Category Archives: Preserves

Purely Pear Sauce and The Joys of Eating In Bed

Pear sauce made with Bartlett pears…but pictured with Bosc pears. Because I ate all the Bartletts.

As I type this, I’m eating breakfast in bed. My breakfast? Freshly made pear sauce — fragrant and smooth and delicately-flavoured and just scrumptious! I’m spooning it up straight out of the jar, because I plan on eating the entire thing! Fresh pear sauce is so yummy. It’s just like applesauce, but…pear.

And have I mentioned how easy it is to make? So. Incredibly. Easy.

Pears were on sale this week and last week, so I had the DH buy lots so that I could make lots. I like to stir it into my homemade yoghurt sometimes, to sweeten it slightly, and add some fruit and fibre.

Want to make some yourself? Let’s! Be prepared though, it’s jaw-droppingly easy.

Purely Pear Sauce

Ingredients:

  • a bag of ripe pears

Peel pears, and quarter them. Remove pits and stems. Place in a pan over medium heat. The pears will release enough liquid that they shouldn’t stick to the pan, but be sure to stir it occasionally. Once the pears are mushy and appear to be cooked through, you can either mash them with a potato masher, use a stick blender to blend them in the pot, or blend them in a kitchen blender. And…done!

I know it seems too easy to be true — I was surprised myself. Even the DH didn’t believe the sauce only contained pears; he thought for sure that I had added in sugar. Nope! It’s Purely Pear Sauce!

I like to use ripe Bartlett pears for this sauce, and personally, I leave the skins on so that I get some extra fibre (and then just make sure to blend it extra well at the end). You can use Bosc pears as well (or any pear, really) but it will be a slightly different texture (a tad more grainy) and taste. That said, eh, use what you want! Life is too short to always follow the recipe. Tee hee!

Next Post: I made a great pea soup flavoured with ham bits for the DH. Should I post that? I think so! Or maybe something sweet. Mmm…I sure do love my baked goods!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday, and Happiness is Homemade!

Canning Pumpkin: From Gourd to Gourmet

homecanned pumpkin with textThings I have canned in the last year:

and now…PUMPKIN!

That’s right, I’m in the middle of making my own pumpkin pie, from scratch! I’ll share with you in a later post about the pumpkin pie, but here’s how to can your own pumpkin.

No preservatives, no added anything, just pure pumpkin!

Firstly, you need a pumpkin. I got this one when I went apple-picking with my family a couple of weeks ago. It was either going to be a jack-o-lantern or a pumpkin pie, and my tummy won the debate.

The pumpkin. I've heard that sugar pumpkins are good, but I just picked up one that wasn't expensive and looked cute. Meh. Good enough!

The pumpkin. I’ve heard that sugar pumpkins are good, but I just picked up one that wasn’t expensive and looked cute. Meh. Good enough!

You’ll also need a slow-cooker. Most people have one tucked away somewhere, otherwise they’re super-cheap on Craigslist.

Halve, and scoop out the seeds. Reserve those seeds for roasting.

Halve, and scoop out the seeds. Reserve those seeds for roasting.

Home-Canned Pumpkin

  • 1 pumpkin
  • water
  • a slow cooker

Cut of the top of the pumpkin. Scoop out the seeds and reserve for roasting. Scrape the insides of the pumpkin until no more gooey innards remain. Peel outside of pumpkin. Chop into small chunks. Place 1/2 the pumpkin in the slow cooker (it’ll likely take two batches to use up the entire pumpkin) with about 1 c. of water. Cook on high for about 8 hours, stirring every two hours. Once soft when pricked with a fork, blend using an immersion blender. Then, it’s ready to can!  

pumpkin peeled

To can, sterilize your canning jars. I just rinsed mine in water and popped them in the microwave for a minute. Then I filled up the jars with the pumpkin mixture, leaving about 1/2 cm room at the top of the jar. I screwed on the lids fingertip tight, and then placed them in boiling water for 20 minutes. Remove from water bath and let cool. You should hear the lids go ‘pop!’ at they cool and the seal sets. If the lid doesn’t pop, it’s not properly canned; but you can just put that jar in the fridge and use it up in the next week. If you follow this process though, you shouldn’t have any unpopped jars. And then you can store your jars in the cupboard and feel very pioneer-like! Or take a photo and post it on facebook. #authentic #preservative-free #hipsterforlife

Chop into pieces, and pop into the cooker, with some water. And yes, those are some pickled beets that you see cooling in the corner. My mum told me I was "a real farmer's wife"! Incidentally, I live in the city.

