Low Sugar Pear Cranberry Jam

Low Sugar Pear Cranberry Jam - Food in Jars

Last week, a day or two before I left for Portland, I made three batches of jam in rapid succession. The first was a combination of pears and persimmons. The second was a gingery apple butter. And the last one was a low sugar pear cranberry jam.

I meant to share the apple butter last week, and then got lost in travel and the pleasure of being with my parents and thus getting to be slightly less responsible than normal, so it didn’t happen. Because Thanksgiving is looming and I’ve been procrastinating, I thought I’d get this one up first, so that if it appealed to you, there’d still be time to make it before the holiday.

Making Pear Cranberry Jam - Food in Jars

And while we’re on the subject of Thanksgiving and cranberries, don’t forget that the archives of this site are bursting with seasonally appropriate recipes. Here are some of my favorites.

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Cookbooks: Making Dough by Russell Van Kraayenburg

Making Dough Cover - Food in Jars

For the first time in a very long time, I’m cooking a Thanksgiving meal this year. Scott’s family is celebrating the Saturday before the actual day, and my family has a long-standing tradition of gathering the Saturday after. And so, without any plans for the actual holiday, we decided to stay home and make our own.

Making Dough Pie Dough - Food in Jars

I’ve been keeping a running list of tasks that need to be done before November 26 arrives, and making pie crusts is up near the top. It’s something that can be done well in advance and eases the workload in those last days before you heft the turkey into the oven.

Making Dough Maple Danish - Food in Jars

I’ve always been a serviceable pie crust maker, but in all the years I’ve been doing it, my skills have never progressed beyond adequate. So, when I was approached about trying and writing about the pie dough recipe from Russell Van Kraayenburg’s new book, Making Dough, I was happy to embrace the challenge if it helped me improve my technique.

Making Dough Apple Crostata Prep - Food in Jars

The book features twelve different master dough ratios/recipes, includes options to make by hand or using machines, and then offers a generous handful of recipes (both sweet and savory) that utilize the different doughs. I’ve bookmarked a number of different recipes, and have already announced to my family that I’m making the Maple Braided Danish (pictured above) for Christmas morning.

Making Dough Apple Crostata Unbaked - Food in Jars

I didn’t manage to try out Russell’s pie dough recipe before I left Philly last week, so I commandeered my parents’ kitchen earlier today to make a batch of pie dough. The recipe uses both bread flour (for elasticity) and cake flour (for tenderness), along with butter, salt, and water. I opted to unearth my mother’s food processor and it whizzed the dough together in about a minute. I turned it out onto a length of plastic wrap, gently pressed it into a disc, and popped it into the fridge.

Making Dough Finished Apple Crostata - Food in Jars

A few hours later, it was time to turn the dough into something delicious. I went with a free-form apple crostata, because there were apples to use in the fridge, and it seemed like a good thing to eat on a rainy Portland evening. The dough rolled out beautifully, was easy to crimp and fold around the apples, and with a quick brush of milk, turned a lovely golden brown during baking.

Making Dough Back - Food in Jars

My parents’ cat reluctantly shared her spot by the sliding glass door with me.

When I get home, I’ll be using this same recipe to stock my freezer with pie crusts for the upcoming holidays (though I may introduce a bit of whole wheat pastry flour) and I can’t wait to try out some of the other master dough recipes in the future.

For a few tips on rolling out and moving pie crust, make sure to watch Russell’s video, below.

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Giveaway: New West KnifeWorks G-Fusion Petty Utility Knife

New West KnifeWorks Full

Many moons ago, my friends at New West KnifeWorks got in touch with an idea. They were launching a custom-made knife program and wanted to know if they could make one for me. Delighted by the idea, I said yes.

We scheduled a call and I spent a little time describing my ideal preserving knife. I wanted something thin and easy to handle, that could manage to hull strawberries, slice cucumbers for pickles, score tomatoes easily, and slip peaches away from their pits. After I’d talked for a while, knife maker Corey stopped me to say, “I think we already make the knife you’re describing.”

New West KnifeWorks Vertical

We put our discussion on hold and they sent me a couple different models of their G-Fusion Petty Utility Knife to use and live with for a while. Corey was right, it was the knife I’d been hoping for. Made from high carbon steel, the blade is incredibly sharp and holds an edge longer than any other knife I own. It also works well on both small tasks and larger ones.

New West KnifeWorks Handle

The handle is made from layers of fiberglass and cloth-epoxy that are compressed and cooked into sheets, before being hand-shaped and polished around the knife tang. The layers of color appear as the material is ground down, meaning that every knife is just a bit different from the last. It also happens to feel terrific in the hand.

New West KnifeWorks Sheath

Some people might have been disappointed to have ended up with a knife from the New West KnifeWorks product line rather than a custom knife. But not me. Because it means that this wonderful knife is a bit more accessible to you guys and, because it’s not a one-of-a-kind item, I get to give a New West KnifeWorks G-Fusion Petty Utility Knife away to one of you.

I’m trying something new this week and am using Rafflecopter to gather the giveaway entries. If you’re interested in entering to win a knife like mine (the handle color we settled on for me was Mountain Huckleberry. It just seemed appropriate), complete one or all of the entry options listed below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And two more things. If you’re still intrigued by the idea of a custom New West KnifeWorks knife, they’re giving away one to new subscribers to their mailing list. And if you’ve got a mountain man in your life, make sure to check out New West’s sister shop, Mtn Man Toy Shop.

Links: Cranberries, Marinated Pumpkin, and Winners

tomato jam

I’ve been in Portland for the last few days, visiting my parents, making jam with the last of their tomatoes, and going to a retreat at a gorgeous place called Menucha out in the Columbia River Gorge. It’s been really good to let the beauty of the Pacific Northwest wash over me. Now, links!

