In Which I Scratch a Canning Itch (Recipe: Honey Strawberry Jam)

Local flavors marry in this four-ingredient, sugar-free, Honey Strawberry Jam and I’ve finally scratched a summer itch – canning!

When July arrived and I hadn’t canned or preserved a single thing, save for a few bottles of strawberry-infused vodka, I began to panic a little. Yes, even though I’m the one who coached you on how to get your act together for the canning season, I’m still trying to kick-start my efforts.

So partially as incentive to get canning and partially to get out of the post-camping cleanup, I purchased a large flat of fresh Québec strawberries with the intention of making them into jam. Goodness knows when I was going to get the opportunity, as my summer days are jammed packed full of picnics, bike riding, backyard baseball, finger painting and other important activities. However, when Danny called around lunchtime one day this week to let me know he’d be home from work early, I knew I had my chance. Jam would be made by evening or I’d be a monkey’s uncle.
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Picnic Food Safety Tips (Recipe: Garden Vegetable Pasta Salad)

It’s the time of year when families are grabbing their blankets, packing their coolers and heading to their favorite picnic spot. Nothing says summer like an afternoon of picnic fun with family and friends.

Don’t let your plans for the perfect picnic get overshadowed by unsafe food handling and storage. Armed with a few picnic food safety tips, you can keep the good times going while keeping food borne bacteria and illnesses at bay. [Read more…]

Pie Party: Rhubarb-Raspberry Cream Pie Recipe

My neighbor has given me carte blanche with his handsome rhubarb patch, although at the time he probably had no idea just how close of an affection I have for rhubarb. While most of you have moved on to strawberries, blueberries and other summer fruits, I’m still hung up on puckery stalks of pink.

I tend to like this late crop of rhubarb best; it may be just my imagination, but it has a more pronounced flavor than its watery spring equivalent. Perhaps the summer heat contributes to a more intense flavor? All speculating aside, I’m still pushing back the leaves to get at the tender red shoots.

For this pie, I decided to marry the saucy rhubarb with the sweeter raspberries and the result, I am convinced, is a seasonal pie to rival any other. It is reminiscent of one of my favorite simple desserts, rhubarb compote with custard, only served up much more elegantly in a rich pie crust.

The words Cream Pie by themselves bring a smile to my face; couple them with the season’s most delicate berry and a brazen vegetable and you have a perfect pie. While some may argue that a classic strawberry-rhubarb pie can’t be beat – and indeed it is not a simple conquest – after this pie, I think I new classic should be established.

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The Beauty of Foil Dinners and My Essential Camping Kitchen Tools

Sunburned, sleepy, and more-than-a-little sandy, we are home from our family camping trip. I’m pleased to report it was one of our better excursions as nothing major was left behind (save for our Bodum; but there are ways to get creative when making coffee), the bugs were few, and we had a lovely campsite near a small beach.

Fortunately, the rain stayed away, despite some violent thunder crashes that sent Noah scurrying back to camp from wherever he was exploring, and as I sit down to type these words I can hear the skies opening up. No matter now, as my boys are fast asleep in their own beds and there’s a roof over us all. Let it rain.

I find the weather always directly effects how much food we consume during a 60+ hour camping trip. If the sun is shining and we are busy hiking trails or swimming, food takes a backseat until about six pm, when we regroup around the fire pit and devour a hearty dinner. If it’s drizzling or cold, much time is spent stoking the fire and eating our way through provisions. Either way, food is always an important part of a camping trip, I think we can all agree on that!

Here’s a recap of our menu, plus a recipe for our favorite dish of the trip.

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Our Canada Day and a Festive Dessert Round-Up

Today’s post is going to be brief for three reasons: it’s Canada Day, it’s also Danny’s birthday, and we’re going camping!

The car is packed to the hilt with everything we need for three days in the Quebec countryside – and a few items we probably don’t need, but I’ve never learned how to travel light. We’re looking forward to unpluging, sleeping in a tent and cooking over an open fire. The boys have been practicing their loon calls and in general getting revved up for a full-on camping extravaganza.

But first, we’ll make a pit stop at the Canada Day parade in downtown Montreal. This annual tradition involves meeting up with friends, wearing white and red, and usually a round of ice cream. The latter treat in celebration of both Danny and the country’s birthday.

Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian readers!

Even though we’ll be camping, there will still be birthday candles. I’ve got a small cake in the cooler – a Maple Walnut cake, to be precise, that the boys and I baked this morning.  Right after we served the birthday boy breakfast in bed. Whew. You see why I need a few day’s off-grid?

Head over to Kitchen Simplicity for the drop dead simple Maple Walnut Cake recipe (pictured above).

It’s a wonderful long weekend whether you’re in Canada or the US, so I encourage you to step away for the computer, work, or even that riveting novel and spend some time with friends and family.

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