Giveaway: The JarBOX (sponsored by Fillmore Container)

JarBOX

Once you start collecting jars and canning, you will eventually face the issue of storage. Do you build shelves or rely on boxes? If you have a basement, do you carve a section out for canned good storage? If the jars are tucked away, how to do you deal with the issue of out of sight, out of mind? What’s the best way to prevent breakage (particularly if you live in earthquake-prone areas)? There are so many questions and no one perfect solution.

JarBOX from above

Happily, there’s a relatively new product out there that can help answer some of these questions and might just make things a little bit easier on the storage front. Called the JarBOX, it’s a plastic container designed to snugly hold a dozen jars. It was designed by a home canner who was tired of having multiple jars break in a box when bumped or displaced (there’s a video on the JarBOX home page that shows off its many virtues).

They are sold in sets of two and snap together to create a sturdy, stackable home for jars. Once snapped together, the JarBOXes can be stacked, transported, or slid into tight corners for easy storage. It’s more than a little brilliant, if you ask me.  Currently, the JarBOX is only available for quart jars, but according to the website, a pint-sized version is coming later this year.

closed JarBOX

At the moment, I have two sets of the JarBOX and am using them as single jar trays as opposed to snapping them together. I put the jars in them upside down (to keep them from turning into dust collectors) and slide them under our bed. In our small apartment, this has freed up a huge amount of shelf space without making it hard for me to access these jars when I need them.

upside down jars in a JarBOX

Thanks to my friends over at Fillmore Container, I have one JarBOX set to give away this week. If you want to throw your hat into the ring, here’s how to enter:

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share how you currently store your jars and home canning.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm on Friday, April 5, 2013. Winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog that evening.
  3. Giveaway open to US residents, only (so sorry, further-flung friends).
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.
Disclosure: Fillmore Container sent me two sets of the JarBOX for review and photography purposes. My opinions remain my own. 

Links: Thumbprint Cookies and a Breakfast for Dinner Winner

lettuce

Just a few links tonight and the Breakfast for Dinner winner. I continue to make steady book writing progress, though I found myself possessed with the need to step away from the computer today in order to sort, clean, and purge instead. Our closets and bookcases look much roomier and more organized, but it didn’t do much for my word count.

Breakfast for Dinner
BFD winner So many thanks to everyone who jumped in and got on board my speedy weekend giveaway. I got a kick reading about all your favorite breakfast foods to eat for dinner!

Our winner is #3, Krisann. She wrote, “The best breakfast for dinner has got to be Waffle Wraps. Basically, picture a breakfast burrito. Now it’s a breakfast taco. Now it’s in a waffle instead of a tortilla. You’re welcome.”

Krisann, that’s brilliant. I have homemade waffles in my fridge and I WILL be making that soon.

Comments { 3 }

Tomato Mango Jam + Breakfast for Dinner Giveaway

Breakfast for Dinner

I have had a copy of Breakfast for Dinner by Lindsay Landis and Taylor Hackbarth on my stack of cookbooks for eight weeks now (I know exactly how long its been because I posted a photo of the book to Instagram the day it arrived). I’ve long been a fan of eating delicious breakfast foods for my evening meal, so I couldn’t wait to take this one for a spin. I flipped through soon after it arrived and tucked a handful of sticky notes onto its pages, marking things I hoped to make.

tomato peach jam

For the last two months, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve plucked it off the pile with the intention of making something before being sidetracked by some other task (being in the midst of a giant writing project will do that). However, earlier today the stars aligned for me to try one of the jam recipes in the book. I had ripe tomatoes leftover from recipe testing and enough time to try a batch of the tomato peach jam. I didn’t have any peaches, but I did have a couple of ripe mangos that I thought would sub in nicely.

smashing jam

I peeled 2 pounds of tomatoes using the score and blanch method and dropped them into the high-sided skillet that is one of my favorite small batch pans. I added 1 cup of chopped ripe mango (it was 1 1/2 champagne mangos), one well-chopped small, spicy red chili pepper and broke everything up with a pastry blender (a potato masher does the same job nicely).

2+ cups of tomato mango jam

I added 3/4 cup sugar (it’s a bit more than the original recipe called for, but after a taste, I determined that it needed a bit more sweetness), 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (not included in the recipe, but I wanted it to have a bit more pucker), 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (those last two are also my additions). And then I cooked, stirring regularly, for about 25 minutes, until it was quite thick and spreadable. The end product is sweet, tangy and slightly spicy. I am really pleased with it!

tomato mango jam

Once the jam was done, I funneled it into jars and processed them for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. I managed to fill three half pints, though they had slightly more generous than desired headspace. If I had to do it again, I would have swapped out one of the half pint jars for a quarter pint. Hindsight.

