Showing posts with label lime. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lime. Show all posts

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Why Bother? 2012 - Homemade Sodas

Sometimes serendipity strikes in your favor. Last weekend was one of those weeks.

Boyfriend loves to go to the flea market. Mostly he goes looking for toys. Old toys, new toys. Toys that remind him of his childhood. Toys that his dad sent to Goodwill before he was done playing with them. G.I. Joes, Batman figures, robotic toys from the 1980's, video game systems that are long past their prime. It's all on his radar. It's rare that I find something that I want while perusing the aisles of junk, until last Saturday.

We headed to the Meadowlands flea market bright and early Saturday morning. (You have to go early, otherwise all the good junk is gone.). Wandering through the sea of pre-owned merchandise, I spotted something that looked familiar. Stainless steel with a black cap, I first thought it was a whipped cream canister, until I got closer.


Wouldn't you know, it was a brand new soda siphon. The very one that I held back from buying because of its $70 price tag. When I asked how much the vendor wanted, he said "$10!" Color me happy, sold! What was so great about this find? Homemade sodas was on the list for the Why Bother challenge this week! Serendipity.


After a quick trip to the store to locate some CO2 cartridges, I was ready to carbonate everything! My friends told me to stop short of carbonating my milk. I was apt to agree.


I switched to drinking seltzer a few months ago and have never been much of a cola drinker, so I wanted to make something not too sweet and special for my homemade sodas. I settled on two flavorful options - a Raspberry-lime rickey and a strawberry cream soda.


I decided to carbonate the Rickey with the soda siphon and make the cream soda with seltzer water. You can make your own sodas without use of a siphon, just go out and buy some seltzer water and you'll be making your own homemade drinks in no time too!


The best thing about making your own sodas is that you control the sugar. Store bought sodas contain a ridiculous amount of sugar per serving (a 12-ounce can of soda typically has 10 and a 1/2 teaspoons of sugar). If you want a fun and fancy flavor, you're going to be paying at least $2.00 per beverage. Making your own at home, you save calories and money. Happy waistline and wallet!


Stop by here on Saturday (sorry, Sunday!  Saturday got away from me!) for the Strawberry cream soda!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Why Bother? - Homemade Jam

Back in the early eighties, my mom tried her hand at making jams and jellies.  Unfortunately my dad dubbed the products "Not like my mom's jams."  The canning materials went into the basement where they gathered dust for the next twenty-five years, until I went poking around.  Which is why last year, I inherited a large canning pot and three boxes of vintage Ball mason jars. 


I have fuzzy memories of my grandmothers basement.  It was dark, dusty and scary for an eight-year old.  It was full from front to back with old furniture, boxes of Christmas decorations and musty vintage clothing.  One corner also held a make-shift shelving unit, built into the stud of the walls, that was filled from floor to ceiling with dusty mason jars.  From what I remember, they were all filled with peaches.  I have no idea why.  My grandmothers house was in Upstate New York, where there are a dearth of peach trees.  If she had jars of jam in her basement, they looked like peaches to my young, frightened of the dark, eyes.

This weeks challenge was to channel my jam-making grandmother, using my moms vintage canning supplies and churn out modern preserves.  There are so many varieties of jams, jellies and preserves available in the grocery store and at the farmers market, I didn't want to make a plain, single fruit jam.  Why make plain strawberry jam when I can buy fresh, locally made strawberry jam at the farmers market right around the corner from my house?


There are a few reasons why you could make all of your own jam.  1. Using fresh, in season, organic fruits gives the most flavorful product possible.  2. Jam-making and canning is a simple process.  3. Make a batch of homemade jam - you have presents for everyone!

For my canning-fest, I chose two very different flavor combos.  First - fresh and bright Strawberry-Lemon preserves.  Next - tangy ginger-pear preserves.  Yes, I decided to go with preserves for both of my jams.  Personally, I like a bit of chunky texture to my spreads and therefore I'm not really a jelly fan.  I also didn't want to go with any tricky recipes that required added pectin from apples or the baking aisle. Maybe I'll give jelly a go once we finish these jars of jam!


Results - the strawberry-lemon jam was bright and fresh.  The recipe was super simple to follow and the jam came together very quickly.  This was exceptional on my morning English muffin and I will have no problem finishing the two jars that I made.  The ginger-pear preserves took a bit longer to make because the pears were very juicy.  Once complete, this jam made a striking change in a traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

When it comes to jams, jellies and preserves I have two suggestions - Head to the farmers market or "Pick your own" farm and stock up on local, in season produce.  And, when making your own jams, try something a little different, you can get strawberry jam anywhere.

One Year Ago: Peanut Butter and Chocolate Ice Cream

Important!  When it comes to canning, you want to be sure to follow canning rules to ensure a safe product.  To sterilize your jar and lids - Bring a large pot of water to a boil, it will probably take between 15-30 minutes for your water to boil.  Get it ready in advance.  Add your jars to the pot and boil them for 10 minutes.  Remove with tongs and pour out the water.  Let jars cool on the counter top on a kitchen towel.  Place lids in a heat-proof container and pour a few ladles of boiling water over them.  Try not to touch the inside of the lids with your fingers.

Once the jars are full, return them to the water bath and process for the required amount of time.  Remove them from the water bath and set them on a kitchen towel.  Let the jars sit at room temperature for 12 hours.  You should hear the jar lids pop closed after a few minutes.  If the lids haven't sealed in an hour, put those jars in the fridge.

Strawberry-Lemon Preserves
Adapted from Canning for a New Generation

2 pints strawberries, hulled and coarsely chopped
2 lemons, washed
1 cup sugar

Cut the ends off of the lemons.  Cut lemons in quarters and remove the seeds.  Slice lemons very thinly, about 1/8-inch thick.  Gently toss strawberries, lemons and sugar in a large bowl.  Cover and put in the fridge overnight.

