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!

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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!

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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!

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My Imaginary Seder Menu

Jewish cookbooks

One of the joys of living in a city with a huge extended family is that our holidays are chaotic and deliciously boisterous. These days, my cousins regularly host just the kind of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Passover gatherings I longed for when I was young and lived far away from any grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

However, there is just one (very small) downside to these large, collaborative holiday meals for me, and that is the fact that I never get to be in charge of the menu. I certainly always make contributions to the buffet and over the years have graduated from bringing secondary side dishes to the main course. But, as a food writer/blogger who reads cookbooks for recreation, I often find myself longing to craft the entirety of a celebratory menu.

kippered salmon snacks

I could certainly have secondary holiday gatherings and next year, when I’m not working on a book and life isn’t quite so frenzied, I hope to do just that. This year though, with Passover (and my cookbook deadline!) fast approaching, I thought that I’d indulge in a little fantasy menu planning instead of tackling the real thing. This way, I get all of the pleasure of flipping through cookbooks and imagining a meal, without any of the work of shopping, cooking or cleaning.

For my imaginary Seder, I pulled out four cookbooks. The Jewish Festival Cookbook (first published in 1954, but available in more modern editions), The Kosher Carnivore (a particularly good resource if you have kosher friends), The Mile End Cookbook (classic Jewish food with pages and pages of pickles), and The New Jewish Table (beautiful food). After a couple hours of reading, marking and stomach rumblings, here’s what I’d serve if I was hosting my family for Passover this year.

pickled heirloom beets with hard boiled eggs

For when people first arrived, I’d put out the Kippered Salmon Snacks and the Pickled Heirloom Beets with Hard-Boiled Eggs, both recipes from The New Jewish Table. Kippered fish has been salted and hot smoked, so that it’s fairly dry and meaty (more like the smoked salmon you get in the Pacific Northwest than the moist Nova salmon you put on bagels).

The pickled eggs with red beets are traditional in a number of cultures and are a nice symbol of the fresh, newness of spring. I did a version for Serious Eats last year that was quite tasty and very easy (you cheat with already-pickled beets). Chances are good that I’d also pull out a few jars of other pickles and chutneys that would complement these two official recipes.

Matza Knaidlach

After we made it through the Hagaddah, we’d move on to Matzo Ball Soup. I’ve long meant to make matzo balls according to the directions in the Festival book and this could be my chance (I love the line in the headnote encouraging young housewives to develop their knaidlach skills to win laurels as a cook). I’d use homemade chicken broth that was cooked ahead and pressure canned to save space in the fridge.

gefilte fish

I think gefitle fish gets a bad wrap. Most of the time, the stuff served at Passover comes from a can and tastes a little stodgy, fishy and funky. But homemade gefilte fish? It’s actually incredibly delicious and deserves a spot on the table. I’m hankering to try this recipe from The Mile End Cookbook.

Classic Brisket

For the meat eaters, I’d make brisket. And actually, this is the one thing I actually am making this year. I will take some cues from this recipe (she uses lots of aromatics for flavor) from The Kosher Carnivore and combine them with my own tricks (lots and lots of sauteed onions).

I’m also a believer in making brisket the day before you plan on serving it, so that it can rest in the fridge over night and develop more flavor. This also gives you an opportunity to skim the fat from the sauce and make a luscious puree from the juices and vegetables in which to gently reheat the brisket.

vegetable kishka

For vegetarians, the Vegetable Kishka with Sage and Paprika from The New Jewish Table seem like a good fit. And ever since watching a recent episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives in which they made kishka, I’ve been a little bit obsessed with it.

Along with those main course options, I’d also make a big salad with baby arugula, sheep’s milk feta, and pomegranate seeds. Because any big meal needs a mountain of greens to balance things out.

homemade matzo

If there was time, I’d also make a batch of homemade matzo (I may actually make a batch of this in the next few days, with half whole wheat flour and some finely chopped rosemary. Because it sounds awfully good). For dessert, my beloved flourless chocolate cake.

