Holiday Jam

 The holidays are upon us.  Ready or not.

I got an email from a local store who sells some of my jams and jellies requesting a couple dozen more jars.  This is great news.  Except, I wasn't sure I had more of those requested (mostly berry jams.)  Or, at least, not if my family was going to have them, too.

So, I did what any good canner would do - I made more.

I usually only can what is in season.  What is in season in November in New England?  Not much.


Cranberries.  Oh yeah!  And I had some strawberries around, too (not in season, but a good price for some reason), and citrus.  Citrus is in season.

Got it.

This is the result.  I'm calling in Holiday Jam because I had seen that online and it was shorter than Cranberry Strawberry Clementine Lemon Jam.

Holiday Jam
this made 14 half pint jars, plus a little for the fridge

6 cups fresh cranberries (2 - 12 ounce packages)
6 cups mashed strawberries (about 3 pounds - you could use frozen, too)
4 clementine oranges, zest and juice
1 lemon, zest and juice
7 1/2 cup sugar
5 Tablespoons low-sugar pectin
pat of butter (optional)

Prepare your jars and water bath canner.

Place cranberries in a large pot.  Mash or rough puree your strawberries and add to the pot.

Zest and juice your citrus and add to the pot.

Put 1/2 cup of sugar to a small bowl and mix in all of the pectin.  Add the pectin sugar mixture to the fruit and stir it up.

Over medium high heat, heat fruit until it is boiling and the cranberries have started to split.  Add butter, if using, to cut down on the foam.

Add the remaining sugar all at once to the boiling fruit.  Bring back to a rolling boil, stirring frequently. I squished most of the cranberries against the side of the pot with my spoon while I was stirring.  It was fun - kinda like popping bubble wrap. Boil at a rolling boil for exactly 1 minute.

Remove from heat.  Skim off the foam and call the kiddos to taste it.  They'll like it.

Ladle the hot jam into your hot jars.  Wipe rims.  Place lids and rings on jars and tighten to fingertip tight.  Boiling water bath all of your filled jars for 10 minutes.

Remove jars to a towel draped counter and wait for the pings of power.

These would make great Christmas presents.
Just saying.


Ginger Chicken (or Pork or Tofu)

Wow.  It is November already.  Weird.  Next week is Thanksgiving and Hanukkah.  

Too soon.

I have been busy - just like all of you.  Homeschooling is going well.  It is nice to be able to do things without signing a million papers and paying a bus fee.  For example, last week we were able to drive to New London, CT to help build a memorial playground for our sweet friend Emilie Parker.  She was one of the young victims of the Sandy Hook shooting last December.

Alissa and Robbie Parker, friends of ours.
It felt good.

When you home school you can do things like that.  Last month we went to the Jewish History Museum in NYC.  A couple of weeks ago we went to the CT Science Center.  We went to a revolutionary war reenactment. We read, we paint, we try to speak French together, my kiddo tries to teach me algebra.  Good times.
Emily inside the "Temple" piece.

My first painting in 30 years.  Em's is not done yet.
The Redcoats are coming!
It helps to have fast meals to fall back on.

This is one of them.

I can't believe that I hadn't posted it before.  It is one of those easy, versatile meals where you adjust the ingredients to whatever you have on hand. 

Ginger Chicken or Pork or Tofu

cooked rice
6 boned chicken breasts or thighs OR pork chops OR tofu - diced
1/2 cup flour OR cornstarch
1 Tablespoon oil
1/2 cup fruit juice (my favorite for this is orange, but I have used apple or grape or pineapple)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, minced OR 1/2 teaspoon dried, ground ginger
1 Tablespoon garlic, minced OR 1/2 teaspoon powdered garlic
whatever veggies you have, diced or sliced - I used 1 onion, 1 bell pepper, 2 carrots and 1/3 head of cabbage this time.  Other veggies that are good are green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, or anything you like

Shake whatever protein you are using in a large ziplock bag with the flour or cornstarch.

Add oil to a large skillet.  

Brown flour covered meat and veggies in oil.

Mix the juice, honey, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic in a bowl.
Add to the skillet with everything else.  Cook until the meat is done and veggies are tender, about 10-15 minutes.

Serve over rice.


Hold On

I have a sister and a brother.  I love them very much.  For our adult lives, however, we have not lived in the same state.  My brother lives in Washington state, my sister in Utah and me in Connecticut.  

I know.

My sister's daughter, Claire, is my hero.  Let me tell you why.
Claire's Picasso interpretation

2 years ago last November, Claire was diagnosed with ALL - leukemia.

It has been hard.

It has been really hard.

Do you remember what it was like to be 15 and 16?  Me, too.  Hard.

Now imagine going through those years with being too sick to go to your dances, school, church, losing your hair, spending much too much time in hospitals, not being able to do what all of our friends were doing.  Ever.

Now imagine doing all of that with a smile on your face and in your heart.

That is why she is my hero.

My beautiful sister just had a benefit concert to raise money for cancer research.  Did I tell you that my sister is beautiful and incredibly talented?  No? She is.  Here is a link to see and hear one of the songs.

She also has 6 children and a wonderful husband, two cats and a dog.

Yep, she's my hero, too.

Just thought you should know.

If you feel you could donate to cancer research to help find a cure, here is a link.   www.curesearchwalk.org/saltlakecity/teamclaire


Linguine with Red Clam Sauce

I am such a slacker.  I have been canning up a storm.  I have, however, let family dinner time slide to the side.

I know.

I feel very bad about it.

It took my 17 year old kiddo (#3) to ask if we could please have a family meal...all together...you know, at the table...together.


I needed something fast that everyone would like.  Dinner was to be in just 20 minutes.  Got it.

