canning and preserving Archive

A Handmade Holiday, Volume 1: Edible Gifts and Spiced Eggnog with Rum

“Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming from tender stem hath sprung! Of Jesse’s lineage coming, as men of old have sung. It came, a flower bright, amid the cold of winter, when half spent was the night…

This Flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air, Dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere; True man, yet very God, from sin and death He saves us, and lightens every load.”
- Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming (My favorite Christmas Carol)

I absolutely love the Christmas season, there’s no getting around it.

I love the baking, the decorations, the gifting, the crafting, the music, the family, the traditions, and the nostalgia of it all.

If only it were as simple as that. But there’s the ugly side of Christmas: The shopping malls, the parking lots, the Black Friday lines. The anxiety, stress, and despair. The wish lists, greed, credit card debt, and consumerism. The poor, the broken, the forgotten, the needy.

It’s all so unsettling.

But three years ago, I watched one short video (from the wonderful folks at The Advent Conspiracy) and it changed the way I do Christmas. The message was so simple and clear: Love All, Spend Less, Give More.

Those six little words pack quite the punch. They’ve given me a new outlook, they’ve given me hope. Christmas is different, in the best way.

And that about sums it up, honestly.

I think I’ll keep it short and sweet, but if you’d like to read more about my thoughts on having a thoughtful and relational Christmas, I encourage you to read my ‘Handmade Holiday’ post from last year.

Below is a list of a few of my favorite ideas for handmade gifts, as well as a recipe for my new favorite winter beverage: Spiced Eggnog with Rum. Also, as a head’s up, I decided to split ‘A Handmade Holiday’ into two posts: Volume 1 is Edible and Foodie Gifts, and Volume 2 (which I will post in the next day or two) is Crafts and (Non-Food) Projects.

I hope that these links and ideas inspire you to give fun and thoughtful gifts. I’m including a recipe for eggnog, which I plan on making for family and friends on Christmas day (and I may give a few mason jars of eggnog away as gifts as well!).

All that to say, Merry Christmas!


(Scroll down to see my list of handmade edible gift ideas!)

Spiced Eggnog with Rum
(Adapted from Season with Spice)
Makes 4 small servings

4 egg yolks
1/3 cup evaporated cane sugar (or white sugar)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups whole milk
1/2 a vanilla bean
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
Rum, to taste (the amount of booze really depends upon your preference!)

1. In a small pot, heat milk on medium-low. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean and stir into the milk. Stir occasionally, until small bubbles appear along the edges (about 5 minutes). Remove the pot from heat and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Slowly pour half of the heated milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly (to prevent cooking/curdling). Pour the milk & egg mixture back into the pot and stir to combine.
3. Return the pot to the stove and cook the mixture over low heat. Stir constantly, and be careful not to overcook the mixture. Let it cook over low heat until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Layer the bottom of a large bowl with ice cubes, and set a small metal bowl inside (atop the ice cubes). Pour mixture through a strainer into the small, metal bowl (this will clarify the mixture and remove any odd egg bits). Once cooled (15 minutes or so), transfer the mixture into a sealed container, and store it in the refrigerator.
5. When you’re ready to serve the egg nog, prepare the whipping cream. Remove chilled cream from the fridge and pour into a bowl. Add a couple of teaspoons of sugar to the whipped cream, and using a stand or hand mixer, beat the cream until it reaches desired consistency (thick, with soft peaks).
6. Gently fold half of the whipped cream into the egg nog. Pour equal amounts of egg nog into 4 glasses, and pour rum (to taste) into each glass. Stir, and top with a dollop of whipped cream and some freshly grated nutmeg.
Note: The eggnog mixture will keep in the fridge for a few days. However, I would wait to add the whipped cream and rum until you’re ready to serve it.



*Chipotle Lime Salt
*DIY Cocktail Bitters
*Ginger Carrot Curd
*Homemade Creme de Menthe
*Grapefruit Cranberry Marmelade
*Banana Bread and Honey Butter Gift Basket
*Bourbon Cranberry Sauce
*Crema di Limoncello
*Homemade Vanilla Extract
*Savory Onion Jam
*Candied Clementines
*Rosemary Crackers with Olive Oil and Garlic
*Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur
*Honey Chipotle BBQ Sauce
*Homemade Sriracha Hot Sauce (heck yes!)
*Chai Tea Mix
*Hot Chocolate on a Stick
*Pumpkin Butter
*Balsamic Fig Thyme Jam
*Brandied Cherries
*Hazelnut-Lavender-Coconut Granola
*Maple Cinnamon Granola
*Spice Blend: Herbs De Provence
*DIY Mustard (6 different kinds!)
*Homemade Grenadine Syrup
*Vanilla Sea Salt
*Homemade Curry Powder
*Slow Cooker Apple Butter

Please let me know if you have other edible gift ideas, and I’ll be sure to include them on my list.

