Upcoming Events: Franklinville, NJ! Bala Cynwyd, PA! Online!

class image revised

Good morning, friends! We’re coming to the end of my teaching and demonstration season, but I have a few more events where you can catch me!

Tonight (September 17), I’ll be at the Franklin Township Library in Franklinville, NJ for a free small batch jam making and canning demonstration. I’ll be making the plum star anise jam from Preserving by the Pint and will be getting that going at the 6:30 pm. You can find more details here.

This Saturday (September 19), I’m demonstrating how to make and can a small batch of pear vanilla jam at the Cynwyd Station Cafe, in Bala Cynwyd, PA. We’ll be kicking that off at 3 pm. I’ll have books for sale and signature and will offer tastes of the jam when it’s finished.

On Tuesday night (September 22), I’m offering another live, online class via Concert Window. This class will focus on low sugar jam making and the tricks I employ to make Pomona’s Pectin work well for me. The class will start promptly at 8 pm eastern time and will last about an hour. There’s no set fee for these online classes, instead I just ask that you pay what feels comfortable for you. Sign up here.

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Links: Roasted Tomatoes, Basil Salt, and a Winner

canning street sign

I spent last night on a red eye, traveling back home to Philadelphia from San Francisco. I was in the Bay Area for a whirlwind three days for the Good Food Awards judging (and a bit of family time). Now I’m settling in to being home (at least for the next week) and trying to catch up on my overflowing inbox. While I type away, here are a few links for you!

inside cheese kit

The winner of the Hobby Hill Farm cheese kit giveaway is #132/Jen Y. And don’t forget, you can get 10% off on a Hobby Hill Farm purchase by using the code “FIJ.”

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Making Mozzarella with Hobby Hill Farm’s Kit

Hobby Hill Farm cheese making kit

Did I say that I was going to write about my experience using the Hobby Hill Farm cheese making kit on Tuesday? It appears that I actually meant Thursday. Oops!

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Step one with any new food endeavor is to read the instructions carefully and make sure you have all ingredients and gear. The kit comes with every necessary ingredient except for the milk. As far as gear goes, you need a big pot, a slotted spoon, a microwave-safe bowl, and a thermometer to track the temperature of the milk.

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While the milk heats, you dissolve citric acid in water and a bit of rennet in another small portion of water.

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CSA Cooking: Single Quart Fermented Dilly Beans

Philly Food Works September share

Last Thursday, the nice folks from Philly Foodworks dropped off my September share of goodies. The box contained a little bag of spring mix, 12 ounces of perfect green beans, one hefty eggplant, a tiny watermelon, both hot and sweet peppers, half a dozen ears of corn, a bundle of sweet corn, one giant heirloom tomato, six multigrain bagels from Metropolitan, and a bottle of sweet and spicy hot sauce.

bean close-up

Despite the utter chaos of the weekend (a family wedding, loads of visiting cousins, my mom in town, and my mother-in-law’s on-going health issues), I managed to cook, process, and preserve a goodly amount of the bounty in the box and I can feel how my future self is already appreciative.

12 ounces green beans

I combined the sweet and hot peppers with a head of garlic, some ginger, and a salt brine and it’s on the countertop turning into hot sauce as I type. I made a trio of easy salads with the corn, spring mix, eggplant, and tomato.

My mom and I split the watermelon, each taking a half and digging in with spoons (though I did save the rind for pickling). And with three people in the apartment, the bagels certainly didn’t last long.

beans in a jar

That leaves us with the hot sauce, swiss chard and the beans. I’ve been dribbling the hot sauce on scrambled eggs. The chard leaves are destined for a pot of soup, while the stems will make more of these pickles. And the beans are also on their way to becoming pickles. One of my favorite pickles, in fact.

beans in a jar side

I hinted at these pickles last fall when I gave away a short stack of preserving books. The bones of the recipe comes from the wonderful book Fermented Vegetables, though I’ve scaled it down (as I so often do). It ends up being an easy, adaptable pickle that stays super crisp, is effervescently tart, and just happen to have all those gut-friendly bacteria swimming about.

Make as big or as small a batch as you want. Just make them! And look for the hot sauce recipe next week!

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Spicy Peach Preserves

peach pulp with spices

It feels bittersweet to write these words, but I do believe that this will be my last fresh peach recipe for this year. I’ve peeled, cooked, and processed about 25 pounds this season and I feel utterly done with them. However, if you’ve still got some peach energy, this sweet, spicy, tangy preserve might be a fun one for you.

spicy peach preserves close

To build this recipe, I took the bones of my beloved tomato jam and made just a few small tweaks. I reduced the amount of sugar, added a little salt for balance, and reduced the cooking time (because peaches don’t contain as much water as tomatoes do).

spicy peach preserves

The finished jam has a nice sweet and savory balance, and would be really great to use as a glaze for baked chicken or as a dipping sauce for roasted vegetables. I’m sure that when the days get a little cooler, I’ll stir some together with apple cider vinegar and use it as a tasty braising medium for chicken thighs.

If you make it, let me know what you think, since this one is more of an experiment that most of the recipes I post here.

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Books: Stir, The World on a Plate, Kitchens of the Great Midwest, and Orchard House

four books August 2015

Between canning classes, multiple cross-country trips, and processing piles of produce, I’ve managed to read my way through a tidy stack of books this summer. Here are four food-related volumes that I really enjoyed and think some of you might also like.

Stir by Jessica Fechtor – This memoir-with-recipes is the story of Jessica Fechtor’s brain aneurism at the age of 28, and her grueling but hope and love-filled recuperation. An avid cook and joyful eater prior to the aneurism, the book is the story of her recovery and the ways in which food brought her back to herself as her wounded brain and body healed. Jess is a honest, thoughtful writer and I devoured the book in just a day and a half back in July.

The World on a Plate by Mina Holland – A fun and well-researched volume, The World on a Plate isn’t a book to read straight through. Instead, it’s one to dip into when you crave fresh flavors and a easy visit to another land. Every time I open it up, I add another recipe to my to-make list.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal – This novel wraps around Eva Thorvald (a girl and then woman with a singular palate), home cooking, foodie culture, and (of course) the Midwest. The characters are well-defined, quirky, and human. It was a delight to read.

Orchard House by Tara Austen Weaver – On its surface, this is a book about rebuilding a neglected garden. But really, it’s about building community, healing a family, and embracing life as it comes. It is beautifully written and contains moments that will break your heart with sweet sharpness of life. When I opened up my copy to write about it here, I found myself pulled back into its pages and found myself again lost in Tara’s words.

Now, for some disclosures. The first is that all four of these books were sent to me for review. However, I only share the really good things with you guys, so know that the opinions expressed here truly are my own. 

The second disclosure is that I know both Jess and Tara. We’ve shared meals, talked shop, and swapped preserving tips. Still, the kind words I’ve written are deserved. These two women have written truly remarkable books. You should read them. 

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