Friday, December 23, 2011

Can you can it? Feed Yo Self attempts to feed others

Folks, today is officially The Holidays. It's December 23rd, which I like to think of as Christmas Eve Eve.
There are many ways one may spend Christmas Eve Eve. For the non-procrastinators, the ones who have a God-given tendency to think and to plan things, this may be a day of rest. Your shopping is done, you have wrapped each of your gifts (or paid someone to wrap them in conspicuous, brand-associated paper), and at this point, all that awaits you is a big meal and a whole three days to not change out of your bathrobe.
I even hear tell of some constituents of the planning sort who, even after their shopping is complete, go so far as to spend their Christmas Eve Eve at the Mall. Out of hatred for humanity, I can only presume.
From the self-satisfied perch of a massage chair, the frantic idiots running around at the mall must be pretty funny.

I am one of those frantic idiots.

The only difference is that my staunchly non-materialistic immediate family members would balk at the idea of
anyone (especially anyone blood-related to them, the horror) purchasing an earthly item from The Mall in their name.

They would look at me like this.

Charlie Brown Christmas, things have gone too commercial, I get it.
I'm not opposed to it.

It just means that I, the eternal procrastinator, invariably end up spending Christmas Eve Eve not running through the mall, but rather, having to reach into the farther depths of the creative pit in my brain.

That, and a lot of running with scissors.
Also, in this case, kitchen knives.

Without further ado, I will present to you my day's attempt at making something edible, and (hopefully) delicious, for my parents.

Like last year, I am going with preserves. (Everyone likes preserves. They are good on toast.)

Last year = Pomegranate Lemon with Mint Marmalade; Mandarin Orange Spice.
This year = other stuff.


Hippie Parent Christmas gift #1:
Sweet Onion Marmalade

I adapted this recipe, which adapted this recipe.
Reading the comments has been helpful. First of all, I
way reduced the amount of oil and butter, since people have said that it has a tendency to settle at the top. Ew. Super unappealing. This is why I can't eat organic peanut butter. It's a problem, and it can be fixed.
For the butter I used only clarified butter, which may be purchased in the Indian section under the name Cow Ghee. It has all the flavor of butter, and maybe less of the heart disease and cellulite. Not sure about that one. But, at least, no milk solids that settle atop your onions.

I used gold and white onions rather than red. Doubled the amount of chili flakes, because I know they can handle it. I also dashed in small amounts of both sesame oil and soy sauce. Both make a big difference, and go well with the elements of vinegar and heat.
Hope it don't taste overwhelmingly Oriental for the rest of the ingredients, but we'll see.

out of the fire and back into the frying pan

Finally, I omitted the port, because a) what is that, and b) I am not The 1%.

It tastes like...caramelized onions. Tangy, spicy caramelized onions. The wine and the balsamic have imparted on the onions a wonderful, deep sweetness.
A Christmas success?

...On to the next one!

Hippie Parent Christmas gift #2:
Plum Cabernet Jam

Just uttering the name of this one makes sugar plum fairies dance across your tongue.

I am adapting this recipe, which isn't
exactly what I want (they use golden plums and a rosé), but for some reason the above recipe was all Google could find. WHY? I say. Why haven't more people tried to make this?
The flavors should go so well together! So, here is where a little experimentation comes in.

(Experimenter's) Pro Tip #1:

I am using plums in a can.
Ew, why?

Plus, I really like the irony of taking a canned good and making it into another canned good. Besides, this person used canned plums for sorbet, and it still looks pretty tasty. So why not give it a try? God knows they're not in season. I didn't even know you could get canned plums, but here they are sitting right in front of me. Here we go...

I got a $5 bottle of cab-sav called Stone Cellars, which tastes surprisingly decent for the price. Simmered it with just a baby sneeze of lemon juice and a fairy dusting of cinnamon and ground cloves, which results in a most enticingly sweet aroma.

If mulled wine didn't stain your
clothes so bad, I'd wear it as perfume.

Next, time to dissect the contents of these cans. We've got syrup...IMG_1511
And we've got plums...
Which have... pits.

One of the Three Wise Men bearing gifts to Baby Jesus once said that plum pits were a good source of natural fruit pectin. [ Fruit pectin = the stuff that makes your jelly different from fruit juice with extra pulp. ]
But, I don't have time for measuring and stuff, and I sure as hell don't have any cheesecloth, so, I am just going to go the Wal-Mart route and use artificial pectin. Yup. Steering clear of anything sustainable, efficient, or natural.
"git them goddamn pits outta my can of plums"

Anyway, pour out the syrup, put the plums in the wine, boil it down, yada yada yada...

I can't believe I have been leaving out the best part! How you get all this mess into a can!

Well, it's a little bit of this...

And then, I use a stock pot instead of a canner so it's a little bit of this...
but these are the two most important things you want to remember:

A Canning Lesson from a Novice Canner

1) Splash boiling water everywhere and burn yourself
2) Make sure to pour most of the can's contents down into the stove's back right burner.

That's it! It's easy as pie.

(Actually, they should say it's "easy as canned preserves". Pie is fucking hard.)

I hope you all go out there and make your own jams and jellies now, so that I have to think of a better Christmas present next year.