Way-Easy Black Raspberry (or any raspberry) Jam

Wild Black Raspberry (Black Caps) Jam

Wild Black Raspberry (Black Caps) Jam

The best foods are the ones that grow wild, in my opinion.  It is a joy to forage for food, and wild black raspberries (also called "black caps") are among my favorites.  No cultivated berry can compare in flavor, and though the cost is lots of scratches from tramping about in thickets, and a few mosquito bites, I am happy to do it!  This jam is basically made with a formula, so that you can make as little or much as you want, depending on how many raspberries you gather.  You can run the jam through a food mill to remove the seeds, if you must, but I don't mind them a bit.  This version is intended to be refrigerated and used within a month or so.  It probably won't last that long, as eating this is like eating a sweetened, intensified black raspberry!

Basic Formula per cup of berries:

1 cup black raspberries

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Combine the berries, sugar, and lemon juice in an appropriately-sized pan or pot.  Bring the mixture up to a boil over medium heat.  (I like to put a lid on the pot to speed up the process, plus the steam melts any sugar crystals on the side of the pot.) Place a candy thermometer in the mixture, not touching the bottom of the pan.  Cook over medium heat until it reaches 220-degrees, or jelly stage.  The mixture will still be liquid.

Pour the mixture into a squeaky clean jelly jar(s), cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.

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Quick Pickled Cucumbers & Onions

A little bowl of Cucumbers & Onions is frequently found on the farm table!

A little bowl of Cucumbers & Onions is frequently found on the farm table!

Warm weather always signals me that it's time to start keeping a bowl of Cucumbers & Onions in the refrigerator!  This simple relish is a staple in most farm kitchens in the Midwest, and with good reason.  This is a "quick pickle" with vinegar, sugar, and salt combined and poured over the vegetables then allowed to marinate.  The longer it lasts, the more cured the vegetables become.  This is a great acidic condiment for any meal, and is especially good on a sandwich that has some fattiness.  Try these, and I'll bet you'll keep some on hand all summer, too!

1 large English cucumber, washed, dried, halved and sliced (When the garden or Farmers Market provides cucumbers, I use those, but peel them.  The rest of the time I use unpeeled English cukes, as they're always available!)

1 small-to-medium Red, Sweet, or Vidalia onion, peeled, halved, and sliced thin

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

3 Tablespoons sugar

Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Place the cucumbers and onions in a bowl (I prefer a glass bowl with a lid).  Combine the vinegar, salt, and sugar in a measuring cup and whisk until the sugar starts to dissolve.  Pour over the vegetables and toss to combine.  Add pepper now, or set out the pepper when serving.  Refrigerate for at least an hour or two.  Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

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Balsamic Vinegar Glaze

Balsamic Vinegar Glaze is the perfect way to perk up a ho-hum dish!

Balsamic Vinegar Glaze is the perfect way to perk up a ho-hum dish!

Introduce some Mediterranean sweet-sour goodness to a variety of dishes with this reduced, sweetened balsamic vinegar.  Grilled or roasted vegetables a little boring?  Give them a kick with just a little drizzle and you'll find yourself craving them.  Use it in a vinaigrette, add it to a marinade, or drizzle a bit over chicken or fish.  It only takes a little to brighten up a dish, and this glaze keeps well in the refrigerator for quite a while. You'll find yourself pulling it out often to add a punch of flavor to your dishes!

1 cup balsamic vinegar

3-4 Tablespoons sugar

Pinch of salt

Combine the vinegar, 3 T. sugar, and salt in a small sauce pan.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until reduced by half and it coats a spoon.  (When you pull the spoon out of the vinegar, turn it over and run your finger down the back of the spoon.  If it leaves a streak, it's done.)  Taste.  If it is too sour for your taste, add the remaining sugar and stir until it melts.  Cooking time will depend on the vinegar, but expect about 20 minutes or more.

Cool and store in the refrigerator for up to two months.

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Healthy Lemon, Herb & Kale Pesto

Healthy Lemon, Herb & Kale Pesto

Healthy Lemon, Herb & Kale Pesto

This pesto brings together so many healthful ingredients in a delicious way!  Kale, basil, cilantro, parsley, lemon, garlic, and olive oil are all super foods that will brighten up a meal while loving your body.  Toss this with some pasta or spaghetti squash, drizzle it over grilled or roasted fish or chicken, mix it with some Greek yogurt and dip veggies in it or use it as a dressing.  You'll look for ways to put this bright and bold condiment to use!

4 garlic cloves

1 cup rough chopped kale, loosely packed

1 cup basil leaves, loosely packed

1 cup cilantro leaves and soft stems, loosely packed

1 cup parsley leaves, loosely packed

3 Tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice, 1-2 lemons, depending on size

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, more if needed

Place garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until well chopped.  Add the kale and herbs and pulse until finely chopped.  Add the lemon juice and salt and pulse until well combined and fairly smooth.  With the food processor running, stream in the olive oil until well combined.  (If the pesto seems too thick, add a bit more oil.)  Store in an air-tight container, covering the top of the pesto with a piece of plastic wrap.  Will keep 3-4 days in the refrigerator, freeze any that won't be used right away for later use.

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