Saturday, August 31, 2013

Weekend Reading

Aggressive Cuddling

Good morning, and happy Labor Day Weekend! I hope you, too, have some aggressive cuddling in your future. It does a body good- pass it on.

You all are probably way ahead of me here, but have you watched Sherlock at all? It is good. And each episode is a whopping hour and a half, so it feels really full and juicy. I started watching it on Netflix this week, and I know I'm going to be super sad when I get to the end of their inventory. Have you come across any good tv lately?

Anyway, onto links:
Mark Bittman on how to make jam and that not all industrial food is evil. That second one feels like it ends kinda soon, but still worth a read.

Canning inspiration from Northwest Edible Life's Can-o-rama 2013. Holy. Smokes.

Salmonella in spices? oh dear.

Looking for some new Pinspiration? The Kitchn suggests 13 boards you should follow for mouthwatering food and drink. Of course, I'm partial to mine

From The Huffington Post a list of 9 ingredients to add a boost of nutrition to your next meal

For the smartphone addicts, a short film you must watch. And then put your phone away for the weekend.

An interesting look at fertility and infertility in Africa from PRI's The World

An easy way to do some good and help low income folks eat better with a text.

Finally, here's what looks super yummy to me right now:
--Butterscotch Pudding Popsicles
--Caprese Mac 'n Cheese
--Fig, Brie, and Caramelized Onion Pizza
--Homemade Kahlua
--Small Batch Cinnamon Rolls

Anything you want to share with the class?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Framable Quote - free printable

Happy Friday! I hope you have had a good week and are looking forward to a long weekend. For those who do not get an extra day off (me included!), I hope you make the most of what you do get. I'm thinking about tackling one of our many house projects. Here's a clue! Mr Official Taster bought a saw last tonight so that he can start building a fish tank stand. Not going to lie- I'm a little nervous about how that's going to go. He's made one successfully before, but there was a lot of help from our old neighbor. Hopefully he learned all he needed to last time! I have no doubt that a lot of cursing will be involved, no matter what.

I will be back tomorrow with another installment of weekend reading, but in the meantime, I thought I'd share this free printable. I like both the quote and that you get a choice of design. I don't know about you, but after a long week, I often have to try especially to be kind.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Raspberry Coconut Bread, or is it Cake? - vegan, or not

Raspberry Coconut Bread, vegan or not

Friends, I have a problem. I can't decide what to call this sweet, delicate, summery thing I'm eating. On the one hand, it's a quick bread, totally appropriate for toast and a pat of butter (or perhaps this new coconut spread? I sampled it, and it was delicious. And, no, not sponsored, just my own two cents). On the other hand, I'm sitting here, feeding myself with a fork between sentences. Who eats bread with a fork? Not me. sigh #firstworldproblems

Monday, August 26, 2013

New Kitchen, New Knobs

kitchen, before

A month ago, Mr Official Taster and I got keys to our very own home, and then we moved in over the following week or so. Needless to say, the past couple of months have been rather hectic and task-filled. I'm not complaining! No, if anything I am more grateful every day to come home to a place I already love. I know it's only going to get better.

so much brass

As with any new place, we have a running list of things to do, to fix, to paint, to change, to replace, etc. Some of the things on the list won't be happening anytime soon, some will happen over a weekend (painting!), and some are quick, cheap, and can really happen whenever we decide. Our first couple projects fell in the last category.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Weekend Reading

Happy weekend, folks! In case you missed it, this week was Jam Week. I included recipes and printables and lists, oh my!
Hopefully, besides a dinner with friends, I will be spending the weekend doing as little as possible. Oh, except maybe finishing up my re-read of Harry Potter. Hmmm maybe I can find a way to ward off The Mondays?

Anyhow, onto this week's finds:

What are you up to this weekend? What are you reading these days?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Free, Printable Canning Labels round up

Happy Friday! As Jam Week comes to a close, that means a bunch of free printables I've found for you guys. I hope this week has inspired you to make some jam, or at least think about making jam. If the jam doesn't, maybe the cute labels will?

That first image above of some very nice chalkboard style freezer and canning labels are by Lia Griffith and can be found here. If the kitchen-organizing bugs hits, check out her similarly styled pantry labels and herb and spice labels.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Blackberry Peach Jam - vegan, gluten free, and free of just about everything else

Blackberry Peach Jam from above

Jam Week 2013 soldiers on! Yesterday afternoon, I shared some of what I've learned about jamming and canning over the past few summers, and I'd love to hear from you all. So head over and leave a comment!

Today's jam doesn't have a secret, glamorous name, but it is a yummy riff on a classic flavor combination. I made this when the fridge was broken during The Great Refrigerator Debacle of 2013, and I'm quite pleased with how it turned out, aside from the small mistake of cooking it down too far. My batch is rather...stiff..for jam, but it still tastes good, and since I only plan on gifting it to people with good manners, I probably won't hear any complaints. You, however, will take care to watch yours more carefully, eh?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What I've Learned (so far!) About Canning

Red & Black Raspberry Jam

I hope canning week is as fun for you all as it has been for me! It's been a challenge - a good one - to get one or two posts up per day, rather than the same number per week. It was a lot easier to post more often when I wasn't working full time! I've been canning for a couple summers now, and this week of writing about it has forced me to think about what I've learned in that time. I don't consider myself a pro by any stretch of the imagination, but I've gathered together some of what I've learned about jamming and canning. In no particular order:
  • You don't have to can. You can make a small batch, and if you'll eat it relatively quickly, you can just store it in the fridge. You can also simply freeze jam (be sure to use freezer safe containers and leave enough room for the expansion that happens during freezing).
  • Cleanliness counts. I am adamant about thoroughly cleaning my jars, lids, bands, pots, spoons, and canning tools every time. Even though they are clean when I pull them out of the drawer, I rewash thermometers, spoons, etc before I use them. It may be overkill, but it helps keep my mind at ease that I am doing everything I possibly can to make my preserves safe.

