Accidentally Delicious Blueberry Mess

Blueberry

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So I tried to make blueberry jam the other day.

I say “tried”, because I totally forgot about it and it ended up cooking down a whole lot more than I originally anticipated.

But it is freaking delicious. So here’s a recipe for you. This is my first recipe I’ve invented myself, SO BE NICE. If it sucks, tell me. If it’s awesome, tell me. If it doesn’t make sense, tell me.

I apologize for the lack of photos. I will remedy this if I ever write another recipe post again. 🙂

Accidentally Delicious Blueberry Jam (Makes about 8 quarter-pints or 4 pints)

  • 2 pounds of blueberries, washed (and check for stems. Stems are gross in jam.)
  • 2 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 1tsp cinnamon (fresh-grated is nice, but not necessary.)
  • 1/4c lemon juice (I use “Real Lemon” juice….the acidity is high enough to make the jam safe. Fresh lemon juice is too variable in the acid levels. If you’re not canning it and putting it in the fridge, fresh lemon is OK.)
  • 1/2 box pectin (or 3 Tbsp of the stuff in the jar)
1.  Put 3 spoons in the freezer. Rinse your blueberries (if you haven’t already) and discard any mushy berries or under-ripe ones. Make sure you brush up on canning procedures, and set your canning pot to boil with the empty jars. Put the lids in a heatproof bowl.
2. Put the berries in your jam pot (NOT an aluminum one, at least 2x as big as the amount of berries you have) and mash the berries up. (It’s easier if you do this in layers, rather than all at once. You can also do this in a food processor if you really want. Process/mash them less for chunkier jam, more for a smooth jam. I like it chunky.)
3. Mix up the pectin with 1/4 cup of the sugar, then dump that, the berries (if you haven’t already) and the lemon juice in your jam pot.
4. Over high heat & stirring often, cook to a full boil. (scrape the bottom and the sides every once in a while to make sure everything is incorporated and not scorching.)
5. When it’s reached a full boil, stir in the rest of the sugar and turn down the heat to medium.
6. Forget about it for 10 minutes or so. (this is what happened to me. You should probably be responsible and stir. Scrape the sides too.)
7. Panic and throw in some cinnamon. (Or remain calm because you have been forewarned, and add your 1tsp of cinnamon and stir.)
8. Turn the heat down to medium-low. Let it cook for 5-6 more minutes, then test for thickness. (this means “remove a spoon from the freezer, dip it in the jam and then let it run off the spoon NOT BACK INTO THE JAM POT to see if it’s the thickness *YOU* want.” You might like a thinner jam. We like a thicker, more gelled jam.)
9. Prep your jars. Get a folded towel on your counter, and dump the water from the jars in the canning pot into the bowl with the lids. (Jars go on the towel.)
10. Ladle your jam into the jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace. Run a chopstick around the inside of the jar to release any trapped bubbles.
11. Lids on jars, rings tightened to finger-tight. (this means “just tight”, not “OMG, it’s gonna take the Hulk to get this thing back off.” You want air to escape during canning.)
12. Process your jars in the water bath for 8 minutes. Remove from the canning pot, and set in an out-of-the-way spot so they can sit undisturbed for 24 hours.
Voila. Jam.
(If this is your first canning experience, please please please go read the Ball site I referenced above. I am not a canning expert, but I have been canning for a really long time. This recipe is written, assuming you know how to can.)
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My House Smells Like Berries.

06 Jul 2011 1 Comment

My mom used to tell me a story about her friend Katie. Mommy Dearest loved to go over to Katie’s house because there was always something going on. Her dad was a member of a Pipe & Drum Corps (a marching bagpipe band) and would practice his big bass drum, twirling his mallets as they do in parades (and causing large lumps on his head as a result).

