Links: Green Tomatoes, Chocolate, and Winners

apples and a pawpaw

My apologies for these very tardy links and winners. I felt a little off on Friday and woke up early Saturday morning with the stomach flu. I’m no longer feeling like death is mere moments away, but I’m not quite back to my chipper, food-focused self. Here are the few links I could gather up for you.

glass dharma end labels

The winners of the $25 gift cards from Glass Dharma are #63/Carissa, #88/Nikki Howser, and #144/Madeleine. If you didn’t win, but liked the idea of the glass straws, make sure to follow Glass Dharma on Facebook. They sponsor a lot of giveaways and always share them on their page.

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Honey Sweetened Plum Pear Jam

finished pear plum jam

As the weather cools and each day comes bearing less light, I find that my almost-compulsive urge to make jam is starting to go quiet (I’m not worried. It will return with the strawberries in May). The kitchen still pulls me, but once standing at the stove, I make vast pots of soup, warm grain salads, long simmered beans, and oven-roasted compotes of apples and raisins.

plums and pears

I find this time of year to be the very most satiating, both when it comes to food and to general living. My body loves the cooler weather and the bounty of winter squash and cruciferous vegetables, and my mind so appreciates the earlier bedtimes and the reintroduction of pleasure reading that happens when I’m not trying to work through all the waking hours.

pouring honey

I plan on sharing more of these homey soups, salads, and roasted fruit compotes with you in the coming weeks. However, I do have a preserve that is itching to be written up before it is forgotten forever. It’s a honey sweetened jam made from plums and pears that bridges the season in a very appealing way. I realize that in most places, plums are but a distant memory. If that’s the case for you, bookmark or pin it for next year, as it is worth making.

cox honey bottle

This one started as so much of my preserving does, with an assessment of what produce was most urgently on the verge. On the particular afternoon I made this jam, the answer to that question was a quart of plums from my Philly Foodworks CSA share and the last two very ripe pears that remained from a six pound bag we’d bought at Costco ten days earlier.

fruit and honey

I chopped the fruit, cutting away any unseemly bits (the pears teetering on their very last leg) and plunked it all into the pot. I added 2/3 a cup of honey (the ratio of fruit to sweetener was about four to one), the juice of half a lemon, and a heaping half teaspoon of ground cinnamon and cooked it for about 20 minutes, until it was thick.

pear plum jam close

The finished yield was just four half pints. There was a bit leftover in the pan that I swirled into yogurt while it was still warm (so good). I do so love the satisfaction of transforming things that would otherwise get tossed into good, usable food.

Disclosure: The Cox Honey that’s pictured above was part of the shipment of honey that I detailed in this post. The plums were part of my October share from Philly Foodworks.

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CSA Cooking: Butternut Squash Croutons

butternut squash cubes

Since a very young age, I’ve been a fiend for croutons. They weren’t something my mother kept in the house, but my maternal grandmother often had a box tucked into her kitchen cabinets. When we visited, my sister would head straight for the stash of chocolate mints in the bar, while I would quietly abscond with the croutons. I’d tuck myself into a corner with a book and my box of oily bread cubes and be perfectly content until discovered with the empty box.

In my early twenties, my favorite potluck trick was to bring a salad with homemade croutons. The salad could be entirely ordinary because no one was looking at the greens. They were focused on those craggy, garlicky cubes of deeply toasted bread.

roasted butternut cubes

My love for croutons remains, but in recent years I’ve found that I feel better when I don’t eat a lot of bready things. I know that there are many others of you who are in this same boat. Instead of giving up croutons entirely, I’ve taken to giving other food the crouton treatment.

A favorite for crouton transformation this time of year is the butternut squash. I peel, deseed, and chop the squash into cubes the size of regular six-sided dice. They are tossed with olive oil, minced garlic, salt, and pepper, laid out in a single layer and roasted until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.

While they don’t have the shattering crunch of a bread-based crouton, they are quite delicious in a salad of baby arugula, slivered red onion, and feta cheese.

Do you give anything other than bread the crouton treatment?

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Giveaway: Glass Dharma Gift Cards

glass dharma end labels

For this week’s giveaway, let’s talk glass straws. They are useful, durable, and entirely non-toxic. I’ve got an assortment of Glass Dharma straws in my kitchen that are in regular rotation and I use them all the time (love the 12mm size for spinach and banana smoothies).

bent glass dharma straw

Thanks to the nice folks at Glass Dharma, I have three $25 gift cards to give away so that a few of you can try these handy glass straws for yourself.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share something you’ve been sipping lately.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, October 31, 2015. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, November 1, 2015.
  3. Giveaway open to United States residents only. Void where prohibited.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: Glass Dharma is providing the three gift codes at no cost to me. No additional compensation was provided. 

Links: Green Tomato Jam, Fermented Pickles, and Winners

Amanda's ferments

A little over a week ago, my friend Amanda‘s new cookbook, Ferment Your Vegetables, came out. In celebration, she had a little lunchtime gathering for those of us local folks. She brought nearly two dozen samples of recipes from the book for us to try and we dug into those jars. Everything was amazing. I can’t wait to try out the book in my own kitchen. You guys are going to love it, too. Now, links!

tofu kit gear

The winner of Morinaga Make-Your-Own Tofu Kit giveaway is #42/Patrick Schluth. Congratulations Patrick!

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How to Make Tofu Using Morinaga Make-Your-Own Kit

fresh tofu

I’ve been a little under the weather this week, so it’s taken me longer than anticipated to share my experience using the Morinaga tofu kit that I posted about in the weekly giveaway on Tuesday. However, in the spirit of better late than never, here we go!

tofu kit ingredients

You start with a carton of soy milk and one small packet of nigari. The directions say that it’s best to chill these ingredients to ensure proper setting, so I left mine in the fridge overnight before starting my tofu making process.

pouring soy milk

When you’re ready to make your tofu, you pour the chilled soy milk into a saucepan and set it over medium heat so that it slowly comes up to a simmer (no need to stir). You don’t want the milk to boil, instead you want to heat it until it beings to form a skin.

curdled soy milk

Once you see that skin forming, pull the pot off the heat and stir the nigari in briskly and thoroughly (the instruction sheet specifies that you need to integrate it within three seconds).

tofu mold

While the soy milk sits and curdles for five minutes, set up your tofu mold. Set the bottom part of the mold in a baking dish or a shallow bowl. If it’s the first time you’re using the cheese cloth, rinse it in water and then line the mold with it.

pouring curdled soy milk

Once the five minute rest period is up, pour the soy curds into the lined mold.

draining tofu

Fold the cheese cloth over the nascent tofu, position the top of the mold in place, and set something heavy on top of it. I happened to have a can of coconut milk on my counter, so it was called into action.

unmolding tofu

You can drain the tofu for as little as ten minutes, or up to two hours, if you prefer a firmer finished product. Whenever you decide that you’ve drained yours enough, fill a bowl with cold water, gather up the cheese cloth bundle, and submerge the tofu to unwrap it (this helps prevent the cloth from sticking to the tofu).

tofu corner

There you have it! Fresh tofu to use in soup, a stir fry, or however else you like it!

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