can’t. stop. canning.

Tis the season for a lot of fresh local produce…and I just keep looking for more things to preserve. It’s so satisfying – in a whole different way than cooking a meal – to make something that I can eat or share all year long.

Maybe I should have been born before refrigeration.

This week it’s been more raspberry jam. Bread and butter pickles. And zucchini relish – which I don’t even like but am so happy to make it on request for someone else. I’m waiting for some fresh apricots to ripen a little more to make them into jam.

I’m slowly getting the tools I should have had all along to avoid hot water bath burns and the inevitable cursing when I try and remove a mason jar with simple tongs.

CJR

 

friday favourite – TSA instagram

The Transportation Security Administration is an agency of the U.S. Dept of Homeland Security that has authority over the security of the traveling public in the United States.

Someone within TSA has a sense of humour and developed an instagram account to highlight the amusing things people pack in their bags.

If you have an instagram account, consider following @tsa for a smile!

HAR

quick vinegar pickles

It took me a total of about 30 minutes to make these two jars of pickled onions and cucumbers. The only ingredient I didn’t have was the coriander seeds but a quick stop at Ed Hyder’s Mediterranean Marketplace solved that problem. (If your travels take you to Worcester MA, stop at Ed Hyder’s!)

 

The brine was simple: 1 cup white vinegar, 1 cup water, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns.

Bring the mixture to a boil.

For the red onions: Combine 2 medium red onions cut in thin wedges, 1 teaspoon coriander and 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper in a 1 qt mason jar. Pour the hot brine into the jar to fill it and screw the lid on and let cool. Store in the frig for up to 1 month.

For the cucumbers: Slice 2 unpeeled cucumbers into 1/4″ rounds, combine with fresh dill and 3 cloves of sliced garlic in a 1 qt mason jar. Add the hot brine, seal and store.

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I served the pickles and onions with just about every meal this weekend and loved the tangy taste of summer!

HAR

shrubs (the kind you drink!)

My daughter-in-law-to-be’s parents gave us a book for the holidays called Shrubs – An Old-Fashioned Drink for Modern Times by Michael Dietsch. I had never heard of a shrub before but since they are from Northern California where all cool trends start, I eagerly read more to enlighten myself!

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A shrub is a colonial day drink, derived from the Arabic word sharab, to drink. It’s a concentrated syrup made from fruit, vinegar and sugar and then mixed with water, seltzer or alcohol.

I decided to try the Fresh Ginger Shrub since it was used in the recipe for Moscow Mules in the next chapter. I peeled 4 or 5 large pieces of fresh ginger, cut them into smaller pieces and pulsed them in the food processor. Then I squeezed the pureed ginger into a sieve lined with paper towel to get 1/2 cup of ginger juice. I added 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar and 1/3 cup sugar and put it in a mason jar.

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When I tested my shrub, my mouth puckered! This was spicy from the ginger and tangy from the apple cider vinegar. But it’s meant to be a concentrate so I knew enough to wait until I mixed it with vodka and lime juice!

The next day I made the Moscow Mules from the book. They called for 2 oz vodka, 1 oz fresh lime juice, 3/4 oz fresh ginger shrub and soda water. Friends were over for dinner and they were game to try the drink so I filled four glasses with ice, followed the recipe, added a little tonic water and a lime garnish and we clinked our glasses and drank. The faces we made were not pretty! This was a tart drink that tasted like a lot of ginger and apple cider vinegar! With the addition of more vodka and tonic, we got the ratios right and it was a very refreshing summer cocktail.

Most of the recipes involve fruit as the original idea behind a shrub was the vinegar would preserve the fruit before the days of refrigeration. The NYTimes has a recipe for Summer Fruit Shrub from the same book if you are curious to try making one but I scared you off with the ginger recipe! If you like kombucha, you will probably like shrubs. Let us know if you try it!

HAR

 

friday favourite – homemade jam

It might have been the freshly served preserves on our recent mini vacation that got me in the mood to get into a hot, muggy kitchen…and make jam!

Raspberries are in season and they make a beautiful jam. I found a recipe for “old-fashioned raspberry jam”. Not sure what qualifies it as that – maybe the simplicity of just fruit and good old fashioned sugar!

This was such an easy recipe, I’m going to make more while the raspberries ripen. It’s my Friday Favourite – to make and eat.

Old-Fashioned Raspberry Jam, The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving

  • 4 c granulated sugar
  • 4 c fresh raspberries
  1. Place sugar in a shallow, ovenproof pan and warm in a 250F over for 15 minutes. Warm sugar dissolves better.
  2. Place berries in large stainless or enamel saucepan. Bring to full boil of high heat, mashing berries with a potato masher as they heat. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add warm sugar, return to boil and boil til mixture forms a gel – about 5 minutes. (I put a few spoons in the freezer, and then dip the cold spoon into the jam and hold it up on its side. The jam has gelled when the slow, gooey drips off the spoon run together and drip off slowly. Read more about testing for the gel stage.
  4. Ladle into hot jars and process for 10 minutes in a hot water bath. Watch this short video on the water-bath method of sealing.

Makes 4 cups.

This was fast and simple. Here’s what it looked like in the process.

CJR

Island feasts

Here’s a sampling of the amazing meals we dined around PEI on last week. We actually barely skimmed the surface of all the great fresh food – but did a pretty good job in the eastern end of the island where we stayed.

Breakfasts at Inn at Bay Fortune were all served in mason jars and on cast iron. There’s something about the presentation that made everything more yummy. Like the trio of fresh squeezed OJ, fruit smoothie, and yogurt and granola. Perfect portions. Good thing, cause there was beef brisket hash with a poached egg coming right up.

Lunch time often found us at The Lobster Shack in Souris for shucked oysters and the best lobster roll. The clam platter at Shipwreck Point Café was also perfect.

A six-course plus apps FireWorks feast at the Inn is worth the price tag. It came complete with a sketched map of the property and food stations. Take your best eating game to this one, I didn’t make it through dessert. But I was ready to chow down on a steamer pot the next night at Point Prim Chowder House.

I love eating local. Just wish there was a little local lobster in southern Ontario right about now.

Read more about our trip on HAR’s travel blog.

CJR

islands

There’s something so very “vacationy” about travelling to an island.

If you fly in, there’s the stunning banked approach as the airplane slants towards the sea on one side and reaches straight up into the sky on the other side. If you drive to your island destination, there’s inevitably a spectacular bridge crossing.

Last week, HAR and I took at trip to Prince Edward Island on Canada’s east coast. My sister, her husband and another couple did the drive, including a crossing of Confederation Bridge, and I flew into Charlottetown.

PEI is known for it’s red sand (high iron-oxide content), amazing seafood, beaches, lighthouses and potatoes. Lots of potatoes fields. Beautiful potato fields that run into the Atlantic Ocean.

We packed a lot of lobster, beaches, shucked oysters, and kayaking into our three days on the island. We stayed at the Inn at Bay Fortune – chef Michael Smith’s cedar shake inn that sits atop of the gentle hill looking down into Fortune Bay.

If you go – splurge on a room at the top of the north or south tower building. Stunning sun rises await.

Take a paddle up the Fortune River with Paddles, a brand new paddling/kayaking business just steps from the Inn. Our morning kayak took up just far enough to spot a bald eagle, perched along the tree-lined salt water river.

And make the drive to Greenwich National Park where you are likely to have the beach to yourself after an amazing walk across the boardwalk to the dunes…and the ocean.

We’ll have more on all the great food stops later this week.

CJR