The Optimist Rosemary Mint

Now, time for some winners! We’ve got a lot of them this week!

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Sponsored Post: Gift Guides from Fillmore Container + Giveaway

Fillmore Gift Guide #1-canning and preserving items_03

Last week, I spent a little time pulling out jams and preserves for holiday gifts and packages. My mom, sister, and I have an ongoing group text going in which we discuss and plan the minutiae for our Christmas gathering in Austin. And I’ve been marking recipes for brittles and barks, in the search for something new and delicious to share my neighbors. All sure signs that the gift giving season is upon us.

Our friends at Fillmore Container have also been prepping for the holidays in the recent weeks. They have pulled together a series of five gift guides to help all of get ready for this most festive time of year.

Fillmore Gift Guide #2-Mason Jar Accessories_02

Canning Essentials Guide – This is the guide you see pictured at the top of this post, and it features a bunch of my favorite things, like the Blossom Trivet, that nifty cherry pitter that fits onto a mason jar, and my beloved 4th Burner Pot.

Mason Jar Accessories Guide – Gifts for the mason jar lover abound on this list. It includes the Cuppow Coozie, handy Flip Top lids from reCAP, and Silicone Sleeves for transforming eight ounce jars into grippy cups for kids.

Fillmore Gift Guide #3-Candle_01

Jars for the Pantry Guide – Know someone who wants to clean up their food storage act? Then take a look at this list! They’ve got Cracker Jars, French Square Jars (love these for small pasta shapes and seeds), and Ball’s Classic Half Gallon Jar.

Candle, Bath & Body Guide – This is the guide for all your candle, soap, and balm making needs. They’ve got Frosted Tumblers for candles, Straight Sided Jars for lotions, pretty bottles for salts and oils, and much more!

Homemade Gifting Guide – The final guide features recipes and tips for filling up your jars and bottles. There’s Almond Butter Crunch for your candy lover, Cranberry Rosemary Vinegar that is perfect for teacher gifts, and Mulling Spices to warm up a chilly winter night.

Fillmore Gift Guide #4-Pantry_01

The lovely folks at Fillmore Container want to share the holiday love with a couple of Food in Jars readers and so are offering up a giveaway to go with post this post. Two lucky folks will get a $25 credit to spend on their website, along with a copy of one of my books (the winners get to choose which one). Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me what Fillmore Container product you’d most like to give or be given.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, November 21, 2015. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, November 22, 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: Fillmore Container is a Food in Jars sponsor. All opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own. 

Cookbooks: Wild Drinks and Cocktails by Emily Han

Wild Drinks and Cocktails - Food in Jars

When I was very young, my family lived in Los Angeles. There weren’t any kids my age on our block, and so I spent a lot of time on my own, exploring our multi-leveled backyard. I’d gather twigs, unripe plums, leaves from the jade plants, and a bark from the towering eucalyptus, heap them in a little plastic bucket, and steep them in water from the hose. I’d offer my “tea” to my mom, claiming it could cure whatever ailed her.

Wild Drinks Rose Water - Food in Jars

Fast-forward 30 years, and Emily Han and her new book, Wild Drinks and Cocktails, are here to teach us all that with a little bit of knowledge, there is much to be found in the natural world (both in LA and elsewhere) to be turned into a vast array of infusions, syrups, squashes (her creations are superior to my childhood concoctions in every way).

Wild Drinks Citrus Squash - Food in Jars

The book is divided into seven chapters. It starts with an introduction to wildcrafting, and offers insight into being a responsible and safe collector of roots, berries, seeds, nuts, and flowers. That section also includes useful information on how to process, preserve, and protect the things you gather.

Wild Drinks Claret Cup - Food in Jars

From there, the book proceeds into the recipes. In Chapter 2, you’ll find the Teas, Juices, and Lemonades (I’ve got Emily’s recipe for Meyer Lemon and Bay Leaf Syrup marked for my annual meyer lemon extravaganza). Chapter 3 is devoted to Syrups, Squash, and Cordials (Rose Hip Whiskey Smash on page 65!).

In Chapter 4, Emily digs into Oxymels, Shrubs, and Switchels. The unifying force of this section is the balance of sweet and tart, and these recipes are for everyone who wants to start using their collection of exotic vinegars.

Grapefruit and Sage Water Kefir - Food in Jars

All of the Infusions, Bitters, and Liqueurs are in Chapter 5. There’s so much in this section that I want to make, but I think I’m going to start with the Winter Gin on page 115 (the thought occurs that it would make a mighty fine holiday gift for a certain subset of my friends and family).

Chapter 6 is all about Wines and Punches. As the weather cools, there’s nothing like a fortifying mug of Mulled Wine (page 157). And finally arrives Chapter 7, with it’s Fizzy Fermentations (yes, please!). Once my travel schedule quiets down again, I’m going to try to start my own Ginger Bug Soda Starter (page 162).

Wild Drinks and Cocktails Back - Food in Jars

Emily has kindly allowed me to reprint her recipe for Classic Switchel and you’ll find it after the jump. It combines molasses, apple cider vinegar, ginger, and water for a bracing tonic. I like to dilute a little in a mug of hot water when I feel under the weather, but it can also be combined with cold water, fizzy water, or used in a cocktail. It’s a most versatile creation.

Oh, and one last thing. I’ve got one copy of this book to give away. Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share a favorite homemade drink.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, November 14, 2015. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, November 15, 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: Fair Winds Press sent me a copy of this book for review purposes, and is also providing the giveaway unit, both at no cost to me. All opinions remain my own. It’s a good book.  

For more about Wild Drinks and Cocktails, as well as her classes, follow Emily Han on social media.

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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