Spiced Cherry Jam

IMG_2161The season for fresh cherries at the market is absurdly brief. When they appear, I buy a few extra pounds for a big batch of Spiced Cherry Jam. The kids like to help, which I welcome – learning canning and preserving methods is a great home school lesson! Cheerful bright red jars of this jam taste like a burst of summer throughout the winter months. Enjoy!

IMG_2157Ingredients (Makes 10 half-pint jars)

10 cups fresh pitted cherries Continue reading

Dandelion “Honey”

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Everyone on my Christmas list is getting a jar this December… this recipe is that fabulous.  Before we get to the recipe, I should explain a few things.  First, I am a big believer in letting my lawn grow au naturel.  Rain from the sky and an occasional mow pretty much sum up my approach to lawn care, to the chagrin of a few of my neighbors.  This means, of course, that I am blessed with a brilliant display of yellow dandelions this time a year.  Weeds, did you say?  No Way!

Dandelions were imported into the US hundreds of years ago as a nutritious food source.  Dandelions are wildly good for you, rivaling carrots and spinach in their Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, and Phosphorus.  The entire plant is edible, but today we are focusing on the pretty yellow flower heads.  A quick web search will reveal how dandelion flowers are valued for their antioxidants, their diuretic and antibacterial properties, and their use by herbalists in treating everything from headaches and depression to stomach and menstrual cramps.  Dandelions aren’t weeds… they’re nature’s own grocery store and pharmacy!

Today we are making dandelion “honey.”  The taste is spot-on identical to wild honey, without the hefty price tag.  At about 50 cents a pint (for the sugar and pectin), this “honey” is a real bargain.  It’s vegan, has practically the same glycemic index as honey, and contains pollen (which is where many of the purported health benefits of bee honey originate).  Make sure you pick dandelions from an unsprayed location!  Allow yourself about an hour in the sunshine to harvest enough flower heads for this recipe.

picture1152Ingredients (makes 9 half-pint jars)

8 cups dandelion flower heads (cut just above the base of the flower head, to get all of the yellow and almost none of the green)

8 cups boiling water

6 cups white sugar

Juice from 1/2 large lemon OR Juice from 1 whole, large orange

4 tablespoons pectin powder

picture1154Directions

Step 1) Cover dandelion flower heads with boiling water.  Cover and set aside for at least three hours or overnight.

Step 2) Carefully pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve, saving the “tea” and discarding the flower petals.

Step 3) Bring 6 cups of dandelion tea to a boil in a large pot (if you have more than 6 cups of tea, you can freeze the excess).

Step 4) Stir pectin into sugar (the pectin will dissolve more readily this way).  Add pectin/sugar mixture all at once to pot of boiling tea.  Add lemon juice or orange juice as well.

picture1155Step 5) Stir thoroughly until sugar is completely dissolved.

Step 6) Bring mixture to a full rolling boil.  Boil for 3 minutes with stirring, then turn off heat.

Step 7) Follow canning instructions to preserve your dandelion “honey.”  Leave 1/2 inch headspace, and process jars in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Enjoy!

Tsukemen (Japanese Dipping Noodles)

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Who says you can’t play with your food? Tsukemen is not only delicious for adventurous diners, it’s a guaranteed kid pleaser and appropriate for serving to finicky friends. If you enjoy sampling dishes from around the world but are also cooking for reluctant diners, Tsukemen is a must-try.

Tsumemen is basically Continue reading

Cherry Rhubarb Jam

J1Elevate your PB&J with the lush combination of sweet cherries and tangy rhubarb in this easy-to-make jam. While this recipe is perfectly suitable for canning, you could store it in the freezer just as well. Of course, that assumes you’ll have any left after a few days… Let’s get started!  Continue reading

Pumpkin Pudding

Pudding1Pumpkin is one of the healthiest veggies around! It’s low in calories but chock full of fiber and vitamins. This quick and easy recipe allows you to serve up veggies as a delicious (and healthy) dessert! Your secret is safe with me. Continue reading

Lazy Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Z1Here’s the quick story behind this recipe: Half-Pint wanted zucchini bread (actually, the request was “Can you turn this zucchini into something chocolate?”), but it’s nice outside. Autumn is a’comin’, and I want to be outside savoring the end of summer! This recipe Continue reading

Garden Meditations

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Some may see a six inch plant… but a gardener sees a patch of lush orange pie pumpkins!

Here at Crowded Earth Kitchen, we nurture a big garden every year. Planning begins in late winter with seed sorting and dreaming, followed by starting indoor transplants in very early spring. As seedlings Continue reading

Amped-Up Aloo Gobi

aloo4Aloo Gobi is a traditional Indian cauliflower and potato dish with many variations. This recipe adds sweet potato (not traditionally included) and a bit of kale, which offer additional anti-angiogenic, cancer fighting properties to an already healthy dish. The spices in this dish aren’t just for flavor – ginger, cumin (contained in curry powder), and turmeric all contain Continue reading

Sunday Egg Bake

Egg Bake 1This egg bake is simple enough for pint-size cooks to prepare, but makes an elegant Sunday breakfast. It’s also a great way to use up leftover bread cubes after making fondue!

Ingredients (Serves 4)

3 cups day old bread, cubed

4 eggs, lightly beaten Continue reading

Vintage Post: Dandelion Honey

dandelionThis is a vintage post, but seasonally appropriate and lots of fun. Don’t spray toxins on your lawn… let those dandelions grow au naturel! The beautiful golden color and early summer fragrance of dandelions attracts bees, providing life sustaining nectar this time of year. Bees are HUNGRY in May and June, and if we want them around to pollinate our fruit orchards and vegetable gardens later in the season, we had better provide them with something to eat right now.

You can benefit from dandelions even more directly by making dandelion honey. Give this recipe a try – it’s delicious, and a great conversation starter!