Monday, October 6, 2014
Posted by Kristi at 7:30 AM
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Somehow I've completely neglected to mention my tomatoes - I have a ton! Its been one of the best tomato summers in years (if you discount the enormous spiders lurking among the vines waiting for me to get close enough to jump on me and eat me alive! Side effect of an unusually wet summer. M will be doing all the harvesting!). When we have a harvest this special, I like to make something a few notches fancier than plain old tomato sauce. This year - Tomato Jam. Tomato jam has a complex layering of sweet, savory, and spicy flavors that when paired with some goat cheese on a cracker really hits the spot when your winter menu's repetitive lack of zip is almost too much to bear. M's lovely aunts serves this as part of their fantastic Thanksgiving appetizer spread. Every year I dream about it, finally I stopped dreaming and looked up the recipe.
This recipe is a slight adaptation from the Viking Easy Winter Tomato Jam recipe. I've adapted it to use fresh tomatoes, and to make a full dozen 1/2 pint jars.
6 pounds paste tomatoes
a few splashes olive oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh ginger
6 cloves chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
the juice of one lemon
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cumin
4 cinnamon sticks
salt and pepper to taste
First wash, seed, and skin the tomatoes, place in a large stock pot. Then peel and chop the ginger and garlic. I like to chop the red pepper flakes into this mix, so you are less likely to get a full flake of heat in one bite. Coat a medium sauté pan with a few splashes of olive oil then toast the garlic/ginger/red pepper combination unit fragrant and a bit browned.
(Hmmmm...its apparent that I've left a pretty big hole in the visual instructions here, sorry) Simmer 3-4 hours or until reduced by about 1/2. At this point I remove the cinnamon sticks and use the hand blender to puree into a smooth sauce texture. Alternately, you could just break up the big chunks of tomato with a wooden spoon for a more textured end result. Can or freeze as you would tomato sauce. Makes 12 half pint jars.
I find one 1/2 pint jar of Tomato Jam, paired with a sleeve of water crackers, and 1/2 a log of chèvre serves 4 as a small gathering appetizer. Its also the perfect size for M and I to house in one sitting after the kids have gone to bed.
Posted by Kristi at 1:14 PM
Thursday, September 4, 2014
last met our monarch caterpillar was munching away on fresh milkweed. Less than 24 hours after we found him he started wandering restlessly around his jar. We cut some sticks and put them in the jar so he would have a sturdy place to make the chrysalis. Silly us, naturally he was more concerned about safety than sturdiness. He chose the curled edge of a milkweed leaf instead. It makes perfect sense, but makes photographing with any consistency of format difficult, as the lush green leaf becomes crispier and more curled by the hour. Up to this point, all my caterpillar rearing information came from a book, which stressed the importance of the caterpillar becoming securely attached to his silk mat for a successful chrysalis. I didn't want to move him until the chrysalis was fully formed. I needn't have worried, a few seconds on the inter web tells me you can tape (that's right, TAPE) a chrysalis to just about anything!
See that spot now. After 10 days the butterfly started to separate from the skin of the chrysalis. The streaks of black grew from that point until the whole thing was black.
Then a fully formed chrysalis, at which point I cut away the stem and unused leaves of the milkweed, and hung the whole thing from a pipe cleaner suspended over a big glass vase, so we could really examine it.
Then, bam. On the 12th day of chrysalis we went off to pick J up at school one day, and when we got back we had a butterfly. That's right he hatched (the proper term is eclose) If you care to follow me on instagram, and risk hiving to look at knitting and sewing photos too, you'll get advanced notice of this sort of thing. My inter web monarch information source of choice says a butterfly that hatches in the afternoon and safely be released the following day. Fingers crossed that they are right.
Posted by Kristi at 9:21 PM