About Marisa

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Deadline Blues

vertical rhubarb stalks

Friends, I am feeling more than a little bit unhinged right now. I can count the number of days before this book is due on my fingers and toes and I am feeling every morsel of that stress. I am embarrassed to admit how many times I’ve lost my cool over the littlest things.

So I’m just going to leave this picture of rhubarb here in place of a recipe, canning tips, or anything truly useful. I’ll be back with something more fulfilling soon.

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Pomona’s Pectin Jam Class at The Morris Arboretum

All set up for a strawberry vanilla jam class at the Havertown Library!

The canning season is coming and with it, the start of my teaching year! I wanted to take a moment to point out my May 16 class at the Morris Arboretum. In this class, I’ll demonstrate how to make a low sugar batch of strawberry jam, sweetened with honey and set with Pomona’s Pectin.

This class will dig into the basics of boiling water bath canning and I’ll answer all questions you bring to the class. It’s great way to get yourself reset for the upcoming canning season.

The class costs $40 for Arboretum members and $45 for non-members and runs from 10 am to 12 noon. All participants will go home with a small jar of the jam made in class that day and I’ll also have books available for sale and signature.

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Giveaway: Sustainable Picnic Gear from Mighty Nest

Picnic gear header

Living in a city without even a scrape of outdoor space to call my own means that I have to be extra intentional about certain things like gardening, repainting furniture, and eating outdoors on beautiful days.

For the moment, my gardening ambitions are paused because trying to maintain a community plot during my busiest season is too much right now. To satisfy my furniture refinishing needs, I occasionally turn my living room into a painting studio (with all the windows open wide). And during the most beautiful days of the year, I pack a picnic and head for one of the many green spaces that dot Philadelphia.

lifefactory containers (1)

I have always loved picnicking. I have many happy memories of meals eaten on beaches, in parks, and at battered tables at highway rest stops. The only problem I see with picnics is that sometimes we trade sustainability for convenience, packing disposables that we use just once before tossing them away.

In honor of Earth Day (April 22), Mighty Nest and I have teamed up to bring you some ideas for packing a more sustainable picnic (and we’re giving away a set of this fabulous gear as well. See the end of the post for more details).

plates cups utensils

The first thing to think about when you’re planning a picnic is, what’s the main event? Is the plan to keep things simple, with just sandwiches and some cut-up fruit? A few of these Bee’s Wrap sandwich wraps and a mason jar work just fine!

I often like to bring a grain salad with me on picnics for variety. These tight-sealing Lifefactory containers are a great option for toting all manner of salads, pickles, and carrot sticks. The silicone sleeves make them easy to handle and offer an added layer of protection from bumps and bangs, as well.

If you’re bring salads, you’ll need plates and forks. These stainless steel plates are indestructible and take up very little space in your picnic basket. On the utensil front, these bamboo RePEaT kits can’t be beat. They come with a fork, spoon, knife, and a pair of chopsticks for good measure. I keep at least one set in the car at all times because you just never know when you’ll want a spoon or fork handy. They also make a kids version that is scaled for small hands and mouths.

drink cooler (1)

Once the meal is settled, the next question is, what we’re going to drink? Is it a hiking adventure where all we’ll want is water? If it’s an outdoor concert picnic, is wine permitted (screw tops are your friend on those nights)? Should we treat ourselves to a jug of homemade lemonade?

I’ll often pack small reusable water bottles for all picnickers, and then fill up the monster, 40 ounce Hydro Flask with some homemade iced green tea to share. Whatever the answer ends up being, having a large, insulated drink container and a few stainless steel cups to bring along is a very good idea.

freezable cooler bag

The last question that arises in sustainable picnicking is how to tote your meal. A standard picnic basket is a good option if your meal is impervious to heat. However, if you want to keep things chilled, something with insulation is is the way to go. A standard cooler works well, but this soft-sided freezable bag is the best thing I’ve seen.

It folds down small so that you can keep it stashed in the freezer until you’re ready to go. Then you just unfold and pack, knowing that your lunch will stay fresh and cool for hours.

