Archive for the ‘edible philosophy’ Category
Edit: Check this article on Grist-do you have the balls to really change the food system-it’s great!
Yeah. Oh Yeah… I sang that song and danced around the kitchen while making jam. While trying to link the song, I found this video! It’s like it was made for me. My friend was probably thinking “why did I invite her for jam making”?
My friend Kristen and I have been inspired to try canning as a way of preserving our summer bounty. But, since it never seems to workout that enough of a bounty is ripe at one time we sought out other people’s fruits to can. First stop? Olney Farmer’s Market. When I mentioned to a sweet vendor that we were canning, she directed me over to the “seconds” area-where peaches with issues and bruises were half price!
Afterwards we headed over to Blueberry Gardens (near Olney/Spencerville) to hand pick our own. For the privilege of picking our own, we paid $8 per quart. It was fun to figure out which blueberries were the ripest (one for me, one for my basket…) and chat as we picked through the bushes. Neither Kristen or I have had much success with growing blueberries, so I’m glad we went to the professionals.
We may have picked too many…
Our utensils? Ball Canning accessories – not necessary, but very helpful! A large pot, jars, and a creatively fashioned “rack” out of aluminum foil to prevent the glass from sitting directly on the bottom of the pot. I can really see how having a proper rack to pull the jars out would be easier.
We got started on our jam making using a recipe for Natural Summer Fruit Jam from the Ball cookbook. We decided to go with the “less sugar” kind which uses apples to increase volume and decrease added sugar. Creation the apple sauce was easy… until we needed to push it through a sieve. Not so easy and very time consuming.
We still ended up using 2 cups of sugar for the blueberries and a whopping 5.5 cups for the peaches!
The book says to get the jam to 220 Fahrenheit- but we just couldn’t get it there. What I later learned from Food in Jars is that our jam would have a difficult time reaching that temperature with the reduced sugar. We over reduced the blueberry jam to a super duper thick amount that ended up only filling 2 jars and a little bowl. This batch should have filled 5 jars. The blueberry jam was so good though, that we reduced ourselves to eating it by the spoonful.
We instead used the gel test method for the peach jam-way more successful.
Our Jam canning was a complete success-save for one lid that didn’t properly seal right away. We tested the seals too quickly post cool down, and accidentally popped one off. We probably should have left the jars alone for longer to give it a chance to seal-but we were so excited!
But that’s okay-because that is the jam I’m eating today!
ETA: Live near DC and interested in canning? Common Good City Farm is offering a canning workshop on September 11th. Check it out!
I found a bag of chicken livers for sale at the Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market this weekend. I jumped on the purchase with serious enthusiasm-Nick? Not so much. I had planned on asking my regular chicken guy at the McPherson sq FM, but these magically appeared. Another alternative would be to purchase from Polyface, but they mix the livers and hearts and as a beginner, I’d prefer them separate.
I had recently seen a recipe for blackened chicken livers and since I want to try “variety meats” and I love Cajun flavors-it seemed like a great idea.
To further my offal education (oh gosh… these puns are endless) I tried to search for a cookbook on Amazon. There seems to be a serious lack of offal cookbooks, and in general education regarding cooking with offal.
There are the Nose to Tail, and Beyond Nose to Tail books. The reviews seem to highlight that the recipes include ingredients that are difficult to find and perhaps not accessible for the beginning offal cook.
There is also the River Cottage MEAT book – which I already have. In fact, I love the River Cottage entire series of cookbooks*. Nick and I have the River Family Cookbook, the River Cottage Bread Book and while I was in England (and still a vegetarian) I loved watching their tv show. I highly recommend the RC Meat book to anyone who wants to explore meat production and consumption from a holistic standpoint. I reference the book often, and enjoy reading it on a weekend afternoon to relax. I think Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is pretty amazing-can he and I be friends? Would that be creepy of me to ask? Probably.
I’ll be cooking the livers this week, and I’ll be sure to let you know of my efforts. I hope I succeed, because if so, I have high hopes for the momentum of the nose to tail movement. Offal meats are currently less expensive, while still high in nutrients. Eating offal makes both financial and (according to my own guide) philosophical sense.
Have you cooked with offal before? Do you have any recommendations for me?
*We have the British versions of these books, and while I can’t be positive I’d wager the American versions are a bit different.
I thought I’d share this quote by Wendel Berry
We can not live harmlessly or strictly at our own expense; we depend upon other creatures and survive by their deaths. To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of creation. The point is, when we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament; when we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration…
From his book – The Gift of Good Land
(photos via me)