Blueberry Basil Jam

Another day, another jam. I needed something to do with all of my blueberries so I decided to make a small batch of Blueberry Basil Jam today. I found a good recipe on the Rustic Kitchen website and was done before I knew it. It was only supposed to make a cup of jam but I actually got 2 4-ounce jars and 1 6-ounce jar out of it as well as a nice pour on top of my yogurt. This is a tasty one that would go really well with soft cheese and some crackers or on a thick slice of warm bread.

  • 3 cups blueberries
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Pour blueberries into a large saucepan over high heat.  Mash with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon.  Once they begin to exude juice, stir in sugar.
Boil, stirring occasionally, until your candy thermometer reads 225 degrees.  Test with a cold spoon in the freezer to be sure it is done. Remove the jam from heat, stir in the basil and lemon juice, and transfer to sterile containers.  Store in the refrigerator or preserve as needed.

Raspberry Jam

Yesterday, I found myself near Costco so I decided to stop in to grab some toilet paper and paper towels. Twenty minutes later, I got into my car with a few bottles of red wine and two huge boxes of organic blueberries and raspberries in addition to the things I actually needed. Time to make some jam!

My sister-in-law gave me the Rachel Saunders Blue Chair Jam Cookbook last year for Christmas and I’ve only used it once to make a small batch of rhubarb jam earlier this summer. Today I really broke it in. Spills on crisp white pages only help to establish character!

I opted to try the “Mem’s Red Raspberry Jam” which made 6 6-ounce jars of jam to give away in addition to 2 4-ounce jars for me to keep. The recipe used about 5-6 clams of raspberries. Of course I’m biased because I just spent the last hour or so making it, but it’s fantastic!

  • 2 1/4 pounds red raspberries
  • 3 pounds white cane sugar

1. Place a saucer and five metal teaspoons in a flat place in your freezer for testing the jam later. Have ready a medium-mesh strainer or chinois suspended over a heatproof bowl.

2. Combine the berries and sugar in an 11- or 12-quart copper preserving pan or a wide nonreactive pot. Place the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring and mashing constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula, until the juice begins to run from the berries. As soon as the sugar dissolves, increase the heat to high. (I kept getting splattered here so I put a dishwashing glove on my stirring hand which helped a lot.) Continue to cook, stirring very frequently, until the mixture boils. Boil the mixture vigorously for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Best to begin testing for doneness after 10 minutes.

3. To test for doneness, remove the pan from the heat and carefully transfer a scant half teaspoonful of jam to one of your frozen spoons. Return the spoon to the freezer for 3 to 4 minutes, then remove and carefully feel the underside of the spoon. It should be neither warm nor cold; if still warm, return it to the freezer for a moment. Tilt the spoon vertically to see whether the jam runs; if the jam does not run, and if it has thickened to a near-jelly consistency, it is done. If the jam runs, return the pan to the stove and cook the mixture for another few minutes, stirring and testing again as many times as needed.

4. Using a stainless-steel spoon, skim any remaining foam from the surface of the preserve. I don’t mind the seeds so I skipped the straining part. If you prefer seedless jam, quickly transfer the jam to the mesh strainer and force as much of the preserve as possible through it by pressing on it with the back of the spoon. Discard the seeds. Skim any foam that lingers on the surface of the strained jam.

5. Pour the jam into sterilized jars and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Or eat as “refrigerator jam” and move into the refrigerator once the jam has cooled to room temperature. It should last a few weeks if you don’t eat it before then.

Sterilization Instructions: Wash jars with hot soapy water (or clean in the dishwasher) and stand them up on a baking sheet along with the same number of unused lids. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees and put the sheet in the oven for at least 30 minutes. Take them out when you are ready to fill the jars. Once filled (leave about 1/2 inch of space from the top and wipe the rim with a damp paper towel), screw the rims on (don’t force it), and put back into the oven for about 20 minutes. Remove and cool on a drying rack for 6-8 hours so that they seal. Consider yourself a pro once you have heard the lids pop!

