Monday, July 28, 2014

Apricot Habanero Jam

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Saturday I was headed to the Big Orange Box store for the 3rd time for a yard project when I drove past a house at the end of the street with a sign that said "Free apricots" with a ladder all ready to go in the yard-sweet!  I stopped by and knocked on the door and the gentleman who lived there was happy to have the fruit go to a good home.   It was great to chat with him while I picked about 2 grocery bags of apricots.

I knew I was going to make some jam, but I wanted something more interesting than usual.  Some searching around the internet and I saw that adding in peppers was popular.  That sounded great.  I've done jalapeno jelly before and it was tasty.  I pulled out my Ball Canning book (the blue one) and saw that the recipe for regular apricot jam didn't call for pectin. Hmmm, I haven't done that before, so I hedged my bets and used 1 package of liquid pectin during the last 1 minute of cooking. Just in case.

8 cups apricot puree (about 12 cups of whole fruit...maybe 5 pounds?)
6 cups sugar
3 habanero peppers
1 teaspoon butter
1 pouch liquid pectin (optional...the recipe didn't call for it)

I washed the apricots in the sink and then used my fingers to split them in 1/2 and pull out the pits.  I then pureed (chunky) the fruit in my food processor.

I removed the seeds from the peppers and tossed them in the processor along with about 1 cup of the fruit puree.

Mix the fruit and sugar in  a large pot (I used my 8 quart dutch oven) and bring to a boil on medium heat.  Stir occasionally and cook until reduced about half (took about 25 minutes for me).  The color goes from the light, bright color to a dark caramel-ly color.  I also used a  thermometer to check when it got to about 220 degrees.  For the last minute of cooking, I added 1 pouch of liquid pectin and boiled for one minute, then filled my sterilized jars (makes about 5 pints) and processed in a water bath for 15 minutes.

Tastes great.  It does have a kick, but the cooking tones it down from when I tasted the raw puree.  Serve with cream cheese on crackers or as a side for pork or chicken.  Could be a tasty replacement for cranberry sauce on a sandwich. My mom suggested it as a dipping sauce for fried cream cheese wontons.  Hmmm, a trip to the store for won ton wrappers may be in order tonight.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Harry Potter Day of Fun

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Each summer I do a day of fun with my brothers' kids.  I used to take the kids somewhere fun/educational--but as the number of kids has grown-I've simplified.  The kids don't care about fancy or expensive stuff, so I don't stress myself over minutia. For one brother's kids, it was a day of games,  for another brother, it was a trip to the park with his kids.

 After lunch out and a stop at the grocery store we headed home for games, movie and snacks.  This year's theme was Harry Potter.  Our games included Pin the Scar on Harry Potter, Bingo and a Table Quidditch.  I also have Scene It Harry Potter and we made a "Who Am I?" game where the kids drew a name out of a hat and had to describe/impersonate the character (Kinda a mix of charades/20 questions).

For Pin the Scar on Harry Potter I did a search for a simple Harry Potter outline (less ink for my computer).  I saved the image and inserted it into an Excel document.  I stretched the image to make it 2 pages across and 2 pages long.  When you print, it will print out on 4 pieces of paper, which you'll need to trim and tape together.  I found my image here

For the lightning bolt scar, I used a sheet of return address labels.  Click the image to download the PDF if you want to use them (you could probably just draw some on masking tape or other stickers).  Look for the Harry Potter files after you click.

Table Quidditch was fun.  I made the ring stands with dowels, plastic tubing and duct tape.  If you poke around Google images you'll see much fancier versions (I rummaged through my garden shed and found all the stuff, you could also use a hanger, or pipe cleaners).  Click the image below to download the PDF of the rules/instructions (look for the Harry Potter files). Note:  I made the instructions before we played--with kids, it was better to play only to 50 points.  We also taped the cups to the table.  We played as teams (one match we were Slytherin vs. Griffindor).

For the movie, I picked up snacks and made some really simple labels.  Magic Wands (licorice), Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, Gummy Frogs and Potter Popcorn.  We enjoyed the first Harry Potter movie together.  You can use the labels I made here.  For the soda, I used the cute 2 liter bottle labels that I found here (loved the site, but her food labels didn't line up with what I wanted to serve).

We had a great time together.  During the movie we all had our magic wands out and did all the spells along with Harry et al :)