SMORGASBOARD: 'Jam On' ... Lunch-box delicious ... Lemon delightsSave summer’s fruits with “Jam Queen” Laena McCarthy. The New Yorker founded jam brand Anarchy in a Jar and wrote “Jam On: The Craft of Canning Fruit” (Viking Studio, $35).
By: Herald Staff Report, Grand Forks Herald
Save summer’s fruits with “Jam Queen” Laena McCarthy. The New Yorker founded jam brand Anarchy in a Jar and wrote “Jam On: The Craft of Canning Fruit” (Viking Studio, $35). Preserving basics are in the book, so are recipes for a watermelon and lemongrass jelly or a blackberry and lavender jam. McCarthy adds a “Make It Your Own” section to chapters, suggesting subbing, say, jalapenos for lavender in the blackberry jam.
“Jam Queen” is available at amazon.com.
Also on the canning front:
• One key to successful preserving is reliable jars. That’s what Ball delivers, bringing a 24-ounce wide-mouth glass jar (think pickles, asparagus, etc.) back to its lineup. Plus their plastic freezer-safe jars (8- and 16-ounce sizes, BPA free) boast a new “Leakproof Lid.” Suggested retail prices: $12.99 for a case of nine glass jars. Prices start at $4.99 for a pack of two 16-ounce freezer jars.
They can be found at stores nationwide or online at freshpreserving.com.
• They’re cute. They’re clever. And they belong on jars of homemade pickles and preserves. Felt fruits and veggies are embroidered onto kraft-paper labels, with two lines of stitching waiting for you to provide more info. Adhesive backing solves the stick-on issue of the labels from the Agrarian line from Williams-Sonoma. A set of 12 is $14.95.
For a store locater or to buy, go to williams-sonoma.com.
Turning lunch box drudgery into a pleasant picnic
Most people consider packing lunch a chore. But there is something exciting about brown-bagging it. It’s like getting to take a picnic to school on an airplane or to work.
And when you think of lunch as an opportunity to pack a special meal, it can go from dull to delicious.
Here are some tips for making brown-bag lunches stay fresh, safe, interesting and delicious:
• Freeze bread and make sandwiches with the frozen slices. Wrap the assembled sandwich in a dry paper towel and slip it into a zip-close plastic bag or wrap with foil. By the time lunch arrives, the bread will be thawed and taste fresh and soft. Plus, the paper towel becomes a “placemat” for your sandwich.
• Freeze individual water or juice containers. Once frozen, wrap them in a paper towel and either foil or plastic wrap and place in the lunch box. Your frozen drink will double as a cold pack for keeping the lunch “refrigerated” and food safe. And, of course, it provides an icy cold drink.
• Create themes to inspire lunches. Use favorite books, movies or holidays for kids and use favorite cuisines or pastimes for adults.
• Think about your favorite picnic foods. They can become great lunch items. Especially good are deviled eggs; peanut butter-stuffed celery; pimento cheese and pretzel rods; apple slices and goat cheese; and fresh cherries.
• Pack one indulgent treat. Think as a homemade cookie or brownie, granola bar, a square of dark chocolate, dark chocolate-covered almonds or whatever your favorite treat is.
• Pack one item that can be eaten as a snack. Consider a batch of my homemade GORP (Good Ole Raisins and Peanuts). Portion into snack-sized bags so they are ready to pack at any time. Or up the ante and mix a couple tablespoons of GORP into a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter, then use to make a GORP-stuffed apple.
Have lemon curd on hand for afternoon tea or dessert any time. Slather on scones. Spoon into tart shells. Make a trifle with fresh fruit, cake pieces and whipped cream. Or purchase sponge cake, split horizontally then spread curd between the layers. Add a few dollops on top and serve with juicy fresh berries.
There are several brands in stores. Tasters especially liked the tart-butter balance from Stonewall Kitchen. It’s $6.95 for an 11.5 ounce jar.
It’s available at Sur La Table (surlatable.com) or stonewallkitchen.com.