Links: Citrus, Taproot Mag, and the Yohann iPad Stand

I hope you all had a really lovely weekend. It’s been so fun to see all the pictures the March Mastery Challenge folks have been posting on Facebook and Instagram of their jellies and shrubs. And thanks to everyone who tuned in for the live broadcast on Facebook last Thursday. If you missed it, you can still watch it here. Now, links!

In other news, the latest issue of Taproot Mag hit newsstands and mailboxes in the last week. The theme of this issue is Weave and I contributed a piece on woven baked goods. The cinnamon braids included in the story was one of the very first things I ever made and it is dear to me because it’s something I would make with my Aunt Doris.

If you spot a copy in the wild, please do pick it up. In addition to my story, you’ll find other recipes, a pattern for a lovely knitted hat, and much, much more.

And finally, let me tell you about the best iPad stand I’ve ever used. I often bring an iPad into the kitchen when I need to reference an online recipe. In the past, I’ve used little tripods or the folding cover that attaches via magnets to prop up the iPad in order to read the recipe. However, they’ve never felt particularly secure and they didn’t really keep the iPad out of the fray of my workspace.

Then, a couple months ago, the folks from a Swiss company asked if they could send me one of their stands. Because this was an area where I have been looking for a better solution, I said yes and I’m so glad I did. I love this stand. It holds my iPad Air securely and is able to display the screen in three different orientations. Though I yearned for their wooden stand, I opted for the black plastic one because I knew that it would clean up better (and that’s always a concern in the kitchen). I have nothing but good things to say about this sleek and useful stand. If you’re in the market for something similar, I suggest you take a look at the Yohann.

(The unit you see above was sent to me at no cost. I was not obligated to write about it, but have chosen to do so because I really like it and thought some of you would find a similar item useful. I was not compensated for this post beyond the sample unit.)

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A Late Winter Cooking Reset with Blue Apron

Today’s post is sponsored by Blue Apron

In the fall, when the days first begin to turn cold and crisp, I am elated. I cannot wait to pull out my biggest soup pots and braising pans to start making hearty, weather-appropriate food.

However, by the end of the winter season, I am weary of my regular dinners and am hungry for fresh inspiration. Often I turn to cookbooks to help break up the routine. When that doesn’t work, I call on Blue Apron and their chef-designed meal kits.

My first encounter with Blue Apron came last year, when Scott got a 2-person box as part of his podcast’s sponsorship. Thanks to the photo-filled recipe cards, he was able to make a trio of tasty dinners without a lick of help from me.

I wrote about my second go-round with Blue Apron back in September. That time, I had the family-sized box sent to my sister’s house while I would be there visiting. I cooked dinner for them and scored some major houseguest points.

This time, I planned the box for the week before I was leaving town for a four-day conference. Busy and lacking inspiration is almost always the perfect formula for a week of takeout, but not this time. Blue Apron to the rescue!

Another reason why getting Blue Apron just before leaving town was such a good idea is that is prevented food waste. Scott isn’t one to do a lot of cooking for himself, so if I’d left a fridge full of ingredients for him to use, they would have withered and wilted while I was away. The perfectly portioned Blue Apron meals meant that there was nothing to throw out.

We had Chicken Yakinuki (I particularly loved the simple shredded carrot salad), Tangelo & Honey Glazed Salmon (remind me to use cooked apples in savory applications more often), and Smokey Pork Burgers (why aren’t pork burgers more of a thing? They were so delicious!).

One of the things I like most about Blue Apron is the fact that the I always take away some new culinary tidbit when I cook my way through a box. Going forward, I’ll be cooking my farro like pasta and will always roast broccoli at 475F (my typical temperature had been a lazy 400F, but no more!). I also appreciate that you can access all their recipes online.

One of the worries that people often have about Blue Apron is the amount of packaging involved. I was pleased to see that there was less packaging this time than in past orders, and that all users can now return the packing materials through the mail for reuse and recycling.

The fried rosemary garnish in this salmon dish was another tidbit I will take with me. I always thought that frying herbs was a fussy step, best reserved for restaurant meals, but I am converted. Quickly pan-fried in a shallow puddle of olive oil, the rosemary became fragrant and crisp.

The aforementioned farro! When you cook it in ample water, you don’t have to worry about the pot boiling dry. When the farro is tender, you just drain and dress.

If you’re intrigued by my experience with Blue Apron, they’ve got an offer for you, too! The first fifty 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 2-Person box, containing three meals for two people. They’ve also compensated me for my time and attention. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely mine.

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Facebook Live Jelly Demo this Thursday

Friends! Join me on Thursday, March 9 at 9 pm eastern/ 6 pm pacific for an hour-long Facebook livestream over on the Food in Jars Facebook page. I’ll show you how to make a batch of tart cherry jelly using store bought juice, we’ll talk about shrubs, AND I’ll answer all your questions about this month’s Mastery Challenge.

Also, as we move further into the canning season, I plan on doing more of these livestreams and hope to get on a regular schedule with them. I’m hoping that you guys will give me a little insight as to what you’d most like to see from these broadcasts. If you have a minute or two, please do fill out the questionnaire below. Thank you!

Updated!

If you missed the live broadcast, all is not lost! Thanks to the magic of Facebook, you can also watch the broadcast right here.

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Cookbooks: Composing the Cheese Plate

I love cheese plate books, because in many cases, they’re really preserving books in disguise. Because what goes better with all manner of cheese that interesting jams, spreads, chutneys, mostardas, and jellies? Nothing, that’s what!

Published last fall, Composing the Cheese Plate is a perfect example of preserving-centric cheese book. Written by cheese evangelist Brian Keyser and pastry chef and condiment maker Leigh Friend, this book is bursting with an array of bright, creative, and unusual things to spread, smear, and dollop on cheese.

