Friday, October 29, 2010

Grannie’s Best Banana Bread Butter

Top o’the morning, Jammers! I am ready for us to be DONE with this unseasonable heat spell…bring on the cool weather. I am ready to open the windows for a while and finally shut down the AC for the year. We were almost 90 degrees today and it’s the last week of October, for the love of Pete! BTW, does anyone know who the heck Pete is and why everyone loves him so much???

I mentioned in my last post that our City Council was going to vote on moving trick-or-treating to Saturday. On Monday morning they decided to withdraw the proposition and I know lots of folks are very happy about it. Halloween is Sunday…period! It’s my son’s birthday and he has his costume all ready, is yours? What kind of scary creature are you going to be? Will you be handing out tricks or treats? We love Halloween, it’s one of our favorite holidays around here. I wish I knew someone that owned their own hearse…I would gladly chauffer my son and his friends around, for the night, in it. Most folks I knew in the business were corporate owned so that possibility is out. Oh yeah, BTW, in case you didn’t know, I went to school and graduated with honors in Funeral Services. I was a Funeral Director and Embalmer. I stopped short of my internship and boards and decided the business, as it stood, was not for me. School was wonderful and the experiences I had working in funeral homes were positive and enlightening. I did enjoy it (mostly) but there are some other ethical issues I have when it comes to the current costs and financial side of funerals. I feel a bit differently than the traditional old fashioned funeral professionals and I am opposed to the corporate hard core sales tactics that are required and most funeral homes around here are corporate run. Maybe one day, I will find a like minded person to work for or I could open my own…maybe if I hit the lottery! Anyway, I am happy doing what I do, customer service. I make more than I would have starting out at any of the funeral establishments around here and the hours are so much better. I get to be home with my family and do not miss out on any planned events, unlike a funeral professional who is on call 24/7/365. Death waits on nothing or noone! Christmas morning would not be fun if I got a call to go on a run. I LOVE what I do and my job and schedule could not be more perfect. Wow, boy did I get off on a tangent huh! This is supposed to be about canning…wait, I guess you could say preserving is preserving. pH levels are always the key, no matter what you’re preserving, fruit or….Ok, bad humor, I know. Moving on…..

Last Saturday was banana day. I posted the recipe for the bananas foster version I did. The other one I did that day was a recipe I found on the Kraft website and I pretty much followed it exactly. It is for a banana nut bread butter. I ended up with leftover bananas, when all were finished, and made a loaf of banana nut bread and posted that recipe on my other blog (the link can be found over on the right side of the this blog). I talked about how special banana nut bread is to me and I’ll share with you, here too. I have always loved banana bread and even requested it as my birthday cake one year for a childhood birthday party, My friends made fun of me for not having a real cake that year, but it didn’t matter, I had my favorite…my Grannie Winchester’s banana bread. Her sister, Aunt Etta (pronounced Aint Etter) was known for making the best in the family, but I always thought Grannie’s was best, no matter what the rest said. This loaf made me think of Grannie and all the times we shared in her kitchen…I miss her so much! I know she would have loved this recipe just the same so I am calling this one Grannie’s Best Banana Bread Butter. 

Grannie’s Best Banana Bread Butter

3 cups prepared fruit (about 10 fully ripe medium bananas)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon fruit protector
1 box powdered pectin
½ teaspoon butter
4 cups sugar
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 cups diced walnuts, lightly toasted
1 ¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Preheat canner and prepare jars and lids. Mash bananas thoroughly. Measure exactly 3 cups prepared fruit into 8 qt. pot. Add lemon juice and fruit protector and stir until well blended. Stir in pectin. Add butter to reduce foaming. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Add sugars and stir until well blended. Add walnuts and spices and mix well. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.

To prevent the butter from separating in the jars, allow it to cool 5 minutes before filling the jars. Gently stir every minute, or so, to distribute the fruit. Ladle into the hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean damp cloth and add the lids and rings, turning the rings until just finger-tight. Place the jars in the preheated canner and bring canner to a full rolling boil. Process jars for 10 minutes (adjusting according to your altitude, if necessary) then remove canner from heat. Let canner sit for 5 minutes, then, carefully remove hot jars from water with a jar lifter and place them on a towel on the counter and leave them undisturbed for 24 hours. Check the seals before storing and use within 12 months.

Makes about 7 half pint jars.

I tried spreading the butter on a piece of the banana nut bread (talk about a double whammie) and it was delectable! Yummy but very rich. Once the butter is refrigerated, it is very thick, similar to a pecan pie filling consistency. It is very pretty in the jars and looks just like banana nut bread. This would also make a great sundae topping or great as the filling for the recipes for pie-in-a-jar that I am seeing pop up all over the web. The pie crusts are pressed into the small jars and then the filling in put in and the whole jar is then baked in the oven and the tops are put on to store the pies. The idea is very cute and attractive, maybe I will get around to trying it someday. Do a search on the web for pie-in-a-jar and adapt it for this, as the filling.

Have a safe but fun Halloween, everyone! Check back in a few days for the spicy ancho apple butter I made. Till then, you know what to do…Be Blessed and Be Sweet!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mojo Banana's Foster Jam

