Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Jamming



Last summer I attempted canning for the very first time. I bought a ton of strawberries at the grocery store, made a batch of preserves and have found myself dreaming about U~Pick farms and jam making ever since.
We spent a day picking strawberries and cherries and due to time constraints I properly froze our haul so that I could make jam in the future when I had more time.
Then it was time for blueberries and I was off to another U~Pick with my friend Maria. With some help from her husband and daughter, we picked a pretty good amount of what might possibly be my favorite summer fruit. We headed back to their home and spent the afternoon making two batches of Blueberry Jam, eating a delicious lunch she and her husband whipped up, then sat around talking until I remembered that I had a family at home who was probably starving and wondering where I was. I left with a full box of fresh blueberries to still be dealt with. I knew I wanted to make more jam, but again, due to time constraints I cleaned and froze the berries for future use. I'm trying to be better about knowing my limitations on things and I knew that if I tried to make another dozen jars of jam that weekend I might very well lose my mind.
Today, I saw that Jersey peaches are ready to be picked and I found myself wondering how I can fit a peach picking run into my already crazy schedule (hello, spending this Thursday and Friday in Memphis only to fly home late Friday night and leave on vacation 5 hours later!) because I saw an amazing recipe for canning peach pie filling.
My freezer is already pretty full of pounds and pounds of fruit and yet I find that the possibilities are endless. Brandied cherries for cocktails as gifts? Perfection! In fact, I have already discovered that I can can apples for apple pie filling this fall. You can bet your bottom dollar that I already discussed these apple picking trips with Maria. I just need a quiet weekend at home in August to deal with this summer fruit and make some room for the next harvest.

Have you ever canned fresh fruit and vegetables? And if so, did you love it as much as I do?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Backyard Clambake







Since the first summer we lived in this house we have dreamed of hosting a backyard clambake. As spring gives way to warmer temperatures, the conversations begin and yet in 7 years we have never let it come into fruition. Until last weekend.
We invited some of our nearest and dearest and set the plans in motion for a seafood feast that would beat all. I set up a self service bar for making Gin & Tonics and classic Cape Codder cocktails. The cooler outside was filled to the brim with beer. It was blazing hot out so I covered the dining room table in newspaper and set individual place settings complete with a small tin pail for shells and discard. I set out a board of cheese, prosciutto, artichoke tapenade, and some fruit and veg with an assortment of crackers for noshing while the meal was prepared.
I turned to one of my all time favorites for direction - Ina Garten has a Kitchen Clambake recipe in The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook that was not only simple, but unbelievably delicious! We cooked the entire meal in a 21 quart pot on our charcoal grill. I made Ina's Panzanella Salad and had fresh grilled corn on the cob on the side, but the clambake was so filling that no one had room for anything else. Note to self: this meal is truly a one pot wonder!

Kitchen Clambake from Ina Garten
1 1/2lbs. kielbasa (I used sweet italian sausage)
3 cups chopped yellow onions
2 cups chopped leeks (white parts only)
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. small potatoes - red or white (I used red)
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 tbsp ground black pepper
2 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 lb steamer clams, scrubbed
2 pounds mussels, cleaned and debearded
1 1/2 lbs large shrimp, in the shell
3 lobsters (1 1/2 lbs each)
2 cups good dry white wine

Slice the kielbasa/sausage diagonally into 1 inch thick slices. Set aside. Saute onions and leeks in olive oil in a heavy bottomed 16-20 quart stockpot on medium heat for 15 minutes, until the onions start to brown.
Layer the ingredients on top of the onions in the stockpot in this order:
Potatoes, salt and pepper, the the kielbasa/sausage, littleneck clams, steamer clams, mussels, shrimp and lobsters. Pour in the white wine. Cover the pot tightly and cook over medium heat until steam just begins to escape from the lid, about 15 minutes.
Lower the heat to medium and cook another 15 minutes. The clambake should be done. Test to be sure the potatoes are tender, the lobsters are cooked, and the clams and mussels are open. Remove the lobsters to a board, cut them up and crack the claws. With large slotted spoons, remove the seafood, potatoes and sausages to a large bowl and top with the lobsters. Season the broth in the pot to taste and serve immediately in mugs with the clambake.

Cape Codders
3 oz cranberry juice
2 oz vodka
Lime wedge for garnish

Pour the ingredients into a highball glass with ice cubes.
Stir well.
Squeeze the lime juice into the drink.
Drop the lime wedge into the glass.


Friday, July 5, 2013

The Shop is Now Open!


The shop is officially open on Etsy!
Hooray!
You can find me here.

More items to come...but this amazing sailboat is already listed - don't miss out!