Day 358! I may just have a heart attack.
I did CBC early this morning and was on traffic duty again on the Homestretch this afternoon, so leaving at 6 and stopping for one last gift en route, then getting stuck in hockey game traffic got me home at almost 7. I didn’t plan dinner (you’d think that after 357 days I’d learn something) but did pull a baggie of frozen chicken strips in buttermilk out of the freezer, and called to tell Mike to get sweet potato fries started. (Very unromantic of me, considering it’s our anniversary, but really we have the whole season to celebrate.) By the time I got home W had fallen asleep (he was up again at 8:30) and the chicken and fries were fairly cold and soggy… I nibbled on a few but was mostly interested in bread and jam while we made our last few batches of caramel corn with mixed nuts and fleur de sel caramels to give out tomorrow.
If I was really pressed to name my favourite food of all time, like if my life depended on choosing, I might say toast and jam. Dull, maybe. But I’d choose toast (or fresh, warm biscuits) with butter and jam over chips or chocolate anytime.
Dark, runny jams are my favourite; cherry, plum and black currant, although I go through semi-annual marmalade phases and would not turn down apricot or peach or a nice spiced apple jelly. I could happily go through life with an entire wardrobe of jams; a whole shelf dedicated to them. I do adore jam.
Years ago I made a couple of holiday-inspired jams that I decided to ressurect this year (considering my vow to not set foot in a mall for the few weeks before Christmas – I made and am still making a bunch of stuff, and I am a little bit hooked on etsy) and recently stumbled upon a new one. Besides the baking and caramels, I like having little pots and jars (I get old glass ones throughout the year at Value Village, church sales and the dollar store) filled with preserves to bring everywhere I go on the days leading up to Christmas.
This mandarin jam is my new favourite. It’s nothing like marmalade, as it contains no peel. It made perfect use out of the second half of a case of mandarin oranges we had lost interest in.
adapted from The Travellers’ Lunchbox
2 lbs mandarin oranges mandarins, well-washed
2 1/2-3 cups sugar
juice of 2 lemons
Finely grate about a tablespoon of zest from your mandarins, then peel all of them, removing as much of the white pith as possible. Cut each mandarin in half around its middle and pick out any seeds. Place in the bowl of a food processor with the zest and remaining ingredients and pulse until well blended and fairly smooth.
Transfer to a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn the heat down and simmer for about 30 minutes, until it sets – keep a small saucer in the freezer to drop small spoonfuls onto – if you can run your finger through and it leaves a trail, it’s set.
Pour into hot, sterilized jars, seal and cool, or refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 6 months.
Slow Cooker Apricot Jam
This is virtually effortless – the slow cooker does all the work! It’s perfect to make while you’re doing other things around the house.
1 lb. dried apricots, coarsely chopped
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 cups water
a knob of fresh ginger, grated (about a tablespoon)
2 cinnamon sticks or a shake of ground cinnamon
Combine everything in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 2 – 3 hours, stirring a couple times if possible. Uncover and cook on high, stirring occasionally, for another 2 hours or until it’s thick and jam-like.
Ladle into clean, hot jars and seal according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 to 15 minutes or refrigerate up to a month.
Makes about 4 1/2 cups.
This I came up with with a friend when we were, like, 20, and felt so grown up making our own jam in her own kitchen. If I made it again today I might attempt it without pectin; use it though if you’re nervous about your preserves (kind of like a marmalade) setting.
3-4 medium oranges
2 small lemons
3/4 cup water
1/8 tsp. baking soda
6 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup raisins
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. each ground allspice and cloves
1 – 85 mL pkg. liquid pectin
Coarsely grate the zest off the oranges and lemons. Peel off the white pith and membranes (throw them away) and chop the fruit. Place the zest in a saucepan with the water and soda and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, then add the fruit and cook for another 10. Add everything else but the pectin and boil hard for a minute. Remove from heat and stir in the pectin, let sit for 7 minutes, skimming off foam if you need to, then ladle into hot jars and seal.
December 23 2008 10:13 pm | preserves