Nectarine Conserve with Lemon, Raisins and Walnuts

This nectarine conserve features thin slices of whole lemon, plump golden raisins, and toasted walnuts. Add it to your next cheeseboard!

nectarine-conserve

I firmly believe that conserves are poised for a resurgence in popularity. Much like how old fashioned names are all the rage with today’s parents, conserves represent a bygone age of preserving that is ripe for renewal. Truly, their time has come!

ingredients-for-nectarine-conserve

For those of you not in the know, conserves are typically defined as a soft set jam, with the addition of dried fruit, citrus peel, or nuts. They are good alongside various cheeses, they can enhance cold roast chicken, and they’re delicious stirred into bowls of oatmeal or other warm grain cereals.

sliced-nectarine-for-nectarine-conserve

This particular nectarine conserve was made with some of the fruit that the nice folks from the Washington State Fruit Commission sent me back in August. I realize that waiting this long to share this recipe puts us at the outer edge of nectarine season, but I did spot some at my local farmers market last weekend, so there are still a few to be had (in a pinch, frozen peaches would also work here).

nectarine-conserve-in-the-pot

Like so many of my recipes, this nectarine conserve uses as little sugar as seems reasonable, and tries to be as no-nonsense as possible. I left it relatively unspiced, but next time around, I might add a little freshly grated ginger, or a teaspoon of cinnamon. You can, of course, spice it to your heart’s content.

nectarine-conserve-close-up

Finally, if stonefruit is well and truly gone in your area, consider making this very same recipe with just-ripe pears. The finished preserve won’t have the same vibrancy of color, but will still be quite tasty.

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Cooking Dinner with Blue Apron

Today’s post is sponsored by Blue Apron

beef-and-lamb-burger-ingredients

I live in an apartment in the middle of Center City Philadelphia, surrounded by restaurants of all stripes. And despite the fact I live in the midst of this edible bounty, I cook dinner at home most nights.

My reasons for cooking at home are many. It’s far more affordable that getting takeout every night. It’s often vastly more delicious (at least most of the time). And both Scott and I feel better when we eat food cooked at home.

cutting-eggplant

However, I often find myself tumbling into home cooking ruts. No matter what I make, my food ends up tasting like my food. In the past, I’ve used cookbooks to help me out of these ruts. The only trouble there is that during particularly busy weeks, that can take more planning and careful shopping than I have time for.

Happily, I’ve discovered a new way to shake up my home cooking routine. Enter Blue Apron. Their chef-designed meal kits are the perfect way to breathe fresh inspiration into my kitchen routine.

making-eggplant-salad

My first encounter with Blue Apron was back in June, when they sponsored my husband’s podcast. Because he needed to share his experience with the meals, he did the cooking that week. Thanks to the easy-to-follow recipe cards, he was easily able to turn out a series of three seriously delicious dinners.

What’s more, I liked what he cooked so much that I ended up incorporating some of the techniques and flavor combinations into my own culinary skill-set.

plated-burger

More recently, the folks at Blue Apron approached me about a sponsored post. Having had such a positive experience with the food when Scott did it, I said sure. I had the meals sent to my sister’s house in Austin, Texas, to coincide with the week when I would be there visiting.

boys-with-blue-apron-ingredients

My thinking was that it would be an easy way to for me to cook for my sister and her family, and I hoped that by choosing the family portions (you can either get three meals that serve two, or two meals that serve four), we’d wind up things that my picky nephews would eat and enjoy.

crispy-chicken-ingredients

Most of my hopes came true. Having the box sent to my sister’s house was a huge win when it came to being a good houseguest. The pre-portioned ingredients made life incredibly easy, the quality of the food was fantastic, and the adults in the house all really enjoyed the two meals I cooked. My sister and brother-in-law also appreciated having a break from kitchen duty.

set-up-for-breading-chicken

Sadly, as excited as the little boys were when it came to unpacking the well-insulated box of food, they were not at all interested in the Lamb and Beef Feta Burgers when it came time to eat (though the two-year-old did end up absconding with one of the potato buns).

