International Can-It-Forward Day and Onion Pickles from the Ball Blue Book

finished pickled onions four jars

This year’s International Can-It-Forward Day is now just a week away! In seven days, I’ll be at the Jarden Home Brands headquarters in Fishers, Indiana with some other fine folks. We’ll be demonstrating recipes and sharing jar tricks on the livestream, along with delightful people from the Ball Canning team.

frozen pearl onions

I’ll have the day’s livestream running right here on the blog on Saturday, so make sure to tune in starting at 11 am eastern time to see all the interesting and useful programming we will have for you. Oh, and for those of you who asked, this is an online-only event. Unlike in years past, there’s no way to participate if you live close by (so sorry!).

pearl onions in colander

Now, for my next recipe from the Ball Blue Book, I bring you a half batch of Onion Pickles from the latest edition. I confess that I employed a cheat with this one. The recipe calls for fresh pearl onions, but I had neither the time to hunt them down nor the desire to spend hours peeling and prepping them.

So instead, I used frozen pearl onions. The produce a finished texture that is somewhat softer than a fresh onion, but not so much that you’d be displeased.

prepared horseradish

One of the reasons that this recipe spoke to me was the inclusion of prepared horseradish in the brine. I very much enjoy the sinus-clearing flavor of horseradish and loved the idea incorporating its zippy heat in a pickle. This is going to be a trick I’ll carry over to future pickles.

jars for pickled onions

These are a sweet pickle and so may not be the cocktail onion that so many of you seek. However, there’s a note in the recipe that mentions that one can omit the sugar and bay leaf in order to turn these into a sour pickle. So with that alteration, home cocktail lovers may well find that these satisfy their mixology needs.

pickled onions tops

I’m including the recipe in its entirety. If you want to make a half batch (okay, so it’s just slightly more than a half batch) with frozen pearl onions, rinse 3 pounds of frozen onions under warm water until defrosted. Skip the salting of the onions, add 2 tablespoons pickling salt to brine and reduce brine ingredients by half.

finished pickled onions tight

Continue Reading →

Comments { 7 }

Blueberry Cobbler and a Few Days in Portland

blueberry cobbler

In the last four years that I have worked for myself, I’ve been pretty terrible about giving myself time away from this website, my laptop screen, and all the other bits and pieces that make up my life as a freelance writer and blogger.

You may have noticed that it’s been pretty quite around these parts this week. It’s because I was in Portland with my family. Thing is, even though I was on something of a vacation, I didn’t actually intend to go silent this week. I had a stockpile of blog posts photographed and ready to be written while I was away.

But then, on my first day of my trip, I had an unfortunate encounter with the slicing blade of my mom’s food processor while making a batch of sweet zucchini pickles. I took a hefty chunk out of the tip of my right ring finger (luckily, the processor bowl was empty at the time, so I didn’t waste the pickles).

Typing became painfully unwieldy. I did the bare minimum required to keep up with email and surrendered my blogging plans. While I’m not one to believe that accidents are always the machinations of fate, I think that had I gone into this week with a more vacation-centric mentality and allowed myself the break from the start, maybe I could have avoided the pain. Perhaps.

Happily, thanks to the miracle that is the human body’s ability to heal, my food processor wound is nearly gone. I’m back home in Philadelphia and spent much of the day typing away, in an attempt to gather up all the foundering threads I dropped while I was away.

While I do still have a mighty backlog of preserves to share with you, the thing I feel most excited about at the moment is the blueberry cobbler I made yesterday for my mother’s birthday. It looks relatively humble but one bite in and it feels entirely celebratory (we all went back for a second taste). We ate it unadorned and at room temperature, but warm and with ice cream would also be delightful.

The version I’m posting is gently tweaked rendition of Alana’s recipe, which she adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts. I find that Alana never leads me astray when it comes to food (and baked goods, particularly)  and so I’m very much looking forward to the release of her new book this fall.

Continue Reading →

Comments { 6 }

Giveaway: Strainer Lids for Mason Jars

four strainer lids

Sometimes, someone will email me to tell me about a new mason jar product that they’ve designed and I’ll think, “Yes! I’ve always wanted that!” Such is the case with these stainless steel wire mesh lids. So often, I’ve wished for an easy way to strain from a jar, or a quick way to turn a small mason jar into a parmesan cheese shaker for parties, and now, here it is!

angle view of lids

Other ideas for these lids include using them to sprout beans and seeds, or any time you want an easy way to soak and then strain things (prepping small amounts of beans for adding to soup springs immediately to mind). I’m really curious though, how could you see something like this being useful in your life?

strainer lid on jar

For this week’s giveaway, I have ten (yep, ten!) of these lids to share with you guys. Here’s how to enter!