Good Monday morning Jammers! What did you get into over the weekend? Me, I got into some bananas, well a LOT of bananas and a few apples too. I lucked out and found all the bananas I needed, fully ripened, for half price (notice the black tape on them).  They were perfect and ready to use!  I wish the weather had cooperated a bit more, especially on Sunday. I made some spicy apple butter and was really feeling into the fall season EXCEPT that it was 87 degrees outside! It was too hot in the kitchen with the windows open so I had to crank up the AC to try to cool off. We are supposed to be unseasonably warm the rest of this week, too. Boo! My son hates it when he goes trick-or-treating and ends up sweating buckets with a mask and costume on. Hopefully it will cool-off for him. For his first few years he actually thought that folks decorated their houses and handed out candy because it was his birthday…he finally caught on that he shared his birthday WITH a holiday when he was 5 or 6 years old. Then for a few years he would tell each person that opened their door that it was his birthday and he would usually get extra treats. He’s stopped all that now and I wonder when he will stop trick-or-treating all together, he will be 12 this year and still wants to go with his friends. The funny thing is, he never cared for much of the candy, eating very little of it. It usually sits in a big bowl on top of the fridge till around Christmas then we throw it out when the stockings get emptied into the same bowl. He’s never been much of a sweets eater. I guess we are lucky that we don’t have a huge dentist bill! Our city council is going to vote on Tuesday night as to whether to change trick-or-treating to Saturday night so there won’t be a conflict with folks attending church on Sunday night. Most folks in town are livid about this for a few reasons. What happened to separation of church and state? It’s not been changed before when it was on a Sunday, so why now? Saturday is a HUGE college football game downtown at the stadium, Florida vs. Georgia, and the tailgating has already begun (7 days in advance, RV’s are already pouring in). I really don’t want kids out trick-or-treating on one of the biggest nights for DUI’s around here! Some folks are concerned that only some kids will go out on Saturday night and others will still go out on Sunday so they will have to deal with 2 nights of it, while others say some kids will choose to go out both night. Personally, I don’t think it should be changed. Halloween in Oct. 31, period! I have been surprised at how many other cities, counties and states change which day it is observed on every year. Our niece in Ohio sent us this snip “Here in Columbus they only allow Trick or Treating Mon-Thurs so if Halloween is on Fri-Sun it gets moved! This year Halloween is on Sun but trick or treating is on Thurs. Last year Halloween was a Saturday and trick or treating was on Thurs.” How bizarre is that?!?

So, for the first banana recipe that I did on Saturday morning I decided to re-do my Banana Rum Jam and make it a Bananas Foster Jam. The recipe was so close and Bananas Foster is my all time favorite dessert, I had to adapt it and go for it. It came out DIVINE! I was instantly transported to Royal Street, a block off Bourbon Street in New Orleans, the home of the world famous Brennan’s Restaurant, where Bananas Foster was created in 1951. I’ve ordered it in many places but none is as good as Brennan’s, where it is prepared and served tableside. The only thing missing in this jam would be the vanilla ice cream it is traditionally served over but you could always heat a bit of it in the microwave for a few seconds and then pour it over a scoop of your favorite vanilla bean ice cream. Now, something else I love to do when I am in New Orleans is to tour all the cemeteries. I always stop and see the tomb of the Voudou Queen, Marie Laveau, and then I will head to her namesake tourist shop on Bourbon St. where you can pick up all kind of mojo trinkets and souvenirs. In honor of my old New Orleans traditions I am naming this one my Mojo Banana’s Foster Jam. When I made it before, as just the Banana Rum Jam, I mentioned that bananas are associated with fertility, potency and prosperity and are most often associated with a masculine energy as opposed to feminine energy. A good internet search will show that women in Hawaii were once forbidden to eat bananas, by law, go figure. I substituted some of the sugar with brown sugar and added a bit of cinnamon. The cinnamon is for power and spirituality and any kind of sugar is for love, of course! Remember to keep your thoughts and intentions clear in your mind when you are crafting your delicacies. A little mood music playing in the background and a candle or two lit near your workspace can make for a great Jammin session and some tasty treats.

Mojo Banana’s Foster Jam

3 ¾ cups peeled and diced ripe bananas (about 9 medium)
6 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Fruit Fresh (or you can use antioxidant crystals or ascorbic acid crystals)
3 cups granulated sugar
2 cups light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 3oz pouch liquid pectin
1 ½ teaspoons rum extract

Preheat canner and prepare jars and lids. In an 8 qt pan combine the bananas, lemon juice and Fruit Fresh. Stir in the sugars, butter and cinnamon. Over med-low heat, stirring constantly, heat the mixture until the sugars are completely dissolved. Increase the heat to med-high and bring to full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the entire contents of the pectin pouch. Return the mixture to a full rolling boil and boil, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.

Remove pan from the heat. Skim off any foam. Stir in the rum extract. To prevent the jam from separating in the jars, allow the jam to cool 5 minutes before filling the jars. Gently stir the jam every minute, or so, to distribute the fruit. Ladle the jam into the hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean damp cloth and add the lids and rings, turning the rings until just finger-tight. Place the jars in the preheated canner and bring canner to a full rolling boil. Process jars for 10 minutes (adjusting according to your altitude, if necessary) then remove canner from heat. Let canner sit for 5 minutes, then, carefully remove hot jars from water with a jar lifter and place them on a towel on the counter and leave them undisturbed for 24 hours. Check the seals before storing and use within 12 months.

Makes about 7 half pint jars.

This jam is beautiful and oh-so-yummy-licious! The cinnamon really adds a richness that it was missing before and it tastes just like the dessert I remember so fondly. I hope you enjoy it as much as I am. I don’t know if I will be gifting any of this one…there may not be any left when I am finished!

Stay tuned, I also made a Banana Nut Bread Butter from a recipe I found on the Sure Jell (the pectin) website. I will have it up at the end of the week. I made a yummy loaf of banana nut bread with my leftover ingredients and hope to have it posted to the other blog mid-week, or so. Yesterday I was inspired by a fellow blogger, Tigress, to modify my apple butter to include ground ancho chilis and boy did she hit the nail on the head! I can’t wait to serve this on over a slow roasted pork roast. It was a huge hit with my honey, who has been requesting a spicy or savory type jam. Lots to write about so keep checking back, on both blogs!

I have also created a store over at Amazon. I have recommendations for some great canning books (I have a great friend that co-wrote one of them, check it out) and also some canning supplies. The link to the store is over on the right side of this blog. The holiday’s are coming up…these are some great gift ideas for new or seasoned canners alike. Many of my recipes are in these books or are based on recipes in them.

Till next time, Be Blessed and Be Sweet!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

And the lucky winner is....

