Saturday, May 14, 2011

Violet Jelly

It is nice knowing creative people.  Creative people who know neat things.  Take Heather, for example, who not only knew about an amazing method for delicious, quick and easy homemade bread, but also knew that these pretty little weeds all over my lawn can be brewed up tea-style and made into a right-tasty jelly.

Wait...what?  Weed Jelly?  Yup.  Although the slightly more precise name "Violet Jelly" sounds a tad more appealing.  My husband looked at me as though I'd lost my mind when he caught me picking these blossoms and I informed him of my plan.  I wouldn't be surprised if you looked in the mirror now and had that same look on your face.

This jelly is a beautiful slighlty pink, slightly purple (dare I say...violet?) color.  It is intensely sweet and flowery tasting.  I'll be probably isn't the best jam/jelly that I've made.  But it is darn good.  And pretty.  And weirdly cool in an "I-used-to-be-completely-obsessed-with-Laura-Ingalls-Wilder-and-am-still-sorta-weird-and-"grandma-y"-when-it-comes-to-this-kind-of-stuff" kind of way.

Definately worth the time and effort, in my opinion.  Plus, it gives me something to do while the girls are running around the yard. 

In sort of a spin-off of "One man's trash is another man's treasure"... how about we now all say "One man's weed is another man's jelly"?

Violet Jelly

2-4 C. Violet blossoms
2 C. boiling water
1/4 C. bottled lemon juice
1 package fruit pectin
4 C. sugar

1.) Pour boiling water over violet blossoms and let steep for up to 24 hours.
2.) Strain out blossoms (I let it sit in the strainer for several more hours)
3.) In a very large sauce pan, mix the violet juice/tea, lemon juice, and pectin.  Bring to a rolling boil.
4.) Add the sugar all at once and stir.  Return to a rolling boil and let boil for one minute.
5.) Remove from heat and ladle into prepared jars.
6.) Process using the boiling-water method for 10 minutes.  (Or you can freeze whatever you aren't going to use right away).

Monday, May 9, 2011

Recent Cakes

It's been quite awhile since I decorated anything.  After the intense baking of the Christmas season, I needed a bit of a break.  And so did my waistline.  There's a bit of an ebb and flow to my weight.  My winter clothes are all a size larger than my summer clothes.  My body plans ahead for the cold of the winter months and begins adding insulation right around Halloween.  Sort of like a grizzly bear.  If only I could also hibernate.

I decided to jump back in and do some practicing over the recent holidays.  For Easter, I made this cake for my side of the family.  Chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and green tinted coconut for the grass.  I decorated sugar cookies with a royal icing-type glaze to make the Easter eggs.

For Mother's Day, I copied a cake from I am Baker and made this rose cake.  White cake with peach filling (made from some thickened peach butter).  If you're a frosting person, this cake is for you.  And if you're not a frosting person...well, just scrape it off and give to the child (of any age, young or old) next to you. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Quick Hint: Minced Garlic

Because I have a camera full of photos that I have yet to upload, let alone edit (stay tuned for the Easter cake I made last weekend)...instead of a fabulous recipe or picture of my kitchen creations I have a tip for you that I use to help me out in my cooking adventures. 

I might have more "Quick Hints" for you from time to time...usually when it's been awhile since I've written and think it might be awhile before I get to again :-)

So....minced garlic.  Ugh...I hate mincing garlic.  Peeling, smashing, cutting...what a time waster.  Although I love garlic in just about everything but chocolate cake...I never used it very often because it was such an incredible hassle.  Then I figured out a trick that changed my life forever.  Too dramatic?  Ok, I figured out a trick that changed my savory recipes forever.

About twice a year I buy a giant tub of peeled garlic cloves from our local discount bulk store (Sam's Club is the only option where I live).

I dump the garlic cloves, along with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, into the food processor attachment to my blender and grind away. 

Then, I fill up one jelly jar to store in the fridge and as many others (or plastic containers) and load up the freezer. 

Now, whenever a recipe calls for garlic (or whenever I feel like adding it) I just get the jar from the fridge and dish out a scoop.