This weekend we will not be shopping on Black Friday or any day of that weekend. We will be finishing our final projects before it’s time for the Christmas cookie marathon.
MARSHMALLOWS: A friend who has a bakery in Vancouver, vancitybakeshop.com, specializes in homemade marshmallows. She was kind enough to send the recipe. We made ours with blackberry puree from the last of our blackberries picked over the summer. We thought it would be time consuming like the jams and butters we’d made but surprisingly, it moved quickly. We need to adjust the amount of powder we sprinkle (we dumped) and work on presentation. But they came out perfect and were delicious. Rocky road fudge and homemade chocolate marshmallow ice cream are on the horizon. The best part of success, no matter how small, is the sense of possibility it brings.
MARMALADE: The original plan called for a blood orange/Meyer lemon marmalade. We’d made this before and it’s delicious. So far there are no Meyer lemons or blood oranges in the stores. We’ll be elbow deep in Christmas cookies in December so in order to not make ourselves crazy, we found a different recipe.
MOONSHINE: We made lemoncello. It’s been fermenting in a glass jar for two months. This weekend we’ll add the sugar water and two weeks from now, we’ll bottle it. If we try one more time to figure out how many bottles we’ll have, our brains will surely explode. Oh right, there is a calculator on those smart phones- or as we call them: smarter than we are phones.
Our gifts for our families will then be done. Looking back, it’s been like a layaway plan. We have overcome our desire to hoard, calculating how much we can realistically eat over the winter, and dividing up the rest. After all, it’s the season of giving, not the season of hoarding. We’re excited to share what we’ve accomplished with our families and friends. It’s fun to plan each person’s basket based on what we think they’d like best. On Christmas Eve and Christmas day, our tables will be set with things they’ve never been set with before. We’ll proudly ask the kids to taste this pickle or that jam and tell the story of how it came to be. After all there’s a little empty nest in every jar.
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup fruit puree (we used blackberry)
- 3 envelopes gelatin
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- a mixture of equal parts confectioners sugar & cornstarch
Liberally spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray. Dust with confectioners sugar/cornstarch mixture. Set aside. Add 1/2 cup water to the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle with gelatin. Let stand while boiling sugar. Add remaining 1/2 cup water, sugar, and corn syrup to medium sized saucepan. Brink to boil over medium high heat until candy thermometer reaches 240 (soft ball). Turn stand mixer on low and slowly add sugar mixture. Slowly increase speed until on high. Mix for 8-10 minutes until mixture has quadrupled in size. Add puree and vanilla and mix until well incorporated-about 1 minute. Pour marshmallow mixture in to prepared pan and let set over night. Once set, liberally dust work surface with sugar/cornstarch mixture. Carefully turn out of pan on to work surface and cut in to desired size. Coat with sugar/cornstarch mixture. Will keep for about a week in an airtight container.
MARMALADE: (based on a recipe in Tart and Sweet by Kelly Geary & Jesse Knadler
- 1.5 lbs sweet red grapefruit
- 2 lbs tangerines
- 6 navel oranges, thin skinned
- 2.5 lbs mandarins
- 3 cups sugar
- zest and juice of 3 lemons
- 2 cups organic orange juice
Peel and section grapefruits and 3 of the oranges, put in large pan. Cut remaining fruit (skin on) in half, vertically, and then in to quarters, slice in to 1/8th inch slices, removing any seeds and thick membranes. Add to pot. Add sugar, lemon juice and zest and the orange juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 60 minutes, stirring frequently. Put a few small plates in the freezer. At the 60 minute mark, place a small amount of marmalade on one of the chilled plates. When it holds its shape, it is done. Ours cooked for close to 90 minutes before it was ready but start testing at 60. We canned ours in our hot water canner but this marmalade will keep for a month in the fridge.
- 20 organic lemons
- 1 750 ml bottle Everclear (grain alcohol)
- 1 750 ml bottle good quality vodka
- 4 cups sugar
- 4 cups water
Wash lemons in warm water and scrub to remove any wax-even organic lemons can be coated in wax. Carefully peel lemons in large strips. You don’t want any of the pith on the peel. Put lemons in a large class container with a lid. Cover with Everclear and vodka. Swish daily. You can let the mixture sit for 2 weeks and up to 4 months. The longer you leave it, the prettier the color and the more lemony the flavor. (We put the 2o peeled lemons in a juicer and have two pints of fresh organic lemon juice.) When ready to bottle, remove large peels with slotted spoon. Strain remainder through wet coffee filters (that way you’re not wetting the filters with the limoncello and wasting it) to strain out any impurities. Mix sugar and water in large saucepan. Bring to boil. Boil for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool to room temperature. Add to alcohol mixture. You can then bottle it. Allow to rest in bottles for one week before serving.