Links: Rhubarb, Lemon Curd, and Crumbles

It’s been ages since I’ve done one of these link round-ups, but given that I have a nice cache of links set by and a couple things I want to share, I thought it was high time.

First, the shares.

  1. I’m doing a Facebook Livestream on Monday, June 18 at 9 pm ET/6 pm PT. You’ll find me over on the FIJ Facebook, making a small batch of blueberry jam (I’ll post the recipe tomorrow!) and answering questions. Please do tune in.
  2. Speaking of Facebook, did you know that Food in Jars has a community discussion group over there? We do! It’s a place where you can chat with your fellow canners, ask questions, and share recipes. The only requirements are that you stay on topic and that you’re kind to your fellow members. To join, go here.
  3. My classes and events page is currently up-to-date with all my upcoming classes for the summer. If you’ve been wanting to take a class, check it out.

Now, the links.

May you have a lovely week, full of food, canning, and summer fun!

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Cooking from Just Cook It! with OXO’s One Stop Chop

This blog post was written in partnership with OXO.

I recently had a conversation with a friend about the kitchen tools one should pack when spending a week at a vacation rental. I went through my standard list – a couple sharp knives, a good peeler, a rasp-style zester, a big cutting board, olive oil and vinegar, flaky sea salt (a must for corn on the cob), pre-ground coffee, peanut butter, and homemade jam.

She was on board with everything I listed, but when I got to the end, she turned to me and asked, “What do you think about bringing a food processor?”

I told her that she was nuts. Vacation cooking is about simplicity. Food in the summer is so gorgeous that you don’t have to do much to it to make it amazing. Sadly, she was not entirely convinced (I believe she had things like fresh pesto and pureed homemade salsas in mind).

This post is written in partnership with OXO.

However, had I known about the One Stop Chop from OXO before I had this conversation, I would have heartily suggested that she consider bringing it. It’s the perfect tool those moments when you’ve got a lot of chopping to do, but can’t be bear the idea of pulling out and then washing your full-sized food processor. It’s great for small batches. And because it’s small and light, it travels very, very well.

The folks at OXO sent it to me, along with the copy of Just Cook It! (pictured above) by Justin Chapple, asking me to find a recipe in the book to make that would partner well with the One Stop Chop. After a trip through the book (which is a really terrific volume on approachable, tasty home cooking), I settled on the recipe for Smashed Chickpea Salad Lettuce Wraps.

The concept behind this dish is that it’s essentially chicken salad, with smashed chickpeas playing the role of the chicken. As someone who is slowly inching away from animal proteins but loves chicken salad, this recipe spoke to me.

Another thing I liked about it is that it’s a really pantry-friendly recipe. Other than the freshly snipped chives, everything it calls for are staples in my kitchen (and in a pinch, one could always use some dried parsley in place of the fresh).

The instructions call for you to rinse the chickpeas, put them in a bowl and mash them with a potato masher. Because I had the One Stop Chop at my disposal, I used it to break them down instead. The container was able to accommodate both cans of chickpeas and broken them down really quickly.

Another thing that I like about the One Stop Chop is that it has a leaver that allows you to suction the bowl in place on your counter. This means that you can apply a goodly amount of force to the handle as you first get the chopping going, without having to work against yourself to keep it in place. It also has a little tab that you lift to quickly break the suction when you need to move the bowl again. It’s a really smart design.

Once all your ingredients are chopped, you stir them together with a relatively small amount of mayonnaise (for those of you who are entirely plant-based eaters, all this recipe needs is a vegan mayo to work for you). Justin recommends that you eat this tucked into lettuce cups, though that felt a little gimmicky to me.

After I took that final picture, I torn the lettuce into bits and turned it into a salad, which felt far more manageable. I ate the chickpea salad for lunch on three consecutive days and enjoyed it each time (chances are good that I’ll make another batch next week).

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Homemade Watermelon Juice

Redeem mediocre watermelons by turning them into homemade watermelon juice! All you need is cubed fruit, lemon juice, a sweetener, and a blender!

This is a tale of a mediocre watermelon and its eventual redemption. It all started last week, during a trip to Trader Joe’s. They had a bin of watermelon in the entry way and I was entranced. You see, I am one of the people who can eat endless amounts of watermelon and in the height of summer, I often work my way through a couple sizable melons per week (my husband does not partake. He is strictly a cantaloupe man).

I tapped a few melons and lifted a couple possible candidates into the air, hoping to find a good one using both science (hollow sound) and intuition (feel). Hoping for the best, I finally hefted a gorgeously striped watermelon into my cart. Walking home with one bag on my shoulder and the watermelon cozied up in my favorite mesh sack, I was so looking forward to eating a bowl of melon cubes.

I think you know what comes next. The melon I had so carefully chosen was not a winner. It was pale, mealy, and barely sweet. For a moment, I contemplated bagging it up and taking it back to Trader Joe’s for a refund. But then, I realized there was an answer.

The prior weekend, I had spent some time with a friend who had mentioned how much she liked the watermelon juice sold at a local-to-her taco truck. I cubed the watermelon and threw it in the blender with the juice of a lemon (lime would have also been good) and a tablespoon of agave nectar (I had a bottle that was nearly kicked and I wanted to use it up. Honey or even maple syrup would also be good).

