There has been quite a bit of canning going on around here if you hadn’t noticed, and we have been consuming the canned products. Because that is why we can correct? One of the challenges with canning is that the product is sealed away and it is tough to know if it went well. There is the urge to crack it right back open to see how it turned out, but then there is an equal but oppisite urge to let it sit in the cupboard for as long as possible – because that is the whole point of canning right?

Quite the conundrum.

But we have been eating, and I want to share my thoughts on my results. First off, the citrus fest! The Orange Coriander and Thyme Jelly is delicious, but putting the sprig of thyme in there turned out to be kinda annoying. Sure it looked nice, but it is woody and you just have to pick it out. Next time I will stick with leaves and skip the sticks. And the Kiwi Lemon Marmalade – verrah tasty. Wouldn’t change a thing.

The Thai Basil Pickled Carrots were a big hit – for both of the people who sampled them. I know that a critique of only 2 people isn’t that great, but they each ate an entire jar. I only had 2 jars so I wasn’t able to get any additional opinions. Both tasters said that the carrots had a nice heat to them, but not so much that they were “fiery”. The hubby liked pulling out 3 or 4 and put them on his plate next to his lunchtime sandwich. He ate them straight like a side-dish. He has an order if for me to make more – I am debating trying different sizes and shapes. Spears are one possibility, but I have been thinking about using shredded carrots and making a hot slaw. The possibilities are manifold.

And finally, the B&B Pickled Onions.  It is really nice when something comes out exactly as envisioned.  They work beautifully as a sandwich topper and I cannot wait until grill season gets fire up and we can try them on hot-dogs and hamburgers.  Unlike the cucumber version, with these little puppies a little goes a long way. Next time I make them I believe I will pack and process them in 1/2 pints instead of full pints. You can get so many more onions in a jar when you don’t have those awkwardly shaped cucumbers to wrastle with.

So, there’s the skinny on some canning results. My big problem now is to figure out what to do for this month’s can jam. Citrus and Alliums inspired me, carrots challenged me – but in a good way. This month, well this month we have the choice between a vegetable that I categorically despise and a fruit that I loathe only slightly less than the vegetable. It really isn’t looking good for me.

You know how when you need to juice citrus it is recommended that you microwave it briefly so that you can extract more juice?

When utilizing this technique on Limes, 45 seconds is too long.

Just a little tip I learned today, don’t ask me how.

For this month’s can jam the theme is Herbs! tigress and the awesome food in jars lady picked this out for us, and yet again it is a challenge. Challenge narrowing down the choices that is. I adore herbs, I would be hard pressed to select my favorite, but my favorite(s) usually involve tomato sauce, it is the Italian in me that screams for the red. And it is so not tomato season yet – so I will have to wait.

Once again I find myself turning to my hubster for inspiration. Out of nowhere I ask him “What’s your favorite herb?”. Accustomed to these sort of non sequiturs  from me he takes it in stride. After some thought he says “Mint”.

Spring is Green, Green is Spring!

Mint it is!

I went through a phase last fall where I was obsessed with the idea of herb jellies. Where most canning recipes are adamant about following them exactly or oh my GOD you are going to kill your friends and family with the BOTULISM and they will put you in canning JAIL, the herb jelly recipes actually encourage playing a little fast and loose with the ingredients.

Woo Hoo.

And what encourages more fastness and looseness than RUM*?

Mojito Jelly: adapted from Herb Jelly recipe in the Complete Book of Small-batch Preserving

The Hardware: see The Canning Thing, makes 4 half pints with a little left over – so if you have a 1/4 pint jar it would be a good thing, strainer & coffee filter.

The Software:
3/4 C Water
1/2 C Light Rum
Bunch of Fresh Mint
3 1/2 C Sugar (I think I might have goofed up here but more on that later)
1 C Fresh Squoozed Lime Juice (10 limes – which weighed in @ 2 lbs total weight)
2 T Lemon Juice
1 T Additional Rum
1 Pouch Liquid Pectin

Combine3/4 C water with 1/2 C rum in a large saucepan. Add in mint. The original recipe called for 2 T of mint – and really who the heck are they kidding? I bought a big bunch and pulled the leaves off and threw them in the pot until it looked like enough. And for me “enough” was so that I pretty much couldn’t see the liquid any more, I figure it was probably a loosely packed 1/2 C or tightly packed 1/4 C. Put in enough to get your mojo working.

