Homemade Pickles and Yogurt Cheese in the 3191 Quarterly

3191 Quarterly

Yesterday afternoon, I met a friend for tea at a local coffee shop. It had been weeks since we’d seen each other and so carved out a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon to reconnect and catch each other up on the happenings in our lives.

By the time we parted, the sun was long since set. The streets were dark and all throughout my neighborhood, living room lamps were turned on. These are the perfect conditions for an inveterate peeper such as myself. I just love catching little glimpses of the lives of others.

3191 picnic spread

I think that’s why blogs with beautiful, intimate photography are so darn popular, they allow us all regular peeks into the homes, kitchens and tables of strangers. One of the first photography websites that captured my attention in this way was 3191 Miles Apart. It’s a partnership between Maria Alexandra Vettese (MAV) and Stephanie Congdon Barnes (SCB). The name comes from the fact that one lives in Portland, ME and the other lives in Portland, OR. There are exactly 3191 miles between the two Portlands.

It’s a project that’s transitioned through several incarnations, from years of daily posts that documented mornings and evenings, to weekly posts and a quarterly magazine. It’s the most recent edition (#5) of the 3191 Quarterly that I want to feature here. It’s been bringing me a great deal of joy.

3191 pickle spread

Not only are the pictures lovely snippets of life, this issue features two recipes that are perfectly aligned with aesthetics of this website. Cucumber dill pickles and homemade yogurt cheese. When the issue arrived, I wished fervently to be able to climb straight into those scenes.

This quarterly is a bit pricier than your standard magazine subscription, but to my mind, totally worth the cost. Until December 11, you can subscribe to issues 5-8 for $99. After that, they’ll only be available individually for $28 an issue.

Disclosure: I paid for my subscription with my limited freelancer funds. No one asked me to write this post, I did it simply because I like the 3191 Quarterly and everything it embodies.

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Preserves in Action: Pickled Cranberries

arugula salad with pickled cranberry vinaigrette

Over the weekend, I made a batch of pickled cranberries for my Serious Eats In a Pickle column. I figured it was a fun, seasonal pickle and a good one to feature in the days before Thanksgiving. What I didn’t anticipate was that it would rocket so quickly to the top of my favorite preserve list.

pickled cranberries

I made these on Sunday night and I’ve eaten them in one way or another everyday since. On Sunday, I realized that they were nothing so much as a chunky shrub (or drinking vinegar) and stirred them into a bit of sparkling water for a fancy “cocktail” to go with dinner (though I love a good, boozy drink, I have a teeny, tiny tolerance and so often skip the intoxicants).

On Monday, I whisked some of the cranberries into some olive oil and drizzled it over a mess of arugula and goat cheese and topped the whole thing with a big of not-very-sweet granola for some crunch. That’s the salad you see above. It was refreshing, filling and perfectly seasoned. I think it’s my new house vinaigrette.

pickled cranberries

Yesterday, I made little stacks of baguette, clothbound cheddar and pickled cranberries, for a sweet, savory, astringent snack. I’ve not eaten them yet today, but we have so many hours to go before bed. I’m sure I’ll work them in somehow. Tomorrow, they’re going on turkey.

If you still have time before Thanksgiving and want to sneak more more condiment on to the to-do list, I do recommend this one. However, even if you can’t imagine the idea of cramming even another thing into your pre-holiday plans, I still think you should make these pickled cranberries once turkey day has passed. They are my new favorite thing and I think they just might become yours as well.

 

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Home “Canned” Cranberry Sauce Made in a Tin Can Mold

"canned" homemade cranberry sauce

This little fish-shaped dish is my family’s cranberry sauce server. It is simply the perfect size for a can of cranberry jelly. I grew up with a clear glass one that my mom still has and a few years ago, when I found this milk glass version at a thrift store for $1.50, I snatched like it was the most valuable thing in the store. To me, it was.