The additional acid and sweetness brought the watermelon into balance and it became a truly delightful drink. It kept in the fridge for about 48 hours. It did separate a bit as it sat, but could be brought back together with a quick shake.

I’m not going to offer a specific recipe because every watermelon will be different (and some won’t want any additional sweetness at all). But if you find yourself in possession of a lackluster melon this summer, instead of bemoaning your fate, turn it into juice!

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Giveaway: Decorative Lids from Mason Jar Lifestyle

An assortment of decorative lids from Mason Jar Lifestyle

In my household, mason jars are our default vessels. Canning is certainly one of their primary uses, but we also employ them for storing leftovers, corralling LEGO collections, stashing office supplies, arranging flowers, and displaying rocks gathered on vacation. They are truly all-purpose containers.

Decorative lid with grab handle from Mason Jar Lifestyle

One issue that I’ve run into in the past when using mason jars for all manner of things is that sometimes, you get weird olfactory cross-contamination when it comes to the lids (ask me what happens when you store Q-Tips under a lid that once protected pickles).

Assortment of decorative grab handle lids

To keep this weirdness at bay, I’ve got a small assortment of decorative lids from Mason Jar Lifestyle that are not designed for food use. This means I keep them expressly for all the other things that I stash in jars, thus keeping the cotton balls free of relish memories and ready to serve another day. They also can fit over the flat lids on most jars, if you want to use them to dress up jars you’re giving as gifts.

Decorative flower frog jar lids from Mason Jar Lifestyle

If you find yourself in the market for decorative lids, I highly recommend checking out the assortment that Mason Jar Lifestyle sells. They’ve got everything from lids with vintage styling (galvanized or oil-rubbed), lids with handles (you can tuck a flat canning lid into these if you are desperate to use them in your pantry), flower frogs, and so much more.

Decorative lid with grab handle from Mason Jar Lifestyle

This week, I’m giving away two sets of decorative lids (winners get to choose an assortment of eight lids) here on the blog and another set over on Instagram. Make sure to enter in both places to increase your chances of winning!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: Mason Jar Lifestyle is a Food in Jars partner and this giveaway is a component of our partnership. Their continued sponsorship helps keep this blog afloat. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog post are entirely my own.

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Can Together: June is for Berries

Ever since June rolled into town, I’ve been finding myself thinking about last year’s Mastery Challenge. I really loved the feeling of canning along with so many of you throughout 2017 and have been missing that feeling of so many of being part of a canning collective. I’ve also felt sort of sad that I never rounded up that project in a comprehensive way (I was so deep in the book writing process by the end of 2017 that I just couldn’t manage).

And so, I’ve decided to bring it back, albeit in a slightly scaled down format. Here’s the plan. Once a month, we’ll focus on a different category of produce (except in September, where we’re switching to a category of preserve). I will try to do my best to make the topics open enough that they work for everyone, regardless of location (though those of you in the Southern Hemisphere might need to think creatively or use frozen fruit).

I won’t do a comprehensive monthly round-up. Instead, use the tag #cantogether on social media and I’ll do my best to retweet and share. I will occasionally do a post on the site featuring some of the preserves you all have made, but knowing the way I function, I can’t promise it will be precisely at the end of each month.

Here’s what I’m thinking for topics. These might shift and change a little as people give me feedback about what works for them.

June – Berries
July – Stonefruit 
August – Tomatoes
September – Pickles, Chow Chow, and Relish (produce selection is maker’s choice)
October – Apples and pears (I recommend chutney!)
November – Cranberries
December – Citrus

Since we’re already so far into this month, I’m not going to give you too much guidance beyond the suggestion that you make something with berries. High sugar, low sugar, naturally sweetened, jam, butter, sauce or whole fruit preserve. The selection is up to you. The goal is to have fun and make the world feel a little smaller by canning together.

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Homemade Granola Bars with Nuts and Seeds

Many years ago, I wrote a weekly column for the Food Network’s blog. It was called The Weekender and was designed to feature the kind of project cooking best tackled on a Saturday or Sunday. I cooked a whole bunch of things that were way out of my comfort zone during the three year period I had that gig and I learned a heck of a lot along the way.

I often go back and reference select elements of the dishes I made during that run (the spice rub on this chicken is brilliant and I use it all the time). Another technique that I’ve used and adapted a lot over the years is this one for granola bars.

It comes from an episode of Sunny Anderson’s show, Home Made in America, in which she searched out secrets from home cooks. The thing that sets this granola bar apart from others I’ve made is that it results in a nicely chewy, not-too-sweet, easy to eat snack.

The one thing I do differently from the recipe as written is that I don’t bake the bars. Once I press them into the pan, I just let them cool until they firm up. This makes it a good one for summer, because the time the oven is on is minimal.

Once the slab is cool, I cut them into bars, wrap them up in pieces of parchment paper (often using the same sheet that I lined the pan with) and then tuck them into a big jar.

They keep a couple weeks on the counter and even longer in the freezer. Oh, and if you need to avoid nuts because of allergies, omit the almonds, add more sunflower seeds, and proceed as directed.

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