Kitchen Projects

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cherry preserves, straight talk about pectin and a can-it-forward giveaway

Pectin. No Sugar Pectin. Ball. Certo. SureJel. Pomona. Pectin Jaune. Confusing, right? Let’s talk pectin. What follows is strictly my opinion and reflects my own experiences with various commercial pectins. I am not endorsing or dismissing any of these products. They are all effective and useful. Choose the pectin, or no pectin, according to your own expectations and desires. Pectin is necessary to build a gel for preserves, to suspend the fruit in a syrup. All fruit has some pectin, but some fruits have a lot of pectin and others have hardly any. Apples, citrus, gooseberries all have loads of natural pectin, while most stone fruits (cherries, apricots, peaches and plums) do not. Consequently, making apple jam or marmalade that sets up is a relatively […]

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in season. gooseberry pectin and raspberry violette preserves.

Last weekend the first gooseberries arrived at the market. They were the bright green, super tart, barely ripe berries that make exceptional pectin. Homemade pectin is a very useful pantry items as we go into the stone fruit season. Cherries, apricots, plums, peaches, nectarines are my favorite of all the summer fruits, so I go into full on preserving mode, putting them up in any and every variation. Sadly, these fruits lack natural pectin, which is not an issue for chutney, salsa, pie filling or fruit in syrup. But jam? confitures? That’s tricky… I do this preserving for the art, the connection to some ancient way, long before grocery stores and boxes of pectin. I want to take the magic ingredients of fruit, sugar and […]

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secrets to successful canning (and a giveaway, too)

Bet that title got your attention. I’ve been thinking, as the season gets going, and I make a few batches of jam and pickles, just to flex my muscles before teaching. And a few more batches to test some recipes. As I go through the motions, get my natural rhythms and instinctive moves fired up, as I doe-si-doe in my kitchen, I realize I’ve developed a whole choreography over the years, and I bet you will, or have already, too. Today, I’m sharing ten things that get me through the canning season. My ten commandments of canning. 1. Time management. Don’t try to can when you are rushed. If you get slammed at work and can’t get home to make the  jam, don’t fret – […]

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what to do with lamb belly

When Craig Rogers, the Pied Piper shepherd of Border Springs, sent me four good sized lamb bellies, I was intrigued. Craig’s exceptional lamb is familiar to diners all along the Eastern seaboard. Just check out the offerings at Bourbon Steak DC, Volt, or Husk. It’s good enough to be named right there on the menu. I’ll admit it, I was way beyond intrigued, I was thrilled. Seriously – what an opportunity! What fun! What a challenge! Lamb belly. An interesting cut, fatty and flavorful and very adaptable. It’s also called lamb breast, and resembles veal breast in many ways. In fact, I wonder if the nomenclature is a nod to the US’ fascination with pork belly? Hm. Marketing. Looking at the meat, I could tell […]

dc food bloggers bake sale

If you’re in Washington, DC, please plan to come to the DC Food Bloggers Bake Sale this Thursday, April 26, from 2-6PM. And tell all your friends! Neighbors! Co-workers!Blog about it! Facebook! Thanks to our friends in the Food Section, we’ll be at the Washington Post building, 1150 15th Street NW, right inside, on the first floor. (Psst. Look for A GIANT Cookie to show you the way.) It’s all for such a good cause – Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale National Campaign to end childhood hunger in America. And every cent we raise will go to Share Our Strength. Our bake sale is part of a larger national food bloggers bake sale campaign, and we’re aiming to have the highest grossing bake […]

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canning tuna at home

For most of my cooking life, canned tuna has been a very useful pantry item. Tonnato sauce with the first rose veal of the season. Salade nicoise for a ladies lunch. Or an incomparable tuna noodle casserole. Back many decades ago, the summer between sophomore and junior year of college, I moved to the beach. I worked in the bars, both waitressing and bartending. It was a crazy time, hard work, long hours, multiple jobs, good money, and I was banking every cent for the next year in school. My apartment was kind of scary, but the kitchen was functional. Even at 19, I knew that cooking for myself was cheaper than eating out. I existed on fresh salads, cheese and bread. I usually got […]