"canned" homemade cranberry sauce

The only wrinkle in this tradition is the fact that I gave up commercially made cranberry sauce a few years ago. I make so many preserves that it seemed silly to continue to buy this particular one. What’s more, most of the store bought stuff is made with high fructose corn syrup, a substance I try to avoid when possible.

"canned" homemade cranberry sauce

So this year, I decided to do something a little silly in order to satisfy my desire to slide a can-shaped tube of cranberry sauce into my little fish dish. I made a batch from scratch and molded it into the can shape using BPA-free cans. I searched out a neutral-tasting food so that the cans wouldn’t impart any additional flavor to the jelly (these cannellini beans were perfect and tasted so good in a batch of sausage and kale soup). I also made sure to find a can that had a flat bottom, so that I could use a can opener on it in the event that the jelly was hesitant to exit the can.

4 cups cranberries

I made a very basic cranberry jelly. Combine 5 cups whole cranberries with 3 cups granulated white sugar, 1 cup apple cider and the juice of 1 lemon in a medium saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and cook until the cranberries burst, stirring regularly. If it begins to look too thick, add a splash more water.

"canned" homemade cranberry sauce

Fit a food mill with its finest screen. When cranberries are finished cooking, pour them into the bowl of the food mill and work them through. You could also use a fine mesh sieve and a rubber scraper if you don’t have a food mill. Continue to mill the cranberries until all that remains in the bowl of the food mill is seeds and skins.

"canned" homemade cranberry sauce

Set a wide mouth funnel into your well-cleaned cans and scrape the warm cranberry sauce into the can, leaving a bit of space at the top.

"canned" homemade cranberry sauce

Cover the filled cans with foil or plastic wrap and place them the fridge to set. If you can, give them at least 12 hours of chilling for optimum molding.

"canned" homemade cranberry sauce

Just before you’re ready to serve, gather your equipment. Can of molded cranberry sauce. Butter knife. Can opener. And the all-important fish dish.

"canned" homemade cranberry sauce

Carefully slide the butter knife down along the side of the cranberry jelly and run it in a complete circle to loosen. Take care when you to this so you don’t end up slicing all the can ridges off the jelly. They are part of the joy. Once the sauce has been loosened, invert the can into your dish and give it a little wiggle.

"canned" homemade cranberry sauce

Sometimes the jelly begins to slide out immediately. If it remains stuck, use the can opener to crack the vacuum by beginning to take the bottom off the can. I’ve found that you don’t have to remove it all the way, even just a little bit of air in there helps move things along. Gently slide the cranberry sauce out onto your plate.

"canned" homemade cranberry sauce

Serve with pride, knowing that you’ve managed to maintain a family tradition while sticking to your culinary guns. And, should you be curious, this cranberry jelly recipe is also appropriate for funneling into glass jars and processing in a boiling water bath canning. Ten minutes for pints and half pints will more than do.

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Urban Preserving: Small Batch Seckel Pear Jam with Brown Sugar and Cardamom

pears

I’m crazy for pears these days. I buy them without a plan for how I’m going to use them, just to be able to have them around to look at and munch on. Seckel pears are a particular weakness, followed closely by crunchy asian pears* and the bright, green Anjou. Though I’ve always been a fan of pears, I don’t remember a year where I’ve been quite so smitten by them.

cooking jam

I’ve had the above bowl on my dining room table since Sunday. It just looked so pretty and made things feel so very fall-like. Yesterday afternoon, I looked over and realized that the Seckel pears were dangerously soft. It was time to stop gazing and take a bit of action.

finished jam

I turned to one of my favorite, small batch cooking vessels – the 12-inch stainless steel skillet. You’ve seen me employ this pan before to good effect and I’ll confess right now that there have been many other undocumented batches of jam cooked in it as well. I love using a large, flat pan for these small batches because they make for such quick cooking times. Lately, I’ve been dreaming of adding a 6-quart saute pan for its jam-cooking surface area.

small batch canner

I cored and roughly chopped my pound and a half of Seckel pears, which gave me three scant cups of fruit. I heaped it into the skillet and added three quarters of a cup of brown sugar. I stirred them together until the juices started to run and then turned the heat on to high.