Raspberry, Honey & Lemon Jam - vegan, gluten free, and free of just about everything else

Raspberry Honey & Lemon Jam at attention

Have you been inspired to purchase a bizzillion pounds of fruit and make jam yet? Maybe this one will do it. During my jamboree (pun totally intended), I also made some plain ole raspberry jam, only this time I cut the sugar waaay back. Instead of nine cups of raspberries and six cups of sugar, I used just three. And, people, it was life-changing. Of course I love sweet things, but with less sugar, the pure taste of the ripe raspberries really came through, and there was just a hint of the fruit's natural tang. Heaven.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

How to Have Your Best Farmers' Market Visit

10 tips for a Great Farmers' Market Visit

As longtime readers know, I really, really like farmers' markets. For me, it's the total package. I love being outside, surrounded by food and people who love food. I love supporting my local economy and knowing that I'm helping support small farmers and small business. I love smelling tomatoes picked that morning. I love the anticipation of visiting my favorite peach stall and tasting the current offerings. I love coming home with something new. 

So in the spirit of spreading the love, here are my tips for you to have your best farmers' market visit:
  1. Decide on your goals. Do you want to buy the best looking produce and have the most selection, or do you want to go for larger quantities at a discount? Think about what you want to make ahead of time so you have a few ideas to work from. On the flip side, be prepared to be inspired or to learn something new.
  2. If you want the best quality and the most selection, go as close to the opening of the market as you can. Vendors will have the best selection early, before they start to sell out.
  3. If you want to get large quantities of produce for preserving (jams, pesto, tomato sauce, etc), then go towards the end of the market. You may not be able to buy exactly what you want (farmers may have sold out of blackberries, for example), so be prepared to be flexible and have several ideas in mind. Typically, near the end of the day, farmers will want to get rid of their perishables, so you should be able to pay somewhat less money per pound/flat/bunchPro tip: for your sanity, don't buy more to preserve than you can reasonably accomplish. For example, last week I bought basil for pesto, berries, and peaches. I did not buy tomatoes to make sauce or paste with. Just some for eating. Maybe next week I'll tackle tomatoes. Know your limits!

Raspberry Peach Jam - vegan, gluten free, and free of just about everything else

Peach Melba Jam

I first made this jam a couple of years ago, and it's as good as I remember, probably because it combines two of Summer's best: raspberries and peaches. Their flavors compliment each other beautifully. I found it in Well Preserved by Mary Anne Dragan, and not only does it have yummy components, but her charming name - Peach Melba Jam - makes it sound dreamy. According to Dragan, "Peach Melba is a classic dessert created by the great French chef Escoffier in honor of a famous opera singer named Nellie Melba." For more details, I read Wikipedia's entry, and I'm pleased to report that reading more about it only makes it seem more glamorous.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Red & Black Raspberry Jam - vegan, gluten free, and free of just about everything else

dark and dreamy Red & Black Raspberry Jam

Happy Monday, folks, and welcome to Jam Week! I've been a busy bee in the kitchen lately, and as a result, I have a week's worth of posts for you all about jam. If you have no interest in jam, I apologize, but really, tis the season. I started slowly in July with blackberry jam and apricot butter, but, lately, well, things have taken off.

First, our refrigerator broke right after we moved in and right after I stocked up at the farmers' market. So, really, I had to make some jam before the delicate summer fruits molded over. Then, I friend at work wanted to learn to can, and while I definitely don't consider myself an expert, at least I've done it a few times and I'm not nearly as terrified as I was when I started. So we visited the farmers' market near closing time and got some terrific deals. I'm talking $10 flats of gorgeous organic raspberries. oh. my. word. Let's just say my jam supply is in good shape now.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Moving is a pain

I wish I was here today with a fabulous new recipe, photos of some cute DIY-thingie, or even promises of such to come. Alas, moving is a pain in the tookus.

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you will have seen whispers of DIY projects, moving boxes, and farmers' market produce. You may have also read about a non-working refrigerator. All of those items have come together and conspired against you. Yes, you. It's you who doesn't get a yummy new recipe to make this week. Sorry about that, folks.

On the plus side, I did make two kinds of jam and some pea pesto (the freezer was still freezing) to save some of my produce.

The refrigerator repairman just left, and he promises me that it's working, at least for as long as it takes to get a part so he can fix it permanently. So my fingers are crossed.

In the meantime, I did find some interesting things to share with you for a new installment of Weekend Reading, um, last week(!?), and it seems a shame to let them go to waste, so here are just a few items of note:
What's been going on in your busy lives?
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