Category Archives: In the Kitchen

Blackberry Jam

I can finally cross ‘making jam’ off my summer bucket list. Every summer I swear that it will be the year I make jam. We go berry picking, I look up recipes, I’m all ready, and then I get cold feet. I don’t know what it is about making jam that intimidates me, but whatever it is, I overcame it this year and made blackberry jam.

We went strawberry picking early in the summer but the picking was slim and we didn’t get enough to make jam so instead we had a huge strawberry shortcake for dinner. Yes, once a summer we allow ourselves to have strawberry shortcake and nothing else for dinner.

Then later we went raspberry picking and came home with plenty of berries for jam, but they all ended up in little bellies by the handful and in cereal and yogurt.

So, onto blackberries.

There is a huge blackberry patch over at Andy’s parents house. Rather it is a huge patch of stinging nettle, but if you trample down and make paths through the nettle you can discover a bounty of blackberries.

We went early in the morning on four different mornings and harvest blackberries before it got too hot and until we’d had it with the stinging nettle. (If only Ishaan had been around to tell me which plant soothes nettle- I think it might be Jewel Weed but I’m not sure. ) We finally had enough berries for jam.

On advice from my experienced jam making friend Sarah, I used Pomona’s Pectin.

It is a low-sugar pectin, which I found out allows you to make jam using less sugar than a no-pectin jam. There was a simple and straight forward recipe in the pectin packet and I just used that for the first batch. I borrowed a food mill to mash up the berries because wild blackberries have that hard center bit that I didn’t want in the jam. However I didn’t want the jam to be a uniform texture, so I added a few spoonfuls of the seed/pulp mixture that was left in the mill.

mashed berry goodness

left over seeds and middle bits

It’s a messy process

For the second batch I made a Blackberry Mint with Bourbon jam. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly because this recipe didn’t call for pectin. I had to just guess at the amount of sugar to use. Wow, I think this just might be my favorite jam ever!

Well it was jam fever at our house for a few days. The kids and I went blueberry picking at the nearby orchard and farm and came home with many pounds of blueberries. We played around with two kinds of jam. First we made a blueberry lemon with lots of fresh lemon juice and zest. Super yummy! Then I had an idea to make blueberry with ginger and vanilla. I used a good amount of ginger and when I tasted it I thought it was right so added vanilla. I guess I added too much vanilla and it sort of overpowers the nice ginger quality. It is not bad but not as delicious as I was hoping.

So now I have many lovely jars of jam sitting prettily on a shelf. We have opened two jars already but it is hard not to ration it and think of it as being totally precious and to be used sparingly. After all it is just jam and I made it so we could enjoy it!

Soup of the Week- Quick and Easy Lentil

I didn’t post a soup of the week last week. I was in the middle of a fun Week in the Life project and was blogging every night. I just couldn’t bring myself to do a second entry with a soup recipe.

This soup recipe was given to me years ago by my dear friends Bonnie and Josh. It had I had it taped up in our kitchen in Brooklyn for a very long time. The actual recipe got misplaced but I make it so often that I can just remember it. It might not be exactly the same as the original, but it’s pretty close I think

Ingredients:

1 celery stalk (chopped)

1-2  onions, chopped

5-6 cloves of garlic, minced

cinnamon stick

salt and pepper

cumin (of course)

chilli powder

2 carrots chopped

2 potatoes cubed (I think this is my addition to bulk it up a little bit and make it go a little farther)

2 cups orange lentils

6 cups of water/ stock/ broth- whatever you prefer. As I’ve said before I like “Better than Bullion” as stock base. I really really need to start throwing all the veggies ends and peels into the freezer to make my own. All in good time I guess.

1 large bunch of swiss chard or spinach. (i prefer chard here)

How to:

1. Saute onion and garlic in enough olive oil to just cover the bottom of you pan. cook until the onions are going clear.

2. Add celery, carrot, potato and cinnamon stick. Cook for a few minutes.

3. Add lentils (rinse them well first) and cumin. stir to coat the lentils.

4. Add water/broth/stock and bring to a boil.

5. Reduce heat and simmer until the lentils are soft. This usually takes about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it though- you may have to adjust the amount of water.

6. When the lentils are done, season to taste with chill powder, salt and pepper.

7. Lastly, add the chopped swiss chard. Cook until the chard is just wilted.

I like to serve it with yogurt, some homemade bread, and sliced cheddar cheese. I also usually make a huge amount of this soup- it freezes well. You can take out a portion to freeze before adding the chard if you want to and just add fresh chard when you heat it up. I don’t usually do that- I like my meals from the freezer to be totally ready to go.

Bonnie, if this recipe is way off the original, let me know!