This year has been a fantastic year for raspberries here on Vancouver Island. We have eaten ourselves so silly with these little red jewels over the past month that the last bucket we picked needed to go somewhere other than directly into our bellies. I like jam that actually tastes like fruit and have been reticent to try out jam recipes in the past for fear they would be too sugary sweet. This batch turned out beautifully.

Raspberry Peach Jam
adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
Yield: 8 half pint jars

6 cups raspberries (or mixed berries)
41/2 cups peaches, peeled and chopped
2 cups sugar
1 package liquid pectin
juice of half a lemon

Combine fruit and sugar in a large pot. Stir over medium-high heat until the sugar melts and the fruit has released its juice. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. At the end of the cooking time, if the fruit has not cooked down to the consistency that you like for jam, mash it with a potato masher. Skim off the foam, add the liquid pectin and cook for 1 minute more. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice. Pour into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch of head space. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims, then top with lids and screw caps. Process for 5 minutes in a boiling water bath. Jeff loves jam on fresh pretzel buns (a Saturday morning tradition here) while I like a dollop stirred into plain Greek yogurt for a little fruity zip. Enjoy!


Kitchen riddle solved

Two brave souls offered guesses to the kitchen riddle I posted below. This odd mix of powder, seeds and allyl isothiocyanates turned out to be neither cheese or home-made poison…..

it’s MUSTARD! While you probably think I’m crazy to waste time and effort to make mustard, one taste will convince you otherwise. Jeff loves it on roast beef, burgers and sandwiches while I love it in salad dressings, marinades or mixed with brown sugar to glaze salmon or ham. This year’s batch was my 14th (if memory serves correctly) and I used Guinness for the base. It’s the only Martha Stewart recipe I regularly make and its one I’m happy to share.

Grainy Stout Mustard
adapted from Martha Stewart Living Magazine
yield: ~ 3.5 cups

1 cup mustard powder
1 cup water
3/4 cup of mixed brown and yellow mustard seeds (I usually do 1/2 cup of brown and 1/4 cup of yellow)
1 1/4 cup dark beer (this year was Guinness but I have used all sorts of stouts and ales to great success)
1 1/4 cups white-wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
1/4 tsp. ground mace

In a glass measure, combine mustard powder and water. Mix well and let stand for 20 minutes. In a non reactive bowl, combine beer, vinegar and mustard seeds. Add mustard powder mixture and mix well. Cover the bowl with a non-reactive plate and let sit 48 hours.

After 48 hours, add remaining ingredients and mix well. Transfer to a food processor and process. If you want grainy mustard, process 1-2 minutes; for a creamier mustard, process 5-6 minutes. Transfer to airtight containers and refrigerate 1 week before using to let the flavours develop. Martha Stewart says the mustard keeps for 1 month but in my experience, it keeps well for at least 6 months. It’s great on burgers, sandwiches, in marinades and everything you can think of. Our favourite thing to do is mix it with brown sugar as a glaze on bone-in roasted ham.  Enjoy!


Kitchen riddle

I am a mix of the contents of these two bowls and need to soak/marinate for 48 hours before I am ready.

Part of me (on the left) is a thick yellow liquid with a sharp, pungent flavour resulting from the allyl isothiocyanates created when I was mixed with cold water.  The other part of me (on the right) is more mellow but filled with seeds.

When I am done, I will be strong enough to make you cry.

What am I?!?!

End of summer

September disappeared and I’m not quite sure where it went. We have had a beautiful Indian summer with balmy days, blue skies and clear nights. 
When I asked Jeff what exactly I did in September, he silently pointed to the freezer. Oh yeah… we two Nanaimo bears are ready for a long winters nap.

I canned 25 pounds of tomatoes, 20 pounds of peaches and pears, 10 pounds of pickles and 10 jars of apple sauce then froze 25 pounds of roasted tomatoes, 15 pounds of green beans, 10 pounds of nectarines, 25 pounds of bell peppers,10 bags each of blackberries and raspberries- so along with our stash of salmon, we’re in good stead. Thank goodness for generous in-laws with a very large freezer! My eyes were certainly bigger than my freezer space.

I never thought I would become a woman who wears an apron much more frequently than lip gloss and who feels genuine joy at full pantry shelves. This whole experience is teaching me that I do need to find a more simple way of living. I think that’s a good thing.