Tuesday, January 31, 2012


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I have become enamored with marmalades.  Their taste is like a grown-up Sweet -Tart making one want to pucker up and smile all at the same time.  I recently made a lovely, pale, light on the peel Pink Grapefruit Marmalade, but I wanted to do something more, something bright and orange.

I wanted to find the perfect balance between fruit and vegetable, something simple so the colors and flavors enhanced each other like Ying and Yang, Popeye and Olive Oyl, Yogi and Boo-Boo, and what the heck, I wanted to make something the children would like too, now, not later when they are all grown-up. 

The result of my desire is Orange - Carrot Marmalade, which is not only eye candy in a jar, but just a little sweeter than traditional marmalade, fulfilling my desire to entice the children to partake of, because they like it.  Of course, I didn't invent this particular pairing, there are a number of recipes floating around cyberspace, and I am not sure who did, but that really doesn't matter. I've discovered it now and made it my own.  As far as I know, you won't find this on any supermarket shelf, but then again, that just makes this marmalade taste so much better.



4 Cups grated Raw Carrots

4 Lemons

2 Oranges

Water, about 3 Cups

4 Cups Sugar

1 Tablespoons Butter

Pinch salt


Scrub clean and squeeze oranges and lemons reserving the juice.

Slice the rinds of 1 orange and 2 lemons, place the remaining peels and pits into cheesecloth (see directions in Pink Grapefruit Marmalade) and/or set  peels aside to dry for Citrus Zest.

Cook citrus peels in 3 cups of water over medium heat until tender--about 30 minutes.

Add the grated carrots and  another 3 cups of water, bring to a boil, reduce and cook until soft, 20 to 30 minutes. Stir in the orange and lemon juice.

Add sugar all at once. Stir constantly, cooking slowly until all sugar is dissolved. Take your time may take from 30 to 40 minutes. Once you are sure sugar is dissolved, bring to a hard boil. Boil for a minute or 2 - (Candy Thermometer at 220 F if thats your thing)

Remove from heat. Add pinch salt and 2 teaspoons butter. Stir until incorporated.

Ladle into hot half pint or pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Adjust caps.

Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath.

It may take a week to jell, but if you are anxious  you can add 2 Tablespoons Pectin when you add the grated carrots.

Yield: about 3 to 4 pints or 6 to 8 half pints.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


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In my home tacos are a favorite meal. Not only are they delicious and quite easy to make, but versatile allowing everyone to create a unique meal.  I like re-fried beans, lettuce, onions, jalapenos, cheese, and sour cream all wrapped up in a soft tortilla lightly toasted on my lovely flat cast iron pan, an old Warner Ware.  I was raised cooking in cast iron cookware, and have a wonderful collection of Griswold and Warner Ware handed down from both sides of our family.  Paul and I also collect iron pots and pans, sometimes buying something we don't really need because the bargain is just too good to pass up.  

Paul prefers his 'taco' dinner as a salad, a bed of lettuce and some salsa satisfy his taste buds, while our 16-year-old, Daniel, craves a soft taco shell with lots of sour cream and cheese.  Hunter, our 23-year-old, loves to pile everything on his taco, particularly jalapenos and hot salsa.

We don't always use hamburger either, sometimes I'll cube up pork, chicken or venison for our taco stuffing.

Because we do partake of some version of Americanized tacos so regularly and I was constantly running out of the store bought seasoning, I decided to blend my own at home.  This recipe is one derived from many available on-line.  I've discovered that cumin, garlic, cilantro and cornstarch are absolutely necessary to the blend, but the other spices can be adjusted to taste - like it hot, add more red pepper.  Go ahead and double or triple the batch and store in an airtight container.  If your family is anything like mine it won't be around long enough to become dull.


2 Tablespoon. Cornstarch

1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin

1 Tablespoon. Cayenne Pepper

1 Tablespoon Chili Powder

1 1/2 teaspoon Cilantro

1 teaspoon Salt

1 teaspoon White Pepper

1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder

1/2 teaspoon Paprika

1/4 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes*

*(if you like it hotter, add more or leave out if you like a milder flavor)

Blend well.  Store in airtight container.  Use 2 Tablespoons per pound of meat.

Monday, January 16, 2012


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The leftover skins from citrus fruits are aromatic and full of flavor. They can be dried out in the sun, in an oven, a dehydrator, or in a warm, dry spot in your kitchen or pantry. Then those dried skins can be used for creating a variety of culinary delights including a lovely barbeque rub.

Your citrus peels can be used in so many ways: added whole or powdered to baked foods and cakes, mixed into a stew or stuffing, but one of my favorite ways to use cirus peels is in a dry rub for grilling. It is so easy.  Blend everything together, store in a jar on the shelf.  Just remember, the quicker you use it, the more sophisticated the flavors, so keep your batches small.

