Sunday, May 31, 2009

Kale and Chourico Soup

We had a few leftover links of chourico in the fridge waiting for the right recipe. The first 2 links had been steamed with mussels in a tomato sauce (a favorite from my teen years in Rhode Island). But what to do with the other 2 links? Then I happened to buy some kale and sausage soup for lunch one day last week, so those canning gears in my brain started turning again. I followed this recipe I found on line and made a big pot full but added sliced mushrooms and scallions. As I didn't have the "Bayou Blast", I used Old Bay Seasoning, 1 heaping tablespoon. After having some for dinner (wishing I'd thought ahead a little more and put the breadmaker to use again) I put up the rest. Out came the pressure canner and I ended up with 2 quarts and 2 pints.

And, yay! Nothing broke this time!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Really Winging It

This time, I'm REALLY going off-script. In fact, there's no script at all!

There is a lot of mint in my garden. The kids nibble on the leaves when they're out playing, I make mint jelly, and sometimes I cook zucchini and carrots with it. But I don't have a lot of other things to do with the mint. However, I'm close to a family from Brazil, and was informed of an easy drink that is enjoyed there - blend a pineapple with a bunch of mint leaves and drink. We tried it, and it's yummy. The gears in my brain started turning and I thought, how about jam?

Here's what I did: blend 1 pineapple with about 10 stalks of mint (just the leaves) in a blender.

This made about 4 cups of a pretty green frothy mixture. Then I added 5 cups of sugar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and boiled it up. Once it was boiling, I added a package of Certo.

It was no longer a pretty green but more of an olive green as the mint had cooked. It smells very nice, or at least my mom said it did (I have a cold and can't smell anything). I ended up with 5 half-pint jars and a little more. I plan to give some to my Brazilian friends.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Rhubarb Two Ways

Another springtime treat arrived in the grocery store recently: rhubarb! I must point out that my rhubarb plant is not very robust. I have moved it once, to be closer to my compost heap, and it doesn't get a whole lot of water, so maybe that's part of it. But it was given to me by a friend of mine a few years ago and I'm holding out hope that it will eventually take off.

So I buy it instead.

Yesterday I bought 3 pounds and 2 large containers of strawberries. First of all, I made a strawberry-rhubarb pie. It was so good, our 7 year old ate 2 pieces in about 3 minutes! Since that was such a hit, I decided to make strawberry-rhubarb jam. Also a hit! Yum! 2 c. of crushed strawberries, 2 c. of chopped rhubarb, 5 c. sugar, 2 T. lemon juice, and 1 package of Certo. I ended up with 5 half-pint jars and 1 half-cup jar with a little extra.

I still had a lot of rhubarb left so I hunted in all my cookbooks until I found a chutney recipe for which I actually had all the ingredients, except onions. I sent my husband out for some onions (not easy on Memorial Day but he succeded) and set to work: cider vinegar, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, hot pepper, orange zest, onions, rhubarb, raisins (ran out so added some currents). This made 4 half-pint jars and 1 12-ounce jar, plus a little more which is in the fridge. I plan to try it tonight on some rice. Smells good!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Fiddlehead Season

I have enjoyed fiddleheads for many years. I am always so excited when I see them at Whole Foods - and they are in season! Yay! (Yes, I am aware of my weaknesses - see the entry about Meyer Lemons...) I wish I knew where I could harvest them around here - I think that would be fun.

Several years ago we traveled to New Brunswick in the spring and, at a local farmers' market, purchased a jar of pickled fiddleheads. They were quite good and I savored that jar for about a month. Seeing a bin in Whole Foods just filled to brimming with fiddleheads, I had to make some for myself.

