At 2 a.m. I was still in the kitchen. Peach jam in the canner, tomato jam out of the canner, three trays of fruit leather in the oven, tomatoes and peaches in the dehydrator, prepping zucchini relish. This is what I always forget in those dreamy, carefree spring months when I plant my garden or sign up for a CSA (or, this year, do both): The harvest season is also a season of all-out frenzy.
This recipe is here to help. You will find both emotional and practical relief as you reduce two truly gargantuan zucchini to five tidy pints of the hot dog relish you remember from childhood.
Pile it onto a field roast sausage with that better-than-ketchup (and I don’t say that lightly) tomato jam and a beery mustard, and you’ll almost forget about the boxes of ripe pears in the basement still awaiting your attention.
If your house is anything like mine, your floor is littered with hearts and stickers, confetti and sparkles, the uncontainable detritus of the month-long operation that consumes our home at this time every year: making Valentines. The glue! The glitter! The little girls cutting hearts and hearts and hearts and hearts, and the thousands of tiny scraps of paper that float to every corner of the floor! The never-ending sweeping….
I mostly try to just smile and nod, enjoying the spectacle and vaguely hoping that we’ll manage to reclaim the table in time for dinner each night. As you probably know, I prefer to make my own messes in the kitchen.
I have a book in which I record, from time to time, the big and small adventures in our family’s life. I mean to write in it every day, just a sentence or two. More often, weeks or even months go by between entries. I try to catch the important stuff, though, when I do sit down to write–milestones and anecdotes from our daughters’ lives, travels we want to remember, loving moments with our extended family. And, of course, what’s happening in the kitchen.Our family’s book begins with applesauce. It was an October when I started the family journal (abandoning, in the process, my girls’ individual baby books) and we had just turned our three trees worth of apples into a year’s worth of applesauce. So in a way, I think of making applesauce as the beginning of each new year. At this time of year I often flip back through the years contained in my book and marvel at how fast life changes. And how each chapter is even better than the last.
Applesauce, though, is a constant in our lives. Every year we lighten the groaning branches of the apple trees in the fall, piling box after box of apples into the house. We sort the apples, setting aside the unblemished best for eating and sharing. We eat and bake and dry as many apples as we can. And the rest become applesauce for the year ahead.Continue reading →
While we’re enjoying September’s fine harvest of assorted spicy peppers, why not preserve a few to enjoy when the season is over?
Honestly, my standard method for preserving peppers (of any kind) is to slice or chop them, pile them into a freezer bag, and put them in the freezer. But you don’t need a recipe for that, do you?
You don’t need much of a recipe for this, either, but I always like to pickle a jar or two of mildly spicy peppers to enjoy in the fall. This a a quick refrigerator pickle, which takes little time beyond slicing the peppers and simmering a simple brine for five minutes. The investment will pay off many times over, since it only takes a few of these pickled pepper rings to spice up any meal.Continue reading →
This is the story of two recipes that didn’t turn out at all the way I planned.
I was going to make you pink strawberry waffles today. My baby–my first baby–turned six and, not to be outdone by her sister’s chocolate waffle birthday coup, requested strawberry waffles for breakfast. Pink, please.They were delicious. I used my regular yeast-raised batter (which works beautifully for both waffles and pancakes), adding a few generous spoonfuls of strawberry preserves in place of the sugar. And then, in a stroke of genius suggested by a reader-friend, I tinted the batter as pink as can be with a sprinkle of that beet powder I thought I’d never use again. Of course, the baked waffles were mostly waffle-colored, which was a bit of a disappointment to us all (mostly me). Continue reading →
A new cookbook is such a good treat. Whether it’s on loan from the library or all mine from my great local bookstore, I always love to curl up on the couch or in bed with a new cookbook. And I just got a good one.
I’m telling you about it because you might think that the Food in Jars cookbook, by Marisa McClellan of the delightful Food in Jars blog, is only for us fringe types who are into canning. Not so! First of all, this is truly small-batch stuff, with most of the recipes yielding a manageable 2 or 3 pints of jam or pickles. No need to can those–give one to the neighbors and put the other(s) in your fridge; they’ll be gone in no time. Second, there are also plenty of recipes that have nothing to do with canning: think of them instead as recipes for foods that you could put in jars, if the urge struck, but it would be mostly for decorative purposes. Granolas. Nut butters. Pancake mixes. Infused salts. This recipe falls into that latter category.
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There’s something about environmentally-unfriendly single-serving packaged snacks that children find irresistible. Maybe it’s the “all mine” factor, or the satisfying crinkle of those little bags, but it’s hard to compete with a store-bought granola bar for my kids’ affection in the snack category.
These bars did the trick partly because they were fun and hands-on to make, and partly because they’re basically cookies. Mmm, cookies. This recipe, from Good to the Grain, was a great starting point–chewy, sweet and oaty–but I expect to do a little experimentation in the future to find a granola bar that comes closer to being a healthy kid snack. On the other hand, these would make a great hiking snack if you actually needed a sugar boost, and I quite enjoyed them as an afternoon sweet alongside a cup of tea. We’ll just be calling them “cookies” from now on.
Do you have a granola bar recipe you like? Do tell.