Quick Lemon Ginger Marmalade

 I was down in California a couple of weeks ago for the Natural Food and Product Expo. I was manning the booth for the company I work for and getting a chance to meet foodies from all over. It was such a fun event! If you are not familiar with Expo West imagine you are strolling through Whole Foods market and you can taste every single item on the shelf. As you are tasting you can talk directly to the people who make the products. Very cool! I stopped by the King Arthur booth for some baked goods and went all fan girl about how much I love the blog done by their R&D team.  I had a great time sampling all the new and innovative products as well as meeting people who love talking about food as much as I do. It was inspiring.

The first day of expo I was handing out samples and chatting with folks when I got on the topic of local food and how the food industry is changing for many. Localvore has entered the culinary landscape and it is exciting! I was sharing a conversation with another food blogger about local fresh ingredients when he told me he had lemons that very morning picked from a tree in his yard.
You have fresh local lemons!
I got super excited and waxed poetic about fresh fruit... I have not had any since I picked  calamondin oranges at my moms when I visited in October. My last local bit of fresh fruit was also last fall when I picked apples. I have been eating plenty of canned fruit that I put away last fall so I have not really been tempted to purchase any but, geez fresh picked lemons! So of course he offered to bring me some! And he did! The very next day he showed up at my booth with a grocery sack full of the freshest bag of citrusy sunshine I have ever smelled.

At the end of expo I put 5 pounds of lemons in my suitcase, checking my bag at the airport, and prayed no one would confiscate my agricultural booty.

Now back in Oregon I have been putting lemons in all sorts of recipes. My all time favorite spring time Lemon Cookie, a lemon kefir cake - recipe coming soon!, and jars of Lemon Ginger Marmalade. I gave some away and I still have a few that I needed to freeze! Lemons and other citrus freeze remarkably well.

This recipe comes from "Ball Complete Book Of Home Preserving" an exciting book for those of you interested in learning to can your surplus of local fruits and veggies. This book contains 400 recipes. If you are looking for reduced sugar or pressure canning recipes this book will only provide a brief introduction.

Quick Lemon Ginger Marmalade

7 half-pint jars from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

  • 6 small lemons
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup coarsely grated ginger root (about 12 oz.)
  • 1 (1 3/4 ounce) package regular powdered fruit pectin
  • 6 1/2 cups sugar
  1. Prepare canner, jars, and lids.
  2. Measure sugar and set aside.
  3. Using a vegetable peeler, remove yellow lemon peel in long strips. Cut strips into thin slices. Reserve fruit.
  4. In a large deep stainless steel saucepan, combine lemon peel, baking soda, and water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, cover, and boil gently for 5 minutes until peel is softened. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Using a sharp knife, cut white pith from lemons. Working over a large bowl to catch juice, use sharp knife to separate lemon segments from membrane. Place segments in bowl and squeeze membrane to remove as much juice as possible, collecting in bowl. Discard membrane and seeds.
  6. Measure 1 cup lemon segments and juice. Add to softened lemon peel with ginger root. Whisk in pectin until dissolved.
  7. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Add sugar all at once and return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and skim off foam.
  8. Ladle hot marmalade into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Remove air bubbles and adjust head space if necessary by adding hot marmalade. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.
  9. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered by water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool, and store.  


So I was watching Shrek 2 when I noticed an eerie resemblence between Scout and Puss in Boots.

Cake Slice Bakers : Pineapple Upside-down Cake

For the month of March the Cake Slice Bakers top voted cake was the Pineapple Upside-down cake. The only time I remember having this cake was served with my school lunch at the cafeteria in grade school.  This cake is better than my old Alma mater was capable of whipping up for hoards of hungry 3rd graders. The flavors are really lovely. Just imagine sweet brown sugar coated fruit with hits of buttery cake and you will get the idea. Pineapple this time of year is a cheery reminder that sunnier days are on the way.

