Allspice Chronicles

Entertain like a Queen, Think Lean and Live Green! A personal collection of recipes,anecdotes,and good old fashioned advice…

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Mrs. F.E. Smith’s Peanut Butter Cookies

by Danica Waters

 

I have sadly forgotten who Mrs. F.E. Smith was, as well as what relation she had to my family; whatever relation it happened to be happened a long, long time ago.  What I can tell you is that this recipe has been passed down through my family for at least three generations, and it came from this particular someone named Mrs. F.E. Smith.

 

During one of the last visits I had with my Nana, we got to “talking shop” (which, in this case, means recipes) and ended up going through her antique, foot-long metal recipe file.

 

(Yes, it was a metal box that was approximately twelve inches long.  And it was full.)

 

While she pulled out various recipes she thought I’d enjoy, I recognized this recipe from my mother’s own recipe box.  My Nana waved her hand and told me matter-of-factly in her sweet Southern drawl to “not even bother with any other peanut butter cookie recipe, because this one was the best there was.”

 

This recipe produces a perfect peanut butter cookie.  Not too sweet, just salty enough, and equally delicious with a glass of cold milk as with a cup of hot cocoa…

 

Enjoy!

 

Mrs. F.E. Smith’s Peanut Butter Cookies

 

½ C white sugar

½ C brown sugar

½ C butter

½ C chunky peanut butter

1 egg slightly beaten

1-1/4 C flour

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp baking powder

¾ tsp baking soda

 

In large bowl, combine sugars, butter, and peanut butter.  Add egg and mix thoroughly.  Sift together dry ingredients and combine with the peanut butter mixture.

 

Mold dough into a long, even roll and wrap in waxed paper.  Refrigerate 1 hour or until dough is firm.

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

 

Slice to approximately 3/8 of an inch thickness, and place cookies on ungreased cookie sheet.  Using the tines of a fork, create a grid-shaped decoration, if desired.

 

Bake at 375 degrees F for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Posted November 18th, 2011.

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Baked Bananas With Cardamom and Cream

by Danica Waters

Most everyone has the “Three B’s” lying around their pantry:  Bananas, Brown Sugar, and Butter.  Cardamom, maybe not so much.  But it’s worth a wee trip to the grocery store to score some cardamom pods;  they’re inexpensive, and given the depth of flavor they add to this heavenly little dish, you won’t want to leave them out.
These warm caramelized baked bananas are delicious served all by themselves; however, they would go smashingly well served over vanilla ice cream, as well.  Served with crepes and a smear of unsweetened cream cheese, they’ll be the hit of your holiday brunch.

Enjoy!

 

Baked Bananas With Cardamom and Cream

 

4 firm bananas

4 – 6 Tbsp brown sugar

¼ C unsalted butter

4-6 cardamom seed pods, husks removed and black seeds crushed

¼ C Toasted diced pecans, or more, if desired (optional)

½ C heavy cream

 

Preheat the oven to 450.  Place 2 Tbsp butter in a large baking dish and place in oven until butter melts.  Carefully remove dish from oven and swirl melted butter to coat bottom of dish thoroughly.

 

While butter is melting, peel and cut the bananas diagonally or vertically into 3/8-inch slices.

 

When butter is ready, sprinkle pecans over bottom of prepared baking dish.  Place banana slices on top and sprinkle with 2 Tbsp brown sugar.  Bake 5 minutes.

 

Remove bananas from the oven, immediately sprinkle with the crushed cardamom,  remaining brown sugar, and butter.  Place back in oven until butter and brown sugar have melted, approximately 1 min.

 

Remove from oven.  Divide banana slices equally among individual dessert plates.  Pour a bit of cream around the slices and serve immediately.

 

Serves 4

Posted October 22nd, 2011.

