The cranberry days are over… The cranberry days are done… (Set to Florence & the Machine’s Dog Days are Over). After a very pink blog, 5 pounds of berries, and nearly 2 months of recipes, I’ve finally made it through the last of my Maine Cranberry Co. cranberries. I had planned on saving back the remaining 2lbs of berries till spring time, but when I found myself in need of a “fresh” item to bring to the December food swap, the cranberries came through. This super easy (but not so high yield) cranberry juice recipe did just the trick. I never knew that 1) making homemade low sugar cranberry juice was so simple and that 2) you can put it up! Make this recipe with white sugar or honey for a more sour twist. Depending on your fine mesh strainer size the juice will either come out like mine, thicker like a concentrate, or more like juice found in the grocery store. Enjoy this homemade juice in your favorite cocktail (think cranberry, lime, vodka) or serve it as is with seltzer over ice.
For the December Seacoast Food Swap we decided to switch things up a bit. After visiting the Portland Food Swap in October, we realized that having the event on a weeknight at a venue that serves booze makes more sense; not only because we figured that a weeknight would fit better with peoples’ schedules, but also because making it a night time affair gives it more of an “event” feel. Our friends Alex, Butch, and Ben over at Earth Eagle Brewings were generous enough to let us test our hypothesis at their small, yet cozy and chock full of character micro-brewery in Portsmouth, NH.
‘Tis the season for booze infooozed jellies! With little-to-no local in-season fruits in New Hampshire, I was forced to resort to alcohol. Hard life, right? The other evening while rushing around the grocery store for canning ingredients I completely forgot my bag of 6 pomegranates in the check out aisle. To ensure that I wasn’t loosing my mind, I called customer service before I made the trip back to the store at 9pm, and they confirmed my forgetful fate. I figured that maybe it was a sign and that there was probably a reason for my forgetfulness: Ball Jars and liquid pectin! On my second trip through the check out aisle, the manager asked what I was making, which led to the mention of the blog, which in turn led to the manager not charging me for any of my canning supplies. “I feel bad that you had to drive back down here (mind you it was my own damn fault), so these are a gift from me because you have a great blog!” What? Who does that? Thus deeming Portsmouth, NH grocery stores the friendliest I’ve ever encountered (a cashier at Trader Joe’s once gave me a free house warming plant).
Typically when I go to the market I take my sweet time which involves: doing the pickle inspiration rounds, saying “Hi” to each and every (no, really) person I know, and then a final lap to actually buy the veggies. Amidst the unexpected visit to bouncy world, the freezing cold weather, misbehaving auto parts, and a killer migraine, I finally made it to my first Seacoast Winter Farmers’ Market last Saturday at Wentworth Greenhouses in Rollinsford, NH. The only difference between this weekend’s visit and other visits (aside from the location and a bunch of new vendors) was that I showed up with only about 30mins to “market” before the closing bell rang. This meant it was time to hustle, and as you can probably imagine, it’s difficult to hurry when someone (cough) has a talking problem.
Tucked in the back corner of the market was the New Hampshire Mushroom Company‘s booth. New to me as they weren’t at the summer market in Portsmouth this year, I kind of freaked. I began talking with the somewhat scraggly, somewhat older seasoned mushroom man about the company’s mushroom enterprise and before I knew it, the market was about over and the vendors were starting to pack up. Frantically forced to make a decision, I went with blue oyster mushrooms as the vendor offered up a last minute 5 pound box for $12 deal. Blue Oyster (Pleurotus Columbinus) mushrooms contain the same benefits that have been shown with King Oyster mushrooms. Blue oysters have been shown to increase immune response, reduce cholesterol, and have been used effectively as an antibiotic.
A couple months back I received an email from the editor of Darling Magazine. As typical emails of this type go, “Hi Erin, my name is XXX, I am the editor of XXX. We are familiar with your blog and think that you would make a perfect contributor for a piece we have in mind.” EXCITING, RIGHT!? Earlier this year I received an email from Ball Jar saying essentially the same thing and I was beyond ecstatic… like out of my head ecstatic… but then, it fell through… Mostly to prepare myself for the impending letdown, when I received this email from Darling I tried not to get overly excited, but then the copyright contracts started flooding in and I tore down the guard and realized it was actually happening, my first non-science publication (and I’m getting paid for it!). Thanks to VERY much help from my friend Minta Carlson, editor of Edible Seacoast, I present to you The Art of Food Preservation:
Hey everyone, sorry for being MIA lately. With the holidays, family in town, some pretty harsh deadlines (science), and the snow, life has been a bit hectic lately. Also, with our local farmers market series on hold during the summer to winter market transition, my selection of local ingredients was limited. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been having a hard time mustarding (my way of saying mustering) up the creativity for a second year of new fall/winter produce recipes. With the return of my long-overdue “canning hour”, I had planned on putting up yet another cranberry recipe (mainly because I still have 3lbs of berries left). But seeing that Thanksgiving has already passed, I decided that I would toss them in the freezer and use them later when one of my brown winter recipes is in dire need of some color.
Last night on the way back from a meeting at Redhook Brewery, I decided to swing by a local grocery spot to pick up some veggies for the weekend. I typically try to stay away from big-name grocery stores for my canning items, but I couldn’t pass up a 2 for $1.50 pomegranate deal!! So I bought 3 packs… but… then, when I got home 10 minutes later, I realized that I had forgotten the bag with all the pomegranates in the checkout line… damnit! I haven’t re-visited chutney making since my somewhat disappointing apple adventure last fall. I knew I wanted pears, pomegranates, and jalapeños to be the base of this recipe, but wasn’t really sure where to run with it. Luckily my flavor muse of a boyfriend was around to lend a helping hand. Ginger, red wine vinegar, dried currants? Yes, yes, and hell yes! Not only is this savory pomegranate pear chutney pretty amazing, but I learned quite a bit about chutney making during the process. For example, did you know that you can hear and see caramelization while it happens? Yes? OK, well I didn’t… Enjoy this tart and savory chutney with a holiday pork chop, or take it to a Christmas party for absolute all around enjoyment.
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