Bring to a boil and then turn the heat off. Cover and allow to steep for awhile. The original recipe said 5 minutes – I am guessing I gave it 20. Put your strainer over a liquid measure and line with your coffee filter, pour in mixture and allow to drain. Pick up the filter and squeeze gently to get all of the liquid out and discard the filter. Measure out 1 C of the mint infused liquid and put in a large non-reactive cooking pot on the stove.

I am going to assume that you already squoozed your limes – I nuked mine for 30 seconds to get more juice out of them. Add all of the other ingredients except the liquid pectin to the pot and crank up the heat. Stir pretty much constantly until you reach a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. That is totally “jamming” speak and what it means is the stuff is going to foam up like boiling lava and unless you stir it like the bejeebus it is going to overflow your pot and turn your range into a disaster area. That is why you need a big pot. Way bigger than you ever think you could possibly need.

Once you have reached the “full rolling boil” dump in the entire pack of liquid pectin. If you haven’t used liquid pectin before – here is a trick. Have a short glass that the pouch fits in sitting beside the stove. Cut the top all the way off before you get started and set it in the glass so it doesn’t tump over. Now you can just pick it up and squeeze it in without fiddling with anything because hey, molten lava sugar is not the time go dinking around with your pectin packet. The pectin will knock back your boil, but keep on stirring – it will revive shortly and shut down European air space.

Once you have regained FRB set a timer for 1 minute and maintain FRB while stirring for 1 full minute. Then turn off the heat. Do the canning thing and fill your jars with the goodness. Leave 1/4 inch headspace and BWB for 10 minutes – adjusted for your altitude. It takes 15 at my house, your house may vary.

The Good, the Bad and the … there was no Ugly I guess

I am pretty sure I left out 1/2 C of sugar in my measuring. I was lazy and measured directly into the pot, which is like measuring salt over your mixing bowl while baking. DON’T DO IT, IT’S STUPID! I think I lost count and missed a 1/2 cup somewheres. We will see how well the jellies set and that might let me know. The thing that makes me really think I whoopsed it is that I ended up with 4 half pints plus about 3/8 of an inch in a 5th jar. The recipe said it would make 4 half pints and a quarter pint – and this book is usually spot on the mark with quantities.

Regardless of the renegade sugar, since I had the small amount left I was able to taste the jelly straight away. And it was tasty, refreshing even. I think the rum played a background part and the balance of the mint and lime is really nice. When I make this again I might swap the quantities of water and rum and see what happens (btw, I checked and rum has a ph level considerably lower than water so I didn’t hose anything with the substitution), it might even be possible to leave the water out altogether. But I am not sure that would be a good idea – who knows? After I finished canning I took the leftover jar down to the hubster with a little tasting spoon, he said he liked it. I had to run out the door and pick up my little man from pre-school and when I returned the leftover jar was in the sink with the spoon – empty. Which I will take to imply he wasn’t lying. He ate it all, with a spoon.

For full disclosure – I am not much of a drinker and have never tasted a Mojito. I have no idea if this jelly tastes anything like a Mojito – one of you boozers will have try it and tell me how they compare. So, do you have a favorite cocktail that we could jellyfy?

*Arguably one could say Tequilia, but we do not keep that in the house.

This theme got me all riled up when it was revealed. Allium is  one of my favorite food families – I love most every member of the clan. The possibilities stretched out before me as an endless plain. Why then am I posting just under the wire?

I was stuck in bad thinking.

Brainstorming, I kept trying to come up with something special. Trying to second guess what other can jammers might be doing. Attempting to come up with something that would really wow everyone. Then I realized how monumentally stupid I was being.

That isn’t what can jam is about.

Can Jam is about learning. About challenging ourselves to simply get into the kitchen once a month and can something. About devoting this time to our kitchens, our blogs and therefore ourselves. Once I figured this out I knew what I was going to make. Something that would be a valuable addition to my pantry. Something that I would actually EAT.

There is no actual relevance of the towel

My husband and I love my mother’s Bread & Butter Pickles. But one of the observations we invariably make to one another as we are fishing the golden little coins out of the jar is that we like the onions in there as much if not more than the cucumbers. And then I tell my Hubby that some day I will make a batch with no Cucumbers at all.

Today was that day!

Garlicky Bread & Butter Onion Pickles

The Hardware: canning stuff, this makes 4 pints of pickles – so get your jars on!

