Links: Autumn Canning and Winners

Mustard greens, sungold tomatoes, and two sunny-side eggs.

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind. There were two classes in Washington, D.C., four canning demos across three counties, and a visit from my sister and her touring partner Becca. I’ve logged about 1,000 miles on the road and have canned my way through a bushel of pears. It has been good and it has been intense. I have one more crazy weekend coming up, and then things are going to quiet down a bit (and I couldn’t be more pleased). Now, links!

Progressive lid lifters

lid lifter winners Thanks to everyone who took the time to enter the lid wand giveaway and shared their bargain stories with me. They were fun to read! The winners are…

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Cookbooks: Who Wants Seconds?

Who Wants Seconds? Cover

I do the bulk of my day to day cooking without recipes. Over the years, I’ve developed a fairly reliable set of dishes and cooking techniques that I call on and adapt on the fly. However, the one problem with cooking in this manner is that no matter what I make, much of what I eat on a regular basis tastes very much the same. I regularly find myself deeply weary of my own food.

Who Wants Seconds?

Once of the reasons I love going to potlucks so much is that it’s a chance to get a break from my food and eat something prepared by home cooks working in other kitchens. And when there’s no potluck on the horizon, I turn to cookbooks that feel friendly, familiar, and like the author might well bring a dish to share at my table someday.

Who Wants Seconds?

Who Wants Seconds? by Jennie Cook appeared in my mailbox, it immediately felt like the kind of book I’d turn to for a home cooking palate cleanser. It’s bright and feels more like Jennie’s personal kitchen notebook than the highly designed cookbooks we see so much these days. Obviously, both book styles have their places, but it’s refreshing to see something that feels like a modern Moosewood in a world of perfectly styled images.

Who Wants Seconds?

Jennie is lifelong cook, former restaurant owner, and currently runs a plant-based catering company in the Los Angeles area. This book is imbued with her personality and character, and I want to eat everything she writes about.

I’ve only had the opportunity to try out a single recipe from the book, but it did everything I want from a friendly potluck-style cookbook. I made the Sunshine Ginger Soup (the recipe follows) and it was a happy change from my regular versions of carrot and squash soups. I will be employing the combination of coconut milk and citrus again in future soups, as it tastes fabulously alive.

Sunshine Ginger Soup

If you’re located in or around Portland, OR, Jennie is going to be in your area in about a week, offering cooking classes. She’ll be at In Good Taste on, talking about Holiday Appetizers on November 5 (click here for more info) and at the Whole Foods Market at Bridgeport Village on November 6 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm (sign up by calling 503-639-6500. For even more of her events, click here.

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Preserves in Action: Baguette with Ricotta, Fig Jam, and Baby Arugula

baguette with ricotta, fig jam, arugula

On Monday night, I took a cheese class at Metropolitan Bakery with Madame Fromage and Sue Miller of Birchrun Hills Farm (she is one of my very favorite Pennsylvania cheesemakers). It came just after a weekend in which I had taught and demo-ed enough to make my voice go hoarse, so it was doubly nice to sit back and let someone else do the teaching and explaining.

We began the tasting with an orienting sip of Birchrun’s raw milk, just hours from the cow and then, starting with fromage blanc, we sampled our way through six cheeses. There were slices of baguette and French berry roll from the Metropolitan ovens, and at the end, a little splash of madeira to drink with slices of Birchrun blue. It was one of the nicest evenings I’ve had in a while.

baguette with ricotta, fig jam, arugula

At the end of the class, we were packed off into a chilly night with warm cheeks and fresh baguettes. Scott is currently off carbs, so the work of eating this pointy loaf has been entirely mine (truly, it’s not a hardship). This morning, when I opened the paper bag, it was quite hard. Happily, I have a trick for refreshing bread that always works with Metropolitan’s loaves (they use a long fermentation period, which builds the interior structure and makes it more resilient).

I hacked off a chunk, sliced it down the middle and ran the pieces quickly under a dribbling kitchen faucet. I toasted the slices twice, once to help dry them out and again to give them some color. The end result is four-day-old toasted baguette that is flavorful, with just the right amount of crunch and chew.

Now, here’s where the Preserves in Action component comes in. I spread the toasts with fresh ricotta cheese (what I really longed for was Sue’s fromage blanc, but Claudio’s ricotta is a more than acceptable substitute), dolloped on fig jam, and piled up baby arugula. I added a few turns of a pepper grinder and breakfast was ready. This meal could easily serve as lunch, or if cut into smaller pieces, as a starter for a party.

Curious why I know so much about this bakery’s practices? Many moons ago, Scott and I used to make an online cooking show called Fork You and in one episode, we visited Metropolitan’s baking facility and made bread with James Barrett, one of the founders. The old blog appears to be corrupted, but the video is still available on Viddler’s blog if you’re interested in finding out more about them (and seeing the glasses I was wearing five years ago).

