Sunday, August 22, 2010

What's in Your Basket - 8/23/2010

This week's CSA baskets include lots of yummy tomatoes and peppers for salsa, canned tomatoes and jam!

Roma tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes
Cucumbers - The last of the season
Zucchini - The last of the season
Jalapeno peppers
Green peppers
Red peppers
Yellow banana peppers
Red cabbage - They are super small this year but at least the cabbage worms left them alone!
Sun pickles
Peach jam
Sicilian tomato jam


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Hot Damn

My husband always says I pick the hottest days of the year to can and make jam. Most years, he's right. This year, not so much. This past week was pretty moderate for August in northern Illinois, which was a good thing. It seems like all sorts of stuff was ready to be put up.

This past week I've made five batches of Peach Jam, two batches of Hot Pepper Jam and one batch of a new one-Sicilian Tomato Jam. Bad things have happened in my process. I ran out of Peach Schnapps to add to my Peach Jam. But good things have happened, too. I threw in some Amaretto instead. YUM! I thought I found my new favorite jam recipe.

At least until I tried the Sicilian Tomato Jam. I can't wait to try this yummy, savory spread on a fresh baguette. And, for my cherry tomato plants to ripen more fruit so I can make more.

Hot Pepper Jam is one of my most popular. My sister- and mother-in-laws asked for the recipe this year. Apparently everyone's pepper plants have been very prolific. My go to recipe comes from the Jam Lady Cookbook. I got the recipe from my friend Lori, the source of most of my really good savory recipes.

Hot 3-Pepper Jam

4 cups sugar
1 cup, chopped, seeded sweet green peppers
1 cup, chopped, unseeded jalapeno peppers
1 cup white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
½ cup, chopped, fresh, seeded problano peppers
½ cup lemon juice
2-3 ounce packages of liquid pectin (6 ounces total)
1 slice onion (or equivalent amount of chopped garlic)
½ teaspoon butter (to reduce foaming)

I usually use whatever peppers I have on hand. If I have sweet peppers, I use them. If not, I just make sure that my total pepper amount is 2 1/2 cups. Put the peppers in the blender or food processor with the vinegar and lemon juice. Process until only smaller bits remain.

Put the puree in a heavy pot with the sugar and butter. It will start out a pretty, grassy green. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil for one minute. A rolling boil won't stop when you stir. Add the liquid pectin and return to a rolling boil for one minute. As it cooks, the color will darken and mute.

Ladle into sterile jars and process in a boiling water bath for ten minutes.
My sister likes her Hot Pepper Jam to be orange/red so I added a few drops of red food coloring to one batch before putting it in the jars.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Back to School 14


For fourteen years my college roomie, Jill, and I have been hosting the Back to School Party.  It started as a huge party at a cabin in the woods in Kirkland, Illinois.  There was always a fire, a hot tub, cigars, a keg, tons of food, tents and random people sleeping everywhere.

Over the years we've calmed down. We can no longer drain a keg, cigars make the next morning even more painful, the fire is smaller, if at all, and there are no random people sleeping anywhere. The location has moved from Kirkland to Amboy to Ashton to Michigan. There aren't as many big people but there are several little people running around.  And our core group remains.

Each year we gather.  We eat.  We drink.  We laugh.  And, we remember why the tenth floor of Wright Hall 10 was the best.

It had something to do with Cory falling in Fell Hall then again on Fell Avenue and having to be carried down stairs during a fire alarm.

It had something to do with Cathy falling into a man hole.

It had something to do with mud sliding in the front of Wright after the tornado tore through town.

It had something to do with our awesome loft.

It had something to do with backpacks full of beer, Cherry Street, Smalls and after hours.

It definitely had something to do with some great, mostly small town kids getting stuck on the same quiet floor on the edge of campus playing asshole and bullshit when it was too cold to walk to parties (while Jill cheated).

I love you guys! 

Jill called me after the BTSP this year for my salsa recipe.  This is my sneaky way of getting all my BTSP BFFs to read my tribute!  The recipe is below.  I'd love to hear your best memories of Wright 10 in the comments.

Black Bean Salsa

1 can whole kernel sweet corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
2-3 small jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
1 bunch/ container cherry tomatoes, chopped
2-3 avacados, chopped, tossed with lemon juice to prevent browning

Combine all the above ingredients except the avocados in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, mix the dressing ingredients below.

1/3 cup fresh lime juice (2 limes)
1-2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil

Mix into the large bowl. Fold in avocados. Chill then serve with corn chips. Or eat it with a spoon.