Currently, Currants.

red currants.

Well, yesterday's doctor visit confirmed that baby number 2 will likely be late, like baby number 1 was.  Am I such a good hostess that my children just don't want to enter the world?  As I look past my tomorrow due date, I try to remember to be patient and also try to remember that there will still be a good amount of summer left after I get back to feeling normal.

Part of my impatience has to do with the normalcy that I crave.  Ordinarily, as soon as the weather warms I find myself interested in searching out new and different things to preserve and then beyond excited to take their pictures and write about them.  My new normalcy is the feeling that I can't really plan anything, go anywhere too far away, and certainly not to wait around on ripening produce.  It's frustrating for me because I'm not a good idler, I prefer my old spirit of juggernauting forward, that always propelling forward motion that feels so good, especially in the summertime.

When I woke up early on July 4th (every day, I wake up at exactly 5:22, don't ask me why...), I found a message from a localish orchard; the currants I'd been looking forward to experimenting with for the past 2 years were finally ready, and the farmers had two ice cream pails already picked and waiting for me if I was still interested, and hadn't had my baby yet.  For a brief moment, I felt my old self return.  I hopped out of bed and immediately searched my sources to see about how many currants I'd need to do the few things I had in mind.

I'm not  used to depending on others to do what I'd like, especially when it comes to climbing behind the wheel of the car and taking off on a whim.  In our family, I'm the usually always the driver, in part because I just love the road (and in part because I'm a terrible passenger).  But this close to a delivery date, I'm not driving much - and not very far.  I was actually surprised that my Husband offered to drive us down to the little farm where the currants were, even more surprised that he tried different varieties of currants and gooseberries, and was interested in the workings and stories that the husband and wife team running Klee's Out on a Limb Acres had to offer.  It was a perfect afternoon, and even though the journey wasn't actually so far away, it was was just rural enough to satisfy the summertime longings for the country that always plague me - and it was even better that my boys were both appearing to be enjoying every minute as much as I was.

red currant jelly
Last year, our whole state was devastated by a strange and early spring promptly followed by a killing frost.  Sadly it left us without many cherries, apples, and other orchard fruits, and when you could find them, they were almost prohibitively expensive.  The entire season was decimated for small timers like Klee's - they had no crops for sale last year at all - and that was the year that I read about them and found that they grew old-timey things I was looking for like gooseberry, quince, and currants.

I have had currants on the brain for two years.  It's been more than that long since I first had a tipple made by friends Paul and Lori of the Burp! blog, and I was really smitten.  Their liqueur had been aged for quite some time by the time I tried it, and it was earthy, complex, and just plain lovely.  As I'd never even seen currants growing, and never picked or tasted one, I longed to find a source so that I could anticipate tiny cupfuls of that delicious liqueur of my own making - and experiment with other things as I usually do when I get too excited over a new best friend and overbuy considerably.

crème de cassis
I double checked with Lori to be sure the drink I had tasted so long ago was made with red currants and vodka, because as I recall it was dark in color and so deep and raisiny tasting I couldn't imagine the jewel red berries resting out so much.  I made the recipe exactly as they suggest, not adding or subtracting a single thing... and I plan to age it until at least Christmas before trying it.

I had just enough Mount Gay rum left in the bottle (given to me so I could make flourless chocolate rum cakes for a friend's birthday in January) to do a batch of Pam Corbin's Currant Shrub.  I was under the impression that shrubs were usually non-alcoholic, sweetened vinegar bases that were mixed with seltzer.  But, in her book The River Cottage Preserves Handbook, she details this one made with red currant juice and rum (or brandy).  Also taking several months to mature, I figured another thing to try around Christmastime would be welcome.

Pam Corbin "shrub".

Pam's shrub is so easy to make.  I knew I was already doing a batch of currant jelly and simply steamed enough extra currants to allow for the 1 1/4 cups for this recipe.  Given my state of pregnancy, I steamed the berries on July 4th, and made the jelly and liqueurs the next day.  For every pound of currants, I used Linda Ziedrich's advice and added 1/2 cup of water.  (I did 4 1/2 lbs of currants and 2 1/4 cups water, and had more than enough juice for this recipe and a batch of jelly.)