So to get a random drawing, we chose to use the website,, to select the winning number for the gift certificate.  There were 22 comments left so they were numbered 1-22 in the order that they came in.  We (my son and I) went to he website and he hit the generate button...the random number given was


So, congratulations to Wade!  Check your email for the certificate information.

Check back for a posting Monday...this morning I went crazy with bananas.  I did the banana's foster jam and a banana nut bread butter and they are both WONDERFUL!!!  Tomorrow morning I am going to use the rest of the bananas in a  banana bread and also try adding some spicy ground chili's to my apple butter recipe.  Stay tuned.

Congratulations again, to Wade!  Till next time, Be Blessed and Be Sweet.

Monday, October 18, 2010

For My Love Lavender Raspberry Jam

Good Monday morning Jammers! I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve posted anything (it‘s actually been 5 days), and it’s driving me nuts. I feel like I have abandoned the project, but I’m back now and with a new passion, which I will get to in a bit. As to why I was away for a while, we all flew out last Thursday to visit with our daughter and her family outside of Indianapolis for a few days. We had a GREAT time and made many great family memories. While there, we were thrilled that we got to be there for our granddaughters 7th birthday party. We are blessed with a beautiful family, loads of pictures were taken…but we forgot to sit down and take that 1 big, all together, family portrait we had planned on. Oh well, guess we’ll just have to make it up with one on the beach when they all come down for spring break, hint, hint, hint. Our daughter has also started a new blogging project, she’s a very talented scrap booker and I was amazed by her work. As soon as she gets it fully going, I will post a link for you all to enjoy, if you’re into scrapping. We arrived home early Sunday afternoon, had a quick bite of better late than never lunch and all crashed for the entire afternoon, right into the evening. I had taken the laptop and a recipe to try to get a post done while we were gone but it just never happened, we were too busy making memories. I love my family and my life! Oh yeah, and while we were there, my son went to his first hibachi grill experience at a Japanese restaurant. He was amazed and had a blast. He wants us to start going at least once a month or so, just for the entertainment factor, even though he doesn’t eat a thing they have…we love it though, good thing!

Now, about that new “passion” I mentioned earlier. We had applied for a plot at the local, community, organic garden and just found out, while we were in Indy, that there was an opening and we got it. It’s going to be a group project with one of our oldest and dearest friends. I will post pictures of it once we get the plot cleaned and replanted. I know there is some nice rosemary still there but the rest is really overgrown, but, it won’t be after Wednesday. There is an organic plant sale this Saturday at the Green Market to benefit the Beaches Local Food Network‘s Outreach Programs (which basically runs the Green Market and the Community Garden). We hope to pick up quite a bit of our first plantings while we are there grabbing our weekly produce. Now, in addition to my blogger hat, I will have a gardener’s hat, too! It will be nice having access to the greenhouses for seedlings. I wonder where we can pick up some organic seeds? Any suggestions?

One of my friends sent a text while we were out of town saying she had picked me up 2 cases of my jelly jars at a garage sale for $1 a piece! Woo-hoo, thanks girl, love ya! Now, on to the next recipe. Last week I posted one of two recipes I did one day with lavender. This is the second of those and it was for a raspberry lavender jam. When you think of the associations of raspberries, picture their deep, rich, red color and my mind visions a bunch of little hearts (which they sort of look like) and I am instantly filled with thoughts of love, stamina, vigor and vitality. This would be a good one to serve on a chilly Valentines Day Morning, in a little crystal dish, just above a small spoon, next to a plate of pastries, on the tray adorned with a blood red rosebud, as you’re headed to deliver breakfast in bed to someone special. It really could be Valentines Day or any other special occasion or no occasion at all…how about next Sunday morning? How surprised would your loved one be? This jam is charged to keep your love strong and alive. There are several different types of love and all of them could be used with this one. Romantic lovers, family lovers, friend loves, anonymous loves…go ahead shower them with your love with this jam which is why I call this one For My Love Lavender Raspberry Jam!

For My Love Lavender Raspberry Jam

1 10oz package frozen whole raspberries (organic if you can get them)
1 cup lavender infusion (recipe below)
¼ cup lemon juice
4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 3oz pouch liquid pectin

For lavender infusion - Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan then add 2 tablespoons dried, organic, edible, lavender flowers. Stir gently then let it steep for 20 minutes. Strain into a glass jar and discard, recycle or compost the flowers. Leftover infusion can be saved and used within 2 weeks, if stored in the refrigerator.

Preheat canner and prepare jars and lids. Thaw raspberries and place them in an 8 qt pan and crush with a handheld masher. Add all other ingredients, except pectin, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add pectin and bring back to a boil for 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and let stand for 1 minute. Skim off any remaining foam. I also skimmed about half of the seeds out. Ladle the jam into the hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean damp cloth and add the lids and rings, turning the rings until just finger-tight. Place the jars in the preheated canner and bring canner to a full rolling boil. Process jars for 10 minutes (adjusting according to your altitude, if necessary) then remove canner from heat. Let canner sit for 5 minutes, then, carefully remove hot jars from water with a jar lifter and place them on a towel on the counter and leave them undisturbed for 24 hours. Check the seals before storing and use within 12 months.

Makes about 5 half pint jars.

This jam is a beautiful deep red crimson color and has a wonderful bouquet of lavender kissed with raspberries. The flavor is a perfect balance of the two and I almost think it needs and/or deserves a special jar. Maybe one of the crystal cut jars or the little patterned ones with the gasket and hinged lids. Go ahead, this is the one to get fancy with. Maybe a little square of crimson cloth tied around the lid? Red ribbon with a fancy cut label attached? Go for it!

The contest/giveaway for the $35 CSN Stores gift certificate is still going on. It’s not too late to enter…the deadline is this Friday, so you have a few more days. The winner will be drawn on Saturday. To enter you must leave a comment on the contest blog post, which you can find here, . So far I only have 7 entries total from 3 people. I’m sure they don’t mind those odds, but wouldn’t you like to get in on it too?

I will be making more jam this coming weekend after I go to the Green Market. Stay tuned for the winning announcement on Saturday and then a recipe or two by next Monday. I will be busy this week getting the new garden plot ready…what are you up to this week? Leave me a comment and let’s share!

