Two Time Jam Champion at the State Fair!

Hi readers! Hopefully the title of this post says it all, but yes, the DC State Fair happened this past weekend and my jam won first place, again! Last year I won first with my Southern Lady Pepper Jelly, and this year I entered two fruit-centric jams. I’m trying to be modest, but both jams placed– 1st and 2nd!

Award Winning Jams ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

I didn’t go into this year’s fair thinking I would win again. There was a lot of good competition last year who I knew would be back this year too. Plus, a part of me felt my win was probably beginners luck last time. Nope! I think I might know what I’m doing! ūüėČ

Smoky Peach and Pepper Jam and Peach-Basil Jam ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

So, on the left is the 1st place jam,  Smoky Peach and Pepper. The 2nd place jam on the right is Peach-Basil. These are the peaches my husband and I picked earlier in the summer, and the basil and some of the peppers were grown in my community garden plot.

Smoky Peach and Pepper Jam ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

LOVE the color

These jams are delicious and too sophisticated in flavor to go on a PB&J. The Smoky Peach and Pepper has an intense smoke flavor that yields to the sweetness of the peach and a tiny hint of heat from the pepper. It is amazing served with cheese and crackers. The Peach-Basil is also sweet, with a strong fresh basil taste that intensifies as you chew. I love slathering it onto a toasted bagel and cream cheese.

Yums. ūüôā

IMG_3853

I’m sharing the recipes with you all in the hopes you try these jams too one day. Freshly picked ingredients make the best jam, remember that! I picked everything that went into this jam and then starting cooking it within 24 hours. It sounds like a lot of work, but it really is just fun and you get a better product.

Fresh Peach Jam

  • 4 heaping cups finely chopped, peeled and pitted peaches
  • 2 tbl lemon juice
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 1 package (49-57 g) powder pectin or about 6 tablespoons

For Peach-Basil Jam

  • 3/4 cup snipped fresh sweet basil

For Smokey Peach and Pepper Jam

  • 3/4 cup finely chopped red, yellow and orange hot peppers (not jalapeno)
  • 1/4 heaping tsp dried smoked paprika (taste it, you may need to add more depending on smokiness of your spice)
  • 1/4 tsp dried ground chipotle pepper (again, taste it, you may want more if you want a big kick of heat, this is for mild heat)

Directions: The base peach jam recipe is above, you add in either the additional ingredients for the Peach-Basil or Smoky Peach and Pepper jam in addition to the base recipe. The measurements for the additional ingredients are for a whole batch (meaning you need to make the base peach recipe twice if you want to make both jam flavors. I do not recommend doubling the recipe and then trying to split it in half.)

Prepare your peaches by scoring an X along the bottom on the skin and dropping the peaches into boiling water for 30 seconds. This will loosen the skin and make it easier to peel. Peel, pit and chop the peaches until you have 4 heaping cups. Add the peaches and lemon juice to a large pot. Stir in the pectin and bring to a boil over high heat. Sit in the sugar all at once. Return to a boil and boil hard for 2 minutes. You will notice the texture of the jam mixture will go from grainy and thick to liquidy. Once it gets liquidy, your almost there but be sure to boil hard for at least two minutes or the jam will be soft. Skim off foam as desired, or plop in a tablespoon of cold butter, which is what I do, to keep the foam down.

*If you are making Peach-Basil jam, stir in the snipped basil right after you skim off the foam. Keep the mixture hot while you are doing this, or else you will get air bubbles in your jam.

*If you are making Smoky Peach and Pepper, add in the chopped peppers along with the peaches at the beginning of the recipe and continue to cook according to instructions. After you skim the foam or add the butter, stir in the dried ground spices. Again, keep the mixture hot while you are doing this, or else you get air bubbles.

Next, ladle the hot jam into cleaned and prepared jars. This should make about 7 eight ounce jars, or the equivalent thereof– I used 12 oz jars because I liked the look. Screw on the lids and the bands, and process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes. (Start the timer once you’ve put the jars into the canner and the water returns to a full boil). ¬†Remove and let cool. You can turn the jars every few minutes, for the first 20 minutes of cooling, if you want to evenly distribute the fruit. Make sure your lids have sealed and enjoy! The jam is shelf stable for 1 year. Once it has been opened, keep it in the fridge.

Enjoy!

Erin

Erin's DC Kitchen at the State Fair

A 23 Hour Homecoming, or Why I Almost Hate (Air) Canada

Hi readers, I’m back from my Ireland vacation and I have so much to share.

I don’t want to seem like that annoying person on Facebook always bragging about doing X, Y and Z super awesome trip of a lifetime blah blah blah.¬†I realize blogging about it is walking a fine line, so¬†in case anyone out there wants to not-so-secretly punch me in the face for this, I¬†apologize.

You don’t have to continue reading. But you may want to.

I’ll start at the end, the journey back home, a¬†nightmarish¬†airline travel scenario with Canada Air that has almost made me hate the entire country as a whole. That is too harsh; the people of Canada don’t deserve my wrath. The airline people do.¬†DOOM on you Air Canada.

Ever heard of Goose Bay? I’ve been there. ¬†Want to know what Halifax airport looks like? I’ll tell you, lots of prop planes and pure wilderness. Oh and Toronto? I’ve been there too! All three in one day…

The first five hours: We left Tullamore to drive to Dublin Airport at 6:45 am.¬† We dropped off our car, our bags and made it to the gate with plenty of time to peruse the gift shops before our 10:45 departure.¬† Using a giant handful of leftover 50 and 20 cent Euro coins I bought a hunk of brown soda bread and a giant Toblerone bar.¬† Nom nom nom. I was feeling pretty happy and didn’t even react when the flight was delayed until 12:00 noon.

