Saturday, August 18, 2012

Red Pepper Apricot Chutney

What is a chutney?  A clutz who goes down a chimney? hehe...I think it is a funny word too.

I quote from one of my favorite canning cookbooks called The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard, "Whereas salsas have a light and fresh, lively taste, chutneys have a rich, smooth, mellow, sweet-sour taste. They are the perfect accompaniment to spicy an strong-flavored foods."

This cookbook has such a wonderful range of recipes; both the basics and the unusual ~ like this one, featuring, 

Red Peppers




Golden Raisens
Candied or crystallized Ginger

How could it NOT by good?  Oh, and I had to buy mace for it.  Add cinnamona and a touch of cayenne...and boy howdy, there is a reason I'm keeping these =)  I can't wait for the flavors to meld completely so I can put it over a roast chicken or pork loin.  

The cookbook pairs it with pork curries, duck, poultry, or lamb. 

Or in a Cheddar Cheese Sandwich.

Or on top of cream cheese and toast.

This is one of the options for the savory givaway...perhaps you are now persuaded to enter the drawing by purchasing a jar of jam....or by sharing the sale photos on my Aria Gardens facebook site
If you are new there, "like" the page and enjoy updates on my canning adventures. The drawing ends the end of August.

Drumroll....thought question....brace yourself!

Have you ever thought that an onion is a thing of beauty?

The onion I showed a picture of (above) was actually a botanical marvel in my eyes.  It was 4 onions grown into one.  I couldn't get a good shot/cut of the onion to show all four corners of it, but it intrigued me with it's swirls of purple and white symetrically juxtapositioned together.  The first shot shows one "corner" of the onion.  The second one, while dirty, shows all 4 "roots" 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sale + Giveaway + Recipe option

Back to School Jam Sale


Peanut Butter and Peach Pluot Jam

Peanut Butter and Berry Cherry Jam

Peanut Butter and Apricot Pepper Jelly

And for Mom?
Cream Cheese and Cherry Apricot Preserves

Apricot Pluot and Grilled Cheese

Jars are $6 for 16 oz
$4 for 8 oz
50c off if you trade me an empty jar

Message me on my Aria Gardens facebook page to order today
SALE RUNS THROUGH the end of August 2012
I have 4-5 jars of the pluot jams available, but only 1 of the Apricot Pepper Jelly, and only 2 of Cherry Apricot Preserves.  The Chutney, I'm keeping, except if you WIN =) I also have 1 jar of BLUE BOY jam available and 2 jars of BERRY CHERRY.

Giveaway - you can choose one of my Savory Creations if you win. 
Enter to win by sharing my photos on fb and/or buy purchasing a jar of my limited edition of jam.

Thought question: do you freeze sandwiches ahead for lunches? If so, which kind?  Have a great day and let me know if you ever want a recipe, I'm not stingy about them, just don't enjoy typing them out!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Apricot Cherry Preserves + Encouragement Story will be requested to answer a thought question...if you don't want to, don't read on =)

What, you may ask, is a preserve?  I quote one of my favorite cookbooks,  175 Favorite Jams, Jellies, Marmalades, and Other Soft Spreads by Linda Amendt on page 178. "Preserves are made with large, uniform pieces of fruit or with small whole fruits.  The cooked fruit holds its shape, and the fruit pieces are evenly distributed in the jar ans suspended in a soft jelly or very thick syrup.  during the cooking process, disolved sugar penetrates the fruit cells, giving the fruit pieces a luminous, semi-transparant appearance.
     "The crown jewel of soft spreads, perfect preserves contain brightly colored, translucent fruit with intense flavor....When it comes to elegence, preserves are hard to beat!" 

You can faintly see the apricot halves on the bottom right of the jar.

Summarizing the way you get fruit to "float" in preserves.  Linda says to do the following.
1,Set a portion of the sugar and the fruit aside to stand for a period of time before the preserve is cooked.
2. Slowly heating the fruit and sugar allows the sugar time to completely dissolve, thereby replaced some of the air in the fruit with sugar.  Tada - heavy fruit that sinks in the jelly.
3.  Let the preserve sit 5 min. after removing from the heat, gently stirring every now and then.  The fruit continues to cook a bit and fully absorb the syrup. 

So there you go, a little explanation of the deliciousness canned last week. There is a limited # of jars for sale.  Contact me on my facebook jam page  to order and ENTER THE GIVEAWAY BY SHARING THE POST.  You also recieve and entry upon purchase.  I am EXTENDING the "Back to School" sale until the end of August. 

