On the move…

30 11 2009

Those of you who’ve been reading Kitchen Jam since I launched it in August might have been wondering when the next recipes will be posted. Soon, gang – soon – and I promise you’re going to enjoy what I’ve got in mind for December!

But this weekend instead of writing posts, I was building websites – one at patsteer.com that will be the new home of my survivorship blog Life Out Loud and my freelance writing projects; one for Kitchen Jam in development here; and one for Dog Trainer’s Log, evolving here.

None of these sites is ready for prime time yet – although I’m aiming to launch all of them officially later this week. When all of the transitioning is complete, your links, bookmarks and RSS feeds to the WP.com sites will direct you automatically to their new domains. Until then, wish me luck as I work to make 30 years of writing and 10 years of tech training pay off.

I’ll update this site with the final addresses. Meanwhile, feel free to drop by and check out the construction. Look for my special December blog-warming project at the new and improved Kitchen Jam: The 12 Jams of Christmas, featuring 12 new and easy jam recipes perfect for quick holiday gifts. I’ve also got special things planned after the New Year for both Dog Trainer’s Log and for the same old me (working under my real name now!) at Life Out Loud. Stay tuned!





Shared Jam: Bounty in a recipe exchange

27 11 2009
71370-Jars of Jams

Image by SeattleRay via Flickr

I didn’t find out about Under the High Chair’s Virtual Jam Swap in a straight-line kinda way. I was reading my latest Foodbuzz headlines, and saw a new post called Jam Swap from Coco Bean, a blog from the Montreal food improv team of Ian and Christie. Seems they’d discovered that canning – at first intimidating – could pay off just like a cookie exchange at their friend Aimee’s real-life Jam Swap. I followed their link to Aimee’s Under the High Chair blog (don’t you love the way links are the internet’s version of a bread crumb trail?) At UtHC, I discovered that in addition to her live jam swap, about which Ian had written, Aimee had just posted a round-up of her virtual (blogging) jam swap. Her post includes the links to the adventures (and misadventures) and 25 recipes from jammers who personify the improvisational approach to preserving flavor.

Julie Powell cooked her way through Julia Child‘s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I want to cook my way through all 25 recipes in Aimee’s Virtual Jam Swap. Always on the lookout for unique and new jam recipes, several of the VJS entries caught my eye, and fit right in to the kinds of fruit available at this time of year in central New York:

Apple Pie Jam from Kim at Flavorista (lower sugar, with pectin)
Grapefruit Cranberry Marmalade from Cheri at Kitchen Simplicity (no added pectin)
Coconut Jam (Kaya) from Cheryl at Backseat Gourmet (no added pectin)

UtHC’s jam swap also collected recipes for jams, butters, marmalades and spreads made with plums, rhubarb, apricots, peaches, blueberries, cherries, mint, peppers, berries and apples.

I’ve got a lot of reading and recipe-sorting to do; I definitely need to put some of these recipes into my jam repertoire. Thanks, Aimee, for sending out the call for your Virtual Jam Swap, and then sharing all of the bounty with the world.

What jams will you be making next – for holiday gifts, or when the fresh fruits in your area come back into season? Will you share your jam plans?

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More Online Jam: How-to-can videos

21 10 2009
Caning Apple Pie Filling
Image by upturnedface via Flickr

‘Net searches turn up the most amazing things.

Yesterday, searching for a more refined method for drying my overabundant herb harvest, I wandered into CanningUSA — a site which offers recipes, how-to videos and podcasts, and lots of very specific canning information. No longer do novice canners need to plow through tables of canning instructions; if you learn better by watching, then the videos of various canning and preserving processes are made just for you!

Need some visuals that explain how to make and can Jam and Infused Fruit?

Need an explanation of the differences between raw, hot and cold pack canning methods?

Hoping to put up some of the apples or pears filling your local farmer’s market?

If you’re looking for a visual guide to canning and preserving, as well as some interesting new improvisations on familiar preserving recipes, you might want to drop into the CanningUSA site, and investigate their online help section.

