam? I wonder....

So I found a recipe for sangria jelly and added a few of my own touches. It smells awesome. It tastes awesome. I don't know what kind of shelf life it will have, but hopefully "long enough."

Here's the recipe with my modifications:

1 1/2 c. red wine
2 T. lemon juice
2 T. lime juice
1/4 c. blood orange juice
4 thin slices of blood orange, cut up, with some rind left on
3 1/3 c. sugar
1 pouch liquid pectin

I brought everything but the pectin to a boil, added the pectin and boiled for 2 full minutes. I processed the jam in 1/2-pint jars for 10 minutes and let them rest for 5 before removing them. It made 4 jars and a little bit more.

Here's a shot of the finished product - a beautiful burgundy color.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


I was working a late shift and so missed dinner. In my absence my family opened up a quart of the turkey vegetable soup I made after Thanksgiving. Our 7 year old reports, "I loved it!" Not the usual response to leftovers!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Wow, I am tired. We had everyone over to our house for an early Christmas dinner. The menu included Cornish game hens stuffed with wild rice stuffing and glazed with the Heavenly Fig Jam from the Complete Book of Home Preserving. The fig went really well with the hens.

For dessert I made a cheesecake and topped it with a pint of preserved blueberries picked in July at the Sugar Shack in the Finger Lakes Region of NY. The berries were preserved in a simple sugar syrup, which I drained off. I didn't want the berries to be too runny. I put the berries on and put the cheesecake back in the fridge for a few minutes to help them thicken up a bit. I don't know if that last step really did anything or not. Thanks to all the family members who helped pick berries - we were picking machines and brought well over 25 pounds of blueberries home that day. It's amazing what a little competition will do!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Dinner

For Christmas eve dinner I made my favorite dish: Pork Roast. Mmm! Which gave me the opportunity to use some of the homemade applesauce. We'd gone apple picking in the fall and I used my Roma food mill to make about 17 jars of applesauce: with and without sugar, with brown sugar, pink, not pink, with or without cinnamon. We like variety! Tonight's jar was pink, with sugar. We also used some of the three bean salad I made last summer. I put golden beets in it since I didn't have 3 beans. It's green beans, shell beans, and the beets. Strangely enough, the beets are no longer golden. The color seems to have leached out into the pickling solution. Still good, though...

For dessert we had blackberry ice cream with the chocolate raspberry sundae sauce - heated a few spoonfuls for 30 seconds in the microwave and spooned it over the ice cream. Wow!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Wild Blueberry Jam Muffins

No canning today, but for breakfast I made chocolate chip muffins and put a spoonful of wild blueberry jam on each before baking. I'd hoped that they would bake around the jam but that didn't happen. It did, however, taste awesome.

For the muffins:
2 c. flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. mini chocolate chips
1 beaten egg
3/4 c. milk
1/3 c. oil

mix the dry ingredients together in one bowl, the wet ingredients in another. Combine them but stir only until the batter is moist. Spoon into the muffin cups. Top each muffin with a spoonful of jam. Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes.

Friday, December 19, 2008


To give you an indication of how much I've canned already, this is the current inventory of my pantry, not counting the things I've set aside as holiday gifts:
  • Jams: Strawberry, Strawberry Jalapeno, Strawberry Lavender, Triple Berry (Blueberry, Strawberry and Mulberry), Blueberry, Wild Blueberry, Golden Plum, Red Plum, Peach, Peach Jalapeno, Cranberry Habanero, Raspberry, Rhubarb Pineapple, Apple Pie in a Jar, Carrot Cake, Fig, Quince (with Vanilla beans, crystallized ginger, cardamom pods, and cinnamon sticks in the jars), Peach Marmelade
  • Jellies: Concord Grape, Spiced Plum, Mint (from my garden), Zesty Watermelon
  • Preserves: Black Forest Macaroon
  • Fruit in syrup: Peaches, Mulberries, Blueberries, Strawberries, Raspberries, Plums
  • Brandied Peaches
  • Apple Butter
  • Salsa (tomatoes, cukes, and peppers from this year's garden)
  • Sauces: Cranberry, Chocolate Raspberry Sundae Sauce, Applesauce
  • Tomato Sauces: Plain, with Italian Spices, with Persian Spices
  • Pickles: Dill, Bread and Butter, Eggplant, Watermelon Rind, Three Bean Salad, Toorshi (a Persian pickle like a Jardiniere)
  • Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate
  • Stewed Rhubarb
  • Pumpkin
  • Meat Stock: Beef, Turkey
  • Soups: Turkey Vegetable, Split Pea with Ham, "Turducken" Wild Rice (Duck meat with turkey and chicken broth)
I'm currently using the only pint of tomato sauce from my garden to make beef stew for dinner. Three tomato plants is just not enough, it seems, to get enough tomatoes for canning, despite the fact that it was a banner year for my garden.

The bottom 2 shelves of my pantry are devoted to canned foods. I had to move the bulk of the inventory to the floor when the shelf started to bend under the weight of all the jars. There is one of everything on the shelf, and the rest in the boxes below.

Snowstorm Canning

So, there's this big snowstorm coming today. Everyone in town is at the hardware store getting ice melt and shovels. I buy canning jars. At the grocery store, milk and bread are flying off the shelves. Me? I'm buying Certo liquid pectin, sugar, and looking for lemon grass (which I didn't find). The grocery store clerk must think I'm crazy!

So, what was I working on? "Zesty Watermelon Jelly" from this book:

which is where I get a lot of my recipes. I never got the lemon grass, and discovered that my dried lemon grass was just too old. It smelled like nothing at all. So I skipped it. The only other problem was that the vinegar I had in the house was cider vinegar, so it changed the color of the watermelon juice from a pretty pink to an amber color. Otherwise, all went smoothly, and I even got my 3 year old to help pour the liquids into the pot.

Here's the jars resting before I pull them out of the boiling water canner.

As you can see, the finished product is a peachy-amber color. It's an interesting flavor due to the vinegar. I've been dabbling in jams with hot peppers but this is the first jam I've made with vinegar in it. Hmm...