Jammin'

Down with the sickness

Oh yeah. For like three weeks out of this month. We are kind of done with it. Pneumonia is a total bitch. So we made some pickled eggs. They looked kind of amazing, and we've never made them before. And seems easy when you are kind of coughing your lungs out. 

Used Marisa's recipe, which looks incredible! And we have an Instant Pot, which makes the most amazing hard boiled eggs. They are an absolute dream to peel. (If that's a thing.)

Seven minutes on low pressure, and quick release. Boom.

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Did I mention they are a dream to peel? Amazing.

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Gathered all the necessities. Fiddled for a bit.

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Had one of them for lunch today. Not terribly pickly, a slight beet (delicious) flavor, and pretty firm. 

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So easy, and so good. 


Shrubbery

Last month kind of took it out of me.  This month we just made a shrub. But we documented the shit out of it.

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We used the Serious Eats cold pressed shrub recipe. The beginnings of macerated raspberries. Left it in the fridge for a few days.

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Used our conical strainer to get rid of the seeds.

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Oh, and we used Mexican raspberries. Let's see how much longer we'll get to import these delicious things. America is already great, people. Don't let anyone tell you anything else. 

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We tried a few different vinegars; red wine, apple cider, champagne, white wine... Ended up with the TJ red wine vinegar. And we found the bottles at IKEA. Of course. Because IKEA has everything. 

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One of my co-workers who is an ex-chef, got excited when I was telling him about the March Challenge. He was going on about mint, and sassafras root, and ginger, so many cool ways to make shrubs, and I realized ours is basically Shrubbery 101, and his ideas were graduate level classes. It was a cool challenge, but our efforts were kind of C-. However, we finished. And this month, that felt like good enough.

 


I'm a Joiner

It's time to commit. The beginning of the new year, a fresh start, yadda, yadda. But this is going to be awesome. Food in Jars Mastery Challenge 2017! The month of January is "Marmalade". After having just finished making the lemon marmalade from her first book, which is a royal pain in the ass to make, but it also tastes like SUNSHINE, I decided to forget the pain and do another one. Strawberry Lemon Marmalade from Marisa's "Preserving by the Pint". It took a lot of online researching of some amazing looking recipes, to finally pick a recipe, but one of the ingredients HAD TO be lemons since we have a giant tree in the backyard (Thank you, California). No idea what kind of lemons they are, the tree is huge, it's kind of tilting, it's old, the lemons aren't super tart, the peel is both thick and thin. But anyway.

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Tip: Go to Farmer's Market in the summer and buy a ton of strawberries. Cut them up, measure them, label & freeze them in zip lock bags. If for some reason you want to make summer fruit jam in January, you are all set! 

 

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Macerating the strawberries makes a huge difference. Since these were frozen, I just smashed the frozen block a few times, added sugar, then let it sit on the counter for about 3 hours. It was good and thawed, and sugary, by then. 

 

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This is the excruciating part. Picking out all the seeds, the white pith center, and then thinly slicing the half moons. Since this batch is pretty small (the book is called "Preserving by the Pint" after all), I decided to  make a double batch. This is NOT recommended for "regular" batches of 6-8 half pints of finished product. Marmalade, at least for me, is a finicky beast when it comes to set, and you don't want a giant vat of runny stuff. (That you will throw away a year later because you don't like to stare failure in the face, and at the time you were too lazy to just open all the jars and re-cook the stuff. Hypothetically speaking.)

 

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 I get "fancy" cheese cloth from Amazon. Use that stuff a LOT. 

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Also try to squeeze that little pouch as it's cooking, to get all the fancy pectin out.

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Then I had to wait for a bit, since I was sharing the stove with my husband. Who is making some other lovely goodness. 

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Time to cook. Gorgeous colors, and it smelled amazing!

 

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And here is the difficult part for me. This batch never got up to temperature, but it seemed to be done, and it set well. Marmalade seems to be a lot runnier when it's hot, than any other jam. Or maybe that's just for me. With some failures behind me, both with too runny, and with too firm marmalades, I try to really pay attention to this step, and let the jam-tester really cool before I decide if it's done or not. This looks very strawberry:ey, but has an amazing tart kick too!

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It always gets a little messy, and very sticky; but here's some home made bread, home made beer, home made goat cheese, and some lovely home made strawberry lemon marmalade. We live pretty glamorous lives.