Each weekend, I dig through the Food in Jars Flickr pool and feature some of your photographs here in this space. If you’d like to see your hard work on the blog, please add your images to the group! And just so you know, Instagram and camera phone images are more than welcome (and it’s easy to set up your Instagram photos to feed to a Flickr account). Here are this week’s selections.
For weeks now, Whole-Grain Mornings has been sitting at the very top of my cookbook stack. I have read it cover to cover, been charmed by its friendly voice, and have even cooked several recipes from its pages (it is a sure sign that I’m in cookbook love if I manage to make more than one thing from it).
It is a book that embodies how I like to cook and eat and I have a feeling that it will appeal to a whole heck of a lot of you as well.
Written by Megan Gordon (she blogs at A Sweet Spoonful, is a regular contributor to The Kitchn, and is the owner and head baker of Marge Granola), this volume contains recipes designed for the morning (though truly, many of them would also work perfectly well as a lunch, dinner, or snack).
The book breaks down into seven sections. Megan starts things off by sharing a little bit of her own story and how life led her to a career in writing and granola making. Then comes a section devoted to the pantry staples that will help you make these recipes, what exactly it means when you see the words “whole grain,” and even how best to store them.
Next is a section called the basics which offers up staple recipes for homemade yogurt, Megan’s very best oatmeal technique, a whole grain pancake mix, infused honeys, and a nut milk how-to.
After that, we get into seasonal sections (this is a good two-thirds of the book). Each of these sections is carefully balanced to include recipes that are good for busy weekdays, some that are perfect to serve friends at brunch, others for slow sundays, and finally some spreads and toppings to enhance the other recipes.
So far, my very favorite thing from Whole Grain Mornings is the recipe for the Vanilla and Cream Steel-Cut Oats. I’ve long been a fan of steel cut oats and back in my days as an office worker, would regularly make up a big batch on Sunday nights to portion out and eat for breakfast throughout the week.
However, the way I made them in those days was incredibly bland and more about workday survival than flavor and satisfaction. If I’d known to toast my oats in a bit of butter, cook them with some milk added to the water, and finish them with a handful of golden raisins, I’d have enjoyed those breakfasts a good deal more.
The bottom line on this book is that I am enjoying it a great deal and I have a hunch that you would too!
We are in the throes of another winter storm here in the Philadelphia area. Schools are closed, roads are impassable, and the sidewalks are treacherous. I don’t find the weather too much of an inconvenience, as I always work from my dining room table or my desk behind the television and thanks to my canning habit, I can go for days without needing to grocery shop.
But the conditions have been bad enough that Scott’s office has been closed at least three times since the beginning of January. He was home again today and around noon, managed to look both plaintive and hopeful as he said, “Do we have anything good for lunch?”
There’s been a bit of chatter on the Food in Jars Google Community page about tomato soup and so I suggested the classic pairing of toasted cheese sandwiches and bowls of warm soup.
This qualified as good in his book and so I got out a small soup pot, pulled down a jar of tomato puree, and got to cooking. I started by browning 1/2 a minced onion in 1 tablespoon of butter. While the onions sizzled, I chopped up a few of my precious slow roasted tomatoes and added them to the pot.
I’ve taken to keeping a jar of these tomatoes in the fridge, packed in olive oil (a good layer of oil keeps them from getting moldy). It makes them more readily available for use than if they’re all frozen and so I use them more often in my daily cooking. They do add such a fabulous punch of concentrated tomato flavor.
Then I added 1 quart of the tomato puree (simply tomatoes run through a press and simmered until slightly thickened prior to canning), 1 cup of half and half (milk would have been fine too, but since I had the good stuff, I went with it), 2 tablespoons of honey, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.
I simmered the mixture of a few more minutes and then used to an immersion blender to smooth out the lumps and bits of onion. It was perfect for the chilly day and we both had two bowls.
For those of you also living through this latest round of weather, I do hope you’re staying warm and well-fed!
Several weeks back, I wrote a post asking for feedback about my Canning 101 and New To Canning categories. It’s taken me a little bit of time to digest all the questions and figure out how to tackle them. I found that they shake out into about ten categories (though one is something of a catchall). Here’s what I’m finding that you’re interested in:
- Canning Basics
- Fruit Preserves
- Altitude Adjustments
- Recipe Sourcing and Development
- Pressure Canning
- Using Preserves
- Other Questions
What I’ve done is tried to pull out all the individual questions. Though I have answered many of these questions in one way or another, often those responses are buried in the middle of another post and so aren’t always easy to find. So here’s the plan. Starting next week, I’m going to start answering these questions. I probably will jump around the list a lot and will occasionally group two or three questions together if I think they are different sides of the same coin.
Some of these posts will be short and will live forever under the Canning 101 header. Others will be longer, tutorial-style posts and will get filed under the New to Canning. Hopefully, they’ll all be both useful and interesting. I’m going to use the list below as something of an index, so I will link the questions to the answers once they’re written and I may add to the list as I work.
Finally, if you have a question and don’t see it here, leave a comment and I’ll add it to the list!
While it’s still winter, things are starting to heat up on my calendar. I’m making daily additions to my classes and events page and tomorrow night, I’ll be kicking off the season with a canning demo and book signing at the Radnor Memorial Library.
I’ll be making a small batch of pear vanilla jam, talking about safe canning techniques, and selling/signing copies of first book (I don’t have copies of the new book to share yet). It’s a free event and the action starts at 7 pm sharp. If you already have a copy of my book that you want signed, please do bring it!