One of our favorite things to do when we go up to the Berkshires is visit the local farms. We always stop by a maple syrup farm and a goat cheese farm to load up on farm fresh goodies. The maple syrup farm is a true blast from the past. The farmer leaves his big sugaring house unlocked, with maple syrup lining the sides. He has a price list up, and a cash box on the counter. You are free to take your maple syrup, make your own change, and be on your way without ever seeing the farmer! It is refreshing to see that kind of trust still exist somewhere. Continue reading →
Hello there! Have you ever tried making homemade jelly before? Or canning in your home? There’s been a HUGE influx of ripe strawberries in our farmer’s market, and we wanted to preserve their sweet taste for the months to come. Last year, we froze several gallons which lasted us through the late spring. There is nothing better than opening up the freezer and finding a bag of strawberries just waiting to be made into a pie or smoothie!
We still decided to freeze a good amount, but I wanted to try my hand at canning. A few years ago, Jay-Z and I took a canning class at a farm in Kentucky. We learned how to make pickled beets, plus the basic ins and outs of canning safely. A word to the wise–please be careful and sterile! You do not want to get sick from your prepared foods.
There are two methods of canning: water or pressure. Water canning is used for low acid foods, while pressure canning is best for less acidic foods that need extra cooking to ensure any bad germs are killed. So far, I have only tried water canning at home. It is great because you likely can start with many things you already have in your kitchen!
Canning materials you will need:
- 1 large pot to boil the sealed jars
- Jars + new lids (The metal circular lids cannot be reused–the seal loses its integrity after one round of canning. The screw tops of the jars can be reused).
- Tongs/spatula to retrieve the jars
- Labels (optional)
You will also need to make the actual recipe for whatever it is you’d like to preserve! Today that is Strawberry Jam. I followed the recipe on my pectin container, and it was great! Do you know the difference between jam and jelly? I did not, but jam uses the whole fruit while jelly uses the juice from fruit! Interesting, huh?
For those interested, here is the cost breakdown of the ingredients I used. This recipe made 232 ounces of jam (I used a variety of sizes of jars so I do not have the exact cost per jar).
- 10 quarts (40 cups) fresh strawberries, hulled: $60
- 4 cups honey: $20
- 2 organic lemons: $1
- 2 packages natural pectin: $12
- Jars: $36
- Total: $129
This equals about $0.56 per ounce of homemade, organic, low sugar strawberry jam! ($129/232 ounces). Of course, you must factor in the cost of your precious time! That is why a recipe like this is best made in large batches–and while you can hang at home and do other things 🙂
I tried making the jam three different ways. All of them are low sugar.
- Pectin-Free Strawberry Jam
- Regular Strawberry Jam
- Quick Cook Strawberry Jam
The verdict? Both the regular and quick cook strawberry jam were delicious. The regular strawberry jam was made by following the instructions on the pectin container. I had to boil the strawberries for what seemed like forever though–this seemed like a waste of nutrients.
For the quick-cook version, I put all of the strawberries in the blender and blended until they were all roughly chopped and I had a nice strawberry liquid. By doing this, I was able to just bring the liquid to a brief boil, mix in the pectin, and then pour into the jars and process for 10 minutes. Not only did this save 1-2 hours of watching water boil, the nutrients in the strawberries are hopefully more intact!
The pectin-free jam is still very tasty, but is much more like a syrup than a jam. It’ll still get good use on pancakes later this year!
Happy jam making! I hope you enjoy!
Hi there! Things have been super busy in our apartment these past few weeks– lots of family to visit and wedding activities to be done! This summer is already going by so quickly. GC and I realized that we’re only in town 4 weekends until the wedding. Every single other weekend we are traveling somewhere! We have tons of fun plans coming up. Friends in town this weekend, traveling up to the Berkshires for the 4th, bridal shower soon after…can’t wait for everything!
Anyways, when I’m super busy I love to make quick and easy meals. This asparagus side is one that is really easy to make and also totally delicious. The lemon and salt pair perfectly with fresh, crispy asparagus that is hot from the oven. You can cut about a half an inch to an inch off the base of the asparagus to get rid of the woody stalk–this leaves only the tender asparagus leftover.
