You Can Can Cranberry Juice!

CranberriesOn the road toward self-sufficiency in the inevitable Zombie Apocalypse, I’ve managed to can and preserve tomatoes, beets, and cucumbers, but I imagine no apocalypse is complete without a Vodka cocktail.

This is one of three reasons I decided to try my hand at making cranberry juice on the 4th or July.

The other two reasons? I had three bags of cranberries in the freezer leftover from a 10 for $10 sale at the grocery store about 10 years ago, and, they’re red.  You know… 4th of July.  I can be patriotic sometimes too.

This recipe comes from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, which has become a dog-earred crusty staple in my household.  The description even mentions the inevitability of adding this juice to cocktails, and after this I may never see another bottle of Ocean Spray.

Cranberry Juice

  • tumblr_mpgss81P2L1qmywbko1_500Cranberries (fresh of frozen)
  • Water
  • Granulated Sugar (to taste*, optional)

Directions:

In a large, deep saucepan, combine equal parts cranberries and water.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to boil gently for about 5 minutes (the berries will burst open… don’t be alarmed).

Transfer to a strainer lined with a few layers of damp cheesecloth.  Let drip, undisturbed, for about two hours.**

In a clean pan, combine juice with sugar, if desired.* Heat to 190-F and hold at 190 for 5 minutes, without letting it boil.

Ladle hot juice into hot, sterilized jars leaving 1/4″ headspace (2.5 bags of cranberries made about 2 quarts of juice). Center the lid and screw band down fingertip-tight. Place in canner completely covered by water and bring to a boil.  Process for 15 minutes. Remove lid and turn heat off, and wait 5 minutes before removing from the canner.  Cool on the counter and store.

* To put your portions into perspective, I used about 1 C. of sugar for my 2.5 bags of cranberries, and it’s a little too sweet for my taste. 

** This is Ball talking and I didn’t have 2 hours to let the juice drain naturally. Though it’s probably the best practice and I’d never dispute the canning Bible, let’s face it, I let it sit about 30 minutes, squeezed a bunch out manually, and everything seemed to turn out fine.

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Don’t buy “cinnamon coffee”, put cinnamon in your coffee.

Flavored coffees have always bothered me.  I don’t mean coffee with flavored syrup – I mean coffee that has some mysterious chemical layer of something-ness that infuses coffee beans to somehow taste like cinnamon, or french vanilla, or pumpkins.

You know me…. I’m a girl who likes to keep things au naturale.

But I get it.  Sometimes I don’t just want a plain black cup of coffee either.  Instead of buying cinnamon flavored coffee, just add some cinnamon to your coffee.  Grounds, sprinkle of cinnamon, brew, enjoy.  It works for a french press; it works for a drip brewer.  And yes, it’s really that simple.

Ok, cinnamon seems simple enough, but what about those other flavors?  Here are some popular flavors, and my solutions for infusing your coffee instead of coating it with chemicals:

2012-12-31 09.48.27Cinnamon: Duh, we already covered this… add powdered cinnamon, or a fresh grated cinnamon stick

French Vanilla: Pinch of raw sugar and a whole vanilla bean

Hazelnut: Grate a few hazelnut shavings into the grounds

Pumpkin: Sprinkle of pumpkin spice

“Christmas”: Mulling spices (go easy on them… a little goes a long way)

I’m all ears for other ideas…

What do you do to add pizzazz to your daily cup?

When life gives you lemons, make limemade

Life changes, stress, and too much Starbucks have been keeping me up at night and I’m having a bit of insomnia this week.  Last night I woke up around 2am, answered a few emails, took a bath, and made limeade.

Yes, you heard me right.

Insomnia aside, yesterday was a pretty warm day – skirting 85 at times and there’s nothing quite as refreshing as a delightful glass of fresh lemonade on a warm evening.  However, my inability to waste combined with having procured 30 limes for the Produce photo shoot a couple weeks ago (how can I resist when they are 15 for $1???), resulted in my opting for limemade.

And it was good.

Not to get religious on you here, but this limeade might be what happened on the ninth day of creation.  I’ll never go back to that store bought bottle of sugary yellow chemical water.  Trust me on this…….

 Homemade Limeade

Ingredients:

Limes (lots)

Water

Sugar

Elbow Grease

Directions:

Using a juicer, juice limes with a citrus juicer and add to pitcher.  If you don’t care for pulp, pour the juice through a strainer before it goes into the pitcher.  Add sugar and stir until dissolved (the amount depends on your personal taste.  For 1 C. lime juice, I used 2/3 C. sugar and it was a teensy bit on the tarter side… which for me is perfect).  Add water and stir.  Your juice:water ratio should be approximately 1:2.

Store in the refrigerator, but trust me, it won’t be there long.

P.S. If you find yourself with an overabundance of lemons, the recipe works the same way for making lemonade.

Ringing in 2012

Your RSS feeds will likely be clogged with a bunch of bloggers’ resolutions today.  Rather than bore you with the typical “lose weight, blog more” goals that I share with all my fellow Americans, I shall ease your hangover with a beautiful photo diary of what my New Year’s Eve looked like.

The theme:

A classy beer tasting party.

The setting:

The fabulously retro party basement that lies beneath my humble abode

The menu:

Classic hors d’oeuvres including a fruit and cheese tray, deviled eggs, creamy Mexican dip, black forest ham crostini, homemade peanut brittle, and Dragon’s Milk Stout brownies (recipes to follow for the rest of the week)

Paired with:

Stone Imperial Russian Stout, Unibroue Maudite (amber Belgian-style ale), New Glarus Moon Man, Stone IPA, and a special New Glarus Raspberry Tart for the midnight toast.

Aside: I’ve had many failures in the kitchen, but this shin-dig (I flatter myself) was a delicious success.

Contributing Crafty Lady Nancy took these photos, and selected and sourced the beer pairings….

Black Forest Ham Crostini
Creamy Mexican Dip
Deviled Eggs
Blue cheese, Camembert, Asian pear and a clementine blossom
Milk Stout Brownies