Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Jazzing up those Jars

Let's face it, Mason Jars are very durable but a little utilitarian. So for the holidays I began brainstorming SIMPLE ways to dress up the lids of the Mason Jars. Make sure you also include the date of when you canned it on the lid or sticker!


1. Use old Christmas cards! I hate throwing away cards so I have a few really big boxes of old birthday, christmas, and whatever other holiday card.


2. Trader Joes Shopping bags! Have you ever looked at the incredibly cute vintage designs on their bags? Perfect for a lid topper!

3. Wrapping paper! Buy discount wrapping paper from dollar tree and go to town.

4. Scrapbook paper! Find some paper with a snazzy holiday design to jazz up your jars!















Friday, November 28, 2014

Knitted playfood for Annabel!




A few months ago I thought it would be fun to knit my daughter some playfood for Christmas. I was a bit worried about working with DPNs again (the octopus wrangle) but I actually really enjoyed knitting these little projects. It's nice to be able to finish a project every week and let's be honest, she is going to get a lot more use out of these than a sweater in Socal!

I still want to knit her some strawberries, apple, banana, and a fish. Does anyone know of a good fish pattern? 


So I thought I'd link you to the free patterns available on Ravelry! 

Donut: loved this pattern and it gives you do many opportunities to jazz it up with different colored frosting sprinkle beads, or even embroidery sprinkles!



Ice Cream: so many options here! Waffle cone or pointed? Swirled or scooped? 


Squash: gotta have some veggies!

Celery: creative way to use the natural curl of stokinette!


Mushroom: a really quick knit! You could also embroider some spots on the cap!

TIPS!

All of the playfood was knitted on size 4 Bamboo DPNs. I think wood needles are the best for very tiny intricate projects since they "grip" the stitches better. Aluminum needles are just so slippery!

I use Knit Picks Wool of the Andes (worsted) for most of the food. They have a wide variety of colors to choose from and I just love the consistency of their yarn.

I use polyfill stuffing which is washable! When stuffing take lots of little fluffy clumps and pack in tight!







Monday, November 24, 2014

Cran-Apple Butter for the Holidays!

It's that time of the year where many are whipping up delicious delicacies in their warm cozy homes in hopes of sharing them with sweet friends and family. I've always been a sucker for homemade gifts, edible ones even more so!

The wonderful thing about this recipe, and like many other fruit butters as well, is that it can be made in a crock pot leaving you time to tidy the house, wrap gifts, or knock back a few glasses of Pino Grigio. What you do with those extras hours of free time is up to you!

Now this Cranberry Apple Butter pulls double duty in my book. It's savory enough to be used with meats (turkey, pork, or chicken) yet sweet enough to be plopped atop an english muffin slathered in buttah.

Also! In the past 3 weeks I have had 3 different kinds of Holiday sandwiches at Publix, Earl of Sandwich, and Trader Joes! Don't judge I was on vacation. Have you heard about Holiday Sandwiches?! No? Well allow me to elaborate. Holiday sandwiches feature ingredients usually leftover from epic Turkey Day feasts. They may sounds something like this: thick sliced turkey, apple and sage stuffing, with swiss cheese, mayonnaise, and cranberry sauce piled onto hearthy whole wheat bread.


I promise there are cranberries under all those apples.


Aha! See there they are! This is what your Cran-Apple Butter will look like after 15-20 minutes. 
You may even hear the little cranberries popping! Give the pot a good stir every few minutes to prevent any fruit from scorching. 


At the end of the 45 minute cooking time you will end up with a blushed colored mush of cranberries and apples. Mmmm.....Brains! 


Now I moved my crockpot bowl right next to the stovetop so I could easily transfer the mush into the mesh sieve. For me this was the most time consuming part of the recipe since it required mashing everything through the sieve. But that silky smooth fruit butter is worth it!


Mash em, boil em, stick em in a stew!


This is what you fruit butter should look like (like the pink slime from Ghostbusters).



Once the Cran-Apple Butter is done thickening in the crock-pot you can ladel it into jars and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.


 Recipe: Cran-Apple Butter
Adapted from Aimee Wimbush-Bourque from Eatingrules.com

5 lbs of Fuji apples (cored and halved)
1 1/2 lbs of cranberries (I used Trader Joes)
1 cup of maple syrup
1 1/2 cups of apple cider
1 TBS of Saigon Cinnamon

Combine cored and halved apples and cranberries into a large pot. Add the 1 1/2 cups of apple cider and bring the heat up to medium. Stir the mixture every few minutes to distrubute heat and prevent scorching. After 15-20 minutes everything should start looking more mushy and you will notice a lot of liquid is now in the pot.

