Small Batch Blueberry Lavender Jam

By Corinne

Several years ago I traveled to South Africa. While there, one of the wineries I visited had chocolates paired with their wine tastings. One was a rose milk chocolate, another lavender, and the third was a salted dark chocolate. It was the flavours of rose and lavender, flavours that I was much more accustomed to as scents rather than tastes, that I found memorably intriguing. I love to experiment with these floral notes in my cooking, and while it might not be a traditional flavour of jam, I find lavender pairs beautifully with blueberries.

I always make jam in small batches, for three main reasons. Firstly, I would rather have a few jars of several different things rather than 20 jars of the same thing. Additionally, canning in a small batch means you can use less sugar and often skip the packaged pectin. Finally, when you do a small batch its a relatively small investment in time and resources. If you try something new and don’t love it, at least you only have 4 jars rather than 20 and produce, even in season, can be expensive.

I 100% recommend Marisa McClellan and her books on making small batches of jam – Preserving by the Pint and Food in Jars. If you are new to jam making, I can’t possibly do better than to point you towards her instructions for those new to canning.

Culinary lavender can be a bit hard to track down depending on where you live, if you live in Thunder Bay you can find it at the Mystic Garden on Algoma- they have a surprising selection of herbs and spices upstairs.

Time: about 45 minutes

Makes: 5-6 125mL (4fl oz, 1/4 pint) jars – yield will depend a little on the water content of your berries

You will need:

  • 2 lbs of blueberries, rinsed and picked over (remove little stems and unripe berries)
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp culinary lavender (it will be the little flower parts – ensure the lavender you source is ok for use in cooking, many times the stuff used for potpourri has been treated with non food safe pesticides or added fragrance)
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice

Prepare jars and hot water bath for canning. I always prepare one more jar than I think I will need. When you are making small batches of jam you are relying on the natural pectin present in the fruit as well as the large surface area of your cooking pan and the small amount of fruit in order to cook off enough liquid for it to set. This means the yield can sometimes be a bit more or less than you expect. See here if you are new to canning for more detailed instructions for this part.

Put the lavender in either cheese cloth (doubled so the little flower bits don’t escape!) or if you have one of those ‘tea balls’ that will work as well. Mix the blueberries, sugar and lemon juice in the pan you are going to cook your jam in. You want a shallow sauce pan rather than a deep pot in order to help with quick evaporation. Allow the blueberries, sugar and lemon juice to sit for about 20 minutes until the sugar has become syrupy. If you prefer a smoother jam, you can use a potato masher to mash up some of the fruit at this point(but don’t mash it all).

When your jars and hot water bath are ready, place the lavender in with your blueberries and start cooking your jam. Over medium high heat, bring the berry/sugar/lavender mixture to a boil. Stir constantly once your jam is boiling. It will foam up a bit at first, but then will settle down.

As it thickens, it might splat and get a little bit messy. Cook for 18-22 minutes. You will know your jam is ready when you draw the spoon through the jam it doesn’t immediately fill in the space and it ‘hisses’. Excuse the oven timer in the following video ūüôā

Here  is a description of the plate test, another way to check for set. I usually remove my lavender at about the 15 minute mark to ease stirring and pouring, and my jam is usually done between 18 and 22 minutes.

Remove your jars from the boiling water and quickly fill jars to about half an inch to the top (you can go a little fuller, to 1/4 inch from the top, but don’t do less than half an inch). Place tops and fasten rings fingertip tight. Process for 10 minutes in boiling water. Remove from water and let cool, testing seal after about 12 hours. Store in a cool dry place. Any jars that do not seal (I’ve only rarely had that happen) should be refrigerated and used first.

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Cherry Clafoutis

 

20170704_121119By Corinne

What is clafoutis? It’s traditionally a French dessert (but I love it for breakfast!). I don’t even know how to properly describe it- it’s somewhat like a custardy dense cake that’s full of delicious fruit. In any case, it whips together so quickly that you can have it ready to go by the time your oven is preheated.

Clafoutis is one of those magical dishes that can work for either breakfast or dessert. If you want to finish it with some powdered sugar, or even some whipped cream, or ice cream to make it dessert then go for it! I tend to make it for breakfast, and because I am impatient and hungry I’ve almost always eaten it hot right out of the oven, though traditionally it’s served room temperature or chilled.

Speaking of tradish, if you want to not pit your cherries, that’s actually the traditional way to make a cherry clafoutis. I’ve done it both ways, apparently leaving the pits in is supposed to impart a subtle almond flavour, but I’ve never noticed a difference and prefer to pit my cherries even though it’s a little more prep. Totally up to you!