The Software:
16 C Sliced onions (’bout 1/4 in thick)
1/4 C Coarse Salt
4 C Ice
7 Cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
2 1/2 C Apple Cider Vinegar
2 1/2 C Sugar
3/4 t Tumeric
1/2 t Celery Seeds
1 T Mustard Seeds

Combine Onions, Salt and Ice in a large bowl; or you could simply use the non-reactive cooking vessel that you will eventually cook the pickle in, your choice really. Simply ask yourself how many dishes you want to wash? Stir well and then cover and weight down. If you are like me this will involve dirtying half of the plates in your kitchen trying to find one that fits down in your pot. That time you saved not dirtying that bowl? Wasted. I used a giant can of pumpkin for weight – because I stocked up during the great Pumpkin Shortage Scare of ’09.

Allow the sqooshed onions to sit for 3 hours and then drain well. Pick out any remaining pieces of ice. DO NOT RINSE.

Combine everything else in the dirty pot and stir together. Add onions back into pot. On medium heat, bring almost to a boil – stirring frequently. And by almost to a boil I mean until you start to get all of those simmery bubbles coming up around the edges but not the middle. Of course you are gonna have to stop stirring to see this happen – so don’t stir too much.

Turn off heat and use a slotted spoon to pack the onions into your hot canning jars. You are gonna have to moosh the onions down lightly and then ladle the pickling brine into the jars up to about 1/2 inch head-space. Use a chopstick to poke around the edges and center to make sure you get all the bubbles out and top off with more brine if necessary.

Boiling Water Bath for 25 minutes for 1K altitude. Adjust for your height!

Conclusion:

For only the second time in my canning career (of almost a year now woo hoo!) I had a jar fail to seal. I don’t think I left enough head-room, which is why I said 1/2 inch. I left 1/4 inch and I don’t think that was enough.

My hubby was very consoling. He said that we will just have to put them in the ‘fridge and eat them sooner rather than later. He was willing to make that sacrifice for me and I am appreciative. Of course he made this offer as he was fishing out the straggler onions from the brine with chopsticks and stuffing them in his face.

I cannot wait to eat these on Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, Pastrami Sandwiches … can you think of anything else I can put them on?

If you want to know what I have been doing lately – why there haven’t been too many food posts – you might want to check over here: Fhlockston Paradise.

You see, it is time to get your spring chickens!

I will have a Can Jam post by the end of the week, don’t worry.

sneak peek at the link:

Killing you with cute

Either Doris or Jilly has a mean streak. I don’t know which one is responsible, but Carrots? Really? Yes indeed. The theme foodstuff for this month’s installment of the tigress can jam is carrots.

A vegetable.

A low acid vegetable.

This is haaaaaaard. OK, quitcha bitchin girl and get a grip. Truthfully I found myself not particularly inspired by this theme, but I guess that is why this is a challenge eh? I spent a goodly amount of time poking around books and the intarweb to try and figure out what to do. I explored carrot jams, carrot chutneys, carrot slaw like applications … and carrot pickles.

I procrastinated. I waited until the week of and went through the entire list of participants on tigress’s blog to see what the early birds were posting. Finally I girded my loins and did what I do best.

Deferred the decision. Since I would more than likely not be eating any carrot based item I canned – I asked my hubby what he would prefer. Would he like something sweet or savory? The decisive answer was savory. Would he want something slaw-like or a pickle? Again, a decisive decision in the pickle direction. So now I had somewhere to start! Yay!

I settled on a recipe in what is probably my favorite canning book: The Complete Book of Year-round Small Batch Preserving.

Floaters - how do you avoid floaters?

She has a recipe that uses those little lathed out mini-carrots that you can buy anywhere anytime. So I got to pickling.

Not one to leave well enough alone – I tinkered with the recipe. I didn’t want to mess with the acidity so I looked at the constituent parts. The original recipe called for fresh oregano, I figured I could substitute any fresh herb in similar quantities. The original called for chopped bell peppers in two colors, again, if I maintained ratios any pepper should do. And if I add more acid that can’t hurt right?

So here it is, it’ll take a month for my hubby to let me know if they are any good.

Spicy Thai Basil Carrot Pickles

The Hardware: standard canning stuff see The Canning Thing this will make 2 pint jars. Wide mouthed is best. A vegetable peeler and a pair of chopsticks will be handy also.