As I’ve written this blog post, I’ve realized that I took a number of liberties with the recipe. However, the inspiration and recipe framework really do belong to Lindsay and Taylor. I never would have thought to combine tomatoes and mangos had it not been for their pairing of tomatoes and peaches. What’s more, I betcha that if it was late summer and I had sun-ripened tomatoes and peaches to work with, I wouldn’t have needed to tweak things so much to boost the flavor. I’m looking to trying this one (exactly as written!) again in August.

Thanks to the nice folks at Quirk Books, I have a copy of this book to give away. I’m doing this one as a flash giveaway over the weekend, so we’ll have a winner for this one on Sunday evening. Here are the details:

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me about your favorite breakfast for dinner meal.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm on Sunday, March 31, 2013. Winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog that evening.
  3. Giveaway open to all.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.
Disclosure: Quirk Books provided two copies of Breakfast for Dinner at no cost for me. My opinions remain my own. 

Links: Grapefruit, Honey, and Maple + Jar Cozy Winners

onion tart slice

I am in the home stretch of the writing process for this new book of mine (it’s 100+ micro batch recipes organized by seasons. I think you guys are going to like it). It’s getting harder and harder to focus on anything beyond the words required for that project. Please forgive me if posting gets a little light over the course of the next three weeks.

A bunch of links from around the internet:

Some of the things I’ve written elsewhere recently:

  • This flourless chocolate cake is divine and totally different from the one I typically make. It’s lighter and is ever so slightly meringue-y. I will be making it again. 
  • This chicken thigh and squash stew (I subbed in sweet potatoes, because they were what I had) was one of the best things I’ve made recently. It did not float Scott’s boat and so ate the entire potful on my own. It was not a hardship.
  • I loved this potato and zucchini pancake. If you subbed in matzo meal for the bread crumbs, it would be perfect for Passover.
  • This steamed chicken was one of the most moist, tender birds I’ve tasted in recent memory. Next time I want to make chicken salad, this will be my initial preparation.
  • Oats! Three of my favorite recipes that involve rolled oats or oat flour. The Banana Pecan Bars are particularly fantastic.

pints and quarts

cozy family winners Now it’s time for the Cozy Family jar cozy giveaway. We’ll have five pattern winners and one of the pattern winners will also get two of the pre-made cozies. And the winners of the pattern are #26 (Jan D), #61 (Brittany), #101 (Emily M), #135 (Amy), and #260 (Mischa).

I used random.com a second time to select the cozy winner from our five pattern winners. It selected #3, which corresponds to set 3, which is #135, which is Amy (it sounds convoluted, but I just want to make sure it’s all fair). I will be in touch with all of the winners soon to sort out prizes. Thanks!

Comments { 13 }

The Philly Farm and Food Fest

farm and food fest

Hey friends! If you’re within driving distance of the Philadelphia region, you should mark your calendars for the second annual Philly Farm and Food Fest on Sunday, April 14. Organized by Fair Food and the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA), it’s an afternoon-long celebration of local farmers, cheese makers, coffee roasters, bakers, chocolatiers, and other folks engaged in sustainable food culture (click here for the complete list of 2013 participants).

There will be workshops, delicious samples, and many other opportunities to engage with the people that have made a career of working with and producing food. I’ll be leading a small batch canning workshop in the third time slot and will show off my favorite skillet and 4th burner pot method of canning (I’ll also have books for sale and will happily sign any copies you happen to bring with you).

Tickets are $15 if purchased in advance and $20 at the door. Kids under 12 are free, making this an event that will be fairly kind to the family budget. For those of you who want to taste some local brews while at the event can pick up a $30 ticket that will give you entry into the Libations Lounge.

It should be a fun day and I hope to see some of you there!

Comments { 0 }

Guest Post: Pickled Green Tomatoes

green tomatoes

Since January, Olivia has been helping make Food in Jars even better. Her family has a tradition of pickling green tomatoes and so we scared up some out-of-season tomatoes (thanks Fair Food Farmstand!) and made a batch. If you can’t get your hands on green tomatoes right now, remember this one for late summer. Eaten on a slice of Italian bread, these pickles are downright blissful. – Marisa

I know very little about canning. I do have copious jar love—mason jars are scattered about my room to hold sea glass, flowers, and pencils, or simply to be put to use as glasses to drink out of — but I don’t often use jars for their intended purpose.

When I first started interning for Marisa, I was overcome by the sheer amount of jars in her apartment, all the lovely shapes and sizes and fillings, and I began to long to can something. I quickly became nostalgic for the one food I’ve ever canned: green tomatoes.

ingredients

I’ve grown up around good food all my life. Once I made it to college, I realized that I had been spoiled with homemade corn chowder and minestrones, panko-breaded chicken cutlets and oven-roasted vegetables, stuffed breads and antipastos, and, of course, the classic sauce and meatballs nearly every Sunday night.