At this point turn the heat to medium-low and cover for 45 minutes. Give the pot a good stir every 5-10 minutes. Once everything looks like a big gooey mess you will mush it through the seive into your crock pot.

Now that you have a smooth velvety cran-apple butter in your crockpot you can add your sweetners. I think pure maple syrup adds a really warm flavor but you can also use honey. Add cinnamon. Stir well and set crockpot to low. Let sit for 4 hours. For the final hour prop lid open to allow butter to thicken.

While the cran-apple butter is cooking it is a good idea to prepare your jars by sanatizing them in a boiling water bath. The same bath with which you will process your jars for 20 minutes after being filled.

Finally fill your jars to 1/4 inch below rim, place lid on and tighten the ring. Place all jars back into the water-bath and bring water back to boiling. Once water is boiling you can start your 20 minute timer. After 20 minutes remove your jars and listen for those sweet little pings of delight! Bam, done!



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Pear Vanilla Jam and Drought Conditions in California


As Fall slowly starts to change the air from humid and sticky to brisk and cool I can't help but think about all of the boutiful fruits that are being carefully preserved for the upcoming winter. I feel like canning has made me much more in tune with nature around me and aware of my environment.

As many in the U.S. know, California is in a critical state of drought. I beleive it is the worst it has been since the 1960's. A few months ago when we drove through the heartland of CA we noticed numerous signs in front of farms calling for water conservation. Now I don't live on a farm but I do like to buy direct from farmers and when that produce is in their peak so hearing so much about the drought worries me.

Now on to the Canning! I am going to kick this season off with one of my all time favorites Pear Vanilla Jam! I made this years ago when I first got into canning yet I never blogged it! It is one of those recipes that you can easily fall in love with and eat over and over.

Pears start to come into season in late Summer and last until January. I usually like my pears to be very firm otherwize the consistency can be a little grainy.


Pear Vanilla Jam
(Adapted from Food in Jars)

8 cups of pears (coarsly chopped). I used Bosc.
1 TSP high quality vanilla extract
1 TSP cinnamon
4 cups of sugar
1 package of liquid pectin. I use Ball
1/4 cup of water

Fill you canning pot with hot water. Place jars inside pot and sanitize on another burner. Combine chopped pears, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract and water into a large wide bottomed pot. Cook over medium heat until pear soften. Now grab your potato masher and take out some frustration on those pears. Mash em up!



Now add 1 package of Ball liquid pectin. Stir well and bring to a boil.

Now take a little water from your canning pot and put in bowl with the lids. You don't want to boil the lids with the jars because the wax seal will be useless. Just sanitize the lids in a bowl with a little boiling water.



Now remove the empty sanitized jars from the canning pot. Then ladle the Pear Vamilla Jam into the jars using a funnel. Look out for air bubbles and wipe the rims! Place lid on top, screw on the ring, and transfer back into the canning pot.


Return the canning pot to a rolling boil and then start timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes remove the jars and place on a nice soft towel to cool off! You should start hearing those glourious pings soon!

I love to eat this spooned onto vanilla ice cream or yogurt. As always if you have any questions just comment below and happy canning!



Monday, September 1, 2014

American Pie



The 4th of July was nearly 2 months ago but I still want to share this adorable pie I made to celebrate the birth of our nation! I was smitten by the pie that Casey Leigh posted on her blog and thought I'd try my hand at it as well.

The recipe is a simple combination of fresh and canned cherries and blueberries. The canned berries have that sweet sugury syrup so you don't have to add any more sugar. You could use a pre-made pie-crust to save on time or easily make your own.

Pie Crust:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 1/2 cup butter, chilled and diced
 1/4 cup ice water

Pie-Filling:

1 can of cherry pie filling
1/2 can of blueberry pie filling
1/2 cup of blueberries
2 cups of pitted cherries halved

Make pie-crust by combining the flour and salt. Then cut in the butter until the dough resembles crumbs. I like to use my hands for this and smoosh it real good! Next add the water a little at a time until the dough forms a nice smooth ball. Seperate into 2 balls. Refrigerate for a least 1 hour.

While pie crust is in refrigerator make the cherry filling by combining the 1 can of cherry pie filling and 2 cups of fresh cherries. Do the same with the 1/2 can of blueberries and fresh blueberries. The pie-filling acts as the syrup which make the fruit filling thick and sweet.

