Loquat Jam

When I got a text from a friend last week asking if I wanted Loquats to make jam with I said, “Yes.  I love them. Thank you.”  Then promptly went to Google to find out exactly what a Loquat was.  To a girl who grew up in Kansas it sounded a little exotic.  I had no idea what they looked like, tasted like or if I could use them to make a jam anyone would want to eat.  So after discovering they were a distant relative of the apple, originally from southeastern China and armed with the few recipes I found online I felt prepared for a new culinary adventure.

The tree was full of the small fruit so up the ladder I went.  The air smelled delicious and they were a beautiful orange color.  There was more than enough fruit for me to try several different recipes.  I easily picked 15 lbs of fruit and there was plenty left over for a second trip.

I combined a few recipes that I found and this is my version of Loquat Jam.

Weigh 5 lbs of  Loquats, cut the blossom end off and remove the seeds.
Chop in a blender and add to the pot you want to use to cook your jam.
Add water so that it is just covering the chopped Loquats.
Add Ground Ginger, Ground Cinnamon and Ground Cloves to taste.  (I was heavier with the Ginger and Cinnamon as the Cloves can be very strong)
Bring to a boil.
Once boiling reduce heat to low/simmer.  Cook until fruit is tender.  (It was about an hour for me).
Be sure to stir occasionally.
While the fruit is cooking place one or two small plates in the freezer for testing your jam setting.

After the fruit has cooked and the peel is as tender and soft as you like it add sugar to taste.  The fruit is a little tart so it will depend on if your taste to how much sugar you want to add.
For 5 lbs of fruit I added 1.5 cups of sugar and I thought it was delicious.  Just sweet enough to not lose the natural tartness of the Loquat.

I then cooked the mixture for another hour or so until the setting was reached.
You can test the setting by placing a small spoonful of jam onto a plate you have chilled in the freezer.  If it does not spread it is ready to be preserved in sterilized jars.  Process as you would any jams in a water bath.

One suggestion I saw was to use this jam as a topping over a cheesecake.  I don’t need much of an excuse to eat cheesecake but now that I have discovered this wonderful fruit I will simply have to follow this suggestion.

Enjoy!

Thumbprints

These are wonderful little gems.  What I love about them is that they aren’t too sweet and work well with any jam or jelly I have tried. Most recently I even used some of my Jalapeno Jelly.  They were delicious and a crowd pleaser for sure.  They are quick and easy to make too, which I really love.   Warning! You won’t be able to eat just one.   Enjoy.

Ingredients

1 cup of butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces), room temperature (I have also used shortening when I didn’t have enough butter and they were still delicious)
1/2 cup of sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2 cups of flour
1 cup of chopped nuts (optional)
3/4 cup of your favorite jam

1. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, (2-3 minutes).

2. Separate the eggs. Add the yolks and vanilla extract to the butter mixture.

(If using nuts place the egg whites in a shallow dish on the side and whisk them until bubbly and frothy.  The egg whites will be used to keep the nuts on the cookies).

3. Add the flour and salt. Mix until just combined.

4. Place the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes and preheat the oven to 350F.

5. Roll the dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter. If using nuts, dip the balls into the egg whites then roll them into the nuts until covered. Place the balls on parchment lined cookie sheets.

6. Press down with your thumb to make a small well in the center of the cookie. Do not press too hard or the cookie will fall apart. Fill with 1/2 teaspoon of jam.

7. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until slightly firm. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet to firm up before moving them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

 

Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes

Meg’s Ginger Cookies

These are the best ginger cookies I have ever had.  My friend Meg was nice enough to share her recipe with me and I can not hold back sharing it with everyone else.  They are wonderful!

Meg’s Ginger Cookies

¾ c. Butter
2 c. Sugar
2 Eggs, beaten
½ c. Molasses
2 TSP White Vinegar
3 ¾ c. Flour
1 ½ TSP Baking Soda
2-3 TSP Ground Ginger
½ TSP Cinnamon
¼ TSP Ground Cloves

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and cloves.

Cream together butter and sugar

Stir in eggs, molasses and vinegar

Add flour mixture to wet ingredients

Stir until well blended.

Make ¾” balls with dough and place about 2 inches apart on well greased cookie sheet.

Bake for about 12 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned. (If you want them softer then 10 minutes seemed to be about perfect)

*I also tried these using Splenda Baking mix.  They still taste great but they will not spread as they bake.

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

I hope you love them as much as I do!

Banana Nut Bread (by special request)

My best-friend made a special request for some of my Banana Nut Bread with Chocolate Chips.  And not being one to disappoint, and because it sounded delicious to me also, I was happy to oblige.
This is such an easy and quick bread to make.  It’s based on an old Amish recipe and is absolutely delicious.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of butter
1 cup of sugar (you can half this if you don’t want the bread very sweet)
2 eggs
2 ripe bananas (mashed)
2 cups flour
1 TSPbaking powder
1/2 TSP baking soda
1/2 – 1 cup pecans (optional)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional, but wonderful)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a separate bowl mix dry ingredients together
3. Cream together sugar & butter
4. Add eggs and blend well
5. Add bananas and blend well
6. Pour into prepared loaf pan
7. Bake for 50-60 minutes or a toothpick comes out of the center clean

*I have also made this bread with Splenda and it works and tastes just as good

 

This is great for breakfast, dessert or a snack.  Enjoy!