Also, I have a great tip for storing asparagus! You can keep the stalks in a cup or bowl of water in the fridge. This helps the asparagus keep much longer, since it is an alive plant that needs water to keep living! It can keep a week or even longer in the fridge like this.
- 1 bunch asparagus, about 10-15 stalks
- 2 Tb olive oil
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 1 ts sea salt
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Wash and dry the asparagus.
- Slice off about 1/2 - 1 inch of the bottom of the asparagus and discard.
- Toss the asparagus with the olive oil and lay on a baking tray.
- Bake for 15 minute, or until crispy.
- Place asparagus on a serving platter and top with lemon juice and sea salt.
Had a great weekend with my parents up in Lansdale, PA. It was a great learning time–I learned how to make homemade strawberry jam and how to make kombucha! Very fruitful weekend if you ask me.
Hi there! We are happy to report that our apartment garden is doing very well! In fact, we have exciting news–there are little buds beginning to form! Exciting things happening over here.
A fun fact–did you know that eggplant gets spikes? Little things almost like rose thorns have developed on our baby eggplant plants. Pretty cool if you ask me. I had no idea they would do that! We also have finally been able to begin harvesting the basil. We waited until it had grown two sets of leaves before breaking off the top. The trick to getting bushy and healthy basil plants is to break off the pant from the top, which will encourage the side leaves to sprout and grow more. Overall, our babies are doing very well! They look healthy and strong, and are definitely enjoying the sunny weather that is trying to come through after weeks of rain. You can see the little buds and flowers beginning to form–hopefully they’ll grow even more this month! I need to look up if they are self-fertilizing plants or not. We grew tomatoes last year and I had to use a little feather to pollinate the flowers.
Lastly, our little succulents are not so little anymore. They have grown quite tall in this past month. I’m not entirely sure why they have grown up instead of out, but they look healthy so no complaints!
How was your weekend? I went up to my high school for our five year reunion–what a blast! It was so great to see old friends and catch up on how the past five years have been. I went to a boarding school, so we all got to spend the night in the dorms on Saturday night. Let me tell you, I missed my peeps, but I did not miss those twin XL beds. It was seriously so much fun!
I wasn’t sure what type of food they would have at the reunion, so I made myself a delicious superfood chia pudding with matcha and goji berries. This chia pudding will give you energy for hours–it powered me through the four hour drive I had.
A big benefit of chia pudding is that you can make it anytime between the night before up to 5 minutes before you want to eat it. It stores really well in the fridge. Another tip I’ve learned? Mix all of the dry ingredients in bulk beforehand and just measure out what you need, mix with almond milk, and you are good to go! The dry ingredients will last for months, especially in the fridge.
You’ll really like this chia pudding, and it is great for you. The matcha powder gives a nice energy boost and the goji berries are full of antioxidants. The chia seeds are full of healthy fat and fiber, and the coconut flakes add a nice crunch.
The ingredients are simple, and great for you. I use Rishi’s everyday matcha powder for this recipe, which is one grade lower than ceremonial and perfect for cooking with. You can also use it for making matcha lattes and the flavor is still great–I like to mix my match latte routine up with this matcha. Another thing I am excited about is the maple syrup! One of my coworker’s sister runs a maple syrup farm in Vermont, called Republic of Vermont. I recently ordered a half gallon from them and it is delicious! I’m delighted to support a growing farm, and highly recommend their syrup! Can’t wait to make a batch of vegan pancakes and top with this flavorful syrup. Last note about the ingredients–I use my homemade almond milk, but you can use any milk you’d like.
- Organic Chia Seeds
- Organic Goji Berries
- Maple Syrup
- Organic Vanilla
- Matcha Powder
- Coconut Flakes
- Almond Milk
- 3 Tb organic chia seeds
- 3 Tb organic goji berries
- 1 Tb maple syrup
- 1 ts vanilla
- 1/2 ts matcha powder
- 1 Tb coconut flakes (optional)
- 1 c almond milk
- Place all ingredients into a bowl and mix well.
- Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes or overnight, until the chia seeds have absorbed the liquid.
- Top with coconut flakes and enjoy!
How do you like summer squash? It’s become a weekly staple in our apartment since we keep getting it in our CSA nearly every week! Good thing we actually like it our I’d be a little sad.. 😉
This squash recipe uses a twist on one of my favorite homemade sauces: tangy almond butter sauce. You can whip it up in a blender and pour over the squash once it is done cooking. It adds a subtle saltiness, spice, and sweetness to the squash.
I like to mix summer squash and zucchini in this recipe for extra color. I hope you enjoy it!
- 3 summer squash/zucchini
- 1 large onion
- 2 Tb coconut oil
- 1/2 c almond butter (can sub peanut butter or any other nut butter)
- 1/4 c soy sauce
- 2 Tb maple syrup
- 1 ts fresh ginger
- 1/2 red pepper flakes
- Slice the squash in half lengthwise, and then thinly cut to make half moon shapes.
- Slice the top and bottom off of the onion. Cut the onion in half from top to bottom, and then thinly slice to create rainbow shapes.
- Sauté the vegetables with coconut oil until translucent, about 7-10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place almond butter, soy sauce, maple syrup, ginger, and red pepper flakes into the blender.
- Blend on high until smooth.
- Remove the cooked vegetables from heat and add to a medium bowl. Stir in the sauce and serve.
Hello there, friends! It seems that one of your favorite recipes is my Banana Bread one. However, after making this many many times, and hearing your feedback, I come to you with a new twist on this old recipe! This recipe has the following changes from the original:
- Instead of two cups of flour, one cup of whole wheat flour and one cup of flaked oats is used. This gives the bread a bit more texture.
- Honey is used as the sweetener instead of maple syrup. This adds a more hearty flavor, although it makes the bread not vegan.
- Vanilla is added (yum!) Who doesn’t like vanilla?
- No lemon juice needed. There wasn’t a difference and it was an unnecessary extra step.
Overall, these recipes are pretty similar, but depending on what you have in your kitchen, you may like this one better. This banana bread is still healthy, refined sugar free, and easy to make. I hope you enjoy!
- 1 c whole wheat flour
- 1 c flaked oats
- 1 ts baking soda
- 1 ts cinnamon
- 3/4 ts baking powder
- 3/4 ts salt
- 1/3 c almond milk
- 1/2 c local honey
- 2 ts vanilla extract
- 2 bananas
- 1/2 c vegan chocolate chips
- 1/2 c raw walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt by hand.
- Blend the almond milk, honey, and vanilla until fully mixed in a blender.
- Add the banana to the blender and blend on low until the banana is roughly chopped but still has chunks.
- Chop the walnuts into small pieces.
- Mix the walnuts and chocolate chips into the dry mixture.
- Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and mix until incorporated.
- Spoon the mixture into a loaf pan and gently shake the pan back and forth until the dough is evenly spread out.
- Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. Test to see if the loaf is done by inserting a knife into the center of the loaf. If it comes out clean, the loaf is ready.
- Let it cool for 10-15 minutes, and then flip the loaf onto a cooling rack.
- Slice and enjoy!
Hello there! GC and I whipped up a delicious truffle avocado tomato salad for dinner last night. Yummmy! We had absolutely beautiful tomatoes from a local farm (from our CSA) and I wanted to make something special with them. Cue the truffle olive oil from GC’s mom. So wonderfully perfect with the tomatoes and avocados. After the addition of cucumber slices and fresh basil this went from “Wow” to “Oh.My.Gosh”. Seriously delicious–I think I’ll be making this a part of my weekly meal rotation.
- 1 avocado
- 4 small tomatoes
- 1 small cucumber (or ~4 inches of an english style cucumber)
- 1/3 c fresh basil
- 1/4 c truffle oil (can sub extra virgin olive oil)
- 1/4 c balsamic vinegar
- truffle salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Cube the avocado and tomatoes.
- Thinly slice the cucumber.
- Chiffonade the basil leaves.
- Toss with the oil and vinegar, and top with the truffle salt and pepper.