Spiced Nectarine Jam

nectarines in a bowl

Earlier in the summer, the folks from the Washington State Fruit Commission sent me a glorious box of sweet cherries as part of their canbassador program. In the past, I’ve only gotten a single shipment from them and so I thought that was it for this summer. However, a few weeks ago, they got in touch saying I should expect a shipment of peaches and nectarines.

The box arrived last Tuesday and immediately filled the apartment with the fragrance of ripening summer stonefruit. So far, I’ve made a spicy peach dipping sauce (think homemade ketchup, made with peaches instead of tomatoes), a small batch of oven roasted fruit, and a batch of this spiced nectarine jam.

I’ll tell you more about the other two tomorrow and Thursday, but since I happen to be teaching this particular recipe tonight, it seemed only right to share it today.

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Four Cookbooks I’ve Been Enjoying This Summer

four cookbooks July 2015

I’ve fallen very behind in sharing some of the terrific new cookbooks that I’ve liked recently. In an attempt to get some of them off my desk and into the blog, I’m going to post them in groups. This first group consists of four books that I think are useful, interesting, and delicious.

Steeped by Annelies Zijderveld – This slender volume contains recipes designed to help you see tea as more than something to drink hot or iced. Annelies was in Philly back in the spring and I saw her give a presentation about this book and it started my brain buzzing about all the ways to use tea to add flavor. I’ve made her Lapsang Souchong salt and love using it to add smokey flavor to tomato salads.

Summer Cocktails by Maria Del Mar Sacasa – The title might lead you to believe that this book starts and ends with liquid refreshment, but that’s not true. Sure, it’s got plenty to offer in the beverage department, but it also contains frozen treats, pickles, and even a recipe for fried chicken. A more descriptive title might have been, A Love Letter to Summer.

Yogurt Culture by Cheryl Sternman Rule – This genius book will make you deeply hungry. Cheryl spent years researching and experiencing the ways in which yogurt is made, used, and eaten all over the world, and then brought all that knowledge together. She shows that there is no time of day when yogurt is not an appropriate thing to eat. So complete is her excitement for yogurt that this book could not fully contain it. Find her continuing yogurt passion over at Team Yogurt.

Rose Water and Orange Blossoms by Maureen Abood – This deeply personal book features the food of Maureen’s Lebanese family. There are spreads, salads, vegetable-heavy main dishes, pastries, and a most glorious selection of pickles and sweet preserves. Nearly every other page of my copy is marked with sticky notes and if I didn’t have to head out soon to teach a class, I would be making her Garlicky Lentil Soup with Swiss Chard and Lemon (page 136) for dinner tonight.

What have you been cooking out of this summer?

Disclosure: All four of these books were received as review copies. However, I still mean every word I said! 

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Giveaway: Fante’s Fruit Ripener Bowl

ripener bowl with fruit

My grandma Bunny died more than 20 years ago, but my memory still holds a detailed image of her kitchen. The sink was under the windows on the left side of the room. The stove and wall oven were in the rear corner. And on the passthrough counter to the right of the entrance was where the covered plastic fruit bowl sat.

empty fruit ripener

In summer, the bowl would hold ripening peaches or apricots. In winter, persimmons would be tucked under the domed lid. Just about any time of year, a few Meyer lemons from her backyard would join the rest of the fruit. Often, there’s also be a honeydew melon perched nearby (they so rarely

bottom of fruit ripener

Recently, I got an email from the nice folks at Fante’s (a fabulous, family-owned kitchenwares store here in Philadelphia) asking if I might be interested in trying out their fruit ripening bowl. One look and I realized that it was just like the bowl that Bunny had used. I was sold before I even had a bowl in my hands.

angled fruit in bowl

The way it works is that the bowl helps retain and circulate the water vapor, ethylene gas, and carbon dioxide that the ripening fruit naturally release, helping improve and speed ripening. I’ve used it on several batches of fruit since having it in my kitchen and fine it particularly useful for softening rock hard avocados (tucking a banana in the bowl helps).

I have three of these handy bowls to give away this week. Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share how you’d use the Fante’s Fruit Ripener.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm east coast time on Saturday, August 15, 2015. The winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, August 16, 2015.
  3. Giveaway is open to US residents only (and is void where prohibited).
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left on the blog, I cannot accept submissions via email.

Disclosure: Fante’s provided the fruit ripening bowl you see pictured here at no cost to me and are also providing the giveaway units. No additional payment has been provided and all opinions expressed are my own. 

Monday Morning Odds and Ends

Maine blueberries

This weekend was an exercise in extremes for me. I spent all of Saturday engaged in the intensity of teaching. This activity took place in the classroom at the US Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., where I set up for two classes (wrangling 25 pounds of cooked beets and 50 pounds of raw carrots), taught for four hours, and then cleaned and packed up again.

Sunday, in comparison, was blessedly slow. We slept late, made pancakes, visited Scott’s mom, and took ourselves out for dinner. I also snuck away for an hour to take a walk with a dear friend. It was good.

