Thursday, August 10, 2017

Chunky Peach Jam with Brown Sugar and Rum #canbassador

Where did summer go? One second, it was spring, and now there's a hint of fall in the air.

What's also in the air *sniff sniff* is the scent of peaches. Mostly because the nice folks at Northwest Cherry Growers and Washington State Stone fruit Growers sent me a giant box of peaches and nectarines.

When I was a kid, I loved peaches and nectarines, but I didn't realize they were different fruits that you could buy. I thought that nectarines were peaches that had been cleaned better. So when my mom would hand me a peach, I'd give it back to her and ask her to wash it better. And again. And again.

Yeah, I was a weird kid.

I still love both peaches and nectarines, so I was giddy happy to have a whole box of them to cook with, eat out of hand, add to yogurt, and make some jam. And maybe I'll work them into some other recipes, too. Peach ice cream is pretty darned good.

So anyway, as soon as the box arrive, I picked through it and sorted out fruit that had gotten bumped and bruised in shipping so they wouldn't go bad, and used those to make jam right away. Since I didn't have a jam recipe that I was itching to make, I browsed through the Northwest Cherries site to see what they suggested. I found one credited to Recipezaar (now renamed Food.com) that looked interesting, since it included brown sugar and rum. So I made that one.

Oh, sure, I didn't make it exactly like this recipe. I have a new appliance here that I'm testing (currently code-named "Al") that I used to make the jam. I had to adjust the recipe to fit the appliance, so I tweaked for that. But, since I'm not ready to uncover that appliance yet, I can't really give you the adjusted recipe (and seriously, if you don't have that appliance, you probably don't want the adjusted recipe,)

So, here's the recipe I used. The brown sugar adds some richness that you don't get from white sugar, and the rum adds its own flavor - but it doesn't taste boozy, so this is perfectly fine for your breakfast toast.

It's a little bit chunky, but if you wanted a smooth jam, it would be easy to give it a quick blend with a stick blender before or after cooking.

Here's how it happened:

Chunky Peach Jam with Brown Sugar and Rum
Recipe from Northwest Cherry Growers, courtesy of recipezaar.com
Makes about 3 pints

Memphis salad plate courtesy of Zak! Designs.
6 cups peaches, peeled and coarsely chopped (about 4 lbs)
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
6 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup dark Jamaican rum
2 cups granulated sugar

In a large bowl, combine peaches with the brown sugar, lemon juice and about half of the rum, stirring to mix. Cover and let stand at room temperature six hours or overnight.

Wash jars and lids in hot, soapy water. Sterilize jars for 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath, then leave in hot water until ready to fill. Prepare lids according to manufacturer's directions. (Note: if you making this for immediate use, you can skip the canning and refrigerate the jam. If you want to store it at room temperature or save for later use, then follow the canning instructions.)

Pour the fruit mixture into a large saucepan or dutch oven. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Cover the pan, reduce heat, and cook the mixture until the peach chunks begin to look translucent, 15 to 20 minutes; stir occasionally to prevent sticking. If the jam becomes too thick and threatens to scorch before the fruit is done, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water.

Add the granulated sugar, increase heat to medium-high and cook rapidly, stirring almost constantly, until a spoonful placed on a chilled saucer and refrigerated for a few minutes wrinkles instead of runs when the saucer is tilted. (Take jam off the heat while doing this. If using a candy thermometer, this should happen at about 220 degrees.)

Add remaining rum and stir the jam (it will boil up when you add the rum) for 2 minutes over the heat.

Ladle boiling-hot jam into hot, prepared jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Top with lids and process for 15 minutes in a boiling-water bath. Cool jars completely on a dish towel before labeling and storing.

Thanks to Northwest Cherry Growers and Washington State Stone Fruit Growers for sponsoring this post!
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Friday, August 4, 2017

Fired Up Green Beans

Oh dear. I got a sample of an easy fermenter kit and decided to make the recipe they sent me. It sounded like a great idea, but ...

Oops.

I went to a couple of different stores, and fresh green beans were nowhere to be found. Bummer. But then I realized that I had frozen green beans. Would it work?

The lid made a lot of sense and I loved that I didn't have to do anything except screw the lid on. Nothing else to think about, unlike other fermenting methods I've used. I really liked the glass weights, since they had a grooved top that made them really easy to insert into the jars and take them out.

