Sunday, July 1, 2012

Watermelon JAM!

As many of you know I have, for the past 10 + years lived outside of the USA. I have lived in Japan and England. I ADORED everything about Japan, with the exception of the traffic. And I England will always be my daughters home. She grew up there and spent the better part of her life there. 

I have a very short list of reasons I am happy to be back in America, (I'm not kidding, it IS very short). I would have been SUPER duper happy to continue on living in foreign countries forever. FOREVER! The military way of life was totally built for someone like me.

One of the few things that I have missed from being stationed overseas is canning. Though supplies were available to me in England they were pricier than what I wanted to pay. I did very little preserving while in the UK and it was limited to apple pie filling and pumpkin empanada filling.
I had to mail order supplies and I did not have the space to store everything that I had left over. I didnt even have the space to store my big pots. Those were banished to garage. :-( They rarely got used and that made them sad.

When I got to Texas one of the first things I did was find a space for my pots INSIDE the house and then I made Mango Chutney and processed about 10 jars of that stuff! I LOVE! <3 And immediately all the fabulous feelings of seeing my mom make her own fruit jams came back to me. I went searching for what to make and what to can. 

While online I came across a Watermelon jelly recipe. 

My first reaction was, WHAT? WATERMELON? OMG OMG OMG! As a matter of fact I think thats how I labeled it in my recipe book! 

But after it was all set and processed I noticed that it was NOT a jelly it was totally a jam. But I was OK with it. 
I realize now I should have just added a bit more pectin and boiled another minute until it reached the consistency I wanted and really YOU should do that too, but I was VERY happy with what I got.

 The original recipe, found here, was jelly, but like I mentioned it did not look like jelly so now this is my recipe for watermelon jam. I found another version at recently and I will try this later this summer. Another melon another batch!

Watermelon Jam

6 cups watermelon puree (make sure you remove the seeds before you blend)
5 cups of sugar (less if your watermelon is SUPER sweet)
6 Tbsp of lemon juice
1 packet of powdered pectin (I most certainly needed more to make a jelly)

*when cutting your watermelon, the smaller your pieces the easier they are puree. You can strain your puree if you so choose. I didnt want any of the white seeds that are super duper slippery and I cant pick them up with my fat fingers so I said screw it and I just sieved it! TMI?

  1. In a large non-reactive pot pour watermelon puree, sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a full boil and let it boil until the temperature reaches 220 degrees. That should take about 15-30 minutes. 
  2. Remove from heat and pour into already processed jars. Put lids and rings on jars and process in a water bath for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. 
  3. Once jars are cool enough to handle move to a draft free place and let cool overnight. 
  4. Will keep in a cool dark place for up to 1 year.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Today was a country cooking day!

One of the biggest things that I miss from living in England is the open air markets or farmers markets that they had on a almost daily basis. England was great at supporting the local farmers in that every good sized town had a market or farm stand or the lady with a table sitting outside her house with homemade preserves and a small basket when people put in the money for goods purchased. Yes they still relied on the honor system there. And from the looks of repeat farm stands people were honorable!

Today my friend Em asked me to go with her to the Abilene Farmers Market. OF COURSE! It was my first market in over 6 months. I was super excited. It was the size of a small town weekday market in England but OH THE FUN of being able to support local farmers and families. 

Later I will post what I made with my market finds, peaches is the only clue you get!

One of my favorite blogs is The Country Cook 
Today without thinking about it I was fiddling in the kitchen. First I made watermelon jelly, and if that sets the way it is supposed to I will post that up. After that was canned and cooling I thought 'well lets just keep this going.' So on to 7-UP cake

Now I LOVE 7-UP cake and have always gotten it from the Commissary or bakery, I have never tried to make it myself. BUT Brandie has ALWAYS given me such fabulous recipes that I just had to try hers.

It looks phenomenal doesnt it? Well since I can tell you it tastes BETTER than it looks! 

It is a super easy cake that you will be able to make over and over again. 

1 box, Yellow cake mix
1 box, 3.4 oz instant lemon pudding
1 1/2 cups 7-up
4 eggs
3/4 cup Canola oil

2 cups Confectioners sugar
 1 TBSP Lemon Juice (bottled works just as well as fresh)
1-2 TBSP Milk

Pre-heat oven to 325°F.
Spray a 10-inch bundt cake pan with baking spray. (The one with flour in it)
In a medium bowl combine all cake ingriedients and mix thoroughly.
Pour batter into prepared bundt pan.
Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Allow to cool completely in the pan. 
Remove onto serving dish.
In a small bowl combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice. Add milk slowly while mixing to desired consistency. 
Pour icing over cake and serve!


And how was this a country cooking kind of day? Well I made Spasagna for dinner. I am telling you Ms. Brandie is AWESOME!