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me how you would use one of these lids in your kitchen.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, July 25, 2015. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, July 26, 2015.
  3. Giveaway open to United States and Canadian residents. Void where prohibited.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: The nice woman who produces these lids sent me some for testing, photography, and giveaway purposes. No additional compensation was provided for this post and all opinions expressed here are my own. 

July Philly Foodworks CSA Share

July Philly Foodworks Share

The nice folks from Philly Foodworks dropped off another lovely box of produce for me last week. I’ve cooked and processed my way through most of it now and will be sharing those details over the next couple weeks. But as a little sneak preview, here’s what came in this box and what I’ve done (or am planning) to do with it.

  • A head of cabbage (it’s become a batch of sauerkraut streaked with fennel fronds)
  • A bundle of rainbow carrots (these, I’m afraid, met a bitter end. I put them in the oven to roast and then got distracted. Incinerated)
  • A bag of mixed beans (pickles)
  • A bundle of Chioggia beets (more pickles)
  • A quart of cherries (they’ve become part of a batch of peach cherry jam)
  • A head of escarole (soup)
  • 1 sweet onion (a relish I’ll be telling you about soon)
  • 3 green bell peppers (also in the relish)
  • A jar of garlic and rosemary fermented carrots (I’ve been eating these with my lunch)
  • A tub of Mediterranean sesame dip (delicious on everything from crackers to cucumber rounds)
Comments { 6 }

CSA Cooking: Salad Pickles (aka Waste Prevention Pickles)

salad pickles two jars

Like many of the recipes I’ve posted on this site over the years, this pickle is a highly practical one. It’s not really a looker, and it probably won’t be the thing you tuck into gift bags, but it has the ability to use up a lot of produce, and makes edible many of the scraps and bits that might have otherwise ended up in the garbage.

I also appreciate it because all the various vegetables are chopped into similar sizes, so you can spoon it directly into vinaigrettes, or pasta, grain, or potato salad with zero additional work.

scapes and asparagus

Every time I make a batch, it is different. The version you see pictured here included asparagus, garlic scapes, kale stems, and broccoli stems. At other points in the year, I’ve made it with various green/purple/wax/flat beans, chard stems, fennel, minced zucchini, radishes, and the thick stems from beet greens. Essentially, you gather up things of similar densities, chop them into small bits, and pickle the heck out of them.

This is a great one to have in your back pocket when your garden starts producing like crazy, or your CSA share becomes unmanageably abundant. This batch was made with some of the goodies from the Philly Foodworks box I got back in the beginning of June (I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for a while now).

chopped veg for pickles

I call it a salad pickle because I find that it most often gets used in a salad of some kind. In other regions of the country, you might find something similar being called a relish or chow chow (I don’t think anyone would hang the title piccalili on this one, but you never know).

salad pickles close

Typically when I make this pickle, I keep things simple and add just mustard seed, red pepper flakes, and garlic cloves for flavor. This time around I skipped the garlic cloves because so much of the vegetable matter was made up of garlic scapes. It would also be good with dill seed, coriander seed, and black peppercorns. I make mine without any sweetener, but a little sugar or honey in the brine would be just fine.

Do any of you make something similar?

Continue Reading →

Comments { 34 }

July Canning Classes: Goodwill at Homefields & Christina Maser Co.

tomatoes for honey sweetened jam

It feels a little hard to believe, but I only have two classes left to teach this month (summer seems to be flying by!). Both of these classes are out in the Lancaster area of Pennsylvania. If you’re within a couple hours drive, it’s a great region for a day trip! Here’s all the info!

This Saturday, July 18, you’ll find me at Goodwill at Homefields Farm (Manor Township – 150 Letort Road, Millersville, PA). The class is from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm and we’ll be making spiced nectarine jam. I’ll also talk about boiling water bath canning, best practices, and pantry storage. To register, contact Heather Conlon-Keller at 717-808-7060 or Class fee is $22 per person, payable to Homefields.

Next Saturday, July 25, you’ll find me in Lancaster City, at the Christina Maser Co., talking about tomatoes. In this very hands-on class, we’ll make both cold packed whole peeled tomatoes and hot packed crushed tomatoes. Everyone will go home with samples from the class, a tomato canning how-to packet, and the knowledge to do it again. The class is from 10 am to 1 pm and costs $65. Click here to sign up.

To sweeten the deal, our friends at Fillmore Container are also giving away a stainless steel canner to a one participant in this class. More details about that are here.

Comments { 0 }