Thursday, September 29, 2016

Jammin' with Plum Jam !


 Aww Summertime....Why do you have to leave me until next year ? I am already missing your luscious fruit !!  Well....I can dry my tears because I have a most happy summertime memory of making PLUM JAM with my daughter Courtney in Santa Cruz !! And we'll be able to taste the bright flavors of summer when we spread our jam on toast, drizzle it on top of ice-cream, or eat it with meat, etc.

    Courtney called me and told me that her fruit
trees were loaded, with three kinds of plums and asked me if I would like to come to her house for a jam making day ! How fun that sounded, so we put a date on the calendar about a month away, when she wasn't working with her  company 'Ramblin Adventure Club' in which children are taken on wonderful outdoor adventures ! She froze the plums in plastic bags for our future date. I was excited to spend some time with  Courtney !                
 So when I arrived at Courtney's she had the plums thawed out, we had some quesadillas and  herbal tea for lunch, and then we proceeded to pit the plums with our hands ! Fortunately Courtney gave me some blue surgical gloves while she went au naturel  with her bare hands. Her boyfriend Andy stopped by to see what we were doing and remarked that we looked like we were doing surgery. Well, uh yes...moving on...we put the plums in a large pot with some water, lemon juice,  and some sugar. After tasting the jam we thought it needed a little flavor enhancing so we went to the grocery store , bought some honey (and ice-cream !). In went several tablespoons of honey into the pot !
    After a while Courtney and I took a little rest and then sterilized the jars and filled them until about 11:00 that night. And oh....we added cinnamon to half of the batch to spice it up a bit !
   The next day my daughter  Brittany and son-in-law Jeff came by to visit and they got to see the fruit of our labor all packed in cute little jars.
   Aaaand...I asked Courtney for the jam recipe, but maybe she's secretly guarding it...or maybe not...hee hee soooo, I found what looks like the easiest honey plum jam recipe on the planet....except your labor and time of course ! It's just two hard can that be !
   I recommend making jam with your family or friends. you get to spend the whole day together, talking, laughing, and creating something wonderful together ! How great is that !
   Thank you Courtney for a very special day with you....I enjoyed our time together so much !! Let's do it again ! With all the ABC girls and more !
                                                     Beemaid Honey Plum Jam Recipe


4 cups cut up plums
1 3/4  cups honey


   Wash plums ; remove stones and chop into fine pieces.Place in a large saucepan ; stir in honey and let sit for an hour. Bring to a boil. Cook at a full rolling boil for 15 minutes. Pour into hot sterilized jars and seal with a thin layer of paraffin. When cool, add another thin layer of paraffin. Cover, label, and store in a cool place. Makes about 6 jelly jars.
   ( Courtney and I did not use paraffin. We boiled the jars for about 10-15 minutes and washed the lids in hot water, then dried them. The jars were lifted out of the pot with canning tongs and turned over onto a clean cloth. Hot jam ( after we tasted it to make sure it was yummy) was spooned into a  canning funnel and into the jars. The lids were screwed on, not too tightly. The jars whose lid centers sink in are safely sealed. Screw the lids on a little tighter. If a lid center  has not sunk in and they make a clicking noise, it's not able to be stored, but you can put it in the refrigerator and eat it now ! )
   Store the jam jars in a dark, cool place and eat it within 6 months. The jam may get runny after that.

   Thank you Adonai for the beautiful fruit You give us and special times with family and friends !

P.S. Check out Courtney's website where kids go out for a new adventure and hike every day !!

P.P.S. I spy Lynette Shor's gorgeous Challah bread and a jar of her delicious jam on the table ! She's my friend and Messianic Rabbi's wife who has a home bakery business called Challahday Bread Company in Fresno !


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Summer Vegetable Tian !

   It's the end of summer and I just realized that I haven't made one of my favorite summer French vegetable dishes...a vegetable tian !When I think of this tian, I am reminded of taking French classes when I lived in Santa Barbara, California. After each class ended for the term, my French teacher Carla, would guide us in planning a potluck French dinner. She would ask us what we would like to bring, and each one of us would tell her what we were going to bring in French. One of my fellow classmates brought this fabulous tian to one of the parties. Several of us expressed our delight in this dish, and she said that she found the recipe in Ina Garten's lovely cookbook called Barefoot in Paris.          

     There is still time to run to the farmer's market to select some beautiful tomatoes and zucchini squash ! My favorite tomatoes are Heirloom with the red bottoms and the green stripes on top. My farmer friend Rocio, grows the most scrumptious  Heirloom and other vine-ripened tomatoes ever, selling them at the Vineyard Framer's Market, in this hot San Juaquin valley where I live ! Add some onions, garlic, potatoes, fresh thyme, and some Gruyere've got it made in the shade !

 Tians originated in Provence, France....usually consisting of vegetables, herbs, and cheeses that are layered together and then baked. A tian is a French word that depicts a shallow earthenware casserole, and the food it contains. This is an excellent  comforting dish to serve alongside meat, as a vegetarian entree, or as a brunch or lunch casserole.  It would also be delicious made with fall and winter vegetables when summer time has gone bye bye. When I was visiting with my folks in San Diego, we ate this tian  on a balmy day outside for breakfast. I have also brought it to share at Oneg (Dinner delight) after our Messianic Jewish Shabbat service. Choose tomatoes, zucchini, and potatoes that are about the same diameter, so that the slices look more or less uniform and that they bake at the same time.
                                                        Ina Garten's Vegetable Tian

Good olive oil
2 large yellow onions, cut in half and sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound medium round potatoes, unpeeled (Don't use old potatoes...they taste old !)
3/4 pound zucchini
1-1/4 pounds medium tomatoes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus extra sprigs
2 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

   Brush a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking dish with olive oil. In a medium sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook the onions over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Spread the onion mixture on the bottom of the baking dish.

   Slice the potatoes, zucchini, and tomatoes in 1/4-inch-thick slices. Layer them alternately in the dish on top of the onions, fitting them tightly, making only one layer. sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme leaves, and thyme sprigs and drizzle with 1 more tablespoon of olive oil. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Uncover the dish, remove the thyme sprigs, sprinkle the cheese on top, and bake for another 30 minutes, or until browned. Lay some fresh thyme sprigs on top. I like to taste the dish to see if it needs additional salt, pepper, or thyme leaves.  Serve warm. I enjoy eating this delicious dish the next 2-3 days, reheated. A little water added to the dish might help to moisten it.