Be Blessed and Be Sweet!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Foodie Blogroll

I am blog was approved and now appears on the website Foodie Blogroll.  That is their little widget over on the right hand side, right above my "About Me" section.  They list food blogs from all over the world and have over 9,000 blogs listed in their directory, including yours truly...Woo-Hoo!!!

I have a recipe to post but I don't know if I will get it posted before I leave town or not.  If not, I will take it with me to work on, maybe while on the plane.  Check back soon.

Till then, Be Blessed and Be Sweet!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Lullaby Lavender Jelly

Happy Monday Jammers! Did y’all have a great weekend? Mine was very relaxing and I got to spend the day with my honey and one of our best friends on Saturday, after my son went to my parent’s house to spend the night. We went to Joann’s and Michaels for some crafting supplies and I was disappointed to have not found any preprinted canning labels at either store. I would think that there would be something like that made, wouldn’t you? I looked at all the stickers and labels in different sections and even through all the “Martha Stewart” collection labels but came up with nothing! Humm, maybe that’s an idea for a new business? Would you buy them, preprinted canning labels that you just had to fill in the name of what was in the jar and the date made? Maybe some cutsie designs like seasons and holidays and such?

Saturday, we also went down to the Green Market at the beach. It’s a local farmers market, kind of on the small side, but VERY reputable vendors that are consistently there. All of the produce is locally grown and lots of it is also grown organically. You can get organic eggs, meats, cheeses and breads too. There are a few crafters and it’s the best place to grab the local varieties of different honeys. I was searching for tomatoes and jalapenos, as I want to do a savory jam week (and also Cowboy Candy) but not one vendor had tomatoes this week (we are between crops) and one place had a few jalapenos but not enough for what I needed them for. We ended up coming home with some of the best fresh shelled white acre peas I have had in years, they were so tender and sweet last night. We also got some excellent cucumbers, tender red leaf lettuce, fabulous zucchini, scrumptious green onions and a mouthwatering round loaf of rustic jalapeno bread from a local bakery that specializes in breads with no oil, sugar or preservatives. It was divine with an herbed dipping oil Saturday night while we sat and watched movies. After we finished at the Green Market we grabbed the yummy wraps we had picked up on the way and headed next door to the park to sit and eat. While walking down the park pathway our friend noticed a car parked next to the community organic garden area (people or groups of people sponsor and cultivate plots) and she recognized it as her next door neighbor. We walked over there and ate at the picnic tables there and visited with her then she took us on a tour of the garden areas and explained how it all worked. Let’s just say, I think there is an idea brewing around here…stay tuned! Anyway, the neighbor had harvested a couple of bags of items from her plot and gifted me with a nice bag of peppers (she didn’t mention what kind) and a few green bell peppers. After hugging her neck, and promising to send along my recipe for pickled green tomatoes (I have had them before but never made them myself), we headed back to our house and feasted on huge baked potatoes, a wonderful fresh salad and the bread and dipping oil and watched movies till after midnight. It was a great day!

Last night I made the peas and sautéed the zucchini in some olive oil with salt and pepper. I also broiled, very rare, a London broil that I shaved paper thin with the electric knife and we almost finished the jalapeno bread and oil. I had some yellow squash in the fridge that was grown conventionally and bought from the grocery store and for some reason I stopped when I pulled it out and decided that instead of my normal yellow and green sauté medley I would not mix them and go with just the zucchini from the Green Market. I thought that if I was going to add anything to the zucchini, it would only be items from Saturday’s adventure so I decided to add some of those peppers that I was gifted. They were smallish, about 2 inches, or so, long and mostly yellowish in color. I pulled out about 4 of them and decided that I would de-vein them and not use the seeds, which was a good thing. I nibbled the end just a few seconds before the burning started on my hands and my tongue AND lips were now too, on fire! WOWZERS…these little babies are hot. I ended up only cutting up 1 of them, I only wanted an essence of heat and wanted the full flavor of the olive oil and the zucchini to stand out. I also chopped one of the green bell peppers she gave me and tossed it in. Let me tell you, when we took the first bite, we both moaned out loud. I don’t think it was a conscious thing it just sorta happened. It was freakin awesome! The zucchini were so mild and smooth and were perfectly tender. The sea salt and cracked pepper amounts were perfect. I didn’t think about getting a picture, it was beautiful and brilliant and I could have shown you BUT all I could think about was devouring it! There are just enough of it and the peas left for tomorrow night for leftovers. I think I will cut a pepper up to heat with the peas and maybe a corn muffin with another one of the sweet bell peppers diced into the batter. Yum! I plan to go ahead and try my recipe for Cowboy Candy with those little hot peppers, even though they aren’t jalapenos. Maybe I’ll call them Cowgirl Candy! I will post that recipe later this week over on my other page for non-canning recipes at . Remember, you have to leave one comment for each entry are making on that post. You still have time…Good luck! I haven’t decided whether to let my son pull a number out of a hat or if I will use random dot org. I’ll decide that later.

I realized that I had an abundance of lavender left from my last project and it was still nice and fresh. I made sure it was organically grown and meant for consumption before I used it. It was actually purchased in the spice section at the Fresh Market. Last week I looked for recipes using lavender and found 2 that I had everything I needed, except jars. I picked up some jars…well, actually the “Canning Fairy” left a case of them on the counter for me after I mentioned that I needed them. I love my fairy! The first one I did that day was a plain lavender jelly. This was my first time making something called jelly as opposed to jam or butter! I read the recipe and considered it just like making jam. In some recipes I have seen you have to drain it through a jelly bag for a specific length of time but this recipe did not call for that. I thought, this sounds like a pretty simple one, so I gave it a try.

