Jammin' in My Kitchen with Blackberries, Raspberries and Tomatoes

I'm almost back.

I'm busy preserving the the amazing fruits and vegetables from my garden.  Because of the hot temperatures this summer, fruits and vegetables on coming on sooner than normal.  I will be so grateful this winter to have my own jams, jellies, and bottled tomatoes on the shelves.

Check your local farmers markets (or backyards) for luscious fruits for jams.

This Blackberry Raspberry Jam is my all time favorite (next to my Grandma's Current Jelly).

Second favorite is Strawberry Raspberry Freezer Jam

 I have picked to tomatoes for this savory Spicy Tomato Jam.  It's AMAZING on everything.

I'm actually working on turning this recipe into a spicy ketchup.  Watch for the recipe and instructions soon.

I've got to go.  I have this Peach Leather in the oven drying and the timer is going off.

Hooray for PEACH SEASON!!



Homemade Ginger Ale

This past January I went to Kona, Hawaii to bring my parents home who were serving as missionaries for the past year.  I know it was a rough trip, but some one had to do it.  We went to the local farmers market where they were selling fresh ginger and turmeric EVERYWHERE.  I bought a ton.  1) it was beautiful, 2)it was cheap.  I was giddy.  This ginger was beautiful and yellow without the gray stingy toughness that my local grocery store had all the time.

I brought  it home, wash and peel it.  Then I chop the ginger and put in the freezer for future use.  It freezes great and now I always have fresh ginger on hand.  THEN I put the skin into my juicer (Omega 3...LOVE IT).  I get a lot of fresh ginger juice.  I pour the juice into ice cube trays, freeze then pop the frozen ginger cubes into a plastic bag.  I now have fresh ginger and fresh ginger juice ready and waiting for me.

Ginger is a great natural anti-inflammatory.  My son swears by it for an upset stomach.  I just love adding a tablespoons or so of fresh ginger juice into other juices or smoothies.

Have you noticed the fresh ginger in your local grocery store lately?  The ginger in my favorite Asian market has been absolutely beautiful and the cost is $1.29 lb.  I just can't pass this up.  Every time I'm shopping there I buy a bag full.  I bring it home and go through the same process of chopping, juicing freezing.  My husband told me not to buy anymore ginger.  That was an unrealistic request.  I must purchase all of the beautiful ginger I can find.  Who knows how long it will last?  Soon the ginger will be tough, stringy and gray.  She who has the most ginger WINS!

I should mention that my son gave me his Omega 3 juicer (sucker).  If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have been able to juice the skins so well.  

You will need a boat load of fresh ginger, sugar, water, limes and a bit of mint which is optional, but you really shouldn't omit it.

Peel the ginger.  I just use a pairing knife and gently scrape the skin off.

Slice the ginger.  You will need 2 cups of sliced, peeled ginger.

Place the ginger into a medium size sauce pan.

Add 2 cups of water.

Place over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer.

Let simmer for 5 minutes.

Cover with a lid and let the mixture steep or stand for 1 hour.

After one hour, remove the lid and pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer.  Discard the remaining ginger.

Pour the liquid back into the same sauce pan.

Add 1 1/2 cups of sugar and place over low heat.

Warm the syrup just until the sugar melts.  Remove from the heat and let the syrup cool.

Pour the cooled syrup into a jar and refrigerate until ready to use.  Make sure the syrup is nice and cold before making the ginger ale.

Let's make ginger ale.  Please note that this recipe is pretty much based on taste.  I'll give you  a few guidelines, but feel free to adjust to make your ginger ale to your liking.

You will need chilled sparkling water, limes, fresh mint, ginger syrup and ice.

A good ratio to use is:  1 part lime juice, 2 parts ginger syrup and 3 parts sparkling water.

For an eight ounce glass of ginger ale, squeeze 1/2 of a lime into a glass.

I like to bruise the mint a bit to release the flavors.  I just pound the leaves a few times.

Add the mint to the lime juice.  

Oh, let me mention the use of FRESH-squeezed lime juice.  Don't go and buy that reconstituted crapola lime juice...please.

Add the ginger syrup.  About 1/4 cup.  

Now add the sparkling water to fill the glass.  Leave room for ice.

Just give the drink a stir to blend all of the liquids.

Now you can add the ice.

Top the ginger ale with a sprig of mint and a straw.


Homemade Ginger Ale

2 cups peeled and chopped fresh ginger
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 large bottle of sparkling water
fresh limes 
fresh mint leaves

To make the Ginger syrup:  In a medium size sauce pan, heat the water and ginger until it reaches a low simmer.  Simmer for five minutes.  Remove from the heat and cover.  Let stand for 1 hour.  

After one hour, drain the juices through a fine mesh strainer.  Discard the ginger pieces.  Let cool then place in a jar and refrigerate.

To make the Ginger Ale:  In a tall glass, add 1 part lime juice (about 1/2 lime per glass), 2 parts ginger syrup, and 3 parts sparkling water.  Stir to combine the liquids.  Fill glass with ice.  If desired, add fresh mint.

Adjust to your liking.  I always end up adding more lime juice.

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Thanks, Ry, for being our beverage connoisseur.  


Two Spring Tarts for Mother's Day

Is it a good idea to have two pies for brunch on Mother's Day?

