Thursday, August 18, 2011

Up Next...

Fresh, but not home-grown, Strawberries and Figs

Ever since I bought that Steam Canner, I think I have gone completely freaking INSANE with jamming! (But it is soooooo easy now!!!).

My first attempt at making Plum Jam - a few years ago - was a complete disaster.

I'd found a recipe for "Easy Plum Jam" on the 'net. And yes, the actual jam-making part *was* pretty easy. But the Plum Prep was extraordinarily challenging (they don't like to peel easily - even after blanching) (and they aren't freestone - so de-pitting was quite laborious, as well) (and, to add insult-to-injury, the whole peeling/pitting process made a helluva mess in the kitchen!). Then I figured I could use my Mammoth Stock Pot/Deep Fryer to do the whole Water-Bath thing...

Well, after Gawd-only-knows-how-long, I determined that my ceramic cooktop could not generate enough heat to boil the quantity of water needed for water-bath canning (I swear - it took me HOURS to figure that out!).

Basically, I burned the better part of a Saturday on that project and, afterwards, I swore "Never Again!!!"

So fast-forward a couple of years (long enough for me to *almost* forget the SHEER AGONY of my Plum Jam Debacle)... P tells me about her Steam Canner, and how it didn't take nearly as long, nor require nearly as much heat to properly can and seal her jams. I priced 'em out (appx $35.00) and figured, what-the-hay, right? So I bought one!

Then I later discovered that Steam Canners aren't really considered "proper" canning. :::sigh:::

Well, ya know what?! I'm just gonna go ahead and do it anyway - 'cuz it's all I've got! And I figure if I stick with a 6-month expiration date... Well... Hopefully it'll be okay! (Fingers crossed that I never have to title a post: "Don't use Steam-Canners!!!")

Anyhoooooo... While I was out-and-about today, I spotted a Migrant Farm Worker standing on the street corner, surrounded by flats of various fruits including - Yummmm!!! - Watsonville Strawberries! So I pulled over, asked how much, and bought a flat!

These are SUPER-FRESH strawberries (waaaaaaaaayyyyy better than what you'll find in the grocery store!). Strawberry Jam is probably *the* easiest jam to make. Strawberry Freezer Jam is super-duper easy (and super-duper fresh-tasting), so I'll probably make a small batch of that (minimal cooking required - hence, the super-fresh flavor). I know Strawberry "plays well" with Splenda and - even though you can buy Splenda-Sweetened Strawberry Jam at the store, I figure home-made has *got* to be better!

Yet - at the same time - I think I want to stick with my "do something a little different" theme, so I found a recipe for Strawberry-Fig Jam here. The flat of strawberries was $10.00. I ran over to the local farm-stand and picked up two baskets of figs (which were almost as much $$). It definitely won't be a 50/50 mix of strawberries/figs. Maybe 60/40. We'll see...

So, I've got to burn another Vacation Day tomorrow (I keep maxing out my PTO balances at work - Poor me!). I think I'll putter around in the kitchen and crank out another batch or two of jam... Then, maybe, spend the afternoon splooging some clay in my (no, I haven't forgotten about it!) studio.

Pressure's on: We're planning to visit my friend, D, who retired early and Ex-Patted to Mexico. We're gonna go see her in November and I promised her some hand-crafted doo-dads. I have *got* to get my butt out there and start cranking out more "stuff!" Plus, it's August! Time to start thinking about making Holiday Ornaments for my colleagues @ work...

So yeah, I'll spend the morning Jammin' in the Kitchen (recipe and pics to follow, I'm sure), then the afternoon in the studio...

Then, tomorrow evening, the Kitchen/Bath Guy is coming to re-review the job and get his contract signed (and collect a deposit, I'm sure!), so we can get the Bathroom Renovation Project started...

Busy times are comin'!

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