I really don't see how it is possible that 2010 is one quarter done already. I really can't fathom it.
Anyway, onward. I have been jamming again: 4 pints last Friday.
This is Strawberry-Lemon Marmalade, tweaked a bit. Holy buckets. Folks, if you are at all a fan of strawberries, and have ever wanted to try making jam, you have to make this.
My tweaks: I used frozen strawberries rather than fresh because that's what I had, 1/2 cup of lemon zest (instead of 1/4 cup), and 1/2 cup of fresh-squeezed lemon juice (instead of 1 tablespoon). I used a microplane for very delicate, fluffy, tender zest shavings.
(Have you tried a microplane? They're GRATE! Har, har.)
I was made aware of this recipe on Ravelry, in one of the canning groups, and resisted for almost a week before I broke down and had to make a batch. I really need to start using more jam, because I have so much already in my cupboard. It's just so much fun to make, and so tasty. Of course, excess jam wouldn't so much of an issue if the other members of my family were open to using something, anything other than specifically Welch's Grape Jelly. Seriously, Emma and Shaun won't touch anything else. Emma tries the jam when I make it, and says she likes it, but then won't eat anything but Welch's Grape on her daily school-lunch PBJ. There may yet be hope for her, but I've just given up on trying to broaden Shaun's horizons. Picky eaters. Sigh.
This jam (it's not really what I think of as "marmalade") is so good. The extra zest and lemon juice I added really amps up the lemon flavor, while still leaving the primary taste impression of the jam as strawberry. The microplaned zest means no bitter zest chunks, and the marriage of these two flavors is sublime.
I also wanted to show off some pickles I made in February. I had about half of a large bag of carrots in the fridge, which were approaching the end of their storage life- don't buy in bulk unless you're going to use in bulk! They weren't at all bad or mushy yet, but I knew that we'd never use them up before they were. I made a roast with 'taters and carrots, but there were still too many left, so I decided to pickle them. Result: 4 pints of yummy pickled carrots.
These were made using the leftover brine from my pickled mushrooms. In order to ensure that the brine was acidic enough to safely preserve the pickles, and to make up the full amount of liquid I needed, I added an additional cup of vinegar, 2 tablespoons of salt, and half a cup of water to the brine when I boiled it. I sliced the carrots to the height of the jars minus a half inch, blanched them in the boiling brine for ~30 seconds and packed them in the jars. I brought the brine back to a good rolling boil and then filled the jars, put the lids on, and processed in a hot water bath. The ones I snitched on canning day were great, and today I finally opened one of the jars to sample the finished product. YUM! This was a tasty way to avoid throwing out 1.5 pounds of carrots.
One last item to report on the food preservation front:
A neighbor gave up six large steelhead trout, gleaned from a local hatchery's spring spawning program. These are (hatchery-bred, river run) fish that were caught but not used as spawners, and would otherwise have been wasted. My neighbor called at 10:00 at night, asking if we wanted some. She had 40+ fish, and was calling around to distribute them to the community. Of course I said yes, and so trotted across the street to collect some. They were way bigger than I thought they were going to be. Each fish was 2+ feet long, and weighed approximately 8-12 pounds. They didn't even fit in my sink.
So there I was, gutting fish at 11:00 at night. I was going to fillet them, but after making a bit of a hash of the first one, I realized I was too tired too tired to do a good job, and settled for gutting and removing the heads and tails. The fish were so big that I divided each in half. Those six fish tucked in my freezer will give us twelve meals.