Sunday, September 11, 2016

Homemade Canned Fruit in Light Syrup


I made a recent trip to BC to visit my Grandparents.  They live on Vancouver Island, so there is a huge abundance of fruit in their neighbourhood.  My Grampa is constantly finding me fresh, backyard grown fruits and vegetables whenever I visit him, and this trip was no exception.  I left with freshly picked blackberries, blueberries, apples, pears, peaches, cherries, 2 different kinds of plums,  not to mention pumpkins, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, and even banana quash!  Needless to say as soon as I got home, I had to process fruit, and I had to process it fast!  My favourite method this year was my Gramma's method for canning stone fruit.  We tried canning berries together this way and it worked out beautifully! 

Ingredients
- Fruit of choice (peaches, pears, berries, etc.)
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 cups water

Supplies
- Mason jars, lids, and rings
- Clean, dry cloth
- Baking sheet 
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Fill sink full of hot water, and place mason jars, lids, and rings in there until you area ready to use them.  It's important that the mason jars are as hot as possible (alternatively, you can put the mason jars through the dishwasher and use them immediately after it's finished running since they should be nice and hot). 

Bring sugar and water to a boil making sure sugar is fully dissolved. 
Rinse fruit, and peel/chop if necessary. 

Place fruit in mason jar leaving an inch or so of headspace (aka the ring portion of the jar). 
Pour boiling sugar/water mixture into jars, then wipe the rim of the jar and the seal making sure it is completely dry (this is really important or your jars won't seal properly), then place on jars. 
Place jars of fruit on a baking sheet and baking for 30 minutes (you want to see the liquid boiling in the jars). 

Carefully remove the jars from the oven, and allow them to cool on a flat surface.  You will hear the jars "pop" to seal if they haven't do so already.   Be sure not to force the seal on the jar, let it happen organically for a proper and safe seal. 

Once jars are sealed, they are ready to store!  If any jars didn't seal, be sure to put those jars in the fridge and use them within a couple of weeks. 

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Sunday, September 4, 2016

Cheddar Biscuits/Scones


This recipe appeared as my September Column in my local newspaper, the Hinton Voice. 

One of the very first recipes I ever remember making were my Gramma’s baking powder biscuits.  Back in the 90’s my Grandfather gathered up all of Gramma’s recipes, typed them all out, created an index, and placed them into giant binders to ship out to all of their children and grandchildren. Throughout the last 20 years each binder has grown and become unique to it’s owner.  When I visit my Aunt’s house, she has little notes she’s made in the margins and added pages of recipes that have been passed onto her from friends, cut out of her favourite magazines, and newer recipes that have been personally passed on from Gramma.  My little cousin’s earmarked all of the jam recipes in her book and started up her very own jam business on Vancouver Island.   Though I adore all of the recipes I’ve tried from the family recipe binder, this recipe is hands down the most adored page in my book.

I’ve made these biscuits/scones probably hundreds of times throughout my life, in every variation under the sun.  In addition to this cheddar version, this summer alone I’ve made them into fire roasted jalapeno cheddar scones, raspberry scones, plain biscuits, and even dumplings.  This recipe could very well be the most versatile recipe in my entire collection!

Recipe makes 8 large biscuits/scones

Ingredients

- 2 cups flour
- 4 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 5 tbsp butter
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup whipping cream (or milk, though cream really is better for this recipe)

Directions

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Add dry ingredients to a large bowl, and cut in the butter with either a butter knife, pastry cutter, or your hands (I prefer the hands on method).  Add grated cheddar.

Beat eggs until frothy, then mix them with the whipping cream. Add this liquid mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring as little as possible.

For a traditional scone shape:

Pat the dough into a pie shaped piece (again handling the dough as little as possible).  Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 8 separate pieces (just like you would a pie) and pat each piece into shape.  Place on a greased baking sheet being careful to space out so they don’t stick together as they bake.

For rolled bicuits:

Gently roll the dough onto a floured surface, using a well floured rolling pin.  Cut the biscuits using a pastry cutter or glass with a sharp rim, then place on baking sheet.

For rustic looking biscuits:

Separate the dough into 8 equal pieces and drop onto baking sheet.

Bake for preheated oven for approx. 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes, then remove from baking sheet and place on a wire rack to cool further.

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