 

Jalapeno Jelly

I had a special request for some Jalapeno Jelly this week.  It’s so easy to make and so good that I wanted to share it with anyone else who might want to give it a go.  Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:

3 Jalapeno peppers
Half of a green bell pepper
Half of a sweet red pepper
1  1/2 cups of vinegar (apple cider or white works well)
5 cups of sugar
1 pouch of liquid pectin, 6 oz  (Powder will not work)

1. Half Jalapeno peppers and remove the seeds of two of the peppers (for hotter jelly leave seeds from two or all three of the peppers).
2. Cut the green and red peppers into small pieces.
3. Place all the peppers into a blender and chop.
4. Place pepper mixture, vinegar and sugar into a 5 quart pan and bring to a boil.
5. Boil rapidly for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Then remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes.
6. Add pectin and stir until it is well mixed, then allow to cool for 2 minutes.
7. Stir well again for about a minute to ensure that the pectin is well mixed.  Then pour into prepared jars and into the water bath for 10 minutes.
This recipe makes about 5 half pint jars.

 

It is so easy and so good.
One of my favorite ways to eat it is with a little bit of cream cheese on wheat crackers.
My brother loves it on a turkey sandwich.

Try lots of different things and see what you love it with.

Wild Texas Plum Jelly

I can’t begin to say how good this jelly is.  I love plum jelly but I REALLY loved this one.  I was lucky enough to have two plum trees that were ripe and full of plums. I could have all I wanted to come and pick.  And I am very grateful.

 

Wild Texas Plum Jelly

 

Igredients:

5 pds plums
4 cups of water
1 packet of Pectin (1.75 oz)
7 cups of sugar

1. Place plums and water in a large stockpot and bring to a boil.
2. Once boiling reduce heat to simmer.
3. Allow to simmer for 30 mins.
4. Line a strainer with 4 layers of cheesecloth.
5. Place plum mixture in strainer for 30 mins or until there is 5 1/2 cups of liquid.
6. Return liquid to pan.
7. Add pectin to liquid and bring to a boil.
8. Add sugar and bring to a rolling boil.
9. Boil for 1 minute stirring constantly.
10. Remove from heat and skim off any foam.
11. Process as you would any jams or jellies.

Yields about 8 half-pints

 

Hope you enjoy!

Pears,Pears and more Pears!

It’s pear season! A friend down the road has a pear tree with an abundant supply and I have gone pear crazy.

I decided to start with Pear Butter.  If it works with apples why not pears.  I found some recipes and adapted them into a Red Wine Pear Butter that is delicious.  If you like pears poached in red wine you will love this.

Ingredients

5 lbs of pears
(cut into 2 in pieces, if using a food mill it is not necessary to core them,
if not using a food mill I suggest coring)
1 cup red wine
2 cups water

4 slices of orange
4 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean split
1/2 Tsp cardemon
1 & 1/2 cup of sugar
Dash of salt

 

1. Place cut pears, wine and water into a large pot and bring to a boil.

2.  Once boiling reduce heat to medium/low and let cook until pears are soft
(the average for me was about 1 hour.  The softer the pears the easier to put through the mill or sieve)

3.  Once pears are cooked press through the food mill or push through a sieve.
Discard any hard parts left from the pears

4.  Return pear puree to large pot and add remaining ingredients.

5.  Bring to a boil.

6.  Once boiling reduce heat to low/simmer for 1 to 2 hours depending on batch.

7.  You can test your mixture to see if it is done by placing a small amount on a chilled plate.
There should me not liquid on around the edges.

8.  If canning place finished mixture into sterilized jars and place in a water bath.
Leave in water bath 10 mins then remove and let cool completely before storing.

Hope you enjoy!

Pictures from the kitchen below.

 

 

Orange Macaroons (almost a success)

I saw this recipe for Orange Macaroons and thought they looked delicious.  And I thought, “I can make these.  No problem.”  So after a trip to the store I had everything I needed and came up with my game plan.

First I had to make the Almond Paste. Never having done this before I wasn’t sure exactly what it was and what it needed to look like.  I found a recipe and followed it exactly and my paste came out to be a little more like wallpaper paste than the paste the weird kid in school used to eat.  But I thought…Whoever wrote this recipe knows what they are talking about so this must be what it is supposed to look like.

Needless to say when the paste was added to the rest of the ingredients and the next step was to “roll into 18 inch ropes” I looked at my cake batter consistency cookie dough and knew that was not going to happen….

So what could I do to fix this?  Flour thickens things.  I’ll just add enough until I can roll the cookies out.  Cups of flour later…it worked and still tasted good.

So while I will probably never be able to repeat my version of these cookies they were edible and everyone loved them.  Martha may be mortified but I will count that as a success.

I had to have a few for quality control purposes and even for all the mistakes and “fixing” that they took, they were still delicious!

saving a little summertime

I love to cook.  I love cooking for other people to enjoy.  I love trying new things.  So this summer I tried my hand at making fig preserves.    Something that combines all of these loves.

A neighbor had more figs than she knew what to do with and I was willing to go and spend sometime in the Texas heat to pick them.  I  found a recipe for Drunken Fig Jam and I thought it sounded like an excellent idea.  The first batch is finished and I have to say tastes pretty good.  I’ll give myself a little pat on the back.  And there are jars to share which is better than any pat on the back.