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A YEAR OF PIES!

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: HOME DAIRY

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING BEES

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: CANNING & PRESERVING

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING CHICKENS


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Monthly Archives: February 2010

Madras Carrot Pickles

The ingredient chosen for this month’s Tigress Can Jam is carrots. Chosen by Doris and Jilly Cook, carrots are a wonderful harbinger of spring, when crocuses push their flamboyant heads to the surface, forsythia burst into bloom, baby chicks pip their way into this world, and the snow, that has blanketed the ground for weeks, finally melts. It couldn’t come any sooner. I slipped hard on the ice on my driveway three nights ago, whacking my entire left side in the process. I’ve no beef with snow or ice, per se, only with it’s loitering tendencies this winter. Let the wild rumpus begin, (er, come on spring!) already!

Anyway, back to carrots. A naturally low-acid food, carrots need a big bump of supplemental acid in order to be water bath canned safely. As such, I opted to pickle them. This world can never have too many pickles, especially when you live in a pickle-loving household with a pickle-loving spouse. We’re always game for Indian-inspired flavors, so a riff on Madras curry seemed in order. Cardamom pods, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, black peppercorns, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, and brown mustard seeds provide the spice while a vinegar/water/sugar/salt brine provides the necessary acid. I used a variety of brightly colored carrots here, rendering the brining liquid a riotous ruby hue. I think it’s a much-needed antidote to winter’s monochromatic palette ’round here. Enjoy!

Madras Carrot Pickles

The Goods:

-1 pound fresh carrots

-1 1/4 c. white vinegar

-1 1/4 c. water

-1/4 c. granulated sugar

-1 tsp. pickling or kosher salt

-9 cardamom pods

-3 tsp. black peppercorns

-3 tsp. coriander seeds

-3 tsp. brown mustard seeds

-3/4 tsp. fenugreek seeds

-3/4 tsp. cumin seeds

-3/4 tsp. fennel seeds

The Deal:

-Sterilize 3 pint-sized mason jars, lids, and screw rings. Fill a canner or large stockpot with water and set over medium-high heat. Bring just to boiling point. Place lids in a small saucepan, fill with water, bring to a boil, turn off heat, remove from stovetop, and set aside.

-Wash and scrub carrots. Cut each up stalk into 4 inch pieces, quartering any thick pieces. Place into a pot, cover with cold water, and put over medium-high heat. Bring water to a boil and cook for 4-5 minutes. While carrots cook, prepare an ice water bath. Once cooking time ends, immediately plunge carrots into prepared ice bath. Remove from water and pat dry. Set aside.

-In a heavy, medium stainless-steel saucepan over medium-high heat, combine vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil, cover, and remove from heat. This is your brining solution.

- Place hot jars on top of a kitchen cloth on the counter. Into the bottom of each jar, place 3 cardamom pods, 1 tsp. black peppercorns, 1 tsp. coriander seeds, 1 tsp. brown mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp. fenugreek seeds, 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds, and 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds. Pack carrot sticks into jars on top of seeds, packing contents close, but not terribly tightly. With the help of a canning funnel, ladle brining solution evenly over carrots, reserving ½-inch headspace. Use a non-metallic spatula to remove any trapped air bubbles and wipe rims clean with a damp cloth. Place on lids and screw bands, tightening only until fingertip-tight.

- Using a jar lifter, place jars in canner. Process 30 minutes in a boiling-water bath. Remember to adjust for altitude.

And the Curried Winter Squash Chutney Goes To…

Allison, of Whatever It Needs To Be. Congratulations Allison and a big, warm, hearty thank you to everyone else for gamely playing along.


There’s only two more giveaways remaining until Canning & Preserving publishes. It’s hard to fathom. I held a completed, bound copy last week for the very first time. It’s a beauty, folks. My publisher does not disappoint!

I’ll be back the first of March with another tasty offering. Hope to see you all back here then!

Poached Perfection

My husband is an exceptionally gifted cook. Not content to simply throw food together, he crafts and curates and tests and re-tests and experiments and then crafts, curates, tests, and experiments some more. He makes his love for me manifest at each meal. His heart, his sentiments, evidence themselves in rhapsodic fish stews, robust chana masalas, and exquisitely poached eggs, shown above.


This was my Valentine’s breakfast, in his own words (“poached”, if you will, from his Facebook page, wherein he chronicles his more noteworthy culinary exploits): “Poached eggs (from our chickens) on rye toast, and pan friend fish cakes made from jack mackerel, topped with a tarragon hollandaise made with Ashley’s homemade butter and yolks from our girls’ eggs, served alongside a salad of micro-greens and a vinaigrette made with locally produced lavender vinegar.”

