Monday, July 21, 2014

Cherry and Lavender Jam {Yes, I can!}

Canning food is something that I've always wanted to do. On my to do list this year, this item is written on my fall schedule. But since I have a basket full of delicious fresh cherries in the refrigerator, I decided to start canning  now.

I wanted my first fruit canning experience to be special so I looked in the garden for something that will enhance my recipe.

The lavender plants are  blooming ... hmmm ... why not? .... Here it goes ....

Oh la la! Tres agreable! Tout simplement delicieux!

Cherry and Lavender Jam

4 cups of pitted fresh cherries (I used vista cherries)
1 large lemon  (zest and juice)
2 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
3 tbsp fresh lavender flowers (optional)

Carefully prepare jars for canning. I followed this procedure from Country Living. This recipe can fill 2 small jars.

Chop cherries in small pieces (not to small so that you will have big pieces of cherries when you spread the jam on your toast)
Combine the chopped cherries, lemon zest and juice and lavender in a large non-reactive sauce pan.
Cook in medium heat while stirring occasionally. Bring to boil.Cook until cherries are wilted and completely soft.
Add sugar and stir until dissolved.
Bring to boil for another 5 minutes. Stir while cooking to prevent jam from sticking to the pan.
Turn off the heat when the jam appears a bit thick and looks like it is beginning to gel.
Transfer the jam into clean and dry jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace and cover tightly.
Cool at room temperature then keep in refrigerator. Good for a couple of months.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

I am NOT moving again .... unless....

Moving. is. stressful. Period.

Our moving date is less than a week away. Hubby and I can't contain our excitement about the new house in the countryside. We've made plans on the look and feel of the house including new breeds of chickens we want to add to the existing coup.BUT, before we can do that, we have to finish packing all belongings we accumulated in the last 10 years. And there's a LOT! In fact it is overwhelming. I had a couple of "breakdowns" already. Part of it was due to exhaustion but more so because I am struggling to part ways with things that hold so much memories - pots and pans that  witnessed my experiments is the kitchen, books (lots of them!) that entertained me during the long winter months, Christmas decorations the once gave life to the bare tree, old tea towels that are now so comfy to dry your hands with .... the list goes on and on! 

How do you say farewell to these inanimate things?

I found this piece from one of my favorite lifestyle bloggers Jenni Epperson.

I may be parting ways with a lot of things that are not at all beautiful but most of them were once upon a time useful. I am not saying farewell. I will just say THANK YOU for all the memories these things brought to our lives. Memories that I can bring  with me ....

I am not moving again .... unless ....

Monday, July 7, 2014

Cherry Clafoutis {from the orchard to the table}

One of the perks of summer in Ontario is the abundance of cherries and nothing beats the joy of picking our own cherries from the orchards in the Niagara region. Last Saturday, the weather was gorgeous so Jayvee and I drove to Cherry Avenue Farms to have our fill and more!

Cherry Avenue Farms is a 126-acres-fruit-orchards. You can pick your own cherries at the beginning of summer, peaches and plums in August and nectarines and pears before the fall. We've been here a couple times and each visit never fails to perk me up .... just like the high you get on Christmas morning. But instead of presents, you get the gifts from mother nature.

You are allowed to eat while picking so you can just imagine how much we consumed  ... it was like walking in the garden of Eden but nothing is forbidden, eat all you can! Yes, even the fruit of tree in the middle of the garden :-).

With a bucket full of cherries, surely, our kitchen will be busy in the next couple of days. As soon as we got home, I made cherry clafoutis. I will never get tired of this delicious and so easy to make dessert which I first tasted during a luncheon meeting in Paris many years ago. My French counterpart gave me the recipe. Since then, I made minor adjustments {like the addition of lemon zest for more flavour}. The sweet custard like base and the sweet and tangy cherries surrendering its juices to the cake is a real treat on its own or with a cup of tea.

Cherry Clafoutis or Clafouti is a rustic looking French country dessert from the Limousin region. Traditionally it was made with the first sweet cherries of the season, and the cherries were left unpitted so their kernels could release their delicate almond flavor as they baked. {info source : Joy of Cooking}

Cherry Clafoutis

1 pound fresh sweet cherries, rinse and pat dry {whole or pitted}
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup whole milk
3 eggs slightly beaten
3 1/2 tbsp melted salted butter + extra for lining the pan
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
zest of 1/2 lemon

Icing sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 400 F.
Butter the cake pan generously.
Place the cherries in the bottom of cake pan.
In a bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt.
Add milk and eggs one at a time, whisking gently.
Add melted butter and vanilla extract and lemon zest.
Mix until the batter is completely smooth.
Pour batter on top of cherries.
Bake for 15 minutes at 400 F then lower heat to 350 F and cook for another 20 minutes or or until the clafoutis is puffed, set, and golden brown around the edges.
Serve immediately with a dusting of icing sugar. 

Amusez cuisson mes amis! Bon apettit!

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