I have markers sticking out of this book in every direction. In addition to the recipes I’ve shared via photography here, I’m hoping to make the Balsamic Rosemary Cherry Mustard (page 63), Cardamom Poached Butternut Squash (page 89), Spiced Carrot Chutney (page 131), and the Pineapple Mostarda (page 198).

There is one downside to working with a book like this and that’s that none of the recipes are designed for boiling water bath canning. However, the batch sizes are small enough that you can easily tuck them into the fridge and use them up. I confess that I will probably borrow flavor elements from this book and will marry them with recipes I know to be safe for the canning pot.

One final note. This book comes to us from the same publisher that produces my books and as a result, this book shares the same size and binding as those in the Food in Jars series. It would fit quite nicely on a shelf next to my trio of books!

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Glass Spray Bottle with Soap Flakes from the MightyFix by MightyNest

I have always had an affinity for things made from glass. Even in the days before this jar-focused website wasn’t even a glimmer in my eye, I opted for things made out of glass whenever possible. It feels good in the hand, has a pleasing heft, and never, ever absorbs the smell of the thing you’ve kept in it. Plus, it is easily recycled when you decide that an object has reached the end of its useful life.

In recent years, I’ve really enjoyed seeing the increased availability of glass spray bottles. Once just the domain of Martha Stewart home shoots, it’s now quite easy to get one’s hands on a lovely, refillable glass spray bottle. One such delightful bottle is the Meliora K. Glass Spray Bottle with Soap Flakes available from MightyNest.

This spray bottle comes with a tablespoon of unscented soap flakes inside. You fill up the bottle with warm tap water, give it a good shake, and have the perfect all-purpose cleaning spray that is safe and effective for every corner of your home. The FIX bottle comes with extra soap flakes (enough to make two more bottles of cleanser) and you can additional refills from MightyNest.

For the rest of this month, new subscribers to the MightyFix from MightyNest will get their very own glass spray bottle with soap flakes as their first month of the FIX for just a buck. If this deal interests you, just click here to place the bottle (with discount attached!) into your cart! And if the code doesn’t work for you, just use the code FIJGLASSBOTTLE at check-out.

Just to recap, if you use this link or the code, you’ll get your first fix for just $1. New folks only. Canadian and Australians are welcome to join the Fix for a small shipping surcharge.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. MightyNest is a Food in Jars sponsor and helps keep this blog afloat. 

 

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Jellies and Shrubs for the March Mastery Challenge

We’re five days into March, and so it’s high time to start digging into this month’s challenge (I’ve been at a conference for the last couple days, which accounts for the delay). We’re going to be focusing in on both jelly and shrubs this time around.

The reason for the double topics is that jelly making has much in common with marmalade making. For those of you who wearied of achieving set during January’s challenge, you have another option. What’s more, shrubs are fun.

What is Jelly?

There are a lot of preserves that get called jelly, but for the purposes of this challenge, we’re defining it as a sweet or savory preserve that is made primarily with a flavorful liquid like fruit juice, vinegar, or wine (other spirits do sometimes come into play with jellies as well). Fruit jellies should be clear and without any bits or pieces of fruit or fruit pulp. Things like pepper jellies can include bits of pepper material. Jellies should be well-set enough to be spread on toast without dripping down your hand.

There are several ways to go about getting your jelly to set up.

High Pectin Fruits – Some fruits are so naturally high in pectin that you don’t need to add commercial pectin to achieve set (a good example is the red currant jelly I wrote about last summer). Those jellies just need enough sugar to help elevate the temperature to reach the set point (to read more about why sugar aids in set, read this). Occasionally, people will also extract pectin from these high pectin fruits to use in combination with lower pectin fruits.

Commercial Pectin – Other fruits don’t have a ton of natural pectin and require additional pectin in order to set up. These days, my go-to pectins are the Classic Ball Flex Pectin (for higher sugar batches) and Pomona’s Pectin (for lower sugar and alternative sweeteners).

Reduction – Some fruit juices have the ability to set up into jelly with no more than a nice, long boil. Chief among these juices are apple cider. When I first made this apple cider syrup, I accidentally cooked it to 220F and it set up into a nice, spreadable preserve.

The world of jellies really broad, but the thing that unifies them is the fact that they have a solidly spreadable set. If you didn’t read this post on using the plate test to check for set back in January, I recommend you give it a look now.

Here are some jelly recipes to help get you started. Of course, this is just a starting place. There’s a world of jelly recipes out there in books and online for you to choose from.

What is a Shrub?

I’ve been smitten with shrubs since I made my first one back in 2011. Shrubs are a combination of fruit, sugar and vinegar. Left to sit for a few days (or even longer), they develop a deep, sweet-tart flavor that is a wonderful addition to a glass of sparkling water, a batch of salad dressing, a fancy homemade cocktail, a marinade for meat or vegetables, or to a pan sauce.

There is better writer on the topic of shrubs than Michael Dietsch. He started in on the topic back in 2011 with this post on Serious Eats and has subsequently written a whole book about them. Emily Han‘s book, Wild Drinks and Cocktails, is also contains a lot of tasty shrubs.

I’ve got four shrub recipes here on the blog and there are far more out there online. However, if you remember the essential ratio of one part sugar, one part vinegar, and a generous handful of fruit of some kind, you’ll be good.

As always, I’ll be sharing more recipes, tips and tricks around the topic of jellies and shrubs on the blog all month long. The deadline to submit your project to be counted in the final tally is Wednesday, March 29 (I’ll put the form up soon).

I’m also doing a Facebook Live session on the topic on Thursday, March 9 at 9 pm Eastern/6 pm Pacific. Make sure to tune in!

 

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