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Light & Runny Strawberry Jam

When I first started making jam many years ago, I was confused with the many suggested ways to cook (or not cook) jam. Some said to cook until done, some said not to use pectin, others called for too much sugar . . . you get the idea.
Being a bit of a perfectionist, I couldn’t just wing it and have the jam turn out a little different every year. I wanted it to be exactly right … not too sweet, not too hard, not too runny. . . so I've worked on it over the years and got it to where our family likes it, runny enough to use a spoon to spread a scone or fill that little hole on a Zwieback for Sunday Faspa.

Tools/Accessories:
  • blender or immersion blender
  • good quality, large stainless steel pot
  • wooden spoon
  • canning funnel
  • clean jars and new lids
Suggested amounts of ingredients needed for 24 - 30 cups of jam (12 - 15 pints):
  • 1 - 15 pound flat of strawberries
  • 4 kg sugar (10 pounds)
  • packages Certo light brand pectin OR 4 packages (other) regular pectin crystals
  • 4 teaspoons soft margarine

Ahead of time:  Wash jars and rings. While  jam is cooking, sterilize jars by heating in a 225° F oven for 10 minutes and keep warm until needed. Heat rubber lids in a small pot of boiling water and keep hot.

Berry Prep: Wash berries before stemming. Crush about 3 cups of berries at a time. With a good blender, pulse for 5 seconds, stopping to shake fruit to the bottom so as not to over-blend OR  fill an ice cream pail - a third full - and use an immersion blender to crush. If berries are very ripe you can use a potato masher. Pureed berries should still be of a thick and slightly chunky consistency. Collect crushed berries in a large bowl or ice cream pails until done. I usually do this in the evening and refrigerate the berries to cook the next day.  (15 lbs of berries will make 4 batches - or about 30 cups jam)

Measure and set aside seperately:
  • 6 cups mashed berries 
  • 4 1/4 cups sugar, separated
  • 3 tablespoons Certo light (or 1 package regular pectin crystals) mixed with ¼ cup sugar
To cook:
  1. Place fruit and pectin crystals mixed with 1/4 c sugar into a large pot. (Pot should only be about 1/3 full.) 
  2. Place over high heat on an element that keeps the most consistent heat,  and stir constantly with wooden spoon, until it comes to a bubbling boil.
  3. Stir in remaining 4 cups sugar. Continuing to stir, add 1 teaspoon margarine to keep the foam down and cook until mixture comes to a full, rolling boil again. (you can hear it) Set timer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Turn heat down slightly if it splatters too much, but keep the boil. 
  4. Remove from heat and continue to stir for a few minutes until clear and shiny. Crush any large floating berry pieces with a fork against the side of the pot if needed. Ladle hot jam into jars until 1/2 inch from rim. Cover with lids and screw rings to seal.

* The jam will be runny until it's completely cooled.
* Important note: Freezing the jam (once it's cooled) keeps it fresher tasting and it’s not necessary to seal the jars. Even keeping sealed jars refrigerated keeps the flavor fresher tasting than just having it sit in the pantry.
* You can freeze blended berries in 6 cup proportions, ready to cook in the winter, but you will need a bit more certo. (I freeze in 9 cup proportions, add 6 cups sugar and 1 package pectin with thawed mixture. This makes about 12 small jars)

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

 This is one of my favorite pancakes. If you like lemon, ricotta cheese and blueberries..you will love these fluffy pancakes. It doesn't take long to whip them up and if you have a griddle you can cook them all at once.

