Category Archives: eye candy
Yes, I have been quiet again. But it is harvest time and I am busy putting things up for the winter.
I have been busy putting apples, pears, tomatoes, green beans, and cranberries this past week or so. I still have a 32 pound monster heirloom pumpkin to deal with. Part of it will be pressure canned as cubes and the rest roasted and pureed before being frozen.
But while I have been busy, I have managed to create another apple jam recipe. This one is for the chile heads out there or those who like a little zing in their jams.
A note on the apples – use what ever you have on hand. You need to like the apples you are using. Mix them up and use a variety. I have seconds from the orchard for applesauce and asked them to mix up the varieties so I honestly have no clue as to what type of apples I have in my box. Leave the skins on the apples because they will provide the pectin.
For a primer on dried chiles, see this page – The Cook’s Thesaurus Chile.
If you are suing fresh chiles, you may need to add about 1 to 2 teaspoons of pectin. For some reason whenever I use fresh chiles in a jam, it never seems to set up as thick as I would like it. So keep an eye on how your jam is setting up and test it!
I prefer to let the apples sweeten this jam as much as possible. If you do not have honey, you can add white or brown sugar in 1/4 cup increments to sweeten it. But do keep in mind that the taste of the final jam will change based on what you use to sweeten it. If you need to use an artificial sweetener, please make sure it is heat stable.
If you do not like the apples or apple cider you are using, you will not enjoy the final product. Cook with ingredients you love to eat!
2 pounds of apples (read note)
1 to 2 dried chiles – I am planning to use a dried chipotle and part of a aji panca but adjust the peppers to what you can easily find and your heat comfort level OR dried jalapenos OR fresh jalapenos
1 cup of apple cider
1 to 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice
pinch of salt
1/2 to 1 cup of local honey (the amount needed will depend on how sweet your apples are)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
pinch of red chile pepper flakes – optional
Crush up your dried chiles.
Pour the apple cider and lemon juice into the bottom of a large pan for jam making. Wash and quarter your apples. Core them. Shred the apples using the shredder blade of your food processor. (Or you can use a box grater.) Empty the container into the pot as it fills up.
Add the pinch of salt and the dried chiles to the apple mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover and turn down the heat and simmer for 15 to 30 minutes, You want the juices mostly gone and the apples to sort of melt and soften down.
Raise the heat back up and slowly add 1/2 cup of honey. Bring back up to a boil. Check at this point. Check the jam for sweetness levels and to make sure the chile levels are at a heat level you are comfortable with. If you need to add more sweetener, add up to 1 cup of honey total. Add the red chile pepper flakes if you want to raise the heat level a touch.
You want the jam to be thick at this point. Think jammy. Fill your hot sterilized jars with the hot jam leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles using a wood chopstick or the handle of a wood spoon. Clean the jar rims and seal with lids and bands. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
You can expect this to make 4 to 5 8-ounce jars.
And as a double bonus, I am updating the cranberry jam that I recently posted.
A friend or three on Facebook asked about some variations to that recipe. And yes it is a jan but if you tell everyone it is a chutney they will not think twice about putting next to their turkey or using it as a savory. I mean they eat the canned cranberry jelly as a savory.
Cranberry Jam – Version 2
I was asked to create a variation on the first version of this recipe and make it more savory and add some items.
I was asked to add crushed pineapple and walnuts to the jam. And as a note to the savory side, you could add a small amount of crushed red chile flakes to add a note of zing.
1 12-ounce bag of fresh or frozen cranberries (a 12 ounce bag is 3 cups)
1-1/2 cups of water or pineapple juice & water to make
chopped zest from 1 orange (I used a naval orange)
chopped zest from 1 lemon
1 small can of crushed pineapple, reserving and measuring the juice
1 cinnamon stick
1 little bit of fresh grated nutmeg
a small pinch of crushed red chile flakes – optional
1 to 2 coins of fresh ginger or use 1/4 to 1/2 cup of minced crystallized ginger added at the end of cooking
1-1/2 teaspoons of calcium water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 tablespoon white sugar
2-1/4 teaspoons Pomona’s Natural pectin powder
1/2 to 1 cup local honey (you may want to add some extra honey or sugar since this is very tart!)