Now take the pie crust balls out of the fridge. Butter your pie plate. Lay some saran wrap out over your counter and roll/smoosh out the ball to form a nice circular shape that is a little bit larger than the pie plate. I usually just use my hands for this. Now use the saran wrap to lift your crust up and flip into the pie plate. Easy Peasy!

Now roll out the 2nd ball of dough to make another circular shapes and cut out the stripes. Then cut out a few little stars. Arrange stripes to form the flag and add the little stars! And there ya have it, a real "American Pie".

With lots of other holidays coming up it has me thinking of other ways I can "decorate" pies. Maybe a pumpkin pie with a ghost? A turkey with beautiful feathers? The sky is the limit with pie dough!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ti a Drink with Jam and Bread


Now sing it with me! I know you want to. What pairs well with jam? Bread of course! Now this bread is simple, very simple, and versatile! This recipe comes to you from Simplysogood which of course it is! But before we begin, a little bit of The Sound of Music.


Now wasn't that refreshing? I love this recipe because you can really make it your own by changing the "add-ins". Maybe try cinnamon and raisins, garlic and rosemary, or chopped apple.

Here is what you need:

3 cups of flour
teaspoon of yeast
teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup dried cranberries (I like Trader Joe's)
Zest from 1 orange


So here's whatcha gonna do! Take 3 cups of flour, 1 3/4 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of active yeast and put into a big bowl. Now take your spoon and swish it all together. Now get yourself a 1/2 cup of warm water and pour it into this mixture.

Now here is the fun part wash your grubby hands and then stick em into the mixture and smoosh. Smoosh it all together! You will end up with a shabby looking piece of dough but trust me it's okay. The shabbier the more rustic right?

Now tuck you little ball of dough in a bowl, cover, and kiss it goodnight.


Well, that escalated quickly. Now take your yummy dried cranberries and orange zest and mush it into the bread. Make sure the cranberries get inside the dough and are evenly distributed.

Now you are going to get out a large pot and put it in the oven at 450* for 20 minutes, just the pot, not the bread yet! Once your pot is all nice and hot then pull it out and plop your bread into it! Return to oven for for 30 minutes with the lid on top. Then for the last 15 minutes remove the lid so the crust can become a beautiful golden brown!

Ta-da! You now have yourself a delicious and sweet breakfast bread! It is dense, hearty, and a nice crust. I must say it does look beautiful as well. Now just whip out some apple butter, scramble a few eggs, you you got yourselves a feast!




Monday, November 18, 2013

Cranberry Orange Marmalade: For a Thanksgiving Feast!

Hi guys! So they holidays are right around the corner and I am sure so many of you are thinking about what yummy canned treats you can bring to family gatherings. So many delicious flavors like warm cinnamon, tart oranges, and zesty cranberries make their way into our homes and our tummies! Oh cranberries, how do I love thee, even when you slide out of a can while holding the form of a gelatinous cylinder. Absolutely delicious.

Now the thing I love about this recipe is that you can make it a week before Turkey Day and have something a little extra special to spread upon the glorious white meat OR you can save it for brunch!


So here I have Cranberry Orange the perfect thing to spoon onto your turkey OR enjoy the morning after on an English muffin. I do love English muffins!

The recipe came from Marisa over at Food and Jars and was originally a recipe for a Chutney. Chutneys are usually sweet and savory spreads that use onions and vinegar. This recipe, however, emits those and what is left is a deliciously sweet and tart marmalade.



Here is what you need:

3 cups of cranberries
1 cup of orange juice
1 orange chopped (including the rind but not the seeds)
12 dried apricots finely chopped
1 tart apple finely chopped
1 1/4 cups of honey

Combine the cranberries, orange juice, chopped orange into a large saucepan. Cook until the cranberries begin to burst. Then add the dried apricots, apple, and honey. Stir often to keep honey from burning, once it has reached the consistency you desired then fill canning jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace and popping any air bubbles you see forming in the jar. Boil in a water bath for a minimum of 10 minutes.



Tips:

1. Chop your orange/apple pieces the size you would want to eat if spread on toast. Some people like big chunks of fruit, some people don't.

2. Start sanitizing your jars before you start canning. I'll usually fill my canning pot with water an hour before I start.

3. Use bamboo skewers to get rid of those pesky air bubbles.

4. If you are unsure about how to process (waterbath) your jars then visit this page for a more in-depth analysis! It is a lot easier than you think!

Also, if you have any questions about this recipe, or any others just leave a comment and I'll get back to you within a day or two! Happy canning;-)