Monthly Archives: August 2011

Rainier Cherry, Vanilla Bean, and Lavender Jam

I’ve already posted the rainier cherry and wild sage jam I made. This was the second jam I made with the rest of the cherries I got from my good friend Arinn. I used the same method, but different flavourings. This jam turned out beautifully, delicately flavoured. The mild flavour of the rainier cherries was complemented really well by the vanilla and lavender. I wouldn’t recommend making this jam with dark red bing cherries. I think they would overpower the vanilla and lavender flavours.

rainier cherry, vanilla bean, and lavender jam

4 cups rainier cherries, pitted and halved
Juice of 1 large lemon – about 2 – 3 tbsp – be careful about the seeds
1/2 of one vanilla bean, crushed or minced – or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract would work
1 tsp lavender flowers
1 cup sugar
1/2 package liquid pectin (about 45 mL)

Once you’ve pitted and halved your cherries, put them in a pot. Or pit them into a pot. Add the lemon juice and cook over medium heat until it starts to bubble. Maintain that heat, stirring occasionally, until the cherries soften – about 25 minutes. Add the vanilla bean toward the middle of the cooking process.

Smush some of the cherries with the back of your spoon, or, if you’re lazy like me, use a hand blender to cream about half of the cherries once they’ve cooked down to softness. If you don’t smush the cherries, there will be big round chunks in your jam.

At this point, after the cherries have cooked to softness, add the lavender. Stir it in. Add the sugar 1/2 cup at a time. Stir to dissolve. Cook for another couple of minutes, then add the pectin, and stir to dissolve. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring often enough to keep it from burning. You can turn down the heat to a simmer at this point.

Now you’ll have to test for jelly point. Dip a metal spoon in – if the jam coats the back of the spoon, you’re in business. You can use the spoon drip method, or the plate method. For the plate method, chill a small plate in the freezer for two minutes, then put a spoonful of the jam on it. It should not spread out like water – it should hold together a bit. Chill it in the fridge for 5 minutes (or the freezer for 2 minutes), then push your finger into it. If it wrinkles, it’s ready. If it’s not ready, cook for another 5 minutes, then try again.

Once your jam is done, transfer it into jars. You should either seal them immediately while it’s still hot, or wait for the jam to cool entirely. Afterward, you can freeze the jars, or you can heat-seal them using boiling water – fill a large pot up with water enough to cover the jars by 1cm. (Obviously test while the jars are in the pot.) With the jars in the pot, heat the water up to a boil and boil for about ten minutes. Remove from the water and let them cool.

I got a bit less than a litre of jam – 4 250mL jars.

Rainier Cherry and Wild Sage Jam

Ah, jam-making, that hobby that only people who live lives of leisure can partake in. I made my first jams recently, and goodness gracious but they take a long time and a lot of patience! It’s not something I generally have in spades, but by my third jam, I felt like I got pretty good at it. We’ll just not talk about the first one.

jams

On Sunday I visited my friend Arinn at the market where she works as a florist. One of the market vendors had given her pounds upon pounds of slightly imperfect (read: still amazing) BC rainier cherries. She couldn’t even hope to use all of them so she gave half to me. Exciting!

Rainier cherries are the golden-coloured, mildly-flavoured variety of this incredible summer fruit. BC, where we live, is a fantastic cherry growing province; they really flourish in the Okanagan, and come this point in summer, I find I’m almost cherried-out. How can that happen?! Cherries are so amazing! But, after eating several hundred cherries, I found that I simply wanted to make jam with them.

Of course, upon looking it up, I realized that jam has RIDICULOUS amounts of sugar in it. Um, I am not so into that, guys. I can’t justify putting more sugar than fruit in a pot, and frankly I just don’t want to eat that. The jams I ended up with are less firmly set than the jam you’d get in a store, because the pectin is supposed to interact with copious amounts of sugar in order to set. But I really liked the texture I got from using only a cup of sugar and half a package of pectin.

Now, pitting cherries is a giant pain in the behind. If you don’t have a cherry pitter (and I don’t), I recommend setting yourself up in front of a movie. Use a curved paring knife if you have one and remember to always cut away from yourself. Halve the cherries and remove the pits and stems. I got cherry juice all over the floor and my feet and clothes, so think about lining the floor with newspaper or simply washing it after… and wear an apron.

rainier cherry and similkameen wild sage jam

Rainier Cherry and Similkameen Wild Sage Jam

Earlier in the month I visited the Similkameen Valley, a desert region of BC near the US/Canada border. We picked oodles of wild sage – a very fragrant wild herb – and I had some drying in my kitchen. I thought that sage and cherries would be very autumny and complementary. I had a few dark red bing cherries in the fridge as well so I threw those in to this batch of jam – really, only about 6 of them, and what a colour difference they made.

4 cups rainier cherries, pitted and halved
Juice of 1 large lemon – about 2 – 3 tbsp – be careful about the seeds
1+ tbsp sage leaves – I used mine semi-dried, but you could use dry or fresh
1 cup sugar
1/2 package liquid pectin (about 45 mL)

Once you’ve pitted and halved your cherries, put them in a pot. Or pit them into a pot. Add the lemon juice and cook over medium heat until it starts to bubble. Maintain that heat, stirring occasionally, until the cherries soften – about 25 minutes. Add the sage toward the middle of this cooking process.

Smush some of the cherries with the back of your spoon, or, if you’re lazy like me, use a hand blender to cream about half of the cherries once they’ve cooked down to softness. If you don’t smush the cherries, there will be big round chunks in your jam.