Serves: 4 for breakfast, 8 for dessert

Time: prep/preheat 10 min(400F), bake 25-35 min depending on baking dish used.

You will need:

  • generous 2 cups of cherries, pitted or not as you wish ūüôā
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp melted butter, cooled slightly, plus more to butter dish
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp spiced rum or amaretto

Preheat oven to 400F. Butter a 9-10 inch glass pie plate, or stoneware pie plate (what I used in the pictures) or a cast iron skillet. Baking time will depend on what dish you use- and whether it’s nine or ten inches. I find using a glass pie plate only takes 25 min, while using my stoneware pie plate takes 35 min.

Pit your cherries if you wish, and put them in the buttered dish.

Melt butter in microwave and set aside. For the rest of the instructions you can either whisk by hand or use a mixer, I do either depending on how I’m feeling that day :). Whisk 3 eggs and 1/2 cup sugar until thoroughly combined. Then gradually add the butter, whisking until it’s incorporated. Add the flour and salt and mix until combined. Finally, add the tbsp of spiced rum. The batter should be very smooth.

Pour the batter over the cherries and pop into the oven. Check at 25 min. Give the pan a little jiggle, if your clafoutis wobbles give it some more time. When it’s finished it should be slightly browned and almost set in the middle. By almost set, I mean when you give the pan a shake there should only be a little wobble in the very middle. If you find it’s browning too much on top, throw a piece of tinfoil lightly over the top until it’s finished.

Serve room temperature or chilled, or hot out of the oven if you just can’t wait ūüôā

Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies

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By Corinne

I love a breakfast cookie! These are hearty and delicious, full of all kinds of goodness. They are a soft cookie, but the pepitas give them a bit of a crunch.  I prefer them without chocolate chips, but my husband has more of a sweet tooth and prefers them with. If you are trying to reduce refined sugar, the brown sugar can be substituted for an equal amount of honey Рthough I find they are less sweet with honey, so you may want to add a bit more.  They are gluten and dairy free (if you omit chocolate chips).

Time: prep 10 min, bake 18-22 min per batch

Makes: about 45 cookies

Oven: preheat 350F

You will need:

  • 2 cups quick oats*
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup semi sweet or dark chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix together all dry ingredients. Melt 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil in microwave, about 1 minute. Add coconut oil, canned pumpkin and eggs to dry mixture and thoroughly mix together. This can be done pretty easily by hand, or if you have a mixer, that works too.

Place scoopfuls of mix onto a cookie sheet. They will not spread as they cook, so you can snuggle them up close together. I like to press them down and flatten them a bit after I scoop them on, as they do not flatten or spread as they cook so whatever shape they go in is the shape they come out.

Bake for 18-22 minutes. Cookies will be slightly browned around the edges and tops. Cool completely and store in an air tight container, or freeze and take out just a few at a time as desired.

*oats are one of those ‘maybe’ items for many celiac people. While oats themselves are gluten free, crops may be contaminated with wheat. Some brands of oats will say ‘gluten free’ and others don’t.

Fiddlehead Omelettes

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By Corinne

Today I got up early to go birding, it was supposed to be clear, and looked promising at 6am. However, by 7am it had clouded over and was no longer great light for photography. As I was wandering looking for warblers, I noticed a few fiddleheads around. Deciding all was not lost for my morning adventure, I decided to do some foraging.

When I got home I went straight to rinsing and then boiling my fiddleheads. My original idea had been just to pick enough for supper, but since it was a breezy bug free morning I ended up collecting quite a bit. Fiddleheads have a bit of an asparagus/spinach flavour and I thought they would be nice in an omelette. They weren’t just nice, they were amazing! I can’t wait to make this again ūüôā

For how to prep fiddleheads for cooking, please see this post here. It is important to properly prepare fiddleheads for eating as they have been associated with food borne illness when not fully cooked.

Time: 15 to 20 min – if using already prepped fiddleheads

Makes: 2 omelettes

You will need:

  • 1 cup boiled fiddle heads – see preparing fiddleheads
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 6 tbsp grated asiago cheese
  • 2 tbsp snipped fresh chives + more for garnish
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tsp butter

In a frying pan melt 1 tbsp butter, add previously boiled fiddleheads and garlic. Saute for about 10 minutes. Set aside.

Whisk two eggs. Melt 1 tsp of butter in a small frying pan, when melted, but before browned, add eggs slowly to pan, swirling to distribute evenly.

Add 1/2 of the prepared fiddlehead/garlic saute, 3 tbsp grated asiago and 1 tbsp snipped chives. When eggs have just about set, using a spatula, fold omelette in half. Cook a few more min as necessary. Serve with additional snipped chives.

