Monday, July 23, 2012

Wild Plum Jam

Sean and I were on one of our many  walks downtown when I noticed a bunch of pits on the ground as we crossed under some low growing tree branches. When I looked up, I saw the arching branches of a plum tree that was so loaded with fruit it was comical.

A few days later, I begged Sean to come back (with a bucket apiece) and we picked and picked. Actually, to be correct, "picked" is really not the word. "held our hands up and pulled bulging hand-fulls of fruit off" would be more realistic. In a very short time, we'd filled our containers. I was happy as a clam. 

I got home, washed the fruit and froze most of it. I played around with the remaining and came to realize that the tiny fruits were impossible to pit. Drag.
Too big for a cherry pitter, to small for a knife.
I threw 2 cups of fruit in a sauce pan with a little water and boiled it for a while. Man, the ruby-red color of these plums was amazing. As I'd anticipated, soon the fruit and skins dissolved and left the pits clean and floating in the mass. A trip through a fry-basket (think strainer with 1/4 inch holes) was enough to trap the pits and let everything else slide through. I added some sugar (about a 60 fruit/ 40 sugar ratio) and soon I had jam. Popped it in a jar and waited for it to cool to see what I had.

Amazing. There is so much natural pectin in the skins, I won't need to add any. This set up like those single serving size jams you get at restaurants.

Flying on my success, I dragged Sean back yesterday to pick more. We picked everything within arm's reach and that's going to be it till next summer.

The jam is amazing (to me). It's still blinkingly tart, but I love that. However I realize it's not for everyone. When I use the frozen plums I should combine them with another fruit to cut the sour factor. Peaches perhaps?

Throw all the fruit in the pot with a cup of water and boil

It turns to soup rather quickly

Ladle into the strainer/fry basket

Stir and scrape

Keep stirring


Boil with the sugar till it thickens. It's not hard to tell when it's going to be jam. It will start to "spit"; bubbling up and making a mess, usually burning your forearm with molten liquid. I have the scars to prove it...

Fill jars, put in the water bath for 10 minutes and listen for the ping! of the lids sealing. Very satisfying.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Summer Eating 3 or "Oh No You Didn't!"

Oh yes I did...

There seems to be a certain fine line between white trash food (WTF) that sounds good, though is certainly horrible for you, and the WTF that just sounds horrible.

This one is right on the borderline.

Apple Dumplings. With Mountain Dew. yup.


So the recipe is simple enough, wrap apple slices in crescent roll dough, pour melted butter, sugar, vanilla and a can of Mt. Dew and bake.

I was certainly enamored with the prospect of using Mt. Dew, but it still seemed a bit much. I halved the recipe, and even then-- used 2/3 a stick of butter instead of the whole thing, and 1/4 a can of Mt. Dew instead of 1/2, and still the thing is swimming in liquid. Perhaps the reason they are called dumplings! Of which, I'm not really a fan. So, I'm waiting now for Madeleine to wake up and give it a taste as it was her idea to wake up to something ridiculously sweet and fattening every morning this summer.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Summer Eating 2

Today I returned to a recipe that I'd made a few summers ago on a lark and we all were a little embarrassed at how much we liked it.

It's called Strawberry Jello Pretzel Dessert. Yes. It really is.
The salt, the sweet, the tang of the cream cheese, the cool wet of the jello...someone knew what they were doing.

Strawberry Jello Pretzel Dessert
Make one small package of strawberry jello as directed and set in the 'fridge (in the bowl you mixed it in) to cool a bit.
Wash, hull and slice thin a pint of strawberries. *I don't like big chunks of fruit, so I'd actually dice the fruit, but it's up to you.
Crush pretzels to make 2 cups of pretzel crumbs.
Mix with 2/3 melted butter and 1/4 cup sugar. Press into 9 x 13 pan and bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
Take one brick of cream cheese (8 oz) SOFTENED, and a container of cool whip and blend with 1/4 sugar.

When everything is cool, but the jello not set, assemble. Pour cream cheese mixture over pretzel base, spread evenly. Mix strawberries into half-set jello and pour over cream cheese mixture.
Put the whole thing in the 'fridge and chill till very set, at least 5 hours.

Summer Eating

Once upon a time, there was a woman who thought she was ALL THAT in terms of food. A snob if you will. Before there was even a Starbucks in her hometown, she was known to visit and cry "Where can you get a decent cup of coffee in this town?" To which her mother replied "7-11?" and this only reinforced her self-centered snobby feelings.

I'm sure you have NO idea who I'm talking about.

However, over the last few weeks, this been strangely attracted to crappy food.
Not FAST FOOD, but what we shall unabashedly call white trash food.
In the not so distant old days, if I'd seen a bowl of onion dip (made from sour cream and Lipton Onion Soup Mix) I'd have scoffed and just as soon would have licked the lint off the table leg, but today I'm strangely attracted.

Long story short, I've dedicated the rest of the summer to white trash food, (WTF) for short. Hey--it works.

First thing I made was appropriately named White Trash Dip.
Mmmmm. Trashy. And frighteningly delicious.

I stole this from Pinterest/ My Kitchen Apron

White Trash Dip

  • 1 can chili (15 oz)
  • 2 packages cream cheese (8 oz ea), softened
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 lb. bacon
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook bacon.  Crumble.
  3. Mix together chili, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, bacon, and green onions in a large bowl.
  4. Spread mixture into a pie pan.
  5. Cook for 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
  6. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes.
  7. Serve with chips.

    Try not to disgrace yourself by eating this at such a pace it causes others to notice how fast you are shoveling it in your trap.