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The last meal of Christmas leftovers. Open face turkey sandwich with beet dip and arugula. Made by my dad.

For most of November and all of December, I felt well and truly bogged down and overwhelmed but with the arrival of 2014, I’m feeling a welcome sense of lightness. I’ve been taking advantage of this wave of new energy by restarting my nearly nine-year-old personal blog (it doesn’t have much of a design at the moment, but the content is what’s important, I think) and trying to be more on top of the content I write here. Fingers crossed that I can keep it up! Now, links.

various half pint shapes

There’s no giveaway winner tonight because the current giveaway is still going on. If you haven’t entered yet, click over to this post and leave a comment.

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Monday and Tuesday at the Pennsylvania Farm Show

10/365

I mentioned this at the bottom of my straight sided half pint jar giveaway post on Wednesday, but I wanted to call it out here again in case you’re going to be in the greater Harrisburg, PA area tomorrow or the day after.

I’m going to be doing a series of canning demos and book signings this Monday, January 6 and Tuesday, January 7 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show. I’ll be at the Fillmore Container Preservation Station on the Main Floor in the Family Living area. The demos will be at 10 am and 4 pm (I’m doing batches of Pear Vanilla Jam and Pickled Cauliflower each day). There’s also a very good chance that I’ll be demoing on the PCN Main Stage at 1 pm on those days as well.

I’ll be sticking fairly close to the Preservation Station when not demoing to answer questions and sell books, so if you’re at the show and pick up a signed copy of my book (or bring your copy to get signed), please come on by!

Also, if you haven’t done so yet, make sure to enter the Canner’s Treasure Chest giveaway that Fillmore Container is hosting on their blog.

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Photos From the Food in Jars Flickr Pool

I used to be in the habit of featuring photos from the Food in Jars Flickr pool here on the blog once a week. Then somehow along the way, that particular feature fell by the wayside. I really liked sharing reader photography here and so have decided to revive this column. If you have a photo of your jams, pickles, or other delicious things in jars, please do add it to the group (phone and Instagram photos are absolutely welcome!).

Untitled

Christmas morning butter and jam by Meryl of My Bit of Earth.

Meat,canned

Who knew that canned venison, turkey breast, dark turkey meat, pork, and chicken breast could look so pretty. Nice hoosier cabinet, too! Photo by 7thswan.

Chocolate Pistachio Sables (6 of 6)

Chocolate pistachio sables in jars from Sara of Three Clever Sisters.

Homemade Honey from The Honey Man

Glowing honey in a jar from Ryan.

7941 dill pickles

Some very nice looking pickles from Karen at Short Story Long.

quince preserve

Finally, some quince preserves from Rebecca at Cakewalk. This photo was from a post she wrote about her 2013 preserving season, which I thought was a very good read. I always mean to write such posts, but I never seem to make the time.

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Preserves in Action: Stovetop Toasties for a Snow Day

Toas-Tite and KwiKi-Pi

Like most of the northeast, Philadelphia woke up this morning to a thick layer of snow. Though I didn’t venture outside to measure, friends in the next neighborhood up from ours had 8 inches on their back deck and I hear that there were some areas that got even more. I had to cancel the class I was scheduled to teach and Scott’s office was closed, so we hunkered down for a cozy snow day.

January 3

Thankfully, I braved the pre-storm crowds at Trader Joe’s yesterday and so the fridge was fully loaded for a day at home (it was my first full shop since getting back to town on Monday, so things would have been pretty stark otherwise). As we contemplated lunch, Scott made an off-hand suggestion that I should write a post about using jams on a snow day.

sandwich prep

As soon as he said it, I realized that it was the perfect day to pull out my old stovetop sandwich makers and toast up a few jam-filled treats. I’ve had these two pie/sandwich irons for ages now and don’t use them nearly enough. My mom grew up making sandwiches in a Toas-Tite at her aunt’s house, and so when she spotted on at an antique mall some years back, scooped it up and gave it to me for Christmas. The KwiKi-Pi (don’t you just love the name?) cost a quarter at a Lancaster County garage sale some years back.

building a sandwich in the Toas-Tite

There’s nothing fancy about either of these gadgets, though I will say that the I find that the Toas-Tite delivers a better finished product than the KwiKi-Pi (it’s heavier and seals better). There are other vintage brands out there, like Nutbrown Sandwich Toaster and Jem Toaster, and there a handful of companies who still make these kinds of irons (like this round one). There are also electric sandwich makers that do the same sort of thing, but I like these lo-fi ones better.

Toas-Tite on the stove

The way it works is that you take a couple pieces of bread, flatten them out a little with a rolling pin to create a little extra filling space, and lightly butter the outsides like you would a grilled cheese. You fit the first slice into the bottom of the mold (don’t worry about the overhanging bread yet), and fill. Go light to the fillings so that the sandwich doesn’t ooze during cooking.

sandwich makers on the stove

Once the fillings are in, you line up the top piece of bread and close the Toas-Tite down. Then, using a paring knife, cut away the overhanging bread, taking special care around the hinges, as that spot can sometimes trap some large crumbs (save those crusts for homemade bread crumbs!).