The Software:
4 medium leaves fresh Basil
2 Limes
1 lb peeled “Baby” carrots
6 Thai chili peppers
2 cloves Garlic
1 1/2 C White Vinegar
1/2 C Sugar
1 t Pickling Salt

Wash all of your produce and then nuke your limes for about 20 seconds on high. Using a vegetable peeler, remove two 1/2 inch wide strips of zest from tip to tail on your best looking lime. Cut limes in half and juice into a liquid measure (if you are like me – cuss because you didn’t realize you had several small cuts on the ends of your fingers), if necessary add water until the quantity reaches a total of 1/3 C.

Put lime juice, vinegar, sugar and salt into a small saucepan over medium heat and start on it’s way to a boil. Peel your garlic cloves and start two little piles. Add two clean basil leaves to each garlic clove and be happy that your piles are growing. Take the two strips of lime zest and cut them into thinner strips – divide between the piles.

Wearing at least one glove, use a sharp knife and cut the stem ends off of the peppers and then cut a small slit in the length of each chili – add three chilies to each pile. If you haven’t figured it out yet – each pile is going to go into one of the two pint jars that you have hanging out in your BWB.

Regard your carrots. If any of them seem to be a bit chunky for the “Baby” moniker – cut them in half lengthwise. It is a harsh diet – but it has to happen. Once your pickling liquid is almost to a boil, remove the jars from the hot water. Place the basil leaves neatly covering the bottom of each jar – I use chopsticks to futz with them because HEY THESE JARS ARE HOT.

Once you have the basil the way you want it, add the lime zest and garlic. Then start arranging “Baby” carrots. I found it easier to lay the jars on their side and stack the little impudent buggers in there. When I got to halfway full on the first layer I put two of the chilies in vertically on opposite sides from one another. Then I finished filling in carrots. I took the third chili and put it in the second layer of carrots.

Repeat process with second jar. Sit upright and fill with the boiling liquid – leave 1/2 inch head-space. Put on lids and rings and then lower into BWB. Begin timing after you have regained a full boil – process for 15 minutes (Sea Level) I did 20 minutes because I am over 1K feet. You can do your own math for wherever you live.

All that futzin with the chopsticks?

Not a good look for garlic.

Pointless. As usual with raw pack things – it all floated up to the top and shifted and stuff. My carefully arranged vegetable masterpieces look like a 5 year old did them. One of these days I will learn the secret of  packing jars so that they don’t end up floaters – but it wasn’t this day.

Also – did you know that garlic turns a fairly icky blue/green color when it is pickled? Not nice. Not nice at all. And basil? Not lovely. It looks kinda kelpy and possibly slimy. Did I mention that I will so not be eating these?

I am looking forward to next month – when my hubby will let me know if these are edible. Until then – I recommend that you bookmark this page and wait and see before you try this yourself.

It turns out that my bulk mashing post is one the more popular posts on this here blog. It kind of makes me feel better about myself knowing that there are others out there that cannot resist the bargain bag of ‘taters even when we know darn well that we cannot eat the whole thing before it goes over to the dark side.

But this time it wasn’t my fault – it was totally my Mom’s fault. You see, just after the holidays they pull up stakes and relocate to warmer climes which leaves me as the beneficiary of the “cleaning out of the perishables”. Not that I am complaining, free food – especially a staple – is always welcome in my home. And yet I found myself, once again, staring at the lumpy proliferation of tasty tubers in my pantry.

Which sat in my pantry.

And sat.

Until I said CRAP I gotta do something with those ‘taters. So I did, about a month ago (what you thought I had magic ‘taters that lasted from the end of December until February? – no chance, not with our humidity), but I waited to let y’all know until I had fully tested my plan. Because I don’t want to pass on any crappy advice, I have standards you know?

Like mashed potatoes - only you are supposed to eat a whole bowl.

The Initial Spud Soup Starter

The Hardware: A big honkin’ pot, immersion blender, ladle and quart freezer bags

The Software: A metric butt-tonne of russet potatoes and enough stock to cover, plus whatever spices you like.

Take your ‘taters, peel then chop them into chunks – toss them into your big honkin’ pot. Pour in enough chicken stock to just cover the spuds. If you are a vegetarian type person, I am sure that a vegetable stock would work. Cook the ‘taters until they can be easily poked through with a skewer and turn off heat. Now here is where we get crazy.

Don’t drain them.

