Giveaway: Joy of Cooking and 2013 Calendar


In my years of cooking, one of the things I’ve found is that most everyone has a foundational cookbook to which they are most loyal. Some of us come from households that held Better Homes and Gardens dear, while others preferred Betty Crocker and its patterned red and white cover. Whether your mother or grandmother consulted Fannie Farmer, Southern Living or the Farm Journal cookbook, up until recently, most homes had at least one of these much-loved, comprehensive volumes in residence near the kitchen.

Me, I come from a Joy of Cooking household. I grew up with the edition of JOY that was bound in turquoise fabric and was first released sometime in the early 1960’s.  It was a primary culinary reference in our house, particularly in the years before the internet made it easy to find 12 different recipes for the same cake in seconds. That book taught me to make crepes and peanut butter cookies, and one of my favorite family traditions is the yearly Christmas Eve consultation, in which we pull out my parents’ battered copy of JOY to check the turkey roasting information and plan our timing for the following day.


The copy of JOY that I was raised with was a gift from my grandma Bunny to her new daughter-in-law, soon after my parents got married. My mother was a touch insulted at first (the implication being that she was not an able cook), but rapidly came to appreciate the utility of such a gift.

Like many things that have lived and been loved for more than 40 years, it doesn’t look the way it once did.  The dust jacket is long since gone. The front cover fell off sometime in the mid-ninties and was reattached with a wide strip of silver tape (this repair is reinforced every decade or so).  Many of the pages have been enhanced with splashes of water or oil or gravy and don’t behave entirely like paper anymore.

modern Joy

In recent years, I’ve become something of a Joy of Cooking collector. I have six editions, which represent the changing food culture over the last eight and a half decades. Most often, I turn to the one that matches the copy I grew up with (happily, it was a hand-me-down from my great-Aunt Anne. It came with complete with a few of her annotations). I regularly use the recipe for Quick Banana Bread and have made the Cornbread on page 578 so many times that I could probably stir it together without ever once glancing at the page.

Recently, I’ve found myself in correspondence with Megan Scott. She and her husband (congratulations on your recent wedding, you two!), John Becker are the latest members of the Rombauer/Becker family to be working on the JOY legacy. They’ve redesigned the website and are regularly posting useful, thoughtful food writing and recipes. It’s a delight to see such a beloved institution in such capable hands.

my favorite banana bread

Earlier this summer, as Megan and I exchanged emails and talked about the possibility of me contributing a guest post to their site, she offered to send me a copy of the 75th anniversary JOY. It was at that moment that I confessed my ridiculous affection for the Joy of Cooking. I asked if instead of sending me another copy to add to my stack, could we give it away to one of my readers? She said yes and did me one better by throwing in one of the 2013 Joy of Cooking desk calendars.

If you’d like a chance to win a copy of the 75th anniversary edition of the Joy of Cooking and the 2013 desk calendar, here’s what you do.

  1. Leave a comment on this post. Tell me which cookbook was your family’s favorite. If you have a beloved recipe, please share that too.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm east coast time on Friday, October 5, 2012. Winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog over the weekend.
  3. Giveaway is open to US residents.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog, I cannot accept submissions via email.
Disclosure: This copy of the 75th anniversary edition of the Joy of Cooking and the 2013 desk calendar have been provided to me at no cost. However, I’ve not been compensated for this post and my opinions are entirely my own.

Photos from the FiJ Flickr Group + Fillmore Container Giveaway Winner

Pears in vanilla syrup

I’m back from a whirlwind weekend in Washington, D.C. I am so appreciative that so many of you guys took time out of your weekend to come to the demos at the US Botanic Garden to watch me make jam. Thank you, thank you!

We’re firmly in harvest time and that means that there are some WONDERFUL photos landing in the Food in Jars Flickr pool. Here are a few (and at the bottom of the post, the winner of the Fillmore Container giveaway is revealed!).

This first photo comes from Christina who blogs at My Homespun Home. She canned up pears in vanilla syrup. Yum!


This next image is a visual inventory of the canning that Shauna did this summer. She reflects on her summer of canning at her blog, Eating With S.O.L.E. I am so impressed by her organization!

