My Concord grape vines are still bringing happiness with their vivid fall colors.
Making Grape Jelly was much easier than I thought. I was intimidated at first, because my experience with Apple Butter was painful. Jelly was much easier.
Probably the most difficult part was separating the grapes from the stems. I did a bunch at a time over a few days, so it wasn’t terribly tedious. Once they were free from stems, I whipped them through the VitaMix and then ran them through a fine sieve. That was enough to keep the flavor of the skins, but separate them from the seeds.
I made four batches as the grapes ripened in nice small batches. I decided to go with a low-sugar pectin (this one) because LFern had a box and gave it to me. Come to find out, it is one of the few without added sugar in the pectin itself. The grapes were sweet enough that I’m glad I did. There is only about a tablespoon of sugar per jar.
Calcium water is used to help set the jelly. It has a smoother texture than regular jelly. Also, because there is so much less sugar, the color is deeper and not as jewel toned as high sugar jelly. Turns out it’s all that sugar that gives it the vibrant, clear hues.
It only took about five minutes cooking from start to finish. Since I was freezing it instead of canning, that was it for cooking. The finished product lasts for up to a year in the freezer and about two weeks once thawed and refrigerated.
It is delicious and I cannot wait for next year’s harvest. I’m not including a recipe because it’s best to follow the one that is included with your pectin. In my research it appears each one has different ratio of ingredients to get the best texture and flavor.
Anyone else make jams and jellys this fall? How about wine? I gave way almost as many as I picked to someone who was going to make wine. Can’t wait to hear how it came out.
I thought as the farm stand season winds down it would be fun to focus on recipes that take advantage of super fresh produce before it all disappears.
I was going to make an Eggplant Parmesan for the featured recipe but never got around to it, so I went with the Chili Rellenos Casserole instead.
To get started, a fresh and tangy Asian Pear and Grape Cabbage Salad, recipe here.
These Marinated Mushrooms (recipe here) sounded good and could be used as an appetizer or sliced into a salad.
Pizza is great way to get have a fun and flavorful vegetarian dinner. JeffreyW always does pizzas right and his Margherita Pizza (picture above) is no exception. Click here for his recipe and lots of photos.
This week’s dinner menu sticks with the veggie theme: Pasta with Marinated Vegetables and Bruschetta. Menu, recipes and shopping list are here.
And finally, for the pet lovers, Bixby checked in this week, spoiler alert there was a bath and a stuffed monkey.
What’s cooking in your kitchen this weekend? Have any cool weather recipes to share?
Tonight’s featured recipe, quick, easy and oh, so good:
Chili Rellenos Casserole
- 2-7 oz cans whole green chilies
- ½ onion, diced
- 16 oz shredded 4-blend Mexican cheese
- 4 to 6 corn tortillas, torn into wide strips
- 4 eggs
- 4 oz salsa
- ¼ cup milk
- salt & pepper
- ½ tsp crushed garlic
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup snipped fresh cilantro ( Italian parsley or fresh basil if you hate cilantro)
bowl, 8×8 glass baking dish, greased
Drain and seed peppers. Layer 1/3 of the peppers in the bottom of baking dish, top with 1/3 onions, 1/3 of the cheese and 1/3 tortilla strips. Repeat to make three layers. Beat together eggs, salsa, milk, spices and cilantro. Pour evenly over casserole. Bake uncovered at 350° for 35-40 minutes until fluffy and center is set.
That’s it for this week. Have a fun and safe weekend. – TaMara
Today sucked. I mean really and truly sucked.
But in other news, there’s water on Mars and the Blood Moon did not bring on the apocalypse and in the words of Scarlett O’Hara, tomorrow is another day.
I have a bunch of nice vegetarian sides and main dishes piled up in my to post file, so I thought this week would be a good time to focus on a few. Farm stands are still going strong, the weather can’t decide if it’s grilling or soup weather, this seemed like a safe bet.
Asian Pear and Grape Cabbage Salad
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp spicy brown mustard
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
Whisk together all the ingredients, except oil, slowly whisk in oil to create vinaigrette. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
- 1/2 head of red cabbage
- 1/2 head Savoy cabbage
- 1 Asian pear, halved, cored and sliced into thin strips
- 1 Red Anjour pear, halved, cored and sliced into thin strips
- 1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
- 1 cup seedless green grapes, halved
- 1/2 cup toasted walnut or almond pieces
Cut each cabbage in half to create two wedges, remove core and slice crosswise into thin shreds, toss with pears, grapes and nuts. Drizzle with vinaigrette and toss thoroughly. Let set for 10 minutes and serve.
What a week we’ve had here. I retreated to the kitchen often, cooking truly reduces my stress and helps me refocus. And since everyone needs to eat, I have a perfect excuse to retreat and regroup.
Cool weather blew in today, signalling the start of soup season, a great time of year. I have quite a few soup recipes and I began the season with one of my favorites, Tomato-Spinach, pictured above and recipe here.
Next up, Pumpkin Bars, because I needed something to share with friends and this recipe makes a lot. Click here for recipe and photos.
JeffreyW went to the Farmer’s Market and made Refrigerator Pickles, there are plenty of great photos and the pickle recipe here. He went on to use the beans he purchased to make Three Bean Salad, here.
And finally, for the pet lovers, some Bixby pictures and a bit of an update.
It’s the last official weekend of summer, how will you usher it out? What’s on your plate for the weekend? We are going to head up to the mountains to take in some color, which is predicted to be a short show this year.
For tonight’s featured recipe, I decided to experiment with flavors I would have never thought of on my own. Facebook and blog friend Michael F, shared a recipe on Facebook from Italy, in Italian no less, and the photo intrigued me. I let google translate the recipe (which was a hoot) and went about putting my touches into it.
It was so unusual, my most reliable recipe testers politely declined my dinner invite. Totally understandable. But I will tell you I was pleasantly surprised how well this turned out. If you like pork and apples, this has a similar flavor palate. It was also quick and easy to prepare. I’m glad I decided to experiment.
All right, if you’re up for something new and different, here you go, tonight’s featured recipe.
Sausage and Grapes
- 8 links Italian sausage (I used spicy, but you could use any style sausage you favor)
- 1/2 sweet onion, finely diced
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 cup green seedless grapes, washed, dried and halved lengthwise
- 1 cup red seedless grapes, washed, dried and halved lengthwise
- salt and pepper to taste (I used none, didn’t need it)
- angel hair pasta
- freshly grated Parmesan
Slice sausage links into four pieces each, add to skillet and fry on medium high for about 10 minutes. Add onion and fennel seeds, cook another 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent. Add grapes, stir until well mixed, cover and let simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes while pasta cooks.
Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain well.
You can toss with the sausage mixture, or serve separately. Serve with Parmesan.
The pasta was my addition. When I asked Michael what would be a good side, he suggested eggplant or roasted potatoes. Roasted zucchini spears would probably work well, too.
That’s if for this week. Have a great weekend. – TaMara