I followed the recipes EXACTLY as written.(I know I must be coming down with something!) The only ingredient swap I made was to choose a healthier locally canned cherry instead of the day-glow red variety floating around in High Fructose Syrup. The finished cake still looks pretty but the lack of dye in my cherries seemed to dull the jewel like appearance I usually associate with this cake.

Flipping the cake out of the pan after cooling for 5 minutes is like waiting for the moment you get to open your birthday gifts. I was really pleased that I only lost one pineapple ring during the flip. It was easily replaced back on top of the cake.

This is not a recipe I would repeat. Even though I really like the taste I found the texture offputting. The cake is gummy and soggy under the syrup and fruit. I have read that adding an extra egg white to the batter will provide a sturdier cake. I may give Pineapple Upside- down Cake another try using the extra egg white tip. Your suggestions are welcome if you have a most favorite recipe!

March’s Cake: Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
(Recipe from Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott)
Pineapple Topping
One 20-ounce can pineapple rings, with their syrup or juice
4 tbsp cold butter
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
10 maraschino cherries

1½ cups all purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
1½ tsp baking powder
½ salt
½ cup milk
4 tbsp butter, softened
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
Heat the oven to 350F.

To make the topping
Drain the pineapple well, reserving 2 tablespoons of the juice or syrup for the cake batter. Melt the cold butter in a 10 inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Or, put the butter in a 9inch round cake pan and put it in the oven for a few minutes as the heat melts the butter.

Remove the pan from the oven or stove and sprinkle the brown sugar over the buttery surface. Place the pineapple rings carefully on top of the scattered brown sugar and melted butter, arranging them so they fit in 1 layer. (You may have a few left over). Place a cherry in the center of each ring, and set the pan aside.

To make the cake
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Use a fork to mix them together well. Add the milk and butter and beat well with a mixer, scraping down the bowl once or twice until you have a thick, fairly smooth batter, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the egg, reserved pineapple syrup or juice and the vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes more, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides.

Carefully pour the batter over the pineapple arranged in the skillet or cake pan and use a spoon to spread it evenly to the edges of the pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the cake is golden brown and springs back when touched lightly in the center. Cool in the skillet or pan for 5 minutes on a wire rack.

With oven mitts, carefully turn out the warm cake onto a serving plate by placing the plate upside down over the cake in the pan and then flipping them over together to release the cake onto the plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Be sure to get the story from the rest of the Cake Slice Bakers. Maybe they had better luck.

Here chick, chick, chick, chick...

I can not stand how cute these babies are! OH MY! 
I have named the little yellow chick lady marmalade - I was making some lemon ginger marmalade yesterday and it seems to fit her. Any suggestions for the other two? 
I have wanted laying hens for awhile but I live in town and never thought it was possible until I met a neighbor who had chickens and ducks. Right downtown! I would go visit those chickens regularly and sometimes find an egg or two. So even though I don't have a coop - yet- I decided to get some chicks and just dive right in. I chose three breeds. Three because my friend said four would be too many? You have to set your limit somewhere I guess.
The little yellow baby, marmalade, is a buff orpington.

She should look like this when she gets older. they are described as sweet and curious and recommended for first time chicken moms.
The second chick is a speckled Sussex and this is where my carefully chosen list of chickens I should buy went right out the window. See, I did some research before I went to the feed store so I would get easy chickens suitable for someone who only knows that chickens lay eggs and are fun to watch. But then I saw the big bin of chicks with a glossy photo of a beautiful spotted hen and, well, my list went right back in my pocket.
Now that I was just randomly picking chicks it got a lot harder. I was deciding between one of those punk rock looking polish breeds with the plumes on their heads or the lovely silver laced wyandottes like saw at last years county fair.
Just look at those black tipped feathers! This hen is ready for cocktails and a night of salsa dancing! So glamorous!
I am still not entirely sure which chick I ended up with but, I asked for ms. silver lace. They were in the same bin peeping and running around like crazy so I hope we caught the right chick. If not, a polish punk chicken will fit in perfectly around here! UP the Punx!