Chop into pieces, and pop into the cooker, with some water. And yes, those are some pickled beets that you see cooling in the corner. My mum told me I was “a real farmer’s wife”! Incidentally, I live in the city.

I’ve got my second batch of pumpkin in my slow cooker now, and the simmering pumpkin is making my home smell like pumpkin pie. I hadn’t realized that pumpkin, by itself and without any spices, actually has a distinct pumpkin smell. I reallllly want pumpkin pie now!

Boil to make sure they heat seal!

Boil to make sure they heat seal!

Which leads to me to my…

Next Post: Pumpkin Pie! And how to make it. Plus a fancy braided crust for that uber-Martha look. Bring on the (Canadian) Thanksgiving!

Making the Most of Leftovers: Easy Pickled Vegetables

Pickled veggies displayed prior to consumption.

Pickled veggies displayed prior to consumption.

Given that I’m not a morning person, I usually prepare the day’s lunches the night before. Tonight I was making Thai spring rolls, and had some sliced green peppers left over. And given that I have a waste not, want not philosophy when it comes to food, you know I had to use them up somehow. So I made some pickled vegetables!

Want to make some too? They’re the work of a few minutes only!

Easy Pickled Vegetables

  • 3 small carrots, sliced thinly
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1/2 green pepper, cut in thin strips length-wise
  • pinch mustard powder
  • 1 c. water
  • 1/2 c. white vinegear
  • 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
  • pinch black pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch of hot pepper flakes

Mix vinegars, water, and all spices (so everything but the veggies) in a bowl and heat in the microwave for 3 minutes. The pickling brine should be nice and hot when you pour it over the chopped vegetables in a large bowl. Make sure to press down the veggies so that they all get bathed in the brine; I stirred and pressed down gently with a potato masher, repeatedly for about 5 minutes. Then I scooped the veggies into sterilized jars, making sure to top up with brine to cover all the veggies in the jar. Let them sit for at least overnight. And then voila — condiment time!

Stirring the veggies with the pickling juice.

Stirring the veggies with the pickling juice.

I used these quantities and ended up with just the right amount to fill three half pint jars. Given that I fully expect to eat these pickled veggies within a few weeks, I only sterilized the jars in the microwave. I’ll keep the jars in the fridge until used, but had I done a quick water bath, they would be properly canned and could stay on my cupboard shelves for several months. But they’re too tasty to last that long!

Now, what shall I use these pickled recipes on? I shall probably use it as a topping for veggie burgers, sandwiches, and salads. I’ve used previous batches on pizza, which was surprisingly delicious with crumbled feta. Mmm…now I want to eat! Maybe I’ll just eat one of the Thai spring rolls that I had leftover from tomorrow’s lunch prep. Yes, that’s what I’ll do!

Next Post: Cherry Pie, a la Francais! Followed by homemade copycat oreos. Chocolate-dipped copycat oreos. So. Good!

Post-Pub Edit: Do link-ups work? Bloggers say that they increase blog traffic, and hey, I’m all for that! So this is now my contribution to Christy Jordan’s latest link-up.

Waste Not, Want Not: Leftover Wine to Jelly!

Serve with a cheese plate. Eat with gusto!

Serve with a cheese plate. Eat with gusto!

I have to admit, I’m not a big drinker. I know the thing in edjumacated social media is to be all, oh my gosh, the wine, I love wine, I want wine, I need wine, give me wine, etc. etc. I like wine. I do. But I’m just not a big drinker. My sweet tooth permeates even my drinking so really, I prefer a sweet wine. A nice ice wine? That’s a bottle I can finish all by myself. If it’s not sweet though, I’ll stop at a glass or so. Which means unless the DH feels like imbibing several glasses, we end up with leftover wine.

Hold up, I can feel readers rolling their eyes. Leftover wine? Oh, the horror! I know, I know. But after a day or two, the wine just is past prime drinkability (or so I’m told). And I only use a splash or so when cooking so we end up with dregs of bottles sitting around which I end up saving for…wine jelly! Because wine jelly can be made using leftover wine of any kind. As is evidenced by this post in which I mix (gird yourselves) red and white wine.

It turned out super-tasty!