Prepare 2-3 1/2-pint jars and their lids.  Combine fruit with 1/3 cup water in a large saucepan with high sides.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.  Pour fruit into a colander and collect the liquids in a bowl below.

Return liquids to the pan and bring to a boil.  Cook for 15 minutes until the liquids are reduced to a syrup.  Return fruit to the pan and bring to a simmer.  Stir frequently and cook for about 20-25 minutes.  The strawberries should hold their shape, but be shiny and glossy.

Remove jars from the water bath and ladle hot water over the lids.  Add preserves to the jars.  Wipe the lip of the jars clean with a wet paper towel.  Place lids on the jars and screw on collars.  The lids should just be finger-tightened.  Process in the water bath for 5 minutes with the lid on the water bath.  Remove jars from the bath and let sit on a kitchen towel.  Do not disturb for 12 hours.

You can store the jam in the pantry.  Store opened jars in the fridge and eat within a few weeks.

Ginger-Pear Preserves
Adapted from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

6 pears (choose your favorite type), peeled, cored and chopped
Zest of 3 limes
Juice of 3 limes
2 1/3 cups sugar
1 tbsp grated gingerroot

Prepare 3-4 1/2-pint jars in a water bath.  Place 3 spoons in the freezer.

In a large, non-reactive, saucepan, combine pears, lime zest, lime juice, sugar and ginger.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Stir frequently and cook for 15 minutes. 

Test the gel - Take one of your frozen spoons and scoop up some of the liquid from the pan.  If the liquid drips off in small drops, the gel is not ready.  Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly and test again.  If the liquid falls off the spoon in a sheet, it it ready to can. 

Remove jars from the water bath and ladle jar into the jars.  Wipe off the lip of the jars with a wet paper towel.  Place lids on the jars and screw on the collars.  Process jars in the water bath for 10 minutes the the bath lid on.  Remove the lid and let boil for 5 more minutes.  Remove jars from the bath and place on a kitchen towel.  After 1 hour, check to see if the lids have sealed (the tops should not pop when pressed down).   If any jars have not sealed, place them in the fridge immediately.  Do not disturb the sealed jars for 12 hours. 

Sealed jars can be stored in the pantry.  Opened jars should be stored in the fridge.  Try this with peanut butter for a new take on your classic PB&J!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Mango-Lime Muffins

I’ve gone a little mango crazy recently! Last week it was mango curry, today it’s mango muffins! I know the same thing has happened to you. You discover something new and delicious. After a little while you notice that this new ingredient is making its way into all of your recipes. You’re eating your new favorite ingredient morning, noon and night. Mangoes are my new favorite ingredient.



If you have never tried a mango before, now is the perfect time to give them a try. Mexican mangoes are in season now and Florida mangoes are approaching their peak. In season, the mangoes are sweet and full of flavor. You’ll find yourself wanting to eat it straight out of the skin, neglecting to save some for your recipe. Maybe you should buy two, just in case you eat the first one.


Not sure of what to do with a mango? Follow these simple directions and you’ll be able to coax the fruit from the skin, leaving you with perfectly diced mango.

I'm a mango!

I have a flat pit in the middle!  Slice out the center section.
 
Gently cut the fruit into cubes, being sure not to cut through the skin


Flip the fruit inside out!

Slice off the fruit and enjoy!


Monday, February 28, 2011

Coconut Panna Cotta & Key Lime Gelee

This month’s Daring Bakers consisted of two recipes that I had never made before. In fact, these recipes had never dawned on me before. I’m not a huge fan of chilled desserts. I like my desserts warm from the oven, topped with ice cream. You will rarely find puddings, gelatins or flans in my fridge. Two factors of this particular challenge seemed serendipitous. First, I’ve been working with a lot of gelatin in the past few weeks. I had just stocked up on Knox gelatin before our February challenge arrived. Second, I actually had panna cotta, for the first time in my life, on January 28th.



Boyfriend and I were in New York City four weeks ago apartment hunting. After a long and fruitless day of looking at either mediocre apartments or overpriced ones, we headed to the Meatpacking district for dinner. It was the beginning of restaurant week and we decided to try Ajna Bar on Little 12th Street. The most recent snowfall had made crossing intersections (in cute shoes nonetheless) very, very difficult. Also, if you are familiar with this particular section of Manhattan, you know the streets are cobbled. Cobbled streets, covered in several inches of slush, are a cute shoe-wearing girls nightmare. Boyfriend also refused to carry me across the street. Bad boyfriend.


We made it to Anja bar and were greeted with a burst of warm air and dark corridor. Once we were seated we had to take a minute to absorb all of the things going on around us. The restaurant is huge, with an equally large wait staff. There are huge columns, carved into dragons, candles galore and what I’m pretty sure was an aquarium filled with jellyfish. All the crazy décor aside, the meal was actually pretty delicious. (I’d highly recommend their shrimp curry.) The perfect ending to the meal was their Thai tea panna cotta. Smooth and creamy panna cotta buried beneath a layer of cool whipped cream and chocolate crunch.  Perfect.


For my panna cotta, I decided to go a little more south, and less east, for my influence. Key lime is one of my favorite flavors and with this being the season of citrus I was able to get some good ones! Just don’t skimp on the fat in this panna cotta recipe. If you go with lite coconut milk you will likely wind up with a panna cotta that won’t set. Give this a try and enjoy a little summer on a plate.

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestlé Florentine Cookies.  Since Giadas recipe called for honey, and I hate honey, I went in another direction.  The florentine cookies weren't anything to write home about, so I omitted the recipe.  You can find it on the Nestle website.


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