How to Make Homemade Jam in 30 Minutes (with no special equipment)

What would you say if I told you that it was possible to make a small batch of homemade jam today? I imagine your schedule is already jam-packed (pardon the pun, couldn’t resist), as is mine, but I’ve discovered a new way to make jam that is quick, easy and totally doable for the busy mom, career girl or both.

OK, you’ve heard about freezer jam, but what about microwave jam? In her book, 250 Home Preserving Favorites (Robert Rose, March 2010), jam expert Yvonne Tremblay created a line of homemade jams that she called ‘Micro-Mini Jams‘: very small batches of jam, cooked in the microwave and requiring no special canning equipment.

What a fantastic concept! I’ve used the microwave to reduce liquids for sauces and such, but never thought to whip up a batch of jam. It makes perfect sense though, because the batch of jam is so small, there is no need for sterilizing or processing. Simply jar the jam and store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks -if it lasts that long. [Read more…]

Weekend Reading

At the risk of sounding completely clichéd, I’m going to gape “It’s the weekend already??” Honestly, I was having an immensely productive Saturday until the Simple Living Weekly newsletter popped into my inbox and alerting me that, yes, it was time to pour a glass of strawberry lemonade and relax with some quality reading.

In the meantime, here are a few more inspiring reads I stumbled upon this week and enjoyed very much…. [Read more…]

Spotlight Ingredient: Rhubarb (Recipe: Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake)

It’s spring, and gorgeous produce is beginning to appear in the markets — as well as my neighbor’s expansive backyard garden! I’ve been admiring his handsome rhubarb patch from afar and trying to muster up the courage to ask for some. We’re new to the neighborhood, you see.

Inspired by Tsh’s Q & A ‘Do you know the people in your neighborhood?‘ and the fascinating discussion about community that followed, I decided it was time to put my shyness aside and I knocked on his door. He generously offered me ‘carte blanche‘ on his patch–for the whole season. I was thrilled!

Rhubarb is my favorite early summer fruit; I just love it. As a child I dipped the pale pink stalks in sugar and munched them raw. As a teen I paired rhubarb with strawberries, baked the fruit into pies and sold them at my local farmers market. (for $5 dollars!!). Now, the options are endless and I usually run out of rhubarb long before I finish experimenting with new recipes.

I should mention, before we get any further, that rhubarb is actually a vegetable. Did you know? It can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, but my guess is that the majority of it ends up in a pie or a terrific crumble.

If you haven’t yet, pick up some rhubarb and discover what all the fuss is all about.  [Read more…]

DIY Granola Bars

One of the hardest things for a mother to do is to get out of the front door. There is so much to juggle – Are the kids dressed? Teeth brushed? Shoes and socks on? Do you have all the pertinent papers, backpacks, sack lunches, and money? Do you have the car keys, sunglasses, and cell phone? And, by the way, did you remember to change out of your pajamas?

Remembering all that plus getting a nutritious breakfast in everyone can be overwhelming. But don’t be discouraged. There are strategies for feeding your family that don’t involve a drive-through window. One of them is to plan ahead and make some food bars.

They can be eaten one-handed while running a comb through a child’s hair, signing a permission slip, or while waiting at a stop light. Unlike the one-handed breakfast from the drive-through, these granola bars have lots of anitioxidants, whole grain goodness,  no processed sweeteners and a lot less fat. [Read more…]

Encourage Kids to Cook By Hosting a Cooking-Themed Birthday Party

There has been much discussion recently on the importance of teaching children to cook and instilling an interest in healthier food. In his acceptance speech, TED prize winner and renowned chef, Jamie Oliver had one wish: Teach every child about food. I agree with Jamie that children can help get families cooking again, and am excited to bring you today’s post in support of kids in the kitchen.

Does your child have a birthday approaching? This year, why not skip the Disney themes and host a cooking party instead? Children can learn how to bake from scratch, toss pizza dough and decorate cupcakes –all in a playful atmosphere of fun!

What better way to foster a love of the cooking? Extra bonus points for those who can squeeze in a garden tour as well… [Read more…]