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Canning Book: Saving the Seasons

World Community Cookbooks

I’ve been getting a number of requests lately, both over email and on the Facebook page, asking me to recommend a couple of good canning books for people just getting started canning. Happily, the canning book market is positively exploding these days (as canning grows in popularity), so there are a number of terrific new volumes for me to suggest.

Saving the Season

One new book that recently drifted my way that I was delighted to discover and am excited to recommend is Saving the Seasons. This volume is written and produced in the tradition of those classic cookbooks More-With-Less, Extending the Table and Simply in Season (this one came out about five years ago, so it’s not that old). If you know anything about those books, they come out of the Mennonite community and emphasize healthful, frugal, seasonal eating.

tomato canning spread

One of the terrific things about Saving the Seasons is the fact that it is dedicated to all forms of food preservation, from canning, to drying, to freezer preserving. That particularly great because it then becomes an all-in-one reference. It’s also got several instances (like the one you see above) in which they walk you through each step of the process with pictures. Excellent for visual learners.

guide to the harvest

The book contains a number of recipes, as well as handy reference charts. One thing to note is that the jam recipes do call for pectin (I know a number of you are hoping to phase out your pectin use, so if that’s a concern for you, be aware). I’ve yet to cook out of this book, but I’ve got my eyes on the Hot Peach Chutney and the Dilled Green Tomatoes.

baby food

A few of you have reached out in the last couple of weeks, asking about making and canning baby food. Not being a parent yet (hopefully soon though), I don’t have any first-hand knowledge to share. This book has a brief section devoted to the making and freezing (not canning though) of delicious things to feed your little one.

drying apples

Beyond all the useful information that this book offers, what I like most about it is the feel and tone with which it’s written. The co-authors (Mary Clemens Meyer and Susanna Meyer) are mother and daughter, and as you read it feels a little like they’ve opened up their pantry and shared the many ways they eat well all year round. It’s a cozy, accessible feeling and makes me want to leap up from the couch and head for the kitchen. In my opinion, that’s just what a good cookbook should do.

In the interest of full disclosure, know that I was sent a review copy of this book.

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Ball Blue Book Giveaway

ball blue books

Hey canners! My apologies for the radio silence of late. I was out of town on a little vacation over Memorial Day Weekend (Thursday through Monday) and when I returned, work turned into a noisy and demanding beast. It looks like it’s going to continue in that vein for the next 12 days (I’m working on a very cool project that will be launching on June 14), so posting round these parts will be spare.

However, do know that this site is never far from my mind. In fact, while shopping for jars this weekend (isn’t that what everyone does on their vacation?) I stumbled across a terrific deal on copies of the Ball Blue Book. It’s the 2008 edition, but all the canning info is still relevant and I’ve been told that it’s only one recipe different from the 2009 version. I picked up two copies to give away here.

You have until Sunday evening (June 6, 2010) at 11:59 p.m. to leave a comment and enter the giveaway. In your comment, share your favorite fruit preserve recipe. Feel free to write the recipe out or link to where people can find it. Let’s spread the love for those jams, jellies and other preserves!

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies from Good to the Grain

two cookies

During my childhood, my mother was notorious for slipping whole wheat flour into baked goods in place of white flour. In her hands, this led to pie crusts that fell to pieces when sliced (I imagine her tendency to reduce butter amounts also contributed to this problem) and less-than-light quick breads. Thing was, baked goods were fairly rare indulgences, so we gobbled these offerings up despite their minor issues of crumb and structure and counted ourselves supremely lucky.

chocolate chip cookie recipe in Good to the Grain

Twenty years later, I’m a little chagrined to admit that this apple hasn’t fallen far from her tree. I’m always looking for ways to transform baked goods into something just slightly more healthful and whole grain flours are part of my regular baking routine (particularly whole wheat pastry flour – I love that stuff). Because of this, I am particularly smitten with Kim Boyce’s lovely new book Good to the Grain.

chopped chocolate

I’ve had it in my coffee table stack of new favorites for a while. I bought little bags of teff, buckwheat and millet flours, waiting for inspiration to strike. And then tonight, I was finally moved by the bag of King Arthur Whole Wheat flour on the kitchen counter and a plaintive request from Scott for a sweet treat. Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies it was!

cookies to freeze

These cookies come together quickly. I started them at 9 p.m. and we were munching within the hour. They are sweet (don’t think that the whole wheat flour makes these a health food – 2 sticks of butter and 2 cups of sugar does not a low-cal cookie make) but are nicely balanced by the addition of 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt (the flakier the better). I baked up about half the recipe, the remaining dough got scooped and frozen for future late-night cookie attacks.

stack of cookies

I’m looking forward to digging into more of the recipes and trying out those bags of flours that are still hanging out in my kitchen.  I have a funny feeling I have yet to discover my favorite flour. (And, if you’re curious, the remaining cookies are cooling their heels in a jar on the counter. Would you expect anything else from me?)