1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces (or pecans if you like them better)
Combine the cranberries, cinnamon stick, zest, nutmeg, fresh ginger and water/juice mixture in a Dutch oven and simmer over medium low hear just until the cranberries start to pop. Once the cranberries start to pop, crush a few with the back of a spatula.
Juice your orange and lemon into a measuring cup. Add enough bottled lemon juice to get 1/3 of a cup. Add to the cranberries along with the crushed pineapple.
Add the calcium water and reserved lemon/orange juice mixture to your berries. Bring to a simmer. Adjust your seasonings at this point. Add your vanilla bean paste at this point. Add 1/2 cup of the honey at this point. Allow the mixture to come back to a simmer and check the sweetness. You want the mixture to still be slightly tart. If needed or you want a sweeter mixture, add another 1/2 cup of honey.
In a small bowl, blend well the white sugar and the pectin powder well.
Once the berry mixture is back up to a simmer, add the sugar and pectin mixture. Bring to a low boil. Check the mixture for seasoning once more before canning. If you need to adjust the flavors, allow it to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes before canning.
Put into hot sterilized jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
This calf was bathing in the creek along the drive into the Holy Cross Abbey. the look I was given when I stopped to take the photo was that you would expect of some one being photographed by the paparazzi. And it si really hard to get a decent photo of a black cow in a shady spot.
The Holy Cross Abbey has a number of cattle on it. One of the tenants of the order is that each abbey should be self sufficient. And that means that they work just like the rest of us while serving God. So this particular abbey tends the fields and animals, create wonderful fruit cakes and honey, and serve the community.
I have decided to give canning crushed tomatoes a try and took the day off yesterday to drive over to my new favorite pick-your-own near Berryville, Virginia.
Since I was close to the Holy Cross Abbey, I decided to go over to the abbey store and possibly pick up a treat for my dad. He loves their fruitcake and it is honestly really good. And I do not like fruit cake as a general rule.
I followed the directions I had but it turns out the main road into the abbey was closed for repairs. So I had to back track and follow the detour. the detour road is definitely not for the faint of heart. Basically it is a one lane dirt road. It is not a road to drive if you have a sports car or a car that sits low. My truck loved it. The road condition forced you to drive slow and with the windows down, you could hear the beauty and solitude of the farm fields. Plus see interesting things like this old church along the road. the abbey shop was closed when I got there put just the drive alone with worth the trip.
Some one asked about my spindle collection so I decided to photograph a few of my favorites plus what I am currently spinning.
I like spindles but I do not have that great a relationship with them. I can spin on them but it just doesn’t flow as easily as it does on a wheel for me. But I think I will go back and do some practice with my spindles since they are portable.
And the fiber in the photo is a silk/merino blend. It is so soft! I can’t wait to spin it up. But I must first finish up what I have on the bobbins already. And since I want to spin it up really thin, I need to finish up the fiber on the Matchless first. I guess I will be spending time with the wheel this weekend.
And O got permission to go onto this property I have been wanting to photograph for awhile. It is a farm that was originally owned by the founder of the town I live in. It has been privately owned for the last several decades. The town just bought it but they have not decided what they are going to do with it. I asked the town manager for permission to do some outside photography this weekend. And I was told that there was no problem with me going to shoot it. And the town will be holding an open house soon and I was given permission to photograph inside the house that day too!
Today’s weather is overcast and rain on and off. But I was lucky enough to remember to take some shots when it was sunny of spring flowers. Well it was sunny after raining. And weird thing about spring, pollen, This year despite the heavy snows, tree pollen started early. And it is bad. OR maybe this year, I am more sensitive to it. I have a prescription steroid ointment for my eyes when they get really bad. And although the OTC eye drops are working I may end up on the prescription stuff again. I have already done round with them. And yes, they help with the itchy red eyes. What is really strange is how you would think that right after it rains, the pollen count would be done. Nope, it sky rockets for some reason. Hopefully tree pollen season will be over soon.
SInce I have been basically staying indoors, I have been reading, knitting, and spinning. Although my niece has been spinning off and on for about a year, it has been on a spindle. But I finally had the chance to let her play with a wheel. I set up the Lendrum for regular spinning. And she was spinning but she wasn’t getting the feel for it. Although, her youngest brother was doing pretty good at spinning. When I switched the wheel over to the bulky flyer and she had her hands on some purple roving, she started having fun. I have set her yarn and need to photography it but she may have become hooked on spinning.