Links: Pink Pickles, Cherry Rhubarb Jam, and a Winner

Honey sweetened peach jam! Freshly made and ready for tasting at the Ambler Farmers Market!

I hit the wall this weekend. In a single 48 hour period, I taught one class, did three farmers market demos, and had a book store signing. By the time I left my last event today, I was entirely spent. So much so that I accidentally left my soaking jam pan in the grass when I drove away. Thankfully, one of the nice market organizers noticed my error and they’re holding my equipment until I can get back out there and claim it. Such is life!

Now, links!

A few nice mentions of Preserving by the Pint!

handmade gatherings cover

Thanks to everyone who took the time to share their stories of beloved parties and potlucks. The winner of the copy of Ashley English’s new book Homemade Gatherings is #151/Robin. She said, “I love potlucks – otherwise I worry about stuff during the whole event instead of just making sure there are enough plates and utensils and then enjoying my guests.” 

Robin, here’s hoping that this book helps you enjoy your guests even more!

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Sponsored Post: Homemade Lemon Curd from Craftsy

pint of lemons

Every winter, I order up a ten-pound box of Meyer lemons. I spent a week or two turning all that fragrant fruit into marmalade, syrup, preserved lemons, and creamy lemon curd.

I pack the curd into 4 ounce jars and stash most of them in the freezer* to keep it fresh. Then, throughout the winter and spring, I defrost one tiny jar at a time and stir a spoonful of curd into little dishes of yogurt as a sweet, tangy treat.

lemon curd mis

Recently, the folks at Craftsy asked if I wanted to take their lemon curd recipe for a spin. I nearly said no, because to my mind summer just isn’t curd season. But then I looked at the recipe and realized that their version used more lemon and less sugar, butter, and egg yolks. A lighter, more summer friendly curd, perhaps?

whisking lemon curd

The recipe works much like those I’ve used before. You combine the egg yolks, lemon juice, and sugar in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. This particular version does take a little more time to set up than the batches I’ve made in the past (mostly because the concentration of thickening egg yolk is less), but if you use a larger bowl and pan than I did, you should have perfectly good luck.

Click here for Craftsy’s Lemon Curd Recipe!

curd in skillet

I actually ended up giving up on the double boiler approach and turned my nascent curd out into a small skillet to speed the cooking. It eventually did firm, and once I added the butter, vanilla extract, and pinch of salt, I was entirely sold on this delicate version.

This curd is light and bright with unadulterated lemon flavor. Since I made it, I’ve been dreaming of dolloping a bit on a slice of angel food cake and topping that with a few fresh blueberries.

sieving curd

If you do make this curd, know one thing. It is inevitable that you will end up with small bits of cooked egg in your finished curd. For a perfectly smooth texture, make sure to run the hot curd through a fine mesh sieve to filter out any lumps or bumps. The recipe doesn’t tell you that, but truly, it should be done.

Click here for Craftsy’s Lemon Curd Recipe!

*I used to can my curd, but I’ve found that I prefer the texture when I skip the canning pot and preserve by freezing instead. Live and learn!

For more about this series of sponsored posts and my year-long partnership with Craftsy, please visit this post.

Official disclosure statement: This is sponsored post from Craftsy. I was compensated for this post. However, all opinions remain my own.

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Deal Alert: Sweet Cherries on Sale Tomorrow at Whole Foods Market

This Friday is the annual cherry sale at Whole Foods Market! Very exciting!

I start paying more attention to the Whole Foods Markets Friday sales starting in mid-June. That’s because every July for the last few years, they have one day when they put all the sweet cherries on sale. They go from being upwards of $4 or $5 a pound to a crazy low $1.99 a pound. As a cherry obsessive and dedicated preserver, you better believe that this is one sale that I do not miss.

Because I’ve been on the road so much this summer, I haven’t been paying as much attention to the sales at my local Whole Foods as I normally do. However, I stopped by earlier today and spotted this sign (and was so excited, I felt moved to take a picture and post it to Instagram). The cherry sale is tomorrow!

After getting a couple of questions about availability on my Instagram post, I did a little digging and found out that the sale price will be in effect at all WFM stores in the US (including Hawaii). There is a chance that they will run out of cherries before the end of the day, so if you want in on the action, make sure to get to your local store on the earlier side of the day.

If you’re intrigued by the idea of discount cherries, but aren’t sure how you’d use up a mess of them, here are some of my favorite cherry recipes from the archives.

pickled cherries

Sweet pickled cherries. Eat them with roasted meat or with some cheese like a deconstructed chutney. Or, if you want something appropriate for a burger, make yourself some cherry ketchup.

booze and cherries

Cherry bounce. It’s just cherries, sugar, and bourbon. What could be bad about that? Or, if bourbon isn’t your thing, what about cherry rum?

sweet and sour cherry jam

Sweet and sour cherry jam. If you can’t find sour cherries, try using apricots or raspberries in their place. It’s lovely, low sugar preserve that is one of my pantry staples these days.

cherry clafoutis

If you don’t feel like hauling out your canning pot, there’s also the cherry clafoutis, which is always nice. You bake cherries into a slightly sweet custard. Pitting is optional.