I bought 2 pounds of them and some of them have been cooked for dinner, first steamed then sauteed with butter and maple pepper. The rest got pickled. I packed them into jars, 2 pints and 2 half-pints, and then poured the hot vinegar/sugar/spice solution over them. These were then processed for 10 minutes. The one thing which I dislike about cold-packing is that the fiddleheads cooked up smaller and and the jars are mostly vinegar with the fiddleheads floating on top. I'm sure they will taste fine, though.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Tonight was another school PTO bake sale. Last week I'd made chex mix which did not sell all that well. This week, I went for sweet. I bought a bunch of phyllo dough shells, the little ones, and filled them with the lemon curd, raspberry jam, and peach jam. They went fast at 2 for $1 and I will definitely be making them again!

Sunday, May 3, 2009


The birthday party, with the Halloween theme, the jack-o-lantern ice cream cake with whipped cream frosting, the trays of food and the happy young children, is over. After a little break it was time to start up the meyer lemon marmalade process again.

The lemons boiled for about 45 minutes with the contents of 2 vanilla beans, plus the beans themselves. Then 4 cups of sugar, then cook some more to get it to gel. Then into the jars and process for 5 minutes. This is marmalade I will actually eat!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Meyer Lemons!

Yes, I know, I have a weakness for: (a) foods that are unusual or with limited availability and (b) Whole Foods. So, in the process of researching the right way to can the kaya, I found lots of recipes for Meyer Lemons. Hey, guess what? I have been seeing Meyer Lemons in the Whole Foods lately! I made a special trip up there last week to get a dozen lemons and a few vanilla beans.

I found this wonderful recipe on line for Meyer Lemon Curd, and added in the canning instructions for lemon curd from here, and made this really delicious curd. Now I just have to think about what to do with it, maybe little tarts?

Also, since I had the canner out, I processed the onion pickles from yesterday for 5 minutes.

Tomorrow's project, after everyone goes home from the birthday party I'm throwing, is to make a vanilla meyer lemon marmalade. I got out the fancy and super sharp Japanese knife and thinly sliced 6 lemons. They are currently sitting in water with the seeds in a little cheesecloth bag (pectin, maybe?) until tomorrow, when I will add in the vanilla bean and sugar and cook it all up.

What's in the Fridge?

Just an update of what is open and being eaten currently:

raspberry jam, blackberry jam, blueberry jam, cranberry sauce, zesty watermelon jelly, strawberry jalapeno jam, pear almond compote, pineapple rhubarb jam, kaya, applesauce, plums in syrup, dill pickles, and pickled eggplant.

The raspberry was opened today to go with the chocolate chocolate-chip muffins I made for breakfast. Mmm!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Labor Intensive

There are a lot of wild onions in my yard. I have used them on occasion for cooking and found them to be very sharp and garlicky. The green tops are basically chives and we've used those, too. But with canning on my brain, and with a larger crop this year, I began to wonder if... yup, you guessed it... I could find a way to preserve them.

I was particularly inspired today by an article in a magazine which highlighted a "forager" who just happened to be foraging in my hometown. The article mentioned wild onions. Aha! I grabbed one of my new cookbooks and found a Persian recipe for picked onions with mint. I have onions. I have mint. That would be perfect!

Harvesting the wild onions was dirty and backbreaking. I enlisted the help of my 7 year old, only to have to play the land version of "Marco Polo" in return. Then I asked for "20 mint leaves," which were dutifully supplied. After the kids went to bed, I started to try to clean all these tiny little onions. It took forever! If it hadn't been for my husband's help I might still be cleaning them. This was the part that was truly labor intensive: washing, trimming, peeling and washing (again) all these tiny little onions. My hands smell like onions. My house smells like onions. And after all that work, I got just under 1 cup of onions. These went into a jar and then I mixed 1/2 c. cider vinegar, 3/8 tsp. of kosher salt, 20 mint leaves and a little garlic in the blender and poured it over the top. This is supposed to sit at room temperature for 1 day and then be refrigerated or maybe I will process it then. And then I have to get brave enough to try it!
(The backdrop of this photo is from the magazine edible Rhody and was the photo which inspired this whole process!)