Take your handy-dandy immersion blender and puree the tar out of those ‘taters. What you will end up with is something much to runny to be mashed potatoes but much too thick to be actual soup. I call this “soup starter”. You can season at this point – until you like the taste, but be careful with the black pepper. Black pepper intensifies even in the freezer. You can always add more seasoning later – but it is tough to fish it out. I added salt, a little bit of pepper and some garlic powder. Hmmm, I wonder what would have happened if I had cooked some garlic cloves with the ‘taters? Next time maybe.

The important thing here – do not add any dairy. No milk, no butter, no cream cheese, no sour cream, no cheese. These things do not freeze terribly well in a team environment. They like to go their own way, to seperate themselves. Bust out your ladle and fill up as many quart freezer bags as you can manage. Try to get as much air out of them as possible and lay them flat on a tray. Make sure you label & date them and then chuck them into the freezer. Freezing flat makes it easier to store the bags after freezing and makes the food thinner and more widely distributed; therefore easier to thaw.

The Spud Soup

This is why it took a month for me to post this – I wanted to make sure it worked. I had significant concerns about the texture of the soup after the freezing. Luckily I was able to thaw and revive our patient with little quality loss. Score one for Cryogenics!

Pull out a freezer bag of your soup starter and microwave it on very low until you can mush it around enough to decant into a large saucepan. Once the soup is in the saucepan – heat on low, stirring and mushing frequently until everything is thawed (or almost thawed, if you are like me an have no patience it will still work). Thin the soup to slightly thicker than desired consistency with stock (of whichever persuasion floats your boat).

If you are a vegan and used vegetarian stock – well, I cannot help you much beyond this point – it is going to get ugly for you so you might want to stop. The next things you want to add to bring your soup to it’s final luscious consistency are those prima-donnas who eschewed the freezer, milk and butter – the dairy divas. Add as much as you want – I won’t tell.

Season to taste, I like salt and a good bit of pepper, plus some more garlic and a wee bit of nutmeg. You follow your bliss. In the above picture you might notice some lumps – I actually dumped in some frozen corn because really, can you ever have too much starch?

Toppings can be applied with wild abandon. Personally, I cannot conceive of potato soup without bacon and cheese. While we were eating I mentioned to the hubby that some caramelized onions would have been delicious piled on top. If I had had a can of French’s onions handy – I can guarantee you they would have made an appearance.

What do you think would go well on top?

I make no claims to authenticity for this dish. It was thrown together from things out of my pantry, and I must say it was very tasty. I had dinner early and when the hubby came home late to eat his I was sorely tempted to have a second bowl. Pantry meals are essential to anyone’s repertoire, and sometimes you rely on some pre-packaged items to cut down on time.

Of course you could use a can of diced tomatoes – or even chop up a tomato or two. Then you could add a can of diced chilies – or roast and dice your own fresh chilies. I am sure it would add significantly to the flavor. But I, being a good southern girl, always have a couple of cans of Rotel in the pantry and it gives me the tomatoes, chilies and some additional spices in one convenient package. Turn your nose up if you will – but it makes life easier for me.

I totally forgot to put the cheese on - you can imagine it yourself.

Easy Mexican Chicken Soup

The Hardware: large saucepan, spoon, can opener.

The Software:
1 Onion
2 t Chopped Garlic
1 can Rotel (I used mild because I am a wussy – use whatever you can handle)
2 T Lizano Sauce
2 C Shredded Chicken (had it in the ‘fridge, you could use rotisserie if that’s your thang)
2 pinches Oregano (dried)
2 pinches Cumin
1 T Lime Juice
1 Qt Chicken Stock (I used home-made, you do whatever you want)
1 C Frozen Corn
3 T Masa
pinches of Salt, Pepper and Granulated garlic to taste
2 C cooked rice or a couple of handfuls of  tortilla strips

Slice onions into half rounds and saute in a large saucepan in a couple of tablespoons of oil until the onions are soft. When they start getting brownish add the garlic and saute for about a minute – don’ t let the garlic burn. Add the Rotel, Lizano & chicken and stir around a bit, bring to a simmer. Add stock, lime juice, oregano & cumin and bring back up to almost a simmer. Then sprinkle in the Masa and curse when it forms dumpling-like globules.

Seek and destroy Masa globules by squashing them against the wall of the saucepan with the back of your spoon. Or you could be smart and measure out the Masa into a small bowl and add some of the not-yet-hot stock to it to form one of them there fancy pants “slurries”  before you add it to the pot.