Batter: 
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 eggs, divided
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  1. Beat egg whites until stiff. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the dry ingredients.
  3. In a medium size bowl combine the ricotta, egg yolks, milk, and vanilla. The ricotta I used was quite dry but if your brand happens to be on the runny side, just make sure to drain the liquid.
  4. Add dry ingredients to the ricotta mixture, mixing gently just until combined.
  5. Whisk in approx a cup of the egg whites to fluff up the dough, then fold in the rest of the egg whites just until combined.
  6. Heat griddle to medium high, brushing surface with a little butter. Using a ladle scoop the batter on the griddle. Using the back of the ladle push the dough outwards a bit on each pancake, so you don't end up with too thick a pancake.
  7. Cook pancakes approx 4 minutes, then flip over and cook until golden brown, approx another 3 to 4 minutes, depending on the size of your pancakes.
  8. Serve with lemon sauce, blueberries, a dollop of ricotta cheese and dust with icing sugar and a little lemon zest. Decorate your pancakes as you wish:) I couldn't resist having a little fun with them.
  9. Yields 8 to 10 pancakes. 
Lemon Sauce: you can make this ahead of time and reheat just before serving.
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 5 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice, preferably freshly squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  1. Whisk together sugar, cornstarch and salt in a saucepan.
  2. Stir in boiling water and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture has thickened.
  3. Stir in lemon juice, zest and butter.
  4. Serve warm.
  5. Yields: 2 cups

Lemon Basil Carrot Bundles


Here's a veggie plate suggestion fresh from the garden.  The carrots can easily be prepared in advance and reheated at the last minute.  They taste as good as they look!
  • 8 large carrots (about 2 pounds)
  • 8 stems of green onion
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  1. Pare or scrape carrots. Then cut into strips about 3 inches in length.
  2. Cook carrots over medium heat until tender crisp.
  3. Remove from heat.  Drain and rinse with cold water.
  4. Place onion greens in a covered dish in the microwave.  Cook on high for 30 seconds.  Cool and use limp onion greens as ropes to tie the carrot bundles.
  5. Gather carrot strips into eight bundles.
  6. Tie each with a green onion stem. Trim off ends of carrot bundles to even out lengths, if desired.
  7. Place bundles in a shallow bowl and drizzle with lemon basil mixture.
  8. Cover and chill until serving time. 
  9. Reheat in the microwave oven for about 3 minutes or until piping hot.
  10. Serve on a bed of steamed fresh green peas, if desired!
Serves 8


Enjoy!

Homemade Flour Tortillas


I had been told that tortillas were easy to make..and now I know that they are! Fresh flour tortillas really taste better than store-bought. These can be made in a cast iron or a non-stick frying pan. I used my trusty old cast iron frying pan and the tortillas turned out great.

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2/3 cup hot water
Method:
  1. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  2. Cut in shortening until crumbly.
  3. Pour in hot water, a little at a time, mixing with a fork until dough comes together.
  4. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead a few minutes until smooth.
  5. Cover and let rest 45 minutes.
  6. Divide dough into 8 pieces and roll each piece into a ball, cover balls with plastic wrap. 
  7. With a rolling pin, roll each ball into a 6-7 inch circle, don't worry they don't have to be perfect circles. Cook one tortilla while you roll out the next one. 
  8. Preheat your pan on medium heat. Do not add oil.
  9. Place tortilla in hot pan and cook until small bubbles appear before flipping to the other side, cook approx one minute on each side.   
  10. Stack cooked tortillas and cover with a tea towel till all are cooked.
  11. Now they are ready for your favorite recipe.  Can be frozen for future use.



Ginger Chicken Wonton Tacos

These little bundles make a nice appetizer or light lunch over a bed of cole slaw.
Tender pulled chicken in a spicy sweet ginger sauce wrapped in Wonton Wrappers. 
Shredded poached chicken

