Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Big Girl Canning

Today, for the first time in many, many years, I used an actual hot water bath to seal up my home made peach jam. It has been two years since my last attempt to seal up a sad little batch of Limequat curd and we all remember how that went!

Naturally, I used my new, itty bitty jars.

I felt very grown up doing things properly with sanitation and nice lids and using pectin, all the things I've avidly avoided in my jam making since moving to the most miniature apartment in the world (perhaps a slight exaggeration since mice tend to find it very roomy). Fortunately, all my jars sealed properly and the jam has set nicely; I guess I haven't completely forgotten everything I know about canning.

This jam was made with honey, instead of sugar, and so it has a slightly richer flavor than if I had made it with sugar. I also added about a tablespoon of vanilla extract to the jam to give it a slightly more complex flavor. Yum!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Emergency pickles

Last Tuesday, while I was prepping veggies for ease of that week's dinner preparation, and therefore digging around in the frightening depths of my fridge, I came across a sad little baggy of baby carrots that I knew I needed to use very soon or else summon up the will to throw them away. I decided that a quick pickling was the best way to save them from a sad, slimy fate.

Here are the carrots layered with some thinly sliced cucumbers that were also taking the slow path to the garbage can.

I made a very salty brine and warmed it briefly, then tossed the carrots in the hot water before layering everything with a couple cloves of garlic and some tasty spices.

A refreshing, crunchy snack on a hot day!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

favorite summer soup

The Garden Zucchini Soup recipe from The City Gardener's Cook Book has long been my favorite summer soup. I realize that "summer soup" sounds a little crazy, so I should probably clarify that this can be served hot or cold. I actually prefer it as a chilled soup.

I started making this as a way to use up zucchini from the garden, back in the days when I was living at home and my Mother would plant a half acre garden. Of course, long gone are those days of picking everything fresh and complaining about having too much fresh zucchini and heirloom tomatoes. Still, I did create my own mini zucchini crisis last week by purchasing too much fresh summer squash at the market and have spent the last week trying to figure out ways to use it up. I have to admit, that feeling of zucchini overload really went a long way to making it feel like summer around here, well, that and the crazy heat wave we've had this past week in San Diego (what? you say 85 isn't a heat wave?).

So, once again, because this book is no longer in print and is, in fact, almost impossible to find I'm going to go ahead and post the recipe to this blog.

Garden Zucchini Soup
6 cups sliced zucchini
1 onion, chopped(naturally, I use shallots)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups broth
1-2 Tbsp curry powder
lemon juice to taste
salt and pepper

cook veggies in olive oil in a sauce pan for 10 minutes. Add curry powder and salt to pan, cook a further 1-2 minutes, add broth and heat until veggies are soft. Using stick blender, blend soup to smooth consistency. Add lemon juice and pepper to taste.

I love to eat this soup when it is hot but I prefer it even more after it has chilled and the flavors meld in the fridge. I am finding that the easiest way to store soups in the fridge is in a large canning jar. I used to try to stuff the whole sauce pan into my, usually, very crammed fridge but when I was back home the last time I noticed my mother keeps her leftover soup in a half or full gallon sized canning jar, which she has done for as long as I can remember. It is only now that I realize how perfectly this solution works. Vertical storage!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

wee-est canning jars

 I just have to show off the newest addition to my canning jar collection. While browsing the shelves of my local hardware store, I found a whole flat of these teeny little canning jars.

12 jars is really too many to store in my miniature apartment

You can see these 4 oz. jars are even smaller than a half pint, these are quarter pint sized. So, itty bitty!
 In all honesty, I don't have the space to store even a mouse in my tiny house and would have preferred to buy just 1/2 a dozen of them, but since they only come in a box of 12 I figured I should buy the 12 and hope it encourages me to can and then give away tiny jars of jelly. So cute!!

These would be ideal for canning things like hot peppers or relish that would only be used in small quantities. Foods would stay fresher.

These Raspberries are just average sized so you can see just how teeny the jars are when a half a handful fills up the jar.

I love the fact that the lid is almost the same size as the jar. It makes the jars look very top heavy, as though they still need to grow into their lids.