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Bloggers Jam: When I can’t be in the kitchen…

23 09 2009

I make jams, pickles and salsas all year ’round, but I admit that when the first berries come to the farmer’s market in early June until the autumn’s killing frost is my pantry-making busy season. My fresh herbs are protected, so I’ll save drying them for last. It’s almost time to cut the herbs to dry, but before that will be pears, plums and apples to can, more zucchine to pickle, peppers to roast and can.

Unfortunately, high harvest is also my last chance to get in some camping weekends. When I can’t be in the kitchen playing with my own recipes, I’m sifting through everyone else’s summer of putting food by, marking which recipes I want to try.

My first posts on this blog were about the cookbooks on my canning bookshelf and my favorite online preserving resources. Some of my other favorite preserving and jamming resources are in the sidebar — linked in my blogroll.

Canning Across America: Canvolution (CAA) describes itself as “an ad-hoc collective of cooks, gardeners and food lovers committed to the revival of the lost art of “putting by” food.” I first discovered the Canvolution on Twitter, where several food bloggers including @SeattleTallPopp were talking about a Can-a-Rama. Before I knew it I was sharing recipes, and planning my own personal can-a-rama on the weekend of August 28 (in between making state fair entries!) The CAA site has recipes contributed by participating chefs and food lovers, an extensive list of sources and how-to’s on its resources page,  and keeps a calendar of upcoming events focused on canning, jamming and preserving.

A Crafty Lass, written by Erin McCleary, isn’t all about jam — but her Minnesota State Fair blue-ribbon jam recipes are all on my must-try list (especially one of her most recent: Peach Ginger Conserve.) Erin’s beautiful photos draw me into each recipe.

Charmian Christie writes Christie’s Corner, another blog that cooks more than jam and preserves. However, those recipes come with a sense of humor that always makes me smile (Real food. Real life. It ain’t always pretty. — what a tagline!) I found her first when her recipe for Butterscotch Peach Jam was suggested in my reader, and I was hooked. Christie is about to move her blog to WordPress (Oct. 1) and when that happens, I’ll be updating my blogroll link.

Cake and Commerce author Linsey includes many preserving recipes, including Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Jam (I’ll be trying that one as soon as I’m back from my fall camping trips!) You’ll also find recipes at C&C for pickles and fermented foods, and other whole and organic, locally-produced food ideas.

These are just a selection of the food writers, resources and recipes which keep me intrigued and inspired. I hope you’ll check them out while I’m busy checking out some nature in my outdoor kitchen!

What is the most inspired canning or preserving recipe you’ve stumbled upon in the past few months? Please share!

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Online Jam: jam-making resources on the web

16 08 2009

My regular bookshelves have several books I use as jam recipe references — but one thing today’s jammers have that wasn’t available when most of my paper references were written is the web. The internet provides easy access to thousands of jam recipes, sites about canning and preserving, and general how-to information. Web resources are a vital part of my kitchen bookshelf. Some of my favorites are linked under blogs and websites. Here are some never-fail resources:

Ball, one of the leading manufacturers of canning equipment and jars, is celebrating its 125th anniversary with a salsa contest and issuing special commemorative jam jars. Find more information and recipes under the Recipes | Home canning link in their menu bar at http://www.freshpreserving.com/

Sure-Jell, owned by Kraft Foods, makes powdered and liquid pectins. Look for recipes using pectin and general tips for jamming and jelly-making on their site. Sure-Jell also makes a no-sugar/low-sugar pectin which, while not sugar free (it contains dextrose) makes it possible to create a no-sugar-added jam that has no artificial sweeteners added and adds only about 1g of carbohydrate per finished tablespoon of jam. See the basic no-sugar recipe here.

Certo is liquid pectin also made by Kraft Foods. At the main Kraft site, type ‘Certo’ in the search box to get a refreshed list of recipes. When I created this link, Kraft’s site had over 100 jam and jelly recipes using Certo on the web.

Looking for recipes which are a little more exotic than strawberry jam? Make sure to go to Recipezaar and search for jam (RZ is also linked under Websites). Recipezaar has almost 400 jam and jelly recipes to choose from, many submitted by home cooks. Cooks.com has several hundred jam and jelly recipes in its files and even the Food Network features fresh jam recipes in its files.

The National Center for Home Food Preservation has collections of recipes both with and without pectin, and with and without added sugar, along with tips and how-tos for jamming and jellymaking.