Lavender is associated with love, protection and sleep as we saw in the Relaxing Peach Lavender Jam a few batches ago. It is also known for its peaceful properties, concentration, and tranquility. This would be good as a midnight snack on a piece of toast. In thinking about whether or not I wanted butter on my toast with this jelly or not, I all of a sudden remembered something that was done around my Grannie’s table, mostly. She, and others, would, as soon as their plates were empty, smear a teaspoon or so of butter or margarine on the edge of the plate and then take a big spoon of whatever jam or jelly would be sitting there and stir it into the butter. It always looked gross to me but it was really good on a warm biscuit. The jelly (or jam) would kind of be warm as the butter mixed with it would melt throughout it. It was a light layer, not a lot of it, or it may not have melted through. It was really good, especially with her blackberry or muscadine jams. I haven’t done that in years and don’t think I have ever seen anyone else do it either. I will make a point to do it the next time I have hot biscuits (which, sadly I did not inherit the biscuit making gene in the family, one of my male first cousins did. I buy frozen and bake them). Anyway, I am naming this one my Lullaby Lavender Jelly. It will help set the tone for a night of wonderful rest and peaceful dreams. Ya know, for years we kept a blue sachet bag of lavender tied to the bed post of my son’s bed?
Lullaby Lavender Jelly

3 ½ cups filtered water
¾ cup dried lavender flowers (organic, consumable)
¼ cup lemon juice
1 - 2 pouches liquid pectin
4 cups sugar
½ teaspoon unsalted butter

Preheat canner, sterilize jars and prepare the lids. In a large saucepan over high heat bring water to a rolling boil. Remove it from the heat and stir in the lavender flowers. Let mixture steep for 20 minutes then strain it into an 8qt pot. Discard lavender flowers, unless you want to add them to your potpourri warmer with some water or oil. The smell is tantalizing. Stir lemon juice and one pouch of pectin into the lavender infusion and stir until the pectin is completely dissolved. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat and add the sugar and butter. Stirring constantly, return to a hard boil and boil for 4 minutes. This time I tried the jell thickness test on a metal spoon that I had stuck in the freezer before I started. Dip the frozen spoon in the mixture and pull it out. Let the mixture cool and if it is the consistency you want then it is ready, but, mine was a bit too liquidy, so you can add more pectin at this point, depending on your consistency. I used half of the 2nd pouch and boiled again for 1 minute. Use whatever amount you think you need and increase it bit-by-bit until it’s how you like it. You may want to have several spoons ready in the freezer.

Remove pan from heat and skim off any foam. Fill hot sterilized jars with the jelly, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean damp cloth and add the lids and rings and place jars in preheated canner. Bring canner to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove the jars and place on a towel on the counter and leave undisturbed for 24 hours. Check the seal before storing. Use within 12 months.

Makes about 6 half pint jars.

Oh my, you should have smelled my kitchen when I made this one. And the color of the finished product…WOW! It is gorgeous and taste like a bite of Nirvana. Definitely a food of worthy of a Goddess. You HAVE to make this jelly. I will be making it again when I get some more jars, which will probably be late next week. This will be in lots of my holiday baskets this year. It would be great with a shortbread cookie.

I have another post to make later this week for my other jam I made that day. It is a mixture of lavender and …..well, you’ll just have to check back at the end of the week to find out, now won’t you?

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for the gift certificate, instructions are included with the post here .

Have a great week and remember to Be Blessed and Be Sweet!

Friday, October 8, 2010

"Pick Me"-Up Apple Butter

Welcome back Jammers! Have you all entered the drawing for my first giveaway? Make sure to check the previous post for the details…who wouldn’t want a gift certificate for $35!

Gather round the hearth, I want to share my first experience in making apple butter with you. As I’ve mentioned before, I work an overnight shift so my hours are quite a bit different than most, okay, fine, I‘ll say it, I have a weird schedule, there. A weird person needs a weird schedule to complete the whole persona, LOL,just kidding. On weekends, I try to sleep like the rest of the house does, in bed by midnight and up around 7 or 8. It can be difficult for me, I usually fall asleep fine, it’s staying asleep for more then 3 or 4 hours that’s tough. So I typically am up around 4am or so on Saturday and Sunday mornings then I will REQUIRE a 3 hour nap by 2pm or so. It works out ok and I wouldn’t trade my work schedule for anything…it is perfect for me and the activities we are involved in, from home schooling to Boy Scouts. Anyway, this past Saturday morning I found myself up before 5am and I was sure I wasn’t going back to sleep any time soon. All of a sudden it came to me…head to the kitchen and get on it, girl! I opened the windows (great cross breeze in my kitchen), lit some candles, pulled out “the” book (remind me to tell you about what basically translates as my Kitchen Bible) and started washing jars. I plugged the music in to the portable speakers and I was set. It was a beautiful morning making my butters as the sun came up. I have already posted the pumpkin butter that I made first, that morning. My second batch was apple butter. I had high hopes and it came out delicious and just like I expected.

A cinnamon or vanilla candle is nice to have burning when you are working with apples. If you put it right on your work board the combined scent of the candle and the fresh apples is wonderful and quite invigorating. I had a tall glass of the apple juice while I was prepping the apples and with the windows open and the sun fully up it was a magical start to the day! That day, I chose to associate the properties of my apples with choices (they are used in many ways throughout different cultures and periods as tools for divination), health (haven’t you heard the old saying, an apple a day keeps the doctor away?), and love (apple bobbing was originally for boys to bite into the apple of his true love, the girls had polished and marked the apples on the bottoms before floating them in the tub). The cinnamon was for power and spirituality, the allspice was for health and prosperity and the cloves were for health, kinship and love. One-half teaspoon of cloves has more antioxidants than one-half cup of cranberries or blueberries. I am naming my apple butter “Pick Me”- Up Apple Butter. Pick Me, obviously is for the love side. Apples were one of the main things used back in Victorian times for love charms. Did you ever twist the stem of an apple while chanting the alphabet and what ever letter you were on when the stem popped off was the first letter of the person’s name that you were going to marry? We did it all the time…oh the memories. Pick Me Up is for a big boost of good health from the apples, allspice, cloves and apple juice.

