Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Today is the day to can cherries. I think they're at their peak where I live and the prices have dropped. I went to the farmers market on Saturday and asked the farmer to bring me two flats today and she negotiated the price due to the quantity.

I'm going to can cherry jam, three types of infused cherries in Armagnac, Grand Marnier and Cognac plus cherry pie filling.

Next week I want to can some cantaloupe jam. I need to dig up my recipe for it.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Basque Chicken

I'm making Basque Chicken this evening. A friend gave me a farm raised chicken yesterday and I gardened most of the day, so it was an easy solution that I can cook while I'm writing this blog.

I can Sauce Basquaise about every other year, so I'm due to can it again this summer. When you don't have it canned, there is dinner a recipe at the Basque Chicken webpage.

I got the recipe from a Basque chef from San Sebastian. A lot of the home cooks in the Basque region of France add sugar, but I prefer it without. It can also be served on the side with a baked chicken or with a grilled or poached fish.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Canning Cherries and Apricots

This is a reminder that it's time to start thinking about canning cherries! Cherries are in season and the prices get attractive when they are most abundant at the height of the season. I usually can them at the end of May or the beginning of June.

A week or two after canning cherries, you might think about canning apricots. They typically follow cherries by a couple of weeks.

Recipes for canning cherries and apricots can be found at the fruits menu of

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Problems with Stove tops and Waterbath Canners.

A user e-mailed me with the following question today:

I would like to purchase your bathwater canner but it says that it is not recommended for the kind of stove I have. Any suggestions as to what I can do besides buying a new stove?

Some flat surfaced cook-tops don't conduct heat evenly or aren't perfectly flat. This can make the temperature in the waterbath canner fluctuate.

To resolve this, I recommended she try one of the coiled single electric burners that are at this link, or a propane burner or cook stand. One of those large pots and burners that were used for deep frying turkeys will work well too, but they need a canning rack or fine pebbles at the bottom.

I have one of the propane burners for my waterbath canner that I only use outside for security purposes. Propane burns a lot hotter than natural gas, so the water heats up a lot faster. If you are canning a large batch, you might set up a couple of them.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Canning Asparagus

Late April and May is the time to can green or white asparagus. See Canning Green or White Asparagus. It is very nice served with grilled or broiled salmon and a hollandaise or Bearnaise sauce.

We eat a ton of asparagus when it is in season. Canned asparagus can be served as a starter with a red wine and shallot vinaigrette. Fresh asparagus is nice roasted and served with a horseradish dip as an hors d’oeuvre – see roasted asparagus. You may also serve roasted asparagus as a starter with a mustard vinaigrette topping it with roasted red bell peppers and/or caramelized onions or shallots.

To make asparagus soup with fresh asparagus, saut̩ asparagus cut into 1/2 inch pieces in olive oil until tender, add chicken stock, salt and pepper to taste, and then simmer for 30 minutes. To augment the color of the soup, you may add 1/4 Р1/2 cup of cream for each quart of soup before serving.
If using canned asparagus do not sauté and add the canning liquid to the chicken stock.

An asparagus quiche may be made using canned asparagus by cutting the asparagus into 1/2 inch pieces and then substituting the canned asparagus for the roasted in our asparagus quiche recipe. You may do the same for an basic omelet.

Monday, April 14, 2008


I haven't been very diligent with this blog. I spent the winter working on the restoration of our house; refinishing floors, sanding plaster walls, cleaning up the dust, stripping wood, hauling trash to the dump, refinishing wood, getting my kitchen cabinets installed plus working in the garden. I've also been working on a concept for a new website, which I'll share later.

This evening, I am making lasagna. It's about the easiest thing to make, if you have the tomato sauce on hand. Tonight, I'm using Tomato Sauce with Mushrooms.

There are differing opinions about whether or not to cook the lasagna noodles before making lasagna. I have done it both ways, but can't tell the difference in the final product. However, I have found that precooking the noodles makes a tremendous difference in the preparation time so I don't do it. If not precooking the lasagna, you will want your tomato sauce to be a runny, so that the noodles have liquid to absorb while cooking.

When making lasagna for a family meal, I want clean-up to be as easy as possible. I line my baking dish with wax paper by cutting it larger than the baking dish and then folding the edges so that the wax paper comes up the sides.

To make lasagna, start with a bottom layer of lasagna noodles. Spoon over some cooked ground beef mixed with tomato sauce and then a little shredded cheese. If your tomato sauce already has salt and pepper, you may not want to add any additional. You may want to add some finely diced fresh sage, if you have it in the garden. Continue two to three layers of sauce and noodles, depending on the depth of your baking dish and finish off the top with additional tomato sauce, shredded cheese and a little shaved Parmesan.

To cook the lasagna, do so in a 350 degree oven (180 centigrade) for 45 – 50 minutes, until the cheese on top is lightly browned. Cooking time may be a little longer, if it’s a large lasagna.

Since there are already ample calories in the lasagna, I usually serve it with a simple green salad with balsamic vinaigrette. This should never be tossed until the last minute. Romaine lettuce goes very well with lasagna.

For company, I like to add Bechamel Sauce (low fat version). I layer this in after each layer of cheese and then over the top of the noodles (omitting the final layer of tomato sauce on top) before the final layer of cheese. If serving family style to company, you may not want to use the wax paper as it doesn't always make a nice presentation at the table.