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Marbled Blackberry Pound Cake

by Danica Waters

 

Having grown up under the influence of heavy-duty Southern Sensibilities and then steeped in the sweet civility of British living once or twice, I must admit that I have come to truly appreciate the merits of a good pound cake.  While most folks shudder at the thought of what a pound cake can do to a diet, I personally feel better if I’ve got three or four of them tucked away in my freezer for gift giving and emergencies.  And tea.

My Nana was famous for handing out pound cakes to visitors.  It was just what she did.  The mailman came with packages during the summer and received pound cake and lemonade to go.  Mothers would come to pick up their kids after a play date, and they, too, received some version of a delectable pound cake.   A cake walk or a bake sale at the school?  Yep.  Pound cake.  She always spoke to the fact that a good pound cake went with everything, was admired by everyone,  remained virtually indestructible during transport, and always showed up looking good at a party.  While that sounds more like a great travel garment than something you’d eat, go figure; I now find myself collecting great pound cake recipes, baking them in wee tiny pans and putting them away for gift giving, emergencies, and yes, afternoon tea.

This is a lighter version of a pound cake I found on Martha Stewart’s website.  It could easily be made with any type of jam, but is completely smashing with a  fresh blackberry swirl.  As a footnote, I chose to leave my blackberries crushed but not pureed, and the result was fantastic.  Super easy to make ahead and freeze, this is a great way to get a head-start on the holiday season.

Enjoy!

 

Marbled Blackberry Pound Cake

(Martha Stewart)

 

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan

6 ounces blackberries (1 1/3 cups)

1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 5-by-9-inch loaf pan and line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; butter parchment. In a food processor, puree blackberries with 2 tablespoons sugar. (Or, for a more rustic texture, simply crush blackberries and combine with sugar.)  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar until light and fluffy, 5 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat to combine, scraping down bowl as needed. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Transfer half the batter to pan and dot with 1/2 cup blackberry puree. Repeat with remaining batter and puree. With a skewer or thin-bladed knife, swirl batter and puree together. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 1 1/4 hours. Let cool in pan on a wire rack, 30 minutes. Lift cake out of pan and place on a serving plate; let cool completely before slicing.

 

Posted October 11th, 2011.

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Creamy Chocolate Cupcakes

by Danica Waters / nature photos courtesy of www.nps.gov/romo/index.htm

 

I first discovered this recipe about ten years ago, in the back of an issue of Taste of Home magazine.  It was October, the aspen were ablaze in the Colorado high country and I was excitedly planning an annual autumn picnic for a large group of friends and family.  Although our family made frequent pilgrimages to the mountains throughout the year, our October excursion was special in a spiritual sort of way.

 

In the lush valleys of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park, October heralds the return of the giant elk as they descend from higher elevations to mate and prepare for the onset of winter.  It is a humbling, transfixing ritual to observe, as old as time and as beautifully executed as a waltz in a king’s court.

 

On this particular October excursion, we arrived with enough time to spend the day hiking, and, of course, daring each other to dip our toes in the ice-cold burbling streams.   Finally, as the late afternoon chill set in, we returned to the small parking lot on the far side of the meadows. Wet, shivering children got tucked into clean, dry socks and loads of blankets; hearty picnic dinner offerings were devoured and steaming cups of hot cocoa were passed around as we, and the many other nature-lovers around us, waited for the elk to appear.

 

Venus twinkled over Long’s Peak, shining like a  diamond in the deepening periwinkle sky; then, as if by magic, the soft sounds of laughter and conversation suddenly gave way to reverent silence with the first sighting of a bull elk. He appeared from the shadowy depths of the forest and walked slowly and deliberately into the meadow, completely aware of and unfazed by our presence; we were mere courtiers in the presence of a King.

 

He assumed his position center stage in the tall grasses and stood magnificently still, waiting.  Then, on an impulse, he thrust his head back and let out a haunting, lonely cry that reverberated all the way through the valley.  The ensuing silence was nothing short of deafening; it was as though every molecule of every being in the entire valley had been suspended in time.