Sahuaro and jalapeno pickles

Pickled peppers from Lacey, who blogs at Thyme on My Side. It reminds me that I have some peppers in my crisper that may have already turned to mush. Here’s hoping there are few in there that I can salvage!


Applesauce in pint and a half jars! I still just love seeing this size jar in use out there in the wild. This photo comes to use from Lynn, who’s Flickrstream is bursting with preserve-y goodness.

cinnamon maple sunflower seed butter

This last image is of the cinnamon maple sunflower seed butter that Stephinie made and posted about on her blog, Gypsy Forest. She was inspired by the recipe that Heidi posted on 101 Cookbooks, which was in turn inspired by the recipe in my cookbook. I love it when it works out like that!

solo four ounce jar

Fillmore Container giveaway winner time! Many thanks to all who entered and took the time to share how you’d put these smooth-sided four-ounce jars to work in your own households! The winner is commenter #804, Emily. She said,

Those are great jars! I think I’d use them for jam, because I’m the only one in my house who likes jam and I always like to have a variety of flavors, but have a hard time eating a big jar of jam before it goes bad. :) You’re right that they’d also be perfect for spices.

If you didn’t happen to win this giveaway, I have good news for you. Fillmore Container was so impressed by the number of you that turned out for the giveaway that they’ve decided to do it again over on their blog this week.

All you have to do is check out the many jars they sell and leave a comment on their site, sharing which size jar you’d most like to try in your kitchen. If you’re the lucky winner, you’ll get a case of those jars to use. Head on over and enter for another opportunity to win jars!

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This Weekend at the United States Botanical Garden


Tomorrow morning, I’m packing up my canning gear and hitting the road again. This time, I’m heading south to Washington, D.C., for a pair of canning demonstrations at the United States Botanical Garden. On Saturday, I’ll be demonstrating a small batch of tomato jam* and Sunday, I’ll be making pear vanilla jam. Both demos are from 12 noon – 1 pm and are entirely free (there’s no charge to visit the Gardens either). If you live in the D.C. area, I’d love to see some of you there.

In other class news, October is turning into the month of Pear Vanilla Jam classes. I’m teaching this recipe four times. It’s one of my favorite preserves, so I’m entirely delighted by this turn of events. On October 2, I’m at Pennypack Farm in Horsham. Saturday, October 6, I’m teaching an Indy Hall version of the class (email me to sign up for that one). October 13, I’m at Greensgrow and on October 18, I’m at the Whole Foods Market in Plymouth Meeting, PA.

I know it sounds repetitive to teach the same recipe so many times, but the way I see it is the recipe is just the vehicle that gives us the opportunity to get into the nitty gritty of canning. While I have a mental list of all the things I plan on covering in the class, each session is guided by the questions and problems you all bring to the table. No class is ever identical, which makes it fun for me and interesting for my repeat students.

For all my classes, make sure to check the classes tab up above. I update the page regularly, so keep your eyes peeled!

*The website says that Bernadine Prince is leading the demo on Saturday, but I’m subbing in for her.

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Weddings, Winners and Chocolate Cake


I spent most of last week out in Carmel Valley, helping get ready for my sister’s wedding. I baked cakes, cooked meals for crowds, snuggled with my nephew and picked Meyer lemons from the tree in the backyard.

I had every intention of finding time to post here while I was away, but I was unprepared for just how full the whole experience would be (it didn’t help that I had the stresses of weather delays, missed flights and wayward baggage). My best laid plans went right out the window when I realized that it was far more important for me to soak up all the family time I could instead of gluing myself to my laptop screen. I am so glad I did, too.

Raina and Emmett

The wedding was beautiful and my sister, her kind man and their sweet babe deserved every moment of the love that was heaped upon them from the gathered crowd of friends and family. After a short service under a rustic, flower-laden chuppah, there was food, music and dancing.

Dinner was catered by the taqueria that Andrew has been eating at his entire life, supplemented by vast plates of kale salad. For dessert, there were cookies from a local bakery, as well as the flourless chocolate cakes that I made (I also cooked up a batch of raspberry jam to serve with it. Nothing complements chocolate like raspberries).

flourless chocolate cake

Three years ago (today!), when Scott and I got married, I also baked in the days before the wedding. I knew that the best way to have delicious cake (and not pay a fortune for it) was to make it myself. My mother thought I was insane, but I’ve never regretting spending that time whisking and baking. I was so happy to be able to do the same for Raina.

