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archive for canning

january is on the move

Sunday, January 11th, 2015

Recipe: blood orange marmalade

Jeremy often comments on the amount of daylight we get in December – or rather the lack of daylight. Every evening when the low sun slipped behind the mountains, he noted the time with an Eeyore-esque sadness in his voice. The only reason I had any awareness of the short days was because I received this daily reminder from Jeremy. It doesn’t get to me. But I will say that January offers something refreshing. It’s not just that we’re on an upswing from the daytime minimum, but it feels like the world is in motion again. These days, the world is moving a little faster… on skate skis. I think of skate skiing as the third in our triumvirate of free-heel skiing (telemark and classic nordic being the other two) and the winter sibling of trail running. It’s probably the most challenging skiing technique I’ve learned to date. Twila warned me of this when I inquired about it over the summer, so I didn’t have unrealistic expectations going into skating.

a morning of skate practice

beautiful sunlit fog

While I’m spending a good bit of time clambering up that (steep) learning curve for skate skiing, it’s important to mix it up with some turns on the mountain or a ski tour into the high country. Getting outside every day obliterates that disconnect that so many feel in winter from being holed up indoors. And with each snowstorm or bout of sunny weather, I have this intimate feel for January in the mountains. It’s lovely and invigorating. There are no winter blues over here.

it’s extra nice when i get puppy time

jeremy, erin, and banjo under falling snow

banjo wants us to go!!!

Another thing I look forward to in January is the arrival of blood oranges. Citrus is delightful in winter – but blood oranges are just so beautiful and fun. In my opinion, they don’t really have a superior flavor to other varieties like satsuma mandarins or Cara Cara, but they make beautiful gifts. I’ve been waiting months to get my hands on some blood oranges so I could make marmalade. Sure, I could have used other oranges earlier in the season, but blood oranges have that lovely reddish jewel hue that is hard to resist.

gorgeous color – amiright?

blood oranges, sugar, and powdered pectin (optional)

give the oranges a little soapy scrub a dub dub

**Jump for more butter**

patience rewarded

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Recipe: blueberry jam

We’re just a couple weeks away from summer and everyone I know is busy doing stuff. I can’t keep track of who is where and doing what and when anymore (forget about keeping track on Facebook, the only thing in my feed the past few days has been the Red Wedding). We have been working on so many things around here that the local flora has been popping up like a surprise party.

suprise! gold banner

Last year, when I started on my canning kick, I felt like I was in a frenzy to grab up the local peaches and ripe strawberries and ripe local luscious wonderful tomatoes. But when I said (in my head) that I would like to make some blueberry jam, I found that organic blueberries were prohibitively expensive. At $6 a pint, one batch of jam would cost me $36 for the blueberries alone. Screw that, I said to myself. Besides, I had a hundred pounds of tomatoes to can. No blueberry jam.

My friend, Laura, gave me a heads up on a one-day special at Whole Foods Boulder last Friday: $1.99 per pint of organic blueberries. Hello?! I was in town that day. I bought a case. Weekend project: blueberry jam.

you are mine

six pints of blueberries

all you need: sugar, lemon, cinnamon, nutmeg, pectin, and blueberries

The first thing to do is squish the blueberries. I tried mashing them with a heavy meat tenderizer and they sort of went zipping out of the bowl. I set the meat tenderizer down and decided to squash them by hand, one by one. The point is to break the skin so the juices release and come into contact with the sugar otherwise the sugar will be too dry and may burn during the jamming process. It’s a good activity for non-skilled associates (children, spouses, other relations, friends, even strangers), but I don’t recommend asking the dog to help. I found it to be rather therapeutic. Also, my fingers didn’t stain (much) because blueberry guts are almost colorless and the skins didn’t seem to release much of their deep color on my hands.

i’m crushing your head (who remembers that skit?!)

mix the sugar with the crushed berries

zest and juice the lemon while the berries boil

**Jump for more butter**

a tale of two seasons

Friday, April 12th, 2013

Recipe: strawberry vanilla jam

Some people can become really bent out of shape when winter gets all up in their spring. I’m not one of those people. I’m used to straddling two seasons at any given time because I live at the boundary of the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains. In the mountains, we are usually dawdling behind the flats come springtime with our snows and cold temperatures in contrast to their colorful spring blooms and flowering trees. Then we plunge headfirst into autumn and first snowstorms as their mosquito-bitten legs still strut around in shorts, flip flops, and summer. The great thing is to be able to leave one season and enter another in the span of 30 minutes and the canyon that separates the mountains from the flats.

the morning the storm cleared out

so colorado

A recent storm plastered the whole area with snow. Winter here. Winter there. I haven’t skied it yet as there has been a lot going on lately like routine mammograms and ultrasounds (which came back clear – booyah!), work, friends visiting from out of town, and heaps of paperwork. It’s all good. All good.

working with helliemae’s this week

met up with dear aran for a nice walk and talk around chautauqua park in boulder

It was only two weeks ago that I was complaining about those little liar strawberries in the store – organic, dark red that turned out to be flavorless with the texture of styrofoam. I should have known better, but I am an ever hopeful individual. I bought another quart this week and they were juicy, sweet, perfumey. Local strawberries still have a few months to go in Colorado, but I’m already looking forward to making more jam come June. Strawberries are one of my favorite things to come with the warmer months. Last year I canned several batches of this strawberry vanilla jam to give as gifts since Jeremy and I rarely consume jam. If only I had known.

sugar, vanilla beans, strawberries, lemons, pectin

hull and cut the strawberries

Turns out that Jeremy is a fiend for this jam. This one in particular. I would sometimes have one or two jars that didn’t seal properly during the canning process, so they would go into the refrigerator to serve at breakfast when we had house guests. And I noticed that the peach jams remained untouched (remember, the boy doesn’t eat stone fruits) and the strawberry vanilla jams would empty in no time.

split and gut the vanilla bean

macerate the strawberries in vanilla bean and sugar

stir it all together and let refrigerate overnight

**Jump for more butter**