Category Archives: cooking

Blueberry Jam Tutorial

Three weeks ago, I purchased a 10lb box of blueberries from a local library fundraiser. Do you know how many blueberries are in 10 pounds?! A lot. A lot a lot. 20140629_19071920140629_190715 

 

So, what the heck were we going to do with these? I made one pie, I was eating them every day mixed in with granola and yogurt, but these activities hardly made a dent in the box.

 

We decided to make blueberry jam! It was a modified recipe (Ok, I misread the recipe) and it turned out great! It’s always nice to have a helper when you’re making jam.

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Stephanie’s Blueberry Jam Recipe:

INGREDIENTS:

5 1/2 cups crushed blueberries
4 tablespoons lemon juice
7 cups granulated sugar
1 (3-ounce) pouches liquid pectin

DIRECTIONS:

1.Simmer the jars and lids in a canning pot with the rack on bottom. Keep jars hot until you’re ready to use them. Set the screw bands aside, they do not require heating.

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Mashed blueberries and suger

2. In a large, deep stainless steel saucepan, combine crushed blueberries, lemon juice and sugar. Over high heat, stirring constantly, bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the pectin. Boil hard, stirring frequently. Check to see when the jam is set using the spoon test. Dip a metal spoon into the jam. If the jam drips off quickly, it is not set yet. If the jam coagulates and drips off slowly, it is ready to can.

 

 

 

 

 

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Boiling Blueberries

3. Working with one jar at a time, remove a jar from the canner. Place the jar on a heat-protected work surface, such as a wooden cutting board or towel. Ladle the hot jam into hot jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Slide a rubber spatula down between the food and the inside of the jar two or three times to release air bubbles. Adjust headspace if necessary, by adding more hot jam. With a clean damp cloth or paper towel, wipe jar rim and threads. Center the sealing compound on the rim of the jar. Place a screw band on the jar. With your fingers, screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight. (Do not use excessive force to tighten.) Return the jar to the rack in the hot water-filled canner. Repeat filling steps until all jars are filled.

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Six jars of blueberry jam, all ready to eat!

4. When all of the jars are in the canner, adjust the water level in the canner so that it covers the jars by at least 1 inch. Cover and bring the water to a full rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling hard and continuously, process for 10 minutes. After letting it sit in the pot with the lid off for 5 minutes, remove the jars, lifting them out of the hot water without tilting them. You don’t want to disturb the lids while the seal is being formed. Place the jars upright on a towel in a draft-free place and let cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours.

It makes a delicious topping for toast!

Next up, strawberry jam! That will have to be a different post though, because I can’t find the memory card those photos are on…

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2013 in Review

Hello, 2014! This past year has been such a crazy, busy, educational one that I hardly know where to start with my summary. A year ago this month I decided to go back to school. This was a tough decision; my husband is currently a full-time student, and I work full-time.  After much thought though, we realized that we can handle it financially, and tax-wise it was most beneficial for me to do it now. To date I have completed 19 graduate level credits, and am almost halfway through my program, while still working full-time (much of the time out in the field). 

This year we really tried to buckle down on following a budget. It was definitely rough with me travelling so much for work, but we are figuring out where our downfalls are. In an effort to try and save as much of our CSA produce as possible, I decided to learn how to can. With only being home on weekends, food wasn’t getting eaten before it was going bad. This was a great way to keep money from going to waste, and it’s giving us delicious fruits well into winter!

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I also decided that this was a great time to start a side business! My timing is, to say the least, awful. There has been so much going on that some days I feel so overwhelmed I could cry, but it has been worth it. I’ve gone from making bags and hoping people will notice them, to having a fully stocked website, an active facebook page, a presence in local craft shows, and the latest achievement- bags for sale in our new local yarn store! This has not been an easy road and there are still many challenges ahead, but I am sure I can handle it.

Knitting has been slow this year. With all this chaos, knitting has sadly fallen by they wayside. Even so, there have been a few finished projects this year! Below is a gallery of my 2013 FO’s.

Ok, so technically the Opulant Raglan is currently blocking and still needs ends woven in, but the knitting was finished before the year ends, so I am counting it. 

I will be casting on my annual New Year’s Cast-on-along project here soon. My goals for this year are varied; can more, stress less, knit more, run more. We’ve already decided on doing two sprint triathalons this year, and I cannot wait!

Do you make resolutions, or set goals instead? Or do you just ignore all of that, and just plan on enjoying everything 2014 sends your way?

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Canning Achievement: Unlocked!

Growing up I was always aware that my grandmother did a variety of preserving different items, but it never really piqued my interest. As a kid, who cared if you canned it? Pickles were gross, and fruit was meant to be eaten right away! Canning seemed pointless and something I would never be interested in.

Enter 2012. It seems that when one begins to engage in rustic activities such as knitting, it slowly leads to more. From knitting came spinning, and from spinning came the desire to know where my food came from at a better depth than “the grocery store.” Sure, stuff from the store is fine, but I kept hearing stories about how home grown produce has so much more flavor, and was a much richer experience all around. I wanted to check this out. So, in the spring of 2012, we joined a CSA. Everything I heard was absolutely true. I never knew tomatoes actually had flavor! The ones from the store always felt like I was eating cardboard! On top of that, we got a variety of fruits and vegetables I have never heard of or tried, and learned that there are a number of items I really enjoy. $400 for 26 weeks was a great deal- we definitely got more than $15 worth of food in each box, and I think the added value of having items picked within the last 48-72 hours was worth it.

