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Archive for May, 2008

Canning Jars

As summer approaches, so does berry season. Strawberries will be ready for picking in about mid-June, and I’m gearing up. That means canning jars. I want to get away from staid Ball Jars this year, and find something that will look a little nicer on my kitchen shelves. Here are the best options I’ve found:


My favorite (I just ordered several trays of them): Weck Jars. The company only takes orders by mail, unfortunately, but you can order them online from Lehman’s. (Note that Lehman’s calls them “German canning jars,” not Weck jars.)

I also like Leifheit Jars, which are a cool shape and are available at Sur La Table.

And then, for a really minimal, streamlined jar, SKS has some nice options, as well as suggestions as to what fruits and veggies should go into which specific sized jars.

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As summer weather starts to become a reality, my diet changes. I tend to want snackier meals—lighter and smaller. Maybe it’s the heat, or my body telling me it’s time to get ready for the beach. With zucchini available in local markets, today I made a batch of Mark Bittman’s zucchini pesto. It’s from a zucchini tart recipe of his that ran in the New York Times a few years ago. I added pine nuts, skipped the tart and spread the pesto on flatbread. Light, healthy and delicious!

Ingredients:

4 medium zucchini, about 1 pound

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves, washed and well dried

1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Cut zucchini in quarters lengthwise, then slice thinly. Put olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; a minute later, add zucchini and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they just start to soften, 5 to 10 minutes. Add parsley, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini is soft but still green. Remove from heat and cool. Toast pine nuts in saucepan. Remove from heat and cool. Combine zucchini-parsley mixture in a blender with Parmesan and pine nuts and blend until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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A normal large egg weighs 55 grams:

The white weighs 30 grams;

the yolk, 20 grams;

and the shell, 5 grams.

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Keen’s Cheddar

This cheese is not for the faint of heart. I’m a huge fan of sharp cheddar cheese but have never tasted anything like it. It’s crumbly and streaked with blue veins, and tastes like a cross between a sharp cheddar and a blue cheese, with an intense, very earthy and grassy flavor. Not your everyday cheddar by any means.

I read about this cheddar in the Murray’s Cheese Handbook, where it was described as a quintessential artisanal English Cheddar. The Keen family has been making cheddar for over a century at their farm in Somerset, England. They make the cheese with unpasteurized milk from their herd of cows. It’s aged for about a year, wrapped in cloth that allows it to form a rind.

Neal’s Yard Dairy exports the cheese to the U.S.; I bought it on iGourmet.com, for $8.99 a half pound.

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