There are even more cherry recipes in my cookbooks. Sweet cherry butter! Bing cherries in red wine syrup! Sweet cherry compote!

However you do it, make sure you enjoy some some cherries this summer!

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Honey Sweetened Raspberry Preserves

glowing berries

When I was in Portland a few weeks back, I spent a morning at the Beaverton Farmers Market with Kate Payne. We did side-by-side demos, signed books, and greeted all the nice folks who stopped by to see what we were doing with carrots (her) and strawberries (me).

By the time we finished, the market was starting to close down for the day. Kate dashed off to buy some Hood strawberries for her next demo, while I went off in search of one of the half flats of raspberries I’d seen walking by our table.

raspberry pulp

After just a little bit of wandering, I found the raspberries I was looking for. They’d been out in the heat for hours so were starting to look a tiny bit soft. The woman working the stand, pulled six of the best looking pints that she could find for me and fitted them snugly into the cardboard half flat. Then, she took two more pints and scattered them over top. She gave me a wink and said, “End of the day special.”

finished jam

I ate at least a pint on the drive home (all of 25 minutes) and my parents helped polish off a second pint within the afternoon. The rest were destined for preserving. My mom and I gently tumbled each pint out onto a dinner plate and sorted through, separating out any berries that seemed to have started to go truly bad from the ones that could go into the cooking pot (we also pulled a few of the fresher looking ones to save for breakfast the next day).

processing jam

We collected the berries in a roomy 4-cup measuring cup, occasionally mashing the fruit down with a fork in order to make room for more. When we were finished, we’d filled the measuring cup to the brim and still had a scant pint that were sturdy enough to last the night in the fridge.

finished raspberry jam

I combined the berries with two cups of local honey and a goodly amount of lemon zest and juice in my mom’s widest pan and brought it all to an active boil. Stirring regularly, it took about half an hour to cook down and thicken (had I had some Pomona’s Pectin on hand, I may have spiked it with a bit to encourage a thicker set in less time).

When it was done, I had three half pints and one full pint of lovely, bright, honey sweetened raspberry preserves (I’m not calling it jam, because it ended up with a fairly soft set and I want to establish the correct expectations). Hooray for Oregon berries!

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Thursday Night at the Free Library of Philadelphia

At the main branch of The Free Library.

Dear Philly-based readers! I am going to be doing a presentation (in conversation with my wonderful editor Kristen Green Wiewora) at the Central Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia on Thursday night (that may well be tonight when you read this post). The talk starts at 7:30 pm and should be quite fun.

I’m really excited about this particular event, as all the truly wonderful authors who come through Philadelphia gives talks and readings from the exact same stage. I am delighted and humbled that the library event planners have seen fit to invite me to be part of their author series and I do hope some of you will come!

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Giveaway: Handmade Gatherings by Ashley English

handmade gatherings cover

I have long been of the believe that when it comes to entertaining, people break down into just two groups. There are the dinner party people and potluck people. The dinner party folk like to have a certain amount of control over the menu and flow of the evening, whereas potluck people are fully content to put out a stack of plates and just see what happens.

handmade gatherings interior

However, with her new book, Handmade Gatherings, Ashley English offers up a middle way. With 16 seasonal gatherings, including recipes and crafts, these festive events give the dinner party people some structure while encouraging them to involve their guests in the process. For the potluck people among us, the book serves as encouragement to up the game ever so slightly.

handmade gatherings cake walk

Ashley opens the book with a little peek into her own entertaining history and then offers some insight about how to communicate with your guests, how to pick a location, and how to plan so that no one goes hungry (always have a back-up plan!). She also offers useful instruction on how to be a good guest, including a most helpful reminder to bring a serving utensil with your dish.

handmade gatherings canning

Because the parties are seasonally grounded, you’ll find things like egg-centric events, canning afternoons, ice cream socials, and even cookie swaps. The recipes, activities, and crafts are delicious, engaging, and fun (and manage never to cross the line into overly cutesy territory).

handmade gatherings morocco

What I find so nice about this book is that it is written so that every reader can take what they need from it. Some folks will recreate Ashley’s parties down to the very last dish, while others will use it for the inspiration it has to offer. I do like an entertaining book that adapts to the reader.

handmade gatherings spine

Thanks to Ashley and the team at Roost Books, I have one copy of Handmade Gatherings to give away. Here’s how to enter!

  • Leave a comment on this post and share a tale of a favorite party or potluck
  • Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, July 12, 2014. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, July 13, 2014
  • Giveaway open to United States residents only.
  • One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review and photography purposes. All opinions remain entirely my own.