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Apple Date Chutney

apples, shallots, and dates

For the last couple of months, I’ve been ruminating on the idea of a chutney sweetened strictly with dried fruit. Though most chutneys typically have a goodly amount of raisins, currants, and dried apricots in them, they also rely on either brown sugar or honey to balance out the tang of the vinegar.

chutney prep

I wanted to see if I could make something delicious using just dried fruit as balance, without even a drop of honey or sugar. And so I called on dates. They pack a mighty wallop of sweetness and I had a hunch that they’d fit in nicely alongside shallots, apple cider vinegar, and star anise in a small batch of chutney.

finished chutney

Well, it worked, and on the first try, no less. This is a chutney that is gently sweet and mildly puckery. You get some of the date flavor in each bite, and that sweetness is backed up by the tiny, tender currants. The apples also do their part, though they carry more of the vinegar flavor than their natural sweetness.

apple date chutney

I used a little last night to perk up leftover chicken. When my sister gets here on Friday, we’re opening a jar to eat with crumbly cheddar cheese. And I have plans to swirl a little into plain yogurt to eat with my next batch of this curried chicken.

Note 1: I did use a little bit of crystallized ginger in this chutney, which does have a marginal amount of granulated sugar on the outside. But I see it as incidental in the grand scheme of things. If you prefer, you could use freshly grated ginger in its place.

Note 2: Remember that chutney is like wine in that it needs a little breathing time before it’s ready to serve. Open your jar at least half an hour before you serve it so that the intensity of the vinegar can mellow.

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Giveaway: Progressive International Lid Lifters

Progressive lid lifters

The Food in Jars giveaway took a bit of a break last week, but happily, I’m back with one of my very favorite canning tools. While I was down in the D.C. area over the weekend, I stayed with a dear friend who happens to live just a stone’s throw from a Crate & Barrel outlet. I am powerless in the face of such possible bargains and so we dashed in for a quick glance at the deals.

I picked up a few extraordinarily cheap Christmas ornaments, a holiday gift for my mom, and a handful of these lid lifters to share. To my mind, this Progressive International Lid Lifter is one of the best versions of this tool on the market. I find that the magnet is just a touch stronger than other lifters and I like the ring on the end (it allows you to extend your reach a little if you’ve dropped your lids in a deep pot of water to soften).

I have four of these lid lifters to give away. Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me about your favorite bargain. .
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm east coast time on Saturday, October 26, 2013. Winners will be chosen at random (using random.org) and will be posted on Sunday, October 27, 2013.
  3. Giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left on the blog, I cannot accept submissions via email.
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Upcoming Classes, Events, and Canning Demos

class image revised

We’re deep into the harvest season and that means lots of classes, events, and book signings. Here’s were I’ll be in the next couple of weeks. Mark your calendars!

Events and Demos

This Saturday, October 26, I’ve got two free events.

  • At 10 am, I’ll be at Central Market in Lancaster City, PA as part of their Food Day/Week celebration. I’ll be showing how I make small batches of Pear Vanilla Jam, sweetened with honey. There will be fun and samples for all.
  • Then, from 1 to 5 pm, I’ll be at the Williams-Sonoma at the Bellevue in Philly as part of their Artisan Market. I’ll be leading a canning demo and then will be sticking around to sell and sign books.

On Sunday, October 27, I’m doing two demos at one event.

  • From 1 to 4 pm, I’ll be at the Lehigh Valley Harvest Festival, sharing the Fillmore Container Preserving the Harvest demo stage with Amanda Feifer from Phickle. I’m making Pear Vanilla Jam and Pickled Pears, Amanda is making Sauerkraut and Kefir. This event costs $25 per person, but is well worth the fee.

Classes

  • October 29 – Chutney making class with the Fair Food Farmstand at Reading Terminal Market. We’ll make a batch of apple pear chutney (using all local fruit) from 6-8 pm in the Rick Nichols Room. Click here to sign up.
  • October 30 – A hands on pickling workshop with the Lower Merion Conservancy. We’ll make cauliflower pickles, taste a few things from my pantry, and dig into the basics of the boiling water bath canning. Class runs from 7 – 8:30 pm and costs $35 for LMC members and $45 for non-members. Click here to register.
  • November 1 to 3 – Join me in Western Mass. for a weekend-long canning class at the Rowe CenterMore details can be found here.
  • November 16 – Spiced applesauce class at the Tyler Arboretum. We’ll cover the basics of boiling water bath canning and walk through the steps necessary to make a batch of delicious, low sugar applesauce. Class is from 10 am – 12 noon and costs $60 for Arboretum Members, $70 for non-members. For more details, click here and select the “Health and Wellness” drop down.
  • November 17 – Mulled Cider Jelly class at Wyebrook Farm in Chester County, PA. Class runs from 2 – 4 pm. Click here to sign up.
  • November 18 – Prep for Thanksgiving and make cranberry preserves with me at the Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal Market. Class is from 6-8 pm in the Rick Nichols Room. Click here to sign up.
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