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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Quince, Raspberry, and Meyer Lemon Marmalade

I'm not a marmalade on toast kind of girl. Now, marmalade on cheese is a whole other story! Especially quince marmalade. I only just discovered the joy of quince when I was able to get a few and make membrillo last year. They are nearly impossible to find in Fairbanks, but I was able to order a few in my produce box. The problem is that they work out to $2.50 a piece. So, a large batch of quince jam isn't really something I can afford.
That is why I was thrilled to find this recipe for Quince and Raspberry Marmalade in Elizabeth Field's new book. I have to admit that I originally bought the book because I thought the photography was gorgeous. Once I started really looking at it I realized it was more than just an eye catching cover. There is some really great information including little tidbits about the history of marmalade, and a whole section in the back with recipes for using marmalade. Recipes are perfect for someone who likes other vehicles for marmalade besides toast.
I made some subtle changes to the original recipe, mostly bumping up the lemon juice and adding a little meyer lemon zest as well. I was afraid the original might be too sweet without it. If for no other reason, I think you should make this marmalade for the smell alone.  I didn't process one of my jars, primarily because I had plans to stick my spoon in it as soon as it had cooled enough that I wouldn't scorch my tongue. Every time I walk past that jar I have to open the lid and smell it. It is not only marmalade, but aromatherapy too.
This one set up a little hard for me, but I am candy thermometer challenged. Can anyone recommend a good one? I have now purchase three duds in a row.  It made me think that this would be great poured into molds and kept in the fridge for holiday cheese platters. Just pop the whole thing out on a plate and use a butter knife to cut off slices like membrillo. However you serve it I hope you enjoy, even if it is on toast!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Meyer Lemon and Bay Posset

Oh, what a week it has been! I try and keep things light and easy here, but last week my job ended. It had been a long hard struggle trying to keep everything afloat, and in the end I was exhausted. I didn't want to see the organization go away, but I was completely burned out after only one year. Although I am so very sad to see an organization that was a vital part of the Fairbanks community go away, personally I really needed a break. We were given a few days notice to wrap up our projects and leave, in the end it all happened so suddenly. It was in the middle of all this craziness that a box of Meyer lemons arrived from Karen of the Lemon Ladies Orchard. I have been ordering lemons from Karen for as long as I have had this blog. The first thing I make every season is a batch of lemon bars, usually followed by Meyer lemon butter cookies. This year I was in the mood for something a little more comforting when my lemons arrived. I'm a big fan of creamy desserts. Puddings, custards, creme brulee, and panna cotta are all favorites. At the very end of the lemon season last year I discovered this recipe for posset. I was thrilled because so many of the recipes I make with Meyer Lemon call for far more zest than juice. Not only was it a good use of my lemon resources, but it was super easy. In fact, it was too easy. I looked at the recipe several times before I actually made it because I didn't think there was any way it would actually set up, but it does. It turns into the most lovely, light, lemony cream. It reminds me a little of panna cotta, but lighter in texture. Last year I tinkered with the recipe trying to add a little depth to the flavor, but everything I tried messed with the magical setting properties and I always ended up with a runny posset. Also, in my experiments last year I discovered that neither orange or lime juice sets up as well as the lemon either. This year Karen sent a bunch of fresh bay leaves from the huge tree in her front yard. I love the smell of fresh bay, but I find too much can be overpowering as a flavor. I dropped one small bay leaf into this batch of posset and it gave just a little something extra. It reminded me of that day I visited Karen in California, the smell of lemon and bay leaves surrounded her home. Like they always say, what grows together goes together and in this case it couldn't be a better combination.
Thanks to everyone who has wished me well on my transition. I know that there will be new and exciting things just around the corner. Until then you will find me in my kitchen with Meyer lemons, not a bad place to be.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Anadama Bread

Last weekend I opened up one of the cupboard doors in the kitchen to have a whole pile of things come tumbling out onto the floor. It was one of those drop everything (literally) moments where I decided that it needed to be cleaned out right then and there. It didn't take long for me to discover I had three containers of dry mustard buried in there. If I can't see that they are in there, I just go out and buy another one. Then there were three bags of heirloom beans and it didn't take long to figure out that there were baked beans on the horizon. A simple pot of beans to use up some pantry staples sounded like a good plan. Something easy for dinner. Soon, those hopes of a simple meal disappeared. You see, David grew up in Maine where baked beans are not taken lightly. Apparently I was treading on hundreds of years of tradition with a simple batch of baked beans. Names of foods I had never heard of were flying across our kitchen, something about red hot dogs and what I thought was Damn Banana Bread. "Damn what", I asked?  Now I am going to have to spend the day kneading and baking bread? Turns out that Anadama Bread is probably the original no knead bread. You mix it all together, put it in the bread pans and let it rise for 3-4 hours. It takes a long time, but all it does is sit there. The active time is probably 10 minutes or less. So, I breathed a sigh of relief. Turns out it is possible to have a simple pot of beans and some homemade bread without a whole lot of work.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Pear and Ginger Scones

Take the leap. Live more simply so you can work less. Pursue your passion. Do what comes naturally. These are all things that have been running through my head lately. I read Ginny Wood's book this summer, what an amazing life that woman has lead. I was already a little familiar with her story from having worked in Kantishna, but I had no idea the depth of it all. What really struck a chord was were she talked about living her life more simply so she could work less and do more of what she loved. Despite that sentiment, the woman worked really hard, yet she never made it sound like work at all. I think that is what happens when you are doing the things you love, things look effortless.
My life has been terribly hectic lately, but I knew I wanted to capture a little of that magic that comes with doing something you love. This scone recipe seemed like the perfect way to ease myself back into this space. I was right, they came together beautifully and the flavor combination is one of the best yet. I love the beautiful color of the pears in the low Alaska light. I could see making these again for the holiday season with pears and dried cranberries. Sounds like the perfect thing for Thanksgiving breakfast. The great thing about scones is that you can make them in advance, freeze them, and then just put them in the oven straight from the freezer when you need them. I'm actually convinced that they bake up just a little bit nicer after they have been frozen. Just place the unbaked scones on a baking sheet in the freezer for a few hours, once they are frozen transfer to a freezer bag. You can then make one or two at a time, or the whole batch when you need them for a special event. They might take a few minutes longer to bake, but you will have very little to clean up afterward.
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