Pam Corbin's Currant Shrub
  •  1 1/4 c. red currant juice
  •  2 1/2 c. rum (or brandy)
  • finely grated zest of one orange
  • 1 t. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
Mix the currant juice with rum (or brandy), orange zest, and nutmeg.  (Currants are naturally high in pectin, and adding the juice to alcohol may cause it to form a gel, as it did for me.  Corbin says it will turn back to a more liquid state after the sugar is added.)  Let this mixture stand for 7-10 days well sealed and in a dark place.

Transfer the mixture to a pan, add sugar and heat gently just to dissolve sugar, about 140 degrees.  Strain the mixture through muslin or cheesecloth, decant into a sterilized jar (I saved the rum bottle), seal tightly, and let age for several months (again, in a cool, dark place) before enjoying.  Drink within 2 years.

The way the currant juice gelled with the alcohol and suspended the orange zest within the jar was absolutely mesmerizing.  As was the intoxicating (literally) scent of warm orange, nutmeg, rum, and currant.  It was hard to stash this one away in a dark place, I can tell you that.

red currant jam pot.

After I had my liqueurs underway and tucked away, I tackled the jelly - which is so simple.  Both Linda Ziedrich and Pam Corbin  had methods that used equal measures juice and sugar - so I used 4 cups juice and 4 cups raw sugar.  I thought maybe I'd like to add something "unique" to the jelly, but once the sugar dissolved and I tasted it, I couldn't bear to mar the clean flavor.  It is simple and delicious, and though I've pledged not to overmake in the preserves department this year, the 5 half pints of jelly are very welcome on my shelf!

quince & red currant on scones
Sugar preserved quince, and fresh currant jelly.

I couldn't be happier with this 4th of July, and even though my spirits were dampened a bit with the thoughts of an overdue baby, I have to say the currants broke me free of feeling a bit sorry for myself.  If you are local and looking for a nice little farm to pick your own currants, gooseberries, quince, elderberries and other old-fashioned orchard fruits, check out Klee's!  They have a webpage, and update a Facebook page (and are quick to return questions if you give them a call.  Give them a "like" to stay updated, and take a little drive.  Candy shared with me a little jar of quince, which was also a first taste for me.  If I'm feeling up to it, I plan to get some to play around with... just as soon as it ripens, and this baby comes!

Trial by Violet Jelly.


I didn't plan at all on making violet jelly, yet by the end of the day today I had a small batch, resting proud and purple, on the towel lined square of counter nearest to my stove top. An unusually warm March has given way to more seasonal cool this April, and we've finally gotten some rain as well, washing the tender violets and greening up my neighborhood with supernatural aplomb. Spring never ceases to amaze me, that the seeming dead of tree and flower suddenly, prolifically, burst out into full bloom - reminding me on an annual basis that I love living with four distinct seasons.

My kiddo has gotten his first two-wheeler bike, and ever since I told him that violets are edible and we can eat them, he stops his ride at every plot of them to peruse a perfect, edible specimen. This child will not eat one single morsel of lettuce leaf or other green, but purply violets? He not only eats them, but then sings the song he learned in school to remember the colors of the rainbow, emphasizing the word "violet" with proper gusto... The funniest thing is that he doesn't really like them, he is just excited to eat something that doesn't appear at first glance that it should be eaten. I even got him to eat a sliver of bitter dandelion green, of which he declared that he didn't really like it but was glad that he tried it!

violet eater.