“Pick Me”-Up Apple Butter

4 pounds tart apples (I used Granny Smith)
2 cups unsweetened organic apple juice
2 cups sugar
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter

Rinse apples in cool water and drain well. Core, peel and chop the apples. Preheat canner, sterilize jars and prepare the lids. In an 8 qt pan combine the apples and apple juice. Over medium heat, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until the apples are soft, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Press apples and juice through a fine meshed sieve. Return the pulp to the pan and stir in the sugar, butter, cinnamon, allspice and cloves. Over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, heat the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer until thick, about 30 minutes. As the butter thickens, stir constantly to prevent scorching.

Remove pan from heat and skim off any foam. Fill hot sterilized jars with the jam, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean damp cloth and add the lids and rings and place jars in preheated canner. Bring canner to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove the jars and place on a towel on the counter and leave undisturbed for 24 hours. Check the seal before storing. Use within 12 months.

Makes about 6 half pint jars.

Again, maybe it was the day or the energy that I was putting into my work that morning but this one came out absolutely PERFECT, just like the pumpkin did. I know my Mabert would be so proud. I am going to make sure she gets a jar of this for the holidays. There is one memory I would love to create in a jam or butter, hummm. I spent most Saturday nights with Mabert and Papa and would go to church every Sunday morning with her until I was about 11 or 12. Well, every Saturday night we would sit at the kitchen table and share “coffee” together while she prepared for her Sunday School lesson the next day. I would pretend to work in my bible too, underlining passages with a pencil, like she was doing. There was no rhyme or reason to which passages I chose to underline, I just remember underlining them because it seemed to add power to the words that were printed on the page. I didn’t really read the actual words it was more about marking it up so it looked used and worked in. We would have both had our baths, my bangs would be taped down and filled with Dippity-do and we would have on our matching “Grannie Gowns” which was a style, by the way, of nightgown as opposed to who actually made them, even though it was usually Mabert’s mom, my Grannie Winchester, that would have made mine. Anyway, she would have a small cup of hot coffee and a windmill cookie and my “coffee” was actually her blend of Russian Tea and a vanilla wafer or two. Every time I smell orange and clove combined I am instantly transported back to her kitchen on Saturday nights. Her Russian Tea was a blend of instant tea, Tang and cloves…I just saw Tang in the store, the other day, too. Has anyone out there seen a jam recipe that would be close to this?

Apple and Pumpkin Butters
 Have a great weekend everyone. I will try to get the next post done before Monday, which will be Lavender Jelly…it’s beautiful in the jar! Till then, remember to Be Blessed and Be Sweet!

Apple Butter on FoodistaApple Butter

My first giveaway!!!

Good morning, Jammers! Are you ready for something a little different? I have decided to do a giveaway and am proud to offer a $35 gift certificate for you to use at any of the stores that are part of the CSN network. CSN Stores has over 200 online stores where you can find everything from beautiful wardrobes to cookware to chic lighting pieces! How about a bar stool to perch upon while peeling and chopping those apples that are coming in, right now? My poor back could have used one the other day! I love this counter stool (pictured) and it would be perfect in my kitchen. They also have kids stores, patio and garden stores, furniture stores and just about ANYTHING for the kitchen that you may need. This is open to US and Canadian residents only. It is a one-time use certificate that you can apply to your order or if your item is under $35 with shipping, then you pay nothing extra! How about that? So, what do you need? The holidays are right around the corner, you could use it to get something special for that someone special.
Now I bet you are wondering about the other details, huh? Each person can have up to 3 entries. One for being a follower of my blog, one for being a fan (hitting the “Like” button) on the Facebook page, and one for telling me which item your would get if you win the gift certificate. You can become a follower and a Facebook fan by clicking the links on the right side of this page.

Now, I bet you are wondering how to enter…all you have to do is to leave me a comment, as a reply to this post, for each entry you are submitting (if you are doing all three then you would leave 3 separate comments). Simply say that you are a fan or a follower or which item you would get (you don’t have to actually get that particular item, you can choose anything you want when you place your order with them) and leave me your email address in the comment. Make sure to spell out ALL the words of your email address so those junk mail bots won’t grab your address, none of us like spam! Your comment should look something like this: I am a follower of your blog and my email address is sampleemail at anyhost dot com. Of course that’s not a real address ;-)

The contest will be open for 2 weeks and the winner will be randomly drawn on Saturday, October 23, 2010. Good luck to you all and get those entries in!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Plentiful Pumpkin Butter

Good morning Jammers, hope you all slept well. I am LOVING this weather. I think I will head outside tomorrow and give the grass one final mow for the season then put the mower to bed for the winter. Maybe I’ll find a beach towel to cover it with, in the shed, kind of like a blanket for it to sleep with for the few cold months that we get. I want it to be happy when we pull it out in the spring. We just bought it earlier this year, so it‘s still new to us. I guess you could say, we take good care of what we have around here, which is something else I learned from Mabert. Things last so much longer if you really take good care of them. On that note, I have noticed that the rack inside the new canner is already becoming discolored (it is metal). It looks like oxidation and is blackening and almost rusty is some spots…I wonder if it’s the vinegar that I am adding to the water? I dry it out each time. The canner itself is coated and it looks brand new, still. So, any thoughts from my scientific readers? Suggestions, tips?

One of my favorite jams is actually a butter, pumpkin butter. Butters do not have actual butter in them (other than the ½ teaspoon that I add to every batch I make to help the foam issue) but instead the term refers to a texture that is achieved by cooking it a long time. Lots of recipes I have seen use a slow cooker to cooking them in. When I decided to start this journey down the canning road, I checked out tons of books from the library and copied and compiled all the recipes that I wanted to try out. One thing I noticed that was missing from most of those books was pumpkin butter. It did appear in some of the older books, but not in the newer ones. So I turned to the web for some research, my normal response to any question I have, anymore. There are plenty of recipes out there on the web but I also found why it is not listed in the books. Apparently, the USDA changed it’s recommendations on canning mashed or pureed pumpkin (and winter squash) back in the late 80’s and revised them in the early 90’s. Now they do not recommend it at all, due to the varying viscosity, acid levels and water activity in each individual batch. Pumpkin and squash are low acid foods and are capable of supporting the growth of Clostridium botulinum bacteria, which can cause botulism, if not carefully stored. Hummm, debates are all over the web about this topic and apparently have been for years. I would never want to make anyone sick so I thought my solution was pretty smart…I’ll use canned pumpkin! I checked the label and it said it was pasteurized so that should help. I did find a recipe that calls for canned pumpkin and it was the easiest and fastest of any of the recipes I have done so far and WOW, it tastes great too. Perfect, just like I remember it.

