Saturday, June 23, 2012

June swap recap

It was sold out. It was abundantly brimming with another very large array (OK, not really that Very Large Array, but I do always think of the New Mexico satellite complex when I hear that phrase) of eye and mouth candy. The June swap was not to be missed. Just in case, here it is in all its photographic glory.

Watermelon Aqua Frescas for the potluck

Quinoa Salad was a potluck theme this time

More potlucking

Getting set up

Sampling and placing bids

It's bidding time!

The bidding continues

More bidding activity

Followed by the star attractions...the swap goods themselves!

St. John Chutney by Stephen

Empanadas by Ariel

Lychee Ceviche & Chocolate Chipotle Avocado Mousse by Olga & Jim

Lemon Bundt Cake by Ken

Organic Gravenstein Applesauce by Mandy

Sorrel & Arugula Pesto and Wild Mushroom Relish by Christina

Fresh Eggs by Najib

Tea Cookies by Angela

Jill's Veggie Ferments

Stephanie's Salsa Verde & Black Bean Dip Duos

Meredyth's Granolas

Limoncello by Kelly (photo by me)

Candied Citrus Peel by Lea (photo by me)

Peppermint Panda Cookies by Emily (photo by me)

Spring Tonic Concentrate & Heart-Shaped Sugar Cubes by Vanessa  (photo by me)

Apricot Jam & Cherry Preserves Duo by Christina

Vegan Chocolate Chunk Biscotti

Candied Kumquats & Olive Salad by me

Curry Pickle Slices, Pickled Ginger Peaches & Olive Salad by me

There are a couple things missing from our gallery (apologies!) as usual. They are the divine Chocolate Covered Caramels by J.K. and colorfully zesty Pickled Onions by Lea. Am I missing anyone else? As always, if you have photos from the swap, please send them to me or post them on our Facebook page.

Thanks to Vanessa once again for the majority of the photos. The rest of her shots can be seen here, and I have a set here. Also, check out Emily's awesome blog post telling the story of all her trades.

Look forward to doing it all again in August. Tentative date for the next swap is Sunday, August 5th  we'll confirm and announce as soon as we can.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fruit Butter While You Sleep

Last night I had the thrill of meeting Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars fame.

Talking pH, 4th Burner Pots and more

She did a fun pickling presentation and talked about her new cookbook at the ever-awesome Omnivore Books. We all went home with a jar of fridge pickles, and she even shared some of her tried and true techniques such as making fruit butter in a crockpot. 

Pickles & cookbooks - a winning combination

Marisa & I (yay!)

I've made fruit butter in a crockpot before myself, but was inspired at how simple she kept hers, so thought I'd lay it out for you in a new format using her go-to recipe. Have fun! 

You should still peruse all the tempting stuff on her blog, and go get a copy of her gorgeous, tantalizing book too of course.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

First day of summer + looking back on my first year of preserving

Summer feet
Happy Summer Solstice everyone! I am loving the sunshine and stretched out feeling of June. I mean stretched out in a good way, as in long days and a slowing down and sense of appreciation of life and beauty around me.

Even though I haven't been putting up as much as I'd like to be, I have been wrangling my preserving tools and systems into some kind of order. Part of that has been starting a preserving log  backup for the stained and often sticky notebook I jot cooking notes in  and that has led me to look back on everything I've made in the preservation realm in the last 15 months or so. 

This retrospective on my first year+ of preserving has left me with a high level of excitement at what's ahead, as well as a "Wow! That's A LOT" sense of pride in everything I've already accomplished.

Simple syrup trios at swap (Some rights reserved by jackhonky)
My beginnings in this world were literally, quite simple. For the past few years I have loved making herbal simple syrups. Whether as fixings for cocktails or desserts or flavorings for homemade sodas and lemonades, I loved harnessing the flavor of things like rose geranium, lemon, basil, rosemary, lemongrass and more, and then infusing those into something else. I was hooked. Of course when we launched the food swap last year, one of the items I produced was a trio of simple syrups. (Photo is thanks to Irvin of Eat the Love who came to and wrote about our first swap).