But we quickly had a problem: We couldn’t eat it all fast enough! Last year was upsetting because we did end up wasting so much. It was a lot of food, and while we were attempting to eat healthier, we just couldn’t eat all of it. This year we signed up to split the CSA with my parents, but it was still more food than we could eat in a reasonable amount of time. So then what do you do?

That’s when I remembered my grandmother’s canning, and wondered how much of our produce I could do that for. Turns out, almost all of it! Our CSA does a few days a summer where we can pick as much of a certain item as we want at a low or no cost. This seemed like a great opportunity to start! When J’s parents were visiting this past month, we took everyone out for peach picking. $13 for a half bushel, and that half bushel held a LOT of peaches. I bought some pint size canning jars and decided to dive right in!

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Unfortunately, I seem to have lost the first photo I took of the set-up prior to canning. I would also like to point out that this was the second canning event- I had already done a case of pint jars, and needed to finish up the peaches. So this was just the last of the peaches from the picking. I have already given 2 jars to my parents, and 2 to some friends. There is no way we would eat half a bushel of peaches ourselves, canned or not!

When I wasn’t canning yesterday, I was doing some knitting. Doesn’t this look like the perfect Saturday morning, right here?

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It would have been a lot more relaxing if the purpose hadn’t been to do a final troubleshoot on a pattern I’ve been working on. I plan on releasing it next week, but I need to make sure the pattern works 100% the way it is supposed to before publishing. So far it’s only been tiny mistakes, but in doing this I need to focus solely on my knitting.

So that’s my weekend: knitting, canning, coffee, oh and bonfires. Everything about my weekend shouts “it’s fall!” and I love it. 

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Recipe Day 3 – Corn and Potato Chowder

This is hands-down my favorite recipe. I made it once, and we finished off a whole pot in one night. The second time around I doubled the recipe, partially because we eat it so fast, and partially because we get so much corn and potato in our crop share, that I had to do SOMETHING before it went bad!

Corn and Potato Chowder:

Ingredients
1 Tbsp butter
1/4 lb bacon
1 chopped onion
2 chopped green peppers
1 clove minced garlic
2 Tbsp flour
4 C chicken broth
4-6 medium finely diced potatoes
1 1/2 C shredded carrot (about 2 carrots)
2 C fresh corn kernels
1 C half-and-half
1/2 tsp Thyme
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Directions: Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp. remove bacon and pat dry on paper towel. Set aside.

Toss in chopped onion and peppers, and saute with some salt and pepper for about 5 minutes, or until tender. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Add flour to the vegetable mix, then add the broth and diced potatoes. Cover the pot and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes. Add the shredded carrots and corn. Cover and simmer for another 5 minutes to blend the flavors. 

 

 

Stir in the half and half, thyme, and additional pepper. Crumble the set aside bacon, then add to the soup. Serve Hot!

 
 
 

 

I forgot to get a photo of the soup in the pot again, but this give you an idea. I made a double batch and froze most of it, so now I have delicious corn chowder to look forward to all winter! It tastes amazing with fresh, homemade  bread to dip into it. enjoy!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Recipes: Day 2 Creamy Tomato Soup

We have been getting a ton of tomatoes in our CSA box this year. I can’t keep up, and I hate seeing them go to waste. So what do you do with pounds of tomatoes? Make tomato soup! I make a huge batch and freeze it, so that when cold weather comes I can still enjoy the taste of our fresh tomatoes. 

Ingredients:

8 cups of seeded and finely chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/3 cup (1 10.75oz can) of chicken broth
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
1 cup light cream (you can substitute 2% milk for lower fat and calories)
1/2 tsp celery salt
2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Chop onions and tomatoes and place in  a large pot. Bring the vegetables to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to medium-low. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the chicken broth, sugar and salt. 

 

 

 

 

 

In a small saucepan, melt the butter on medium to low heat,  then slowly whisk in the flour. Slowly add in the cream, whisking constantly until it thickens, making sure not to burn it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slowly add the cream mixture to the stockpot. Add the celery salt, basil, black pepper and garlic powder. Simmer on low for about an hour, until it reduces and thickens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the soup is finished, you can either puree it with an immersion blender or in a traditional blender. I currently have to go the traditional blender route.

And there you have it! Easy homemade creamy tomato soup. Perfect for those fall evenings that are sneaking up on us.

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Homemade Applesauce

Fall is finally showing up, and I want to share an easy way to make homemade applesauce. There’s not High Fructose Corn Syrup, and you can sweeten it as little or as much as you want. Plus, who doesn’t love fresh applesauce?

 

Ingredients:

8-12 apples. I used a variety: Gala, Jonathan, Rambo and Honeycrisp. I like the variety of apple flavors

1 lemon peel

1tsp lemon juice

2 Tbsp ground cinnamon

5 Tbsp brown sugar (loosely packed)

Peel, core and slice the apples. Place all ingredients into the crockpot, and cook on low for 6 hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When it’s done, you can mash with a potato masher for a chunky applesauce, or blend with an immersion blender for a more pureed version.

 Cool, serve, and enjoy!

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