About Marisa

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In Taproot and Edible Philly

My work as a freelance writer for magazines has ebbed and flowed a lot over the years. When I was first starting out in this world, I saw magazines as the pinnacle of success and would move heaven and earth to place pieces in those glossy pages. However, over time I realized that I was giving a lot of best my work to magazines and that in the long run, I’d be better served by sharing those ideas here.

In the last couple of years, I’ve found something of a happy medium and have found a niche occasionally writing about some of my favorite topics for magazines I value and appreciate.

This quarter, I have pieces in two such publications. First up is a piece I wrote for Taproot on the topic of infusing flowers into my homemade preserves (the theme of this issue is Bloom). The recipes included in the piece are for Strawberry Hibiscus Butter, Chamomile Jelly, and Meyer Lemon Lavender Jam.

The other story is in the summer issue of Edible Philly and this piece was a year in the making.┬áIt’s about the resurgence of currants and gooseberries after years of a US ban. In the Philly area, you can get them from Ben Wenk at Three Springs Fruit Farm and they make excellent jams and jellies.

Go check them out!

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Honey Sweetened Strawberry Jam on 100 Days of Real Food

Over the last several years, I’ve become something of an expert on preserving with sweeteners other than refined sugar (I even wrote a whole book on the topic). If you sift through the archives of this site, you’ll find a number of naturally sweetened recipes.

Occasionally, I even get tapped to write about these alternatively sweetened preserves for other sites and publications. One such recent gig was a guest post I wrote for the lovely folks at 100 Days of Real Food about making a big batch of strawberry jam, sweetened with honey.

If that’s the kind of recipe you’re looking for these days, you can find it right here! Enjoy!

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Small Batch Spiced Blueberry Jam

On tonight’s live broadcast over on Facebook (Monday, June 18, 9 pm ET/6 pm PT), I am going to be making a small batch of spiced blueberry jam. This recipe is super speedy, because blueberries need so little prep and because it’s a small batch (it cooks down in less than 15 minutes!).

I will show you how to process the jars so that it’s shelf stable, but you could also scrape the jam into a couple containers, stash them in the fridge, and eat through them over the course of the next couple months. Perfect for folks who want to make their jam right now!

Oh, and don’t forget about Can Together! This month, we’re focusing on berry preserves. If you make something with berries and post it to social media, make sure to use the hashtag #cantogether so that your fellow jammers and picklers can find you. Let’s keep our preserving community strong!

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Links: Rhubarb, Lemon Curd, and Crumbles

It’s been ages since I’ve done one of these link round-ups, but given that I have a nice cache of links set by and a couple things I want to share, I thought it was high time.

First, the shares.

  1. I’m doing a Facebook Livestream on Monday, June 18 at 9 pm ET/6 pm PT. You’ll find me over on the FIJ Facebook, making a small batch of blueberry jam (I’ll post the recipe tomorrow!) and answering questions. Please do tune in.
  2. Speaking of Facebook, did you know that Food in Jars has a community discussion group over there? We do! It’s a place where you can chat with your fellow canners, ask questions, and share recipes. The only requirements are that you stay on topic and that you’re kind to your fellow members. To join, go here.
  3. My classes and events page is currently up-to-date with all my upcoming classes for the summer. If you’ve been wanting to take a class, check it out.

Now, the links.

May you have a lovely week, full of food, canning, and summer fun!

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Cooking from Just Cook It! with OXO’s One Stop Chop

This blog post was written in partnership with OXO.

I recently had a conversation with a friend about the kitchen tools one should pack when spending a week at a vacation rental. I went through my standard list – a couple sharp knives, a good peeler, a rasp-style zester, a big cutting board, olive oil and vinegar, flaky sea salt (a must for corn on the cob), pre-ground coffee, peanut butter, and homemade jam.

She was on board with everything I listed, but when I got to the end, she turned to me and asked, “What do you think about bringing a food processor?”

I told her that she was nuts. Vacation cooking is about simplicity. Food in the summer is so gorgeous that you don’t have to do much to it to make it amazing. Sadly, she was not entirely convinced (I believe she had things like fresh pesto and pureed homemade salsas in mind).