From there I started almost compulsively following all kinds of preserving and food blogs like Food in Jars, Punk Domestics, Well Preserved, Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking, Hungry Tigress, Grow It Cook It Can It, and many more. The folks behind these awesome resources have all been incredibly welcoming, helpful and inspiring. Some I have been lucky enough to meet in real life, but all of them I feel connected to via a larger shared food community. To them I send a collective gigantic THANK YOU  you've made the first year a whole lot of fun.

I also need to give a shout-out to my friend Susan, who along with my mom, is the one who showed me the ropes of water-bath canning. She has also shared the bounty of fruit on her Sebastopol property, with numerous marathon days, and nights, of harvesting and canning. I am enormously grateful and can't wait for this summer's action to hit!

Current fridge of jars + pickle chips in the making
It's entirely probable that I've left a few things off the "complete" list below. On at least three occasions since I thought I had finished it, I've had to go back and update after encountering jars of things in my fridge that hadn't yet been accounted for. And I know a lot of stuff has gone the way of my gullet, instantly to be forgotten. Still, it's a pretty good list and represents a lot of time in the kitchen, chopping, stirring, sweating and yes, eating.

Pickled Chard Stems
Marinated Cauliflower
Rosemary Rice Wine Vinegar
Lemon Balm Cordial
Brandied Cocktail Cherries
Fruit Leathers
Plum Jelly with Mom
Greengage Plum Jam with Vanilla
Greengage Plum Chutney
Infused Vodkas
Sweet Garlic Dills
Pepper Jelly
Fig Balsamic Jam
Jalapeño Bread + Butter Pickles
Pickled Jalapeños
Rose Petal Jelly
Dehydrated Hot Peppers
Meyer Lemon Lavender Marmalade
Blackberry Jam
Slow Roasted Tomatoes
Fig Balsamic Jam
Brandied Fig Preserves
Dehydrated Apple Rings
Apple-Pear Butter
Fig Jam with Fennel Pollen
Chipotle Fig Preserves
Quince Preserves (Plain + w/ Vanilla)
Quince Preserves w/ Star Anise + Lemon
Slow Cooker Applesauce
Spiced Applesauce
Apple Pectin
Quince in Rose Syrup
Oktobeerfest Mustard
Lemon Sage Wine Mustard
Curry Pickle Slices
Cucumber Slices with Lemon
Ginger-Garlic Mustard
Pickled Ginger
Wine Jelly
Blood Orange Curd
Cranberry Mustard
Pickled Eggs (Beet & Tarragon)
Brown Sugar & Cranberry Mustard
Meyer Lemon Curd
Blueberry Citrus Preserves
Key Lime Syrup
Dehydrated Pears
Blood Orange Curd
Grapefruit Hibiscus Curd
Pear Ginger Preserves
Bosc Pears in Lady Grey Syrup
Candied Kumquats
Blood Orange Marmalade w/ Cinnamon
Blood Orange Marmalade w/ Star Anise
Dehydrated Kumquats
Spiced Kumquats
Honey + Rosewater Kumquats
Pickled Asparagus
Kumquat-Habanero Marmalade
Kumquat Marmalade
Sweet Preserved Kumquats
Moroccan Preserved Lemons
Roasted Rhubarb Jam
Quince Preserves, 3 ways
Ginger Beer
Pickled Nasturtium Capers
Szechuan Pickled Green Beans
Pickled Beets with Cloves & Cumin
Olive Salad (for muffalettas!)
Pickled Ginger Peaches
Peach Jam
Peach Syrup
Bourbon Peach Skin Butter

Additionally I've completed five months of my Cook It 2012 firsts, including bread, butter, pasta and farmer's cheese, plus I've managed to keep my sourdough starter alive for eight months or so, though I have yet to make bread from it. (Hangs head in shame).