Most dry rub recipes, used by 'grill masters', start with two basic ingredients, sugar and kosher salt, before adding your preferred spices at a ratio of 8:3:1:1.  The following is a simple example.

8:3:1:1 RUB

8 Tablespoons Brown Sugar 

3 Tablespoons Kosher Salt

1/2 teaspoon Cumin

1/2 teaspoon White Pepper

1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

1/2 teaspoon dry Coleman's Mustard

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Store in an airtight container.
For the best results, the rub should have time to 'rest' with the meat. Rubs should be applied liberally to moist, thawed meat for a minimum of two hours. You have maximum flavor if you apply the rub 24 hours before throwing on the fire. This allows the rub's ingredients to marinade with the meat's natural juices. If preparing duck, chicken, or some other fowl for barbequeing, place the rub under the skin for best results. Play with the citrus to find your favorite flavor combinations.  For instance, orange peel works well with duck, lemon peels with chicken, and a combination of grapefruit and lemon blends wonderfully with pork.

Wrap your meat tightly in plastic wrap, this helps keep your rub married to the meat, and rest for the desired time in the refrigerator.  Pull out meat about an hour prior to cooking and let return to room temperature. Grill according to taste.

Personally, I don't consider cooking on gas grilling. For an unrivaled, full-barbeque flavor, Paul and I prefer cooking over a natural hardwood charcoal fire, but we all do as we must!

Dried grapefruit and lemon peels in the Mini Chopper.
Grind into small bits, store in a container in the fridge

or with your other dried spices.



2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt

2 Tablespoon Dark Brown Sugar

2 Tablespoons dried Citrus Flakes

2 Tablespoon Cumin

1 Tablespoon Paprika

1 Tablespoon diced Garlic

1 Tablespoon diced Onion

1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

1 teaspoon White Pepper

1 teaspoon ground Sage

1 teaspoon ground Thyme

NOTE: Garlic and onion may be fresh diced (added just before applying the rub) or dried. Dried citrus flakes can be any combination of lemon, orange and grapefruit.


Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Store in an airtight container. Pack the dry rub onto your next rack of ribs, pork roast, venison loin, or chicken. 

NOTE:  Purchase the best quality spices you can find. There is a huge difference between the older discounted spices, and the newer fresher bottles.

Monday, January 9, 2012


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Here in the northeast United States, the bulk of preserving happens from June to September; however there are still plenty of fun preserving projects possible during the darker months of the year - like now, for instance. For those of us here in New England, all the citrus fruits stacked along the produce shelves are a wonderful splash of color (and taste) reminding us of sunnier days and the promise of spring. What better way to calm your spirits after a busy holiday season then to get back into the kitchen and put by some small batch preserves.

When my grandmother, Margery, was alive, each autumn she would send her sister, Aunt Alice, a box of crisp New England apples; in exchange, around the winter holidays or soon thereafter, a box of grapefruit from Aunt Alice’s tree would arrive by post from her home ion Florida. Granma would cut them in half and eat them for breakfast.  Of course a three minute egg, toast and jelly or jam were often served at for breakfast also.
Back then, my first taste of marmalade came from a stone crock. It was tart, bitter, with some rinds that weren’t quite soft, not as appealing to my young taste buds as sweet jams and jellies, but as I matured, so did my taste. Besides once I discovered marmalade was the spread of choice for James Bond, I was all in.

Marmalade is traditionally made with Seville oranges, but our local market had a sale on grapefruit and so I will be making a Pink Grapefruit Marmalade. Also, I have tended toward replacing or reducing sugar in many of my preserves, but for the marmalade I’m keeping with the traditional recipe as far as sugar goes.


As I said, Seville oranges are the best for a classic, bitter-sweet marmalade, and this is the time of year to buy them. You can find them in supermarkets and they freeze well whole, as do a number of other citrus fruits, so, if they are on sale, get enough for several batches. You can defrost them when you have the time.

You will need 3 pounds of grapefruit (or whichever citrus you prefer), plus the juice of two lemons, six pints (12 cups) of water, 4 pounds (8 cups) of sugar, and 2 teaspoons unsalted butter.


Wash the fruit, cut in half and remove the seeds. Keep the seeds; you need these for the pectin. Also, when peeling citrus fruits for marmalades be sure to keep some of the white membrane (pith) found just under the skin, the pith also contains pectin.

Set the seeds and pith aside on a square of cheesecloth (available in any good kitchen store or the canning aisle at your local hardware store) draped over a bowl.

