Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Champane Grape Jelly!

You read it right. A co-worker here in Vancouver has a Champagne grape cross growing on an arbour in his backyard here in Vancouver.
This year they had an overabundance of grapes.

I was asked if I would like some to make something and, of course, I said Yes! Last Friday I came home with a bag full of frozen grapes.
I made Grape Jelly. 
Freezing the grapes makes no difference, as a matter of fact, I find freezing small fruits first can speed up the juice making step.
I put the grapes in the pot and added one and a half cups of water.
I then let them simmer for about an hour.

I let the grapes cool and then I put them in a jelly bag to strain overnight.

Saturday afternoon I started the Jelly making.
I washed the jars thoroughly,  an started boiling them in the canner.

In a large pot, I put in 5 cups of the juice, added the pectin and stirred until it was at a rolling boil. Then I added the sugar. 6.5 cups sounds like a lot, but Jelly is finicky, it is a chemical process and the ingredients need to be in the right proportions. If you use conventional pectins (MCP, Sure-Jell, Certo, etc.) and cut back on the sugar from what the recipe calls for, you'll probably end up with syrup, not jam. Those pectins require the specified amount of sugar to jell properly. Sugar is a preservative. Low-sugar preserves may mold or spoil quicker after you open the jar.And remember, you don't eat Jams or Jelly by the  bowlful but by the teaspoon. On average, 1 teaspoon of jam or jelly is 19 calories.

I brought the jelly back to a full rolling boil for 1 minute. I took it off the heat and I got the jars out of the canner.

I skimmed the foam off the jelly and then carefully pored the hot jelly into the jars.

And the result

This jelly is fabulous! It has a unique grape taste, like sunshine in a jar!

Here is the Recipe
Grape Jelly

4 L (or quarts) grapes
1-1/2 cups (375 ml) water
1 pkg Pectin
6 cups (1500 ml) granulated sugar

Put the jars in the canner and let them boil |(Sterilizes the jars).

Wash, stem and crush grapes. Add 1 1/2 cups water, simmer 10 minutes, covered, stirring occasionally. Pour cooked fruit into a dampened jelly bag (or cheesecloth-lined sieve) over a large bowl. Let juice drip, undisturbed, 2 hours or overnight.

Measure sugar; set aside.

Measure 5 cups grape juice into a large deep stainless steel saucepan. Whisk in the pectin until dissolved

Over high heat, bring mixture to a full rolling boil. Add all the sugar. Stirring constantly, return mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Boil hard 1 minute. Remove from heat; skim foam if necessary.

Ladle the hot jelly into the jars.  Wipe the jar rims removing any stickiness. Put on the lids and put the jars in the canner.

Cover the canner and bring water to full rolling boil and process the jars for 10 minutes.

This jelly is AMAZING!

Monday, 13 August 2018

Fig Strawberry Jam

Goodness! It has been 2 years since I posted on this site!
I started write my cooking posts on Nellie's site (I was to lazy to change log ins) but I have not done any cooking posts on Marv's Blog at all.
But then I've not done much interesting cooking...Perhaps it was the bone infection, then the software rollout, followed by the broken shoulder. Cooking anything, much less making something different has NOT been high on my list of things to do. I CAN tell you I have eaten loads of grilled cheese sandwiches and BBQed chicken from the grocery store. Oh, and if you follow me on have seen the cakes...I get asked quite often and make about one a month.

Things have change this last month. I've felt like cooking and even though it has been brutally hot, I have been making interesting food again. And I am ready to get back to formulating and making really cool, wonderful and surprising food again!
What am I starting with.... 

Fig Strawberry Jam


The basic recipe for this comes from the Kraft website. I first made it a long time ago (when the internet was dial up and you used Mosaic).

I got the recipe out of a magazine and made it with figs from the tree in my neighbour's back yard. It was quick, especially easy to make as all it was was figs, sugar and Strawberry Jello. We all loved it, it was summer in a jar,
Fast forward to this summer. My sister has a fig tree in her yard and it produces loads and loads of fruit. I was going to make some Fig Jam, and at first I thought about making something exotic, but then I thought about how great that simple recipe I'd made 25 years ago was and I searched for it online...I got 319,000 hits! The recipes were all pretty much the same and everybody wrote about how fresh it tasted.

Reading people's reviews, I could actually taste this jam! I could remember how simple it was to make and how unique a taste it had. 
What the heck, after all these years of making jam for Beary Good Stuff, I figured it would be fun to do something this simple.

Here are the figs from my sister's tree. I was going to count the number of actual figs for 5 cups of diced fruit, but I forgot. 
I removed the top and the bottom from the fruit and quartered them. 

