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Giveaway: ToGoJar Lid and Connector

to go jar single

This week, I’m giving away three ToGoJar lids. These nifty jar lids/connectors allow you to screw together two jars. This is one of those products that I wish has been around when I was packing my lunch up into jars each morning (a jar of soup with an accompanying stash of crackers leaps to mind as a good use for these).

to go jar with lid

The lids don’t themselves provide a liquid tight seal, but they’re designed so that you can settle a regular jar lid into the top, which when well-tightened, will protect from most leakage.

to go jar stack

Right now, these lids are available only through a Kickstarter campaign (it wraps up in nine days), so if this is something you’d find useful, make sure to hop over there and support them (getting some lids in the process).

I have a three of the ToGoJars to share with you guys. Here’s how to enter:

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share your favorite holiday treat. Linzer cookie? Gingerbread? Homemade caramels? I have handmade treats on the brain and I want to hear about yours.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm east coast time on Saturday, December 13, 2014. The winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog by Sunday, December 14, 2014.
  3. Giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left on the blog, I cannot accept submissions via email.

Disclosure: JarToGo sent me a bunch of these lids for review and giveaway. I am keeping two and giving the other three away. They did not provide any compensation.

Urban Preserving: Pear Vanilla Drizzle

pears in a bowl

There a short list of canning recipes that I think of as my greatest hits. They are the preserves I come back to again and again, and are also the ones about which I’ve gotten the most feedback from readers and friends. This tomato jam is one. The roasted corn salsa in Food in Jars is another. And this time of year, I always make a batch of apple cranberry jam to share for Thanksgiving.

chopping pears

Another recipe that tops the greatest hits list? Pear vanilla jam. It’s a recipe I first made in early 2011 and I’ve since done it so many times that I can produce it entirely from memory. It’s a jam that works equally well on peanut butter toast or as part of a fancy pants cheese plate (try it with Delice de Bourgogne) and is always makes for a welcome hostess gift.

pan of cooked pear jam

Recently, I’ve been taking a slightly different approach to this jam. I start with just two pounds of pears, cut the proportion of sugar down a hair, and then, when it’s all done cooking, I scrape it into a heat-proof measuring cup and puree the heck out of it with an immersion blender.

pureeing jam

What the pureeing does is that it transforms it into a sweet, sticky glaze that retains a bit of the pear’s wonderful graininess. I call it a drizzle, though if the jar has been in the fridge, it can harden slightly past the drizzle point. I’ve taken to spreading micro-thin layers on toasted and buttered whole grain pancakes (I try to keep a stash in the freezer) and really like an afternoon snack that includes rice crackers, goat cheese, and little dabs of this sweet pear goo.

pear vanilla jam drizzle

It’s not a flashy preserve, but it’s one of my favorites. Maybe it will become one yours too!

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Cookbooks: Honey & Oats

honey & oats cover

I have been interested in cookbooks for nearly as long I can remember. I picked up the habit of reading them cover to cover when I was eight or nine years old and haven’t stopped since. One aspect of this blog that brings me an awful lot of pleasure is that it grants me the opportunity to share particularly good cookbooks with all of you.

honey & oats spine

Since mid-March, I haven’t done as good a job as I would have liked with this cookbook sharing. Shepherding my own cookbook through the world took up a goodly amount of my attention and just didn’t leave me with a whole lot of energy with which to pore over the new cookbooks that find their way into the unsteady stack by my desk. I’m finally starting to work my way through the pile and I’m going to be better about writing about the best of the books that find their way into my life.

honey & oats interior

One book that I’ve been itching to share is Honey & Oats by Jennifer Katzinger. It’s a book devoted to baking with whole grains and natural sweeteners and it couldn’t be a better fit for the way I like to eat. The featured grains are oats (obviously), einkorn, wheat, barley, buckwheat, spelt, kamut, teff, and tapioca. The sweeteners include honey, maple syrup, coconut palm sugar, and sucanat.

buttermilk biscuits

There are 75 recipes in the book and they are divided into six sections – Scones & Muffins, Cookies & Bars, Quick Breads, Yeasted Breads & Crackers, Pies & Tarts, and Cakes & Frostings. Ten of the recipes are vegan and another ten are gluten-free. If you have a strictly GF household, this probably isn’t the book for you. However, if you occasionally find yourself needing to product a GF bread or dessert option for a party or potluck, it would definitely be a good addition to your library.

