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Winner of the Non-Hybrid Seeds

Wow. Thank you all for all the gardening memories you shared. I loved how often the themes of discovery, sharing, multi-generational cooperation and delicious, fresh food came up as you all recounted your stories. I really wish that I had seeds for each and every one of you (and oh, how I wish I could see all the gardens you’ll be growing this summer).

But, as is the way with these giveaways, many will enter but only one will win. And today, our winner (thanks to random.org and their randomizer is the blogger behind Jimmy Cracked Corn (I’ll be in touch to get your contact info!). For all of you who didn’t win, but are still intrigued by these seeds, you can get them for $39.99 at Hometown Seeds.

Happy gardening!

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Summer Gardening + Seed Giveaway

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For the last eight years, I’ve lived in a two-bedroom apartment on the 20th floor of an apartment in the middle of Center City Philadelphia. I realize that some might see this as an enviable position, and really, I do recognize the many perks to my home (the block and a half commute to work is a particular joy).

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Nonetheless, I itch for outdoor space. For a deck on which to drink coffee in the summer and to feel the gentle heft of early morning sun, while still in my pajamas. For the ability to use the outdoors as extra refrigerator space in the winter. And for a little patch of dirt in which to grow my own tomatoes, cucumbers and climbing pole beans.

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Last summer, I chatted my way into a plot in a community garden (truly, I was at a happy hour and, over specialty cocktails, managed to mention to the the very right person how I yearned for growing space). It was about a mile and a half from my apartment and yet, it was heaven to have a bit of dirt to call my own. You see, I come from people who habitually plant edible things and so existing in a state of no backyard vegetable garden has been an unfamiliar and awkward position for me, even after all those years without.

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Happily, I’ll be returning to my twin bed-sized plot again this year and I couldn’t more delighted (even the profusion of mosquitoes can’t keep me away). This year I’m going to keep it simple, just tomatoes, kale and a number of herbs (last year, those damned vine borers destroyed my promising zucchini and cucumber plants. I can’t deal with that kind of disappointment again, so I’m skipping those plants for ones I know can survive the space).

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I realize that lots of you have started to plan your gardens (and your canning) and may have already placed your seed orders for the year. For those of you who haven’t, I’ve got a giveaway for you. I’ve have one set of Survival Seeds* from Hometown Seeds to send off to a lucky gardener. These are non-hybrid seeds, which means that you can save the seeds from your harvest and plant them again next season. They come packaged in a sealed mylar bag and are designed to keep for years (so even if you can’t use them this year, you can pop them into a cool, dark place and plant them next spring).

For a chance to win these seeds, leave a comment sharing a memory of a garden. I’ll select a random winner on Friday, March 19, 2010 at 11:59 p.m.

*For the record, I want to say that I do not preserve food or garden out of fear or a sense of impending doom. I know that there are lots of people out there who are motivated to acquire these skills because they believe some sort of global cataclysmic is imminent. Not me. I believe in hope and the ability of love to to triumph over fear and hate. I grown food because I appreciate the sense of renewal that it offers. And I preserve because it brings me joy (sun-ripened tomatoes in January!).

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Marmalade Winner

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Hooray for Erin of Erin Cooks, Yummery and the owner of two of my husband’s favorite internet cats. She is the winner (lucky number #33) of the Three-Citrus Marmalade.

Thanks to all of your for your comments! I’m so delighted to have helped demystify the process of making marmalade for so many of you.

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Spouted Measuring Cup Winner

random measuring cup I’m just tickled that so many of you liked my canning gift guide (and the attached giveaway). Thanks for all the terrific comments! (There are a lot of Weck lovers in the crowd!)

The winner of the giveaway was Annie, who’s comment made me laugh when I went to match the random number up with the winning name. She said, “Great stuff, Marisa. Thank you! Can’t wait for the generator to spit out my number!” Well Annie, spit out your number it did. I’ll be emailing you shortly to get your details!

Still to come this week I’ll have at least two (if not three, depending on how demanding my day job is) more “Gift in a Jar” posts, as well as my local meal for the Dark Days Challenge. Meanwhile, I’d love to hear how your holiday preparations are going (I passed out jars of Apple-Cranberry Jam, Apple Butter and the Rosemary-Maple Nuts at my family’s Hanukkah party last night to a crowd of excited cousin)s.

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A Gift Guide for Canners (+ Giveaway)

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I’ve been talking a lot lately about what you preservers out there can put in jars and gift to your friends and loved ones. However, I think that you all also deserve a few treats under the tree or menorah*. Here’s are a few of my favorite canning helpers, from cookbooks, to the best floursack towels out there, to my very favorite 2-quart measuring cup. My thought is that you can send a link to this post to a generous spouse, parent or best friend with a note that says, “I’d like number 2, please!”

Additionally, as my way of saying thank you to all of you who keep coming back, leaving comments and generally making the process of writing this blog a joy, I’m going to be giving away one of those 2-quart measuring cups. Mine’s an older model, but I find that I use this vessel more than any other bowl in my kitchen. This giveaway will be open for entry until Saturday, December 12th at 11:59 p.m. Just leave a comment to enter (one entry per person, winner to be picked via the random number generator).

Starting from the top left corner…

1. Putting Up: A Seasonal Guide to Canning in the Southern Tradition This is one of the best canning books out there and is great for beginners, as it contains all the instruction you need to get started canning.

2. A Stainless Steel Jar Funnel. I like the metal ones better than plastic. Looks better and is sturdier in the long run.

3. Weck Canning Jars. These European jars are beautiful and functional. Extra thoughtful gift givers will also pick up a set of plastic snap-on lids, which turns these into the best leftover vessels I know.

4. A Set of Graduated Measuring Scoops. I prefer using a 1-cup measure like the one pictured when filling jars with hot jam. It gives greater control than a ladle does, and is the exact right amount for a half pint jar. The rest of the measuring cups are useful too.

5. Floursack Towels. Canning can be messy business so it’s always good to have a stack of clean towels on hand. I like these white floursack towels, as they are absorbent, fairly lintless and can be bleached clean when you’re all done cooking.

6. Ball Utensil Kit. This is an easy way to get a new canner started, or to help an experienced preserver refresh their collection of tools (that jar lifter takes a beating after years of use).

7. My Beloved 2-Quart Measuring Cup. I think I’ve said enough about this item. I just love it.

8. A Good, Sharp Knife. I’m a big fan of my Global, but any sturdy, sharp knife will do. When you’re processing a bushel or two of fruit, you want to use the best tool for the job.

9. A Roomy Stock Pot. Instead of buying a pot designed expressly for canning, invest in a good stock pot. That way, it can also work as your pasta or soup pot. But slip a rack in the bottom and voila, it’s a canning pot.

10. Wide Mouth Half-Pint Jars. I adore these squat, easy to fill jars. For some reason, they’ve become impossible to find in stores (I often order a couple dozen and keep them stashed under my couch, for when they’re the only jar that will do).

What are your favorite canning tools? What would you like to see under the tree?

*Yes, I do know that Hanukkah gifts don’t go under the menorah.

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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