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Monday Morning Coffee Break

Coffee Break

 

Good morning my loves!  How is everyone today?  Anyone get Veteran’s Day off?  Shawn did, and I am positively green with envy that he gets to enjoy an extra day.  Oh well, onwards and upwards!

 

In random history news, some recent findings have been revealed in regards to King Tut’s mummy.  Did you know it spontaneously combusted at one point?  Crazy.

Looking to improve your vocabulary?  Try some of these Victorian slang terms, and delight in the confusion on your friends’ faces.

These realistically colorized versions of historic photographs are simply breathtaking.

Buzzfeed this past week delighted us with 21 of the best things to ever happen in a restaurant.  

It’s persimmon season!  Try out some of these delicious seasonal recipes.

As you get ready to start planning your Thanksgiving meals, check out these simple party hacks.  You will wow everyone with your hosting skills.

And finally, Michelle at Brown Eyed Baker has created a recipe for homemade vanilla extract.  Must try.

 

Also, stay tuned later in the week for a special Humble Gourmet announcement!  Have a great week!

Spiced Plum Preserves

 

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Now that my energy is starting to come back, I find myself in the kitchen more and more. Baking and cooking, developing new recipes, tweaking and perfecting old ones, trying new techniques and experimenting. I have been so … dormant for the past 4 months, I’m having to rediscover my footing. Aside from weeknight dinners, I hadn’t been cooking at all. I didn’t have the strength to stand in front of the stove, carefully watching a roux, or rolling out and shaping a pie crust, or whisking cream to a perfect peak. Anything that took more than 15 minutes start to finish was more than I could handle. But, with time, I’ve been spending more and more time back in the kitchen. A little here, a little there. I feel like I’m finding my stride again.

And in perfect time too. Our many fruit trees have entered their harvest, and we have more lemons and plums and apples than we know what to do with. Last weekend, Shawn came in from the backyard with about 50 red plums. Sweet and fragrant and perfectly ripe. We gave a few away to friends, ate a few for dessert, and found ourselves with dozens more and no idea of what to do with them. I decided that that was the perfect time to get started on preserves.

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I chose preserves instead of a jam or jelly because I didn’t want to mess pectin. A simple recipe that I could put together in an afternoon. I had bought a set of Ball jars about a month ago, so it was just a matter or prepping them for canning.

This is a great recipe for anyone new to preserves and canning. Deceptively simple. Fresh, ripe plums transform into a sweet, syrupy spread. Cinnamon and allspice add a little spicy zip on the finish. Brown sugar creates more of depth than just white sugar. Summer fruit with an autumn spice.

What have you been doing with your seasonal fruit this summer? THG

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Spiced Plum Preserves
3 lbs. fresh red plums
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
zest and juice of 1 small lemon
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp. whole allspice

Prep and sterilize 4 500ml canning jars according to directions.

Remove stone and slice plums into 1/2 inch thick slices. Place in a large sauce pot. Add sugar, brown sugar, lemon zest and juice and mix well. Place cinnamon stick and allspice in a large piece of cheesecloth and tie the ends, creating a bundle. Add to the plum mixture.
On medium-high heat, bring plum mixture to a rolling boil. Boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer pot until mixture reaches 220-230F and passes setting point test (to test setting point, place a small amount of cooked liquid on a plate and put in freezer for about 3 minutes. If the mixture doesn’t run when removed from freezer, it’s ready. If it still runs, continue to cook for another 5 minutes and test again). When mixture is ready, remove spice bag and spoon into prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch space between the preserves and the top of the jar. Wipe down the neck and screw on the lid, finger-tight. Submerge in boiling water 15 minutes to process. Let cool to room temperature. Store in a cool, dry space. After opening preserve, store in the refrigerator.

Makes approximately 2 liters of preserves.

Blood Orange Marmalade & The Best Granola Ever

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So, what are your thoughts on breakfast? I’m actually not a huge fan; I tend to get really nauseous if I eat too much in the morning, so I have to keep the food light. Shawn, on the other hand, is a huge fan of breakfast. So, this post and the recipes are for him.

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This has been one of my first forays into preserves. A few years ago, I made a batch of ginger-pear preserves that were delicious. Unfortunately, I did not can them correctly and they went bad pretty quickly

:-(

After doing some good marmalade researching, I developed a pretty simple and tasty recipe: blood oranges, rosemary and ginger. A little heat, a little herb, a lotta citrus. It’s sort of tangy-sweet, with the ginger and rosemary coming in at the very end. Shawn has been using it on toast this week, but I’m planning on heating some up and pouring it over vanilla panna cotta soon. Yum, yum, yum.

If you too are new to preserves, marmalade is a great way to start. Simple and easy recipe; there’s no pectin in marmalade since the citrus creates enough of it on its own, so just cooking it down sufficiently will result in a thick, jelly-like spread.

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Now THIS, this granola, is not a new recipe. I’ve been making this for a couple of years; it’s the best. A balance of sweet and salty, a nice mix of oats and seeds; pepitas and almonds for crunch, flax seed and coconut for taste. It makes a nice big batch, but it keeps well in an airtight container. A little almond milk, some blueberries; you have yourself a nice, light breakfast. Shawn likes to just grab a handful to snack on throughout the day. It’s pretty hard to stop eating this granola.

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This has been a week of stress and anxiety. My dad (my beloved Papa) has been in the hospital having surgery for diverticulitis. It’s been a stressful and emotional few months leading up to this week, but he’s on the other side of the surgery now and recovering. He’s had to strictly modify his diet to avoid pain and inflammation. I’m hoping that once his recovery is done, he can go back to eating those foods he loves without discomfort. I plan on making some of his favorites once he gets the go ahead from the doctors. Mainly, I just want him home and healthy. My immediate family is pretty healthy, this is really the first major health issue any of us have dealt with, so it has definitely taken its toll on all of us. I just do better when the people I love are living their lives with no issues. Is that too much to ask for? I hope not.

In the meantime, just breathe deep and eat comfort foods. Like granola. And marmalade. And maybe a little (lot) of chocolate. THG

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Blood Orange Rosemary Ginger Marmalade
4 large blood oranges
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2 stalks fresh rosemary
4 cups cold water
1/2 cup sugar

Peel the oranges, being careful to keep the white pith on the orange. Cut into 1/4 inch slivers. Remove the white pith from the oranges and slice the fruit, widthwise, into 1/4 inch slices.
Add the orange slices, peel, ginger and rosemary to a medium saucepan. Pour cold water over fruit, cover pot and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Heat pot over medium high to a rolling boil and boil for 5 minutes. Strain liquid and remove rosemary, ginger, and any skin from the oranges (leave the pulp and peel). Return liquid, pulp and peel to the stove and boil. Reduce heat to medium and add sugar. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until liquid has reduced by half and thickens, about 15-20 minutes.
Can marmalade according to instructions on canning set.

Makes approximately 2 cups

The Best Granola Ever
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup sliced raw almonds
1 cup pepitas
3/4 cup unsweetened shaved coconut
1/2 cup flax seed
1/3 cup molasses
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground ginger

Preheat oven to 350.
In a large bowl, mix oats, almonds, pepitas, coconut and flax seed. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat molasses, honey, brown sugar and vegetable oil over medium high heat to a boil. Whisk in cinnamon, sea salt, cardamom, nutmeg and ginger. Pour half the spice mixture over the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Add the remainder and mix well. Spread mixture over a large cookie sheet and smooth out even. Bake in the center of the oven until golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool, then break up into bite sized pieces. Store in an airtight container.

Makes approximately 6 cups