 

Ever-so-slowly, from the forest shadows appeared the does.  With almost-choreographed precision, they made their way, one by one, in front of the group of onlookers and then past the King, only to disappear back into the trees on the opposite side of the meadow.  After the last doe had made her appearance, the King turned and followed them, swallowed by the shadows of nightfall.

 

The whole experience was like a dream; we had to sit a minute to digest what we’d just seen.  Kids being kids, they decided this was the perfect opportunity to remind me that we hadn’t yet served dessert.  I absentmindedly broke out these little cupcakes, and suddenly realized I was experiencing another kind of dream, because that same sudden, magical hush fell over everyone in our group as they took their first bite.  Even the kids were quiet.  No joke.

 

Need some magic?  Try these.   Creamy Chocolate Cupcakes are the best cupcakes in the WORLD.  They have no frosting.  Instead, they have chunks of chocolate and walnuts baked into a peek-a-boo cream cheese center. Not too sweet, modestly decadent, easily transportable, and visually stunning; this is the perfect cupcake to make for every occasion.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Creamy Chocolate Cupcakes

Taste of Home August/September 1994

1-1/2 C all-purpose flour

1 C sugar

¼ C baking cocoa

½ tsp salt

2 eggs lightly beaten

¾ C water

1/3 C vegetable oil

1 Tbsp vinegar

1 tsp vanilla extract

 

Filling:

 

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened

1/3 C sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/8 tsp salt

1 C semisweet chocolate chips

1 C chopped walnuts

 

In large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients.  Add the eggs, water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla; mix well.  Pour into 18 greased or paper lined muffin cups.  For filling, beat cream cheese and sugar in another mixing bowl.  Add egg and salt; mix well.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Drop by tablespoonfuls into center of each cupcake.  Sprinkle with nuts.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  Makes 1-1/2 dozen.

 

Posted October 7th, 2011.

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Blackberry Cobbler: Alice Bay Cookbook

by Danica Waters
Following our coverage of the National Can-It-Forward Day held mid-August out of the world-famous Pike Place Market in Seattle, WA, the Allspice Chronicles traveled up the West Coast just in time for blackberry season.  Called “brambles” in the UK, blackberries grow EVERYWHERE in the great Northwest.  They line the freeways, small country roads, back yards, you name it.

We were  informed early-on that the locals could spot a tourist from 100 yards away simply because they were picking blackberries at the sides of busy roads;  old-timers and people in-the-know stay away from these berries because of the contaminants they pick up from car exhaust.   While it seemed a terrible waste, there were plenty of walking paths and offbeat hiking trails that rendered  BUCKETS of these beauties.

On our first berry picking excursion, less than an hour of picking rendered over three quarts of berries.   Because blackberries are extremely perishable, they need to be frozen or cooked quickly.  Of course, the first thing that came to mind was to turn the first fruits of the season into a juicy cobbler, so that’s precisely what we did.

My sister-in-law, who is an impeccable housekeeper, a fabulous cook and creative, over-the-top entertainer in her own right, produced what she referred to as the Northwest “Recipe Bible” from her kitchen cabinet.  It was a relatively small, thick, pink book called Alice Bay Cookbook:  A Savory Sampler from Washington’s Skagit ValleyInside is a collection of the most delicious heirloom recipes, each a celebration in its own right of the bounty of the land, the rivers, and the oceans that make up the Great Northwest.  Originally published in 1985, the Alice Bay Cookbook celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2010.   Authored by Julie Wilkinson Rousseau, it was noted by the New York Times Bestseller List as “Paperback Best Seller”, and with good reason.  No matter where you live, if you like to cook, this is one book you should have in your collection.

Please note:  before you gasp at the thought of using eight whole cups of blackberries for a single cobbler, please understand that this recipe is designed to feed a very large crowd, and is easily scaled down.  It is the most delicious cobbler you’ll ever care to taste.  Be sure to top it off with vanilla ice cream or some heavy cream – it is simply to die for.

Enjoy!