Thanks, and happy holidays!

Black Pepper Biscuit Sandwiches with Spicy Tomato Jam

There are three things I want you to know about this recipe. (Maybe four.)

1. I made tomato jam for the express purpose of slathering it on a biscuit sandwich.
A few months ago I had brunch with my friend Kelly at a little spot in Portland called Bakery Bar. I don’t recall all of the specifics of the biscuit sandwich we ate, but I do remember that it was ridiculously tasty. I do know that there was tomato jam on the biscuit sandwich and it was magical. I’ve been wanting to recreate it ever since. So that’s exactly what I did.

2. I went on a canning frenzy in the past couple of weeks. Summer is ending, and thus I’ve felt the urge to preserve and can. It’s my way of making the season last. (If you’re curious, I canned tomato sauce, tomato jam, bourbon peach butter, bourbon pickled peaches, and my “famous” 24 hour dill pickles.)

3. I adapted this black pepper biscuit recipe from Bobby Flay, which makes me feel like an ass. I’m not one to call names, but I loathe Bobby Flay. I don’t like his restaurants and I don’t like his “southwest” brand of cooking, and I certainly can’t stand that he tries to put jalapeno peppers in everything. I’m just not a fan of him. However, his recipe for black pepper biscuits happens to be great. I may not like the guy, but I’ll give credit where credit is due.

4. Biscuit sandwiches are practically impossible to photograph. I’m a big fan of runny yolks, and I am totally unwilling to cook my eggs “over hard” just for the sake of a pretty photo. So, I attempted to photograph this biscuit sandwich and it quickly dissolved into a yolky mess. A delicious, wonderful, yolky mess. So I snapped one photo (which turned out okay) and then gave up on trying to take photos and ate the sandwich instead.

In any case, the following is a recipe for black pepper biscuits, tomato jam, and brief instructions on how to assemble these tasty breakfast sandwiches. Enjoy!

(Slightly adapted from Bobby Flay)
Makes 8 biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, plus a little more for the tops of the biscuits

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, pepper, and salt. Pulse a couple of times to ensure the ingredients are combined. Sprinkle the butter pieces over the flour mixture, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Slowly pour in the buttermilk and pulse until the dough just barely comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Pat the dough into a circle, until it is 3/4 of an inch thick. Using a 3″ biscuit cutter (or juice glass!), cut out the biscuits and place them on a lined baking sheet. Combine the remaining scraps of biscuit dough into a 3/4 thickness and repeat the process until all the dough is used. Brush the tops of the raw biscuits with cream, and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden brown and fluffy. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Heirloom Tomato Jam from Rosemarried

(Adapted from Sassy Radish)
Makes 4+ pints

5 pounds heirloom tomatoes*, roughly chopped
2 small yellow onions, diced
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
1 green apple, finely diced
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

*Note: I used a mix of heirloom tomatoes from my garden (including cherry tomatoes). Really, any tomato will do!

Place all ingredients in a large pot or Dutch oven and stir to combine. Over medium heart, bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and allow mixture to simmer, uncovered, for 2-3 hours, or until the jam is dark and thick. Stir occasionally.

Transfer jam to clean, sterilized jars. If canning, boil jars in a hot-water bath for 20 minutes. If storing in the refrigerator, the jam will keep for 2 weeks (or more).


2 black pepper biscuits
Sharp cheddar cheese
Tomato jam
4 slices of bacon
2 eggs

Cook the eggs and bacon to your liking. I prefer a sunny side up egg and crispy (almost burnt!) bacon. But, really, this is your biscuit sandwich and you get to make it the way you want.

Split the biscuits in half, and slather a good amount of tomato jam on one half of the biscuit. On the other half, place a hearty slice of sharp cheddar cheese. If you want your cheese extra melty, place under the broiler for a few minutes.

