My First Jam Session – Onion Rosemary Jam

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Pregnant or not, I’ve never been much of a jam eater. I haven’t got anything against jam, but it’s usually too sweet for me (yes, the person who can shotgun a box of Nerds thinks jam is too sweet) but I am sort of fascinated by the more savory variety. They make excellent additions to any cheese plate or sandwich or even just smeared on an english muffin atop some laughing cow cheese (which is what I had for breakfast today). The recipe and idea for this one came from Serious Eats, which is a really great foodie blog with all sorts of angles on the whole food thing. The best part of this recipe is that it is relatively easy, with many ingredients we had already in the house (always appealing to us lazy folk). I followed the recipe mostly to the letter but the timing listed definitely did not work out for me. I am outlining my notes below as I went through it as this is really a great recipe and worth trying but for those of you who are jam novices like me, some things to consider.

Here is the recipe.

I used a heavy enamel pot for this so that I could fit everything in and also have a shot at not scorching the whole bit and ended up with a ruined jam and worse, a ruined pot. I also started out with probably closer to 4lbs of onions. This could have been mistake #1.

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The recipe calls for 15-20 minutes of heavy sweating in the pot for the onions, rosemary, bay leaf, olive oil and salt in the pot with the lid on. Turns out it really should have been more like 25-30 minutes to really get the onions nice and soft. We’ll call this mistake #2. I think this was probably THE key mistake as the final product was a little too chunky with the onion and while still very, very yummy, it just had too much texture to it. So then I added all the vinegars, etc:

DSC_1111As you can see from the picture the onions are still pretty raw and not as soft as perhaps the original recipe intended. I also (let’s call this mistake #3) upped the vinegar/wine content to account for the additional onions I used but didn’t increase the sugar or honey. Mostly I did that because as I said in the intro, I hate really sweet jams. But I also suspect this meant I short-changed myself in that gooey jammy consistency at the end with too much liquid and not enough sugars to convert to that texture we all associate with jam. Additionally, it took way longer than 15-20 minutes to get the liquid to reduce by half (more like 30-45 minutes) at which point the bay leaf and rosemary were removed and we got to this stage:

DSC_1112I kept going for another 40-45 minutes before the liquid was gone and we got basically down to the consistency which is in the very top photo above. I placed it in sterilized jars, closed them and allowed them to cool before I placed them in the fridge.

The end result, as I said, was still very good and I’d happily try again with some of the things I learned on this go round and it stores for a good 2 months – longer if you follow through with the full canning process of boiling the full jars.

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Toasted Butternut Squash Seeds

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So I’m about 5 months preggers now and my desire to consume food still remains bafflingly (is that a word?) mechanical versus being something I get excited about doing. The desire to make elaborate meals (or even easier ones) and then blog about it is just not there. But every once in a while I do still get a whim for something different and this was one such weekend. We had been getting CSA veggies all summer which has been phenomenal and last week was the last delivery. The last few weeks have included some delicious butternut squash which I have been busily roasting and consuming. One of the things I like to do when I have a good sized squash is to take the seeds out and roast them as you would with pumpkin seeds. The squash seeds are smaller than traditional pumpkin seeds but can be boosted by spices to flavor them up nonetheless. Here is a quick recipe which would also be good with pumpkin seeds. The measurements are not in technical terms because it depends upon the amount of seeds you harvest. I had about 1/2 cup of seeds which I placed in a salt water solution (1Tbsp salt to 1 cup water) while I cleaned and chopped the rest of the squash:

Generous pinch of garlic powder

Generous pinch of dill

pinch of sea salt

Light drizzle of olive oil

Take the seeds out of the salt water – mine sat in there maybe 15 minutes – you can leave them in for a while but I wanted to consume them ASAP so I drained them as well as a could and laid them out on a sheet of tin foil atop a baking pan. The oven was set at 375 so I could roast the actual squash while the seeds also cooked. I spread the seeds out in as flat a layer as I could and then added the olive oil. Just enough oil to lightly coat each seed so that the seasoning sticks to it. Then I sprinkled the garlic salt, dill and a touch of sea salt and laid the whole thing in the oven to cook. You should check the seeds every 5-6 minutes and give them a little stir so that they get brown all over. It took about 15 minutes or so for the seeds to get light brown all over and to be nice a dry and crispy.

There are many spice options that would work nice for this – maybe some chili powder or curry powder. It’s good to experiment and see what you can make with this tasty little snack.