My mom even makes her own croutons and ice cream cake when she is “feeling ambitious.” In fact, many of my friends have said that they’ve never had a bad meal at my house. Overall, my mother raised me with a slightly picky, but well-versed palate. I’ve been vegan for just over a year now, a decision I came to by observing my brother and roommate—both vegans—and doing a little research on the health benefits.

drained tomatoes

Despite the limits most people think a vegan diet imposes, I feel my tastes and love of food has only grown since I’ve begun to explore new dishes and revitalize old favorites: I’ve learned to work with tempeh to create burgers, mock tuna salad, and some great stir-frys; I’ve made vegan versions of my mom’s corn chowder, panko chick’n, and baked mac and cheese; I also make a mean vegan pizza, complete with cheeseless pesto, artichoke hearts, olives, peppers, and sliced tomatoes.

Many of these things I wouldn’t have tried two years ago, but being vegan has taught me to say “yes” to new experiences and view eating as an adventure, and a rewarding one at that.

chopped

Green tomatoes are a tradition in my family. It all begins with my Noni, my grandmother on my father’s side who emigrated from Pescara, Italy to the U.S. (living in various parts of Connecticut during her lifetime) when my father was just five years old. I fondly remember her watching cheesy game shows, especially with the “handsome Bobby Bark,” playing bingo and blackjack for spare change, and working in the kitchen–as long as she could do so sitting down.

Though her tomato-preserving sessions were before my time, I can clearly recall the days of working in the kitchen with Noni, rolling three baking sheets of meatballs and listening to her sing sweetly in both Italian and broken English. She passed away when I was in fifth grade, so I missed her cooking prime, but my family is well-versed with “Noni Stories,” which has made her somewhat of a celebrity among our friends.

stirring

Food was a way for her to remain close to her culture. She helped run a restaurant when she first came to the States and all her meals, both at work and at home with her five children, employed methods she learned growing up on a farm and incorporated characteristically Italian and Mediterranean flavors. The only exception was when she would indulge in spicy, un-authentic, Chinese delivery food in her later years.

close up of pickles

Every September, Noni, with help from my aunts and my mother, would gather up all the green tomatoes from the summer garden and can a dozen jars of pickles. They did this after putting up more than three hundred jars of ripe tomato sauce, just enough to get the family through the year. Noni would get the grandkids to help, too, each putting a sprig of basil in the jars and lining them up on the table.

prepared jars

The canning crew would start out by slicing the tomatoes and letting them sit in a bowl, covered in salt, for a few days. When it was time to rinse the tomatoes just before canning them, Noni used to put them in a clean pillow case and into the washing machine on a rinse and spin cycle.

My parents say she would lean on the washing machine when it spun them out to stop it from hopping across the floor. This process is NOT recommended, obviously; she broke a few machines doing this, much to the chagrin of my Nono, who would angrily have to make his way to “Sees-a-Robuk,” or Sears and Roebuck, to buy a new washer.

filling jars

I was not brave enough to try the green tomatoes until my teens, years after my Noni had passed away. I was never really big on tomatoes in any style or form, but once I tried them, I was sold. My taste buds were electrocuted and enlightened by the cold, pickley flavor and the crisp crunch of the tomato.

When I was in high school, I began jarring these tomatoes to use in holiday gift baskets, usually paired with a good wine (which my mother picked out) and a ciabatta or baguette (because in my opinion, great bread makes a meal). The pickles were a hit midwinter, but also took the spotlight at summer picnics, the quickly-emptied ball jar glistening in the sun.

packing jars

My mom and I have since updated the recipe, adding olives and eggplant to the original, which strictly called for tomatoes, garlic, onion, celery, and occasionally red bell pepper (my aunt sometimes uses green peppers, but red peppers add a nice spark of color to the jar). We were forced to adapt regardless, as my Noni never properly measured anything out — using a coffee cup, a spoon, or the ever-cumbersome “pinch” to explain her recipes to her grandkids, who tried desperately to figure out the conventional measurements.

Though we’ve cheated in making these tomatoes in the past, using already canned tomatoes to concoct our recipe, I’ve been itching to try canning these fresh, as well as perfect my technique so that the oil doesn’t seep out of the lids and ruin my gift baskets. To preserve the taste and texture of this pickle, and because balsamic vinegar is less acidic than others, it is best to store these in refrigerator.

pouring olive oil

I’m thrilled to share a bit of my family with all of you and to get to join the can-fam as well. Recipe and instructions after the jump, enjoy!

Continue Reading →

Comments { 18 }