Category Archives: Preserves

A Preserving Lesson: Creamed Corn

I went on the interview for the job I’ve been wanting yesterday and had a second interview today with Human Resources. My first interview was so nerve racking. I wish I could calm down my nerves, but I have yet to find a way. Evidently, I have a good poker face, because I was told that I was scored highly by the interview panel, which is nice to hear, considering how nervous that I was. Multiple interviewers always make my knees weak, but I made it through to the second level and I should hear something by next week, so keep your fingers crossed for me.

Needless, to say I haven’t prepared much food for the blog as I have been focusing on my interviews. However, since we are full force in the midst of corn season, even if it is a little bare here in the US this year, I thought I would give some instructions for preserving and making homemade creamed corn. If you have never had homemade creamed corn, oh my, is it good!

I have always love corn and creamed corn is the best. I am not sure if this is specifically a southern recipe, creaming corn, but it is no matter as I lucky enough to grow up with it and love it.

First off, you need to know how to select a good batch of corn. High quality corn has tender kernels that are milky and well-developed. Kernels should be large enough to be compact on the cob with no space between the rows. Also, the ear should be filled to the tip with no rows of missing kernels.  Kernels that are too large will be chewy and pasty like dough. They should be just firm enough that slight pressure will puncture the kernel, releasing the milky-white juice. If juice is watery, the sweet corn is not ready. When buying sweet corn in the husk, look for a bright green color, snug husks and dark brown silk. The keys to “good eating” when it comes to sweet corn are to harvest at peak ripeness and store properly–if it can’t be eaten right away. However, the sooner it is used, the sweeter it will be! Canning, freezing or drying sweet corn will extend shelf life and provide your family with corn throughout the year. Corn can be kept frozen for up to 10 months and 2 medium ears of corn equals 1 cup of kernels.

Next, we will discuss creaming corn. You will need to husk and discard silk. Cut and scrape the corn from the cob (I use a corn cutter for this. These can be found at most hardware stores in the canning section). Place the cut corn in a large pot and constantly stir over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until it thickens. Package into 2-3 cup servings, seal and freeze.

 

Creamed Corn
Creamed Corn

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Caramelized Shallot Dressing

Last Friday in Yoga class, as we were settling down for savasana, my teacher said, “Remember you are the result of the love of thousands.” What a wonderful reality, no matter what your circumstances may be, good or bad, the truth of the matter is long down the line love created your unique DNA patterns. Speaking of my upbringing and a long line of my ancestors, we all had a special place in our heart for the sweet vidalia. An onion that loved our sulphur rich soil.

Growing up, I loved the Vidalia so much that at the age of ten, I won the top prize, attending 4H camp for free, by selling the most bags of onions statewide. One of the best ways to use the uniquely sweet onion is to make it into a sauce that can be used as a dressing or smeared on a sandwich or even used as a great dipping sauce. Unfortunately, I no longer have access to the yummy vidalia, but if my family taught me anything, they taught me  how to “make do.”  Using local shallots, I caramelize them to bring out their sweetness.  It curbed my nostalgic craving and all was good in the world again. I leave you with one of my favorite quotes of all time:

“I was born from people who were born from people who were born from people who were born here. The memory of what they entered is scrawled on my bones, so that I carry the landscape inside like an ache.” Janisse Ray Ecology of a Cracker Childhood

Caramelized Shallot Dressing

Summer Salad with Caramelized Shallot Dressing
Summer Salad with Caramelized Shallot Dressing

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Applesauce

When I lived in the Midwestern part of the United States, we had an apple tree in our yard. It was tiny, but boy did it produce quite a harvest of apples every year. I learned very quickly that crisp apples right off the tree were far superior to anything you can buy in a supermarket.

However, I had no idea what I was in for as far as using them up. Sure I took them to work, I even left a ladder in the tree for the neighbor boy who would creep in my yard to “steal” apples, but I was still left with garbage bags full. Not knowing what to do with them, I set out to find the best use of apples, meaning what recipe would use up the most apples. Hands down, if you have an overabundance of apples, applesauce is your best bet. I quickly became an expert at whipping up vats of delicious applesauce as I put back at least 40 cups of this delicious stuff a year. Perfect for a quick snack, a side or even marries beautifully with pork, it has proven to be very versatile and quite a delicious treat.

Applesauce

Applesauce
Applesauce

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Candied Orange Marmalade

Most of you that have followed me for awhile, know that my family was into canning and preserving food. Really, I couldn’t imagine a growing season without preserving something. Even if I don’t have access to growing my own food, we are very lucky to have  access to farmer’s markets with fresh organic produce.

Right now, we are smack dab in the middle of citrus season and the farmer’s market is reflecting that with baskets upon baskets overflowing with the bright and sweet scents of citrus perfuming the stands. Of course, I would want to preserve the tart, fresh sweetness available to me. The marmalade that I make is really quite simple, but it is different than traditional marmalade. I use the rind and juice only, discarding the rest. This makes for a very clean but thick preserve, that is a hybrid of half candied peel, half marmalade.

Such a sinfully delicious treat with the concentrated flavors of sunshine, it is low brow enough to spread across toast and biscuits, but high brow enough to adorn cheese trays, sandwich cookies, pork, duck, or even tarts and cheescakes.

Candied Orange Marmalade

Candied Orange Marmalade
Multigrain Crostini topped with Goat Cheese and Candied Orange Marmalade

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Lemon Curd

It is citrus season right now. At all of the farmer’s markets, the fruit stands are over flowing with all kinds of varieties of grapefruits, oranges, and lemons.

Picking up a bag of lemons, I was on a mission to make something bright and fresh that could last me for awhile. Yes, I am one of those people who love to keep homemade goods packed away for later use.

Yesterday, I tied my apron strings and made lemon curd. A sweet and tart treat that only takes about 30 minutes of your time. Not hard work, but I’ll be thanking myself later.

Good enough for a spoon alone, but always a welcome addition to a scone, crepe, or tart shell.

Lemon Curd

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 lemons, zested
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

***Note: Acidic ingredients, such as citrus juice, will react with certain metals, including aluminum or cast iron. The reaction may turn a mixture gray or leave behind a metallic aftertaste. The same reaction occurs when eggs are cooked in aluminum or cast-iron pans. Therefore, recipes that include these ingredients, such as lemon curd, call for the use of non-aluminum pans. Stainless-steel and enamel-lined pans are preferred choices.***

In the top of a double boiler, beat eggs and sugar. Stir in lemon juice, butter and lemon peel. Cook over simmering water for 15 minutes or until thickened. Pour into a sterile container. Keep in refrigerator for up to three weeks or freeze for up to a year.