Giveaway: Alana Chernila’s The Homemade Kitchen + Prize Pack

The Homemade Kitchen

Last spring, I spent the better part of four days tucked into a tiny cabin near Neumann University, working on my natural sweeteners book. I took a cooler full of food, a pile of cookbooks to use as reference when my own inspiration failed me, and a few things to read simply for fun.

THK Contents

Included in my pleasure reading was a PDF of Alana Chernila’s book The Homemade Kitchen, provided by her editor in the hopes that I might write a sentence or two of praise. After my first day of writing was over, I warmed some soup for dinner and settled down to read.

How to Cook a Vegetable

My original intention had been to read just a bit that night and then go to bed early. Instead, I sat at that little, formica-topped table and hungrily took in every word. Friends, I devoured this book.

Queen Garlic

Now, I had a feeling I would like The Homemade Kitchen before I even opened up the document. I am a fan of Alana’s writing and always feel a moment of anticipatory pleasure when I discover she’s posted something new on her blog. What’s more, since we met four or five years ago, Alana has become a dear friend. We don’t get to see each other too often, but whenever I find myself passing through Western Massachusetts, I point my car in her direction.

Reusables in the Kitchen

The reason I tumbled head first into these pages is that they bring together everything I want from a cookbook. It’s got appealing food, smart and sensible kitchen advice, wonderful writing, a glimpse into the author’s life, a pretty design, and glorious pictures.

The Kitchen in the Morning

When the physical book landed in my mailing box late last week, I was reminded of my time with that PDF all those months ago. While I haven’t cooked anything from it yet, I’ve broken the spine in half a dozen places and have littered the pages with post-it notes.

Just a few of the recipes I’ve marked include Broccoli Raab with Cheddar Polenta (page 61), Roasted Salmon with Yummy Sauce (page 163), and the Congee with Chicken and Greens (page 202). I’m hungry just listing them out.

prize pack pic

I would have written about this book whether or not there was a giveaway attached, but happily, I have a few copies to share with you guys. One lucky winner will get The Homemade Kitchen prize pack, which includes a tote bag featuring a quote from the book, a fancy knife, and a signed copy of the book. Two more winners will get copies of the book.

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me about your favorite potluck dish.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, October 17, 2015. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, October 18, 2015.
  3. Giveaway open to United States and Canadian residents.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: The nice folks at Clarkson Potter sent me a copy of this book for review and photography purposes and are providing all the giveaway gear. No additional compensation was provided!

Upcoming Classes: Morris Arboretum! Mullica Hill, NJ!

class image revised

Happy Monday morning, friends! I’ve got both a class and a demo happening over the course of the next week and hope I’ll see some of you there. Oh, and I’ll have copies of both books with me at these events for sale and to sign (they make an excellent holiday gift).

This coming Saturday, October 17, I’ll be teaching a jam making and canning basics class at the Morris Arboretum (in Philadelphia, PA), using a batch of pear vanilla jam. I’ll talk about best canning practices and will make sure that everyone goes home with the knowledge and empowerment necessary to tackle a wide array of preserves. It’s a good class for both first time canners and those who want to refresh their rusty skills. All attendees will leave with an introductory canning guide and a small jar of jam made in class. The class is from 10 am – 12 noon. Registration information.

Then, on Monday, October 19, I’ll be at Gloucester County (New Jersey) Library’s Mullica Hill Branch for a free apple cranberry compote demo. We’ll start promptly at 6:30 pm and will be finished no later than 8:00 pm. I’ll talk about preserving for the holidays, will offer lots of safe canning tricks and tips, and will have books to sell and sign.

And, if you’re too far flung to attend one of my classes, don’t forget about my Brit + Co online class. It’s just $9.99 and is a great way to learn jam making and canning from me!

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Links: Grape Jelly, Asian Pears, and a Winner

apples and quince

I am so enjoying the change of season this year. We’ve had a glorious stretch of sunny, crisp days here in Philadelphia, and I’m feeling awfully grateful for the beauty of this particular autumn.

A dear friend sent me two boxes containing apples and quince from her trees. I dashed through the farmers market this morning and came home with apples, asian pears, sea scallops, and a giant bundle of white turnips, which are destined for this soup. Life is good. Now, links!

masontops pickle pebble

The winner of the Masontops Fermentation Set is #277/Camellia El-Antably. Congratulations! And did you see the announcement about the Masontops Pickle Pipe Kickstarter campaign? They’re doing incredibly well!

