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Posts Tagged ‘jam’

I’m still learning about what it means to live in Texas.  I never knew cactus was edible (or even BBQ’d) until I’d been here a while.  Cactus “leaves” as well as the purple “fruit” called prickly pear!  Once your brain stops fighting the urge to shrivel up and die from the heat, you can see the glorious variety of locally grown food.

When we bought our first home our friends K&R gave us a plant.  K said to plant it anywhere and it should grow just fine.  At the time I had no intentions of growing much in my new clay and rock bed aka back yard so the gift was plopped in a hole the first place I could dig into the soil.  There it sat, all alone along the back fence of the yard.  This little gal almost met her maker when the fence was ripped out and replaced by higher-than-standard fencing.  She grew a bit each year without so much as a drink of water from me.

This spring there was fruit.

Fruit that was astringent and sweet.  This fruit reminded me of crab apples I grew up eating on the farm.  But the flesh was softer than an apple and yellow.  The neighbourhood birds flock to feast on the small clusters of mysterious golden fruit.  I remained puzzled for a few days until I saw a post on the AFBA Facebook page about Loquat Jelly.  Loquat?  It that what they’re called?!?  I have the Golden Nugget variety which is supposed to taste like apricot.

Now that I know what these are called, I made jam!

I followed the recipe for jam on the Ball No-Sugar mini package (it’s for two 8 oz jars) and used water, fresh lemon juice, loquats, and honey.  Since the pectin formula does not rely on a bunch of sugar you can adjust the jam to your taste.  I’ve found this method makes the fruit sing and you won’t have a sugar buzz from eating you jam with toast.   It’s best to carefully follow the directions on the package when it comes to home-made jams, trust me I’ve made some weird stuff trying to wing it.

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What fuels addiction? 

Why can it be so different between people, like a special snowflake cut out of the winter sky, just for you? 

I may not have those answers for you, but I can at least speak to my own addiction to Jam.

strawberry jam

You must be visualizing a girl sitting in the kitchen licking the inside of every jar which could be found in the refrigerator and cupboard.  Then freaking out when the glass container squeaks pronouncing “I’m clean, there’s no more!”  Eyes bulging, claws protruding she tears through the house searching, hunting for more delicious sticky jam.  That’s not me, not exactly anyways.

For me, this addiction is about making the jam.  Eating the jam is purely a bonus after the fact.  I love making jam.  This is a new thing for me, just in the last six months.  I guess there’s always something that motivates me to the edge of madness.  Le mode d’aujourd’hui is jam.

I spent last night making two batches of fresh strawberry jam.  One with lemon zest (just a touch) and Splenda (for those who watch their sugar intake), another with a hint of fresh mango (and cane sugar).  I’ve been so stressed out lately, making this jam was my way out.  Hull, slice, slice.  Hull, slice, slice. Hull, slice, slice!  My mind could rarely wander away from the task at hand, or else fingers would end up in the mix or glass would have fallen and surely shattered on the tile floor.  The warm mist from the canner was like a mini facial.  I tasted the fruit here and there to check the acidity and sweetness before adding sugar.  Stir  stir  stir  stir.  The aroma of the red mash bubbling in the pot overtook the whole house, even Pepper, our Boston Terrier, was curious and came inside sniffing the air.

 

I was sad to see that the second batch was all poured in the half pint jars ready for one last dunk in the canning pot.  When will I do this again?  How quickly can I consume the nine jars waiting on the counter (plus the two in the fridge from the batch made in May)? 

People used to can food (and some still do of course) out of necessity because it could be stored without refrigeration.  And if you grow your own food, it’s wonderful to can some for winter so you can enjoy the output of the garden between growing seasons.  These days, there’s a grocery store, corner shop, or pharmacy stocked with shelf-stable canned goods – why bother doing it yourself?  Because… I like making jam.

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jalepeno colby drop biscuit

On a complete whim at the grocery store, I bought half a dozen jalapeño peppers.  The thought even crossed my mind… I have a Serrano plant at home!  Unfortunately, this plant of mine has fallen behind in producing a nice crop of peppers.  Last year I was overloaded with perfect little peppers.  They must need more pot ash, and maybe a tad more TLC…

The second problem was a shortage of bread.  I’ve been trying to lose this darn muffin-top after our second baby, bread is a no-no.  I do keep it around for sandwiches and PBB toast (that’s peanut butter banana toast, just regular toast not Elvis peanut butter and banana & bacon) for the eldest, now five years old.  I decided biscuits would be the fastest thing to make to satisfy that urge to go overturn a Mrs. Baird’s truck.

While assembling the ingredients for the biscuits, the peppers sent me a message… eat me.  I grabbed the fattest one from the bunch and the colby jack cheese next to it in the deli drawer of the fridge.  A smirk slapped itself upon my face.  Outrageous, I would have not only fresh steaming biscuits… they were going to be studded with cheese and peppers.  My mouth felt like it was Niagara Falls. 

I can’t tell you how good these were, you’d have to come over next time this feeling washes in.  Hot steam rushes out of the tender center of the baked mound.  Then there’s the outer crust, dimpled and uneven, showing glimpses of the special additions made at the last second.  If I had sprinkled sea salt over top before baking, the biscuits would have to be heavily guarded by the RCMP.  Next time, my pretties, next time.  As they were, you can see, deliciousness.

Half of the biscuits ended up in the freezer, because this batch was way too good to let it go stale lying around waiting to be devoured.  Freezing was actually mentioned in the cookbook I was using (Better Homes and Gardens) and I’ve just warmed up a couple darlin’s as a midnite snack.

jam and biscuits

Now I’ve upped the ante.

Oh look, there’s fresh strawberry-mango jam in the fridge.  Jalapeño and strawberry?  Hmmm… how bad could it be?!  Not freaking bad at all!  There’s nothing better than homemade biscuits with homemade jam.  Pair it with a favorite cup of tea and you’ll have yourself a very pleasant nite.

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