Sunday, October 30, 2011

Yay for lots of color!

I unpacked my souvenirs today, upon returning from England and found that most of the things I purchased are very colorful and fun. This just makes me happy!

Matthew and I didn't buy quite as many souvenirs on this trip to England, which is a good thing considering the size of our apartment, but I also figured that I'd just pick out a few things to post instead of posting a barrage of souvenir photos like I did a couple of years ago. It was kind of terrible and annoying =)

Macarons from Pierre Herme. I tried these in Japan and they were very good. So, when I saw them at Selfridges, I had to buy a few. And, they miraculously survived the trip back in one of the Dr. Who mugs. Yes, more mugs. arg!

Okay, well this isn't very colorful but I'm really, really excited to try it out. I love! chestnuts. What to do with it? I am taking any suggestions since squeezing it directly into my mouth might seem a bit boorish.

The craziest and brightest shoes I've ever owned. How will I ever manage to match these to an outfit? I can barely put together a decent outfit when I'm working with all black and grey. This might be a screaming disaster!

Since there was no way I'd be able to afford an actual dress from Fair, I bought this darling bag with a dress on it. It's just so pretty and fun!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

fall flavors, fall colors

Today, I felt like finally admitting the fact that Fall has come and summer is gone. I've replaced my nectarines and canning with rich, warming German dishes; never mind the fact that it will be 90 degrees tomorrow and the next day!

So, in celebration of fall I made Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage to pair with Kongisberger Klopse and Spatzle. I used the recipes from Horst Mager's cookbook "My Favorite Recipes," because everything I've made from his cookbook turns out perfectly every time.

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

Copied from My Favorite Recipes by Horst Mager

This is Horst Mager's Mother's recipe and he suggests eating it with sauerbraten, roast pork, duck or goose, or potato pancakes.

2 pound head of red cabbage

4 small onions

4 tablespoons bacon fat or butter

¼ cup red wine vinegar

¼ cup red wine

¼ cup beef or chicken stock

¼ cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon ground clove

1 bay leaf

1 large Granny Smith type apple, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons red currant jelly

salt and black pepper to taste

Remove outside(damaged) leaves of red cabbage and cut cabbage into quarters. Cut stem out and discard. Cut cabbage into matchstick sized strips. Cut the onions paper-thin. Heat butter or bacon fat in a heavy-bottomed pan and saute apples and onions until golden brown. Add vinegar, stock, red wine, red currant jelly, bay leaf, salt, pepper, ground cloves and sugar to this mixture. Loosely place red cabbage into mixture and cover with a lid. Braise for about one hour over low heat, stirring occasionally to make sure the cabbage does not scorch on the bottom of the pan. Remove lid and allow to cook for another 10-15 minutes to allow liquid to evaporate.

In addition to making tasty warming foods, I purchased an adorable fall towel at the hardware store because I couldn't bear to leave with only some boring batteries for the kitchen scale. So, this hopped into my hand and only my towel rack and now I love it!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

deliciously improper nectarine jam

As a commenter (thanks Kirk!!) to my last post pointed out, I have indeed been jammin.'

While the end of the growing season never fully stops here in San Diego, a lot of the really good stuff disappears right around now, all the fruits with the flavors that remind us of summer and warm days, the foods that we want to enjoy during the cold months in the form of jams and canned goods. Admittedly, these sorts of preparations are not in any way necessary here in San Diego with our 65-70 degree weather year round, but it's still fun to get into the spirit of preserving; it invokes the feeling of the end of summer and the beginning of a new season, and I find it to be a perfect mental clue for my Southern California sun addled brain that Fall is on it's way!

So, contrary to some of the ideas that I've, over the years, absorbed from the jam making/canning purists in my family, I can make a perfectly edible jam using gelatin(the stuff that's usually used for making jello). I know! using gelatin to make jam seems completely crazy, but is actually kind of fun. Now, this does not produce a jam that can be processed and saved for years, in fact, it's intended to be eaten rather quickly, like within a month or two if it isn't frozen.

My favorite aspect of jammin' with gelatin, instead of pectin, stems from the fact that sugar isn't an important factor for it to jell and turn the fruit into jam. I used just a sprinkle of sugar for the nectarine jam that I made, which cut down on calories and will enable me to really pile on the jam, thus enabling Matthew to say "are you having a little toast with your jam?" So, as you can see, making jam with gelatin is just a lot more fun all around!

I thought that I would have trouble finding a recipe for making jam with gelatin because of the fact that most jam purists would never sully the good name of jam by using gelatin as the thickening agent, but it wasn't really a problem. In fact, I found a great recipe from a long trusted source, the OSU Extension Service; I remember my mother calling the OSU Extension office several times during the summer months when I was growing up. The Extension office always had an answer, even to the most unusual or difficult of food science questions.

I'm sure it is no surprise that I used the recipe more as a guide line than an exact recipe, since I rarely, if ever, follow a recipe to the letter:

I used nectarines for the recipe; I also used about 4 cups of fruit so increased the amount of gelatin to 2 tsp(also, the packet contained 2 tsp of gelatin and I really didn't want to save a 1/2 tsp of gelatin to use later and of course, I would never throw out such a rare and expensive ingredient as gelatin). Unfortunately, the nectarines that I used didn't have as much flavor as I would have liked; to compensate for the lack of flavor, I added some spices to the mixture: two whole cloves, a pinch of allspice, a smidge of cinnamon and a dash of ginger.

Can you see the spices in the jam?

My ability to play with the recipe so much makes a good case for using gelatin when making small batches of jam, since it doesn't require the exacting precision that using pectin does and, therefore, appeals to my love of imprecise cooking!