Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Eggs And Jam Don't Mix

There are certain things in life, that just don't mix.

Like oil and water (though apparently, BP disagreed). Peanut butter and banana (yuck). Angelina and Billy Bob (what was she thinking). Or baked beans and my husband (they'll bring tears to your eyes... seriously).

But custard and jam? Yeah. Add them to the list. I'm just not sure that Emeril Lagasse knew what he was doing here.

If you wanna give it a whirl, here's what you'll need:

1 Pie crust (You can go to the trouble and make one yourself, or do the sensible thing, and have the Pillsbury doughboy do it for you.)
4 large eggs
1 Cup heavy cream
2 Cups half and half
3/4 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Blueberry Jam (see recipe here)

Preheat the oven to 400*.

Bake until the crust is golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 375*.

In a heavy saucepan combine the cream and half and half and heat until mixture just comes to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Whisk the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and vanilla together to combine. Add the hot milk mixture to the egg-sugar mixture and whisk briskly to blend.

Transfer custard mixture to the pie shell and bake until the custard is set but still slightly wobbly in the center, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. When cool to the touch, store it in the fridge.

When you're ready, top with blueberry jam. Or don't. Either way, it's best at room-ish temperature.

I just wasn't taken by the egg and jam mixture. It's like my tastebuds didn't know what to focus on. I'd give this a C+ and Brett would give it a B. The custard itself, isn't bad, if you're into that sort of thing... but don't bother with the jam.

It's like toothpaste and orange juice (the worst). Or Brett Farve and retirement (eye-roll).

Friday, July 16, 2010

Peach Madness

Have you tasted the peaches lately? Oh my goodness! Juicy and yummy and everything that's right with the world!

So we bought two boxes of these delightful specimens... and I decided to ruin them all, by trying to make jam with them.

This was my first real jam-failure, and I didn't take it so well. There was moaning, and tears, and the gnashing of teeth. Dramatic two-fisted-pounding on the countertops and fervent prayers to the jam gods.

And then Brett calmed himself down, and I figured out how to fix things, so that at the very least, the jam was edible.

Here's what you'll need for the recipe found in the Certo Pectin box:

4 Cups chopped peaches (which turns out to be about 10 peaches, pealed and pitted... or pitied, which is what I did when I finished)
1/4 Cup lemon juice
7 1/2 Cups sugar
1 Pouch Certo pectin

Combine all ingredients except the pectin, and bring to a full rolling boil; boil for 1 minute on high, stirring constantly. Add the pectin and return to a full boil, letting boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Ladle into sterilized jars, leaving 1/8 inch headspace. Boil in the boiling canner for 10 minutes.

If you use this recipe, you'll find a jam so sweet, it'll make your mouth pucker and cause you're arms to flail about uncontrollably, as you work to swallow. It was awful. And the only thing I could think was "perfectly good peaches... sweet, tender, and juicy... and I ruined them."

There was no way I was gonna throw out that many peaches in their prime. So, I dumped all of my canned and sealed jam, back into the stock pot and started adding peaches. I added about 5 more (give or take a bit or two), with their skins still on, as well as another 3 Tablespoons of lemon juice, and brought the whole mess to a rolling boil. I boiled, stirring constantly, for about 15 minutes, to see if it would thicken up a bit (it didn't). Then, I ladled the jam into fresh, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace, and processed as normal.

The end result was a jam that tastes a LOT like the inside of a peach cobbler... which can't be all bad, right?! It's on the runny side (because of all the extra peaches and thus, peach juice that was added) but would be GREAT on top of ice cream. Taste-wise, me and the mister, give this an A.

Update: My Dad texted me this morning with a thumbs up as well!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Raspberry Heaven

I decided to be "the best little pastor's wife in the world," and made mini-cheesecakes with raspberry jam, for the Elders meeting tonight at the church where my husband serves.

I'm not a great pastor's wife. I don't play the organ or sew or serve on the funeral reception committee or play with peoples babies or even find women's groups, particularly enjoyable. Instead, I play the drums and make inappropriate jokes and wonder why church casseroles always have to include cottage cheese. I encourage churches to hire nursery staff and would rather sit at home watching "So You Think You Can Dance."

Yeah. I'm not so good at the clergy-spouse bit.

So occasionally, I'll try to pocket some brownie points by baking treats for the Elders or the Board. I was inspired by The Pioneer Woman, Betty Crocker, and Martha Stewart for this recipe.

What you'll need:

For the crust
1 Cup pecans (finely crushed)
4 Cups vanilla wafers (finely crushed)
2/3 Stick butter

For the cheesecake
2 Packages cream cheese (softened)
1 Package low-fat cream cheese (softened)
1 Cup sugar
4 Eggs
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 Cup low-fat sour cream

For the topping
Previously prepared raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 350*.