 

Blackberry Cobbler:

(Alice Bay Cookbook)

1½ cups sugar
½ cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
8 cups blackberries
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons butter

BISCUIT TOPPING:

2 cups sifted flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup butter
2/3  cup milk
1 egg, slightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400°F.
Mix together sugar, flour, salt, berries, and lemon juice. Pour into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish, and dot with butter. Bake for 15 minutes, until hot and bubbly.
Meanwhile, make biscuit topping:   Mix together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add milk and beaten egg, and stir with a fork until blended.
When blackberry mixture is hot and bubbly, spoon biscuit mixture on top in 10 or 12 dollops. Return to oven for 20 minutes, until biscuits are browned and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Posted September 30th, 2011.

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Gigi’s Apple Cake

by Danica Waters

 

Several years ago, I found myself in the waiting room of a doctor’s office… waiting.  And waiting.  And waiting some more.  Thankfully, the waiting room was stocked with lots and lots of great magazines, most of which contained great recipes.

 

One of the magazines contained a wonderful, heartfelt story about a Jewish grandmother fondly referred to as “Gigi”, who would make an incredible apple cake just like clockwork as soon as the long summer days gave way to the shorter, chillier days of autumn.   It seems the recipe had been handed down through the family for generations; I was happy I had a pen and an old grocery list buried in my purse.

 

I don’t remember the name of the publication, nor can I recall the name of the author who shared such a beautiful living memory of her dearly departed grandmother.  I can tell you that this is the best apple cake I have ever made or tasted; it is truly an autumn heirloom your family will treasure for generations.

 

Enjoy!

 

Gigi’s Apple Cake

 

1 C canola oil, plus more for greasing

2-1/2 C all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

2 tsp baking powder

3 tsp ground cinnamon

6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

2-1/4 C granulated sugar

4 large eggs

1/3 C orange juice

2 tsp orange zest

2 tsp vanilla extract

 

 

Preheat oven to 350?.  Grease and flour a 12c Bundt or tube pan.  In a medium bowl, combine the 2-1/2 cups of flour with the baking powder and 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon.  Ina large bowl, toss the apples with ¼ cup of sugar and the remaining 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and set aside.

 

In a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the 1 cup of oil with the eggs, orange juice, vanilla, and the remaining 2 cups of sugar on medium speed for 1 minute.  Add the flour mixture in three batches, mixing until just combined.  Add the apples and stir to combine.  Transfer to the pan, leaving about an inch at the top, and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, about 1-1/2 hours.  Let the cake cool in the pan for about 30 minutes before unmolding it onto a rack to cool completely.

Posted September 28th, 2011.

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Nana’s Rhubarb Butter Crunch: Fresh From The Pucker Patch

by Danica Waters

 

Tucked behind rough, twisted twin scrub oaks that supported a rainbow-colored Mexican hammock we rarely, if ever, used lay a shady secret garden best referred to as the “Pucker Patch”.  While the rest of our childhood yard turned out buckets of sweet, delicious things like raspberries and wild strawberries, the edibles that grew in the Pucker Patch were dedicated to a different sort of taste sensation;  if you’ve ever tasted wild gooseberries, currants, chokecherries, and especially rhubarb, you will know and understand that taste sensation to be a truly mouth-puckering experience.

 

As much as we children would have liked to use the hammock more frequently, the stinging nettles fought us for the turf and ultimately won until my mother, armed with a weed whacker, reclaimed that area of the yard.   Of course, with reclamation came unrestricted access to the  “Pucker Patch”, and we’d get to harvest armfuls of bright red rhubarb.

 

This is my Nana’s recipe for Rhubarb Butter Crunch.  The ingredients are simple; it is exceptionally easy to make, and is so delicious that my son requested I make this in lieu of a cake for his birthday.

 

Enjoy!

 

Nana’s Rhubarb Butter Crunch

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  In a large bowl, combine:

 

4 C fresh or frozen rhubarb

1-1/2 C sugar

3 Tbsp flour

 

Place mixture in greased 7”x11” pan, distributing evenly across the bottom.