Thankfully, the Crispy Chicken Tenders and Roasted Potatoes were a bigger success with the pre-school set. No matter the response from Emmett and Benny, I still feel like it was a resounding success.

prepped-side-ingredients-for-crispy-chicken

Blue Apron isn’t something I will use all the time. But it’s such a useful tool during busy weeks, when I need a little fresh inspiration in the kitchen, or when I want to be a helpful and considerate houseguest.

I plan on keeping my account open and occasionally dropping in to check out their new recipes. Perhaps I’ll treat myself to another box around the holidays, when baking for gifts takes over my culinary imagination!

plated-crispy-chicken

If you’re intrigued by my experience with Blue Apron, they’ve got an offer for you, too! The first twenty readers to use this link to sign up for the service will get three meals for free on their first Blue Apron order. Oh, and if you want to take a peek at more of the possible meals you’ll get from Blue Apron, check out their recipe page.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Blue Apron. They sent me a Family Plan box, containing two meals for four people. They’ve also compensated me for my time and attention. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely mine.

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Giveaway: Kefirko and Rocky Mountain Water Kefir Grains from Masontops

Looking to get started making your own fizzy, probiotic beverages at home? Try starting with water kefir, using the Kefirko and grains from Rocky Mountain Kefir. They make super easy!

rocky-mountain-kefir-grains

I was first introduced to water kefir three or four years ago, at one of our Philly Food Swaps. One of my fellow swappers included several sets of grains in their collection of swappable goods. She told me they were easy to use and produced a fizzy, pro-biotic beverage that she liked better than kombucha. At the end of the night, one of those jars of water kefir grains went home with me.

top-of-kefirko

I’d like to tell you that I still have grains from that food swap, but sadly, that would be false. I did end up making my own water kefir for a period of months after that initial introduction and liked it very much. Sadly, they ended up getting shoved to the back of the fridge and then thrown out during a no-holds-barred cleaning spree.

side-of-kefirko

Happily, thanks to my friends at Masontops, I’m back making my own water kefir and am delighted with it once again. Several weeks ago, they sent me a set of their Rocky Mountain Water Kefir grains. Using my trusty Kefirko (Masontops sells this useful devise, though I bought mine during the Kefirko Kickstarter nearly two years ago), it is incredibly easy to hydrate dried water kefir grains and then keep them happy and productive.

supplies-for-starting-water-kefir-in-kefirko

In order to start making water kefir, you need a set of grains, four cups of filtered water, 1/4 cup of sugar, and a vessel like a Kefirko in which to combine them all (if you don’t have a Kefirko, a quart-sized mason jar will also work).

dry-rocky-mountain-kefir-grains

First, you dissolve the sugar into the water. You can do this by heating it and then bringing it back down to room temperature. Or a couple hours before you want to start your kefir, add the sugar to the water and stir it vigorously. Come back and give it a good stir every half hour or so. The sugar will eventually dissolve into the water.

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Put the dried water kefir grains into the bottom of your vessel and add the sugar water. If you’re using a Kefirko, screw the lid down loosely, so that there’s still a bit of air flow. If you’re using a mason jar, put a small kitchen towel, paper towel, or coffee filter on top of the jar and use a rubber band to keep it in place.

Let the grains spend three or four days rehydrating before you try to use them.

rocky-mountain-kefir-grains-in-kefirko

Once the grains are nice and plump, they are ready to use. Drain off the initial liquid (this is super easy using a Kefirko. If you don’t have one, make sure to use a nylon mesh strainer rather than a metal one, as the grains aren’t fans of metal). Then mix up another batch of sugar water and add it to the grains.

draining-rocky-mountain-kefir-grains

I typically let my batches of water kefir ferment for two days (though I let it go for a little less during really hot weather) before straining the grains and starting another batch. Sometimes I drink it plain and chilled for a light, fizzy pro-biotic drink (and despite what you might think, it’s not super sweet. The sugar serves as a food source for the grains that is transformed into the bright, tangy element in the water).