Melt the butter, add vanilla (stir together), then add your finely crushed pecans and wafers, stirring until coated. Put a good tablespoon of "crust" in each cupcake liner and using a juice glass, press down until it's good and "tight." (It sounds like I'm describing an exercise move. But then, we all know that's not possible, as I'd rather make cheesecake, than exercise.)

In your mixer or a large bowl, add the cream cheeses and the sugar and beat until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until incorporated fully. Scrape everything down and throw in the sour cream, mixing well.

Pour cheesecake batter into prepared liners and fill 3/4 full. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the the tops of the cheesecakes juuuust begin to crack. Let them cool on the counter, still in the cupcake pans, for about 5 minutes. The middles will sink just a bit (and if anyone out there can tell me how to make this NOT happen, I'd appreciate it). While they cakes are still warm, spoon about a tablespoon of raspberry jam into the sink-hole. Let them cool completely on the counter and then store in the fridge for up to, two days.

You'll die when you eat these. And unlike yesterday, you'll be convinced you went to heaven. Perfect for this pastor's wife. Just don't expect me to host the reception.

A+ all around... husband, elders, and myself. Now if you'll excuse me, Alex is about to dance.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Raspberry Hell

I woke up this morning, determined to work out.

I pounded some coffee, threw on a sports bra (casually throwing on a sports bra is no easy task, by the way... there's always quite a bit of wriggling and squirming involved... and if you're a woman, you understand what I'm talking about), bemoaned the fact that I NEVER refill the Brita pitcher when I empty it, and headed for the door with much resolve to end my exercise draught.

I opened the door to step out onto our porch... and I died. I also realized that I've apparently, lived a wretched, sinful life. Because it was HOT!!!

So God, if you're reading this... I'm sorry.

I turned around, seared the palm of my hand on the door knob, and returned to the relative comfort of my air conditioned home.

And made Raspberry Jam.

What you'll need:
2 Quarts raspberries (fresh is best, though I've been told you can use frozen berries, if it's all you've got)
1 Package powdered fruit pectin (they're in little 1.75 oz, brown packages)
7 Cups sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Crush all your berries until you've got five cups; if they're not totally crushed, fear not... raspberries seem to break down easily when they get rolling. Stir in the pectin and heat over high heat until mixture come to a full boil, stirring constantly. Add sugar all at once and return to a full boil. Boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process filled jars in the boiled water canner for 5 minutes.

I'd give this jam an A- and my husband would give it a solid B+ (he doesn't really like raspberry seeds).

Please the Lord today. Make this jam.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sneaky Apricot

Drooling yet? It's okay if you wanna come over. My house is clean.

Right this second.

So come now, or not at all. Cause seriously, within the next half hour or so, the place'll be a wreck again.

Yeah. Scratch that. It's already dirty.

Geeze. How do people do it, with children?

Anyway, I had to do SOMETHING with the Apricot Jam, right?!

Though to be fair, this jam would be divine on any sort of pork product you could find... a pulled pork sandwich with a tablespoon or two plopped on top? Used as a grilling sauce for your pork loin? A dip for your pork rinds, perhaps? Possibilities.

But I was craving Peach Cobbler last night. And when the cravings hit, you gotta hit back, right!?

This is a cobbler recipe that's been my Mother's staple for years (she usually uses Blackberries)... but it's not unique. Nope, not unique at all. But it is EASY.

Here's what you'll need:

1/2 Stick of butter (Go ahead and throw this in your large baking dish, pop it in the oven, and begin the preheat process. Set the oven at 375*. The butter will melt while you do the next bit.)

1 Cup ap flour
1 Cup sugar
3 Teaspoons baking powder
1/2 Cup milk
And mix all this together.

5-ish Peaches (Sliced thin with the skins on! I know... but trust me! The texture is wondrous.)
1/2 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup apricot jam (The flavor won't be obvious, but there'll be "something" different. You'll like it!)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Dash of cinnamon if it suits your fancy
Throw all this in a pan and bring to a boil.

Pull that baking dish outta the oven and pour the batter mixture in the bottom. Then carefully spoon your peach mixture on top of the batter. Put the whole thing in the oven and cook for about 35 minutes, or until the top is beautifully golden and when you tap the crust, it goes, "thunk." Then it's done.

OF COURSE, you must ignore the 2 cups of sugar and 1/2 a stick of butter... and top it with homemade ice cream. *quiver*

Both of us give this a big, fat A. Cause that's what we're beginning to look like. Big, fat "A's." Must. Stop. Ea... nom, nom, nom.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

My Apricot Jam Plan

So one of my favorite lines from Friends, comes after Monica makes loads of jam (her, "Get over my man, jam plan.") and Joey, obviously enjoying his third or fourth jar of jam says, "Remember when your mom used to drop you off at the movies with a jar of jam and a spoon?"