I let the jam simmer and sputter, stirring regularly, until the remaining juices were thick and sticky. Then I added half a teaspoon of cardamom and the juice of half a lemon. I continued to cook for just another minute or two, to give the spice and juice time to integrate.

Seckel pear jam with brown sugar and cardmom

When the jam was done, I scraped it into two prepared half pint jars and processed them in my favorite small batch canning pot (the 4th burner pot) for ten minutes. From chopped to cooling, this jam took just less than half an hour to make.

To my mind, this jam is the perfect thing for stirring into oatmeal. The gentle flavor of the pears with the spice of cardamom and the sweetness of brown sugar would combine so nicely with the creaminess of oats. It’d also be great spread on an oat scone or millet muffin.

*The asian pears are for eating out of hand, they are lower in acid than other pears and so can’t be used in basic jam recipes. They have to be heavily acidified for canning.

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Takeya Winner + Pasplore

All good contests must come to end and this one wrapped up yesterday just before midnight. Our lucky winner is commenter #62, Michelle Wands, who said,

“My combination would be apple cranberry for this time of year. Strawberry Rhubarb would be refreshing in the spring.”

Sounds delicious, Michelle! And for the rest of you, I’ll have another fun giveaway coming up soon, so stay tuned!

Finally, in an attempt to make this post a little more interesting, I want to point your browsers in the direction of Pasplore. It’s this very cool website that creates photo mosaics out of the food photography of others. I submitted a couple of recipes, as did food bloggers from all across the internet. Click the screenshot below to check out the real thing.

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Pear Cinnamon Jam

pear cinnamon jam

Last July, I spent a day in Washington, D.C., at the annual summer Fancy Food Show. I walked the show floor. I tasted a world of spreads, snacks, jams and cheeses. I took photos of everything I saw that I liked, intending to come back and write a post rounding up my favorite products from the show. I got as far as uploading my photos to Flickr before life got away from me (this seems to be a common theme with me). I never wrote the post.

pears in my great-grandmother's bowl

Part of the reason I wanted to write that post, was to tell you about a cinnamon pear jam I had tasted. Made by Sidehill Farm in Brattleboro, VT, this jam was the perfect marriage of fruit and spice. The flecks of cinnamon were suspended in a slow cooked jam. If it had been polite, I would have scraped that little sample jar clean before moving on to the next table.

pear cinnamon jam

I think you all know where this story is headed. I’ve made a batch of jam in an attempt to recreate that particular jar. Because pears are one of my favorite fruits for preserving, it wasn’t a stretch for me to take my standard pear jam formula (eight cups chopped fruit and four cups sugar) and apply cinnamon to it. It is heaven.

pear cinnamon jam

I used local Bartlett pears that I ordered through Three Springs Fruit Farm (I got 25 pounds, which is enough to make this batch of jam at least five times over. I did something else with them that I’ll be showing you soon). If you’re in the Philly area, know that Three Springs still has more pears to sell and you can order them straight off their website. I just love how modern technology makes working with farmers so easy.

pear cinnamon jam

When you make this jam, you’ll notice that your finished product will be a bit lighter in color than mine. I’ve made this recipe twice now. The first time I did it (which was the time I took these pictures), I used two tablespoons of ground cinnamon in the jam. And I discovered that that may well have been too much. The second time, I stuck to a more judicious single tablespoon and was much happier with the result.

pear cinnamon jam

Should you be an adventurous sort, you could also add a bit of clove and ginger to this jam, for a decidedly holiday flavor. I didn’t go that route this time, as I was trying to replicate that jam. But now that I’m thinking about it, a jam made with pears and an array of warm, mulling spices could be just wonderful.

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