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Pear Cake

canned pears

Last summer (as you may remember), I went through a period where I canned a lot of fruit whole. That’s right, I just popped it into the jars, poured a syrup over top and processed. I wrote about the plums in honey, but as I look back through the archives, I realize I never managed to blog about the seckel pears I canned in that same honey syrup, spiked with a bit of powered ginger.

dry ingredients for pear cake

Throughout this year, I’ve gotten a number of questions from readers who fearlessly followed me into whole fruit canning and then didn’t know what to do with it once they were there. Well kids, here’s one recipe that works for either whole canned pears or plums (provided you used firm plums that at least kind of held their shape during the canning process).


This is a nice, adaptable cake that also works with fresh fruit (but there’s not much of that round these parts besides storage apples that are getting mealier with each passing day). For those of you observing Passover, you’re going to have to wait several more days before you can make this. However, it would make a VERY nice addition to an Easter brunch, if you happen to still be casting about for recipes.

finished pear cake

Next time I make this, I think I might sprinkle the top with a bit of crunchy sugar, to give it a bit of shimmer. However, taste wise, it doesn’t need a thing. The fruit makes it feel virtuous but underneath those pear halves, it’s still all cake (moist, slightly nutmeg-y cake). Another way to fancy it up (if you’re using home-canned fruit) would be to reduce the canning syrup down a bit and drizzle it over the top of the cake when serving. So good!

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Jam-filled Hamantaschen


I am always looking for ways to use jam beyond spreading it on toast/pancakes/scones. Particularly the three jars of blackberry jam I’ve had in the back of the fridge since September 2008. They’re in the refrigerator, as opposed to on my shelf, because I didn’t process them and figured I’d use them quickly in a recipe. But being in the way back, I never did use them. Then I started to believe that they weren’t good anymore.

Finally, I pulled them out recently, only to discover that they had, in fact, sealed when I first made them (via the open kettle method) and were fine and totally delicious. Who knew!


Hamantaschen are fruit or jam-filled cooked that are traditionally made around Purim. Their triangle shape is said to mimic Haman’s hat (although, in Israel, they call them Haman’s ears). Haman was an enemy of the Jews, who was defeated by Queen Ester. Purim (a fun, celebratory holiday that combines aspects of Independence Day and Halloween) has already come and gone for this year, but there’s no need to wait for next year before making these cookies.


I’ve learned a few things about Hamantaschen, as I’ve made at least three batches in the last week, trying to get them right. The first is that I’m nearly incapable of getting the proportions perfect. You want plenty of cookie, in order to have enough dough to create a sufficient well for the spoonful of jam you heap in their center.

I can’t quite manage this (I cut too little cookie and add too much jam). Also, I somehow can’t catch the dough at the perfect point of chilled by yet still workable. However, I’ve discovered that even when I screw them up, they are still delicious. So maybe I’ll just keep making them until I get them right.


If you do any recipe searching, you’ll find that there are some recipes that call for yeast and some that don’t. I find that in terms of flavor, I like the the unyeasted dough better (they’re more like a sugar cookie). However, the texture of the yeasted cookie was more in keeping with the Hamantaschen I’ve eaten in the past (it was flaky and reminded me slightly of shortbread). I’ve included both recipes so that you can determine which style you prefer.

For another take on Hamantaschen, see Deena’s post on Mostly Foodstuffs. She used a recipe that incorporates cream cheese, and I imagine that it lends a really yummy richness that goes really well with jam.

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Using Your Preserves: Glazed Chicken

chicken prep

For the last few months, I’ve been making jam at a dizzying speed. While I hot water process most of what I make for long term storage and gifting, my fridge is still full of jars of jam (mostly half empty ones that hold the overflow from each batch). I can only eat so much jam on toast or stirred into yogurt/oatmeal and so have been taking serious measures to get a handle on my multiplying jam supply.

One tactic I employ when faced with an abundance of jam, is to encorporate it into recipes. I make thumbprint cookies, glaze fruit tarts and fill baked goods. But what to do when you can’t stand another sweet treat? Use jam to spice up your main meal!

glazed chicken

My mother has always been a devotee of the humble chicken leg and they appeared by the half dozen on our dinner table during my childhood at least once a week. She liked to bake them and would rotate through a handful of flavor enhancers, including teriyaki sauce, homemade honey mustard, good seasons italian dressing and thinned out jam.

jam-glazed chicken

Last night, I channeled her by warming up a few spoonfuls of yellow plum and ginger jam in the microwave and slathering it over two bone-in chicken breasts. Sprinkled with salt and roasted in a 400 degree oven for about 35-40 minutes, the main course took two minutes to prep and was delicious (there was enough leftover to top our lunch salads today as well!).

jam-glazed chicken dinner

You can use just about any jam (although I find that strawberry is best reserved for toast and yogurt) as a glaze/marinade on savory items. I like plum, apricot and cherry best for chicken. A sweet/tart marmalade is nice on salmon. You could even fancy up a marinated and baked tofu with a sweet slick of fruit spread.

What’s your favorite way to use jams, jellies and preserves beyond breakfast?

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