Remember, when crafting anything in your kitchen, to properly focus your thoughts and intentions and infuse your creation. Light a candle, get in the mood and REALLY want to be making whatever it may be, at that time. Trust me, no one will want to eat it if you didn’t want to make it! Yucko. Now, the properties of pumpkins include fertility, abundance and being plentiful and lighting a Jack-O-Lantern on All Hallows Eve is said to bring luck to your home. They symbolize harvest and bounty, bringing to mind the fall season and Thanksgiving. They remind me to be thankful for everything I have and everything I am. The spices in this butter all carry many properties but I focus (for this recipe) on the cinnamon for spirituality, power and healing. The nutmeg for health and fidelity and the ginger for power and success. I like burning an autumn spice candle on my prep board while working with pumpkin but a vanilla one will do, in a pinch. My patron Goddess of my hearth is always thanked and acknowledged with the quick anointing of my wrists with pure vanilla or I have some perfume-oil that is vanilla. My son LOVES the smell and many times I will find him right beside me for this part. His grin goes from ear-to-ear just sniffing vanilla and his eyes will almost roll back in his head…he almost gets dizzy looking. I blessed my jars of this yummy butter with abundance, among other things, and am calling this my Plentiful Pumpkin Butter. May your cupboards never be bare and you always have plenty of NOT what you want but plenty of just what you need!

Plentiful Pumpkin Butter 

3 ½ cups canned solid pack pumpkin
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
4 cups sugar
1 ½ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 3oz pouch liquid pectin

Preheat canner and prepare jars and lids. In an 8qt pan combine the pumpkin and spices, stirring until smooth and well blended. Gradually stir in both sugars and the butter. Over medium-low heat, heat the mixture, stirring constantly, until the sugars are dissolved. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a full rolling boil, still stirring constantly. Stir in contents of pectin pouch and return to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring all-the-while.

Remove pan from heat and quickly skim off any foam (mine did not have any) from the top. Ladle the butter into the hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean damp cloth and add the lids and rings, turning the rings until just finger-tight. Place the jars in the preheated canner and bring canner to a full rolling boil. Process jars for 10 minutes (adjusting according to your altitude, if necessary) then remove canner from heat. Let canner sit for 5 minutes, then, carefully remove hot jars from water with a jar lifter and place them on a towel on the counter and leave them undisturbed until the seals have popped and the jars are cooled. Store them in the refrigerator use within 4 months.

Makes about 7 half pint jars.

This came out FABULOUS! Perfect texture and blend of spices. The color is beautiful…now, MY pictures do not do it justice. The one thing I am beginning to see is that I need a better camera for photographing my shots. I need to work with better lighting, too. The flash is too bright and if the flash is off, they are fuzzy looking. Now, I have to learn to be a photographer to be a writer…go figure!

I’m considering some of the debates that I saw about the safety of canning pureed pumpkin and one thing that all, pretty much, agreed on was that you CAN make it. It just has to be kept refrigerated (or frozen) and used within a few months. This sounds like a good recommendation, to me, so I made it part of my recipe.

Another consideration I’m giving is hosting a giveaway. I’ve seen other bloggers doing this and it seems to be a real hit. I was contacted today by the company that does it, thanks to a new co-blogger friend, Andrea (a big shout-out to her, of ). I will post the details as soon as I make a decision. Do any of you have any experiences with hosting or winning a blog giveaway? I’d love some feedback. Email me if you want or post your feedback to the Facebook page.

Ok, keep your eyes open and check back often. I still have the apple butter to post and I spent today trying 2 new batches, lavender (wait till you see the color on this) jelly and raspberry lavender jam. I’ll be busy typing them out over the next few days. I swear, this is like an addiction for me…I can’t stop! I found a recipe online for beer jam (yes, dark beer) posted at that I want to modify and try. I think the guys may like it, maybe a Guinness? Seasoned with citrus, cinnamon and cardamom. Head over there to check it out and I will post my version after I make it. What a collection it will make…sangria jam, Riesling jam, white zin jam and beer jam…what’s next, I ask?

Apple butter will be posted next, so, till then, remember to Be Blessed and Be Sweet!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Relaxing Peach Lavender Jam

Happy Monday Jammers, hope you all had a great weekend. Fall is definitely here, I enjoyed canning with the windows open Sunday morning, I woke up at 5:30 am and decided to do some canning. The breeze blowing through the kitchen was light but refreshing. We enjoyed the Jaguars football game yesterday afternoon, it was perfect football weather, warm but not hot, at all. I have issues with heights (extreme issues with not so high, heights) and it took me quite a while to adjust after we were in our seats (5th row down from the VERY top). We were so appreciative of the tickets, I had won them in a raffle at work! It was a great afternoon. We also got our fall decorations up inside the house, harvest season is our favorite and my son’s birthday is actually on Halloween. I love having my kitchen witches out (I keep a few out year round but have others that go up just during the fall).