Also, a little note from the Food in Jars shop. I recently added these very snazzy aprons to the items in my little store. They’re quite cute and will make you the most fashionable baker/canner/cook on the block. What’s more, there’s a coupon available now through Friday that will score you 20% off on one of these bad boys. Just type in 20Tayga during checkout to get the discount.

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Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It by Karen Solomon

Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It

One of the things that I’ve found most delightful about the growing hand-made, do-it-yourself trend has been the number of downright lovely books that have accompanied it. My favorite, which hit stores about this time last year, is Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It by Karen Solomon.

Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It

This is a fantastic book for the folks who really want to begin to break away from the grocery store, but need a little bit of help making the transition. I’m particularly partial to the Rosemary and Olive Oil cracker recipe Karen included (Erin blogged about it here, if you want to see pictures and peek at the recipe).

Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It

Karen’s instructions are crystal clear and the book is full of great projects for anyone who wants to expand their kitchen ambitions.

Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It

This post was originally a giveaway, but I’ve edited it to remove the giveaway language because I wanted to simply have a page dedicated to Karen’s lovely book.

A Good Book For the Can Jam (or anytime!)

Canning & Preserving with Ashley English

Goodness, the time has been flying lately. It’s been nearly a week since I posted (although, I’m firmly of the belief that the Pear Cake deserved every moment of its time in the spotlight) and this fresh, new month is a full seven days old. That also means that the deadline for this month’s Can Jam is rapidly approaching (just two more weeks)! If you’re still stumped for ideas as to how to incorporate herbs into a canning recipe, I’ve got the perfect book for you!

Canning & Preserving with Ashley English

Canner, chicken keeper, cheesemaker and all-around homesteading renaissance woman Ashley English has written a beautiful book devoted to the art of canning called (of all things) Homemade Living: Canning & Preserving with Ashley English. It contains all you need to know to transform you from an absolute canning novice into a someone deeply comfortable with the many aspects of food preservation.

Canning & Preserving with Ashley English

What’s more (and this is where the Can Jam comes in), many of her recipes tweak the old classics with the addition of fresh or dried herbs. That Meyer Lemon and Lemon Verbena Curd sounds pretty spectacular (please excuse the blur, I was speedily trying to photograph the book before the last afternoon sunlight slipped away).

Canning & Preserving with Ashley English

For the pucker fans in the crowd, this Herbed Pickled Asparagus sounds pretty delightful. She’s even included many herbs in her basic pickling brine recipe, which means you could take it as a starting place and head off in any number of directions. Personally, I’m thinking of swapping in rhubarb in her Peach and Lavender Butter.

If you can’t swing a new book purchase right now, make sure to check out Ashley’s blog, Small Measure, as well as her weekly column over on Design*Sponge.

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The Blog Aid Cookbook Now Available

Much to the delight of everyone involved, the Blog Aid Cookbook is now available! So many thanks go out to Julie and her team of volunteers who helped transform an idea into beautiful reality. As it stands now, since the ordering site went live on Blurb just before midnight last night, nearly 400 copies have been sold. Thanks to the generosity the project partners (West Canadian Graphics and and their matching funds (up to $10,000), those sales means that over $20,000 CDN have been raised for Red Cross and Doctors without Borders.

The book can be ordered in either paper ($25) or hard back ($50) here (or you can get to it by clicking the Blog Aid image in the right rail). Whichever cover you choose, you’ll get a 7 x 7 book, with 110 pages of recipes and full-color photos.

And, if you’re not yet tempted by this lovely book (and my three recipes), consider all the other contributors. Chef Michael Smith, Dana McCauley, Emily Richards, Catharine from Weelicious, Cheryl from Backseat Gourmet, Julie of Dinner with Julie, Jeannette of Everybody Likes Sandwiches, Nishta from Blue Jean Gourmet, Lauren of Celiac Teen, Charmian from Christie’s Corner, Shaina from Food for my Family, Shauna and Danny from Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, Lauren from Healthy Delicious, Alice from Savory Sweet Life, Tara from Seven Spoons, Jess of Sweet Amandine, Helen from Tartelette, Gail from The Pink Peppercorn, Pierre of Kitchen Scraps, Tim from Lottie and Doof, Tea from Tea & Cookies, Jamie from My Baking Addiction, Lori from Recipe Girl, Melissa from The Traveler’s Lunchbox, Brooke of Tongue-n-Cheeky and Aimee of Under the High Chair.

So, what are you waiting for? Buy this book!

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