Pomander Spiced Orange Jam

When I was growing up, one of my very favorite holiday-time projects was making pomander balls.

My mom would put out a bowl of oranges and give both my sister and me small dishes filled with cloves. We’d use toothpicks to pre-prick the oranges with patterns and then would poke cloves into those spots. When they were all done, we’d roll them in a mix of ground cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg and then set them around the house in small saucers.

10 oranges in a bowl

They were time consuming, but I loved making them. Nothing smells quite so much like the Christmas season to me than the combination of orange and spice.

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Preserving Spring: Spicy Pickled Asparagus

pickled asparagus

Written by Marisa of Food in Jars.

When I was a brand new canner, pickled asparagus was one of my very first projects. Asparagus has long been one of my favorite vegetables and so, when it went on sale in mid-spring, I bought several bundles, consulted a multitude of cookbooks and set to work.

I quickly learned that pickling asparagus was a task well worth doing (particularly since commercial versions can cost as much as $12 a jar) and added it to my list of mandatory yearly recipes. I have since made at least 100 jars and every year, I still run out well before asparagus season arrives again.

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What we learned about making maple syrup

making maple syrup at home on simplebites.net

Written by Danny.

Every year it seems like we get one step closer to being a modern version of the little house in the big woods. Our first spring here we constructed a compost pile and fire pit, and foraged for wild ramps from the woods.  The next year was chickens (semi-failed attempt). Last year it was raised beds, rain barrels and chickens (successfully).

This year, we tapped the maple trees, and it is the sweetest thing going. Although campfires and homemade marshmallows are hard to beat, I think that the kids are infinitely more excited about making maple syrup. Maybe a little too much so.

Let’s just say that I’m glad they had the sweet/delicious/sticky/awesome syrup AFTER they wielded the power drill and hammer.

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Five ideas for preserving Meyer lemons (recipe: Meyer Lemon Finishing Salt)

five ideas for preserving lemons on simplebites.new

Winter is spilling over into its sixth month, bringing snow and freezing temperatures once again to our northern city. At dinner yesterday I tried to look on the bright side: “At least we don’t have to mow the lawn”, then slumped back into my chair, sighing over the elusive spring and her warm winds.

Last month I collected myself and resolutely embraced winter salads, but early March found me longing for fruit other than lackluster apples. Spurred on by fellow home preserving enthusiasts, Marisa and Autumn, I treated myself to a box of Meyer lemons from Lemon Ladies Orchard in California.

In record time the lemons arrived in good shape, and opening the box was better than unwrapping a Christmas present. The sweet smell perfumed my kitchen instantly and almost as quickly, my head began to swirl with ideas.

I was smitten.

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Maple Sweetened Pumpkin Butter

Written by Marisa of Food in Jars.

This time of year, it is only natural that a home cook’s fancy turns to pumpkin. Between the jack-o-lanterns standing sentinel near your front door and the knobby whole pumpkins you picked up at the farmers’ market over the weekend, your world is probably filled with all things orange and squashy right now.

Thing is, pumpkins are good for so much more than decoration. They can be steamed and pureed into pie filling. For a seasonal meatless main dish, there’s nothing better than roasted pumpkin cubes stirred into sage-spiced risotto, or pumpkin mac & cheese for the little ones.

And then there’s pumpkin butter. It’s delicious on toast, tasty stirred into oatmeal and even good simply eaten by the spoonful out of the jar. [Read more…]