Did I mention that when I woke up Friday afternoon (I work overnights so I sleep during the morning/early afternoon) the “Canning Fairy” had come to visit? I found a brand new hot water bath canner (with a real lift out rack, not just a round flat cake rack that sits on the bottom) sitting nice and pretty on my stove, ready for my peach frenzy! Yay…no more burning my arms reaching in and out of the extremely tall pot I was using. One thing it goes to show is that you don’t really need special, fancy equipment, make use of what you already have, like I did. A jar lifter (under $5) is really about the only special tool that I would say you must have and I didn’t have anything that would be a safe substitute around my house. That same fairy had made a visit earlier last
 week, too, when I had left a note out that I needed a package of liquid pectin, I woke up, and found 4 boxes of pectin and a case of jars to boot! Woo-hoo…I LOVE my Canning Fairy…I must make sure to leave out some special treats, tokens and thank you’s around the kitchen for her.

So, on Friday night I went to town, making 2 batches of peach jam. It’s the end of the peach season and the last of them are coming in from the west coast. One batch was my regular peach and the other was a peach lavender. For the regular peach batch I had been giving some thought to something one of my online friends, Andrea, had mentioned after I made it the first time. She wanted to know how the color did, after time, since there was no ascorbic acid or lemon juice in it. Hummm, she is correct in her thought process BUT I had no way of knowing how it would look cause it is ALL GONE! My jar is empty and everyone I gifted it to has finished theirs up too. Hey, I guess this is a good thing. I do remember my Mabert ALWAYS using “Fruit Fresh” in all jams just like I remember her using the paraffin in the top of each jar, which by the way, I saw at Food Lion, next to the canning jars and paraffin. I guess they still do make it but I have yet to find any recipe that says to use it nor have I found anyone that actually claims to use it. Anyway, I did the plain peach with some Fruit Fresh this time, figuring, what the heck. It can‘t hurt, especially since there is no other citric acid in the recipe. Below is the updated recipe for my Perfectly Peachy Jam that I originally posted on 9/16/2010.

Perfectly Peachy Jam (updated)

3 lbs (about 8 or 9 medium) fresh ripe peaches
1/2 cup water
6 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon Fruit Fresh or any ascorbic acid crystals

Preheat canner and prepare jars and lids. To prepare peaches, dip the whole peach into a medium saucepan of boiling water for 30 seconds then plunge it into a large bowl of ice water. The skins should now just slip right off. Remove the pits and chop the peaches into small bits and then crush them, one cup at a time, with a handheld potato masher. Stir in the Fruit Fresh, until dissolved.

Combine the peaches and water in a tall, heavy, saucepan and boil for 10 minutes. Add the sugar and return to a slow boil, until the sugar dissolves and then boil rapidly, until thick, about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Make sure to not let it scorch. Test for doneness, which is 220 degrees F on a candy thermometer.

Remove pan from heat and quickly skim off any foam from the top. Ladle the jam into the hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean damp cloth and add the lids and rings, turning the rings until just finger-tight. Place the jars in the preheated canner and bring canner to a full rolling boil. Process jars for 10 minutes (adjusting according to your altitude, if necessary) then remove canner from heat. Let canner sit for 5 minutes, then, carefully remove hot jars from water with a jar lifter and place them on a towel on the counter and leave them undisturbed for 24 hours. Check the seals before storing and use within 12 months.

Makes about 6 - 7 half pint jars.

Now, remember, I also mentioned the properties of peaches last month and that they are a symbol of marriage? They are associated with female fertility, abundance, fruitfulness and happiness. I recommended making and gifting the peach jam to newlyweds as a housewarming gift or maybe in a comfort-food basket as a baby or wedding shower gift. The 2nd peach batch I made was a peach lavender jam. Lavender is associated with love, protection and sleep. This would only serve to strengthen the existing properties I talked about with the peach. Love for the newlyweds or the new parents, protection for the new household and it’s members and all new parents could use some good sleep when they can find the time to close their eyes for a bit. Lavender is also calming so this one is perfect as a bed-time snack on a bit of homemade bread or maybe a croissant with some herbal tea. Due to the properties of lavender, I am renaming this one my Relaxing Peach Lavender Jam.

Relaxing Peach Lavender Jam

2 tablespoons dried organic lavender flowers
1/2 cup boiling water
4 cups finely chopped peaches (about 5-6 medium)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
6 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 3oz pouch liquid pectin

Preheat canner, sterilize jars and prepare the lids. Place lavender flowers in a small bowl. Pour boiling water over flowers and steep for 20 minutes. Strain and discard flowers. Combine lavender liquid, peaches, lemon juice and sugar in a large pan. Bring to a full boil over high heat and boil hard for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in pectin.

Fill hot sterilized jars with the jam, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean damp cloth and add the lids and rings and place jars in preheated canner. Bring canner to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove the jars and place on a towel on the counter and leave undisturbed for 24 hours. Check the seal before storing. Use within 12 months.

Makes about 8 half pint jars.

Now, Let me tell you, the scent of this jam is like no other I have smelled. It is delightful and the actual lavender flavor is perfect. It is really more of a lavender essence since you don’t see the lavender but the flavor is there in perfect combination with the peaches. This is the most delicate and feminine of all of my jams to date, so I dedicated this batch to ALL the Goddesses that I know and work with and those that bless my hearth! May they bless your’s too.

Relaxing Peach Lavender on the left and Perfectly Peachy on the right

Relaxing Peach Lavender on the left and Perfectly Peachy on the right

Later in the week, I will post another recipe. I was so thrilled this morning when my two butters, apple and pumpkin, came out perfect! The pumpkin was the fastest recipe I have made so far and was ready to process within minutes. I will also talk about why I couldn’t find any pumpkin butter recipes in ANY of the library books (there are plenty on the web just not in books) that I checked out when I was researching and compiling my list of jam recipes I wanted to try. I’ll also share my solution, which is what makes this recipe so easy and quick but oh-so-DELICIOUS! Make sure to check back and if you want to be reminded of new postings to the blog then become a fan on my Facebook page (the link is on the upper right side of this page).

I am excited to find another jam to add the lavender essence to, do you have any ideas? Leave a comment if you have seen it used in jam before or if you have a good idea for one to add it to. I was thinking of maybe a Vanilla Pear Lavender? What do you think, let me know.

Get out and enjoy the weather, this week, and remember to Be Blessed and Be Sweet, till next time!