Place a fried egg atop each biscuit, and adorn with bacon slices. Add a bit more tomato jam if you desire. Serve immediately and enjoy immensely!

Bourbon Pickled Peaches

Today is my husband’s birthday and we’ve had a a magical day.

We slept in late and then went to lunch at Little Bird. We ate fresh oysters and drank martinis. We sat outside at Stumptown Coffee on Belmont and read books while sipping on americanos. We wandered about vintage stores and searched for trinkets and treasures (and wished we could afford to buy up all the beautiful vintage Pendleton blankets).

It’s been a great day! Happy birthday, Nicholas. I love you.

There’s no good way to transition from “happy birthday husband” to “boozy pickle recipe”, so I’m just going to jump right into it. Forgive me for my awkward transition.

Here’s the thing: I love peaches. And I love bourbon. With their powers combined, peaches and bourbon are unstoppable.

(Confession: I made not one – but two – bourbon & peach recipes this week.)

These “pickles” are tangy and spicy, boozy and complex. They taste nothing like any other pickle I’ve ever had (and I mean that in a good way). I made these pickles a few days ago, and ever since then I’ve been dreaming up all the things I can DO with bourbon pickled peaches. Obviously, I’ll eat a lot of them straight out of the jar. I’ll toss some of them in salads or mix them into a vinaigrette. I’ll include them on antipasti platters and charcuterie boards.

Really, though, I just want to eat a turkey sandwich with these bourbon peach pickles. I think that a turkey sandwich with these pickled peaches might be the best sandwich I can possibly imagine.

And with that, I’m off to make dinner. I think I just talked myself into making turkey sandwiches.

(Adapted from Gilt Taste)
Makes 3-4 pint jars

4-5 ripe (but firm) peaches
Zest of 1 orange, cut into wide strips, plus the juice of that orange
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar*
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher or salt
1/4 teaspoon whole allspice berries
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
8 whole cloves
A big pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 vanilla bean, cut into 4 equal pieces
1/2 cup bourbon (or more!)

*Note: I ran out of apple cider vinegar, hence why I used white vinegar. However, I do think that this recipe would be great with all apple cider vinegar.

Equipment needed: 4 pint jars, with lids and bands. A large

Prep your jars: Wash all your jars and lids with warm soapy water. Rinse and then boil the jars and lids in a large pot for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn off the heat but leave the jars in the water until you need them.

Peel your peaches: You may blanch the peaches in boiling water to remove the skins, but I prefer peeling them with a paring knife or peeler. I happen to think it’s faster and more enjoyable. In any case, remove the peach peels and cut the peaches into thin wedges. Pack the peach slices into the jars. Tuck in the strips of orange zest.

Make your brine: Bring the orange juice, bourbon, vinegar, sugar, salt, allspice, cloves, and red chili flakes to a boil in a small saucepan. Open the vanilla bean pieces and scrape the seeds. Remove the liquid from the heat, add the vanilla seeds, and drop in the pod pieces. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool for 10 minutes or more. (Note: I cut the mixture with a bit of water as I thought the brine was rather strong. I also added a bit more bourbon. This is a matter of personal preference, just taste and adjust to your liking!)

Pickle those peaches: Once the liquid has cooled slightly, ladle the liquid over the peaches, evenly dividing the spices and vanilla bean pieces between the jars. Allow the liquid to settle into the jars and adjust liquid levels if necessary. Make sure to cover all peaches completely with liquid. Cover the jars with the lids and close the screw bands fingertip-tight.

Storing your pickles: Allow jars to cool on a towel on the counter. Once they have cooled to room temperature, store all jars in the fridge. (The original recipe said to wait 7 days before serving these pickles, but I started eating them one day after I made them. The flavors do get stronger over time, but I thought they tasted great after one day). These should keep for 3 months (or more) in the fridge.

Raspberry Jalapeño Jam

I thought I’d share this jam recipe with you all, before I trek across the country. (It’s too good not to share!)

It’s been a busy and crazy week, as I’ve been prepping and packing for my cross country road trip. When life gets stressful, I like to cook.

Specifically, I like to can. There’s just something so great about making a big batch of jam, knowing that I’m going to enjoy the fruits of my labor all year long. It’s hard work, but I love it.

In any case, I’ve gotta keep this short and sweet as I’ve got a lot to do! I’ll see you all next week, when I return from my trip. Happy Trails!