I made eight flourless chocolate cakes (though only seven made it to the ceremony, one was eaten to crumbs two nights before) in a borrowed kitchen. I packed two springform pans, parchment paper and a hand mixer into my suitcase (which just added to the stress over the missing luggage) and bought the ingredients as a local Safeway when I arrived. With my mom’s help, we managed six cakes on Thursday and squeezed in the last two on Friday.

They are dense, rich, deeply chocolate-y and just the thing to serve at a wedding where you want to celebrate the sweetness of life. You’ll find the recipe after the jump!

Mike, Mo, Raina, Emmett and Bill

I love this picture. It’s my dad and his two brothers (on either side), posing with Raina and Emmett.

Scott and I got back to Philly on Sunday night and I’ve spent the last few days trying to catch up with email and meet deadlines. I’m working on an article for Table Matters about root vegetable soups right now, and so I spent most of today roasting, simmering and pureeing. I’ve been writing some nice little pieces for them of late, if you haven’t clicked over recently and read about versatile baking mixesfruit butters and home-flavored salts.

Giveaway Update

Thanks for all your entries to the My Berlin Kitchen giveaway! The winner is commenter #490. She said, “My favorite food memory would have to be Thursday night dinners I used to throw for friends when we were in college…we’d eat, watch Seinfeld, and just have a good time. I think it was experimenting with cooking in those days that made me feel secure in the kitchen.” What a lovely memory, Courtney!

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Giveaway: Four Ounce Smooth Sided Jars from Fillmore Container

solo four ounce jar

Over the years that I’ve been canning, I’ve acquired a fairly vast assortment of jars. Some of the basic type that can be picked up at any grocery or hardware store, while others are older models that can only be found at yard sales and secondhand shops.

Whenever I take pictures of my preserves in these vintage jars, I’m asked to name the source of these pretty jars. Most of the time, I end up disappointing the questioner when I confess that I picked up the jars in question at a tag sale in rural Pennsylvania some years back.

smooth sides close-up

Happily, today is going to be a little different. The jars I’m showing off in these photos aren’t vintage and impossible to find. These four-ounce, smooth-sided jars are from Fillmore Container, cost just $3.99 a dozen and are quite easy to order (the shipping can get spendy though, so consider pairing up with a friend to keep it affordable).

When I first discovered these jars, I was ridiculously happy (yes, I do realize that it’s a little silly to have one’s joy level attached to the accessibility of a particular canning jar, but it’s me we’re talking about). You see, while I’ve always appreciated having the four-ounce jar as an option in my canning, I’ve never liked the quilted finish that Ball uses on that size. I’d seen photos of these smooth-sided quarter pints in the past, but I wasn’t sure how to get my hands on some.

labeled smooth sided jar

Then, back in August, Lisa Reinhart from Fillmore Container came to my canning demo at Lemon Street Market in Lancaster City and brought a dozen of these smooth-sided little jars with her. I was over the moon (particularly since she sent me home with the box). I’ve since used them for all manner of things from basic canning projects to spice storage (without the quilting, it’s much easier to tell the dried basil from the oregano with just a glance).

I also love the absence of pattern because it means that there are far fewer limitations when it comes to labeling these jars. Instead of being tethered to a small label, you can devise a longer sticker that bends around the entirety of the jar. Or, you can use one of the new stickers from Ball that dissolves when soaked (that’s what I’m using above), but not worry about placing it precisely in the area designed for it.

As you start to plan your holiday gift giving, consider this size for your projects. I am certain that my Pear Vanilla Jam would look gorgeous in these jars, as would any number of chutneys, jellies and syrups.

four ounce comparison

As you can see from the photo above, these smooth-sided jars (on the left) are little squatter than the quilted versions. However, they hold the same amount and the conventional two-piece lids fit them perfectly. That said, if you want to go for a different look, Fillmore also sells one-piece lids that are designed for boiling water bath canning as well. They come in red, green, yellow, black, white, silver and gold and are quite easy to use (I’ll have a tutorial on using one-piece lids up later this week).

