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Canning and Preserving

I have been expanding my kitchen by spending some time canning and preserving some delicious fruits and vegetables.  There are jams and pickling and infusing oils and vinegars.

It has been fun and exciting but I do not want anyone getting botulism by following my blog.  So I thought I should share some of the books I have been reading to get the recipes I am using. Continue Reading »

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Balsamic Bruschetta

I had some lovely ladies over a few weekends ago and I made some of my balsamic bruschetta.  Unfortunately, while I was scurrying around to get ready for the party, I did not snap any pictures.  But I had multiple requests for the recipe so I felt obliged to share.

I dice 1/2 a large red onion and sautéed it in balsamic vinegar.

I diced 1/2 lb of tomatoes.  The other 1/2 lb of tomatoes I pureed with a few handfuls of fresh basil.  I did the pureeing with my amazing immersion blender.  I would have probably used about 2 tsp of dried basil.

I diced maybe an ounce or two of Parmesan cheese into very small pieces.

Then I mixed it all together and served it with freshly baked bread.

Totally simple and totally delicious!  I promise to make it again with pictures!

Berry & Chicken Salad


Did you know that I love eating fruit in salads? Well I love fruity salads.  After picking copious amounts of strawberries, putting them in a salad was an obvious choice. Continue Reading »

Strawberry Season

“What will you do with 31 pounds of strawberries,” my father asked as we spoke on the phone last weekend.  I said I would eat some and freeze some and make jam and pies.  So far I am 3 of 4 and about to make pie tomorrow.  You might be wondering how someone that lives in the middle of Chicago gathered over 31 pounds of strawberries, well I can fill you in on that…..

Earlier this year, a friend and I agreed to grow some plants and to pick some fruit for the purposes of canning.

The mother of my friend told us that she had eaten the best strawberries of her life in Madison, WI from Berry Hill Farm.  Now this women knows her fruits and veggies and stocking them away for the long winter months.  So when we were headed to Madison for Father’s Day weekend, I knew we needed to make time for strawberry picking.

We arrived at the pretty small farm located just a few miles out of town that had a subdivision growing next to it.  The perfectly groomed rows were full of freshly ripe fruit and a number of families busy at work.

My husband and I went to work on our separate rows.  Sometimes the strawberries were peaking out of the green rows but often you had to  gently pull back the leaves of plants to reveal bright red plush fruits.

After about a half hour, we decided to weigh the fruit we picked and I had to go to the bathroom.  To my amazement we had already picked 12 pounds of berries and also to my astonishment I was directed to us the farm house bathroom.  This place gets an extra thumbs up for its hospitality.

So here is about 12 pounds of fresh berries:

After another hour, we had picked about 20 pounds more and we were content with our harvest.  The best part was that we were only charged $55 for all those berries which is way less than the grocery store or farmers market.


So far besides eating handfuls of fresh berries whenever I want, I have made Strawberry Chicken Salad, Strawberry Jam, Strawberry Vinegar, and tomorrow I will make strawberry pie.  I have also frozen a bunch so that I can enjoy them in the middle of the winter.  My friend is infusing some vodka with her strawberries and I might make some sorbet!!  So many strawberries, so little time but so so many options!

In conclusion, this berry picking adventure was fun, economical, and delicious.  If you are looking for a place to pick your own fruits or veggies, check out: http://www.pickyourown.org/  and I would highly recommend checking out how much it costs per pound for what you are picking and plan ahead for when the fruit or veggie is in season.

The CSA has begun at long last.  This is our third summer with the wonderful Radical Root CSA and we could not be happier.  Besides getting a huge box of fresh vegetables grown in Chicago’s norther suburbs, we also got big hugs from our farmers and a chance to meet their adorable baby.  I know that our meals are better because the people growing our food care about us and we care about them.  I can trust that what I am putting on our dinner plate is safe and healthy because the people that grew it are eating it too.  As you will see for this summer, I will eat almost exclusively from our CSA and some dried foods and some food adventures I am going on (aka berry picking).

But enough of my food fairytale, you want to know what I did with all those delicious veggies.

Continue Reading »

HERBS! What makes dishes delightful!

We have most herbs growing in the one window in our apartment that has enough sunlight to support many flourishing plants.  Clearly we utilize the little growing space we have.  My crafty husband strung this set-up together.  We had too many summers of our pesky cats chowing down on their herbs of choice: cilantro, chives, and dill.  After basically arguing with the guy at the hardware store, we bought over 40 feet of decorative chain for hanging all of our in door plants.

Continue Reading »

Do not be fooled by that french toast, it is no ordinary breakfast.  Everything you see above was literally made by us or our family members. Continue Reading »