In another bowl, combine:

 

1 C brown sugar

1 C flour

1 C rolled oats

½ C butter

 

With pastry blender or two knives used scissors-fashion, cut until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle evenly over the rhubarb mixture.

 

Bake 40 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.  If desired, serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or drizzled with unsweetened heavy cream or half-and-half.

 

 

 

 

Posted August 19th, 2011.

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Camille Glenn’s Golden Cointreau Cake

by Danica Waters

 

This is one of the most fantastic and truly unusual cakes I’ve ever made.  Having contemplated this recipe again and again over the last five years or so, I finally decided that an occasion such as my daughter’s 23rd birthday would warrant the labor involved.  Honestly, the cake turned out to be surprisingly easy to make; it was just very different from anything I’d done before.

 

The recipe was created by the late Camille Glenn (Queen of Southern Cuisine) when she catered debutante parties and weddings in Louisville.  The passage that hooked me can be found in her cookbook The Heritage of Southern Cooking, where she writes:

 

“This cake holds a secret all to itself – a magical formula that will fool you.  The texture is unusually moist, tender, and diaphanous.  This delicacy in contrast to the elusive, rich frosting sets the cake apart.  It is a gala occasion cake.  In fact, if the occasion is not gala, the cake will make it so.  You’ll see.”

 

She was right.  It’s almost like an ethereal combination of an angel food cake and a pound cake; it’s light as a feather but incredibly moist like a sponge cake.

 

With this recipe, Camille provides two options for frosting the cake; one is a bit heavier on the Cointreau, and the other is more a classic buttercream.  I chose the first option and it was wonderful.  I must advise, however, that the frosting is very strong, and is actually better when allowed to rest overnight in the refrigerator.  The resting time not only allowed the sharpness of the Cointreau to mellow a bit,  it also seemed to enhance the overall texture of the cake.

 

Enjoy!

 

Camille Glenn’s Golden Cointreau Cake

(from the Heritage of Southern Cooking)

 

8 large eggs

1-1/2 C sugar

1/3 C fresh orange juice

1 C all purpose flour

1-1/2 tsp Cointreau

½ tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp cream of tartar

Cointreau Frosting or Classic Buttercream with Cointreau (recipe follows)

 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

 

Separate the eggs.  Put the yolks in one large mixing bowl and the whites in another large mixing bowl.

 

Beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer until they have thickened and are smooth.  Beat in the sugar slowly, then continue beating until the mixture turns a lighter shade of yellow and is smooth.  Add the orange juice and blend thoroughly.

 

Measure the flour, then sift it twice.  Sprinkle the sifted flour over the egg yolk mixture and gently fold it in by hand with a whisk or a rubber spatula, or with the electric mixer on a very low speed.  Fold in the Cointreau and vanilla.

 

Add the salt to the egg whites and beat until they begin to turn white and foamy.  Add the cream of tartar, and continue to beat until the egg whites hold a stiff peak but are not dry and grainy, about 4 minutes more.

 

Fold a few spoonfuls of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it.  Then add the remaining egg whites to the batter, gently folding them in.

 

Spoon the batter into a 10 x 4-1/2 inch angel food cake pan (a tube pan with a removable bottom)  The pan should be no more than three quarters full.

 

Place the cake pan on the middle shelf of the oven and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, or until the cake springs back at once when lightly touched, about 1-1/4 hours.

 

Remove the cake from the oven, turn it upside down on the tube pan legs, and allow it to rest overnight before frosting.

 

Loosen the cake with a thin sharp knife, and unmold it.  Put the cake on a plate or on a flat surface covered with wax paper or foil.  Spread the frosting over the cake.