Bring everything up to a simmer and then add the corn. Bring to a boil, stirring to make sure nothing sticks and scorches. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper & granulated garlic until you are happy. If you are using rice, divide it between your bowls and then serve the soup over top. If you are using tortilla strips put the soup in first and then top with crunchies.

It doesn’t hurt to sprinkle some cheese on top. But really – can’t you say that about just about anything?

Potential Hacks:

This could easily go vegetarian. Replace the chicken stock with veg stock and replace the chicken with a can or two of beans, poofy violia – vegetarian. Actually, the beans would be good as an add on if you wanted to bulk it up more. Skip the cheese and dairy and I believe this would be vegan – but I have limited understanding of vegantology.

If you do not have Masa hanging around (and I am guessing that is a goodly number of people) then you can just crumble up some tortilla chips and let them simmer in the soup. They will disintegrate and serve the same thickening purpose. You know what tortilla chips are made out of? Masa.

This came out a bit spicier than I really cared for, cause I am a wuss, so I wanted to add some sour cream to dial back the heat. But I didn’t have any sour cream. Whipped cream cheese, however, was in my ‘fridge. So I made some little canels out of the cream cheese and, after being stirred in well, it worked fine. Sour cream would have been better.

And of course, there is the Lizano. You really should just keep it in your ‘fridge. It is a wonderful thing. It is delicious in eggs. It can turn regular rice into instant Mexican rice. Stir it into a drained can of beans and you suddenly have super tasty beans. Dribble it onto your tacos or burritos. It is a fantastic ingredient that really has no substitute. If I have not convinced you to seek it out – then you are just going to have to crank up all of the seasonings. Add more cumin, oregano and garlic. Add a little chili powder, but be careful you do not turn the soup into chili.

The realization set in today that I was running the risk of writing an all canning blog this year – and of course that is not my intent. It is just that, having recently discovered my love of canning, I want to share it with everyone. But rest assured, my family does not sit down to dinner with a jar of jam and a spoon. We also eat salsa.

I kid, I kid.

Roasted chicken is frequently on the menu. Roasted chicken is where it is at. As far as I am concerned, Roasted chicken is the platonic ideal, the ultimate pinnacle of Chicken Cookery.

The business end of the Bird.

Once, after roasting a chicken to pull apart for a casserole I realized that the golden crispy skin would just go to waste.

So I ate it. All of it. The skin from an entire chicken.

That is how I feel about Roasted Chicken.

Roasted Chicken

The Hardware: roasting pan, oven set to 425 degrees, kitchen twine.

The Software:

A whole Chicken
Stuff to shove up its’ butt
Salt & pepper

Most recipes call for one to place “aromatics” into the “cavity” of the chicken. Not being one to pussyfoot around – I just think of it as shoving stuff up the chicken’s butt.

I am also very liberal in my definitions of “aromatics”. Mostly I look in the fridge and go “hmm, I wonder if that would work” and my response is usually “don’t know until you try”. I have yet to have any major failures. Since there has been a cornucopia of citrus in my home – citrus is what I ended up with. I also had left over fresh thyme, so why not?

Wash and dry your chicken well. Have 2 tangerines, cut one in half and peel & segment the other one. Clean a handful of fresh thyme. Place the chicken on your pan spine side up and sprinkle liberally with salt & pepper. Turn the bad boy over and shove 1/2 of the tangerine inside, then most of your thyme and follow with the second 1/2 of the tangerine.

Because I wanted to, this time I ran my hand under the skin and loosened it so I could shove the tangerine segments and thyme between the meat and the skin. Make sure to get some down into the leg and thigh area and evenly distribute everything. Season the top side with more salt & pepper then tie up his little legs like he is in a B-rated horror movie. One with Bruce Campbell preferably.

Cook until done – it usually takes about an hour. Roasted chicken and I have a love/hate relationship with the whole cooking time thing, that is why I have a meat thermometer. 165 is my goal temp and then I let it rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Except for the tail – I eat the tail right away.

I you look carefully you can see the thyme under the skin. mmmmmmm

Make sure you save all of the bones, juice and stuff to make stock. Stock is half the reason I roast whole chickens.

What are your favorite things to shove up a chicken’s butt?