sweet potato skillet cornbread

I have marked a number of recipes to try. In the very near future, I’d like to make the Pear Ginger Muffins with Streusel Topping (barley flour, einkorn flour, and sucanat), the Buttermilk Biscuits (kamut and einkorn flours), Snickerdoodles (teff flour and sucanat), the Applesauce Currant Snack Bread (buckwheat flour, einkorn flour, and maple syrup), and the Sweet Potato Skillet Corn Bread (kamut flour, cornmeal, and honey).

barley walnut boule

As far as the look and feel of this book, it’s entirely lovely. It’s a sturdy, hardbound book that lays flat and open with just a firm press of the pages. The photography stays tight on the food and makes it easy to imagine the various breads, cookies, and pies in your own home. I do wish that a few more of the recipes had images, but knowing how much time, energy and money it takes to produce good food photography, I understand why there aren’t more pictures.

If you like to bake with whole grain flours and less refined sweeteners, you will love this book.

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Good Things to Preserve in Late October

sugar pumpkin

It is a cool, rainy day in Philadelphia. I’m back to drinking hot coffee or tea in the morning, after months of wanting my caffeine doctored with ice. The summer fruits and vegetables are all gone from the markets and have been replaced by apples, pears, cauliflower, and massive bundles of leafy greens.

For many, this change in the season means that it’s time to put the canning pot away. I firmly believe that there’s still plenty to preserve this time of year (and hallelujah for that. I had a busy summer and still have far too many empty jars kicking around the apartment).

Here are some of my favorite jams, butters, pickles, and chutneys that are perfect for autumn preserving.

Pears

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I love making jams and chutneys with pears. I am smitten with their slightly grainy texture and delicate flavor. They are good on their own, but also play nicely with any number of herbs and spices.

  • Pear Vanilla Jam – This is, by far, my very favorite pear preserve. Look for a smooth, small batch approach on the blog next week.
  • Pear Cranberry Jam – Good on toast, even better with a turkey dinner.
  • Pear and Chocolate Jam – This version uses bits of a dark chocolate bar and is quite rich. Look for a lighter, cocoa powder-based take in Preserving by the Pint.
  • Pear Cinnamon Jam – For deepest flavor, use Vietnamese Cinnamon.
  • Pickled Asian Pears – This recipe is from Karen Solomon’s wonderful book, Asian Pickles. I love them tossed into baby arugula salads.

Apples

apples

Apples are just the best thing ever for a dedicated autumn canner. There’s just so much they can do, including playing a starring role in jams, butters, sauces, and chutneys. Get yourself a half bushel and go to town.

  • Honey Lemon Apple Jam – It’s bright, sweet, and perfectly spreadable. The secret is that you cook the apples down with the lemon juice before adding the sugar and honey.
  • Spiced Apple Butter – The slow cooker does all the work for you in this delicious preserve.
  • Apple Pie Filling – With a couple of pie crusts in the freezer, dessert will practically make itself.
  • Apple Cranberry Jam – For even more flavor, add a little cinnamon, ginger, and allspice to the cooking jam.
  • Apple Cider Syrup – Good in a mug of hot tea, great in a bourbon cocktail.

Pickles and Chutneys

peach chutney

What are you canning this time time of year? (My most recent fall preserve was this batch of Apple Pear Sauce for October Unprocessed!).

 

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Upcoming Events: Princeton! Kennett Square! Lancaster!

Preserving by the Pint sliver

I know I’ve been saying this for weeks, but the end of my season of classes and events is now firmly in sight. If you’ve been wanting to take a class or pick up a signed copy of one of my books, now is the time. I have seven events left in October, two more in November and then I’m taking most of the next six months from doing classes, events, or book signings so that I can focus on writing my next book.

I’d like to draw particular attention to the pair of classes I’m teaching at Fillmore Container this weekend. These will be active, hands-on classes and all participants will get be taking home fresh, hot jars of delicious preserved food. If you’re at all interested in one or both of these classes, register today

October 8, Swarthmore, PA
I’ll doing a canning demo Harvey Oak Mercantile from 6-8 pm. There will be books available for sale and signature. Registration details to come.