At http://www.foodsaving.com you can view the entire USDA booklet Complete Guide to Home Canning. Guide 7 is the section on jam and jelly making, and contains valuable safety and how-to tips along with a handful of basic recipes.

JamJellyRecipes is listed in BlogCatalog as a jam and jelly recipe blog — and the site does have a large recipe collection as well as links to hard-to-find canning supplies and lots of preserving cookbooks. However, the recipe content can sometimes be overwhelmed by the amount of advertising on the site.

I’ll be sharing other online resources as I find them; what are your favorite sources for new and old jam recipes?

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Bookshelf Jam: References beyond the big blue book

13 08 2009

I collect cookbooks — at garage sales and in thrift shops and flea markets. Cookbooks from the 50s, 60s, and 70s, cookbooks that celebrate the tastes I grew up with and the recipes I learned to cook from are favorites. I enjoy most the way they’re written — the recipes tell stories; they are informative and fun to read. Here are some favorite cooking references from my preserving bookshelf, and (when they’re available) links to them at Amazon.

Every jamming kitchen bookshelf should have a copy of the standard preserving reference – the Ball Blue Book, which I discussed here. It’s inexpensive, available and only as far away as your nearest supermarket’s display of canning supplies:

Ball Blue Book – The Guide to Home Canning and Preserving, © Ball Corporation (various annual editions; I own three.)

When you’re ready to move beyond the big blue book, expand your bookshelf with these resources:

The Home Canning and Preserving Book, Ann Seranne, © 1975 Barnes & Noble Books (originally published by Doubleday, 1955, as The Complete Book of Home Preserving

Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook, Revised Enlarged edition, ed. by Nell B. Nichols, Farm Journal, © 1959, 1972 Doubleday & Co.

Putting Food By, Janet Greene & Ruth Hertzberg, 4th. Edition © 1988 The Stephen Greene Press

Jams, Jellies and More, Carol W. Costenbader (Storey Country Wisdom Bulletin a-282) © 2003 Storey Books

Trying to figure out which book to own, or just experimenting with your very first batch of jam? Kraft Foods, manufacturers of Certo (TM) and Sure-Jell (TM) pectin, include a jam-making pamphlet in every box or package or pectin. Since the 70s, I’ve saved various KF pamphlets on jam and jelly making. Each pamphlet includes at least two dozen recipes, suggestions (beyond toast and jam) to use your jam creations, and all of the basic jam-making information you’ll need to get started.

Can’t find one of the resources listed above at Amazon? Ebay booksellers often carry older editions of cookbooks, as well as the newest version – and on Ebay, you’ll only pay a fraction of the original price for a used edition. Happy bookshelf stocking!


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All-Access Jam: The Ball Blue Book

12 08 2009
20 jars of jam!
Image by chrisfreeland2002 via Flickr

Chances are the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving is the first canning and preserving reference you think about when you think about jam-making. That’s no surprise – Ball Corp. began publishing their preserving reference in 1909, and the 2009 Ball Blue Book is the proud 100th edition of this handy preserving reference. It’s inexpensive – full price is under $10, and many places reduce the price during canning season. And it’s only as far away as your nearest supermarket’s display of canning supplies.

The big blue book is actually only around 125 pages; earlier editions were even smaller. But it’s more than a collection of recipes. Every edition (I own three) is packed with the most up-to-date recommendations for canning, pickling, preserving, and jamming. Editions since the 90s have included USDA recommendations for water-bath canning of jams; earlier editions described other sealing methods such as inversion of jars and covering preserves with paraffin.

The Blue Book describes everything from the materials you’ll need to the processes involved in jamming, canning, preserving and freezing. It includes conversion charts to help you purchase enough raw fruit and vegetables to make your canned goods, and illustrations of things like ‘head space’ (the amount of air you need to leave in a jar between the top level of food and the bottom level of the jar lid.) This year’s commemorative 100th anniversary edition includes more recipes and suggestions for your canned and preserved bounty that take jam beyond a spread for toast.

When you’re ready to take your jam-making beyond the recipes included in the box of pectin, or if you’d like a broader canning and preserving reference that’s fun to read and easy to own, it’s time to add an edition of the Ball Blue Book to your kitchen bookshelf.

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