After two weeks, I was really curious about the beans. there was a slight whiff of dill even before I opened the jar that was enticing. It reminded me of pickles that I like. Mmmm.

The brine had good flavor, but the beans were a big nope. They were too soft to be pleasant to eat (although the flavor was good when I nibbled a tiny bit). Not a problem with the recipe, though. I really shouldn't have started with those frozen beans. I'm going to be looking for beans in the stores and farmers market, and I'll give this a try again.

If you're curious about the recipe, here it is. Use fresh beans, okay?

Fired Up Green Beans
Recipe courtesy of Nourished Essentials

1 pound green beans, topped, tailed and trimmed to fit inside the jar
2 cloves garlic
2 sprigs of dill
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
4 cups of water
2 tablespoons sea salt (I used kosher. Canning salt would also be a good idea. Table salt generally isn't used for pickles)

In a saucepan, heat water. Add salt and stir till dissolved. Cool to room temperature.

Place garlic cloves, dill and chili flakes in the bottom of a pre-sterilized, quart-sized wide mouth mason glass jar. Next, add the green beans.

Carefully pour the cooled brine over the green bean mix until completely covered, leaving 1 1/2 inches of head space. (I used one of the Easy Weights to hold the beans under the liquid.)

Cover the jar with the Easy Fermenter Lid.

Store in a cool, dark place (room temperature 60-70°F is preferred,) for 1 to 2 weeks.

Once jar has been opened, move to cold storage. The flavor will continue to develop with time.

I got the easy fermenter kit from the company at no cost to me to do a review. I decided to post the recipe, as well, since it's a keeper.
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Monday, July 31, 2017

The Best Brown Rice Ever

So ... I like rice. A lot. I like plain old white rice and Mexican-flavored rice and rice pudding and risotto and paella and fried rice. Yeah, I like rice a lot.

But ... most of my favorite rice dishes involved white rice. I know that brown rice is better for me, but I've never been that fond of it. I'll eat it, but I don't get all googly-eyed about it like I do over my favorite white rice recipes.

That all changed a while back when I figured out how to make brown rice that's actually ... well, I won't say it's exciting, because after all it's still just rice - but it's something that I look forward to eating.

It's so freakishly simple, too. It's not about how you cook the rice, because you cook it any way you normally cook rice, whether that's on the stove or in a rice cooker. Personally, I prefer my rice cooker because it's so easy.

Okay fine, you can go ahead and tell me your tried-and-true rice cooking method that's always 100 percent foolproof.

I had a foolproof method, too, until I moved to high altitude and rice became my nemesis. I decided it was a battle I wasn't willing to wage, so I bought a rice cooker. Problem solved.

So anyway, when I cook white rice, I often flavor it with Better than Bouillon's chicken base. But I wasn't that fond of it with brown rice for some reason. It just wasn't a good pairing.

Then I found the magic ingredient, again from Better than Bouillon. But this time, it's their mushroom stock. Oh heck yeah. The mushrooms enhance the earthiness of the rice while at the same time adding some richness and savoriness. It's the perfect pairing.

The rice doesn't taste particularly mushroom-y, but it definitely adds something extra. If you want mushroom-flavored rice, add more of the mushroom base - but don't get too carried away, since the Better than Bouillon also adds salt. In fact, when I use it, I often (usually) omit salt.

Sometimes I add butter or oil when I make brown rice like this. Sometimes I add a touch of saffron. Sometimes I add fresh mushrooms (crazy, right?) or I'll add frozen peas when the cooking time is done. I just stir them in and let the rice rest for a short while. They warm up, but stay bright green and they don't overcook.

To be honest, I probably won't be making brown rice without the mushroom base ... unless I run out of it. And that will probably be a white rice day.

Awfully Good Brown Rice

2 cups uncooked brown rice, rinsed
1 tablespoon Better than Bouillon mushroom base
(more or less, to taste)
Butter or oil (about a tablespoon, or to taste) optional

Cook the rice as you normally do, with the added Better than Bouillon.

Oh, and if you think the rice in the photo is a teeny bit overcooked ... perhaps it is. I've been messing around with a new appliance as well as some new brands of rice, so it's not a perfect as it could be.

This is NOT sponsored, encouraged, or nudged by any companies. and I didn't get any samples.
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