Linguine in Red Clam Sauce
this makes a bunch - it is really good as a leftover.  Feel free to cut it in half.

2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons garlic, minced (about 6-8 cloves)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup white wine
1 can (as close to a pint as you can get it) tomato sauce
1 can (close to a pint - I jar my own) diced tomatoes OR bruschetta
2 cans (6.5 ounce) chopped clams in juice
2 pounds linguine
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Cook the pasta as directed.

Meanwhile, to a large, heavy pot, heat the olive oil.  Add the garlic and red pepper to the hot oil.  Cook until the garlic is fragrant but not brown. This only takes seconds. Watch it closely.  It is sneaky.

Add the wine to the oil and heat until it starts to reduce.

Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, clams with the juice, and basil.  Simmer for 10 minutes (I simmered until the pasta was done.)

Add the drained linguine and the parsley to the sauce.  Stir it up.  Cover and let the whole thing sit for about 5 minutes so the pasta can absorb some of that goodness.

Serve with the Parmesan cheese.

It is really good with a salad and some crusty bread.


Roasted Heirloom Tomato and Pepper Soup

The weather is cooling down here in New England.  The leaves are changing and it is beautiful.  
There is a reason that people travel to this area in the autumn.  I am lucky enough to live here and see it all the time.
This beautiful scene is very near my home - I walk there frequently.

It is time, however, to put my garden to bed.

Not yet.  I'm not ready yet.

But soon.

I have been canning a lot.  A lot.  I only planted 10 tomato plants, but from them have been able to can tomato sauce, salsa, and bruschetta.  I am going to pick all of the green tomatoes (there are still a lot) and make pickled green tomato slices.  Yum.

I still have a few ripe tomatoes, though.  Here is a good recipe to make soup out of all of those tomatoes that you might have left.  I prefer the flavor of heirlooms.  My favorite is Brandywine - the tomato all other tomatoes aspire to be.  I also planted peppers - sweet and hot.  This recipe uses the bounty of those that didn't make it into a jar.  All of the required amounts of veggies are only a suggestion.  This is a very forgiving soup.

Roasted Heirloom Tomato and Pepper Soup

10 - 12 large tomatoes, cut into thick slices
1 large or 2 small onions, cut into thick slices
1 large or 2 small jalapeƱo peppers, cut in half (seeded or not - I don't)
6 bell peppers, seeded and cut into quarters (any color you want)
5-6 cloves garlic
olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
black pepper to taste
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth (3 cans)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
sour cream (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  
Aren't they pretty?  I love my heirlooms.
Place the tomatoes, onions, peppers and garlic on two baking sheets.  
Drizzle olive oil on the veggies and roast in the oven for about 25 minutes.

Add all the veggies to a blender and blend until it is smooth.  I would have done that, except my blender is broken.  This is what I did instead.

Put the broth and the paprika, basil, salt and pepper in a large stockpot and heat.  
Add the veggies and the juice from the baking sheets to the broth and continue to heat.  Using your handy-dandy immersion blender (I have had this immersion blender for over 21 years - got it as a wedding present.  In the same time I have gone through 4 blenders and 4 stand mixers.  Hmmm.) blend up the veggies and broth.  It probably won't be perfectly smooth, but it will be just fine.

Add the Parmesan cheese, if using, and stir it up.

I served the soup with a simple cheese toast (just bread and cheese heated in the oven) with a dollop of sour cream stirred into each bowl.


Kettle Corn Cob Jelly

 Hello.  My name is Audrey and I am a canning addict.

It's true.

I had made corn relish the other day http://ahawker.blogspot.com/2013/08/corn-relish.html and was then looking at all of the corn cobs.  They were juicy and some still had part of the kernel on them.  They smelled very good, fresh and corny.  Do I just throw them to the chickens?  Why no!  I decided to boil them and make something with the resulting broth/tea/corn infusion.

Why not?

I have a problem.

I really didn't expect to like this jelly.  Just the idea was a little off-putting.  I don't even like regular pop corn (it has to be homemade, preferably caramel corn.)

It was weird.  It was really good!  Who knew?!?

I made some cornbread (here is my favorite sweet cornbread recipe http://ahawker.blogspot.com/2012/08/chili-and-cornbread.html), slathered it with butter and this jelly.  I took a bite.  Angels sang.  Okay, maybe not angels, but at least a really good choir.  I am even going to make some more.

So, my fellow canning addicts, don't just toss those corn cobs to the chickens, do something with them.  Amen.

Kettle Corn Cob Jelly
makes about 6 half pints

4 cups (1 quart) water from boiled corn cobs (I used about 12 corn cobs in a big pot of water)
4 cups sugar
3 Tablespoons low  sugar pectin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Prepare your jars, lids, and water bath canner.

Boil the heck out of your corn cobs.  For a long time.  I didn't time it - sorry.  It simmered a long while because I forgot about it.

When you think it is done, scrape the cobs while in the water, with a spoon to get all of the milk and germ.  I did this the night before I made the jelly, just measuring out 1 quart.  I dumped the rest because i didn't think I would like it. Big mistake.

Now you can throw away the cobs.  The chickens probably don't want them at this point.

Mix, in a small bowl, the pectin and 1/2 cup of your sugar.  Add the pectin mixture to 1 quart of the broth in a large pot.  Bring to a boil.  
Add the remaining sugar all at once.  Bring back to a rolling boil and boil 1 minute.  Remove from heat.

Stir in the salt and pepper.
Ladle the hot jelly into your hot jars.  
Wipe the rims.  Place the hot lids and rings on each jar.  
Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  Remove from the bath and place on a towel draped counter.  Listen for the pings.
I love the pepper flakes floating serenely in the jelly

Try it!!!