Sunday, July 29, 2012

Saskatoon Berry Jam

Today is my 6th wedding anniversary and since my husband LOVES both Saskatoon berries and jam, I decided to combine the two for him.   I bought 2 lbs of these delicious looking berries at the farmer's market this week, and he devoured the entire 1st pound (pictured above) the first night.

Since Marc grew up in Hanna, Alberta (right near the Saskatchewan border), Saskatoon berry bushes were quite a common berry to have in your yard.  He ate plenty of them every summer growing up, and upon tasting the berries I brought home he said that it reminded him of his childhood. They grow here as well, though they are more common on that side of the province. 

This recipe makes approximately 3 cups of jam. 

Ingredients
- 4 cups Saskatoon berries
- 3 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 a lemon (juice and zest)
Directions
Wash Saskatoon berries and pat dry.  Combine berries, sugar, and water in a large saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  We really like chunky jam with large berry pieces throughout, but if you prefer a smoother jam you can put the berries through a blender or food processor first. 
Once mixture is boiling, add lemon juice and zest and boil for 15 or so minutes (depending on how thick you like your jam), continuing to stir often. 
Working quickly, pour jam into sterilized jars being careful not to drip any onto the edge of the jar.  If jam does come in contact quickly wipe the jar with a damp cloth, and dry the rim thoroughly to ensure your jam seals properly.  Place lids and rims on jars and seal immediately.  Leave jam to cool on counter.  You should hear lids pop after a half hour or so.  If lids don't pop by the time the jam has cooled, place jam in  the fridge. 
You can test if your jam has sealed properly by pressing the lid gently.  If it's sealed properly there will be no give in the lid.  If there is any give whatsoever, your jam has not sealed properly. 

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Gramma's Never Fail Pastry & Cinnamon Pastry Bites

I had the privilege of visiting with my grandparents this week!  They live on Vancouver Island in BC (an entire day's drive and ferry ride away from here) so we don't get to visit as often as we would like.  We try to get together once a year and this year they came to visit everyone here in Alberta.  As always, we had a lot of fun together!  Here are few highlights from the trip:

Dad took us all fishing the first day and though we didn't catch anything, we had loads of fun.  Here's Grampa towing Dad and Roxanne behind our boat. 


A few days later, Gramps came to visit the community greenhouse with me and give me some gardening tips!  I was really excited to show off what I have grown so far and learn the different types of plants/bugs hanging out in the greenhouse!  My Gramps is SO informative when it comes to gardening - he has been talking about starting a gardening website/blog - I really hope he does!  

Gramps also bought me a soil moisture meter from Canada Tire - it measures the moisture in the soil so you know if you need to water more or if you are drowning your plants!  I love that even though I'm 27 years old my Grampa still buys me toys when we go shopping together at the store!  :) 


... and of course Gramma and I got some cooking and baking in!  One of my favourite things in the entire world is baking with my Gramma.  She is a genius when it comes to all things food... it's not hard to figure out that this is where my Dad, brother and I get our passion for cooking from! This visit Gramma and I made red pepper jelly, apple pie, and cinnamon pastry bites!  Here's Gramma making an apple pie with her delicious pastry (recipe at the bottom of this post): 



We took my Grandparents back to Edmonton today (so they could catch their flight) and stayed over at my brother's house.  He made the most delicious lasagna I have ever had and Heidy made a yummy strawberry salad. 

 After dinner, Heidy and I went for a walk so she could pick some local flowers so she could make a flower arrangement for her blog.  She found these gorgeous flowers in the alley at Brian's.


The next morning Brian made a delicious breakfast for everyone before we all went our separate ways.


All in all we had a wonderful visit with everyone and look forward to the next one!  


All of the recipes that Gramma and I made together will be shared in the coming weeks, and this week I would like to start off with Gramma's famous "Never Fail Pastry" and "Cinnamon Pastry Bites".

This recipe isn't in my usual format - instead you get to see the recipe exactly how I see it in her "Drew Family Cookbook" - a book Gramps typed up and placed in a binder for each family member.  The book holds over a hundred recipes neatly categorized into sections and holds some of my all-time favourite recipes. 