For those of you who are hosting holiday meals in the next couple weeks (Easter is coming up soon, as well), what are you planning on serving? Are there any cookbooks that you’re using particularly heavily?

Disclosure: I received review copies of The New Jewish Table, The Kosher Carnivore, and The Mile End Cookbook for consideration. I bought my copy of The Jewish Festival Cookbook years ago. All opinions are my own. 
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Blog Update and Meet the Intern

adding vinegar

For the last few months, I’ve had an intern helping me make some updates to the blog. She has done a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes and so we thought it was time to introduce her! In her post below, she details some of the updates she’s made to the site. Check back tomorrow for her grandmother’s pickled green tomato recipe! – Marisa

Hello Canners!

I’m Olivia, Marisa’s intern. Most people call me some sort of version of Liv or Livie Dee. I’m a junior at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, but hail from Milford, Connecticut, and thus have permanent ties to the beach and its the soothing sound of waves on walks and car rides (I’m a little lost in big, bustling Philly).

I’ve grown up shaped by a strong sense of family, friendship, and creativity — my mother nearly always had a book in hand, my father a paintbrush, and my brother an instrument. I’m studying both English and Communications at SJU, where I work as a tutor in the Writing Center. I’m still trying to figure things out, but I know I’ve never been happier doing anything else. I get stressed easily, but I try to take pleasure in the little things, work hard for what I want, and keep a smile on my face.

Initially I was interested in interning with Food in Jars because it combines two of my greatest passions—writing and food—while also allowing me to get some WordPress and social media experience under my belt; I’ve also been in limbo with the idea of starting a vegan food blog and was hoping I could take away a clearer understanding of what it takes to run a food blog as a hobby, as a business, or as just one of the many things in the balancing act of life.

There are some new things going on here at Food In Jars. If you direct your focus to the top of the webpage, you’ll see that our menu has changed a wee bit. Although it may look as though some things have disappeared, they have merely been moved to a drop-down menu of an already existing page. This allowed us to organize things more clearly and remove the clutter that the new pages would have caused.

Yes, I said new pages.

You will now find under the “Canning Resources” menu header that there is a page called  Canning 101. This is a neat little compilation of all Marisa’s Canning 101 posts that offer tips, explanations, general instructions, etc. For those of you who own the Food in Jars Cookbook, there is a new Food in Jars Errata page under the “Cookbook” menu, which lists all the errors in the various printings of the book.

I hope these changes are helpful. Feel free to explore the site and look for my guest post, coming tomorrow!

Keep canning, Livie Dee

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Love the Bulk for Earth Day

bulk bin buys

When it comes to grocery shopping, I like to spend as much of my food dollar in the bulk section as I can. I deeply appreciate the fact that I can get just the amount I want and that I end up bringing home less packaging. On days when I’m feeling particularly organized and ambitious, I take my jars with me and refill directly into them (as detailed in this post). I also keep a few of these lightweight kootsacs in my bundle of reusable grocery bags for those days when I don’t want to drag jars along with me.

Knowing that I’m something of a fan of buying from the bulk section, a representative from the Bulk is Green Council got in touch and asked if I’d help spread the word about Bulk is Love. It’s a campaign to promote the benefits of bulk buying in advance of Earth Month. They’re asking people to take a pledge to shop from the bulk section once a week throughout April as a way to prevent waste and eat high quality food. If you need more data, there’s an infographic at the bottom of this page with some compelling facts and figures.

jar storage

Taking the pledge also enters you into a giveaway for a chance to win a very nice I Love Bulk for Earth Month prize pack. It includes a pair of lovely jars and an assortment of food products that are frequently found in your local bulk section. Click over to their site for more information about the Love Bulk campaign.

How are you all using your bulk sections these days? Any new favorites or useful discoveries?

Disclosure: The Bulk is Green Council sent me one of their prize packs to sample. They did not pay for this post and my opinions remain my own. 
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