While I know in my head that violets are edible, I have to admit I am an intrepid forager. Foraging is something I prefer to learn firsthand, where book knowledge is something I might read and remember, I don't think I would rely on without first comparing with visual human knowledge. I convinced myself that violets are probably impossible to mistake, and that also a little empty lot of land strewn with both them and ample dandelions is probably as close to pesticide free as I'll get in an urban local. I spent maybe 20 minutes kneeling in the grass, soaking up a little sun before swirling winds and rain clouds boisterously interrupted the afternoon. I picked mostly purple violets, a few lighter specimens for accents, easily and therapeutically after I discovered how to turn both hands into discriminating rakes. Then I walked home and soaked 2 packed cupfuls of them in 2 cups of boiling water.

violet water

I let them rest nearly 24 hours before straining them. The water was a deep indigo until I added a lemon and a half's worth of juice, which according to multiple accounts I read of violet-jelly-making I had expected to turn a shocking, brilliant purple. The only sugar I had on hand was raw cane sugar, which I usually substitute by weight measure for canning, and I knew the purple would be diluted by its darker amber color. It's still a pretty shade, but less surprising and more just plain "grape" colored than if I had used a pure white sugar.

violet jelly

I'm actually not much of a jelly maker. Last year, I made wonderful watermelon and grape jellies, but I am far less confident with jelly than I am with jam. I am also not so finicky that a little cloudiness bothers me, so frequently my jelly has a rustic feel that true jelly connoisseurs may scoff at. I also forget that liquid pectin is a far superior product to the powdered type, and I also forgot that I made some homemade apple pectin that I had stashed in the freezer last fall. Any future batches of violet jelly will be made with both white sugar and liquid pectin, since my first attempt was far from perfect.

But for using ingredients that were on hand and growing out in the neighborhood, this pretty, cloudy, slightly herbal jelly is pretty nice. I have likened it to the stone soup of the jelly world, because the violets were very mild in my case, the overall flavor of the jelly is very good, and it was nearly free to produce. It has deep, caramel undertones from the raw sugar, and bright lemon highlights. The texture, while imperfect, is almost pudding-like and I think it will find a happy home in a yellow layer cake (or at least my imaginings of one, since I have really been doing well not consuming lots of dessert...).

One other highlight of my day today was spending the morning with a new friend, Marisa, who I traded my gently used yogurt machine for some tofu coagulant and a new Greek yogurt culture. I let my old favorite, the viili culture, pass gently away to make new room for a thicker, Greek culture, and maybe as soon as lunchtime tomorrow I'll be able to spoon a bit of this new jelly into some fresh yogurt for a true test of its eatability.

violet jelly

It would have been nice if yesterday I had felt like sitting still long enough to paint egg whites over the remaining violets and dust them with sugar. I read a quick article by Linda Ziedrich which outlined the simplicity of it, but for some reason I couldn't gather the patience to sit with them for another hour. I couldn't help imagining a fat shortbread cookie with an appropriately sized indentation for violet jelly, topped with a sugared violet garnish. But that amount of detail is now alive only in my mind, maybe to make a Springtime appearance once upon a time in a bakeshop I may never own.

Instead, this morning I peered in the fridge at a plate full of bright purple, fully wilted blooms that I took out to the compost after contemplating their incredibly short life span. So pretty and small that I don't take the time to look at them as I should, but their tiny wealth of energy will add to the garden I suppose...

violet spoon

PostScript: If you wonder what recipe I used, it was this one (it was credited to being available all over the Internet), and instead of the white sugar, I used 766 g. of raw sugar. I also used lemon juice from 1 1/2 lemons, since the lemons I had on hand needed using and the first half I squeezed smelled so good I couldn't resist. My yield was 3 half pints, 1 quarter pint and one nearly full half pint that I considered run over so I could enjoy it immediately. If you too are a first time violet jelly maker this year, let me know what you think of the flavor, and if you have better luck (texturally speaking) with a liquid pectin set!

Fall Preserving: Grape Jellies and Other Tales of Grapeness

You may remember that this year I've been so inspired by Linda Ziedrich and her book The Joys of Jams, Jellies, and Other Sweet Preserves that I've made nearly all of my jams and jellies this year without commercial pectin. I love the textures of these preserves so much more than their boxed pectin counterparts, and because they usually have less sugar, the flavor of the fruit really seems to shine through in an exotic way.

