Thursday, October 27, 2011

Elderberry Jam

Elderberries can be found all over. My favorite place to find them is off the main road in the Sierra Foothills on National Forest Service land. Just remember to make sure you are not on private or National Parks land. Only the Forest Service allows you to collect the berries.

You know they are ready when the bunches of berries turn a dark purple. To pick the berries bring along your scissors and cut at least a half a paper grocery bags worth of berry bunches. One of the neat things about the elderberry bush is often it is blooming while there are ripe berries. If you collect the flowers you can also make a nice elderflower syrup that you can add to soda, champagne, or over ice cream.

When you get home you need to de-stem the berries. It is important that you do not have any stems when you start making the jam since the stems and the leaves are bitter and slightly toxic. It is not hard to de-stem the berries it just takes time. You just need to take a portion of the bunch and with light fingers gentry rake your partially open hand over the berries and let them fall into the bowl. So, sit down in front of your favorite show or turn on some nice music and the hour will fly by.

To prepare the berries rinse them off and bring the elderberries to a boil, stirring often. You can put water in but the more water you use the more diluted the flavor will be. I would suggest if you want to use water try ½ a cup and you can always add a bit more if you think it looks too dry.

Once the berries are soft run them through a food mill to get rid of the seeds. If you do not have a food mill you can place a cheese cloth in a strainer and strain out the juice. The cheese cloth method will give you a jelly rather than a jam but both are delicious.

Elderberry Jam

4 cup Elderberry pulp and juice

3 Tbs lemon juice

1.5 packages pectin

7 cups sugar

Place the elderberries and lemon juice in a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the pectin and return to a boil. Add the sugar and cook until it sheets off the spoon.

Prepare your jars by sterilizing the jars and lids. Pour your jam into the hot jars, clean off the edges and put on the lids. Turn your jars upside down on a clean cloth for about 10 minutes then return to the upright position. You will hear the lid pop as the jars cool. Once they are cool check to make sure they all sealed. Any that did not seal put in the fridge. The rest will be shelf stable for about a year.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mini Vegan Limoncello Cheesecake

These turned out delicious.  They are super flavorful.


Mini Vegan Limoncello Cheesecake
Preheat your oven to 350 and lightly grease and flour 24 mini muffin cups.
1 Cup ground walnuts
2 Tablespoon Sugar
4 Tablespoons Flour
4 Tablespoons Coconut Oil- Melted ( you can use a vegan margarine)

Grind up walnuts in a food processor or blender. ( if you have almond meal sitting around your house you can use that instead.  I did not because my sister is very allergic and my parents would get mad if I killed her).  Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix until everything is moist and crumbly.  Divide up the mixture in your prepped muffin tins and press them into the bottom of  each cup.  Store in the freezer as you make the filling.  

16 Ounces (2 Cup or 2 Container) Tofutti “Cream Cheese”
4 Tablespoons Cornstarch
1/2Cup Granulated Sugar
2/3 Cup Limoncello  ( Used my homemade limoncello)
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Beat together the “cream cheese,” corn starch, and sugar with your mixer on low speed, or with a wide spatula, until smooth. Pour in the limoncello and vanilla, mixing until thoroughly combined. Distribute the filling between all of your crust-lined cupcakes, and bake for 15 – 20 minutes. Like a standard cheesecake, they will seem very loose when fresh out of the oven, but continue to firm up as they cool, so be careful not to over bake them. The cheesecake bites will puff significantly in the oven, but will fall as they cool.

After chilling in the fridge for at least an hour, slip a thin paring knife down the sides of each cheesecake bite and use it as a lever to remove them. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Makes 24
Alternate ideas:
 Corn blackberry (cornmeal instead of flour and blackberry cordial instead of limoncello)
Chocolate Kahlua ( add cocoa powder to the crust and kahlua instead of limoncello)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Flower YoYo Headband

Now I have a bunch of flower yoyos sitting around from my yoyo making frenzy.
Take a stiff but flexible item to cut into the shape that will be the base of your fascinator or headband.  In this case I used a takeout coffee lid.
 Choose you base fabric and cover the base wrapping around and gluing to the back.

Sew (or glue if you are inclined) the flowers to the base in a pleasing pattern.
If you are making a fascinator you can now attach it to a comb or a clip.
I decided to make a head band. 
I wrapped a matching torn strip of fabric around a headband gluing down each end.
Finally I hot glued on the flower piece to the head band.  Let it set for a few minutes and you are ready for going out to show off your fun new accessory.