Repeat using the remaining butter, eggs, fiddleheads, cheese and chives for a second omelette.

 

 

Pineapple Marmalade

By: Julie

Serves: Makes 6-250ml jars

I picked up the Canning Kitchen by accident. ¬†I certainly didn’t push the cart by it seven times and then sneak it under the baby pajamas and deliberately avoid looking at it as the cashier scanned it at the checkout. ¬†Nor did I say the words, “oh this old thing? ¬†I’ve had it forever!” ¬†I most definitely¬†didn’t buy another cookbook to add to the growing collection overflowing out of our tiny house on the prairie. ¬†Not me.

But you should. ¬†Because it’s really delicious and inspiring. ¬†They are all small batch, which I love, and the book is quite instructive for new Jammers like me. ¬†Yes, I just referred to myself as a Jammer. ¬†You can be a Jammer too. ¬†It’s an elite and selective club but we can make room for you. ¬†If you bring some pie. ¬†And maybe some chocolate.

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You Will Need

  • 2 1/2 lbs naval oranges
  • 2 1/2 cups finely diced fresh pineapple
  • 6 cups water
  • 6 cups granulated sugar

Read the steps in Amy’s own words here:

The Canning Kitchen: Orange Pineapple Marmalade

Mine didn’t quite set all the way, but I was a tad impatient and should have boiled it a bit longer. ¬†Don’t forget to do a set test. ¬†That being said, it’s lovely and I put it on everything. ¬†We had it on chicken the other day and I’ve just taken a batch of Magic Muffins out of the oven that feature this. ¬†Definitely worth making.

Magic Muffins – Pinapple Marmalade

By: Julie

Serves:  Makes 12 extra large muffins

Time: 35min.  10 min prep, 20 min bake

Oh yes I did.  I put marmalade in the magic muffin mix.  And do you know what happened?  Magic.

This is my new ultimate brunch muffin.  It screams of orange juice and eggs and bacon and some delicious quiche.  If the queen was coming for tea I would feed her these muffins and little cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off.

I can now whip these muffins up in less than 10 min.  You can do it too!

You Will Need:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of your favourite marmalade
  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/4 tsp orange extract
  • 1/4 tsp lemon extract
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups of diced fresh pineapple
  • 1 cup shredded apple

Mix the Muffins

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a muffin pan with non-stick olive oil spray.  Whisk eggs, marmalade, honey, vanilla, applesauce, extracts and zest together in a large bowl.  In a separate medium bowl mix flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together.  Mix into wet ingredients until dry ingredients are wet.  Do not over-mix.  Fold in pineapple and apple. Using an ice-cream scoop, completely fill muffin cups with batter.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Prepare for the Queens visit.

Quick Breakfast Oatmeal

By Julie

Time: 6 min

Serves: 2

I love warm breakfast.  I love pancakes and french toast and fluffy eggs with salty, crispy bacon. While delicious, these items are not practical for everyday.  They contain a ton of sugar and fat (because lets face it, sugar and fat are delicious, especially together).  I wanted something warm and comforting that would not make me sad to eat.  I remembered those instant packages of quaker oats with apple and cinammon, and raisin and spice from my childhood.  My mother would buy the variety packs, my brother would hoard all the good kinds, and I would be stuck with peaches and cream (which secretly I loved… reverse psychology and all that).  I wanted to stay away from the processed taste and high sodium content of pre-packaged foods so I settled on quick oats.  Oatmeal in mason jars is a big trend right now, but I’m not that in to make-ahead at the moment.  There’s really no reason since the baby naps at a reasonable breakfast hour and this entire process takes about 6 minutes.

In an effort to shave some of the time needed to make this breakfast, I use quick oats.  Please feel free to use old fashioned. They are better for you and tastier.  This recipe is a base to make your own blends so you can change it up, but an example is provided.

You Will Need:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup of quick oats
  • 1 cup of your favourite fresh fruit (I used a medium apple)
  • 1/4 cup of your favourite dried fruit or nuts (I used thompsons raisins
  • 1 tsp of your favourite spices (you can use any variety, don’t exceed 1 tsp total.  I used cinammon).

Cooking:

Over medium-high heat, bring the milk, water, fresh fruit and dried fruit to a boil.  Add spices and oats.  Continue to boil for 1 min stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and cover, letting the mixture stand for 4 minutes.  I used a non-stick pot because I hate scraping oatmeal off a steal pan.

Voila.  Just like that you’re done.  Garnish with your favourite greek yogurt and some fresh berries and granola, and enjoy.