Thanks to Fillmore Container, I have a case of 12 jars and 12 one-piece lids (winner gets to choose the color) to give away to one reader of this blog. Here’s what you do to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me how you’d use these four-ounce, smooth-sided jars.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm east coast time on Friday, September 28, 2012. Winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog over the weekend.
  3. Giveaway is open to US residents.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog, I cannot accept submissions via email.

Finally, make sure to click on over to the Fillmore Container blog. They have a little interview with me up there right now and have a signed copy of my book, along with my favorite blossom trivet, to give away as well.

Disclosure: Fillmore Container gave me a dozen of these jars and lids to try out and they’re also providing the same for this giveaway. However, my opinions are uninfluenced by the gift and my opinions are entirely my own. 

My Berlin Kitchen Giveaway + Spiced Plum Butter

My Berlin Kitchen

I first discovered The Wednesday Chef sometime in early 2006. I had become an avid reader of blogs about a year before (they were a great way to keep my mind off my terrible day job) and was always on the hunt for new sites to add to my list of bookmarks. Luisa’s voice and perspective on food resonated with me immediately. I spent a morning engrossed in her archives and once caught up, tried never to miss a new post.

My Berlin Kitchen spine

In fact, it’s fairly safe to say that I’ve read nearly everything that Luisa Weiss has ever posted to the internet (I hope that doesn’t make me sound like a stalker. I swear, I’m just a fan). And, when an advanced copy of My Berlin Kitchen arrived just before the mini-vacation that Scott and I took few weeks back, I tucked it into my travel bag and proceeded to read it in a single, giant gulp.

dog ears

As I read, I dog-eared recipes I wanted to remember. I marked the Pizza Siciliana and the Poppy Seed Whirligig Buns. I’m hoping to make the Yeasted Plum Cake before their season is entirely gone and, come Christmas, I’m definitely planning on making the Fruit Bread on page 161. It sounds dense and divine.


As I read, there was one recipe that jumped out at me more insistently than the rest and cried out to be made immediately. The Pflaumenmus or Spiced Plum Butter on page 237 had my name written all over it (particularly since I had the necessary four pounds of Italian prune plums at home, thanks to the Washington State Fruit Commission and their Canbassador program).

Italian prune plums

Of course, I’ve made plum butters before, but never with this particular technique. Luisa has you quarter the plums, stir them together with a bit of sugar, a cinnamon stick, and a couple cloves and let them sit overnight. The next day, once they’re nice and juicy, you pop the pan into the oven and bake them them at moderate heat.

After their time in the heat, the plums are incredibly tender and fragrant. The liquid has thickened a great deal and the slumping fruit just smells incredible.

post roasting

Once pureed, she has you funnel the prepared butter into sterilized jars and use the inversion method to seal. This is the only place where I diverged from the recipe as written and I chose to run my jars through a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Because this is a relatively low sugar preserve, I wanted to ensure that all bacteria was killed and the best way to do that is with a hot water bath.

Now, just a note about the yield. The recipe says that it makes four to five jars, but doesn’t specify the sizes of those jars. I found that after pureeing, I had exactly enough butter to fill three pint jars. I imagine the jars Luisa used were a bit smaller than a standard pint and so figure my yield was just about right (I did the math and found that had I used the 1/5 L Weck jars, I’d have filled exactly five jars).

finished butter

I plan on applying this same overnight maceration and oven roasting to other fruits, because it made for such a nice finished product and filled my apartment with the most delicious smells.

Thanks to the nice folks at Viking, in addition to getting to share the plum butter recipe with you (it’s after the jump), I also have a copy of My Berlin Kitchen to give away. If you’d like a chance to win it, here’s what to do.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share your favorite food memory.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm east coast time on Friday, September 21, 2012. Winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog over the weekend.
  3. Giveaway is open to US residents.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog, I cannot accept submissions via email.
Disclosure: Viking sent me an advanced copy of My Berlin Kitchen and are providing the copy for this giveaway. However, I’ve not been paid to host this giveaway and my opinions are entirely my own.

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