Friday, July 25, 2014

jamming update

I've added a few more jars to the pantry after a trip to the u-pick berry patch and Sam's. At the berry patch, I brought home six pounds of the biggest, yummiest blueberries. About half a gallon went straight into the freezer. One kilo is waiting to be bottled up in a sugar syrup with bay leaves for eating with yogurt and on pancakes. The remaining four cups went into a really wonderful blueberry-lime jam that I sort of made up along the way.

Blueberry-Lime Jam

4 1/2 cups blueberries, washed and picked clear of debris
6 tbsp powdered pectin, or one regular box pouch
1/2 cup lime juice
zest from two limes
4 1/2 cups granulated sugar

Combine all but the sugar in large heavy-bottomed, non-reactive sauce pot. Stir all well until pectin dissolves and bring to boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Boil one minute, stirring.

Add sugar all at once, attempting to avoid getting sugar on the sides of the pot. Mix sugar in well, stir over medium-high heat until all sugar is dissolved. Bring back to boil and boil hard one minute. Remove from heat.

Prepare jars, lids and rings in the usual way. I recommend using five half-pint or 11 quarter-pint jars. If not, you'll really know what small batch canning is... and have two pint jars (and one pint that didn't fill to the top) to show for your work. Process in boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.


Half the Tuscan melon (about four pounds at the start) went into making a very bizarre ice cream/gelato. Neither of us quite know what to make of it. It certainly tastes very fresh and melon-y. It has enough fruit in it to be a bit like an icy sorbet and yet, enough cream in it to make you think you're just eating freezer-burned sherbet. Hmmm... the jury is still out. FYI, I used this recipe by half.

About half of the other half of the melon went into this jam. I would have never thought about preserving cantaloupe this way (or at all) unless it had been recommended to me {by Tracy, I think, but I cannot recall for sure}. It is called a jam, but it is more like "preserved melon in a heavy, honey-like sauce". I think I like it. We've only had the opportunity to try it on a slice of toasted brioche and let me tell you, there are worse things.

Are you adding to your pantry this week?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

In the kitchen, part 2 - the chickens

My introduction to Julian's extended family happened abruptly, without planning it and without time to think it over. Julian and I had really only been dating 'for real' for about two weeks when I asked him if he wanted to go back to Knoxville with me for the graduation of my college friends who were a year behind me. He sad yes and off we went. We got there and his parents emailed - his grandparents  (and aunts, and uncles, and neighbors) were in Knoxville for graduation, too! His cousin, Sara, was graduating from grad school and was having a house party so we stopped by. My first conversation with his grandmother went about like this:

Me: Hi, its nice to meet you!
Granny: Hi. (Put her hand on my knee and gripped, hard) Do you go to church?
Me: Yep! Was raised Presbyterian.
Granny: Ok! Do you want children?
Me: Yep! Four would be nice.
(What was I thinking? I knew she had four so it must be the correct answer. I was 23 then, too.)
Granny: Good! What do you collect?
Me: *panic* Collect? Oh, um. Chickens!
(What on earth? Why didn't you say something useful like... diamonds!)
Granny: That's nice.

Truth be told, it was the only thing I could think of and no, I had no collection of chickens. I also did not know that Granny collects collections: peacocks, rabbits, frogs, baskets, Christmas trees (yes, Christmas trees), etc. On the way home, we passed by a frontage road pottery shop - which in the south is code for a bunch of cheap house junk - and my sweet Julian said, "I suppose we should stop in a get you a chicken." If I were going to get stuck with a chicken collection, I would at least not be a liar anymore.  And so, my collection started with my dot chicken from Julian and now totals over 35 chicken themed articles, from salt and pepper shakers to clocks, to an apron holder.  They are, for the most part, a cheery lot, and my kitchen just wouldn't be the same without them.

PS. That green Aladdin lamp is from my father's side of the family. It was made in 1937 and was lovingly restored last night by Julian when we discovered that the vine had grown inside the gallery!

PPS. That box up there is a Mason Pearson Hairbrush box. I cleaned hotel rooms during the summers in college. One day I went in to clean a room after a guest had checked out and they left that box behind. Upon inspection, you can see that it has a $125 price tag on the bottom. Its a HAIR BRUSH, PEOPLE. I had a bit of a Scarlett moment and kept it as a reminder of my roots.

This is part two of my link up with Heather @ Beauty That Moves.

in the kitchen, part one - the food

more tomatoes every day :: chelsea buns, recipe below :: 
cherries and berries (my secret? a spoonful of elderflower liqueur!) :: homemade fried rice (recipe)

Chelsea Buns
*not to be confused with cinnamon rolls*
From The River Cottage Bread Handbook

For the buns
550g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
50g granulated sugar, or vanilla sugar
5g powdered dried yeast
10g salt
150ml warm milk
225g butter, melted
1 egg

For the filling
25g butter, melted
100g caster sugar
200g dried fruit, chopped

For the glaze
50ml milk
50g sugar

In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, yeast and salt, then add the milk, butter and egg and mix to a sticky dough.

Turn out on to a floured surface and knead until smooth and silky. Return to the cleaned bowl, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size {This may take a long time! 4+ hours, or so for mine}. Brush the base and sides of the baking tin with a little of the melted butter and coat with a little of the sugar (for the filling), shaking out the excess.

Tip the dough out on to a floured surface, dust with flour and roll out to a rectangle, about 60x40cm. Brush the melted butter all over the dough to the edges, leaving a 2cm margin free across the top (long) edge. Sprinkle with the sugar and scatter the currants evenly on top, right to the edges, but leaving the top margin clear.

Press the deed fruit into the dough, then starting from the edge closest to you, roll up the dough to enclose the filling and form a long sausage. Moisten the margin at the top with water and press to seal. Cut the roll into nine equal pieces. Turn each piece on its end and press with your hand to flatten slightly, until no more than 3cm high. Arrange in rows of three in a 12x12in. square tin or on a cookie sheet lined with parchment – they should just touch each other.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Leave the buns to prove for about half an hour until doubled in size again. Sprinkle a little of the sugar for the glaze over them and bake for about 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Warm the milk and remaining sugar together in a pan until dissolved, then brush over the buns when you take them out of the oven.

Variation: If you'd like to use this recipe for traditional cinnamon rolls, make the filling using brown sugar instead of white, two teaspoons of cinnamon, and omit the dried fruit. 

Makes 9

This is part one of my blog link up with Heather @ Beauty That Moves