In future, I would cut them a little smaller--or run them through the food processor. I made sure I used about 1 cup of under-ripe fruit it has more pectin. Pectin forms the solid that holds the liquid together in jam. But the outside pith and skin, especially in the under ripe fruit, did not break down when cooking as much as I expected.

I  added the sugar and stirred it into the figs, and I added about 3 tbsp lemon juice. I let it sit about 30 minutes. I find the fruit juices are drawn out better and the flesh breaks down better if I let the sugar and fruit sit.

Here are the figs when the jam started to simmer. I actually ended up cooking them for 25 minutes instead of the 20 it stated in the recipe. The skin and pith did not break down as much as I expected. When I added the Strawberry Jello, and cooked it, I tested* the gel after 5 minutes and it was not setting. I cooked it for another 5 and tested it again. It was still not setting. I then added 1/2 a box of low sugar pectin. I find overcooked jam looses a lot of the fruit taste.

Here is the jam, after the jello and pectin have been added and cooked for another 5 minutes. I then skimmed off the foam.

After the foam was skimmed, I then ladled it into the sterilized jars.
Here is the jam in the jars, just before I added the lids and rings.

I canned the jam for 5 minutes and then took it out of the canner to cool. 
This jam took a whole day to set up. I was starting to worry I would have to re-can as I had troubles when it was cooking. 

I ended up with exactly what I was expecti

Not only does it taste excellent on toast, it was exceptionally good with some chicken and feta cheese with olives on french bread.

I made the first batch following the recipe (mostly).
5 cups diced figs
7 cups sugar 
1 large box of Jello
  1. Wash figs and clip stems. Mash figs with gloved hands. Boil 20 minutes with sugar.  (I quartered the figs and let them sit in the sugar and mashed while cooking).
  2. Then stir in gelatin. Cook 10 minutes more. (I did this, however the fruit was a little over-ripe, it was not passing the gel test, so I added 1/2 box of Low Sugar Certo pectin)
  3. Pour into pint jars and seal. Process 5 minutes in boiling water bath. 

We got perfection! 

Spoiler alert!!!! 

The 2nd batch did not set! The figs were far too ripe and even the 1/2 box of Certo did not help. I let it sit a week and re-canned it today...
Waiting a week, my Beary Good Canning Brain started to percolate...I wanted to add some zing!
If it sets up this week, I will tell you how to re-can and what I did to make this batch of fig jam unique.

 * When you're making jam with traditional amounts of sugar, you're aiming to cook it to 220°F. That's the temperature at which sugar forms a gel and can bond with the pectin. A sugar/candy thermometer is best, but I use an instant read.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Soup of the Month - Garden Vegetable

This is the best time of year for vegetables, but with the hot temperatures, who wants to turn on the stove!
This recipe is great as it takes less than an hour.

2/3 cup sliced carrot
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups fat-free broth ( beef, chicken or vegetable)
1 1/2 cups diced green cabbage
1/2 cup green beans
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 large tomatoes, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/3 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup diced zucchini

In large saucepan that has be sprayed with pam, saute the carrot, onion, garlic and celery about 5 minutes.
Add broth and cabbage, beans tomato paste*, tomato, basil, oregano and salt.

* I did not have tomato paste so I added katchup

Bring to a boil.
Lower heat and simmer 20 minutes, or until beans are tender.

Stir in zucchini and heat for 5 minutes more.

Serve hot. 
I love this soup, it's tasty, low calorie and does not heat up the kitchen.
I had mine with corn bread and grated cheese! It was wonderful! 

PS - Don't limit yourself to the listed veggies, you can add whatever you like.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Scotch Broth Soup - but NOT of the Month!

Yes, I missed June...I made 2 soups last month (June) but did not take pictures. One was a Roasted Butternut Squash Soup and the other was Bean With Bacon Soup. 
But this month I will be doing 2 soups, one, the Scotch Broth, I made today and yesterday. This last week was hectic with my son Alex visiting. 

Alex and I were room mates when I was working in Calgary so we quickly slipped into our old routine. At least I was off work, so we had the opportunity to really have a great visit. We spent time with my sister and her husband (who I make the Soup of the Month for). Their son Justin (Alex's cousin) arrived for one night before they flew off to a family reunion in Winnipeg.
Justin made BBQed lamb chops when we went over for a visit and I was lucky that there were quite a few chops left over.

Yesterday I started to make the stock.
First I cut the meat off the 8 chop bones. I reserved the meat to add to the soup later
Next I added a diced onion, garlic and some sad baby carrots.

Next I covered with water and simmered for about 3 hours. 

I let the stock cool and just before bed, I strained it and put it in the fridge overnight so all the fat solidifies.

