Make dinner tonight, inspired!

Wondering what to make for dinner tonight? This is your place for quick and healthy meal inspirations. Here you'll find recipes for seasonally focused dinners, desserts, breakfasts, and everything in between.

My cooking focuses on the freshest ingredients prepared in a simple and careful way, to highlight their uniqueness. My own diet is primarily vegetarian, but does include sustainable fish and seafood, and is gluten free.

Thank you for reading. I look forward to sharing some of my favorite recipes with you!

16 February 2010

Meyer Lemon & Vanilla Bean Marmalade

I came across this recipe last week, thanks to the ever inspiring Tea & Cookies, just as my Meyer Lemon tree was laden with the final explosion of this season's bounty. 

I'm fascinated by the idea of canning. It's always something I've been interested in. I love the whole idea of preserving the harvest at its peak of ripeness to enjoy on a cold winter day when the bountiful days of spring and summer seem like an all too distant memory. One of my resolutions this year is to delve into the art of canning in earnest. It makes me sad that we've lost this tradition along the way. So, I intend to bring it back, if only for my own enjoyment.

I hope to preserve all the beauty of the season that I find at the market. I visualize my cellar stocked full of jars in a rainbow of colors, jam in every variety of berry, pickles of all the best summer veggies.... When we bought our house we found jars of jam and pickles from the 1940's in the cellar. I intend to restore our cellar to its original purpose this year. That is, if I can only get over my fear of going down there into that dark room. I'll just keep reminding myself how good it is for storing preserves.

The world of 'putting by' is something I know very little about. However I intend to educate myself and share my adventures with you along the way. I didn't grow up watching my grandma or my mom preserve items every season. They always thought the task seemed like a whole lot of trouble. Even though I may not have a childhood memory to draw from I do have an interest, a few good books, and hopefully some knowledgeable readers to offer advice along the way.

This marmalade was my first attempt this year. I have to say that it all went quite smoothly and came out tasting delicious. I can hardly wait for tomorrow morning when I get to spread it on my toast with plenty of good cultured butter. 

Give this one a try and please share your tips and tricks with me. I'll post back about my next canning adventure.... I'm thinking perhaps Rhubarb or Apricots....

Meyer Lemon & Vanilla Bean Marmalade:
Yields about 8, 1/2 pint jars:

Flesh from 3 Navel Oranges
2 pounds whole Meyer Lemons
5 cups water
1 box fruit pectin
4 1/2 cups sugar
2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
pinch salt
8, 1/2 pint canning jars with 2 piece lids

1) Sterilize your jars by running them through a cycle in the dishwasher. 

2) Remove the skin from the Meyer Lemons and cut them into thin strips. Add them to a large  (5 or 7 quart) stockpot. Slice the skinned lemons in half lengthwise, remove the seeds, and slice thinly into half rounds. Add the flesh into the stockpot with the rind.

3) Remove the rind from the oranges and discard. Slice the oranges in half lengthwise and chop the flesh into 1" pieces. Add those to the pot. 

4) Add the water and the salt to the pot, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a strong simmer and cook about 10 minutes.  Scrape the seeds from the vanilla beans and add them to the pot. Chop the remaining beans into 1" pieces and add those in as well.

5) Add the pectin and the sugar and bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly, for exactly 1 minute. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with a metal spoon.

6) Ladle the hot jam into the sterilized jars. Wipe jars and threads and cover with the 2-piece lids. Place the jars on an elevated rack in a canner and lower into a pot of hot water. The water should cover the jars by 1-2". Cover and bring the water back to a gentle boil. Process the jars for 5 minutes. Remove the jars and place them upright on a kitchen towel to cool completely. 

7) You'll hear the jar lids pop and seal after 40 minutes or so. Check the seals by pressing down on the middle of the lids with your finger. If the lids spring back, the jars are not sealed and you'll need to store them in the fridge. 

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