Sunday, January 10, 2010

Citrus canning and squash casserole

This weekend I canned two marmalades (grapefruit and orange) and one jam (cranberry orange). It's not quite as much fun as buying a bushel of fruit from the orchard or farmers market, but it provides my obsession with a nice little fix.

These were my first marmalades and they are bit more complex than jam. It is a two day process as the peels need a 12 to 18 hour soak. The first step involves boiling the peels for a few minutes. I made use of our wood stove for this process - and I used the wood stove again at the end for sterilizing the jars and the finishing hot water bath for the full jars. I'm not comfortable enough yet with either jam making or cooking with wood to trust this method for boiling the jam (it's nice to have the instant temperature adjustments of the stovetop), but maybe some day.

The cranberry-orange jam was so pretty. I used this recipe, and boiled it in a hot water bath for 15 minutes. The recipe doesn't have instructions for canning, but I did a little research and decided that it was similar enough to cranberry conserve that 15 minutes was sufficient. I like that the recipe called for honey, which is a local ingredient, instead of sugar, which is not.

The products! Orange marmalade, grapefruit marmalade and cranberry-orange jam:

Bill cooked up one of our many garden butternut squashes yesterday. I love winter squash. They are delicious and it's great that they just sit in the kitchen all winter waiting for us to eat them.

This is how the casserole looks the day after. Still delicious. But my food photography could use a bit a work...

Bill's sausagey butternut squash casserole:

1 medium butternut squash
1 lb spicy italian sausage
1 lb elbow macaroni
3 eggs
1/2 cup cream
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon thyme
bread crumbs
asiago cheese

Cut the squash in half, remove seeds and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast on a baking pan at 350 until tender.

Brown sausage. Cook macaroni to al dente.

Scoop out squash guts and mix with sausage.

In a separate bowl, mix eggs, cream and milk. Add thyme. Then add this whole mixture to sausage and squash.

Mix in macaroni, plop whole shebang in casserole dish. Top with bread crumbs and cheese. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Citrus in jars...

I've made my first marmalades! (Photos soon)

I'm participating in a 12 month can-a-long of sorts. There are 120 or so bloggers with OCD (obsessive canning disorder) who will be canning a different item each month in 2010. The January focus is citrus.

So far today, I've made two standard marmalades from the Ball Blue Book: grapefruit and orange. Marmalade is surprisingly sticky. After I clean the sticky droppings from all over the kitchen, I'll be making some Cranberry-orange jam.

I bought some key limes at the grocery store as well (you didn't think I'd get locally sourced citrus in Indiana, did you?), but can't find any recipes for canning them, so we'll be making some pie.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

winter shortcakes

It is winter here.

But we have been enjoying desserts of summer! It started with the peach shortcake from the cover of the Ball Blue Book of Home Canning. These are honey spiced peaches canned in July.

We've gobbled jars and jars of this stuff. Today was my first attempt at different fruits. In September I canned pears (peeled and cut in half) and whole plums. They were both hot packed in syrup. I heated them on the stove top, adding candied ginger to the pears and a little crushed all spice to the plums (which I pitted and cut into quarters).

Serve on homemade shortcake with hand-whipped cream. Yum!