Sunday, July 11, 2010

Summer's Bounty

I've been addicted to fruit lately. There's strawberries, black cherries, raspberries, and blueberries in my refrigerator as I write this. I slice some of the fruit to eat with toasted buckwheat groat or oatmeal in the mornings, and eat handfuls as a snack, but that still leaves quite a bit of fruit just lying around. And as J has pointed out, the refrigerator is pretty much stuffed to capacity.

With that in mind, I decided to use up the blueberries for our Sunday brunch: Blueberry Breakfast Polenta from Get it Ripe. This took 30 minutes of diligent stirring, most of it done by J, the best husband in the world. The polenta tasted great with a little maple syrup drizzled over it.
Remember how I mentioned in a previous post that I've been obsessed with canning and preserving lately? Well, that wasn't an exaggeration. I've already canned salsa and pickles this summer, so decided to switch things up a little and try jams and preserves. J and I both love marmalade, so I was really excited to make the "Down South" Orange Marmalade from Lip Smackin' Jams & Jellies.

This involved two lemons, two valencia oranges, and a dubious amount of sugar. Also, an insane amount of time spent soaking and boiling fruit (lots of stirring happened in our kitchen today). Now, I've never tried a southern-style marmalade before, so I have no point of reference. But the marmalade I made turned out to be bitter instead of sweet. Also, I couldn't get the right jelly consistency. There's a spoon test to see if the jelly is done, but no matter how long I boiled the marmalade, I couldn't get it to do anything other than fall off the spoon in clumps. Sigh. I think I must have done something wrong, but I'm not sure what it was.

Here's a picture of it in the glass jar. It's pretty, but I'm reluctant to eat it if it has a ton of white sugar and doesn't taste great. J claims to really like the marmalade, however, and has taken full responsibility for making sure it doesn't go to waste. 
I felt really discouraged by the whole marmalade experience. This made me more determined than ever to make a successful fruit spread. And hmm, I had both cherries and strawberries in surplus, so I made a batch of strawberry and cherry preserves from Lip Smackin' Jams & Jellies.

Isn't it beautiful? And it tastes delicious, the kind of delicious that makes you say "mmm" out loud. I definitely want to make this recipe a few more times before cherries go out of season, just so we'll be able to have sweet cherry and strawberry goodness in January and February.

Okay, enough with the fruit already!! Yesterday I had a bowl of groats (with a dollop of peanut butter) for dinner, but tonight I decided to cook a proper meal.

It has occured to me that my cooking habits are very odd. In the winter I use my slow cooker all the time, and now that it's summer, I'm either simmering a soup or two, or baking a casserole. And our kitchen gets very hot in the summertime. So after the long hours of boiling fruit and stirring polenta, I thought: why not break out the slow cooker?

I made the Braised Seitan with Red Wine and Mushrooms from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker. When I was an omnivore, I used to make beef burgundy a lot, and this is a tasty, healthier vegan substitute. The wine, thyme and a bit of Gravy Master gave the stew a nice depth of flavor.  I served it over brown rice, with kale chips and a tossed salad.

1 comment:

  1. Only odd cooking habits? And you make the cherry and strawberry preserves sound delicious.
    -The Bro-Machine