This post is written in partnership with OXO.

However, had I known about the One Stop Chop from OXO before I had this conversation, I would have heartily suggested that she consider bringing it. It’s the perfect tool those moments when you’ve got a lot of chopping to do, but can’t be bear the idea of pulling out and then washing your full-sized food processor. It’s great for small batches. And because it’s small and light, it travels very, very well.

The folks at OXO sent it to me, along with the copy of Just Cook It! (pictured above) by Justin Chapple, asking me to find a recipe in the book to make that would partner well with the One Stop Chop. After a trip through the book (which is a really terrific volume on approachable, tasty home cooking), I settled on the recipe for Smashed Chickpea Salad Lettuce Wraps.

The concept behind this dish is that it’s essentially chicken salad, with smashed chickpeas playing the role of the chicken. As someone who is slowly inching away from animal proteins but loves chicken salad, this recipe spoke to me.

Another thing I liked about it is that it’s a really pantry-friendly recipe. Other than the freshly snipped chives, everything it calls for are staples in my kitchen (and in a pinch, one could always use some dried parsley in place of the fresh).

The instructions call for you to rinse the chickpeas, put them in a bowl and mash them with a potato masher. Because I had the One Stop Chop at my disposal, I used it to break them down instead. The container was able to accommodate both cans of chickpeas and broken them down really quickly.

Another thing that I like about the One Stop Chop is that it has a leaver that allows you to suction the bowl in place on your counter. This means that you can apply a goodly amount of force to the handle as you first get the chopping going, without having to work against yourself to keep it in place. It also has a little tab that you lift to quickly break the suction when you need to move the bowl again. It’s a really smart design.

Once all your ingredients are chopped, you stir them together with a relatively small amount of mayonnaise (for those of you who are entirely plant-based eaters, all this recipe needs is a vegan mayo to work for you). Justin recommends that you eat this tucked into lettuce cups, though that felt a little gimmicky to me.

After I took that final picture, I torn the lettuce into bits and turned it into a salad, which felt far more manageable. I ate the chickpea salad for lunch on three consecutive days and enjoyed it each time (chances are good that I’ll make another batch next week).

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Homemade Watermelon Juice

Redeem mediocre watermelons by turning them into homemade watermelon juice! All you need is cubed fruit, lemon juice, a sweetener, and a blender!

This is a tale of a mediocre watermelon and its eventual redemption. It all started last week, during a trip to Trader Joe’s. They had a bin of watermelon in the entry way and I was entranced. You see, I am one of the people who can eat endless amounts of watermelon and in the height of summer, I often work my way through a couple sizable melons per week (my husband does not partake. He is strictly a cantaloupe man).

I tapped a few melons and lifted a couple possible candidates into the air, hoping to find a good one using both science (hollow sound) and intuition (feel). Hoping for the best, I finally hefted a gorgeously striped watermelon into my cart. Walking home with one bag on my shoulder and the watermelon cozied up in my favorite mesh sack, I was so looking forward to eating a bowl of melon cubes.

I think you know what comes next. The melon I had so carefully chosen was not a winner. It was pale, mealy, and barely sweet. For a moment, I contemplated bagging it up and taking it back to Trader Joe’s for a refund. But then, I realized there was an answer.

The prior weekend, I had spent some time with a friend who had mentioned how much she liked the watermelon juice sold at a local-to-her taco truck. I cubed the watermelon and threw it in the blender with the juice of a lemon (lime would have also been good) and a tablespoon of agave nectar (I had a bottle that was nearly kicked and I wanted to use it up. Honey or even maple syrup would also be good).

The additional acid and sweetness brought the watermelon into balance and it became a truly delightful drink. It kept in the fridge for about 48 hours. It did separate a bit as it sat, but could be brought back together with a quick shake.

I’m not going to offer a specific recipe because every watermelon will be different (and some won’t want any additional sweetness at all). But if you find yourself in possession of a lackluster melon this summer, instead of bemoaning your fate, turn it into juice!

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