Because I have a pokey old electric stove, I preheat the smaller burners to medium-high  while I construct the sandwiches. When the burners are hot, you just lay the sandwich makers directly onto the burners. If you have a gas stove, you proceed in much the same way, though you shouldn’t need to preheat. Turning regularly, your sandwich should be done in four or five minutes.

finished Toas-Tite sandwich

For my first sandwich, I used a combination of prosciutto, shredded cheese, and tart plum jam on whole wheat. For the second round, I flattened a couple hot dog buns that Scott had picked up while I was away and stuffed them with herbed goat cheese and apricot jam. Of course, you can fill your sandwiches with anything you want, but keep the number of ingredients fairly low. Any more than three or four ingredients and the flavors start to get muddy.

finished KwiKi-Pi sandwich

I realize that in some ways, these are nothing more than homemade Uncrustables, done with fancy ingredients. But made with kids, or on a snow day when you just feel like a kid, they’re a very fun treat. And they’re such a good way to use up your jams and chutneys in a slightly different way.

prosciutto, cheese, and jam sandwich

How are you guys using your preserves these days?

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January Sponsors: Fillmore Container, New West KnifeWorks, Cuppow, and Preserving Now,

down a warehouse aisle

Here we are at the start of a fresh, new month (and year) and that means just one thing! It’s time to mention and thank the current Food in Jars sponsors. These are the companies make it possible for me to spend time testing recipes, writing tutorials, and answering canning questions and I am grateful for their support.

In the number one position is Fillmore Container (that’s their warehouse in the picture above). They sell all manner of canning jars and lids, as well as a handful of books and jar accessories. They’re a family-owned business based in Lancaster, PA and they happily work with home canners and commercial producers alike. Come meet the owners next week at the Pennsylvania Farm Show!

Next up is  New West KnifeWorks. Based in Wyoming, they are makers of gorgeous, sturdy, crafted in the US kitchen knives. If you didn’t get everything you wished for this holiday season, getting yourself one of their glorious knives would go a very long way in soothing that sting.

Jar accessory maker Cuppow is back for another month as well! They are the maker of the original mason jar travel mug topper and, more recently, of the BNTO. If you made a resolution to cut back on disposable cups in 2014, adding a Cuppow lid to your beverage routine could help!

I’m also happy to welcome Preserving Now back! Operated by Lyn Deardorff, Preserving Now is both a website and school dedicated to helping people expand their canning and preserving skills. If you’re in the Atlanta area, make sure to check out her schedule of upcoming classes and events!

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Giveaway: Straight Sided Half Pint Jars from Fillmore Container

various half pint shapes

I realize it would have been better to use an empty regular half pint jar, but I couldn’t find even a single one in my apartment. It’s been a busy canning season around these parts.

Happy New Year friends! I am back home in Philadelphia after nearly two weeks on the west coast with my family. It was a really lovely vacation, filled with plenty of sleep, lots of delicious food, and multiple thrift storing outings. I came down with a mild cold towards the end of my visit and even that was kind of nice, because it meant hours spent on my parents’ couch watching British costume dramas on Netflix. After an intensely busy year, it was good to do nothing for a day.

bottoms of jars

I am kicking things off in this new year with a giveaway from Fillmore Container. They have just recently started carrying a very nice line of straight-sided half pint jars that can be sealed with either a standard regular mouth lid and ring or a one-piece plastisol-lined lid (here’s my post on canning with these one-piece lids). They are a little shorter than conventional half pint jars and just a bit taller than the wide mouth half pint jars that are sold under the Kerr imprint.

stacked half pint jars

These jars are entirely without embossing, which makes them ideal for stickers and labels. They’re a good option for home canners who want a more professional look but don’t feel comfortable with jars that use lug lids (here’s my post on how to use that style of lid). They also just feel nice in the hand and would make sweet little wine glasses or votive  holders (though I struggle to use edible food for decorative purposes, I do love the look of an inch of red or yellow lentils in the bottom of a jar to keep a candle in place).

food in jars + preserving by the pint

Next week, I’m teaming up in person with Fillmore Container at the Pennsylvania Farm Show. On Monday, January 6 and Tuesday, January 7, I’ll be doing a series of canning demonstrations at their Preservation Station and will also be on hand to sell and sign copies of my cookbook. I’ll also have postcards for the new book on hand (it comes out on March 25, 2014 and can be pre-ordered here) and will be handing them out as I answer canning and preserving questions. If you’re in the area, I do hope you stop by.

For those of you who want to enter to win a dozen of these straight-sided jars (you also get a dozen lids of your choice), here’s what to do.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share a food-related resolution for 2014. If you’re not the type who makes resolutions, how about sharing a dish you’re hoping to make or a cookbook you hope to explore.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm east coast time on Friday, January 10, 2014. Winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, January 12, 2014.
  3. Giveaway is open to US residents.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post. I can not accept submissions via email.

Speaking of giveaways, Fillmore Container is also hosting a number of giveaways during the Farm Show, both at the show itself and on their blog. Click over to their blog to check out the Canner’s Treasure Chest as well as the other items you could win!

Disclosure: Fillmore Container gave me a dozen of these straight-sided half pint jars for photography and review purposes. They are also site sponsor. However, my opinions do still remain my own and are not altered by my partnership with Fillmore.