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (this is enough for approximately 25) 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp coarse black pepper
  • 1 package Wonton Wrappers (Found in the fresh food isle of the grocery store. They come in a stack and are about a 3"x3" squares)
  • 1/2 cup of your favourite thick bottled spicy ginger sauce, plus more for drizzling over slaw
  • 1/3 cup finely grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro 
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  •  slaw mix, chopped very fine
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red pepper
  • avocado, sliced
  1. Poach chicken by placing both chicken breasts in a pot and covering with water. Add bay leaf, salt and pepper. 
  2. Bring to a boil, turn down and allow to slow boil for 10 minutes. 
  3. Remove from heat, cover and let chicken sit in water for another 10 minutes.
  4. Remove chicken from water to a cutting board and immediately shred chicken, using two forks. ***see photo above***
  5. Add ginger sauce, cheese, and cilantro to the shredded chicken. This can be made ahead of time.
  6. When ready to bake, assemble Wonton Tacos by taking one Wanton Wrapper in the palm of your hand and laying a strip of meat filling from one point to the next. (about 2 tbsp per wrapper) 
  7. Pull up other two points as shown in photo below and pinch together. 
  8. Melt butter and using a pastry brush, and lightly brush the outsides of each bundle.
  9. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake in 400º oven for 19 minutes.
  10. Finely chop slaw and red pepper. 
  11. Place baked Wonton Tacos on top of bed of slaw that has been lightly drizzled with more ginger sauce. Garnish with avocado slices and serve immediately.

Filled and pinched Wantons

Brushed with butter, ready to go into oven.

Lemon Cheesecake with Raspberry Topping


Here is a light, luscious and lemony 'no-bake' cheesecake that is the perfect ending to a special occasion meal.  Or forget the meal and just enjoy this dessert with good friends!
Crust:
  • 1 1/3 cups Oreo Baking Crumbs
  • 1/3 cup butter

Filling:
  • 1 envelope unflavoured gelatin
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • zest of 1 lemon (finely grated)
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice of 2 lemons) 
  • 1 - 8 oz /250 gr package cream cheese
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups whipping cream

Directions:
  1. Combine chocolate cookie crumbs and melted butter. Pat into a 9-inch spring-form pan. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over cold water; then add hot water while stirring.  Stir in lemon zest and juice.  Allow to cool for several minutes (but do not let set). 
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until very smooth.  Add gelatin mixture and combine well. 
  4. In a separate bowl, whip cream until stiff. Gently fold whipped cream into cheese mixture.  
  5. Pour filling into crust.  Refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight. 
  6. Remove from pan and serve, topped with raspberry sauce (below), fresh raspberries and additional whipped cream.

Easy Raspberry Sauce:



  • 2 cups raspberries (fresh or frozen and thawed)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Combine raspberries, sugar and lemon juice in blender and process until liquidy. (Add more sugar to taste, if desired.)
At this point, you can eliminate the seeds by passing through a strainer.  We like the seeds!
Store in closed container in the fridge for several days.

This dessert can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for several days.  It also freezes well.

Serves 8.


 


Raspberry Red Pepper Jelly


Raspberries are ripe in the Fraser Valley and yesterday I popped into Neufeld Farms and picked up beautiful berries to make some Raspberry Pepper Jelly which pairs beautifully with cream cheese and crackers for a quick appy or a perfect little hostess gift.  If you don't want to make the jelly now. .simply freeze soft packed berries into a small freezer bag and you will have them measured and ready to use in fall or winter.

  • 3 cups raspberries (use a one cup measuring cup and pack them lightly, don't press them down flat. .they shouldn't squish)
  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 10 jalapeno peppers
  • 1 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 8 cups white sugar
  • 2 boxes of 170 ml liquid certo  (this means 4 pouches)  170 ml is about 5.75 ounces for American measuring
  1. Sterilize lids and  jars with boiling water. Amount of jars depends on what size you use. The batch of jelly is about 10 cups.
  2. Put the raspberries in a large cooking pot.
  3. Roughly dice the red bell peppers and the jalapeno peppers  (use rubber gloves) and put them in a food processor and pulse until they are a fine dice.  Alternately. .finely dice them by hand.
  4. Add the peppers into the pot.
  5. Add the cider vinegar and the sugar and bring to a light boil.  Simmer for 8 minutes.
  6. Add the certo liquid and boil hard one minute.
  7. Pour the hot liquid into a large sieve. You might have to do this in batches, dumping out the pepper and raspberry seeds in between. 
  8. This should leave you with about 10 cups of jelly.
  9. Skim the foam and pour into little jars.
  10. Wipe the rims to be sure you haven't dripped and top with lids and screw hand tight.
  11. Process the jelly in a canner in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
  12. Using a canning jar tong, remove to a draft free area and let them cool.
  13. Be sure all the jars have sealed and then store in a dark cool place.
For safe canning instructions. .please have a look at this link here.

