Archive for July 2016

There’s Something About Canning

It’s the season once again to haul out our jars and get canning and preserving! And I am so glad to see a resurgence of interest in people taking it up!  Domenica Marchetti has recently published a new book “Preserving Italy” that’s filled with delicious recipes.

DSC_4424 nx2The household I grew up in had a pantry stocked full of  Mom’s labours; all kinds of jam, bread and butter pickles, pickled beets (with beets from our garden), relishes, mustard pickles (Dad’s favourite), canned cherries from our trees in the backyard, tomatoes, apricots, peaches, pears, applesauce and so on. For some reason all this work had to take place on the hottest days of the year! It seemed that there was always loads of produce and fruit showing up, people had fruit trees in their yard they were giving away, or  friends and neighbours who would bring back stuff from the Okanagan that had to be put up for the winter, right now! Then, of course, there was the salmon canning every year…I don’t like salmon…couldn’t stand the smell and couldn’t be in the house when it was being processed in that huge pressure cooker!

I  remember Mom and I staying up all night peeling those little silver-skin onions for pickling later that day!

So, you can imagine, when I left home to be on my own, I really missed all the wonderful treasures stored in our basement storage room (aka the cooler). It seemed to me that if I wanted some jam I had better damned well learn how to make it! I worked in a fruit cannery for a couple of summers when I was in my teens and I wasn’t about to eat bought jam!

DSC_3296 nx2I don’t do much canning anymore and I kind of miss it, especially when I see all the wonderful produce and fruit at the Farmer’s Market each week. Memories of sitting on the back steps on a sunny morning, peeling a big bag of pears someone had given us, about to be turned into spicy pear chutney or trying to come up with something clever to do with that big bunch of Italian prune plums a friend left at the back door, other than jam; not that I don’t love plum jam. In the end they became a star anise flavoured Asian plum dipping sauce!

A sight to behold and what a sense of accomplishment…all those glorious sparkling colours of jams and jellies in their cute little jars, dill pickles resting for 6 weeks, relishes and dark, spicy chutneys to serve with meat pies or on a sandwich or with cheeses…yum! Yes, there really is something about canning!

If you would like the recipe for the relish, click Mary’s Green Tomato Relish.  For the recipe for the Zucchini Marmalade, click here. For the recipe for my Dill Pickles, click here.

If you are looking for a recipe, send me a comment and I will get right back to you!

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Borscht

It’s Russian Soul Food!

Borscht is a part of my family heritage. During the year there are times when “I just gotta have some”. When I eat borscht, my Husband says it’s like I am having a religious experience!

DSC_1695 nx2The version in  my recipe section is not the purple, beety one, it is more of a vegetable soup. Both my Mom and her Sister made it for their families and with some good crusty bread and a bit of cheese, it made not only a nutritious meal but a fairly inexpensive way to feed a family. No meat, just veggies. Funny thing was, they both made a different version. My aunt put tons of butter & cream into hers, it was good but not like Mom’s!

My first job in the Executive Dining Room kitchen, was as assistant to Anne, who ran the place.   One day she said, “I am going to make borscht for tomorrow’s luncheon”. My first thought was “oh no…this is quite a rustic soup and how in the world does this fit in with an Executive Dining Room?” The next day, when I arrived at work, she had the big soup pot going. Now, I had never sampled her borscht before, but when we finally sat down to eat once the luncheon was over, one spoonful and I was immediately transported back to my childhood. Her borscht was everything I remembered; vegetarian and oh so good, just like my Mom’s used to be before Dad coerced her into putting some meat into the soup.

The recipe I have been making ever since is the one I got from Anne and I am so grateful for having the opportunity to share it with her! It is one of the recipes I have of hers that I will always treasure.  Better go and make some!

If you would like to be transported to a Russian childhood experience, click Borscht.

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