canning grape juice from wine grapes

Since returning from our vacation, I’ve been obsessed with wine grapes. Dennis eyes me suspiciously and says “no wine making, seriously, for heaven’s sake.”  And I don’t intend to become a winemaker, but I do like to blend wine grapes into fruity, tasty grape juice. How could I help but be inspired when we spent the night in the hills above Ribeauvillé, on the recommendation of TrufflePig. This charming hotel, Le Clos Saint-Vincent, was a former cloister. The rooms were charming and very very French, with small brick private terraces and an incredible setting in the hills. We walked behind the hotel, finding a mirabelle plum tree, two apple trees, rose bushes, and then nothing but wine grapes as far as the eye could see. […]


plum perfect. four – or more – preserving projects.

The wonderful Washington State Fruit Producers sent me a present last week. As a Canbassador, they sent me 20 lbs. of perfect plums and 10 lbs. of gorgeous nectarines from the Yakima Valley and asked me to can away. What a glorious bounty with which to face a hurricane. This is the first post reporting on my #hurricanning adventures. (P.S. Thank you, Charlotte, for that brilliant hashtag. I’ve preordered the new cookbook you wrote with Anita Lo. So happy for you!) Let’s talk about these plums. This plum variety is often generically referred to as Italian Prune Plums, but in Alsace and the Rhine Valley, where we recently vacationed, they are called Quetsch (or Qwetsch.) When we visited Christine Ferber’s little shop in Niedermorschwihr, Alsace, […]


september challenge. packing.

We’ve just returned from a few fantastic days spent floating down the Rhine river valley, and traveling the Routes des Vins d’Alsace. I peered into every charcuterie shop, checked out every butcher. Oh, don’t worry. I did not overlook the vegetables. Or the cheeses. Or pastries. I stopped at markets and chatted up the people selling meats under cheerful red umbrellas. Struck up conversations. Snacked on picnic sized saussicon sec. I wanted to experience it all. The pride in their art is evident in every bite. Look at those pretty pastry covered patés. That’s when the inspiration struck for this month’s challenge. The Apprentice Challenge: Paté Campagne OR Paté Gratinée (ex: Pork Terrine with Pork Tenderloin Inlay) 
The Charcutiere Challenge: Paté Gratinée en Croute OR […]


what to do with 25, or 50, pounds of tomatoes

We returned from vacation and the first day back, I went right to the farm stand. I needed to see the State of the Produce. I knew the weather had been really hot and dry. As expected, the chiles were just starting to arrive. The jalapenos were huge and plump. And equally expected, the tomatoes were just gorgeous. A little panic set in. I started measuring off the weeks of tomato season, and all the foods I like to can – salsa, tomato jam, tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, tomato soup, tomato juice – and those I freeze – oven roasted tomatoes by the sheet pan full. I craved a tomato sandwich. A BLT. A BLaT (avocado.) I fretted. I calculated the pounds of tomatoes that […]


Decorating Cookies with One Tough Cookie!

I am so excited about this news. My good friend Gail Dosik, the one and only One Tough Cookie, will be coming to DC in December and I’ve roped her into teaching a couple of classes. I just love Gail, and I know you will, too. She’s smart and savvy and clever and makes the most beautiful, DELICIOUS, decorated cookies I’ve ever had. Stop being intimidated by piping, flooding, icing, and decorating! Gail says it’s easy to make great looking cookies.  In this class, you will learn from the best in the business, One Tough Cookie. We’ll all be decorating holiday cookies using her special techniques, learn  how to make a fabulous, flawless icing, and get hands on experience with those pesky little icing bags […]


National Can It Forward Day, Quickles, and a Giveaway

I just love pickles. Sweet, sour, or half sour. Pickle relish. Piccalilli. Cornichons. Incendiary Lime Pickle. Branston Pickle. The more the merrier. I don’t even know when I learned to make them. It seems I always have. I remember having a vat of pickles in the closet of my college apartment. The sweet pickle of my childhood. Then I learned about half sour (lacto-fermented) cucumber pickles – so easy to make, one jar at a time. That led to sauerkraut and kimchi for the healthy reasons and so much more. These terrific briny foods work for me. Yes, all that lacto fermenting is wonderful, but when the cucumbers of summer are gone, and it’s impossible to find anything but those suspiciously plastic wrapped seedless things, […]