MD’s favorite part though, was the culinary aspect of it all. They always had something brewing in the basement, and some pot bubbling on the stove. She told me Katie’s family made their own dandelion wine, mead and something I assume was kombucha. There was always a pantry full of canned goodies and I believe Katie’s mom taught MD to put stuff in jars.

Jars ready for the canning pot

Another childhood memory of mine is “helping” my grandmother make applesauce in her tiny carpeted kitchen. I remember the paisley pattern of the well-loved carpet in that kitchen, and the paisley pattern of my grandma’s apron. I remember the “pock” sound the lids made when the seal engaged on the jars. I remember a well-worn spoon and a big flecked tin canning pot and waiting anxiously to use some rubber-banded tongs to help lift the jars from the pot.

I miss my grandma a lot.

So, I’ve been fighting some personal demons that have kept me away from my blog AND Twitter….(My Klout score dropped 6 points in 2 weeks. Ouch.) Lately, I’ve also been putting a lot of stuff in jars. I hosted a food swap at my house, and Kate Payne came.

I’m happiest when I’m feeding people. Or when I’m storing things for feeding people later. Or reading books about food. I’m good at it. I enjoy it immensely.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. Planting a garden with things we enjoy eating. Putting stuff in jars to feed people later. Learning how to make my own butter. Creating a compost system for our house. Being “Suzy Homemaker”.

9 pounds of fresh sun-ripened, hand-picked-by-me WA berries. Nom.

I’ve been amassing books and blog posts and any resources I can find about preserving and pickling and homesteading. We’ve researched chickens, and whether or not Devil Dog will try to eat them. We’re planning on building a vermicompost system. We picked 9 pounds of berries yesterday to make jams and pies.

Feeding my family is necessary for my survival, both as a mother and as a human being. It feeds my soul and therefore makes me a better mom to my kids. Making our own food teaches my kids how things go from dirt to mouth (and sometimes dirt goes in the mouth….thanks Chuck) and gardening is teaching them how to be responsible, how to take care of something other than themselves, and teaching them to be patient as we wait for the fennel to get big enough to harvest, and how sometimes the deer eat all of our gorgeous rainbow chard and we have to problem-solve a way to keep them out of our garden from now on. (The 8′ fence we have isn’t helping.)

So expect some of the regular snarky posts interspersed with posts about what we’re doing this summer, and how our garden is growing.

And maybe even some recipes, like I’ve been promising forever 🙂

And for those of you who have been asking, we are all doing great, and we’re almost back to normal. Or as normal as we choose to be!

Mamavation Monday: Post-Apocalyptic Workouts

29 May 2011 10 Comments

Fruits and vegetables from a farmers market. c...

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So as I hinted to in my last post, I had a pretty big week. I had a giant explosion of “OMG” and have been dealing with the resulting fallout.

And often in times like these, people (like the “Old Me”) seek comfort in food.

New Me has a different approach. All veggies.

I ate a lot of veggies this week. And I put a lot of stuff in jars. I’ve discovered that if I am feeling bad, I don’t necessarily want to EAT food, I apparently want to CREATE it.

So I made yogurt. And cheese. And bread. And Rhubarb BBQ Sauce. And more jam.

And all of that movement through the kitchen (even though I didn’t work out a stitch) and cleaning the house and moving furniture and generally not doing a lot of sitting down….I maintained this week.

No loss, no gain.

Usually when I hit a point of stress (and this is the most stress I’ve been under since I worked at The Evil Empire), I expect to gain at LEAST 10-15 pounds. If not more.

So maintaining is a good start.

And now I’ll work on getting workouts in to my schedule. And making sure I continue to do good things for my body.

Because my body is NOT A TRASH CAN. I need to stop putting garbage in it.

Hope you all are having a fabulous week!

Side note: whomever created glittery bathtub “crayons” should come over to my house, look at my sparkly bathtub, my glittery Twilight vampire baby and the side of my face (which seems to have broken out in a glittery rash) and tell me that glitter belongs in the hands of toddlers.

That is all.

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