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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Holiday Prep: Jams

So, as part of my preparation for the holidays this year, this week I am making jam. Had intended to start earlier in the week, but, well, life happened, so I'm really just getting started today. Earlier in the year, I mentioned making Watermelon Jelly/jam. Today, thanks to the miracle of the freezer, I am doing so again. Last August we bought 2 watermelons, intending to eat one and turn the other into jam, well, we wound up eating only about half of one and the rest of it all got pureed and tossed in the freezer. (I did pre-measure it all so I know each bag will do a double batch.)
Today I pulled it all out and am making the jam. Some of it will be distributed in our yearly Christmas Gift baskets, cuz it's just cool enough and different enough to make a great addition, plus it's nice to have that little flavor of summer while buried under the cold and snow here in Alaska.
Tomorrow will likely see the strawberry and mixed fruit batches, but today I wanted to share the Watermelon Recipe I found and liked so much.

First, you will need watermelon puree. Just cube and seed a watermelon, run it thru the blender a bit til it's a nice smooth puree.
For 1 batch:
2 cups watermelon puree
3 tbsp lemon juice
3 1/2 c sugar
1 pkg pectin, dry

Mix the watermelon and the lemon juice. Add pectin + 1/4 c sugar. bring to boil, add remaining sugar and return to boil. boil for about 1 minute then bottle and process as you would any other jam.
I have also seen an almost identical recipe that said to add all the sugar first, bring to boil and then add the pectin. I haven't tried that version, so not sure what difference that might make.

I've gotten the first double batch done. Have to say, it's not quite as good as the batch I made this summer, when the watermelon was fresh. It's been in my freezer since August, though it could have also just been a less flavorful watermelon then the one we used for the first trial batch back in July. Though I have to admit, I didn't really let it cool before trying. 4 more double batches to go.. a batch only makes about 4 half pints though.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Recipe Time: Tomato Bacon Soup

Ok, so Tom came home this hitch and wanted me to try making Tomato Bacon Soup. He'd had something similar up at work and thought it was good and something I should add to the menu rotation if we could figure it out. And with snow now, finally, falling, a nice warming soup is good and would make a change to the usual stews and chilis.
Well, we succeeded and he loves it, so figured I'd better a) get the recipe down while I could remember it and b) share it with the world.

So, here's what went in to it (though I can't be 100% on amounts as I really didn't measure it..)

1 can (large, but not huge family size type) Crushed Tomatoes in juice
1 can (regular) Italian style diced tomatoes (the kind with basil, garlic and oregano)
4 fresh tomatoes chopped, seeds, juice and all
6 green onions
a bit of green bell pepper
a couple sprigs of fresh thyme (cuz I had it, if you don't have it you can use dried)

6 strips of thick cut pork bacon
6 strips turkey bacon

So, put everything except the bacon in a pot and let bubble and boil til it all cooks down nicely. Run that all through the blender to puree it good and smooth.

I then split it into 2 batches (I am on a low salt diet and don't really like pork much, so I did the turkey version for me and pork for him. You are free to do as you want.) and then started frying up the bacon. I chopped it all up into small pieces and fried it til just crisp then added it and the fats to the soup. Stir well. I then let it sit until dinner time (about an hour and a half or so) then reheated to eating temperatures and served with garlic bread. It is good. I would probably add a bit more onion and bell pepper and maybe some mushrooms to it next time, but hubby thinks it's perfect the way it is. This is definitely going to be something we add to the regular monthly menu.