Giveaway: “Make Your Own” Cleaning Kits from The Optimist Co.

Homemade cleaning products, compiled in my kitchen using the kit from The Optimist Co. have been in regular use in my kitchen for nearly two years now. They are effective and, thanks to the clear instructions on the bottles, incredibly easy to make. Plus, I love the fact that instead of carting home new spray bottles from Target or CVS, I’m reusing the ones I’ve already got.

Recently, The Optimist Co. founder Devin Donaldson (who started the company after conventional cleaning products left her with a nasty asthma attack) got in touch and asked if I might like to try a second kit. At first, I was confused because I’ve been entirely pleased with the first kit and the two products they make.

But Devin reminded me that it’s possible to do more than just make Time to Shine and Bright Side with the goodies in the box. And so I started thinking about other cleaning products that might be useful in the kitchen.

The first thing that popped to mind was a bottle of pre-made produce rinse. With farmers market and CSA season rapidly approaching, I know that very soon I will have a lot of pretty dirty produce on my hands. Instead of regularly filling the sink with a little white vinegar and water, having something that I can spritz over lettuces, zucchini, and strawberries sounds pretty darned appealing.

For this one, I used 12 ounces of water, three tablespoons of white vinegar and ten drops of the lemon essential oil from the kit (for both the sunny scent and the extra boost of antiseptic that it provides). A quick shake before using and my produce has never been cleaner.

The second thing that occurred to me was something that would help out with cleaning the kitchen floor. As many of you know, my kitchen is pretty tiny. Because there’s so little floor real estate, I rarely pull out a mop to get the job done (to be honest, I don’t think I even have a mop anymore). Instead, I do a lot of after-dinner spot cleaning (supplemented by the occasional, all-out, hands and knees scrub with a sponge and bucket of soapy water).

For that cleaner, I used 14 ounces of water, 2 teaspoons of castile soap, and 7 drops of the eucalyptus essential oil. It’s powerful enough to help cut through splatters of cooking grease, but not so soapy that I have to follow up with several rounds of rinsing. And I love the earthiness of the eucalyptus (we had eucalyptus trees in our back yard when I was very young and as a result, their scent forever feels comforting and home-like to me).

In order to encourage the Food in Jars community to think DIY and explore what The Optimist Co. kit can do in your homes, Devin is offering up three of her Make Your Own Cleaning Products Kit for this week’s giveaway. Please use the widget below to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Comments { 88 }

Upcoming Classes & Events: April, May, and June 2017

We are hurtling towards the true start of the canning season (at least up here in the mid-Atlantic region. I know lots of you down south have been canning for months) and so my teaching season is starting up as well. I’m not teaching nearly as much as I have in past years, so if you want to take a class with me, make sure to mark your calendars and sign up! As always, my full calendar can be found here.

Saturday, April 29 (Morris Arboretum, Chestnut Hill)
(THERE ARE JUST THREE SPOTS LEFT IN THIS CLASS) In this two-hour, hands-on workshop at the Morris Arboretum, you’ll learn the basics of pickling. I’ll walk you through the steps of pickling carrots in a vinegar brine and fermenting cucumbers in a salt water brine. Marisa will also show you how to safely preserve the vinegar pickles using the boiling water bath method. All students will go home with the recipes and canning details, as well as a jar of carrot pickles made in class that day. $40/45. Register here.

Sunday, May 7 (Headhouse Square, Philadelphia)
This is the final opening day for the Headhouse Square Farmers Market (they’ll now be doing year round!). I’ll be there from 10 am to 2 pm, along with fellow local authors Tenaya Darlington and Amanda Feifer, selling and signing books. If you don’t yet have a copy of Naturally Sweet Food in Jars, come and pick one up.

Monday, May 8 (Culinary Literacy Center, Free Library of Philadelphia)
Co-taught with Joy Manning, this Improvisational Grain Bowl class will teach you how to turn the contents of your CSA box, farmers market haul, or Instacart order into hearty and wholesome grain bowls. This class will focus on essential techniques, including different ways to cook grains, using the blender to make quick sauces, and how to combine flavors and textures for a satisfying spring meal. 6-8 pm. $15. Register here.

Thursday, May 11 (Haddon Township, NJ)
I’ll be at the Haddon Township branch of the Camden County Library system for a free jam making demo. I’ll show you how to make a batch Strawberry Vanilla Jam, sweetened with honey and set with Pomona’s Pectin. Bring your questions! 6:30-8 pm. Free.

Sunday, June 11 (Hillsdale, NY)
I’m teaching not one, but two classes at the Hillsdale General Store Home Chef. This is going to be a fun and satisfying day of canning. If you can swing it, I highly encourage the canning curious to join me for both classes.

11 am to 1:30 pm – An introductory canning class! We’ll make strawberry preserves and strawberry chutney and will dig into the details of boiling water bath canning. $55. Register here.
2:30-4:30 pm – Pressure canning! Join me for an in-depth pressure canning workshop. We’ll make onion jam with rosemary and balsamic vinegar and will safely can it in a pressure canner. $75. Register here.

Saturday, June 17 (Philadelphia)
In this hands on pickling workshop at Greensgrow in Kensington, we’ll make both shelf stable and fermented pickles. You’ll go home with a useful handout and the two jars of pickles you made in class. 12-2 pm. $35. Details and registration info here.