One issue that sometimes comes up with picnics that include reusable gear is what to do with the dirty dishes once you’re done eating. I like to bring a few clean dish towels (ones that already have stains are the best). I scrape our dishes off as best I can and then bundle them up in the towels before packing everything back up in our tote. Once I’m home, the dishes go in sink and the towels head for the laundry basket.

To enter the giveaway, use the widget above. You can enter until Monday, May 4. The prize includes the picnic tote, stainless steel plates and cups, the bamboo utensils, the Hydro Flask, and the Lifefactory containers you see pictured at the top of the post (valued at $150). Additionally, Mighty Nest will also donated $100 to a school of the winner’s choosing. The giveaway is open to US residents only and is void where prohibited.

I’m not the only blogger hosting a Mighty Nest Earth Day giveaway. Make sure to visit these other folks for even more chances to win!

Disclosure: Mighty Nest is a Food in Jars sponsor. They provided the gear you see pictured above for photography purposes at no cost to me and they are also providing the entirety of the prize for this giveaway. All opinions expressed here are my own.

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Links: Granola Bars, Roasted Cauliflower Leaves & a Winner

Almond butter toast, tea, a strawberry/banana/spinach smoothie, and a cookbook.

I’m now officially in the phase known as book crunch time. I spent most the weekend writing and plan to spend much of the next two weeks on a short tether, moving from stove to computer and back again. Please send all the creative thoughts you can spare in my general direction! Now, links!

electric canner

The winner of last week’s Ball FreshTECH Electric Water Bath Canner Giveaway is #866/Angie W. I so loved reading all your stories of canning gear and how you process the bounty of the summer!

 

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Cookbooks: Will It Waffle + Giveaway

Wil It Waffle

I first discovered Daniel Shumski and his waffle project in early 2010. He was on a mission to waffle everything that could waffle and as an devoted waffler myself, I took an interest. I watched the blog for awhile, before sending him a quick note, asking if he might be interested in a quick guest post featuring my waffle iron collection and a few of my waffle thoughts. He was and publishing this.

Will It Waffle hash brown

Last fall, Daniel published a book called Will it Waffle that contains more than fifty wonderful things you can waffle beyond a ladle of batter. It makes me long to leap up, pull out one of my two remaining waffle irons (an old vintage model and the Calphalon Belgium version – I gave the other old chrome model to my sister) and start cooking.

Will It Waffle Stuffles

This book features ways to use your waffle iron for every meal of the day. There’s waffled french toast, sausage and hash browns for breakfast, gridded grilled cheese for lunch, waffled chicken parm for dinner, as well as salad toppers, side dishes, and desserts. If you happen to have a partner who objects to your waffle maker collection, this book will help you justify their presence in delicious fashion.

(If you’re in the market for a waffle iron, The Sweethome recently updated their recommendations. They don’t rank my Calphalon model very highly, but it has served me well over the last seven years. That said, it came to me as a review unit back in my Slashfood days, and when it eventually breaks, I’ll probably replace it with a less expensive Belgium maker.)

Will It Waffle Fawaffle

Daniel wants to spread the waffle love and so is offering up two copies of his book for giveaway. We’ll pick one winner in the US and another for Canada, so please do mention in your comment where you live. Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share a story that involves a waffle.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Monday, April 20, 2015. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog soon thereafter.
  3. Giveaway open to United States and Canadian residents only. Void where prohibited.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: The copy of Will it Waffle that is pictured here is a review copy that Workman Publishing sent to me last fall when the book first came out and Daniel is providing copies for the giveaway. All my opinions remain my own. 

Canning 101: White Vinegar in the Canning Pot Prevents Mineral and Metallic Deposits

white vinegar

I was reading through the comments on the FreshTECH Electric Canner a moment ago and saw several people mentioning their frustration with their current canners because they left spots and rough deposits on the jars. Happily, there is a way to prevent this without investing in a new canner. Pour about 1/2 cup white vinegar into your canning pot when you first set it up.

Whether the residue on the jars is minerals from hard water or particulate matter from your canning rack, adding vinegar to the water will help keep it off the jars and prevent build-up on the inside of your canner. Make it part of your canning routine this summer!

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