As mentioned in my previous post, I loves me some lemon. Lemon curd is one of my favorite things to spread on toast, dollop on scones, stir into plain Greek yogurt (or layer with granola in a dessert-for-breakfast parfait), or just eat straight off a spoon. It’s also darn good in a tart shell or as a Danish filling, which is the reason I came across this particular incarnation.
This past Thanksgiving weekend was full of turkey and family and more turkey. We had a wonderful dinner at our house on Sunday night with Nate’s parents, my parents, and my Aunt, who is visiting from California. Our families had never met before but they got along like a house on fire. There was lots of laughter, much of it due to Nate’s Dad’s hilarious stories. I cooked the turkey, and I now I know that a fresh turkey takes a considerably longer time to cook than a previously-frozen one. I am thankful for my mother’s expertly-honed turkey-cooking skills and advice, thankful for the dinner guests who did not mind waiting an extra two hours for the turkey to be done, and thankful that somehow, the turkey was still moist and delicious (the secret is bacon!).
May 19 is Food Revolution Day. This is a “day of action” organized by the Jamie Oliver Foundation to promote better food and food education – essentially, to get more people engaged in the acts of growing, buying, cooking, and eating real food. Food enthusiasts are encouraged to take part by hosting Food Revolution events that focus on getting back to basics, learning healthy food habits, and understanding the importance of where food comes from (ie, grown on a farm and prepared at home from scratch versus industrially processed, individually wrapped, and sold ready-to-eat at the store). I am currently re-reading Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which relates to these issues, and Food Revolution Day really struck a chord with me. I wanted to “host” something on my blog, but I wasn’t sure what. Continue reading
In general, one of the draws of cooking and baking at home is that whatever you make usually ends up being less expensive than if you’d bought it at the store. Unfortunately, this mayonnaise, made with avocado oil and Meyer lemons, turned out to be exactly the opposite of that: much much more expensive than any mayonnaise I would ever buy at the store.
Quite a while ago, I got it into my head to make mayonnaise with avocado oil and Meyer lemon after my uncle posted about it on his blog – it just sounded so good – and then when I finally got around to making it and discovered that a little bottle of avocado oil is fifteen dollars (!!), I was already committed. Sometimes I get overly gung-ho about a project.
Luckily, avocado oil is not a compulsory ingredient, and you could make this mayonnaise with any kind of mildly-flavoured vegetable oil. Next time I will probably use grape seed oil, and I anticipate that the results will be just as good. For that matter, any variety of lemon – Meyer or otherwise – would also work, but in this case, Meyer lemons add a nice light perfume to the mayonnaise. Regardless of the ingredients you use, homemade mayo is super easy to make and is great on a sandwich, wonderful for dipping roast potatoes, and makes awesome egg or chicken salad.
In a blender jar (immersion blender or otherwise), combine the following in order:
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice (2 tbsp if using Meyer lemons)
1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 cup mildly-flavoured vegetable oil (avocado oil if you’re feeling extravagant)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Blend until thick and creamy.
1-2 tsp lemon zest (optional)
Store in an airtight jar in the fridge. Slather on anything you want to make more delicious.
After the success of the peach butter I made a little while ago, I have become seriously enamoured with making jam, inspired mostly by Food in Jars. I think what I like about this whole canning/preserving thing is that I get to make something delicious and sweet but don’t have to feel bad about eating it, because you don’t eat an entire batch of jam at once. I’ll admit that sometimes I feel a bit guilty after making a bunch of cookies, because it means I will be on a sugar binge until they’re all gone – because you gotta eat them while they’re fresh, right? But jam is different. I feel so thrifty and satisfied looking at the filled jars on the shelf – plus there’s all this fantastic fruit around right now, and what better way to use it than to save it for later!
Be sure to follow the proper procedure for canning to ensure that the food is shelf-stable and safe to eat. I follow the canning instructions from Canadian Living.
Spiced Plum Jam
Inspired by the Honey-Sweetened Skillet Stonefruit Jam on Food in Jars. I didn’t have any honey but I did have a bowlful of prune plums from the tree in our backyard and this seemed like the perfect thing to do with a small amount of fruit before it went bad! The cinnamon comes from the plum coffeecake with cinnamon struesel that my mum used to make.
Makes slightly more than enough to fill 2 half-pint jars.
Combine and let macerate over night:
2 2/3 cups pitted and chopped prune plums
2/3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cups granulated sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon (or a cinnamon stick)
juice of 1/2 lemon
(If you want, you can skip the macerating step and just combine all the ingredients in the skillet.)
Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until it starts to thicken, get syrupy, and turn a deep reddish-purple. You know it is done when it reaches 220˚F or when you can draw a line with you finger through the jam on the back of the spoon. Remove the cinnamon stick, if using (or break it in half to put in each jar). Pour the jam into two sterilized half-pint jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Sit back and listen for the “ping” as the jars seal .
Again, inspired by the Small Batch Strawberry Vanilla Jam on Food in Jars. I knew I wanted to try this recipe and I just happened to find these local strawberries on sale – end of the season! I only had one and a half vanilla beans in the cupboard, so I added a little vanilla extract as well (feel free to use more vanilla beans instead).
Makes exactly enough to fill 4 half-pint jars.
Combine and macerate over night:
2 cups hulled and chopped strawberries (about 2.5 lbs)
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 vanilla bean pods (split and scraped) and seeds
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
juice of 1 1/2 lemons or limes
(If you want, you can skip the macerating step and just combine all the ingredients in the pot.)
Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until it starts to thicken, get syrupy, and turn a darker red. You know it is done when it reaches 220˚F or when you can draw a line with you finger through the jam on the back of the spoon. Pour the jam into four sterilized half-pint jars, with a piece of vanilla bean in each jar, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Sit back and listen for the “ping” as the jars seal .
As soon as I saw the post for peach butter on smitten kitchen, I knew I was going to be making some (actually, I think that for most of the recipes she posts). My mum used to make peach butter when I was little and I could practically devour a whole jar in one sitting. So good. Okanagan peaches are in season here (88 cents a pound!) so I came home with 4 lbs the other day and got down to preserving. I’ve never actually canned anything on my own before, but I managed pretty well: I have a good collection of half pint jars (great for shaking up a quick salad dressing), I bought some canning lids and rings, and I used a large stock pot for the boiling water bath. I got a “home canning kit” as well, which included a jar funnel, rubberized jar tongs, and a handy magnetized lid picker-upper. I had to turn some of the jars on their side in the water bath because the stock pot wasn’t quite tall enough to cover them in water, but it didn’t seem to make any difference to the final product, which is DELICIOUS. Pure peach flavour, not too sweet… yum. Make this and eat it on toast – or better yet, banana bread .
Smitten Peach Butter
Recipe from smitten kitchen. Makes about 4 cups – I ended up with three half-pint jars and two slightly smaller jars. If you don’t want to can this, you could always freeze it à la freezer jam. To purée the peaches, you can use a food mill if you have one (in which case, skip the peeling/blanching steps and leave the skin on the peaches, then process through the food mill after they have simmered into softness) or you can use an immersion blender, which is what I did. It means you have to peel the peaches but it’s not hard, I promise!
For this recipe, you will need:
4 lbs peaches (about 7 or 8 peaches)
2 cups granulated sugar
juice of 1 lemon
To peel the peaches, cut an X in the bottom of each peach. Submerge the peaches in boiling water for about 30 seconds, then remove to a bowl of cool water for about 1 minute. Peel off the skins – they should come off fairly easily. When your peaches are naked, pit them and cut into eight pieces (cut into quarters, then cut each quarter in half lengthwise). Place them in a large pot with 1 cup of water. Bring the peaches and water to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally to ensure all the pieces cook evenly, until the peaches are tender, 20-30 minutes. When the peach chunks can be easily squished with a wooden spoon against the side of the pot, remove the pot from the heat and purée the peaches with an immersion blender until very smooth. Add the sugar and lemon juice and stir. Return the pot to the heat and bring to a vigorous simmer. Let the peach purée bubble happily, stirring occasionally so nothing sticks on the bottom of the pot, until it is thick and deeply peach-coloured and the bubbles start to look syrupy. This could take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour (or more). I knew it was done when a ribbon of purée sort of held its shape for a few seconds when drizzled on top of the rest of the butter. When the peach butter is done, either can it (instructions below) or let it cool, then store in airtight containers in the fridge (up to 2 weeks) or freezer.
To can the peach butter:
I got my canning tips from Canadian Living. If you’re a newbie canner like I am, definitely read up on the proper canning procedure – it’s a science and can be dangerous if done improperly. Nobody likes botulism poisoning! Also check out Food in Jars for great canning advice and recipes.
Sterilize 4-5 half-pint canning jars by boiling them in a water bath for 10 minutes. Divide the hot peach butter between the jars, leaving about 1 cm of head space. Wipe the jar rims and top each with a canning lid, then screw on the ring and tighten. Process in a boiling water bath (water covering the jars by at least 1 inch) for 10 minutes. Remove the jars and let them cool completely (overnight) on a towel. Listen for the “ping” of the jars sealing as they cool (this is very satisfying!). Store any jars that don’t seal properly in the fridge and eat them first. Store the sealed jars in a dark cupboard at room temperature.
I spent the weekend on Salt Spring Island for my 10 year high school reunion (I cannot believe it has been 10 years – I don’t feel old enough for that yet!). It was a really great weekend, full of sunshine, old friends, and good food – including some of the Salt Spring classics: dough boys covered in cinnamon-sugar at the Saturday Market, pesto-cheese twists from Barb’s Buns (now apparently Barb’s Bakery and Bistro), and the tuna melt at the Tree House Cafe. I have to admit though, one of my favorite things about going to Salt Spring is eating vegetables out of my Mum’s garden. She is an avid gardener and has a huge garden that produces all kinds of delicious things, including these salad greens, which traveled back to Victoria with me:
We ate quite a few salads while I was visiting, all dressed with Glory Sauce – a delicious, creamy, tangy dressing made with nutritional yeast. I first had a dressing very similar to this at Strathcona Lodge a few years back, and it was literally the best salad dressing I’d ever tasted, but I couldn’t recreate it. I was over the moon when my Mum made this stuff and gave me the recipe. It seems quite fitting to be sharing it after a weekend on Salt Spring because not only does nutritional yeast make a killer salad dressing, it is also what practically every Salt Springer puts on their popcorn, so much so that the local movie theatre supplies a shaker of nutritional yeast! Anyone not from Salt Spring, have you ever heard of this/tried it? I’m curious to know if it is really just a Salt Spring thing. Most non-Islanders who encounter it think it’s pretty weird…
Anyway, back to salad. I made myself a salad for lunch with these greens, half a can of tuna, some cherry tomatoes, a handful of toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), and of course Glory Sauce. Mmm mmm. I suggest you do something similar! Click for the recipe!