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Chocolate for Breakfast Winner

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We’ve got a winner in the Chocolate for Breakfast giveaway. The randomizer selected #6, which is commenter Apple Tree, who’s husband has been inspired to can of late in part by this site (I do love hearing such things). I’ll be in touch and will ship the book out to you soon.

Coming later this week: homemade butter, pickled daikon and honey sweetened applesauce.

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New Classes and a Cookbook Giveaway

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After a couple of months off from teaching, I’ve got two classes coming up, both that will focus on cranberries (just in time for Thanksgiving!).

The first is a cranberry jelly class at Philly Kitchen Share on Sunday, November 15th. I started making my own cranberry jelly last year after realizing that the canned stuff contains high fructose corn syrup (I can’t believe I never read the ingredients before last year). Homemade cranberry jelly is delicious, easy to prepare and makes a wonderful hostess gift if you’ve been invited out for the holiday this year. Here’s the class description (click here to register):

Planning your Thanksgiving spread? Consider adding a glowing jar of homemade cranberry jelly to the menu this year!

In this class, you’ll learn to make cranberry jelly that won’t retain the shape of the jar when decanted, but will complement your turkey and trimmings beautifully. The class includes instruction on the basics of hot water bath canning, an easy-to-follow recipe for cranberry jelly and one pint jar of jelly for every student. The class will be taught by local food writer and canning teacher Marisa McClellan.

Sunday, November 15, 2009
3 – 4:30 p.m.
$45

The second class is one focused on cranberry chutney, at the new Foster’s Homewares (33 N. 3rd Street, Philadelphia, PA). We’ll make cranberry chutney and walk through the steps of hot water bath canning. At the end of the class, each student will take home a half pint of chutney (it is amazing as part of a Thanksgiving relish tray). To register, click here.

Saturday, November 21, 2009
11 – 12:30 p.m.
$39

And before I sign off, I’ve got one more treat for you. I’ve been trying to slim down my stack of cookbooks* and so have  pulled out a few to give away (sadly, none are canning related). Tonight, I’ve got Chocolate for Breakfast by Barbara Passino to pass along to some lucky cacao lover. Just leave a comment by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, November 2nd for a chance to win.

*Yes, this is a book I received as a free review copy.

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Canning Catch-up

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I have a confession to make. I haven’t canned anything in over a month now. I’ve been collecting groceries with every intention of committing them to jars, but I’m experiencing something akin to canning block (as you can see from the picture above, my kitchen’s been messy enough lately without pulling the canning pot out of the hall closet).

However, I’ve got a nice, big daikon radish that needs to be pickled (as well as some green tomatoes), some cranberries that are intended for chutney, salmon to be packed in oil and pressure canned and 25 pounds of apples sitting on my dining room table, so unless I want all these lovely things to go bad, can I must (and there’s no better way to beat a block than to charge straight through it).

In the meantime, here are some links I’ve been collecting lately for inspiration and emulation.

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Vintage Canning Jar Art

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Back before the wedding, a friend from church gave me more than dozen boxes of canning jars from her basement. Recently retired, Debby was trying to follow through with a personal pledge to clean out her cellar and after some soul searching, had determined that her canning days were long past.

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I was totally delighted to receive the jars (although my apartment is now officially overcome by glass vessels) and as she unearthed them from a nook by the washing machine, I was instantly charmed by the box art (they just don’t design packaging the way they used to!).

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Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to save many of these boxes, as the years, a few leaks and a bit of crumbling drywall had not been kind to them. But before I sent them to the big recycling plant in the sky, I was careful to capture some of their simple appeal.
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This canning wax wasn’t from Debby’s basement, I actually spotted it at a thrift store while we were on our honeymoon, and could resist grabbing a photo (even though it’s not recommended to can with wax anymore).

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Cauliflower Soup with Leeks, Carrots and Cheddar

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I grew up in Portland, OR, at a time when it wasn’t quite as cool or slick as it is now. Back in those days, Balony Joe’s still fed the homeless off the Burnside Bridge, thrift stores weren’t particularly hip and the best place in town for a quick lunchtime cup of soup was Winchell’s Donuts (sadly, most of the old Winchell’s locations have been turned into Starbucks in recent years).

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As an occasional treat on those drizzly Portland Saturdays, my mom would take my sister and me to the Winchell’s that used to be on 82nd Avenue in SE Portland. It was located between the now-defunct Bargain Station thrift store (razed to make way for a Walmart) and Value Village (happily, still there). We’d each order the $2.49 lunch special, which consisted of a cup of soup, a drink and a donut for dessert (a rare indulgence).

It’s such a cozy memory, sitting on battered stools along the counter, spooning cream of potato soup out of a thick, contoured china cup and watching the rain pattern down the side windows of the restaurant. Since then, I’ve associated sturdy, creamy soups with rainy days and deep comfort.

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Monday, feeling the need for a little homey-ness, I made a huge batch of cauliflower soup that was inspired by those Winchell’s lunches (I couldn’t, however, justify a full-on homage, as the soups we ate back in those days were heart-stoppingly heavy). Mine was full of vegetables (cauliflower, leeks and carrot) simmered in home canned chicken stock (learning to can homemade chicken stock in the pressure canner has revolutionized my pantry) and enriched with a quick, cheddar-y white sauce.

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We’ve been eating this soup all week, garnishing the bowls with some browned ham cubes or just a handful of pretzel twists. As I write this, there’s just enough left for one final bowl. I’ve got my sights set on having it tomorrow for lunch, unless Scott gets to it before I do.

Think of this as more of a soup method than a recipe and play around with it. Swap broccoli in for the cauliflower. No leeks? Use onions instead. Want a pure white soup? Skip the carrots (although they do lend a nice sweetness). Want to make it vegetarian? By all means, use veggie stock in place of the chicken. Have a spicy-loving palate? Add a dash of cayenne pepper. You get the picture.

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A Fig Jam Recipe and My Community Garden Harvest

Throughout the beginning of September, my friend Albert kept tweeting about all the figs he was picking throughout the city. While I’m a big fan of urban gleaning (and I LOVE figs), during those weeks leading up to the wedding, I just didn’t have time to run around town, looking for fruit. Happily, Albert and I settled upon a plan. He’d bring some of his scavenged figs to my place and I’d teach him how to make jam with them. Then we’d split the fruits of our labors.

It was a fun early evening project and it was a kick to do a private jam tutorial. You can find the recipe we used at the bottom of this post.

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The photo you see above is the final harvest from my teeny, tiny garden plot that I’d mostly abandoned over the last month. My tomatillo plan seemed to really like the cooler days of fall and suddenly exploded with growth. It gave me pangs to rip it out, but sadly, with the first frost coming, it had to go. I have pickling plans for all those green tomatoes and I’m excited for the hot peppers!

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