 

Cointreau Frosting  (*** I used this frosting***)

 

8 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2-3/4 C confectioner’s sugar sifted

1/8 tsp salt

1 large egg yolk

6-8 Tbsp Cointreau or more as needed

 

Put the butter in a large mixing bowl.  Add the confectioners’ sugar and salt.  Beat well with an electric mixer.  Add the egg yolk, then slowly add 6 Tbsp of the Cointreau.  Continue to beat the frosting until it is smooth, thick, and pliable, 3 minutes.  Add more Cointreau as needed; it usually takes 8 Tbsp.  This frosting must be thick.

 

Frost the cake generously in a swirl design.  Allow the frosting to firm for 30 minutes, then lift the cake to a serving platter.  Keep cake refrigerated.

 

 

Classic Buttercream with Cointreau

 

1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

5 large egg yolks

2/3 C sugar

¼ tsp cream of tartar

1/8 tsp salt, or to taste

5 Tbsp cold water

3 Tbsp Cointreau

 

Cream the butter until it is light and smooth; set aside.

 

Beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer until they have doubled in bulk, 3 minutes.

 

Combine the sugar, cream of tartar, salt, and water ini a heavy saucepan, bring to a boil, and cook over medium heat until the syrup spins a thread when it falls from a wooden spoon or until a candy thermometer registers 235-236 degrees F.  (If the syrup is not cooked to this point, the frosting will never firm up.)

 

Immediately pour the hot syrup in a steady stream into the egg yolks, beating constantly.  Continue to beat until the mixture has cooled, 15 – 20 minutes.

 

Add the butter to the yolk mixture a tablespoonful at a time.  If the frosting should look curdled while you are adding the butter, place the frosting over hot (not boiling) water and beat vigorously until it is smooth again.  Add the Cointreau and mix thoroughly.  If necessary, chill the frosting until it has a good spreading consistency, 35-45 minutes.

 

Frost the cake generously in a beautiful swirling design, and then keep the cake refrigerated.

Posted August 17th, 2011.

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Brandied Pears

by Danica Waters / image courtesy of wikipedia.com

Don’t forget:  tomorrow is National Can-It-Forward Day!  If you haven’t already signed up for the live webcast coming from Seattle’s Pike Place Market, you can sign up here.

Be sure to check out the schedule of events – there’s a great lineup of recipes, tips and tricks ready and waiting on Canning Across America’s website, as well.

 

At 25 cents a pound, there was no way I could pass up the opportunity to try this recipe.  Like the Kentucky Bourbon Peaches featured yesterday, Brandied Pears are deliciously elegant served warm over vanilla ice cream or left all to themselves.  Try adding the leftover brandied syrup to a white wine spritzer, or simply pour over ice cubes and top with soda or mineral water.

Happy Canning!

Enjoy!

 

Brandied Pears

(from the Bernardin Guide to Home Preserving)

6 lb pears

2 lemons

1-1/2 C water

2-1/2 C sugar

1 piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and thinly sliced

1-1/2 C brandy

 

Fill boiling water canner with water.  Place 6 clean pint jars in canner over high heat.  Bring to a rolling boil; reduce heat and keep jars hot until ready to use.

In separate saucepan, place lids in hot but not boiling water; keep hot until ready to use.

Peel, halve, and core pears;  place in color protection solution (1/4 C lemon juice to 4 C water) and set aside.

With vegetable peeler, remove rind (yellow part only) from lemons in continuous spiral.  Squeeze juice from lemons and strain into measuring cup; add sufficient water to make 2 cups.

In a large stainless steel or enamel saucepan, combine water, rind, juice, sugar, and gingerroot.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Drain pears and add to hot liquid; heat to a boil.

Pack hot fruit snugly in overlapping layers in hot jar to within 3/4 of an inch of top rim.  Pour 1/4 C brandy over pears in jar.  Add boiling syrup to cover pears to within 1/2 inch of top rim (head space).  Remove air bubbles by sliding rubber spatula between glass and food; readjust head space to 1/2 inch.