This recipe makes a pastry that is all kinds of tender and flaky, and makes enough dough for 4 pie crusts.  Wrap unused dough tightly and store in fridge for up to a week, or freeze for later use.  
Leftover pie crust?  Sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar (to taste) on flattened dough and cut into pieces.     


Place on a baking sheet and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until pastry is golden brown around the edges. 



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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Strawesome Giveaway


Today I have another awesome giveaway for you by another awesome company!  Strawesome has offered to send one lucky reader one of their beautiful decorative glass drinking straws (like the one below). 

Why glass straws you ask? 

I'm not a huge fan of plastic due to the harmful chemicals and negative effects that plastic has on the environment... I also don't enjoy the taste of plastic (who does) and the plastic taste ALWAYS leaches into whatever beverage it's holding. A few years ago I eliminated all plastic drinking cups/travel mugs from my house and replaced them with glass.  I was still using plastic straws however until a friend mentioned Strawesome to me - and am I ever glad they did! Their straws are hand blown and absolutely beautiful.  Be sure to check out their full catalogue at www.Strawesome.com.  You won't be disappointed!  You can check out this link as well to see even more reasons why glass straws are the way to go.

Now let's get to the good stuff!
How to win... (mandatory entry)

Tell me what beverage you would use your new straw in! 

For additional entries (leave a separate comment for each that apply):

1) Like Cooking With Jax on Facebook by clicking HERE
2) Follow Cooking With Jax on Twitter by clicking HERE
3) Follow Cooking With Jax on Pinterest by clicking HERE
4) Follow Strawesome on Facebook by clicking HERE
5) Follow Strawesome on Twitter by clicking HERE
6) Share this giveaway on Facebook/Twitter. 

Up to 7 entries per person. Giveaway is open to Canadian and US residents only.  Be sure to leave your -email address so I can reach you if you win!  

Giveaway Ends on July 29th at 11:59pm. Winner will be announced on July 
30th.


Disclaimer: Strawesome has not provided me with compensation for hosting this giveaway.  They have offered to send one lucky reader a decorative glass straw.  I found their product organically and LOVED it so we decided to pair together for a giveaway. All opinions about this product are my own.  

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Homemade Oreos





You all remember my best friend Heather (she shared with us her famous recipe for honey bran muffins earlier in the year).  Well back when we were teenagers and our girl's nights were in the form of sleepovers at each other's houses, you could always count on two things: lots and LOTS of girl talk, and way too much junk food.  Oreos were always Heather's favourite - it got to the point where my Mom would always have a family sized package tucked away specifically for her visits!  Nowadays, I try to steer clear of store bought junk food, but I still have a soft spot for Oreos.  Needless to say, this recipe has been in the back of my mind for awhile now.

It was only natural that at a girl's night at Heather's place, she and I would try making these together.  It was a bit of a frankenstein recipe since we ran out of cocoa powder, but with Heather's quick thinking we subbed some bakers squares for cocoa powder.  We were really happy with how it turned out and I know I'll be making these more in the future. 

These cookies keep for up to a week if stored in an airtight container.  They also freeze real well and taste awesome while still frozen!  
Ingredients
- 1 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup butter
- 1 egg
- 2 squares semi sweet bakers chocolate
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking soda


Cream filling:
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp cream

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar, and then add egg. Melt chocolate and add to wet ingredients - stir until smooth. 

  In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients, and then add to bowl and mix until well incorporated.  Roll cookies into a ball  (I used 1 tbsp for the bigger cookies, and 1 tsp for the smaller cookies - the smaller cookies are closer to the size of an actual Oreo cookie).  

Place the ball of dough on a parchment lined baking sheet and flatten the cookies with your hand. Cold hands really help, but if the dough starts sticking - dust your hands slightly with flour.   Bake in pre-heated oven for 9 minutes.  At the 4 1/2 minute mark, I like to spin the cookie sheet around so that all of the cookies bake evenly.

For cream filling: 

Combine all ingredients and whip until smooth.  Add approx 1 tbsp cream filling for a large cookie, and 1 tsp for a small cookie (the same size as you made the balls of dough).  Roll the cream filling into a ball, and carefully squish it between two cookies.  

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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Peach Lemonade



Ah, it's officially summer!  Summer is a more important time than ever to ensure you stay well hydrated and lemonade is such a classic summertime beverage.  I love this method of making lemonade, and I'm excited to be sharing it in this week's edition of The Hinton Voice as well!  The Voice just went digital which is great news for those of you who are out of town and would like to subscribe.  Be sure to head on over to their website for all the details! 