It was heaven. Sheer delicious poached perfection. He’s been honing his poaching skills lately and has concocted a technique so otherworldly, so transcendent, that it has reduced me to asking for poached eggs every day. “Huevos Poach-erous!” I cry, when asked what I’d like to breakfast. “Poached eggs on anything!” I’ve taken to gleefully declaring on many a recent morn.

Because he is a kind man, a generous man, a good man (who not only knows who my favorite jewelry designer is, but takes the time to order me, in advance, a pair of earrings he knows I’ll love-because he has my style down to a friggin’ science-for cupid’s heyday!), he has agreed to share with the world his poaching prowess. If you follow these steps, I can all but guarantee that pillowy, creamy, poached perfection will be yours.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think it’s time for some poaching to transpire in the kitchen…

From the chef:
Perfect poached eggs for two

-In a covered 12″ saute pan, boil about 2 inches of water with a pinch of salt in it.

-Carefully crack 4 eggs into little custard cups, condiment dishes, or something similar.

-When water comes to a boil, it’s time to put your toast in the toaster.

-Add a healthy tablespoon of malt vinegar (or whatever kind of vinegar that you like) to the water.

-Turn heat to low, then carefully add the eggs to the water one at a time, dipping the lip of the cup a half inch below the surface and rolling the egg gently into the water.

-As soon as all the eggs are in, cover the pan and turn OFF the heat.

-Set the timer to desired doneness. I like it at about 3 and a half minutes, when the yolk is beginning to set, but it is still a little runny. Cook a little less for runnier yolks, and up to 5 minutes if you want a fully cooked yolk.

-Carefully remove eggs one at a time with a slotted spatula or slotted spoon. Let the water drip off a bit, then place the egg on a piece of the finished, buttered toast.

-Add some salt and pepper, or your favorite hot sauce if you like, and enjoy.


Love Potion #9

Hello everyone. I hope your weekend was grand. Ours was half spoiled/half bliss. More about that in another post, though.


First, I thought I’d share my column from this past Friday’s “Small Measures with Ashley” on Design Sponge. While Valentine’s Day may have passed, there’s no reason you can’t still whip up this Love Potion, crafted by my talented herbalist friend, Heather Houdek. It’s delicious and has the added perk of making your kitchen smell like a Parisian perfumery as it cooks, owing to the inclusion of rose petals.

The perfect, heart and belly-warming antidote to winter’s frigid grasp, brew some up and share it with someone you love.

Whetting Your Appetite




Here it is, folks! A preview for my book “Canning & Preserving: All You Need to Know to Make Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Chutneys & More.” I had the immensely good fortune of working with a truly talented team, from my editor, copyeditor, proofreader, creative director, photographer, graphic designer, and beyond. The book is a gem, and I’m not saying that merely because I wrote it. It’s exactly the sort of book I would’ve liked to have had in hand when I first fired up the canner.


I’ve posted below the official description of the book. It is available now for pre-order and will released April 2010, along with “Keeping Chickens: All You Need to Know to Care for a Happy, Healthy Flock” (look here for a preview of that book next week). Both books are part of my “Homemade Living” series, and will be followed up with “Home Dairy” and “Keeping Bees” in April 2011. The first two books can be pre-ordered now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s Books, and through your local independent book store, via Indiebound.

I hope that you enjoy reading, and learning, from them as much as I enjoyed penning them. Cheers!


“Canning and preserving is back! Finally, here’s a book for those who have wanted to try their hand at canning and preserving but have been too intimidated by the massive tomes on the market and disappointed by the simple recipe books that lack the practical, necessary hold-your-hand basics.

This book, part of the launch of the new Homemade Living series, guides you through all of the fundamentals while also explaining to you the why’s and how’s involved. Learn the tools of the trade, so you can have your kitchen stocked and ready. Get the lowdown on important safety tips. Follow carefully researched Basics on hot water bath processing and pressure canning, complete with step-by-step photos. Find out the Science of Salt and Sugar and why they’re so crucial. Find out how to select the best possible ingredients, favoring seasonal, organic and local options when possible.

Learn the essentials of three topic-specific primers: Pickles, Relishes & Chutneys; Jams, Jellies, Butters & Curds; Whole Fruits & Veggies. Each primer offers need-to-know information, troubleshooting tips and at least two Canning Classic recipes with variation ideas.

Then explore the author’s unique spin on canning and preserving with her own roster of kitchen-tested seasonal recipes. Each season offers recipes for a curd or butter, chutney, jam or jelly, sauce, and a pickle or relish.

The book features numerous profiles of real people who embrace canning and preserving for different reasons. Interesting sidebars such as Hosting a Canning Party and Packaging & Gift Giving Tips bring newfound skills to life. Gorgeous photos of farmer’s markets, fruits and veggies growing on the vine, and completed recipes provide a feast for the eyes.”