Now last week I asked some canning questions, and out of 41 pageviews (Iknow, this is a limited audience blog) only 2 people answered.  For you active bloggers out there, am I expecting too much?

That being said, THANK YOU to you who did respond.  Danita - I'm thinking about doing a Marinara (Spaghetti Sauce) post sometime. I have 2 recipes I like, and one is quite handy b/c you do NOT have to skin the tomatoes first. 

Some people have the ability to encourage others.  The 2 "posters" on my last post certainly did!  One of them called me and left a message letting me know that I was in her thoughts that day.  Little did she know that I was having one of those very bad-no good-horrible days and that message brought tears to my eyes just to know someone cared.  We all know with our head on those days that people care, but I'm usually to proud or protective of those around me to let others know how bad it is. 

The other person I have not had personal contact with in almost 10 years.  We had dinner together when we were out of state.  She found my blog, and answered a thought question from earlier this summer with beautiful postcard showing me how they had painted a rock with a verse I had posted while camping with their children.  It made my day!  What a gift a personal note is. 

So here is today's thought question. And YOU are requested to answer....why?  Because positive examples encourage others to do the same.  Isn't that what we want our world to include?  People who are givers and not takers! 
When was the last time someone unexpectedly encouraged you?

Thank you for sharing and encouraging. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Chili Pepper Apricot Jelly ~ Zingy!

A friend and I got from the Fruit yard, and she from her Grandpa's Tree. After canning a mulitude of the sweet little things, I whipped up a dream of a jam I've been wanting to make all spring. Sunrise Jam is a wonderful blend of strawberries, apricots, and pinapple. (tip for newbies, never use fresh pinapple, it will prevent set) I'm not sure if I have any left to sell, you can see on my Aria Gardens facebook page. Like me there and you can get small batch shout outs!

Chili Chopping - yes, I used frozen chilis - which would make you laugh if you know the current state of our outrageously abundant pepper crop. Seriously, if you are local and need peppers, just call!

I found a semi-slow moment and went to work finding a recipe. Here is the goofy part. We live in the fertile Great Central Valley of California. The valley is roughly the size of the state of Isreal. (ok, taking teacher hat off) We are used to FRESH fruit. Dried fruit is ok, but fresh? Well, no doubt that fresh is best best Best! So, every recipe I found for Apricot Pepper Jelly in my books and online....yes EVERY one called for dried apricots. Bother! So I decided to take a swing at improvising jelly, and going off of hints from a friend as well as advice on some gardening email loop somewhere I just made apricot jelly and added a cup of chopped peppers to the final product.
Apricots make my yellow sink look pretty ;)

Simmering the apricots

Straining the juice. It is definately time for me to get a bigger strainer!

Added the pepper and skimmed the foam off. Sadly, I did "catch" a few pepper bits amongst the foam. Foam isn't bad, it just makes the jam less sparkly clear. I usually add a bit of butter to each recipe to make reduce foaming. This just had a bit extra.

Ohhh is it good!
It would pair fabulously with cream cheese for a cracker spread.
It would elevate
a lunch box pb&j
to the gourmet.

I read that sugar reduces the heat. I would agree. This jam will not burn your socks off. =)

Fast forward a few weeks, and my little tree bore fruit. I made a couple of frozen pie fillings with those. For those of you with the Seasoned with Love cookbook, I use the Apricot Pie Filling under the Misc. category. It is simplicity itself. If you don't have that cookbook and are wishing for one, contact my talented friend Carolyn over at Gift of Simplicity - wonderful food blog. Always feel free to ask me for specific recipes, I'm really not secretive about them. I just am not a recipe blogger. Strange, but true.

Drumrolll.......and change of subject. The picture above is my segue.

I was out weeding in the zinnias with these helpers. I think Stephen was getting fussy, actually, I know, he was put out because he couldn't be out with David. Sweet Sarah went and got him a chair to sit in.

Now the pretty shots....I'm so thankful for these delightful zinnias. Maybe in a few years I'll tell you why. How's that for cryptic =)

They make a fabulous set of bouquets for a Birthday girl, my daughter, our kitchen table, jam backdrops....

Foodie question for you canners.

What is the one thing you will never not can (if you can help it)
What is something you dream of concocting to can?
What is the best thing you've canned so far?
Please answer any/all that apply!!!! =) Thank you for visiting. I will say that it has been a few comments about enjoying this that keeps me at it. It's quite tempting to quit and everytime I think I'm going to, something gets said. So Gracias! Have a wonderful week. And yes, there is more to come, always more. When I squeeze it in. Off to the laundry room...cherrio!

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