[Peaches and lemonade – two of my summertime favorites.  Both make a common appearance in my fridge this time of year, so it was only natural that I would eventually try and combine the two.  I have to say, I was pretty pleased with the results.  You could mix equal parts with club soda or ginger ale for punch, or even add a splash or two of vodka or rum for a more adult beverage.  This peach lemonade would be great at the beach, on a picnic, or even out camping.

There is nothing better on a hot summer’s day than a nice tall refreshing glass of ice-cold lemonade.   I’m not talking about the powdered kinds that try and pass themselves off as something that actually contains real fruit.  I’m talking the freshly squeezed, kind your Grandmother would have made right before heading out to the porch swing type of lemonade… this lemonade is exactly that.  

Making homemade lemonade is a lot less complicated than it sounds - I remember after the first time I made lemonade, I wondered why I didn’t try making it sooner.  It’s one of those great, no-fail types of recipes that’s great for beginners.  If it’s not sweet enough for you, simply add more sugar.  If it’s too sweet, another lemon should do the trick.  In less than 10 minutes from start to finish, I had an empty mason jar in my hand staring back at me, urging me to pour a second glass.]  

Ingredients
-        4-6 lemons (you’ll need 1 cup of lemon juice)
-        zest from 1 lemon
-        2 ripe peaches
-        1 cup sugar
-        5 cups filtered water

Directions

Zest your lemon peel, being careful not to zest any of the bitter white pith beneath the rind.

Combine sugar, 1-cup water, and lemon zest and bring to a boil over medium heat stirring frequently.  Once mixture reaches a boil, cook for an additional 1-2 minutes until the sugar is completely dissolved.   Remove from heat.

Roll lemons on your counter with the palm of your hand to loosen the flesh.   Hint: Lemon’s juice better when they are at room temperature, so if you store your lemons in a cool place pop them into the microwave for a couple of seconds before you start. 

Slice lemons in half and squeeze as much juice from each lemon as you can until you have a cup of juice.  I have a hand held wooden citrus juicer that works great for this step.

Remove the pits from your peaches and place them in a blender along with the lemon juice and blend well.  Strain pulp and place juice in a large pitcher along with the lemon syrup.   Add remaining 4 cups of water and stir well to combine all ingredients.

Serve over ice with a piece of lemon or mint for garnish. 

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- Nutritional Info (1 cup) -

Calories - 95   Fat - 0    Carbs – 26     Protein - 0   Fibre – 0


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Canada Day: Maple Pecan Cream Cookies



Happy Canada Day!  

I am so proud to call this beautiful country home!  In honour of Canada's birthday, I decided to make these maple pecan cream cookies in the shape of a maple leaf.  They started out as maple cream cookies, but on my quest to find my hardly-ever-used container of cream of tartar, my eyes fell upon a newly purchased bag of pecans halves.  As soon as the pecans hit the maple-y dough, a smell wafted through my kitchen that promised a delicious cookie. 

I found a package of cute maple leaf cutters a few months ago and have been waiting for the perfect time to use them.  I thought, what better day than Canada Day to break them out? 

Our town always has fireworks the night before Canada Day so Marc and I took a few of these cookies and some herbal teas with us and we sat on a hill overlooking the town and watched the fireworks from a far. It was quite a nice prelude to Canada Day!  

  Photo by Marc Delisle

Hope you all have a fun and safe holiday weekend!  What are your Canada Day plans? 

Ingredients
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup pecans (optional)

Maple Cream Filling
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 1/4 cup butter
- 3 tbsp maple syrup

Combine butter, brown sugar, syrup and egg in a bowl and mix until all of the ingredients are well blended. 

Add dry ingredients to your bowl, starting with flour (I pour everything into the bowl and then mix it together).  Finely chop pecans finely and toss them into your dough.  Chill dough for at least 1 hour for easier handling.

Roll dough to 1/4 inch thick and cut with your favourite cookie cutter.

Bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. 

For the filling: 

Cream together icing sugar and butter, and then add maple syrup.  Roll about 1/2 tbsp icing into a ball and place between two cookies, carefully pressing them together. 


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