The next morning, it was easy to remove the fat from the stock. I then put it in the pot and got the vegetables ready. I am adding (fresh from the farm market) celery, peas, onion, carrots and garlic. 
I added the veggies and the stock to the pot with the diced lamb and let it simmer for about an hour (yes I did add a little salt).

After about an hour and a half, I added the shelled peas and 1/3 of a cup of barley to the pot.

I left the pot on a really low simmer for another hour and a half. 
It turned out perfectly!  I had it for supper with fresh bread from the bakery and it was delicious! 
And it will be even better tomorrow!
Nutrition Facts Scotch Broth
Amount Per 100 grams
Calories 33
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1.1 g
Saturated fat 0.5 g
Cholesterol 2 mg
Sodium 300 mg
Potassium 65 mg
Total Carbohydrate 3.9 g
Dietary fiber 0.5 g
Protein 2 g

Recipe Stock Ingredients:
  • Approximately 8 oz meaty lamb bones
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic (diced)
  • I stalk celery diced
  • ½ onion diced
  • Bay leaf
Soup Ingredients:
  • 5-6 cups stock
  • 1 cup diced lamb
  • 1 clove garlic diced
  • ½ onion diced
  • 2 carrots sliced
  • 1 to 1 ½  diced Celery stalks
  • 1 Tbsp. parsley
  • ½ cup peas
  • 1/3 cup barley
For those of you who don't eat meat, this is the same as my Mushroom and Barley recipe.
When making the soup I add 4-6 cups of vegetable stock and 2 cups of sliced mushrooms instead of the lamb stock and lamb. I also like to replace the onion with leeks.  I add all the ingredients at once and cook for about 1 hour.  Oh yeah, a little white wine added to the stock makes it delicious!!!

My sister has requested potato and leek soup and I will be making that in about 2 weeks. 

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Soup of the Month - Italian Wedding

This is the first time I've made his soup. I've eaten it in many different restaurants through the years and each was distinctive with their chef's combination of ingredients. This soup is known as zuppa di scarola or minestra marinata (Italian Wedding Soup) because of the way the ingredients combine, like a happy love. It is simple to prepare, but has enough flourishes —to be distinctive. 

As you know, I am on a quest to make my soups for my sister low in calories and sodium and big in flavor. So far, this has been the easiest to half the calories and cut the sodium.

Turkey Italian Sausage is  often available at my local grocery store. About 2 week ago, the butcher was putting it out and I asked if they had made it all into sausages yet. he said there was a little left. When I got home, I made 3 dozen tiny meatballs and stuck them in the freezer. I also picked up a chicken. when I stripped the bones, I threw them in a pot and made 1 and a half containers of stock and froze them.

Now I had my 10 cups of stock with no added salt. 
Today I made the soup! First I diced some carrots and onion cooking them slowly in the oil until the onions were soft and transparent.
 I then added the stock and cooked it at a slow simmer for 30 minutes. Then added the frozen meatballs. Once it had come back to a simmer, I let it cook for another 20 minutes.

When the meatballs were cooked, I added the spinach. I used frozen as I had some in the freezer, however I think a nice fresh bunch of spinach or escarole would be wonderful.

I added the pasta at the same time. I used bow ties as I could not find those cool little pasta balls that some restaurants have. I thought about heading out to an Italian market in Vancouver, but the traffic to get to the local store was awful and though of trying to get into Vancouver, well, lets say, I bought tiny bow ties. 

The soup definitely needs salt to bring out the flavors, and once I added some, I must say it was delicious! And I added some grated Parmesan cheese. A nice slice of artisan onion bread for dunking rounded out a most excellent supper!

This soup is pretty simple to make. With frozen meatballs and spinach, and chicken stock from the store, this soup could be on the table in an hour!. I will definitely make this again. 

In the picture there is the Italian Wedding and Hearty Vegetable (which I made at the same time) both of which my sister and brother-in-law will get at our Mother's Day Feast tomorrow!
Now here's the recipe:

Italian Wedding Soup


  • 1/2 lb lean ground beef  (or pork or turkey or chicken or sausage meat)
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 5 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups chopped escarole or 2 cups chopped spinach
  • 1/2 cup pasta uncooked
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • grated parmesan cheese


  1. In medium bowl combine, meat, egg, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, basil and onion powder; shape into balls.( I made mine about ½ teaspoon in size, but it is your preference).
  2. In large sauce pan, add the carrot, onion, garlic and oil.
  3. Cook until the onions are soft and transparent.
  4. Add the broth and bring to a boil, simmer for 15 minutes; add meatballs and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Return to boil; add spinach and pasta, reduce heat to medium.
  6. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the pasta is tender.
  7. Stir frequently to avoid sticking.
  8. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.
 Oh, when I did the nutritional info, I did it for 1 cup servings! There are 2 cups in my bowl.