Author Archives: jennifer

Strawberry Freezer Jam

It’s strawberry season, and I can’t think of a more welcome taste right now.

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I love strawberries.  (Who doesn’t?)
Time to make some strawberry freezer jam.
My family loves this stuff.  Last year I made enough freezer jam that we’ve had homemade jam to eat all year long.  It’s been great, and I have every intention of doing it again this year.

I’m making my jam today using the basic recipe that comes in the pectin box.
Last year I discovered liquid fruit pectin.
I’ll never go back.
Today I’m using Ball liquid fruit pectin, which comes in a box with two pouches.

Here is our cast of ingredients:

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Pretty simple: pectin, lemon juice, sugar and strawberries.
And the other fabulous thing I discovered last year:

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These fabulous new freezer jam containers.  I’ve saved them through the year as we’ve eaten jam,
and now they’re washed and ready for another round.
These, too, are made by Ball and can be found at many supermarkets or stores like WalMart.

So, here we go.  First, wash your fruit.

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Now, on this next step I will freely acknowledge that the proud recipe developers at Ball, not to mention my great-grandmother, would probably be ashamed of what I’m about to do.
But I’m trying it anyway, because I have dinner to make and soccer practices to get to.
I cut off the tops and plopped the strawberries in my blender.

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Then I turned my blender on low and let it run just until there weren’t any more whole strawberries.
They aren’t completely pureed.  There are still chunks.
And as far as I’m concerned, I’m happy to have just taken 2 minutes to eliminate a 20 minute cutting and mashing job.

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You need two cups of crushed strawberries.

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And a mixing bowl with four cups of sugar in it.

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Pour the strawberries into the bowl of sugar and mix thoroughly.

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When it’s all mixed together, set the bowl aside and set your timer for ten minutes.
And if you’re like me, and you need far more than one batch to satisfy your family, this ten minutes is when you get another batch started.  (That’s why I use the timer, so I can keep track of everything.)

After the ten minutes, add one pouch of liquid fruit pectin to the bowl.

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And add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

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Now stir the jam for 3 minutes. (I set the timer again.)

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My daughter liked taking that picture.

After three minutes, ladle the jam into containers.

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Remember to leave about 1/2 inch headspace at the top of your container so the jam has room to expand when it freezes.
Wipe any drips off the container with a damp towel, put the lids on, and you’re set!
You have 3 options:
Serve immediately (you will be tempted!)
Refrigerate for up to three weeks
Freeze for up to 1 year

Here’s an important reminder:  use whatever measurements (sugar, lemon juice, crushed strawberries) come in the instructions for the pectin you choose to use!

No matter what you choose, enjoy!  It will be delicious!

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Yum!  Now I’m craving some homemade bread!

Soccer Saturday

We’ve had five soccer players at our house this year.

Yes, five.

It’s been very busy, to say the least.  Now, I have friends whose commitment to soccer is far greater than mine.
But they’re not hauling babies to all the games with them.
It means a lot of shin guards, a lot of uniforms to keep track of, cleats everywhere, soccer balls all over our property, water bottles galore, and logistical nightmares every week when we’ve had 4 practices and 1 game at the exact same time in 4 different cities.

I’m tired.

BUT

when I get to a game, take a deep breath and relax, I think “I love this.”

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I love the early morning or late evening sun as it plays across the field,
the brightly colored uniforms against the green of the grass,
the cool spring breeze that makes it all so pleasant.

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And I love cheering for my kids as I watch them push themselves and perform well.

It really is a great way to spend a Saturday.
I love it, but I’m glad it’s almost over.

Sandwich Cookie Cake

I picked up this cute new pan at Williams-Sonoma last week, and this morning when I was getting ready for a luncheon I decided to try it out.

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It is actually a set of two pans, and it comes with a recipe on the box, but I didn’t have time for melting chocolate and so forth.  So, I decided to just opt for the good old-fashioned Devil’s Food Cake Mix, straight from the box.

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Here, apparently, is the big key:  You have to grease the pans well and sprinkle generously with cocoa powder instead of flour (so you won’t introduce any white to the dark brown color of the cookie cake).

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I used a pastry brush to get Crisco in all the little spots.

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Then dusted with cocoa powder.

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Then poured the cake mix into the pans.  I tapped them a few times on the counter to try to work out any air bubbles (but you’ll see later in the post that I wasn’t as successful as I hoped).

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Then I baked the two cakes according to the directions on the box, for 30 minutes at 350.

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When they were done, I placed them on cooling racks for 15 minutes before inverting the pans to release the cakes.  Gratefully, they came out easily and I didn’t lose any cake, but I did feel like there were lots more air bubbles in the tops of the cakes than I wanted.  Oh well.  I’ll try a different recipe next time.

When the cakes were entirely cooled, I placed one cake, right side down, on a 10 inch round cake circle.  I then spread vanilla ice cream over the cake and placed it in the freezer for 15 minutes to set.  I used about 1/4 gallon of vanilla ice cream, which I mixed by hand with a spoon for a few minutes until it had the consistency of soft serve ice cream.

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Then I put the other half of the “sandwich” on top, and popped it back into the freezer.  After I put the top on, I realized I should have leveled the cake so it would sit better on the ice cream, but that’s what happens when you’re in a hurry and you’re experimenting with something when guests are on the way over to your house!  I then put the cake back in the freezer until it was time to enjoy.

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I’ll work on the presentation next time, but everyone loved the cute idea of having an “oreo cookie” ice cream cake, and it actually tasted really good.  It turned out to be just the right amount of ice cream and chocolate.  This pan set is definitely a keeper!  Think what a simple, great dessert this would be to pull out at a summer party.  My oldest son has already requested it for his birthday cake this summer.

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YUM!

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