I have loved her book so much, that all season I felt like I first procured the fruit, and then turned to the section discussing the fruit to decide what to do with it. When I got a half bushel of Concord grapes from my Parents, I had already earmarked enough grapes for one batch of boxed pectin-free jelly, an amount for drinking vinegar, and some for grape molasses.

I have never really heard of grape molasses, never have I tasted it or do I have any idea what the finished texture should be like. In fact, my finished product is still in a bowl in my fridge (about a week now), since I am still unsure what to do with it. It's riddled with tartaric acid crystals, but it is also thickened, almost "pulpy", and painfully grapey. There is no added sugar, so the grapeness of the grapes is just really intensified and luxurious. Just lifting the lid makes the air feel purple.

I may take it out later today and boil it down a little more, I may can some of it into small jars for gifts - or I may just keep it all in the fridge and commit to eating it over the next 6 months myself. Yesterday, I cooked down a grocery bag full of Cortland apples and turned them into sauce, I'm waiting until tomorrow to can it all. If I can find a definitive authority on the acidity of the Concord grape, I may add some to my pints of applesauce. The idea of purple applesauce is very exciting to me!

an old French food mill that my Mom gave me: how I derived my grape must for the grape molasses, since I have no fruit press.

With several fruits I've worked with this Summer, I've made a drinking vinegar that I have been in love with. So far the cherry vinegar is my favorite, but I have a feeling this grape vinegar will take a close second after I strain and sweeten it. I have used the same method for each fruit or berry, one outlined in the River Cottage Preserves Handbook. I don't cook down it into a more syrupy vinegar, instead I barely heat it - just enough to fully dissolve the sugar. Since I use raw apple cider vinegar, I am able to keep it raw this way. It's great on salad, but I have to admit, I really have just been drinking it 2 tablespoons at a time in sparkling water. (The elderberry version, I save for when I feel a cold coming on. I'm convinced that it shortens the duration of a cold or prevents it from fully forming altogether. When I took it 2 times a day after my first cold of the season was underway, my cold was gone completely after 2 days. I'm not making it up... and I hope it wasn't a fluke!)

To make it, soak 2 1/4 lbs. of fruit or berry in 2 1/2 c. of raw cider vinegar for 5-7 days. Strain out the fruit (I press it to get all the juices). For every cup of vinegar, add 1 c. of sugar and heat just enough to dissolve the sugar. Yes, it is sweet, but you don't need much to flavor a drink or a vegetable, and you can comfort yourself with the idea of consuming raw, healthful vinegar.

With the molasses and vinegars done, I turned to the natural pectin of green apple to make a spectacular small batch of grape jelly. The flavor is so clean and it's so gently sweet that I can't help but be smitten. I have a precious 3 jar batch, plus just a tad shy of a 4th full jar of runover. The set can only be described as lovely and old fashioned. I'll have to grab more grapes next year, since I prefer this tenfold over conventional high-sugar box-pectin grape jelly.

natural pectin grape jelly.

With just a few pounds of grapes remaining, I made this grape focaccia from Mostly Foodstuffs. I had been looking forward to it, and I wasn't disappointed. It's better than any focaccia I've ever eaten; I was addicted to the sweet/salty/grapey combination, and how it all pulled together so well because of the rosemary. It was also the fastest yeast dough I've ever made. It may require your lazy attention for the first 30-40 minutes of it's life, but it is so self-sufficient it practically makes itself. If you can get your hands on a cup of Concords, make it while you can!

The combination of rosemary and Concord grape was such a revelation to me that I immediately soaked the last of the grape concentrate I had already made in the fridge with 3-4 large sprigs of rosemary needles. I let it sit another 24 hours before making it into a conventional, high sugar jelly. I wasn't sure I'd like it as well after having such a spectacular luck with the boxed pectin-free jelly, but I did. It was very sweet and the texture was different, but it did taste like rosemary in that resinous, "what is that flavor" kind of way. I got 8 jars, too... perfect for gift giving (with some aged Wisconsin cheddar, I think).

