Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wish me luck

Today I'm off to do a 'working interview' at SusieCakes. It's a great little bake shop that has everything...and it's all homemade. Now, I've been a cake decorator in the past for lots of years and loved it, but for some reason I'm getting terribly nervous about this. I guess it's because I haven't had 'formal' training, just on the job kind. :) I know I can do it, but having not been in the workforce for a few years has me feeling old.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

In the Kitchen: Strawberry Jam

So I used to think making jam was really hard to do. With this little cookbook it's so not!! I bought it a few years back in the bargain section of Barnes & Noble for the pictures inside not thinking I'd really ever make jam. Well, I did and I loved it!! It's so fun and it's a great gift...I now give it at Christmas to family. Cover the lid with some pretty fabric, tie on a vintage spoon with some pretty ribbon, add a cute tag and you're good to go!

The recipe for Strawberry Jam seriously could not be any easier. For real. Here are all the ingredients you need:

Strawberries, sugar, lemon and butter. And about an hour and a half to commit to the kitchen.

I forgot the picture of the berries just chillin' in the pot, but you get the idea. Here is the 3+ pounds of sugar going in...the little black pot in the back is my tiny double boiler I use for melting the wax. You can use the microwave and a bowl that you don't use for food; I recommend glass.

Be sure to keep an eye on things...a boil over means a very sticky clean-up. Luckily this didn't get too out of control. :)

Prep your jars by sanitizing them either in the dishwasher or a hot water bath on the stove. I prefer the dishwasher because I do a lot at once and it's a time and space saver to not have to keep switching out jars in a bath. Also, they stay warmer longer so that when you ladle in hot jam, you don't risk any breakage of a cold jar.

I bought a canning kit at Cost Plus a few years back and it had this handy-dandy big mouth funnel that works with all canning jars. It has some other goodies in it too, but this is the one thing I use the most. It is possible to do this without the giant funnel, but it's messy. Trust me, I know.

A bunch of pretty and yummy jars all ready for their wax job. ;) Pouring the wax always seems weird to me, like it's going to go down into the jam and penetrate it, but it just sits right on top and hardens there.

The wax. Not too pretty, but necessary. It pops right out with a knife when the time comes to use the jam.

The finished product. Homemade goodness at your fingertips. I will say this recipe is a bit on the runny side (I haven't perfected it just yet), but that's o.k. because it makes an awesome syrup for waffles, french toast, or even over ice cream. Maybe plain yogurt. mmmmm......
Here's the recipe:

1. 3 lbs. 5 oz. fresh whole strawberries. No blemishes, hulled and rinsed.

2. 2 freshly squeezed lemons, juice strained. In a pinch, of course bottled works too.

3. 3 lbs. 5 oz. sugar

4. 1 tsp. butter

Place strawberries in large pot with lemon juice, and simmer over gentle heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the fruit has collapsed and is very soft.

Add the sugar and heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has completely dissolved. Add the butter, then bring to a boil and boil rapidly for 10-20 minutes or until setting point is reached.

Let cool for 8-10 minutes, then skim. Pot into warmed sterilized jars and cover tops with wax. Be sure to cover all fruit and side to side of each jar and wipe away any excess fruit.

Makes about 1 lb.

I have no trouble finding all canning items: jars, lids (if I need new ones, the seal only works once, so you'll need new disks if reusing a jar), pectin and wax in the baking aisle at the grocery store.


Monday, May 3, 2010

It's all too much

And I need one of these. This size would do quite nicely too, I think.

I am finding it hard to prioritize these days and get thrown off track rather quickly. I have many many projects that need my attention; not just the daily one's, but the fun one's too. Yesterday I went to a local antique market that comes around once a month, and let me tell you.....the stuff is incredible. I never take pictures (Maybe next time), but just trust me when I tell you that it's awesome.

The problem is that it sends my mind on a trip to la-la land and my brain is swirling with "I could do that..." "oh, wow, I have that, I should do this with it..." you know what I mean. Anyway, so then I go home and look around and have to do something, but can't figure out where to go first.

Usually that starts a cleaning frenzy because what's better than a 'clean' slate? Nothing. So now I have a partially cleaned kitchen with the family room and dining room right behind. Not that these rooms are dirty in the literal sense, but they could use some sprucing up. Then from there, something else will come up that takes me away from the project aspect of my never-ending to-do list.

After that I have a million things to make that I have purchased all the 'doings' for and just haven't done them. Too many things to even speak of. Kind of shameful. ;) Also, I recently received a suitcase full of my great-grandma's dishes and aprons and have yet to photograph them like I said I was going to.


Inspiration and motivation certainly don't go hand in hand around here! Any tips on getting my head straight?? Nike knows.....'Just Do It'.

*the cupcake is from Disneyland...apparently I take a lot of pictures there. :)