Riesling wine jelly!Riesling wine jelly!

I’ve always considered myself somewhat of a wine newbie. I really enjoy wine and drink it on a somewhat regular basis, but I do feel that the “wino” label should be reserved for those who can appreciate wine for more than just its color. When I finally started drinking wine, albeit after 4 years of living in Sonoma on top of spending a semester abroad in France, I like many others fell for the chilled sweet essence of white wine. Easy to drink, tastes like candy, and feels like summer.

Marisa from Food in Jars recently blogged a post about achieving an ideal gel set using a thermometer. I had been using the saucer and sheet tests to determine gel set, but neither of those methods were delivering reliable results. I figured I’d give the thermometer method a try with the hope that I’d see more consistent optimal jelly sets. Aside from it feeling more like science… the benefit of using a thermometer in jelly/jam/marmalade making is that the gel set can be determined based on internal temperature. At 220° Fahrenheit, sugar reaches its gel point to which it undergoes a physical transformation and thickens to the desired spreadable consistency. I had to calibrate my new thermometer first by testing it in boiling water, but overall the method proved most effective.

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Spicy Pickled Brussels Sprouts

Spicy Pickled Brussels Sprouts-Putting Up with ErinSpicy Pickled Brussels Sprouts-Putting Up with Erin

On the night of December 21, 2006 I arrived in Glasgow, Scotland. Young, American, and excited to connect with the romantic stories of my Scottish ancestors. I decided to try couch-surfing for the first time, which resulted in staying in a not so romantic flat near Kelvingrove Park with three not so romantic Scotsmen. Being the holidays, we attended holiday party night after night, experiencing the tradition of Christmas crackers and a lot of drunken “I can’t understand a word these English speaking guys are saying”. On my last night in town, two nights before Christmas day, we ended up at a potluck, I can’t remember for the life of me what I brought (probably beer), but I do remember the highlight of the feast, roasted brussels sprouts. I had never tasted brussels sprouts before that night, but the host insisted that I try some because “I was never going to taste brussels sprouts like those again”. Like the first time I tasted a tomato fresh off the vine, these brussels sprouts were one of the culinary experiences I will never forget. Enough of my reminiscing, onto the recipe!

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Pear Cider Mustard-Putting Up with ErinPear Cider Mustard-Putting Up with Erin

My parents can confirm that as a kid I hated everything about mustard. I was stead fast to ketchup and nothing but ketchup (and pickles) on my burgers. No matter how picky of an eater, I feel as if everyone has a list of things they hated as a child but love as an adult. While I’m still a bit iffy on straight up yellow mustard, I’ve slowly came around and have been able to scratch grain mustard off my list. A little over a month ago, I made my first homemade batch of Imperial IPA mustard. Being what it was, the three half pints were gone within days and I was in need of another alcohol based mustard recipe. I came across this hard cider mustard on My Homespun Home and decided to give it a try using a hard blackberry pear cider. Because I was intentionally going for a sweeter mustard this time around, I opted for, and increased the amount of brown sugar in this recipe.

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Pressure Canned Ranch Style Beans-Putting Up with ErinPressure Canned Ranch Style Beans-Putting Up with Erin

Ever eat a can of beans just because… or maybe just because a can of beans is an easy, filling, and tasty meal? As a somewhat new vegetarian, I’ve had to adjust to new ways of consuming ample amounts of protein. Beans have quickly moved up my plant-based high protein list of staple foods. If you’re from the east coast you’ve most likely never heard of Ranch beans. Growing up in California we frequently ate “Ranch Style” Beans, specifically those made by Congra Foods. Before 4 days ago, it had been years since I’d tasted the heavenly Texas inspired flavors of Ranch beans. Luckily with my new found passion for pressure canning, I’m able to experiment with bean varieties such as these. These ranch style beans are even tastier and more versatile than my first canned bean batch: Taco Spiced Chickpeas. Adding cinnamon to the savory mixture of onions, tomatoes, and jalapeños really pushes these beans to the next level. So far I’ve tried them in bean and cheese burritos, as well as an ingredient in acorn squash stuffed with wild rice. I’m looking forward to trying canned black eyed peas, chile beans, baked beans, etc. Enjoy!

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Za'atar Pickled Cauliflower-Putting Up with ErinZa'atar Pickled Cauliflower-Putting Up with Erin

I always thought Za’atar was just a dark green, tapenade with a funny name that my office mate would spread on her bread and top with fresh tomatoes. Turns out it doesn’t contain any olives, and isn’t a tapenade at all. Za’atar is actually a Mediterranean mixture of dried herb(s), combined with sesame seeds, dried sumac, other spices, and salt. This makes much more sense seeing that my office mate was dating an Iranian at the time. According to Wiki, in some regions of the world, za’atar is thought to have “health advancing properties, making the mind alert and the body strong”, which tells me, “eat this super pickle and you will become smarter, stronger, and more amazing!” 🙂

The idea for this Za’atar pickled cauliflower recipe came from me asking the beau if he had any pickle suggestions, and from Jolene’s Jar. Head over to Jolene’s Pennsylvania based website/store to check out her goods, and to get your hands on some other tasty pickle varieties.

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