About Me

I have been cooking my way through life for over 50 years, beginning with mud pies as a child. I've turned a corner now and feel a Renaissance in my life. Recipes and Random Thoughts is my personal spin in a blog about how to prepare good food and how it prepares you for life. I want to share with you, honest to goodness food punctuated with perspective from the special memories and moments that have marked my journey.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Easy Apricot Jam

I'm enjoying my morning coffee by the lake with a little toasted brioche and a generous dollop of apricot jam.  I love cooking with seasonal fruits and apricots aren't available often in my part of the country.  It doesn't take much to turn them into jam.  Besides a breakfast treat, this versatile jam work with a thumbprint cookie and mixed with a bit of dijon mustard, makes a tasty glaze on chicken or pork.  It has just the right amount of tangy sweetness. Yum!

3 pounds apricots (about 21)
3 cups sugar
1 tbls lemon juice

Wash and pit apricots.  Put half in food processor and pulse until evenly chopped. About 15 pulses.  Remove to large dutch oven.  Do the same with the rest of the apricots.  Add sugar to dutch oven and mix with fruit.  Add lemon juice.  Cook over medium heat stirring often until sugar is dissolved and jam thickens.  Pour into clean jars.  Makes about 1 quart.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A Workout in the Kitchen

Kitchen running at full tilt 
I hate to see homes with high end appliances in a gourmet kitchen that owners never really use.  Mine gets a workout every day and that's a healthy thing just like a gym workout.  Exercising the kitchen reflects health and productivity in my home since I think of it as the heart of my house.  The day may start with a perfectly clean, tidy kitchen in the morning. No dishes in the sink, no pots on the stove, everything put away in the pantry or refrigerator; just one favorite knife I always leave out on a cutting board but by 6 o'clock that evening it looks like I opened every cabinet and dumped it all out.  Like a child whose toys are out of site in the toy chest only to be rediscovered one by one with relish and fascination.  I remember pulling a doll or little car out of my toy box as a child and a, "let's pretend..." moment would begin as my imagination took over.  That's the way I approach grocery shopping.  I might look at a package of chicken breasts and think, "Oh, you again," but then pass the olive bar and my mind will start to spin.  The other day, I had a plan for dinner and then I found a flat of apricots that begged me to consider the possibilities.  Things got intense in the kitchen that evening.

Bread Machine & Computer running
Tomato-Caper Sauce
Ok, I had a halibut dinner menu ready that would be accompanied by the fabulous fresh tomato/caper sauce I'd made a few days before and a quick saute' of Swiss chard on the side seemed easy enough.  The halibut would be cooked sous vide which is quite easy except it involves my vacuum sealer and a stock pot of water.  Oh, it's time to make our everyday bread too, we're down to the last slice, so I need to get out my bread machine.  It only take a few minutes to put all the ingredients in and let the machine do most of the work.  I'm really excited about those apricots and jam is so easy to make, all I have to do is take the pit out and chop them, add sugar and lemon juice. I got the food processor out to pulse the apricots to just the right size for jam, then into my big Le Creuset dutch oven.  I'll need a funnel and a few jars to put up the jam when it's ready.  Now, should I get the pressure cooker out to make quick work of the Swiss chard? I'm about to run out of counter space and electrical outlets.  All the while, my computer is running an America's Test Kitchen episode of Bridgette and Julia instructing us how to make some dish better.  Enough!

The food is good even if things are a bit messy. The kitchen smells like fresh bread and the apricot jam is divine.  Like a good, sweaty, productive workout, I feel satisfied with my efforts even if I'm a bit disheveled.
Apricot Jam
There will always be dishes to wash and things to put away even if it's just a salt and pepper shaker but my kitchen has muscle and I flexed it today.