I mixed red and white wine and the world did not end! Score!

I mixed red and white wine and the world did not end! Score!

Wine Jelly

  • 1 pkg. pectin
  • 3 c. wine (I mixed red and white)
  • 3 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. fresh lime juice

Mix everything but the sugar in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Add the sugar and bring back to a rolling boil. Boil for one minute. Skim off any foam if seen. Pour into sterilized jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 min. Set aside and when you hear the seals pop, they’re ready!

Some skimming action. Very important actually. Otherwise it'll mar the beautiful ruby glow of the jelly.

Some skimming action. Very important actually. Otherwise it’ll mar the beautiful ruby glow of the jelly.

I’ve made a batch before with leftover red wine and served it at a wine and cheese evening I hosted and it was so popular, I sent home guests with the remainder of the batch. (It’s so gratifying when people like your cooking, isn’t it? Gives me the warm and fuzzies!)

Do you guys have any other suggestions about what to do with leftover wine? Let me know in the comments!

Next Post: I’m thinking Pumpkin Gnocchi. Or maybe Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls. Mmm…

Pioneer-Style Apple Butter and What I’ve Learned Writing This Blog

 

The finished product!

The finished product!

Writing this blog has taught me a lot about my cooking style, I’ve found. I tend to throw dishes together, using a recipe as a starting point and not an unimpeachable truth.  I’ve also found that I substitute things like crazy…and that it usually works out deliciously anyway.

And the latest thing that I’ve learned, is that I’m not the most patient cook. I like to cook and whiz around the kitchen and do the dishes while I’m waiting for the dish to finish cooking/baking/whatever-ing, and then I like to eat the dish. And then I made today’s blog post dish, Pioneer-Style Apple Butter in a slow cooker.  And slow cookers? Are slow.

I never bought a slow cooker because I just didn’t grow up with one, and I don’t really have more counter space in my kitchen for yet another appliance. Or cupboard space even. (I bought a case of canning jars last weekend and they’re currently sitting on my kitchen island, as I try to find space to put them places. My current plan is to fill them all up and stick them in my pantry cupboards. So look for more canning/can-able recipes coming soon!)

But for a wedding gift, I was given a slow cooker so I’ve been reading slow cooker recipes for a number of months now, trying to figure out the best one to start with. And then I came across slow cooker apple butter recipes, and my life was complete!

Because I LOVE apple butter! I remember eating it first as a child when I went to the Black Creek Pioneer Village, and spreading it on thick brown bread made with flour ground in the stone mill. I saw the apple butter bubbling on a cauldron over a wood fire and it tasted like outdoors and everything yummy and wholesome.

This recipe tastes just as good, sans the wood ash. I originally made it with a half cup of honey as well, but I think it’s sweet enough without, and so who needs extra sugar? Or just remove the white sugar and keep the 1/2 c. of honey in. Up to you!

Dump, sprinkle, cook, and walk away.

Dump, sprinkle, cook, and walk away.

Pioneer-Style Apple Butter

  • 16 medium apples (I used McIntosh)
  • 3/4 c. white sugar
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice

Peel and quarter apples. Dump in slow cooker. Add in remaining ingredients on top.  Put on lid. Cook on high for about 12 hours, stirring after the first two hours. Basically, you just need to keep an eye on it till it bubbles up (around the two hour mark), at which point you stir it all up and then leave it to cook down by itself. I did stir it periodically, but if you put it on low, you can set it and forget it.  I blended it at the end, and once it cools, it sets up nicely.

Reduced greatly.

Reduced greatly.

I poured it into sterilized jars when still hot and then processed the filled jars for 15 minutes. It made three standard sized canning jars, and probably would have made four, but I like to taste test. Thoroughly. Let cool until you hear the jar lids pop. And you’re done!

I gave a jar of this to a co-worker as a house-warming gift. Two days later she confessed that it was gone, as she ate it by the spoonful. I was flattered! And now I know what to make for hostess gifts this season!

Canning the applicious goodness!

Canning the applicious goodness!

Speaking of which, I’ve seen variations of this recipe lately, with pumpkin mixed in, as it seems the latest seasonal trend on foodie blogs is pumpkin everything. Just a month ago it was apple everything. I’m curious what ubiquitous ingredient the holiday season will bring! If you have a crystal ball and know of which I speak, let me know in the comments!

Next Post: Memories of Meals Past! And what I’m craving.