Concord Grape and Rosemary Jelly (adapted from the Certo liquid pectin insert)
7 half pints, plus runover
  • 4 c. Concord grape concentrate (made from 3-4 lbs grapes, steamed and strained through a jelly bag)
  • 3-4 large sprigs of rosemary, needles removed
  • 1 pouch liquid pectin
  • 7 c. granulated sugar (1341 g.)
Stir rosemary needles into the grape concentrate, and let sit for 24 hours to infuse. Strain out the needles.

Sterilize jars (I used 8 half pints). I like using the oven for sterilization now - I put the clean jars on a baking sheet and slip it into the cold oven. Heat the oven to 250 and hold for at least a half an hour. Then, I grab the jars a couple at a time as I'm filling with a potholder.

Put the grape concentrate and sugar into a preserving pot. Heat and stir over medium high heat until the mixture comes to a rolling boil. Add pectin, and return to a boil for exactly one minute. (Refer to insert instructions.) Quickly ladle into sterilized jars, add lids and rings, and process in a hot water bath for 5 minutes. Remove to a resting towel, and do not disturb for at least 24 hours.

Interspersed with all the grapeness, I also managed to work my way through a bushel of tomatoes last week. I didn't need to worry about quarts of whole tomatoes or pints of spaghetti sauce, since my Mom did both of those for me. I felt like I had those tomatoes to really do whatever I wanted with, and since they were canner's seconds, I was just a little at the mercy of the big, watery, tomatoes. I settled on well-cooked-down things like another batch of my favorite Tomato Jam, a 3/4 batch of Classic Tomato Ketchup (a first for me, and I loved it!), and I made the last 8 lbs. or so into a mildly spicy vegetable "Bloody Mary Mix" which worked well with the consistency of my tomato variety. It seemed like a busy preserving week, but I was happy with everything, and my shelves feel considerably more full.

What continues to stand out to me is that Concord Grape and Rosemary Jelly, and I think in the depths of Winter I can probably make a plain focaccia bread and slather it with the jelly to reminisce the flavor of this Fall's flavor epiphany.

Everything's Rosy.

About a year ago I read somewhere about a woman who said that she likes to wake up at least a half hour before her household. Thirty minutes hardly seems like enough time to accomplish anything, but recently I have successfully implemented this myself - even if it requires me to be ripped from my sleep and dreams, and even if it makes me feel blurry eyed for several minutes before actually getting out of bed.

For the past 5 years, I have not really set an alarm. We got up when we woke up, I got up actually when the Kiddo woke up since I am rather night-owlish. But getting up at the crack of dawn isn't really so bad. This morning, I had already thrown in the first load of laundry and prepped some beets to roast before my son was even poked gently awake. My entire morning seemed rather pink after dropping him off at school. I walked in the door, (washed my hands), and took the roasted beets out of the oven. It's our last hot day, and I had the oven on early so I could welcome Fall tomorrow with beety fresh baked goods.

When they were cooling, I ran the Watermelon Jellies down to the basement shelves. I made two batches over the weekend using Marisa's recipe, one plain and one with fresh cayenne peppers. I have never made watermelon jelly before, but I have to say that it has grown on me. Especially the cayenne version. I am most excited to make some crackers, get some good sheep's milk feta, and enjoy this warming sweet melon flavored jelly to it's full capacity. I tried the skimmed off foam on frozen scones, and was appropriately amazed. Watermelon Jelly is completely worthwhile and deserves a place on the jam shelf, and don't let anyone try and convince you otherwise!