Note: I know we’re at the very tail end of raspberry season, so this recipe might not be the most seasonally appropriate. I happened to freeze a lot of raspberries earlier in the season, and I’d been meaning to turn them into jam all summer long. Better late than never, I always say. (Plus, I really needed the freezer space!)

Raspberry Jalapeño Jam
(Adapted from Food & Family)
Makes 8-10 (6 oz.) jars of jam

Note: This jam isn’t overly spicy. It tastes like a classic raspberry jam, with a punch of heat at the end.

8 cups frozen or fresh raspberries
3 jalapeno peppers
4 cups sugar
The juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons pectin (I use Pomona’s Universal Pectin as it’s great for low-sugar recipes such as this.)


Fill a large stockpot or canning pot with water, and bring to a boil. (Fill it just enough to cover your jam jars, about 1/2 to 3/4 full.) Wash and rinse your jars, lids, and rings and then place in the pot of boiling batter. Turn heat off, cover and let stand in water until ready to use.

Mince the jalapenos. Depending on how spicy you want the jam, you can choose to remove or include the seeds (the more seeds, the spicier the jam).

Place the berries in a large pot, and gently mash them with the back of a spoon. Pour in the sugar, lemon juice, and jalapenos and bring to a full rolling boil over high heat. Stir continuously. Once the fruit comes to a boil, pour in the pectin and continue stirring over high heat for 4 minutes.

Remove mixture from the heat, and skim off any foam. Remove your jars from the hot water bath and place on a clean dish towel (be sure to drain any water from inside the jars). Ladle jam into jars, leaving 1/8 inch headspace. Make sure jar lids are dry. Place the lids on each jar, and screw jar rings onto each jar.

Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Remove jars and place upright on a towel. Allow to cool completely. When cool, check seals by pressing middle of lid with finger, if lid springs back, the lid is not sealed and the jam must be refrigerated.

Roasted Strawberry Vinaigrette

First off, I’d like to thank you all for your support, kind words, and encouragement! I’m so excited to start my new job at Plate & Pitchfork, and your support means a lot.

In all the excitement of preparing for the new job (and training my replacement at the old job), I’ve not had a lot of time to cook. Honestly, I’ve not had a lot of time to do anything (Laundry, housecleaning, etc.). It’s just a busy season in life.

But, I bought a few pints of strawberries at the Montavilla Farmer’s Market last weekend and they sort of forced my hand. I used up some of the strawberries to make Minted Strawberry Shortcakes with Lemony Whipped Cream.

But I was over-zealous in my strawberry purchasing (they looked so good!) and I had a lot of strawberries leftover. They were just sitting in the fridge, begging me to use them. I noticed that a couple of the strawberries were beginning to brown, and I knew I had to do something about it. I couldn’t let them go to waste!

So I roasted the strawberries and then blended them with garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and spices. I transformed the last of my strawberries into a vinaigrette (and a darn good one, at that).

I saved the strawberries and got a delicious salad dressing out of the deal.

It’s a win-win situation.

(Slightly Adapted from Glow Kitchen)
Makes 1.5 cups (or so) of vinaigrette.

1 pint of ripe strawberries (2 cups)
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
14 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary
Salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. While the oven is preheating, de-stem the strawberries and slice them in half. Line a baking pan with tinfoil and place the strawberries on the lined baking pan. Bake, until the strawberries are roasted and caramelized, about 20 minutes.

Remove strawberries from the oven and allow to cool. Once cooled, blend the strawberries together with the rest of the ingredients, using a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Depending on your preference you can add more olive oil (or water) if the dressing is too thick.

Store the vinaigrette in an airtight container in the fridge. The dressing will keep for a week (or more).

Summer PDX Food Swap & My Guide to DIY

Attention, Portland readers: the next PDX Food Swap will take place at Abby’s Table on June 17th, 2012, from 4-6PM.

If you didn’t know, I’ve been planning & hosting the PDX Food Swap for a while now and it’s awesome. If you like to cook, craft, preserve or can – please join us! Official details and registration are up at Sustainable Food For Thought.

Furthermore, if you’re looking for a little canning and preserving inspiration (i.e. things to make and swap!), I’ve included a few of my favorite preserving recipes. Feel free to share any of your faves in the comments! (Also: I highly recommend you stop by Punk Domestics. They are an awesome resource for all things DIY!)