I didn’t get a links and winners post up last night because somehow, I didn’t manage to collect any links last week (it’s rare, but does occasionally happen). So instead, I thought I’d drop in with a few updates and those Anolon Vesta braiser winners this morning. Here are the updates, in convenient list form.

  • I’m teaching a class in Carlisle, PA Tuesday evening. If you’re out that way, it’s still not too late to register. The class is from 6:30 – 8:30 pm and costs $15. Contact Deb Yorlets at 717-574-2217 to sign up.
  • There is still space in my Omega Institute (in Rhinebeck, NY) workshop at the end of the month. It’s August 28-30 and will be an immersive weekend of food preservation. If you want to join me, you can find all the details here.
  • My friend Joy and I launched a new podcast last week. Called Local Mouthful, it’s a half hour show devoted to food in Philadelphia and beyond. In the first episode, we talked about turkey burgers, Joy’s Dry July, and homemade pizza. You can listen here and subscribe here.
  • I’m going to be in Spokane August 20-23, hanging out with my husband as he attends Sasquan. I was thinking about trying to organize a canning meet-up while I’m in town. If you live in the Spokane region and would be interested in such a thing, leave a comment!

anolon braiser side

The winners of the Anolon Vesta 5-Quart Cast Iron Braiser are #79/Joy and #694/Alyson. Congratulations, ladies! To all of you who didn’t win, I will have another giveaway up later today, so stay tuned for that.

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August Sponsors: Cuppow, iLids, Mason Jar reCAP, Fillmore Container, and More!

I realized with a start this morning that we’re nearly a week into August and I’ve yet to thank the businesses who help sustain this blog (oops!). Truly, I couldn’t do it without their support. If you appreciate them as much as I do, please follow a link or two and show them that you care.

Cuppow is the creator of the original mason jar travel mug topper and the BNTO, a small plastic cup that transforms a canning jar into a snack or lunch box. They also recently expanded their product line to include branded jar coozie and they’ve teamed up with the EIO Kids Cup folks to bring the manufacturing of that kids drinking system onto US soil. I’m loving filling up a jar with iced coffee and sliding on the coozie!

iLids is a Seattle-based small business that makes both storage and drink lids in both regular and wide mouth sizes for mason jars. Their storage lids are water tight and the drink lids can accommodate a straw. Best of all, their lids come in a whole bunch of different colors, so there’s something for everyone!

Mason Jar reCAP is a company based right here in Pennsylvania. They are the producers of the original reCAP pour lid and have since expanded to include the reCAP Flip. They also sell pump and spray caps to fit regular mouth mason jars!

Fillmore Container is a family-owned business based in Lancaster, PA and sells all manner of canning jars, lids, and other preservation gear. They also publish a blog that is a very useful resource for canners. This week, they’ve been talking pressure canning!

MightyNest is an amazing resource for non-toxic, natural, and organic products for homes and families. Check out their new subscription program called Mighty Fix.

Mrs. Wages makes pectin, vinegar, and more canning mixes than I can count. Their website is an incredible preserving resource and I can’t say enough good things about their salsa mix. Sign up for their newsletter for monthly installments of canning goodness.

Fermentools offers a brilliant fermentation starter kit that involves a heavy-duty glass pickling weight, an airlock, a lid with a reusable rubber seal, and mineral-rich salt. Get one (or several!) to help turn your CSA goodies into naturally fermented pickles.

Orchard Road makes mason jars, lids, and rings for home canners. Now in their second year of business, you should be seeing their jars in more physical stores. Their online store is now open for business, so you can now order them straight from the source.

Preserving Now is a small business based in Atlanta, Georgia run by Lyn Deardorff. This summer, in addition to teaching her regular Canning Immersion Classes, Lyn has added a Summer Preserving Series at Serenbe in Atlanta and Nashville. Each class in the series features both a seasonal fruit preserve and a pickle or relish.

If your company or small business is interested in becoming a sponsor, you can find more details here. I offer discounts for multiple month purchases and am always happy to work with your budget.

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Slightly Sweet Zucchini Fridge Pickles

two jars of finished pickles

When I was in Portland a couple weeks ago, my parents’ garden was in full swing. There were pole beans, baby greens in a big tub, slicing cucumbers, and an endless number of zucchini. I spent most of my time there preoccupied by the zucchini and all the culinary options it offers.

three zucchini

I pan-fried thick rounds in olive oil and garlic one night. The next day I made a big batch of zucchini butter to spread on toast and toss with pasta. I also made a huge batch of quick zucchini pickles for my parents to layer into their sandwiches.

zucchini in food processor

One thing you might notice about this recipe is that it calls for whole grain mustard rather than dried mustard seeds. This choice was driven entirely by what my mom had available in the house. And truly, I think the prepared mustard was a really nice addition. It adds a bit of extra body to the liquid and a nice roundness to the finished pickle.

finished zucchini pickles top

Because I made these pickles with an eye towards sandwiches, the slices are pretty thin. I you prefer something a little chunkier, feel free to do a thicker cut. You could also process these in a boiling water bath. However, if you have the fridge space, the texture of the fridge version really is a bit more sturdy and toothsome (which I like). To each his own!

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