Smells like Perfume; Tastes like Heaven

So fruit is on sale right now and it is canning season for me. I can everything I can get my hands on. I would can my kid if I could find a big enough jar 🙂 But to be serious, I love to can. I love the idea that I can give all this stuff away around Christmas and that it will stay good for a really long time. I have only canned 2 times since the beginning of this season and I have already made Banana Nut Bread Jam, Giardineria (my version not the Chicago version) which includes everything I can find in my fridge and garden, pickled cucumbers, spaghetti sauce, strawberry rhubarb jam, pickled okra and pickled burgundy beans which turn green in the pickling process. As I type this, I am listening to my son play and my canning jars tell me that they have sealed….POP!

I bought a bundle of fresh plums at the store last night and was at a loss for what to do with them at first. I had seen a recipe for plum rose jam that sounded really good but I couldn’t find it this morning in any of my canning books. I will probably find it now that the plums are used up. However, I found a recipe that piqued my interest. Plum Lavender Jam. I am leary about putting lavender in my food because it can be sooo overpowering. I once worked in a restaurant that allowed a small business to come in and use our kitchen once a month to make their large batches of lavender jellies, honeys and breads. We always got samples and while they were good the lavender was so strong that it was weird.
However the way that this recipe I used, the lavender is only used as a fragrance and it makes the plums really stand out.

I got this recipe from http://www.laundryetc.co.uk/2011/08/04/blaisdon-plum-lavender-jam/

BLAISDON PLUM & LAVENDER JAM

Makes 1.125 kg (2lbs 4oz)

1.2Kg ( 2lb 8oz) plums or 1kg (2lb 4oz) when stoned
750g ( 1lb 12oz) sugar
juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp dried lavender

Chop the plums into quarters and remove the stones. Place the fruit in a bowl layered with the sugar, add the lemon juice and push the lavender, tied in a piece of muslin, down into the fruit. Cover and leave overnight to macerate.
Next day, pour the contents of the bowl into a pan and heat it through stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Bring to a simmer then remove from the heat, pour back into the bowl, push a piece of greaseproof paper down onto the surface of the bowl’s contents, then cover and leave to macerate for anything between 3 – 24 hours, whatever fits into your schedule.
If you plan to can or water process your jam, prepare your jars and seals, otherwise make sure your jam jars and lids are clean and hot by placing them in a warm oven for 20 minutes. Remove the lavender bundle, then with a slotted spoon remove the plum pieces from the syrup. There is no need to be too painstaking about this, it just means that your finished jam will have some nice chunks of plum flesh instead of it all being cooked into an homogenised mass!
Place the remaining syrup in a preserving pan, heat to boiling then maintain at a rolling boil until it reaches setting point. This took me about 10 minutes to achieve. Add the plum pieces and bring back to the boil and check for setting point again. Pour the jam into hot jars and seal. If you are canning your jam, process for 10 minutes then remove from the canner. Leave till cold, then test the seals. Label and date your jam.

I did not do the overnight bit but instead as I boiled down the plums, I placed the sachet to cook along with the jam. I made a second fresh sachet around the time I added the pectin and took out the first. I used an immersion blender to puree the plums prior to adding pectin. I also added only 5 c of sugar because I don’t like overly sweet jelly. I also used Black Diamond plums which have a dark purple almost black skin and a very red meat. The resulting jelly is a very beautiful garnet color.

Lemon Feta Chicken with Acini de Pepe Pasta and Spinach

So I love Rotissere chicken that you buy at the store. It is a quick chicken meal that I can pick up and throw something together at the house. I don’t buy them often because it seems extravagant but when it comes down to it, you can’t buy and roast a chicken most of the time for that price.
I had most of a chicken left over from a night or so ago and I wanted to use it before it went bad so I came up with this.

Ingredients:
1 or most of one whole roasted chicken
1 cup acini de pepe or couscous or small pasta
1-2 cups washed spinach
1/2 juice lemon
1/2 cup feta cheese *reduced fat for us*
Basil fresh or dried
Either greek seasonings or use a mixture of the following
lemon pepper, basil, rosemary, small bits of lavender, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme and oregano
green onions small bunch cut down to the whites
Cucumbers scored with a fork cut into slices
Mustard

I shredded the chicken, took all the bones and skin and threw them into a pot of water with the bottom parts of the green onion and basil. Pesto also works well for this because it has other flavors in it such as the pine nuts and parmesean that add a depth to the broth you will make out of this mixture. When you have boiled it down you will use this stock to cook your pasta or couscous with. This not only uses the entire bird but the pieces of the vegetables as well. Your pasta or couscous will be more flavorful for it.

Once you have the broth set aside, you take your shredded chicken and mix it with the lemon juice, herbs, mustard, salt, pepper, and the feta. Place this mixture in the oven to allow the chicken to reheat and the feta to melt a bit. 350 degrees for about 20 min should do. It might even take less time depending on how much chicken you have left over.
Steam your spinach lightly but not thoroughly.

Once everything is cooked, to plate it, you place a bed of the spinach down and place your cucumber on one side. Get a round implement so that you can form the pasta into a round cake like shape. Place your chicken on the top just spilling over a bit and place some of the green onion on top for color.

Enjoy.