I Give In. Summer’s Done.

October has been so fine so far. Just trace amounts of rain in the city, temps a few degrees above normal and lots of sunny days. It’s been easy to prolong that ‘laissez faire’ summer feeling. But, reality struck today when the heat came on this chilly morning. I give in. Fall is here and Summer is now something to fondly remember and look forward to.

My last batches of Chunky Cranberry Jam have been processed and the canning pots and equipment have been put away, summer clothes are stacked and ready for the trunks and closets, flip-flops and scandals have been traded for real shoes and boots and Apple’s fall announcements have been made and a new laptop is in my near future. Welcome Fall 2013.

Summer lends itself to feeling fresh and relaxed and loose. The Fall onslaught brings tighter schedules in shorter days, more meals that require actual cooking and the upcoming holidays with all the stress they can entail. This is when it is so important to commit to a plan to take care of yourself and make sure you schedule you-time. Put your first Bed Camp on the calendar now, especially if you’re hosting any of the festivities.

Holiday Tip #1 Make for yourself, or bring to the hostess if you’re a guest. Cranberry sauce is for the day, but Chunky Cranberry Jam is delicious on day-after turkey sandwiches. This recipe is processed but if you don’t can, you can make some the day or two before and refrigerate and bring a jar or two with you for the hosting family’s day-after snacks. (As always when bringing food to someone, let them know when it has nuts in it.)  I’ve made several batches so far and have enjoyed it on turkey meatloaf, chicken breasts and toast. Delicious. I found the recipe in Kevin West’s book, Saving the Season. He also has a blog of the same name – www.savingtheseason.com. Both worth checking out. Here is my version.

Chunky Cranberry Jam

1 pound cranberries (Don’t rely on package weight. Use a scale.)
1 cup water
1 Granny Smith Apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 inches cinnamon stick
peel from 1 orange, chopped very fine
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon Citron Vodka

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Rinse the cranberries, removing any stray stems and discarding imperfect berries. In a heavy bottomed saucepan (I use my favorite heavy copper pot), add the cranberries, diced apples, ginger, cinnamon stick, orange dice and the cup of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes, until the berries pop.

Add the sugar, stir well until it dissolves and return the mixture to a gentle boil, stirring constantly. Add the nuts and cook for another 3 minutes, still stirring constantly. At the gel point, add the Citron Vodka, and cook for another 3o seconds.

Remove the cinnamon stick and ladle the jam into prepared 1/2 pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch of headspace. Seal and process in a water bath for 10 minutes.

NOTE: I’ve assumed canning skills here. You can find instructions online at the Ball site at freshpreserving.com or, just make it a day or two ahead of time and refrigerate.

Where. Did. September. Go?

September flew by like a refreshing breeze. The weather here in New York is still early fall-like. We’re in the midst of a long string of clear, sunny, cool days of low humidity. Eighty degree weather is forecast for the next few days.

Calendar aside, October is here, at least on paper. So time for another list of National Food Celebrations…

  • National Country Ham, Fair Trade, Apple and Applejack, Cook, Pork, Pretzel and Vegetarian Awareness Month.
  • The first week of the month celebrates Cider, second week, Beer and Food Banks, Kraut for week three and Chicken Soup for the Soul for the final week.

Whatever the calendar says, Octoberfest and Halloween will dominate a lot of the time.