After doing a quick search the web says Wyandottes tend to be dominant birds. This is my largest chick and she is definitely in charge of the other two. 
All of my lady birds - please let them all be lady birds!- should lay brown eggs. My dog, scout, has been very eager to eat meet them. I will really have to keep an eye on any predators like neighborhood cats, dogs, and raccoons. Hawks should not be a problem in the city but some bird fencing should prevent a hawk attack.
So I hope you will all join me as my blog shifts focus a bit from exclusively baking to my experiments in urban farming! 
Now to get some "volunteers" to help me build a coop!  This one is lovely don't you think? 

S'mores Bars

I have almost a full bag of marshmallows left from my last Cake Slice Bakers challenge and I happened to see Monica's recipe for magic bars. (If you have not visited her blog - Lick the Bowl Good, do yourself a favor a go drool over her beautiful photos and recipes)  With a couple of ingredient swaps and sheer luck I ended up with a pretty tasty little treat reminicent of a s'mores bar.

Magic S'mores Cookie Bars 
adapted from Lick the Bowl Good
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups (12 oz. pkg.) semi-sweet chocolate chips- I used about 8 oz bakers semi sweet and chopped it up since it is what I had on hand.
  • 2 cups Marshmallows or enough to cover.
Heat oven to 350°F. Put foil in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray or butter. ( the marshmallows get pretty sticky!)
Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter in small bowl.
Press into bottom of prepared pan.
Bake for 5 minutes and remove from oven.
Layer evenly with chocolate chips,
Drizzle sweetened condensed milk evenly  mixture.
Top with marshmallows .
Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. The marshmallows should be puffy and golden.
If you bake it too long the marshmallows will deflate. Don't worry! This happened to me. I just threw on some more marshmallows and put it back in the oven with the broiler on until the mallows got puffy and a little less golden!
Loosen from sides of pan while still warm; cool on wire rack. Cut into bars

 It barely made a dent in my marshmallow supply so any one with recipes send them my way!

BYOB- Honey Wheat Bread

After much trial and error I have finally found my favorite recipe for Honey Wheat Bread. It is hearty and soft with a good balance of nutty and sweet flavors. It is a straight dough method which means you can just jump right in. No need for overnight fermenting or a starter. 
This has become my go to sandwich bread.

Whole Wheat Bread
Recipe from " On Cooking a Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals" 4th ed.
Yields 2 large loaves or 35 rolls

Salt  - 2 tsp./ 10 ml
Dry milk ( I have used powdered soy milk with good results) 1 1/4 oz / 38 grams
Whole wheat flour - 1 lb 10oz./ 780 grams
Water, warm - 18 fluid oz / 540 ml
Active dry yeast - 1/2 oz/ 15 grams
Honey ( I have used agave syrup with good results) 3 oz / 90 grams
Unsalted butter, softened 1 oz/ 30 grams

1. Combine the salt, milk powder 12 ounces (360 grams) whole wheat flour, water, yeast, honey, softened butter in a mixing bowl and mix until combined. cover bowl with plastic wrap and set in warm place for 10 minutes until yeast is frothy - I do this to make sure the yeast is working  the recipe skips this step.
2. Add the remaining flour 2 oz (60 grams) at a time. Knead on medium speed approximately 8 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover. Let dough ferment in a warm place until doubled.
4. Punch down, portion and shape as desired.
5. Le the shaped dough proof until doubled. Bake at 375 F (190 C) until firm and dark brown, approximately 1 hour for loaves and 20 minutes for rolls. I have found my loaves are done after 45 minutes so check your loaves as you go.
Optional- brush the top of the loaves or rolls with melted butter after baking.
This bread is best within 3 days but it has held up well in my refrigerator for 2 weeks. It does dry out in the fridge.