October 9, Princeton, NJ
Thanks to a friend who has made all the arrangements, I’m headed to Princeton to offer a batch canning demonstration at the Whole Earth Center. Event is from 7-9 pm and tickets can be obtained here. Books will be available!

October 10, Kennett Square, PA
Every fall, Kennett Square throws a festival to celebrate all things fermented. I’ll be offering a quick sauerkraut demo and then will be appearing on a panel with some other ferment-friendly folks. The happenings will be at the Bayard Taylor Library. Demos will be from 6-7:30 pm, the discussion starts at 7:30, and admission is free. More details can be found here.

October 11, Lancaster, PA
I’m spending a Saturday at Fillmore Container, offering a pair of canning classes in their warehouse. The first class is from 10 am – 12 noon, in which we’ll focus on preserving pears in batches large and small (including information about how to use Pomona’s Pectin). From 1-3 pm, we’ll dig into how to preserve tomatoes, including how to make tomato jam and how to preserve whole peeled tomatoes. To register for both classes (they’re $35 a piece), click here. We’re also going to offer a book signing at the end of the day.

October 12, Cherry Hill, NJ
I’m hopping over the bridge to South Jersey for a small batch jam demonstration and book signing at Williams-Sonoma at the Cherry Hill Mall. The event is from 1-3 pm and is free and open to all.

October 14, Philadelphia
I’m teaching a sauerkraut class at the German Society of Pennsylvania from 7-9 pm. Everyone will make their own quart jar of sauerkraut to take home with them. Class fee is $15 and you can register by emailing librarian@germansociety.org. More details about this class can be found here.

October 18, Philadelphia
Canning demos and book signing at the Weaver’s Way Farm at Saul HS Harvest on Henry Festival. I’ll do a couple of demonstrations and will help judge the pie contest! More details can be found here. The festival runs from 1-5 pm and is open to all.

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Peach Vanilla Drizzle

peach vanilla drizzle vertical

Nearly two weeks ago, I bought a 25 pound case of visually imperfect peaches. They were a little hard when I first got them, so I arranged them on rimmed cookie sheets and set them around the apartment, pretending all the while that it is entirely normal to have a half bushel of fruit ripening on every surface of one’s home (this week, I have trays of Italian plums scattered about).

By day five, many of the peaches were perfectly ripe and so I began to preserve. I tested some recipes for the new book (the honey sweetened peach rosemary jam with a touch of salt was revelatory), and made a batch of peach salsa for my personal pantry. I was weary of peeling, so I convinced myself I was letting the rest of the peaches ripen up while I took a break from the canning pot.

peach drizzle pot

And then, on Tuesday, I realized I’d let things go a little too far. The remaining peaches were heady with fragrance and speckled with brown soft spots. I took them to the kitchen and started to cull. I threw away the furthest gone fruit and set about to salvage the remaining useful bits.

After an hour spent trimming, I had 8 cups of usable peach hunks. I combined the chopped (but unpeeled) fruit in a pan with 2 split and scraped vanilla beans and 2 cups of sugar. As soon as the sugar was dissolved, I popped a cover on the pan and shoved it in the oven at 350 degrees F for a couple hours (can you tell that I was feeling a little weary of dealing with fruit?).

peach vanilla drizzle labels

Once two hours had passed, I pulled the pan out of the oven and fished out the vanilla beans. Then I pulled out my beloved immersion blender and blitzed the peaches until they were entirely smooth. I tasted, added the juice of 1 lemon for balance, and pureed again.

Once I liked the flavor, I poured it into a collection of half and quarter pint jars (the yield was 3 1/2 pints when all was said and done) and processed them in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.

peach drizzle in orchard road jars

The end result is a product that exists someplace between a syrup and fruit butter. It’s sweeter and thinner than my standard butters, but manages to have far more body than your standard syrup.

I’m calling it a drizzle, because it does just that very nicely. I ate the two tablespoons that wouldn’t fit into a jar over yogurt, but it would be a great pancake or waffle topper. If you’ve got some end-of-season stonefruit that is giving you fits, I highly recommend this treatment.

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