Monday, September 29, 2014

It's a top!

This is probably the last you'll see of this quilt for a couple of months. It's my Sunday quilt, just for me, not for money, so I pretty much only work on it on Sundays.

I plan on doing some pretty dense quilting, so it will probably take a while. I love the variety of blocks you can get with this pattern!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Peach Vanilla Bean Jam

I recently made peach vanilla bean jam, and as it was so popular I've decided to post the recipe here. 
I used my standard jam recipe and thought as I was preparing the fruit that the floral vanilla might complement the peaches. I also substituted honey for part of the sugar, since honey and peaches are a favorite combination of mine. I often serve honey-vanilla whipped cream with peach desserts.


Vanilla Beans

1. You may have noticed that there are no measurements. That is because I use a ratio for making jam, rather than a normal recipe. Begin by peeling, pitting and chopping your fruit. Weigh the prepared fruit.

2. Put the fruit in a large heavy pot. Add 75% that amount in sugar, with some as honey if desired. Add lemon juice (I use 1/2 lemon for every pound of fruit)

3. If you are a scum skimmer, wait to add the vanilla beans until after the scum is gone (if you don't, you'll scrape away the vanilla specks!) If you are lazy like I am, split and scrape your beans and add to the peaches. I like to keep the pods in while cooking for extra vanilla flavor. I used 3 beans for a 2 pound recipe, but you can use less if you prefer.

4. Put the pot over medium heat, and stirring occasionally (more as it cooks down) cook until the mixture reaches 220F on a candy thermometer. (If you are significantly above sea-level, check your thermometer by placing in a pan of boiling water. Check what the temperature is, and if it is below 212F, subtract the amount below 212F your water is boiling at from the 220F. Hope that isn't too confusing;) If you like a smoother jam, mash your fruit with a potato masher throughout the cooking.

5. While your jam is cooking, clean your bottles and rings in very hot water. I like to rinse and leave them in the hot water until I'm ready for them. When the jam reaches about 215F, put the lids into hot water

6. As soon as your jam reaches 220F, remove from heat. Pour into the hot bottles, wipe the threads clean with a wet cloth, top with lids and rings.

7. I process my jam in boiling water, 5 minutes for 1/2 pints and 10 minutes for full pints. Make sure your lids all "pop" down and tight. If they don't pop within a few minutes of removing them from the boiling water, process some more, making sure the water covers the top of the bottle.

This "recipe" works with just about any kind of fruit, and is easy to adapt to your tastes. Experiment with combinations, I like nectarines with blackberries, blueberries with lemon zest, strawberries with ginger (peeled and sliced, pull out before bottling!), and raspberry with lime zest and juice. Whole spices such as cinnamon and cloves are great in cranberry jam (use 1:1 ratio for sugar!) with orange juice and zest, chopped herbs can be lovely added at the end of cooking; blackberry with lemon verbena, or strawberry with basil are great combos.

I'm not really a recipe writer, so if anything is confusing, just ask and I'll try to clarify!