Next, remove and discard the remaining pith from the grapefruit and lemon. Finely chop the segments, adding any seeds and membranes to the cheesecloth, make sure to capture all the juice. Place everything into a large heavy bottomed pot – a Dutch oven is great if you have one.

Add water. As a rule, two pints of water are used for every 1 pound of fruit. This will all need to reduce by a third before you add the sugar and will take a couple of hours of slow cooking, so keep the fire on medium - low for now. Be patient and stir often so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot.  You also need to add the cheesecloth with the seeds, piths, etcetera, tied securely. Just let it float in the juice.

Cut the rinds into thin slices and add to the cooking juice.  The amount of peel you add is personal preference. You do not have to use all the peel in the marmalade. Set the extra peels aside on a wire rack for drying.  Later they can be ground and saved for seasonsings.

In about 2 hours, check to see if the peel is soft (pull one out and take a bite) and the juice has reduced, squeeze the cheesecloth bag to extract the pectin and set aside.

Add granulated sugar a little at a time. Stir until all the sugar dissolves. You don’t want it crystallizing in the jar. This step may take a little time - focus, be zen about it and give the sugar time to dissolve - it will be worth the effort!

Once the sugar has completely dissolved, turn up the heat. You need to get the mixture up to a rolling boil (if you have a candy thermometer, you want to hit 220F) so the marmalade will set, a process that takes about 20 minutes.

If you don’t have a candy thermometer dip in a wooden spoon and then hold it high over the pot letting the marmalade drip from the edge. If the mixture is sufficiently cooked, the drops run together to form a hanging flake. This is known as the flake test.

You can also test the mixture by putting a spoonful of marmalade on a plate and putting it somewhere cool (but not in the fridge). The surface should set within a few minutes and crinkle when pushed with the finger.

If you feel your marmalade has not set, continue the rolling boil for a few minutes longer and re-test. When the mixture is ready, remove from the heat and add the butter. Stir slowly until the butter is incorporated into the juice. If there is any foam on top, remove.

Ladle into sterilized pint  or quart containers leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Seal, place in Hot Water Canning Bath. 10 minutes for pint jars; 15 minutes for quarts.  Give several weeks to set.

You should end up with 9 to 10 half pints or 4 or 5 pints.

Saturday, January 7, 2012



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Several years ago, I developed a pickled pepper recipe for a friend. Daryl had given me some seeds from a pepper he had wrapped up in tin foil. He had been to a restaurant for dinner and complimented the chef on the meal, particularly the peppers. Well, the peppers were imported from Italy and the chef had given Daryl an actual dried pepper (hence, the tin foil wrapping).

Knowing that I like to grow things and being excited at the prospect of harvesting bunches of these delicious peppers, he passed the seeds onto me. We had one good season. Disappointingly, the second and third years (generations) never produced enough peppers for pickling; possibly, they were a hybrid. Anyway, I have a few seeds left from the last lonely pepper - one a third generation plant produced - and I am going to try planting one more time. Though a bit disappointing in the pepper production arena, the whole experience did lead to a wonderful recipe for preserving peppers.

I wanted to do Italian style preservation in what I assumed would be just olive oil, but every recipe I found was more towards pickling. I queried all my foodie friends and relatives, searching high and low for recipes on preserving peppers. Finally, I modified one recipe from many. 

You can use any kind of pepper in this recipe: sweet, hot, or a combination of both.  We certainly continue to enjoy peppers bottled this way and hope you will too.

NOTE: If using any hot peppers, please make sure to wear some kind of glove while cutting or stemming. Do not rub face or eyes - even if you get a sudden, uncontrollable itch!



4 pounds Peppers

1/4 Cup Raw Sugar

1/2 Cup Water

1 Cup Oil

2 Cups White Vinegar

2 cloves Garlic

1/2 Tablespoon prepared Horseradish


Wash Peppers.  You may stem and pack them whole or slice them into circles, depending on your preference and size of canning jars. Do not worry about removing seeds.

In a stainless steel pot, combine all ingredients. Simmer for 15 minutes.  Do not boil.

Using a slotted spoon, pack Peppers into sterilized jars.

Bring remaining pickling juice to a roiling boil.  Remove from heat. Using ladle, evenly divide liquid between jars of peppers.  You may place garlic cloves into two jars or discard, as desired.

Jars need to be filled leaving only 1/4 inch headspace.  If you do not have enough picklingjuice, top off containers with olive oil.

Clean rims.  Adjust caps.

Process in a Boiling Hot Water Bath: 10 minutes for half pints or pints, 15 minutes for quarts.

Makes about 8 half pints. Stores on shelf, unopened, for 1 year.

Refrigerate after opening.