(Note: I’m starting off this list with my recipe for 24 Hour Dill Pickles. I’ve made this recipe a hundred times and it never gets old. These are, in fact, the best pickles.)

24 Hour Dill Pickles
DIY Grenadine & Chipotle Lime Salt
Homemade Crema Di Limoncello
Strawberry Champagne Jam with Thyme
Savory Onion Jam
Homemade Ricotta
Strawberry Jam with Balsamic and Black Pepper
Chive Blossom Vinegar
Champagne Marshmallows (I’m planning on making these this week. Awesome.)
Vanilla Extract
Spicy Pickled Asparagus
David Chang’s Kimchi (!)
Rhubarb Ketchup (I want to make this. ASAP!)
Maraschino Cherries
Carrot Pickles (without vinegar!)
Rhubarb Ginger Jam

DIY Grenadine, Chipotle Lime Salt & The PDX Food Swap

If I had a nickel for every time I started a post with the words “It’s been a busy week!”, I’d have at least fifty cents.

I probably do too much.

However, I happen to love my life and all the crazy things that I’m involved in. I love my job. I love wedding planning. I love being on the board of The Montavilla Farmer’s Market. I love coordinating the PDX food swap. I love working with and writing for Plate & Pitchfork.

And, of course, I love writing this blog.

But as I’ve said before, sometimes life gets in the way of writing (and cooking). I ate out a lot this week, as I had zero time to cook anything. It happens. I’m certainly not complaining, as it was a week full of awesome things such as: the DOC dinner at R. Stuart Wine Bar on Wednesday, the Blazers vs. Grizzlies game on Thursday, The Hunger Games on Friday, and The PDX Food Swap on Sunday.

So, then, I’m going to kill two birds with one stone. Meaning: I’m including two recipes in this post – one for Chipotle Lime Salt and one for Pomegranate Grenadine! I thought these recipes fit well together, as they are each simple DIY projects that would make great additions to any home bar. In addition, I happened to make both of these items for the PDX Food Swap.

The chipotle lime salt is as simple as it sounds: it’s a combination of salt, chipotle powder, and lime zest. It has revolutionized my margarita consumption (I might be drinking a chipotle-salt-rimmed margarita as I type this…) and I cannot wait to try this salt on popcorn, proteins, veggies, and more.

I had no idea that making grenadine was so easy. I’m sort of kicking myself for not making it sooner! This DIY grenadine is thick, sweet, and flavorful. It has a much deeper color than the hot pink grenadine you see in stores (and far fewer preservatives!). I’ve taken to using this grenadine in the place of simple syrup in a few different cocktail recipes, and it’s fantastic. Who needs boring old simple syrup when you have homemade grenadine on hand?!

Lastly, I want to thank everyone who came out to our Spring PDX Food Swap. I’m always amazed by the creativity of the Portland food community, and this event was no exception. I brought chipotle lime salt, grenadine, BBQ sauce, onion jam, and strawberry jam to swap – and I came home with arugula pesto, thai spiced peanut butter cups, kimchi, elderberry liqueur, limoncello, grapefruit marmelade, doug fir jelly, tomato jam, and more! My pantry is exploding with goodness.

So, there you have it – two recipes for the price of one. Life’s a blur, but it’s a good blur.

(Adapted from The Kitchn)
Makes approx. 8 oz

1 cup unsweetened pomegranate juice (Pom brand is fine)
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Heat pomegranate juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Allow the mixture to gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until the juice has reduce and the syrup is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (30-40 minutes). Transfer syrup to a clean jar or container and store in the fridge. The syrup should last for 3-4 weeks.

(Adapted from the Cozy Herbivore)

3-4 tablespoons finely grated zest from organic limes (about 4 large limes)
1 cup quality coarse grain salt (kosher or sea salt)
3 tablespoons ground chipotle peppers

Preheat oven to 225 degrees. In a large bowl, toss together fresh lime zest and salt, squeezing the salt and zest between your fingers to release the oils from the zest. Mix together with your fingers until fully incorporated.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, Silpat, or foil. Bake The lime-salt mixture for 60-70 minutes, or until the zest is completely dried out (and crumbles easily).

Remove mixture from the oven, and allow to cool. In a small bowl, stir together the lime-salt and chipotle powder. Store in an airtight container.

And now you’re ready for a margarita! :)