Tuesday, June 20 (Culinary Literacy Center, Free Library of Philadelphia)
Co-taught with Joy Manning, this Improvisational Salad class will teach you how to turn the bounty of your CSA box, farmers market haul, or Instacart order into delicious satisfying entree salads. This class will focus on essential techniques, including whipping up a quick homemade dressing and how to combine flavors and textures for the perfect summer meal. 6-8 pm. $15. Register here.

 

Comments { 0 }

Links: Pickled Strawberries, Green Onion Kimchi, and Winners

This week has been a bit of a mess in my world. Just when I got myself clear of a 48 hour stomach bug, I managed to slide an inch-long splinter into the ball of my left foot, necessitating a trip to urgent care. I managed a pot of soup and some simply homemade pizza, but otherwise we’ve been surviving on scrambled eggs, bagged salad, and take-out. May this week be a little easier. Now links!


This Monday night (April 24, 2017), I’m going to do a Facebook Live broadcast on the topic of quick pickling. Join me at 9 pm eastern time and bring all your quick pickle questions!

Finally, our five winners in last week’s Cuppow giveaway. Thanks to everyone who entered!

Comments { 3 }

Cookbooks: The Quick Pickle Cookbook

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a blog post rounding up some useful cookbooks to help inspire us all during this month of quick pickles. In my research for that post, I came across a new-to-me book on the topic called The Quick Pickle Cookbook.

Written by Food & Wine alum Grace Parisi, this slim volume came out last fall and is a delightful addition to my personal pickle resource library. I think many of you will feel similarly.

The book is divided into two sections, with vegetable pickles coming first and fruit pickles coming second. Scattered amidst the pickle recipes are dishes designed to help you put your pickles (and their leftover brine) to work.

Some of the recipes I’ve marked to try include the Smoky Okra Pickles (page 47), the Pickled Pepper Romesco (page 85), the Bourbon-Pickled Blackberries (page 97), and the Lime-Chile Pickled Pineapple (page 135).

If you’ve really enjoyed this month’s quick pickle challenge, consider adding this one to your library for future idea fodder!

Comments { 1 }

Submit your April Mastery Challenge Projects!

Hello Mastery Challenge participants! We’re a little over halfway through April and the internet tells me that many of you have been busy making all manner of quick pickles!

In order to be counted in the final tally for the April challenge, please use the form below to submit your projects. Remember, you don’t have to provide a URL to be counted as a participant, but if you want me to link out to your project in the round-up, you do need to include the direct link to a blog or social media post.

Please get your projects submitted by April 28, so that I can get the round-up posted on April 30.

If the form below (it’s after the jump, if you’re reading this on the main page of the blog) isn’t working for you, you can also access the form by clicking this link.

Oh, and if you do post to social media, make sure to use the #fijchallenge tag to help spread the word of our preserving activities!

Continue Reading →

Comments { 2 }

Giveaway: Cuppow & BNTO Jar Adapters

Want to up your packed lunch, picnic, and snack game? This week, Cuppow is offering five $20 gift codes up to the Food in Jars community! Use the widget at the bottom of the post to enter!

During the winter months, I can happily spend week after week working away at my dining room table or perched at my desk (located behind the television), without feeling even a little bit restless. Many a day has passed when I haven’t so much as stepped toe outside my apartment building. But as soon as the weather begins to warm and the days lengthen, I start to feel squirrelly.

Lately, staying inside has made me feel fidgety, as if the walls of my apartment are a particularly itchy and confining wool sweater. And so, I’ve been changing my patterns and heading outside.

Some days, I only go as far as my neighborhood coffee shop or the covered concrete patio that juts off on the west side of my apartment building. Other days (far more infrequent than I’d like), I blow off work entirely and visit a friend who moved about an hour away this time last year and had a sweet baby boy back in December.

The one thing that all these outings have in common is my devotion to always packing a snack. As someone who tries to eat well most of the time but is highly susceptible to bakery cases and bags of chips at the check-out counter, being prepared is hugely helpful in avoiding temptation.

Lately, I’ve been reaching for my stash of BNTO jar adapters from Cuppow to help me pack up portable and waste-free snacks (because even when you do find a relatively virtuous snack in the world, the amount of packaging is enough to drive an environmentally minded person a little bit crazy).

On the particularly day pictured here, I filled jars with carrot sticks, apple slices, and yogurt with a dollop of quince jam. Into the BNTO adapters, I put peanut butter, hummus, and a bit of granola (embarrassingly, it was not homemade). Some homemade cold brew went into a wide mouth pint, with one of my original Cuppow lids secured on top for easy sipping.

With picnic season upon us, I encourage you all to spend a few minutes thinking about how you pack up your sandwiches, snacks, and treats. Perhaps a new BNTO or two would make the process more streamlined and less wasteful!

To that end, for this week’s giveaway, our friends at Cuppow are up five gift codes worth $20 a piece. Five lucky Food in Jars readers will each win one code to redeem over at the Cuppow website. You can choose from Cuppow lids, BNTO jar adaptors, Mason Taps, and CoffeeSocks! Use the widget below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: Cuppow is a Food in Jars sponsor and are providing the codes for this giveaway at no cost to me. Products pictured were sent for review purposes. However, all opinions expressed here are mine alone.

Comments { 138 }