I call this my “happy 4th of July jam”. I get that today isn’t the 4th of July, but I made this Jam on the 4th, so that counts for something, right? If you recall from last summer, I’m pretty pumped about pick your own (PYO). My experience thus far in picking my own fruits and veggies is limited to apples, blueberries, raspberries, kale, herbs, and cauliflower. Picking your own veggies is so much cheaper and so much more fun. With the narrow picking window for strawberries, I had to get on it, as I’ve never picked strawberries nor made a strawberry jam before. Also, blueberry picking season just started!!
So what is it about picking my own? For me, it has to do with many things: saving money, keeping it local, helping out the smaller farms, etc. The one thing that I love the most though is the meditative aspect of it. Bare feet and a short skort I was looking for only the best berries at Applecrest Farm Orchards last week. The greatest feeling ever… Too small, too tart, too yellow… not for my jam.
Last Tuesday morning I was abruptly jolted from my sweet sweet slumber by a loud knock at the door. My first thought, “who the hell is knocking at my door at 9am?” followed by, “oh yay! a visitor”, followed by, “oh god, please don’t be my landlord”. Making sure I wasn’t about to answer the door in my skimpy floral pjs, I threw on my robe, and then peered through the peak-hole. The intruder? A nice UPS man with a HUGE package (bend… and snap!). I wasn’t expecting a shipment/ had forgotten that I was expecting a shipment. I saw the Washington State Fruit Commission return address and faintly remembered agreeing to be a canbassador months ago. Excitement ensued quickly followed by insane anxiety as I was leaving for CA, which gave me a mere 2 days (!!!) to come up with and process 18lbs of bing cherries. Yikes!
Canbassador program? Heck yes, I want to be a canbassador! Wait, what’s a canbassador? Early last month I joined the canning ranks and was invited by the Washington State Fruit Commission and Sweet Preservation to participate in their Can’bassador program. I had to clarify with them, but the gist of the partnership is: I say, “yes”, and they send me a box of delicious Washington-grown cherries. Sweet! Literally. With 18lbs of cherries (probably 2lbs straight into my belly) I have several recipes coming your way over the next week.
Unless you drive a 45 year old cranky Volvo that you named “Pickle”… stupid really… the chances of being defeated by a pickle are slim. Of all the recipes I’ve put on this blog, I’ve only removed one: pickled fiddlehead ferns. It’s hard to remain unbiased when tasting my own pickles, but I figure that some people like different things so even the pickles that I’m not so crazy about (I usually get a second opinion) I leave up. The fiddlehead ferns that I made last May were an exception, they were horrible, salty, mushy, and just horrible! Fast forward a year to when I’m sitting at the bar at Blue Moon Evolution in Exeter, NH and I see sautéed fiddleheads on the menu… shutter. They were actually very tasty and the experience managed to negate my dissatisfaction with fiddleheads. Round two? Sweet fiddlehead pickles. Honestly, I had planned on keeping these pickles very very simple with no intention of recreating my previous mess. Who am I kidding, a simple pickle? Ha ha ha. Many online recipe suggestions and hours later, I pulled together a number of recipes as inspiration for these pickled fiddlehead ferns. Fingers crossed that this time I actually like them!
A fiddlehead is the tip of an unfurling Ostrich Fern frond, “quickly snapped off with the flick of the wrist by professional foragers in the wild.” Available for only three weeks per year (during the middle of May), they are generally harvested/foraged in the northeastern United States.
Breakfast cheesecake and sunflowers to start my day! Today is a new day (obviously) and I’m feeling a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. If you haven’t noticed (all my mother’s friends have), I’ve been a little MIA lately. Hesitant to share too much of my personal story here, but a friend suggested I try it, so here it goes. I recently got out of perhaps one of the best relationships I’ve ever had. It’s hard to explain, but the insecure feeling of moving forward is more than daunting as I no longer have that friend around to “have my back”. I’m learning how to avoid situations and adapt to growing in such a small area where everyone knows everyone’s business. Receiving condolences while in downward facing dog is not really what I had in mind when I decided to zen out that morning… On the upside, my lightened and brightened shoulders are starting to defrost (multiple meanings here) and I’m determined to get myself and this here blog back in routine. News of local farms starting their seeds, and writing for the local Edible edition is preparing me for the bounty of spring and summer harvest to come.
Last Saturday I walked the farmers’ market for over an hour searching for pickle inspiration. Nothing, nothing, and nothing. But then these brightly colored watermelon radishes caught my eye. No stranger to watermelon radishes, this lot from Heron Pond Farm in South Hampton, NH was more than beautiful. These sichuan style pickles boast tons of flavor and color. I recommend serving them atop your favorite asian salad or cold noodle dish. Enjoy!
I’m going to be honest, my apartment smells like a night of bad life choices… Think what you will, and maybe you should… but, a solid night out for me typically includes a couple whiskey and gingers (commonly referred to as a bourbon highball). Last January during the doldrums of winter and thus the lack of fresh fruits for tasty jelly and jam making, I started experimenting with alcohol based canned goods. To my surprise, not only was everything I made pretty damn good, but also a huge hit on the blogosphere. The main risk of canning with alcohol is spending 20 plus dollars on the booze to have it fail or not set up correctly. Plus, following the typical jelly set tests is a crap shoot because the lack of “water” causes different boiling temperatures and consistencies. The inspiration for this whiskey ginger jelly came from my cinnamon whiskey jelly that I put up last winter. I suggest using a mid-range whiskey or bourbon here as you don’t want to spend the money and have it fail, but also you don’t want the flavor of cheap booze lingering in your sugary jelly goodness.
The flavor of this whiskey ginger jelly is perfect. Smooth, not overwhelmingly boozey, yet strong in ginger flavor which would work nicely as a pork glaze or simply on a biscuit. Yum, think about it, a hot homemade buttermilk biscuit topped with jelly and some local free-range bacon strips!! While cooking this jelly down does burn off most of the whiskey, only so much can be lost from 750ml. To that end, I may advice against using this jelly for little Johnny or Sally’s lunch time PB&J. 🙂
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