Posted in Jam

Zucchini Pasta

Last week Patty brought me some enormous zucchini from her yard in Sacramento. They looked and felt like 3-4 pound dumbbells! Initially I was inspired to make a zucchini lemon cake, but after a glowing recommendation of the “Zucchini Pasta” in Martha Rose Schulman’s section in the NYT, I switched gears. It was the perfect Sunday night meal after a wedding weekend – quick, healthy, veggie, and surprisingly full of flavor. Thanks to Patty for the veggies and Kristin for the recommendation!


  • 2 pounds zucchini (or a combination of yellow and green zucchini)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, for serving (more to taste)

1. Using a vegetable peeler, cut the zucchini into lengthwise ribbons. Peel off several from one side, then turn the zucchini and peel off more. Continue to turn and peel away ribbons until you get to the seeds at the core of the zucchini. Compost the core.

2. Cook the zucchini strips in two batches. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the zucchini ribbons and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook, tossing and stirring the zucchini, for two to three minutes, until softened and beginning to turn translucent. Adjust salt and add freshly ground pepper to taste, and transfer to a serving dish. Repeat with the remaining olive oil and zucchini. Serve, topping with fresh basil slices and freshly grated Parmesan if desired.

Yield: Serves four

Chocolate Olive Oil Zucchini Bread

As soon as I found this Chocolate Olive Oil Zucchini Bread on the Seven Spoons blog, I added buttermilk to my grocery list. It contains equal amounts of whole wheat and all-purpose flour in addition to four cups of shredded zucchini and a nice pour of olive oil. Healthy, right? Suuuure.

The recipe makes two loaves so it’s nice to give one to a pregnant friend (thanks Kristin for the idea!) so you don’t eat them both yourself. It’s moist, delicious, and addictive. And even two days later, it’s just as dense and fudgy as it was out of the oven.

  • Softened butter, for pans
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups fine-grained turbinado sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups shredded zucchini (5 medium sized zucchinis)

Preheat an oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease two 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pans with softened butter. Use a length of parchment to line the bottom and long sides of the pan, forming a sling, and lightly butter the parchment as well. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in the chopped walnuts and chocolate. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together the olive oil and buttermilk. Add the eggs, sugar and vanilla, and beat until smooth. Stir in the zucchini.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, stir until combined, taking care not over mix. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and bake, rotating once, until a cake tester inserted into the loaf comes out almost clean, which should be around 50 minutes.Cool loaves in their pans on a rack for 20 minutes, then grasp the edges of the parchment to ease the bread out.

Makes 2 loaves.

Peach Vanilla Smoothie

I’m a sucker for any smoothie recipe by Martha Rose Schulman. Yesterday she posted a Peach Vanilla Smoothie on her NYT Recipes for Health column. Since I had a sad little peach in the fridge and I’m headed out of town for the weekend, I figured I would put it to good use. I’m so glad I did – this was a refreshing, filling, and not too sweet snack before hitting the road. I’m also a big fan of her Banana Peanut Butter drink which I love to make after a workout. It’s funny because I’m not even a huge smoothie fan but now I’m hooked on anything she posts. Mom, can you imagine how many of these we’d be making if we had our old peach and nectarine tree? 😦

Blend together:

  • 1 large ripe peach
  • Small handful sliced almonds
  • 2/3 cup lowfat milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 ice cubes
Drink as fast as you can until you get a brain freeze. Yum!

Recipe Testing Winner – Almond and Coconut Granola

I’m not a huge granola fan but Alex is. And since it’s his birthday this week and we’re going backpacking this weekend, I figured it was a nice excuse to make some from scratch. A friend suggested that I try eating granola and powdered milk for breakfast while backpacking since it has more calories and will keep me going longer than my usual instant oatmeal.

I prefer to make granola at home rather than buying it in the store because it allows me to control the salt and sugar content as well as to customize the nuts and dried fruit to my liking. It’s also significantly cheaper. For this batch, I followed a simple Leite’s recipe that I evaluated and enjoyed about a month ago. The golden colors remind me of autumn which now that it’s already August, really isn’t that far away. Bring on the butternut!