Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How Cool Is This?

I was just reading the most recent post from the Totally Ready Blog (the link is on the right), and saw an ad for cardboard can organizers.  They look like they work similarly to the Shelf Reliance Cansolidators, but they're made from cardboard, so they're much cheaper.

Paraphrasing Captain Steve Hiller from Independence Day, 'I have GOT to get me some of these!'

Here's the link, in case you're interested: .

I shamelessly stole an image from their website so you can see what they look like:

You put your recent purchases in the top, and it rolls around to the bottom.  When you want to use a can, you take it from the bottom.  So you're always using the oldest can, thus rotating your storage easily.  Of course, you'd have to get one for each type of food you're storing.   But at $12.00 (US) or $16.00 (US) for a 4-pack (depending on which size you get), that's not too bad. 

It looks like they don't have them for #10 cans yet.  But they'd be great for storing store-bought canned foods.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I Made Jam!

I wanted to use my new canner, but there's really nothing in season yet.  Strawberries will be ready soon, but not yet.  So I tried an exotic jam recipe form Blue Ribbon Preserves, by Linda J. Amendt:  Coconut-Pineapple Conserve.

This isn't a frugal recipe, as it uses canned pineapple and purchased shredded coconut (from Bob's Red Mill, of course!).  But not everything has to be frugal, right?  Everyone deserves a little luxury now and then, right?  So what if I could buy blackberry jam at the grocery store cheaper than I can make this?  I can't buy Coconut-Pineapple Conserve at the grocery store for any price.  So what the heck, this IS a frugal recipe--for a luxury item!

For those who may not know what a conserve is, it's a jam that uses fresh and dried fruit and nuts.  Or in this case, canned and dried fruit and nuts.  The recipe called for macadamia nuts, but I didn't have any.  So I substituted pecans.

Here's the recipe:
Coconut-Pineapple Conserve
A refreshing tropical spread, it will remind you of warm, sunny days in the islands.

Makes about seven 8-ounce (half-pint) jars

2 (20-ounce) cans crushed pineapple, lightly drained
¼ cup bottled lemon juice (not fresh)
5 cups sugar
2 (3-ounce) pouches liquid pectin
1 ¼ cups shredded or flaked coconut
1 cup chopped roasted macadamia nuts (or pecans)

  1. Prepare canner, jars and lids.
  2. Make the jam:
    1. In an 8-quart stainless steel pan, combine the pineapple and lemon juice. Gradually stir in the sugar. Over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, heat the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved.
    2. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the entire contents of both pectin pouches. Return the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the coconut and macadamia nuts.
    3. To prevent floating fruit, allow the conserve to cool for 5 minutes before filling the jars. Gently stir the conserve to distribute the fruit.
  3. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot jam. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.
  4. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool, and store.

This jam is so good, I actually like eating it right out of the jar.  I think it would be really good in little tarts, maybe on top of a layer of mango curd (the recipe is also in the book), for a real tropical treat.

Of course, it's good on homemade biscuits, too.

I also made Banana Butter, from the same book, and Tropical Breeze Freezer Jam from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, which is edited by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine.  I thought the Banana Butter was a little too sweet.  But the Tropical Breeze Freezer Jam was as good as the Coconut-Pineapple Conserve.  Yum!

Oh by the way, the package of shredded coconut from Bob's Red Mill has a recipe for chocolate macaroons that is really, really good!  I've had macaroons from a bakery that where this sticky, too-sweet gob of coconut.  Not these macaroons.  They're light and fluffy, and full of chocolatey coconut flavor.