The Oregonian published an article recently on preserving sweet cherries, with one of the recipes calling for
We already had berries and cherries on the brain, so we added this idea to our list of weekend preserving projects.
This is the time of year when you can’t decide which berries to eat. When you want to buy at least a pint of every type of berry at the farmers market. But if you did, you would eat berries all week and still never make it through all of them – red raspberries, white raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries, blackberries, marion berries, and even currants, all fill the market.
We set to work this weekend, our refrigerator filled with fruit. We made marionberry jam. We made blueberry jam. Then, we heated some cheap wine in a saucepan with lemon zest and sugar, brought it to a boil, reduced it, and poured it into the quart canning jar, already filled with fresh bing cherries. We did the process all over again, but this time, Ben filled two quart-sized canning jars with
If you have never made jam, don’t be intimidated by it. It is actually really simple. You can even buy pectin that allows you to make sugar-free or reduced-sugar jam. I used this pectin in the marionberry jam, using only about 1/3 cup of raw sugar and it set right up perfectly. Nothing compares to home-made jam, using berries at the peak of freshness and adding only those things YOU want in your jam, nothing else.
We have already dug into the first jar of cherries, eating a few after dinner for dessert, and then grabbing a few more.
The other day, we made home-made vanilla ice cream. When we sat down to eat our ice cream, with a heaping of the marion berries preserved in wine, we were in heaven. Ben said this is his favorite dessert ever. I agree. And, there will be quite a bit of the 'juice' left over once the berries are gone - I'm thinking this sauce will make delicious ice cream floats!
Marion berries preserved in wine:
You can get some cheap wine for this, either in a box or in the big jugs. We used a rose for the cherries and then chose chianti for the marion berries, wanting to try a drier wine. Both turned out delicious, so I encourage you to experiment and pick wines you like. We also did one with the vanilla and lemon and one without and, again, both were delicious and different.
1 quart-sized canning jar
1 pound (about 2 pints) fresh, ripe marion berries (or berry of your choice)
2 cups wine
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 tsp vanilla (optional)
zest of one small lemon (optional)
Run your canning jar through the dishwasher or stick it in some boiling water to steralize it. Wash your berries and place in the clean jar.
Heat the wine in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and stir in sugar. Allow the sugar to dissolve and the mixture to come to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and the zest, if using. Simmer until the mixture reduces to about 1 1/2 cups, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and add the vanilla.
Pour the wine mixture over the berries and seal tightly with the lid. Allow the jar to cool completely at room temperature and then stick it in the fridge. If you are listening nearby, you will hear the 'pop' of the lid sealing as it cools. Keep the jar in the fridge - this isn't shelf-preserving.
Wait at least 2 days before you enjoy them (I know, the waiting can be hard!!). Use within 3 months or so.
We talk and think a lot about food in our household (a surprise, right?). We have conversations over the dinner table, talking about what we want to make next. We discuss what our weekly farm share will bring, what enjoyment it brings us, and how we want to cook the fresh provisions it contains. We glowingly dream about all the berries and fruit in season right now and all the cooking, baking, and preserving possibilities they present us.
Ben’s eyes will grow wide, his speech will become a bit faster, and I know he’s hooked on a particular idea. These ideas take various forms, from gluten free doughnuts with lemon cream filling (which, we still haven’t done, so I continue to hear about it) to gluten free onion rings (which we did last weekend with sweet
For the past two weeks, he has talked about beans. Beans, beans, the musical fruit… (sorry, I can’t talk about beans without hearing that childhood song in my head). We received a generous bag of dried pinto beans in our first farm share this summer and that started his wheels turning. The wheels got stuck on home-made baked beans. He envisioned slow-cooking them in the crockpot with bacon and sweet
I have to admit, I don’t think I’ve had baked beans since I moved out of my parents house, but there is something so very Americana about them – something that reminds me of summers and fourth of July family gatherings with corn-on-the-cob, paper plates, soda and beer in the cooler on the deck, and lawn chairs in the grass. And, I have certainly never had any other baked beans than Busch’s baked beans from a can.
So Ben set about pulling together the ingredients and threw them all into the crockpot Monday morning before he left for work. We were greeted at home later that evening by a mingling of sweet and savory aromas…and well, the rest is history. Delicious, sweet, salty history. We ate them with gluten-free bratwurst and my home-made gluten-free bread rolls.
1 pound dried pinto beans
1 pound raw bacon, cut into small pieces
½ sweet onion, diced
¼ cup raw sugar
1/3 cup molasses
1 heaping tablespoon
The night before, rinse and sort your beans. Place them in a large pot of water and bring to boil for about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit overnight (this is called “heat-soaking” and removes a larger amount of the sugary starches from the beans, which reduces their musical tendencies :) )
When you are ready to assemble the ingredients, rinse the beans well with cool water and place in the crockpot. Add the rest of your ingredients and stir to mix.
Turn your crockpot on low and cook for about 10-12 hours.
Last week I baked something with rhubarb for the first time in my life and, yesterday, I cooked beets for the first time in my life.
Beets. They had been on my forbidden foods list this time last year. I was following an anti-inflammatory diet to help my body heal itself during those first few months of being gluten free. It felt big and restrictive and psychologically painful at first. I refrained from eating the usual suspects: refined sugar, alcohol, dairy, soy, corn, chocolate, and coffee. I also avoided many things one wouldn’t expect: potatoes, tomatoes, beets, eggplant, peas, shellfish, and so many other things.
Compared to the years of physical pain, however, those few months of careful eating ended up feeling like nothing.
I started this blog about a year ago. I started it because I wanted to pass on information I found about eating and cooking gluten free. I also wanted to be another example, another story, for those wondering if they, too, might be gluten intolerant or have Celiac disease. Reading myself in other people’s stories helped me figure out my own story.
I also had an intense desire to prove to people that you can eat gluten free and really enjoy food – that life in the kitchen didn’t have to be “good enough,” but blissfully epicurean. I wanted a record of all of the wonderful things the gluten free community could enjoy.
I think I also wanted to prove to myself that there was still plenty in my kitchen to get excited about.
With the need to eat gluten free came an increased desire to eat well and to feel even more appreciative of the food I enjoy. So, here I am, with an almost obsessive relationship with food. What a good thing.
My CSA is making me even more aware and appreciative of every bit of food presented to me. I am learning to use the whole plant, to see the leaves of the broccoli as salad greens and the stems of beets as stir-fry ingredients. To simply throw any part of the plant away feels like I am dishonoring all of the time, attention, and care that went into growing it.
I know this isn't a very "Independence day" themed food, but, hey, it's got the red and the white, right? ;) Serve it on a blue plate like I do and you are all set!
Beet and walnut salad
This salad makes use of the beet root and its leaves. You can chop up the stems into small pieces and add them to a stir-fry on another night. This serves 2 people.
1 bunch beets
2 cups spinach
½ onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
½ cup toasted walnuts
Wash the beet roots and slice off the stems. Pull the leaves off and wash as you would lettuce. Set the leaves aside.
Place the beet roots on a piece of aluminum foil with a little olive oil and wrap the foil up and around the beets to make a closed pouch. Place the pouch in the oven at 400F for about 40 minutes, until tender. With pouch still closed, set aside while you cook the leaves.
Saute the onion in some olive oil and add the garlic. Stir for about a minute, then add the greens (beet leaves and spinach). Stir until greens begin to wilt. Divide between two plates.
Slice the beet roots into bite-sized pieces and divide between the two plates, placing them on top of the greens. Top with the walnuts and a few pieces of goat cheese.