Perhaps you noticed like I did that I am in fact a terrible blogger in terms of documenting all that I am actually doing on the home canning front? (I've blogged about a mere 13 of the 72 items above, but you can see pics of much more here). 

But, like the discussion I had earlier today with friends over a leisurely lunch and a bottle of vinho verde rosé (instead of working on this post), sometimes it's important to forego the documenting in order to do the living. So here's to hopes of a nice long summer full of all the enticing things we can think of — in and out of the kitchen.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Ginger Beer - Cook It! 2012: May Resolution + Gingery Beer Cocktail Recipe

My forays into fermenting have been minimal, with only Moroccan Preserved Lemons and an Indian-Spiced Kumquat Chutney under my belt. So May's Cook It challenge was, as usual, an exciting one: ferment something.

Fresh, bubbly ginger beer
Of course when given such a broad task, my mind shot in a million directions and I wanted to make about a dozen things at least. After narrowing my focus, I decided on ginger beer. Seasonal, rejuvenating, and it lends itself well to hot days and summer nights.

Well Preserved's recipe is the one I went with, which was straightforward and clear. Both phases of this technique were a cinch to follow, and my end result turned out deliciously, though I have to say I wanted more ginger. Maybe even double the ginger flavor. Note to self for next batch.

Making the ginger "bug", or ferment starter was fun...I liked the process of feeding it every day and putting my ear down close to listen for the frothing sounds of fermentation. Once it was in bottles I also liked inspecting for bubbles and any other evidence of something happening inside the glass. And man, when I opened the first bottle and it fizzed like crazy (no explosions, thank you), I must say it was extremely satisfying. I guess I am a bubble lover. (Which probably means I am a fermenting freak, even if I don't know it yet.)

Follow along with the blow-by-blow version in pictures below. The recipe at the end is like a pot of gold.

Slice the ginger into coins, skin and all

Then finely dice for the ginger "bug" or starter

Put ginger in a quart-size jar and add sugar and water

Cover jar with cheesecloth and a band to allow in air but not flies

Day 1

Day 2, after feeding

Day 3, cloudier

Day 4, fizzing away

Hello bubble friends!

This ginger measures up

Chopped and ready

Bringing ginger, sugar and water to a boil

After mixture has cooled, strain to remove solids
Add the juice of two lemons and the ginger bug to the strained syrup

After straining again and adding water, into bottles it goes

Then it becomes a waiting game...

I opened the first bottle after two weeks...

Look at the effervescence

So pleasing to the eye and palate

Two bottles made it to 3 weeks of fermentation. After chilling in the refrigerator, out they came for cocktail duty. I chose my day well too, it was some 80 degrees out...sipping weather at its finest. Now you can mix up a batch of my favorite beer cocktail recipe below, and put your feet up. Yup, it's summertime, and the living is easy.

The fixings
Gingery Beer Cocktail Recipe

Inspired by the Buli-Buli drink at one of my all-time favorite brunch spots, Primo Patio Cafe, this beer cocktail is refreshing and oh-so-simple to make. It's perfect for summer barbeques or parties since you can whip it up by the pitcherful. It will be so popular you will need to!

2 bottles (or cans) of beer  I prefer Red Stripe, but any lager or lighter style beer such as Pacifico will do
2 cups of ginger beer
Juice of 4 limes + 1 lime, quartered for garnish
4 Tb ginger syrup
4 Tb sugar
A lot of ice

Fill a large pitcher with ice, pour in the beer, ginger beer and lime juice. Stir in the ginger syrup and sugar, making sure it is fully dissolved and mixed in. I prefer it a little less sweet, so just taste along the way and adjust sweetener to your liking.

You could also substitute ginger ale for the ginger beer, but remember to reduce the sweetener if you do.

Pour into cups and enjoy!

Making ginger beer in pictures on Punk Domestics