The can jam round-up will be happening this weekend and I am guessing if I don’t have this recipe up by then I might have some cranky readers. So here it is. I don’t have a picture so it is way boring. Hopefully I will get a picture soon to break up the monotony of words, words, words. Finally had a pretty day so there are now pictuers. If you are looking for citrus I have two entries Orange Coriander Thyme Jelly and Meyer Lemon Kiwi Marmalade. While this has citrus – it isn’t the star.

When I fell in love with the home we live in, it wasn’t just the house that wooed me. It was the whole property. Finding 1 1/2 acres within a 25 minute drive to Downtown Atlanta was quite the coup as far as I was concerned. But many things cinched the deal. One of these things was the absolutely enormous Fig tree in the back yard. And by enormous I mean well over 25 feet tall.

It should have never gotten that tall, so the fall before last we had an arborist come out and trim the ever-loving-crap out of the big boy. As a result my fig harvest this past year was not quite abundant. We had a steady crop of figs, but never more than 10 – 15 figs were at a state of perfect ripeness at the same time. Considering the fact that most fig preserve recipes call for pounds and pounds of perfectly ripe figs – I obviously had a problem

My solution – a dehydrator. I picked the pendulous little guys on an almost daily basis, and every few days I would run them through my dehydrator. Once dried I packed them into freezer bags and put them in the freezer. I figured I would find a recipe for dried fig preserves sometime in the future. This also had the benefit of allowing me to concentrate my canning efforts on the multitude of other produces that were demanding my time. Sin in haste, repent in leisure. I would can the figs during the canning “off season”.

Cryo-Dehydrated Fig.

Little did I know that tigress would declare that 2010 would have no off-season. My grand total of dried figs was 4 quart bags stuffed to the gills. The first recipe I used was out of Small Batch Preserving (a fabulous book) and while very good, it was a bit too sugary for me. It used commercial pectin and a whole boat load of sugar – the result was a very tasty jam. But I wanted something better.

I spent a goodly amount of time on the internet trying to find what I wanted, but couldn’t. I ended up taking a little bit from here a little bit from there and Frankensteining together my own recipe. It is not what one would call “traditional” but I think it is pretty good.

Dried Fig and Citrus Jam: this has been monkeyed around with enough that I cannot attribute to anyone but myself. This also means that it is totally not approved by the USDA – I expect to have the MIB at my door any day now. If you make this, store it, and then open it up and it has the funk please, please, please do not eat it.

The Hardware: see The Canning Thing, you need enough jars for 4 1/2 pints, a knife if you are industrious a food processor if you are lazy like me.

The Software:

1 lb Dried Figs
2 Big Tart Apples, I used Granny Smith
1 Lemon
1 Orange
4 3/4 C Water
3 1/2 C Sugar
1 t Ground Ginger
pinch Salt

Peel and core apples then chunk up into the food processor, add figs and whir them up until they are finely chopped. Dump into a large cook pot. Cut citrus in half around the equator and juice into a liquid measure, remove seeds. Your goal here is a total of 2/3 C juice, if you don’t get that much you can round it out with bottled lemon juice.

Scrape the pulpy stuff out of the inside of the orange and add to the pot, toss in the halves of the lemon whole – not the whole lemon because you cut it in half – but the whole halves. Does that make any sense? Cut the nubby tippy top ends off of the orange halves and discard. Then use a super sharp knife and slice the orange peel very thinly. I find it easiest to cut the cup shape in half so you can flatten it out and then do your slicing. Add the orange rind to the pot along with your water.

Bring mixture to a gentle boil and keep it there for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. And by a gentle boil I do not mean a simmer, but also avoid a rolling boil. Get it good and going but don’t scorch it capice? Reduce heat and cook at a bare simmer for another 10 minutes.

During the cooking, measure your sugar, salt and ginger into a bowl and have it at the ready. When the first 20 minutes of cooking is done, add the sugar mixture and stir in well. Simmer for an additional 20 – 25 minutes stirring occasionally (or obsessively – I cannot walk away from things because I live in mortal fear of burning stuff).

Towards the end of the cooking you can start checking for jelling if you want to – use any method that works for you. I like the plate in the freezer method personally. When the cooking is done and you like the look of the jelling, fish out the lemon halves and throw them away.  Stir in juices and remove from heat.

Ladle into hot, clean jars and proceed with canning techniques. Remove air pockets, wipe rims, two part lidding, process leaving 1/4 inch head-space.  Boiling water bath for 15 minutes if you are in the 1K – 2K altitude region or adjust for your distance from sea level.