I figure if we had kids, they'd be singing a similar tune.

I made eight more jars of jam today. Dried Apricot Jam.

Here's what you'll need:

1 Pound dried apricots (chopped)
5 1/2 Cups water (divided
1/4 Cup lemon juice
5 Cups sugar

In 4 cups of water, let your chopped apricots soak and plump overnight. It's like a spa day, for your apricots.

In the morning, throw the whole bowl (water and plumped apricots) into your large pot and add the other 1 1/2 cups of water, as well as the lemon juice. Bring to a mighty boil and then lower the temperature to a simmer. Let simmer for 30 minutes stirring once at the 15 minute mark. Add all the sugar in a slow, steady stream while stirring non-stop. Bring it to a boil again, using high heat... and stir, stir, stir. Reduce the heat to medium-high and boil uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes or so. Take the pot off the heat and mash any large chunks of apricot. I had some pretty big ones, so I threw them into the food processor. Return chunks to pot (Ugh, that just does not conjure up pleasant images... chunks in a pot. Bleah.) and bring the jam to a simmer again, stirring constantly for 10 minutes.

Ladle into sterilized jars with a 1/4 inch rim. Process in the boiled water canner for 10 minutes.

Husband and I, both give this jam a B+... it's not nearly as sweet as the blueberry jam, a little runny, and not quite as flavorful, but it's still pretty good. Hope you enjoy... and send some with the kids... maybe throw a loaf of bread in their packs on their way out the door. They'll appreciate it and you'll be the best parent ever. Or at least better than we would be.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Rock and Roll Cookies

Lock your daughters in the house and pull out the earplugs... cause the Jam Cookies are in the house!!! Wooooo-whoooooo!

Grandma. Seriously. Put your shirt back on. No one wants to sign your bra.

Jam Cookies.

Get it? Rock and roll cooki... No? To much of a stretch?

Ooookey-dokey. Obviously, some jokes fall on deaf ears.

I've got quite a bit of seriously expensive jam in my house... so it's time to figure out how to use this stuff.

Enter exhibit A: Blueberry Jam Cookies (some folks 'round these parts, call these Thumbprint Cookies).

What you'll need:

2/3 Cup shortening (you can use butter, but they will spread a bit more)
1/3 Cup sugar
2 Egg yolks
1 Teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 Cups flour

Preheat your oven to 350*. Cream shortening and sugar until creamy. Add egg yolks, vanilla. Beat well. Gradually add flour, mixing well. Make into 1" balls. Press down centers with thumb and you can either fill these little rockers with jam now (which will make the jam slightly chewy) or wait until the cookies are done, pull them out of the oven, re-indent (not sure that's a word, but go with it) and then fill them with jam. This is what I did and I like it best that way... the jam warms up and starts to seep into the still-warm cookies. Either way, bake your cookies until they are slightly browned.

These are okay... B/B- kind of okay. Won't bring down the house or nothin'.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Visa's Got Nothin' On Me

Canning supplies.

Jars, rings, and seals.

Six cups of blueberries.

Pectin, sugar, and cinnamon.

One kitchen towel that did NOT see the blueberry blood bath comin'.

Bandaids and Neosporin to cover the unfortunate splatter burns on the tops of my feet.

The perfect piece of toast with homemade blueberry jam.
Nauseatingly expensive.

Clippity clop, clip clop. Calculator. Tappity, tap, tap.

Yep. Each jar of jam has cost me $11.89.


Here's the recipe for the jam, found in the book aptly named, You Can Can. I've made a few adaptations, so I'll list it the way I made it, and you can look the original up yourself.

What you'll need to make Blueberry Jam:
6 Cups blueberries
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 Teaspoon cinnamon
7 Cups sugar
2 Foil pouches of liquid fruit pectin

Once the blueberries are clean and dry, do the blueberry mash with a potatoe masher or the back end of a spatula. Mash those suckers until there's about 4 1/2 cups. In a large stock pot combine the crushed berries, lemon juice, cinnamon, and sugar, stirring well. Continue to stir as you heat to a full boil. Stir in pectin then return to a full boil. (Side note: I find it helpful to open both packages of pectin before you begin and stand them up in a coffee mug, for easy access... that way, you never have to stop stirring all that sugar, ensuring that scorching doesn't occur.) Boil hard, for one minute.

Ladle at once, into hot sterilized jam jars, leaving a 1/4 inch headspace. Process filled jars in a boiling water canner for 5 minutes (start the timer, when the water returns to a boil). Remove jars and cool on a towel, on the counter. (Another side note: make sure you use a towel, because the temperature differences between the jar, and some countertops, can make the jars crack.)

This was GREAT jam! That little bit of cinnamon is the perfect addition! We both give it an A!