Once the cherries are soft, add the sugar 1/2 cup at a time. Stir to dissolve. Cook for another couple of minutes, then add the pectin, and stir to dissolve. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring often enough to keep it from burning. You can turn down the heat to a simmer at this point.

Now you’ll have to test for jelly point. Dip a metal spoon in – if the jam coats the back of the spoon, you’re in business. You can use the spoon drip method, or the plate method. For the plate method, chill a small plate in the freezer for two minutes, then put a spoonful of the jam on it. It should not spread out like water – it should hold together a bit. Chill it in the fridge for 5 minutes (or the freezer for 2 minutes), then push your finger into it. If it wrinkles, it’s ready. If it’s not ready, cook for another 5 minutes, then try again.

Once your jam is done, transfer it into jars. You should either seal them immediately while it’s still hot, or wait for the jam to cool entirely. Afterward, you can freeze the jars, or you can heat-seal them using boiling water – fill a large pot up with water enough to cover the jars by 1cm. (Obviously test while the jars are in the pot.) With the jars in the pot, heat the water up to a boil and boil for about ten minutes. Remove from the water and let them cool.

I got a bit less than a litre of jam.

Spicy Tofu, Swiss Chard, Mint Tacos (Kirby Tacos)

tofu mint chard tacos

Because I come from a land where tacos and burritos are available at every corner, I make tacos when I need a quick, fresh bite to eat.  I think I might name these Kirby Tacos, because our friend Kirby is a vegan that never cooks for herself, but as I was assembling these she came to mind because they are even easy enough for her to make.

1/2 tsp Cumin

1/2 tsp Paprika

1/2 tsp Cayenne

1 tsp Garlic powder

1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 small red onion

1 clove garlic (minced)

1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped

1/2 block Cubed extra firm tofu (cut into tiny squares)

3 large leaves Swiss chard, chopped

1/2 lime juiced

1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped

1 tbs Oil of your choice

6 Corn Tortillas

Handful of Pea shoots

In a medium sized skillet heat oil on medium heat and add tofu. The point here is to get the tofu golden brown with the spices. After the tofu has been in the heat for about 5 minutes stir and coat in all the spices. Keep the tofu browning for another five minutes then add the onions and garlic clove.

Make sure to keep the tofu on medium heat so you don’t burn it!

When the onion is soft add the chopped swiss chard, cilantro and lime and stir together. Swiss chard is like spinach and does not take long to cook so make sure to add it last!

Make sure to watch your taco mixture as you steam your 6 corn tortillas.

When the steaming is done the tacos are ready to be assembled. Top with pea shoots and fresh cilantro to completely complement the fresh flavours of the taco.

You can even add avocado, hot sauce, sliced lime wedges, fresh cilantro, and salsa to make these tacos even better.

This recipe is for all hard working Kirbys out there.

 

Black Bean Yamburgers

I kept meaning to post this recipe – I made it for the Blim Night Market on July 23rd and promised a few people I’d post it, but then I went out of town and life took over and I forgot. Anyway, here it is. My friend Bronwen and I made a bunch of these black bean yamburgers and sold them for a $5 donation each to help pay for her cat’s urinary tract surgery. Bronwen made delicious buns from scratch, and we had a variety of toppings, from sauerkraut and caramelized onions to red pepper tahini sauce, homous, and Kaylie’s homemade habañero hot sauce.

black bean yamburgers with tomato, red onion, garden fresh endive and vegenaise

The burger patties are super easy. They don’t take very long, if you want to rush it before having a barbecue, but if you have some time to chill the burger mixture before forming the patties, you will have a bit of an easier time of it. I tripled the recipe to make patties for our event. This recipe will make about 12 patties, depending on how big you make them.

Black Bean Yamburger Patties

1 medium yam (or sweet potato)

Peel and cube the yam. Toss it in olive or vegetable oil and roast it, tossing once, for about 30 minutes. For a shortcut, boil the cubed yam until you can pierce it easily with a fork. Let it cool so you can work it with your hands – for a shortcut, try putting it in the fridge or freezer.

After your yams are in the oven, put on:

1/4 cup white rice – I used sticky or glutinous rice, but you can use basmati, jasmine, or whatever. Follow the water instructions on the package. I usually do 1.25 times the amount of water as rice. Don’t know how to make rice? This should help.

While you’re doing this:

1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp cooking oil

Heat a skillet over medium-low heat and add the onion. Saute about 5 minutes, then add the garlic, and continue sauteing until the onion has softened.

1 can (about 2 cups) black beans

Drain and rinse the beans in a strainer and then put them in a big bowl. Mash them until there are no whole beans left. Add the onions and garlic. Add:

2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup soy sauce (or wheat-free tamari for gluten free burgers)
1 tbsp sesame oil

Mix this in with the beans, onion, and garlic. Taste and adjust seasonings. For a variation, try adding some peanut butter and ginger. Add the cooked yams and rice; stir til combined. Taste again and adjust seasonings as necessary. I ended up adding more cumin after the fact.

Add 1/4 cup cornmeal for gluten-free burgers or flour if that’s not a concern. Stir.

Chill the burger mixture for 1 hour in the fridge if you have the time, or don’t, if you don’t.

Form the patties from about 1/4 cup burger mix. Roll it into a ball and pat it flat with clean hands. Dredge in cornmeal or flour. Fry lightly in oil on each side, or bake on parchment paper, before grilling, or bake/fry completely to use in a burger.