Saturday, June 30, 2012

Miracle Sangria

Image courtesy

The thing about summer is that a person always has a ton of fruit laying around.   And if you are like me, you often have half bottles of various and sundry liqueurs, brandies, etc. taking up valuable space in the liquor cabinet.   That's why this sangria recipe is a miracle - it lets me use up that peach that might be past its prime, or the lime wedges left over from last night's vodka and tonic, or even lemon rinds that remain from making fresh squeezed lemonade.   Whatever you have on hand, use it!

Here's the basic recipe - feel free to switch things up to use up what you have on hand.  I had a half bottle of raspberry liqueur left over from some long forgotten cocktail project that had an inch of dust on the cap.  Substitute the brandy for whatever fruity thing you might have kicking around in your stash - I'd stay away from anything too off the beaten path (i.e. the banana liqueur I bought to make Bananas Foster probably wouldn't be a good choice).  And substitute the citrus and apple with whatever you have that needs using up - apricots, peaches, melon, etc. will all work just fine.  I mix mine up in a half gallon canning jar - it would be a great cocktail to bring along in the camping cooler for my next camping trip.     I like to stretch my sangria (and reduce my calorie count) by drinking a half a glass and topping it off with a splash of club soda.

Miracle Sangria

1/2 c orange juice (or whatever other kind of juice is languishing in the fridge)
1/2 c brandy
1 bottle dry fruity red wine (I like tempranillo or garnacha for sangria)
1 c club soda
1 lemon, sliced
1 orange, sliced
1 apple, cored and sliced

Mix everything together in a large pitcher - a half gallon canning jar is perfect!  Serve in tall glasses over tons of ice.  It's the perfect drink for summer...and here is the perfect summer song:

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Vintage Artwork: Preserve Perishable Produce

Great vintage canning poster from Great Britain

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Meatloaf for Father's Day

For a long while, I have been meaning to post the recipe for the best meatloaf I have ever made.   It's out of cookbook I picked up at a garage sale a few years back straight out of the 1960s called "365 Ways to Cook Hamburger" by a fellow named Doyne Nickerson.   From my Googling, I found out that the book must have been a great seller for Doubleday, as it went through many printings.    It's amusing to me to wonder if the famed cookbook editor at Doubleday during that era, Judith Jones, championed this cookbook at the same time she was working on Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child.   It's a gem of a cookbook that features a photo of a dapper Doyne browning some meatballs while decked out in a shirt and tie in his San Fernando Valley kitchen.    In his intro, he said that he wrote the book for "bachelors, bachelor girls, newlyweds, small families, large families, those who like hamburger, those who are tired of hamburger cooked in the same old way, clubs and church groups".

Should you be looking to cook your burger with an international flair, there's a recipe for Persian meatballs or something called Swedish Kaldomar, which would appear to be some kind of stuffed cabbage.  Want the flavor of New Orleans?  Try Meat Balls Creole. Making a meal for your next scout cookout?  How about Hamburger Soup for Fifty?  The only recipe I have tried thus far from this book is a recipe for meatloaf.  I originally made it for my parents when my mom got too sick with cook and barely would eat anything because the chemo killed her appetite. But she loved this meatloaf and so I made a dozen of them and froze them in throwaway mini loaf pans so her nurse could heat them up in the toaster oven for dinner.  It freezes beautifully, so when making it, I try to double the recipe and freeze one for later.    I'm not sure whose father the title references - maybe it was Mr. Nickerson's dad, but since it's Father's Day, I thought I'd post the recipe finally, with a few of my modifications.   Mr. Nickerson tended to use a lot of MSG in his recipes, but it really isn't necessary.   It was the 1960s, so everyone was doing that.

Father's Meatloaf

2 lbs. hamburger
2 eggs
2 c breadcrumbs
1 c chopped onion (chopped fine)
1/2 c chopped green pepper, chopped fine, or a small can of chopped green chilis, drained
1/4 c milk
2 T horseradish
2 t salt
1 t pepper
1 t dry mustard

Mix all ingredients together and form into a loaf.   Brush with:

1/4 c chili sauce

Bake at 350 F for 1 hour. 

Happy Father's Day!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ask Mom's Kitchen: Jam Wedding Favors

Do we wait anymore for the postman to bring us answers to all of our burning questions?   All I seem to get is junk mail these days.    But I do wait eagerly for comments to my blog posts.   And occasionally, someone asks a question.   So, here are some answers.....

Hi there! This was so helpful to read! I bookmarked you right away. I have never canned jam before, but would love to give 4oz mason jars full of a couple different kind of jam for my wedding favors. I am of course going to try this out before I get closer to the date, which is November, but I had a couple questions for you. How far in advance can I make the jam and store it safely? I have a fear of canning incorrectly and my jam being all moldy or disgusting (I actually dreamed this the other night!) Do you have any tips for me? Any books I should read up on before embarking on this journey? Thanks! Danielle

Dear Danielle,

First of all, please do not have any more nightmares about your jam going bad at your wedding.   When I think back to all the weddings of which I have been a part, there are many, many other things you could fret about....for example, my best friend's own mother accidentally stepped on her train and tore the whole back end of her dress off (lesson learned: make sure your maid of honor carries needle and thread and yes, duct tape can fix anything) or another friend who gained 50 lbs in the 6 months before her wedding because she was so stressed out all she could do was eat (lesson learned:  make sure you know an excellent dressmaker that can make alterations to a several sizes too small dress look like they were part of the plan).    The good news is that traditional fruit jams have so much sugar in them, they aren't going to mold easily unless the seal is broken to your jar.  And even then, it is a long shot - in colonial times, people would preserve jam with a disk of wax on the top.  Sugar prevents mold growth because it is hygroscopic - i.e. it binds all of the water molecules, so the mold doesn't have enough water to live.   My recipe for spoon fruit wouldn't fall into the same camp because it doesn't have enough sugars in it.   But jams with added sugar are just fine.

All new canners worry about botulism, but I am here to tell you to rest easy, because it is impossible to get botulism from most canned fruit products.  Why?  Because most fruit is very acidic, and botulism spores can't live in environments where the pH is lower than 4.6.   Most fruit falls in the high acidic range.   Plus, when making jam, canners often add lemon juice to insure pectin formation, and that further acidifies your end product.   So, there's no worries about food safety and making fruit jams for your wedding guests.  

The USDA says that canned goods are good for a year after canning, and then after that, quality may degrade.   So the time get started is NOW for your November wedding, because the fruit will be at it's best in summer.     Over the course of the summer, you can make many batches every weekend and have lots of different flavors for your guests, and you and your sweetie can taste test them all.  My favorite canning book, for veterans and novices alike, is Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

It will teach you everything you need to know about canning, and it has many different recipes for you to try.   Also, there's a great article in Martha Stewart about making jams for wedding favors.  I also keep as board devoted to canning labels on Pinterest.   Check it out!   Happy wedding and don't worry, your wedding will be fantastic and it will be over in an instant.  My wedding day was the fastest day in my life 20 years ago.    Just remember the duct tape and everything will be okay!