Tag Archives: foodie

Midnight Blackberry

It’s that time of year again! I’ll be obsessed with blackberry jam making until further notice.

Midnight Blackberry Jam

4 cups blackberries (picked down the road)
3 1/3 cups sugar
juice of 1 lemon
about 1 T of lavender (picked from front porch)
a secret ingredient that shall not be named

Put all ingredients in a pot, turn burner on low and let the sugar dissolve, making sure to stir. Then turn up the heat and let the pot boil away. I love watching the vibrant color of the pot of boiling blackberries! Stir often to keep the jam from scorching.

I’ve adapted this recipe slightly from Nigella Lawson’s How to Be a Domestic Goddess Her Blackberry Jam recipe was the first jam I ever made, because she was the first person who made jam-making sound easy peasy. Why? Because she didn’t use a thermometer, which for some reason totally puts me off making anything that requires the tool. I’d rather use my own senses to tell if something’s done. Nigella taught me the “saucer method” wherein you stick a saucer in the freezer as you begin your preparation. To test the jam, “splodge teaspoons of jam onto it.” I stick my plate (or saucer if you will) back in the freezer for about a minute, then push it with my finger and when it wrinkles it’s done. This is usually about 20 minutes from when it starts boiling.

It took me a few summers before I started canning, because it all seemed way too intimidating. But last summer our fridge reached maximum jam capacity and I knew I’d either have to stop making it or learn to can. I also had some people far away who had to hear me keep talking about all this jam but weren’t able to taste it unless they took a trip to Portland. I read a few different online canning tutorials and enlisted the help of my aunt to watch over me as I processed jars for the first time since she’d at least seen older relatives do it when she was young. The second I heard my first “ping” as the jars sealed after their hot water bath, I was ecstatic. I’m still amazed at how thrilling that sound can be. Ping! Success!

I also learned that I didn’t need a bazillion canning tools to get started. I got a jar lifter (essential, trust me you do not want to drop a hot jar of jam) and a magic wand (not quite as essential but cheap and I liked the sound of it, but basically you just need a magnet long enough to grab your lids without burning yourself on hot water). The rest, you can improvise with a well equipped kitchen. Don’t be a slave to overconsumption corporate culture!

Information about canning is abundant online these days. The National Center for Home Food Preservation has detailed guidelines and instructions.

I also recently checked out Ashley English’s Homemade Living: Canning & Preserving from my public library which includes great step by step instructions for both hot water bath and pressure canner (which are needed for low-acid preservation). Her book also has some great looking new recipes I’m excited about checking out, like Peach & Lavender Butter…mmmm. Check out Ashley’s HomeGrown.org page too!


Strawberry Fields Forever

I made this strawberry balsamic jam last week as a test, but was lazy and didn’t go to the trouble of canning until tonight. My poor strawberries have had to endure some vicious heat this week and as much as I can attest to my own tender loving care of them, I’m afraid they are waning.

I spent much of the late part of last summer perfecting variations of my blackberry jam. This year, as I wait for the blackberries down the road to ripen, I’ve had the pleasure of being in charge of our strawberry patch, so this new jam is near and dear to my hands and heart. I know the strawberries won’t last forever, but I’m determined to keep them going as long as possible.

When I actually can a batch of jam, I also like to set aside a wee bit for a personal taste or two as a sort of “quality control”. I found the perfect tiny jar for it too (this I just put straight into the fridge). I call this one, Bals In My Strawberry.

Cake Balls Are Evil…

But oh so delicious!  O.M.G.

I’ve been drooling over variations on the cake ball theme on Bakerella’s site and decided to have a go at making them this weekend (mainly because people were coming over that I could pawn off my experimental baking onto).

I started with  Bakerella’s Red Velvet Cake Ball Recipe.  Although, I actually used a chocolate cake mix and skipped adding any red food coloring since I figured no one would really miss the color.

Pioneer Woman has a great pictorial on making Cake Balls/Pops too. I love her anal retentive way of  showing the whole process of making things, but personally my hands were way too messy to pick up a camera until the end.  PW uses a fork to break up the cake, Bakerella I think, suggests a food processor – me I like my hands.  I also used a potato masher to easily and quickly mix the crumbled cake and icing smoothly.  Plus it’ll work your triceps before you start popping these things like a cake ball eatin fool!

These are like poor man’s truffles.  So delicious…so evil…especially since they’re so pop-able.  I’m pretty sure that these are only going to get made for holidays from now on, but I’m excited about all the possibilities of flavors and decorations.  Just as long as I can keep them from going in my mouth.

Won’t You Be My Puddin Pie?

What’s for dessert?  Well, puddin pie of course!  Butterscotch Puddin Pie to be precise.  Now, I didn’t have a recipe for this, I just made it up tonight.  Apparently that was somewhat impressive to my house-mates.  Lucky for them, puddin was on sale at Safeway tonight and I love me some butterscotch puddin.  Then I saw graham cracker crusts on sale, and thus dessert was born!

Butterscotch Puddin Pie sounds pretty good but I wanted to take it a step further, and I’ll admit it I’m almost always looking for an excuse to add more chocolate to my diet and had some 100% dark Ghirardelli leftover from cupcake making last week.  So I melted that in our fancy new microwave with a “chocolate melting” function, poured into the bottom of the crust and spread it around.

Next came the puddin.  (I should add here that I threw the chocolate coated crust into the fridge to cool while whisking up the puddin, because I didn’t want to pour the cool puddin onto still warm chocolate.)  Following the box instructions for pie making, I only added 1 & 3/4 cups milk for slightly thicker pie filling.  Next, I took out the cooled off crust and poured in the delicious butterscotch goodness.

Let the pie set in the fridge for at least an hour, mine was in for 2 because I have amazing self-restraint.

Slice it up and add a dollop (I love that word) of Cool Whip or whatever preferred brand of whipped cream you choose.  Yummmola!

Just a Dollop by Nouar

Lazy Gourmet: Mushroom Ravioli & Green Beans

It’s Glee night and I wasn’t in the mood to hang in the kitchen for long when there’s Madonna Glee to be watched!

So dinner tonight is Trader Joe’s mushroom ravioli and green beans.  It took about 20 minutes total.  I love a quick, tasty, healthy and inexpensive dinner.

Just boil some water and throw the raviolis in for about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile I found a large bag of frozen organic green beans, so put a bit of oil in a pan, sautéed onions and a few cloves of garlic with some thyme and basil and then added  the beans.  When the raviolis were done I just put on a little olive oil, sea salt and cashews.