The Lemons of 2016

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I have wanted to renew my love for writing for a couple of years now but I can come up with a million excuses to do something else and probably less productive. During one of these exact moments, I realized that I had less desire to write because I could much more easily post a photo to Instagram, which in turn will post it to Facebook , which in turn will announce to the world that it is indeed snowing, I am indeed at the airport or yes, I am, again, napping with my cats by the fire. All of this mono-syllabic pronouncement has limited my need to write in complete sentences. That being said, I love going back through my blog and rereading my life’s moments.

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So that being said, 2017! I began this year with a bag of Meyer Lemons i procured for about $2.79 (thanks California!) and tried to figure out what to do with these beautiful little balls of sunshine. After the temperatures had dropped below zero and my cat was permanently attached to his bed in front of the fire, I decided to make candied lemon peel with the desire to make scones or cakes or anything that requires this delicious treat. I decided not to cut corners. I wanted to make the same perfectly translucent, chewy sweet rind that i had eaten in France.

To begin with, start with the most unblemished organic fruit you can find. You can use lemons, oranges, grapefruit or any other citrus you can get your paws on for this process. I had 8 beautiful meyer lemons. Icut off the tops and bottoms and scored the rind the long way to peel off strips of rind. img_3296

I juiced the lemons and froze it for another time. A cup of meyer lemon juice is going to come in handy for something wonderful!

I then placed the rind in a pan of cold water and brought it up to a boil. I reduced the heat to simmer for 45 minutes. I drained the water, refilled my pan with cold water and repeated the process one more time.

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Next I filled my pan with 3 cups of cold water and 2 cups of sugar. I brought it up to a boil to melt the sugar and added my rind. I lowered the heat to a low simmer and cooked the rind for about an hour until the peel was translucent. I strained the peel and placed it on a parchment paper cookie sheet to cool. If you don’t eat them all, you can store the candied peel in a sealed container forever. I ate them all…Next up, ginger! same process!

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Bacon Jam

baconjam4I live in a meat-centric town. Bacon is a staple on just about every menu and my vegetarian friends consider bacon their “vacation meat” so they can splurge on the best food ever created.
This last summer, I was introduced to a phenomena called Bacon Jam. This sweet savory spread melted instantly on my tongue leaving the lingering flavor of bacon behind.
From that day on, i decided I would make it. I started researching recipes and most are just varieties of the same, some asking for ketchup, others required maple syrup. I settled on a combination of recipes and developed my own to share with you!

baconjam3Bourbon Bacon Jam

makes about 3-4 cups
2 lbs of Bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic sliced
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbs chili powder
1 cup bourbon
1/4 cup stone ground mustard
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar

In a large pot, fry bacon. Remove bacon and add onion and garlic to drippings and saute for 5 minutes on medium heat. Add remaining ingredients and bacon to pot and bring to boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 1 hour. Using an immersion blender, blend jam into chunky texture and bring back to a low simmering boil until liquid thickens. cool and store for 2- 3 weeks in the fridge.baconjam2baconjam

Ferment that!

IMG_0507Summer inspires me to be out-of-doors as much as possible, planting too many tomatoes and ignoring the vast array of weeds. This summer has been no different and yet everything is different. I am now working closely with farmers and producers and getting my inspiration from the farmers markets and my wonderful housemate. This season we are successfully making our own yogurt and Kombucha weekly. We are eating so much from the garden.

I have always been intimidated by fermentation..i know..throw stuff in a pot and let it ferment..what could be more simple? i dont know?! I am starting with Kombucha.  I loved the stuff from the first time i tasted it. That tart green apple, vinegar sweetness with a slight fizz..I knew i was drinking something wonderfully pure and packed with b-vitamins and happy belly creating probiotics. Kombucha has been around for centuries and is thought to relieve arthritis, depression, anxiety, gal bladder misfortunes and increase liver function. It could also not be easier to make.

IMG_0710 So why do we limit ourselves and what we can obtain because of insecurities? I recently told a friend that I was the most optimistic person he would ever meet but with the largest bag of self doubts..i think getting older just makes that bag bigger and more easy to bare..i dont want that bag anywhere near me anymore!  so I have been shedding a few pounds of these doubts with a wonderful jar of Kombucha each day.

We used a simple black tea recipe and created our scoby (aka Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) from a pre-existing one..easiest method.

To make your own, you will need:

  • A gallon size glass jar
  • a little less than 1 gallon of brewed sweetened tea cooled to room temperature
  • 1 Kombucha SCOBY (we got ours by buying a good, already-made Kombucha at the store and just poured it into our cooled tea
  • a square of cheese cloth and a rubber band
  • In your glass jar, prepare the tea with 1 cup organic sugar in 1 gallon of your favorite brewed black or green tea. I know people who use flavored teas as well..your choice. Make sure that tea is completely cool before going on to next step.
  • add your kombucha from a store bought bottle, or settle your newly acquired SCOBY gently onto the liquid surface. Some of them will float and some will sink…dont worry. Eventually it will float and expand.
  • Cover the jar with the cheese cloth and secure with a rubber band.
  • Place in a warm location around 70-75 degrees and let sit from 5-30 days. We just put in on the kitchen counter. Depending on your preference it will be less sweet and more potent the longer you leave it. We bottle our Kombucha about every 7-10 days and let it ferment a little more in the fridge to add the fizzies.
  • Pour your Kombucha into smaller jars and refrigerate.
  •  Every 1-2 batches, the scoby will have a baby that can be used to make other batches or given away. (see photo at bottom of post)

ENJOY!!

I photographed my SCOBY growing..it was fascinating! IMG_0474 IMG_0495 IMG_0498 IMG_0546 IMG_0712 IMG_0713this last photo shows the baby scoby that can be detached and offered to someone else who wants to make their own Kombucha!