Wipe jar rim with a clean, damp cloth, removing any stickiness.  Center hot lid on jar; apply screw band just until fingertip tight.  Place jar in canner.  Repeat with remaining pears, brandy, and syrup.

Cover canner; return water to a boil and process for 20 minutes at altitudes up to 1,000 feet.  Remove jars.  Cool 24 hours.

Check your jar seals:  if the center of your lid springs back when pressed, your seal is broken and the contents must be refrigerated immediately and used promptly.  If the center remains firm when pressed, your seal is good, and contents can be kept in a cool, dry place for up to a year.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted August 12th, 2011.

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Kentucky Bourbon Peaches

by Danica Waters

 

 I discovered this gem of a recipe in a canning guide given to me by my Mother-In-Law nearly a decade ago.  I suspected just by looking at the ingredients that this recipe would be over-the-top; boy, was I was right.  Let’s put it this way:  if you could bottle that wonderful butterflies-in-the-stomach kind of feeling that comes with the change of the seasons, this is it.

 

The ginger and clove accents make the peaches smell like the autumn harvest and Christmas all at the same time;  the deep, heady flavor of a good Kentucky Bourbon transforms blushing summer peaches into a gourmet gift everyone will clamor over.

 

Try serving these peaches warm over vanilla ice cream, perhaps on some chilly late autumn evening when the fire crackles in the hearth and your home is filled with the lively conversation of friends and family.

 

Enjoy!

 

Kentucky Bourbon Peaches

(Adapted from the Bernardin Guide to Home Preserving)

 

17-20 medium peaches, ripened

8 inches cinnamon stick

2 Tbsp finely chopped gingerroot

1 tsp whole cloves

1 C sugar

2 C water

½ C good-quality bourbon

 

Fill boiling water canner with water.  Place 5 clean pint mason jars in canner over high heat.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and keep jars hot until ready to fill.

 

 

In separate small saucepan, place lids in hot but not boiling water to soften sealing compound.  Keep hot until ready to use.

 

 

Bring a large saucepan or stockpot filled with water to a rolling boil.

Fill another large bowl or pot with ice water, place next to the stove.

Fill another large bowl or pot with a solution of ¼ lemon juice to 4 cups water – this is your color preservation solution for the blanched peaches.

 

To blanch peaches:

 

Thoroughly wash ripened peaches.  Blanch the peaches by placing them in the boiling water for only 2 minutes.  Remove with heatproof tongs and immediately place in ice water bath to cool.  When peaches have cooled to the touch, simply slip off their skins.  Cut peaches in half and remove seeds.  Immediately place in color preservation solution; set aside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make syrup:

 

Break cinnamon stick into pieces; tie with gingerroot and cloves in a cheesecloth square (creating a spice bag).

 

 

 

In a large stainless steel or enamel saucepan, combine sugar and water;  add the spice bag.  Bring to a boil; boil 5 minutes.

 

Drain peaches;  add to boiling syrup.  Return to a boil and cook for about 3 – 5 minutes.

 

 

Remove from heat and discard spice bag.  Add bourbon to the peaches and mix well.

 

Pack hot fruit snugly in overlapping layers in a hot jar;  leave ¾ inch headspace.  Pour in syrup to ½ inch headspace.  Remove any air bubbles by sliding a rubber spatula in-between jar and fruit; readjust headspace by adding more syrup, not to exceed ½ inch headspace.

 

 

Wipe rims of jars with clean, damp cloth to remove any stickiness; center prepared lid on jar, and secure with ring.  Do not over-tighten – screw on ring to fingertip tightness.

 

Place jars in hot water bath canner; return to a boil.

 

Process 20 minutes at altitudes up to 1,000 feet.

 

Remove jars and allow to cool for 24 hours.  Test your seals:  if center of lid springs back when touched, your seal is broken and you should immediately refrigerate and use contents promptly.

 

If center remains depressed when touched, your seal is good, and peaches can be stored in a cool dark place for up to a year.

 

 

 

Posted August 11th, 2011.

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