Saturday, March 12, 2011


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I believe that if you love to preserve or can foods then you love to cook and enjoy fine dining, not just eating.  For me, half the fun of putting by small batch preserves is also discovering ways to incorporate those rainbows of color and flavor into your baking, your daily meals, creating delectable dishes to share with those you love.
It is from that desire that I used a jar of my Clementines in Honey-Spice Syrup to create a Honey Spice Pound Cake.  The cake recipe is similar to a pound cake, and if you like the idea but have no preserved clementines you could use any other type of fruit instead, like blueberries, or pineapple or bing cherries.
Go ahead get creative, after all that is what cooking is all about.



1 3/4 Cups Raw Sugar

1/2 Cup unsalted Butter, softened

1/2 Cup low-fat fat Cream Cheese, softened

3 large Eggs (room temperature)

1 Tbs zest of Lemon

Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 Tablespoons)

2 teaspoon Vanilla

3 cups sifted All-Purpose Flour

1 cup preserved Clementine slices including ginger bits

1 cup diced dried Plums

4 teaspoon Honey Spice Syrup

1 teaspoon Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2 teaspoon Salt

1-6 oz carton Fage Total 0% Greek Yogurt

1/2 Cup sifted Confectionary Sugar

Cooking spray


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Gather all ingredients.  Drain pint jar of Clementines in Honey Spice Syrup reserving liquid.

Beat the sugar, butter and cream cheese at medium speed with a mixer until well blended. 

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest.

In a smaller bowl measure the 3 cups of flour.  Remove 2 Tbs and sprinkle over the fruit, gently stirring and tossing to coat.

To the remaining flour add the baking powder, baking soda and salt, stir to combine.  Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture alternately with the yogurt, be careful not to over-mix.  Gently, fold in the Clementine slices and plum pieces.

Pour the batter into a 10-inch tube pan or bundt pan coated with cooking spray.  Sharply tap the pan once on the counter to remove air bubbles.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes more or less depending on your oven, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes on a wire rack.  Remove cake from the pan.  Allow to cool completely.

Combine the powdered sugar and honey-spice syrup in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.  Drizzle over the cake.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Any time is a good time to pickle carrots and young fresh baby carrots add an interesting twist to this recipe, but my premiere experience pickling carrots was born of necessity.

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On what was arguably one of the coldest nights of the year, my refrigerator decided to stop working. I guess that was good in a way, because the food that hadn’t already defrosted went out in coolers on the porch. Unfortunately, the repairman said that it could be several weeks until he got the part he needed. After clearing out the refrigerator shelves and carefully stowing the coolers on the back porch, I was left with some eggs and a handful of carrots. 
They both got pickled. Eggs I have done - regularly (check out my recipe), but pickling carrots was a new idea to me. I did not have enough carrots to justify pulling out the pressure canner and I wasn't in the mood for a Morrocan Salad.

A search through the kitchen cabinets, a look through my pickling and preserving cookbooks, and I realized I had everything I needed for a variation of pickled carrots. Pickled carrots are served at good Mexican restaurants, traditionally placed on the table with the chips and salsa when you sit down. Celery and jalepenos are the usual canning partners for this recipe, but not completely necessary.

My family likes things spicy and since I did not have the traditional jalapeno peppers, I replaced them with some dried red chilies. I also omitted the celery as I had none, and so was born my  'Americanized' version of Mexican Pickled Carrots.

They are tasty as a side dish, add an interesting twist to a Five Bean Salad (and I don't always use the same five beans - makes it so much more interesting), or an Antipasto Salad. I have been contemplating chopping them up and adding them to a Tuna Salad or maybe a Banh Mi  type sandwich.  Oh my, the possibilities are endless!



6 to 10 Carrots, skin removed, sliced 1/2 inch thick

2  dried Chili Peppers, stem removed, sliced 1/2 long
(or 1 small fresh Jalepeno sliced)

1 tsp whole Black Peppercorns

1 tsp Salt (scant)

1 cup White Vinegar

1/2 cup of Water

4 Bay Leaves

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Quart Canning Jar


Begin by gathering and preparing all of your ingredients as this canning process moves fairly quickly. Do not forget to wear some kind of rubber gloves while cutting up the chilies. 

Put the oil in a heavy bottomed pot with the bay leaves and cook over medium heat for about a minute to infuse the oil with bay flavor – do not burn, they should be fragrant and maybe slightly toasty.

Add the pepper, stir for 30 - 45 seconds.

Add carrots, salt, and water (enough to cover) and bring to a boil. Simmer rapidly until not quite tender (about 5 minutes).

Add peppercorns, vinegar and more water if needed to cover. Stir to mix, return to a boil. Immediately remove from heat.

Carefully transfer carrots and spices (as many peppercorns as you can) while hot into sterilized jar.  Add liquid to 1/4 inch from lip, don't worry if there is a little left over.

Cap. Process in a hot water bath for 20 minutes.

Remove jar, let cool, overnight making sure seal is completed. 

Store in pantry. When serving remove the bay leaves.  

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Pressure canning is an economical method of preserving low acid foods and the only method recommended as safe by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for low-acid foods such as vegetables, some fruits, meats, fish and seafood.  A temperature of 240 F must be reached and maintained for a specified amount of time to kill harmful bacteria. This temperature can be reached only by creating steam under pressure.

Pressure canners can be relatively expensive, but if properly cared for will last years. If you plant a good-sized garden or can get lots of produce cheaply, it is definitely worth having one in your pantry. If your family is small and canning is something you probably will not do that often, freezing and/or canning using a Hot-Water Bath is probably good enough.

Hot Water Baths, aka Boiling Water Baths, are suitable only for canning strong acid foods like tomatoes – and for finishing pickles, relishes, jams, jellies, chutneys, conserves, vinegary preserves and the like.

Pressure canners were redesigned in the 1970's. Models made before the 1970's were heavy-walled kettles with clamp-on or turn-on lids. Modern pressure canners are lightweight, thin-walled kettles.

To be considered a pressure canner for preserving food, and not just for cooking under pressure, the USDA recommends that the pressure canner be large enough to hold at least 4 quart-sized jars. Really, in this case, bigger is better.

A tight-fitting lid that holds the ‘controls’ covers the kettle itself. Clamps fasten down the lid. Basically, pressure canner controls are: a pressure gauge, often referred to as the ‘dial’; an open vent to let steam escape; and a safety valve that blows if the pressure becomes unsafe.

Like the hot-water bath canners, the pressure canner will have a removable rack to keep the jars from touching the bottom of the canner or each other, and/or a wire basket that lets you lift all your jars out at one time.

Food scientists have determined that 10 pounds in the sea-level zone (240 F/116 C) as the safest and most effective pressure to use for low-acid foods. Depending on your location across the country, that amount will be variable, make sure to read instructions for putting your food by carefully and adjust the pressure accordingly.

Do not be intimidated by pressure canning. Your new pressure canner, and I do recommend purchasing a new canner - not a used one, will come with instructions. Take the time to read them through carefully and you will realize that operation is not as difficult as you may think.

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