Eventually we board the plane and settle into our seats for a nice 1 hour wait on the tarmac. Right before takeoff, the pilot comes on to inform us that our plane¬† doesn’t have enough fuel to cross the Atlantic and make it to our final destination of Toronto. This will require is stopping in Goose Bay to refuel.

Okay, not the most comforting thing to hear right before rocketing into the sky. While I appreciate the airline considering our safety and diverting us to Goose Bay, I couldn’t help but wonder why we were using a plane that couldn’t hold enough fuel in the first place? Awesome.

The next 5 hours:¬† We’ve made it to Goose Bay and have been assured this will be a ‘quick turnaround’ procedure. The airline refueling folks did a bang-up job and got us outta there in a blazing 1 hour 15 minutes.¬† Shortly after reaching a comfortable cruising altitude and generously turning off the fasten seat-belt sign the captain comes on to inform us that we will be flying to Halifax to change flight crews, as this one needed to be off-duty. What the F@CK?¬† Was Air Canada unable to grasp the fact that we had just landed and could possibly have gotten new crew there? Killing two birds with one stone people!

The next 8 hours: There is a palpable sense of mutiny amongst the passengers. The flight attendants are hiding in the galley. I overheard one whispering with genuine concern “we are out of ice and don’t have enough snacks…” She was afraid- of us.¬† Upon landing in Halifax we were assured crew would be waiting to board the plane right away. Apparently Air Canada thinks 2 hours is an appropriate amount of time to change crews and get “new load figures” -whatever the f@ck those are- and still qualify as being ‘right away’. Oh and sorry, you have to stay on the airplane but feel free to get up and stretch.¬† Gee, thanks, I was planning on sitting quietly stewing in my rage with my hands folded in my lap, but not now!

Now we are back en route to Toronto, having wasted four hours flying to Nova Scotia and getting new crew. The crew put the movie reel back in, at the beginning, meaning I now had the opportunity to watch Brave, Happy Feet 2 and the first 5 minutes of The Big Year for the third time today.¬† I’m still not that mad.

We have been on this God forsaken aircraft for 13 hours by the time we land in Toronto at 12:30 pm Irish time, 7:30 EST. The captain thanks us for flying Air Canada and for being patient (did I have another f@cking option?).  I have accepted the fact that I will miss my connection to DC. I never thought it was possible to miss it, as I had a whopping 7 hour layover, but Air Canada showed me that it is possible!

3/4ths of the plane’s passengers were trying to make connections and each one of them was 100% pissed off.¬† I strapped on my backpack and started running in the hopes my DC flight might have been delayed- it was, but I stilled missed it. My flight to DC left at 7:22.

Don’t get between a man and his connecting flight

The last 5 hours:¬†Air Canada knows they are in deep shit. They’ve stuck the interns with handing out vouchers for discounted airfare to all the irate passengers.¬† They have booked hotel rooms and awarded generous $15 certificates for dinner and breakfast. For me? You shouldn’t have!

Now, I’m actually mad, a silent sort of anger. I refuse to spend the night. I read the departure board and¬† tell the ticketing agent that I want to go onto the 8:50 flight to Baltimore, which is one hour away from DC. At this point I have 30 minutes to make it through customs, recheck my bag and get to the gate. I run run run and make it just as the last passenger is walking down the jetway. Relax. Sigh. I’m in. We land in Baltimore at 3:30 am Irish time, 10:30 pm EST.

My luggage is nowhere to be found. The Air Canada service desk is empty. I have to spend $125 dollars to get to DC in a cab manned by a friendly Ethiopian who wanted to talk to me the whole time.

I get to my apartment, it’s¬† midnight. My husband is sleeping soundly and I want nothing more than to punch him in the face for that offense. If I’m unhappy, he should be unhappy!!!!

My 23 hour voyage is over and my own bed has never felt so good.

My bag arrived in DC the next day. We were happily reunited.

The End

– Erin

Note: I plan on doing some feature posts over the coming week¬†to share with you what we saw and did in Ireland, complete with some real Irish recipes! So check back soon ūüôā

Happy 100th Julia Child!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week the food world has been celebrating what would have been Julia Child’s 100th birthday on August 15th.

Julia is an icon when it comes to cooking. She is beloved for her quirky personality (see video below!) and knack for just understanding what good cooking is all about.

I find her to be personally inspiring as both a woman, wife and chef. She was a trailing spouse for her diplomat husband for years but that didn’t define her.¬† She took charge of her own identity and forged a name for herself through cooking- at a time when celebrity chefs were not a dime a dozen.

She used her time abroad to educate herself, explore and try new things using the world of food as her medium- something that is accessible and universally understood by all.  If you read My Life in France, I think you will get some valuable insight straight from Julia as to just how food connected her with herself and other people at a time when she was alone and vulnerable.

Julia was not afraid to make mistakes in the kitchen either. Just watch the episode of The French Chef when she flips the crepes-¬† “The first one never turns out anyways, just throw it away!”- in order to understand her mindset.¬† Sometimes I strive for perfection in the kitchen. Ok a lot of the time. That is crazy, unhealthy, who cares?!¬† I have reminded myself so many times of Julia’s attitude toward cooking being a process, a time to be alone in the kitchen and learn as you go. It’s ok, take a deep breath…

In DC, the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History is¬† celebrating her legacy with a two week long celebration that kicked off with a party on the 15th and will feature a sneak preview of her kitchen from Cambridge that has been off display since January 2012. Her large collection of copper cookware will finally be reunited with her kitchen later this year. There is also a branch new exhibition called ‘FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000’ that is the first of its kind for the museum.¬† So take some time to pay homage to Julia, either in her kitchen or yours.

Bon Appétit!

– Erin