Why not?  I'm thinking of serving this Strawberry Rhubarb Tarts and Spring Leek and Asparagus Quiche with a big fresh salad.  I should probably top the tarts with a scoop of homemade strawberry ice cream.

However, I have a problem with choosing what's healthy and good for me over what I want. I always tend to make the healthy choice.  Chances are I will probably end up making Cedar Plank Salmon, which is just as delicious...or I'll just serve all of them...hmmmmm.

Three fabulous ideas.

I'm sure you have noticed that I haven't been posting quite so often.  I need to take some time off to work on recipe development, photography, and try to decide where I want this blog to go from here.

I could use some personal time as well.  I have so many things I have neglected that need my care AND I simply just need a break.

I will try to post every so often until I get a good list of new recipes worth posting.

I'd love your feed back.  My eating habits have changed since starting this blog.  I try not to use
processed foods.  I like fresh, flavorful, funky and spicy ingredients.  So I may be switching things up a bit...or not.

 Any ideas????


Crockpot Barbacoa Beef with Balsamic Glazed Shallots, Pickled Jalapenos, and Mango on a Steamed Bun

Have you every created Asian/Mexican fusion by putting Asian ingredients into a tortilla?

We do that all the time around here and LOVE it!  The other day I was thinking why can't we take Mexican ingredients and put them into steamed buns? Why not?

I threw some spices and a chuck roast into my crockpot and created this beautiful spread.

If you're looking for something new to serve, this is it.  

I get a kick out of my son-in-law when he's eating something he really enjoys.

He makes sounds like mmmmmmm combined with a little grunting noise.

At first I just thought the poor guy must be starving.  Then I realized he was right this is worth grunting and moaning over. It's dang good!

The beef has some interesting flavor combinations.  I love the spice of the cinnamon combined with the tang of the lime juice.

You're just going to have to give this one a try and if you don't want to go to the effort of steaming your buns, just load the ingredients into a flour or corn tortilla or even better wrap in lettuce.

This is what you're going to need:

2 1/2 - 3 lbs. beef chuck roast
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
salt and pepper
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
juice from 1 orange
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Balsamic Shallots:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
4 shallots, peeled and sliced thin

Pickled jalapeno peppers:
3 jalapeno peppers
3/4 cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar

ripe mango
ripe avocado

Cut chuck roast into 3 to 4-inch chunks and place in a crockpot.

Sprinkle in salt and pepper.

Add cumin, chipotle powder and cinnamon.

Toss in one chopped onion.

and 4 chopped garlic cloves

Chop the chipotle pepper in adobo sauce and add to the pot.

Pour in 1/4 cup fresh lime juice.

Juice from one orange.

and 1/2 cup chopped cilantro.

At this point I use my hands to rub the ingredients into the beef.

I like to place a sheet of parchment paper on top of the mix to help seal in all moisture.

I folded my parchment in half and I'm pressing it against the mix.

Cover crockpot and cook on high for 4 hours or low for about 6 hours.

Once cooked shred beef with two forks.

While the beef is cooking, prepare pickled jalapenos and caramelized shallots:

To pickle the jalapeno peppers:  add 3/4 cup rice vinegar to a small bowl.

Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon sugar.


Add sliced jalapeno peppers.

Cover and refrigerate for an hour or two.  Can be made a day in advance.

In medium size skillet, add 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar.

Add sliced shallots.

Bring to a gentle simmer to lightly caramelize the shallots.

Remove from heat and set aside.

To assemble you will need:  cooked shredded beef, pickled jalapeno peppers, caramelized shallots, avocado & mango slices.

You will also need steamed buns or corn or flour tortillas.  I would suggest trying the steamed buns, but any option is going to blow your taste buds away.

Begin with a shredded beef then layer prepared ingredients into the steamed buns.  

My lips are still burning from the pickled jalapenos.  They were spicy hot!  

I love the sweetness of the mango paired with the heat of the other ingredients.  So bright and fresh.

Crockpot Barbacoa Beef with Balsamic Glazed Shallots, Pickled Jalapenos and Mango on a Steamed Bun

2 1/2 - 3 lbs. beef chuck roast, cut into 3-4 inch cubes
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
salt and pepper
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
juice from 1 orange
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Balsamic Shallots:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
4 shallots, peeled and sliced thin

Pickled jalapeno peppers:
3 jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced
3/4 cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar

ripe mango
ripe avocado

To prepare beef:  Place all ingredients in a crockpot.  Place a sheet of parchment paper over ingredients, cover with lid.  Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours.  Using two forks shred the beef and return the to juices in the pan and keep warm until ready to serve.

To prepare Shallots:  Add vinegar and shallots into a medium size skillet. Cook over medium heat and bring to a low simmer until shallots begin to caramelize.  Remove from heat.

To prepare Pickled Jalapeno Peppers:  In a bowl add vinegar, salt and sugar.  Stir to dissolve then add sliced peppers.  Place in refrigerator while beef is cooking.  Can be made a day in advance.

To assemble:  Layer beef with caramelized shallots, pickled jalapeno peppers, ripe avocado slices and mango slices inside a steamed bun or flour or corn tortillas.

Serves 4-6

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