I also strained out the elderberry vinegar. It had been sitting for several days (I've lost count), but tasted well rounded and earthy so I figured it was time. Using the workhorse nut milk bag, I let it hang for about a half hour before squeezing the pulp nearly dry. My hands briefly stained light purple, I measured the finished vinegar at 4 cups. Using the same method as the Cherry Vinegar (which was adapted from Pam Corbin's Raspberry Vinegar), I added 1 c. of sugar for each cup of vinegar and warmed it just enough to completely dissolve the sugar so that my cider vinegar remained raw. It is lovely. I have the jars bottled, labeled, and transferred to the basement shelves. I just drank a couple of tablespoons over ice, diluted with seltzer water, and it is fantastic. But since elderberry seems to be more in the medicinal family than the gustatory one, I'll be sure to curb my consumption. However, drinking 2 T. a day throughout cold and flu season seems like it could be very easy to do.

I peeled the beets, and pureed a couple of them. When looking up the link for the Ground Cherry Hot Sauce I made last week, I ran into a beet doughnut recipe that Sarah Nett posted. They were baked doughnuts, and I have not made dessert over here in what seems like forever (in reality, it has only been a week or two). In the back of my mind I thought perhaps I could make these camouflaged enough that my boys would both eat and love them, but after trying them, I'm not completely certain they would be fooled.

I love the flavor and color, but the texture needs some work. Had I baked them in a doughnut pan (I don't have one), I think they may have worked better actually, since the texture did remind me of doughnuts. Making them as muffins instead left the bottoms slightly gummy - and I suspect I should have added a bit more flour or leavener.

If you are a baker, will you take a look at my recipe in progress and give me a couple of suggestions? I have a feeling these could be fantastic with a tweak or two...

WORK IN PROGRESS Beet Muffins (adapted from My Culinary Sanctuary)
  • 1 c. AP flour
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/2 c. pureed beets
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. yogurt
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 T. vegetable oil (I eyeballed)
Preheat oven to 350. Line a muffin tin with papers, or grease them well.

Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

In a medium sized bowl, beat eggs with brown sugar for several minutes, until the sugar is partially dissolved. Mix in yogurt, vanilla and oil, and beat well.

Scrape the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mix well by hand, but do not overmix. Portion into the waiting muffin tin.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until a tester comes out clean.

slightly gummy.

I am not about to give up on these beet muffins. On looks alone, they have captured my Autumn-ready heart. I glazed them using a quick doughnut glaze that I remembered loving from the Daring Baker Donut Challenge a while back. I eyeballed small amounts into a little bowl and stirred it with a spoon. After dunking the photographic one, I just spooned a little over each. (I am frustrated with my favorite muffin papers. They used to be amazing and non-stick and now the only thing they have going for them is that they are compostable...)

So I feel productive and maybe a little less lonely on this second Monday of the school year. I'm saving my yard work for tomorrow when our weather will quickly turn to more Fall-like temperatures. My morning went fast, which I know is how these school years will go.

Please remember if you have an idea for these muffins to let me know. Could it be that they need a stick of butter? When I'm so tired tonight from getting up so early, I'm sure I'll be wide awake thinking about how to fix them.

Magic Monday, October 26th 2009 (or in which I make Magic Chile Soup and POM Jelly)

I was really only gone since last Wednesday, but it feels like in the meantime, a whole season has passed. By the time I returned, the tree in front of my house, (perennially the last to turn) was half golden, and many other trees had shed their leaves completely. On my journey around the state, I got to see snow in the Northwoods (one of my most favorite things) and varying stages of color throughout Central Wisconsin.

This time of year is always amazing to me, as things start to wind down, I almost automatically start to calculate the weeks until planting season will begin again. Somehow, every winter I become a Master Gardener in my mind, and have oh so lofty plans for spring. This winter will be no different, I suppose. I have plans to turn the shady garden into a shade perennial garden and then somehow build some raised beds for the sunny center of my back (south-facing) yard. We'll see, I guess. Half the fun is in the daydreaming.

When we returned Sunday afternoon, I figured since I'm a newly crowned "bean freak" I would have to make something beany on Monday, since there was no made food in the house due to my absence. I soaked some red beans (like how very technical I am for being said bean freak?) that my Mom gave me overnight. I started them at 8 am this morning per the Steve Sando book method: I sauteed some veg, added my beans and their soaking water, brought them to a boil and boiled 5 minutes, then reduced the heat to very low, and simmered for 5,6, then 7 hours. Still no soft beans. Beautiful beans, yes, but not edible.