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Other People’s Preserves: Orchard Choice Fig Spreads from Valley Fig Growers

fig spread cheese plate side

I didn’t preserve a single fig this year and only managed to get my hands on a single one to eat fresh (thankfully, it was perfect). I’m consoling myself both with the knowledge that there is always next year and a recent fig-packed box from the Valley Fig Growers.

four fig spreads

They sent a box containing a cooler holding three different kinds of cheeses, a little slate and cheese spreader, and four jars from their new line of Orchard Choice Fig Spreads. These fig spreads are made from fig puree, sugar, pectin, and additions like balsamic vinegar, port wine, or orange zest.

fig spread top

Designed to complement cheeses, cured meats, and other savory bites, these fig spreads are a welcome addition to my pantry, which was entirely vacant of any thing fig-based until this box arrived.

I’ve opened up the Organic Mission Fig variety so far, and will be trotting out the other jars for various holiday parties and baking projects (I have a feeling the Port Wine version would go beautifully in these blue cheese thumbprint cookies).

fig spread with brie

For more ideas on how to use both fresh and dried figs and these fig spreads, follow Valley Fig on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Disclosure: The nice folks at Valley Fig Growers sent the cheese care package described above and asked that I write about it if I enjoyed the spreads. No additional compensation was provided for this post. It’s simply part of my ongoing mission to help spread the preserved food love!

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Roasted Grape Tomato Pizza Sauce

finished pizza sauce

Each summer, I develop two mental lists of preserves (though come to think of it, it might serve me well to actually commit these lists to paper). On one side, I line up the things I must can. These are the products like roasted corn salsa, dilly beans, and tomato products. As much as I love jam (and inevitably make a goodly amount), it’s never on that must can list. However, pizza sauce always is.

roasted small tomatoes

Throughout the fall and winter, we make a lot of pizza and I love having some homemade sauce on the shelf to use. Sometimes our pizzas are built on a traditional crust and other times, it’s Carrie Vitt’s sunflower seed version (delicious and so good for those times when you’ve been eating too many bready things).

milling tomatoes

Over the years, I’ve made pizza sauce a number of different ways. I’ve got a small batch technique in Preserving by the Pint that I like a lot. You’ll find a honey sweetened version in Naturally Sweet Food in Jars. Truly, as long as you follow safe canning guidelines, there is no wrong way.

For this batch, I used ten pounds of grape and cherry tomatoes, roasted them down, pushed them through a food mill, and finished cooking them down on the stove. The finished sauce is a muted orange color, just thick enough to be spreadable, and tastes deeply of summer.

tomato pulp

I like this particular approach because the tomatoes do their initial cooking off the stove top. I can prep them while making dinner and then finish them off with that before-bed energy boost I so often have.

This would work just as well with more traditional canning tomatoes or even heirlooms, but I had all these tiny tomatoes, so I made them do. Of course, as with many tomato preserves, the yield will vary pretty widely on this one because of variations in water, sugar, and fiber content.

cooking down pizza sauce

Acidity is always an issue with tomatoes, but is even more so with these small, sweet varieties. I made the call to double the recommended amount of citric acid to this batch, adding 1/4 teaspoon directly to every half pint jar, to ensure a safe finished product. The single 12 ounce jar I used got an proportionally increased amount of citric acid.

finished pizza sauce close

If you’re not a home pizza maker, a sauce like this is still a good thing to make for the pantry. It could be used as a starter for enchilada sauce. It’s always a nice addition to a pot of soup when you need added depth and acidity. You could even thin out a couple half pints with a glug of milk and a pat of butter and call it tomato soup. Practical canning at its best!

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Pickle Pipe Waterless Fermentation System Launches Today!

pickle pipe

Remember on Monday when I hinted that the folks at Masontop were about to launch a really awesome new fermentation product? Well, today’s the day. May I introduce you to the Pickle Pipe.

This little device is a waterless silicone airlock designed to fit onto a wide mouth mason jar. All you do is fill up your jar, set the Pickle Pipe on top and fix it in place with a regular old band. The valve has a small slit in it that allows the CO2 to escape from the jar, without allowing any oxygen back in.

pickle pipe side

I’ve used the Pickle Pipe on several recent ferments and I’ve been really impressed with its performance. I also really appreciate the fact that it’s just one piece (I’m always misplacing pieces of multi-part airlocks).

To learn more about the Pickle Pipe and to reserve a few for yourself, check out their Kickstarter.

Disclosure: Masontops is a Food in Jars sponsor and gave me one of their Pickle Pipes a few months ago so that I could play with it. However, I do mean every word of what I said here. 

Oh, and while we’re on the topic of Kickstarter campaigns, there are two really awesome cookbook projects currently being crowdfunded that you might be interested in. Hank Shaw’s Buck, Buck, Moose and Kathy Strahs The 8×8 Cookbook.

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