Fancy Egg Scramble



We enjoyed this make-ahead breakfast dish years ago and I finally revived it for brunch recently. Everyone enjoyed it.

  • 1 cup diced ham 
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion (scallions)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 12 eggs beaten
  • 1 6oz. can diced Green Chiles
Cheese Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
Method:
  1. Melt butter in heavy large skillet. Saute ham and green onions in butter.
  2. Add beaten eggs and diced green chiles.
  3. Mix ingredients and cook until eggs are just set. Remove from heat and prepare cheese sauce.
  4. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy bottom pan.
  5. Add flour, salt and pepper to butter and cook on medium heat for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the 2 cups of milk gradually and blend well. Cook to a gentle boil.
  7. Add the grated cheese and mix well until cheese is melted. Add the cheese sauce to the egg mixture and fold in till combined.
  8. Pour mixture into lightly greased 9x12 casserole dish.
  9. Cover and refrigerate overnight until 30-40 minutes before you want to serve the dish
  10. Cook uncovered at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.
Serve with fruit and muffins or toast.  Serves 6







Ginger Chicken with Hot Potato Salad

 
 Along with this chicken, I served a German Potato Salad and thought I'd share it as a meal combo idea. It's a nice menu for four adults or you can multiply as you like.
Ginger Chicken Marinade
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sherry cooking wine
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger root*
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon Montreal Chicken Spice
  1. Mix all ingredients and let sit for an hour or so to blend flavors. Pour over 8 boneless chicken thighs and allow to marinate for about one hour before grilling.
* An easy way to have fresh ginger on hand is to peel a piece and freeze it. To use, simply grate on fine part of grater while still frozen and return the unused portion to the freezer.

Hot German Potato Salad
  • 16 - 20 nugget potatoes (about a pound)
  • 4 - 5 slices bacon, fried, drained and  diced (keep drippings)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 - 3 tablespoon cream (optional)
  1. Cut potatoes in half and cook, leaving the skin on. This will take about 10 - 15 minutes. Drain.
  2. In the meantime, prepare bacon, set aside and cook onion in drippings until golden/transparent looking. Stir in sugar, mustard, vinegar, water, salt and pepper. Let simmer.
  3.  Just before serving, add bacon, then add mixture to potatoes in the pot. Stir in cream and reheat.
  4. Garnish with parsley or minced green onion.

Bread For The Journey

He Shall Have Dominion

 He shall have dominion also from sea to sea.
Psalm 72:8

The founding fathers of this country were convinced that Canada should be a nation under God.  The country was officially called the Dominion of Canada....based on the verse found in Psalm 72:8.  The leaders acknowledged that God would have dominion in this great nation from sea to shining sea  The national motto as it appears on our Coat of Arms is 'from sea to sea' (“A mari usque ad mare”) was also adopted at that time.  That was the framework on which this great country was built.  In 1867 Canada's first prime minister, John A. MacDonald explained to Queen Victoria of England, that the name was a tribute to the principles they earnestly desired to uphold.  On July 1, 1867 Canada was a country built on the Word of God.
 

Many things have changed over the years.  Our motto remains the same, though  most Canadians likely have no idea that it is based on scripture.  Many of the values that were accepted at that time have been discarded along the way.  What the future holds for us as a nation, we do not know.  May  "God keep our land glorious and free" as stated in the lyrics of our national anthem.   Let's not forget to pray for our country and our leaders, who are leading at a most difficult time in history.

If my people, who are called by my name, 
will humble themselves and pray
and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, 
then will I hear from heaven
and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:4 NIV

Happy Canada Day...
from someone who feels most privileged to call Canada home!

And to those of you who live south of the border...
Happy Fourth of July!