Other times, I do a second ferment, in which I combine the water kefir with chopped fruit, or even a bit of plain fruit juice. Either way, it’s refreshing and good for the gut!

plump-drained-grains

This week, thanks to my friends at Masontops, I’m giving away a Kefirko Home Kefir Making Kit along with a set of Rocky Mountain Kefir Water Kefir Grains. Use the widget below to enter!

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Upcoming California Events: Pacific Grove! Healdsburg! San Francisco! Oakland!

naturally-sweet-chalkboard

Hello canners! On Wednesday, I’m hitting the road for the final big push of my Naturally Sweet Food in Jars book tour! This last flurry of events is taking place in California. If you live in or around one of the towns or cities I’ll be visiting, please mark your calendars and tell your friends!

Thursday, September 15 (Pacific Grove)
I’m kicking this trip off with a demonstration-style canning class at Happy Girl Kitchen (173 Central Avenue). I’ll show you how to make my strawberry cocoa jam, which is sweetened with coconut sugar and is set with Pomona’s Pectin and will talk about using natural sweeteners in canning. The event is from 6:30-8:30 pm and costs $35 (that free includes a copy of my new book). Sign up here.

Saturday, September 17 (Healdsburg)
Next, you’ll find me up north in Somona County, offering a hands-on canning workshop at the Shed Grange in Healdsburg (25 North Street). This workshop is from 1-3 pm and costs $60. Students will go home with a jar of preserves and a coupon for 10% off of SHED purchases. Register here.

Sunday, September 18 (San Francisco)
I’ll be at the Fort Mason Farmers Market (2 Marina Boulevard) from 10 am to 1 pm. The plan is that I will do a jam making demonstration every hour, on the hour, starting at 10 am. I’ll also samples of jam on hand for tasting, as well as books for sale and signature. Free!

Monday, September 19 (Fremont)
You’ll find me at The Nursery at Dale Hardware (3700 Thornton Avenue) at 6:30 pm. I’ll make a batch of jam and will offer plenty of time for questions (so come prepared with your quandries). Sign up by calling 510-797-3700. Free!

Tuesday, September 20 (San Francisco)
I’ll be at the San Francisco Public Library (100 Larkin Street), in the Latino/Hispanic Rooms A&B from 6-7:30 pm. I’ll demonstrate how to make a small batch of naturally sweetened jam and will have books on hand for sale and signature.

Wednesday, September 21 (Oakland)
The last stop on my California tour is a demo-style class and book signing at Pollinate Farm & Garden (2727 Fruitvale Avenue) from 6:30-8:30 pm. $17.50. Sign up here.

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Links: Fridge Pickles, Muscadine Jam, and a Winner

measuring-cup-of-tomato-jam

It’s been something of a rough week over here at Food in Jars HQ (plus, there’s the general heaviness of today’s date). I got home from Nashville on Wednesday afternoon, just barely recovered from food poisoning and promptly came down with a cold. I think my non-stop summer is starting to catch up with me. I’ve got just one last trip to get through (California! I’m headed your way later this week!), and then things will quiet down a bit. As much as I love the teaching, demonstrations, and book signings, I’m ready for a break!

labeled jars of tomato soup concentrate

The winner of the Fillmore Container giveaway is Jessica A. Stay tuned, another giveaway coming up tomorrow!

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Links: Peach Butter, Pickled Okra, and Winners

five jars of tomato jam

I think I’m finally coming to accept that I can’t do everything all the time. I’ve been away from home for the last week and a half, and while I had grand plans to post in this space every day, I just couldn’t make it happen. There have been canning demos, time with my sister and her family, more travel, more demos, and then a wicked 24 hour bout of food poisoning keeping me away.

I’m currently in Atlanta, recuperating under the watchful eye of Lyn from Preserving Now. Tomorrow, I’m headed to Nashville for a class at the Green Door Gourmet (I will be completely recovered by then).

running HarvestPro

I never officially announced the winner of the freshTECH HarvestPro Sauce Maker from a couple weeks back. That person is Allison W. I will be in touch soon! And don’t forget, the Fillmore Container giveaway is still going on. You can enter here!

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