Now, I have really been reading up about this beanery stuff, and it seems to me that the least preferred method is to pressure cook. But when I was up North, my Mom and Uncle pressure cooked a pot of pintos and I have to say that they were really the most delicious pintos I ever ate. I tasted them before they lovingly became frijoles refritos, and they were creamy and delicious. After they were mashed up, they were just short of divinity.

When I woke up this morning, it was overcast and rainy. A nice day for a bean pot on the stove...

The dried beans, then after cooking for about 7 hours...

I figured since I had just eaten some successful pressure cooked beans, I'd try pressure cooking my 7 hour cooked beans. I used my mysterious Magic Seal pot, that I have no idea where I acquired, and pressured them for 30 minutes. I released the seal, (after safely reducing the pressure by running the pot under cold water) and I had beautiful, creamy delicious beans! And with, my favorite new term, wonderful "pot liquor". By this time, there was really no way to turn them into dinner tonight, but they will be dinner tomorrow (and probably lunch too). I added a quart bag of frozen pork that I made with guajillo chile, some salt, Mexican oregano, cumin, powedered jalepeno and chile powder, and was pretty happy with myself.

Magic Seal. A Quality Saucepan.

Coincidentally, I took out a pint of leftover canned tomatoes that I had popped into the freezer before I left - and the jar happened to be Magic as well. Nice. My Husband likes more brothy soups, and tends to leave all the veg and bits (aka "the good stuff") behind, so I needed more liquid/nutrition anyway. I think I'll call this the Magic Chile Soup.

end part 1.


begin part 2.

I was feeling pretty bad about not making something with this POM pomegranate juice that I received from the nice people at POM... but I just have been so busy. That and I couldn't decide what to make. I Googled to get some ideas, and it seems like a lot of other food bloggers had similar ideas to mine. Now, I am not really a thorough Googler, since I don't really spend that much time on the computer. When I Google, I usually look at just the first 3 or 4 pages of the search. In this search, I didn't find anyone who had tried making jelly, so I figured I'd give it a go.

My first order of business last night was to start bread dough, and make a batch of yogurt. I think the POM Jelly is going to be great mixed into the plain yogurt. I actually love the bitterness of straight pomegranate juice, but I know it's not for everyone. In fact, in most posts I perused, people actually detest it plain. They were hiding it in all sorts of things. If I was going to hide it, I'd probably do it in a chocolate cake, but only since it would add to the antioxidant properties. Dark cocoa powder and pomegranate in one cake? Why, it would be practically saintly! If you are curious what you can do with POM juice, there are a lot of great recipes on the POM site.

I followed the Sure-Jell for reduced sugar package instructions for Grape Jelly, and used POM instead... so it was 5 1/2 c. of juice and 3 1/2 c. of sugar (plus the pectin). I'm figuring, if I use this to sweeten my plain yogurt, it will still be pretty healthy, not to mention a cheerful shade of pink. This particular pectin will allow you to use sucralose (Splenda) instead of sugar, but I would never recommend using that stuff unless you had an unfortunate dietary restriction to the natural stuff. Even then, I'd probably just do without, and drink the delicious POM plain!

Ready for breakfast tomorrow...

I had a little jelly jar leftover, and got 2 8 oz. jars and 3 12 oz. jars. It was the most marvelous ruby color in the light. I fear these dark, shorter days are going to do nothing for my photographing hobby, however.

After the jelly sets, and I eat it, I will photograph it in the light. I am also considering my first blog giveaway of a jar of POM Jelly... but I am going to do a little research on this kind of thing first. Keep checking back for updates!

So, on top of this day spent in the kitchen, it is the 26th. So that means Daring Baker Challenge day tomorrow! Did I leave this until the last minute? Did I find success in yet another challenge of my baking prowess? Tune in tomorrow, same time, same place...