Monday, December 19, 2011

Gifting & Fuji Apple Honey Lemon Jam

When I came across this recipe a few months back on Food in Jars, I knew it was something I'd love to try my hand at making to send along with Raspberry Jam as Christmas presents this year. Alas, as it goes, I was derailed the past week and a half or so by the winter "uglies", but finally showing signs of improvement, and with no time to delay, I was able to get back into my laboratory (the kitchen) and give it a go. If you haven't yet made jam, it's super easy and a fantastic way to make use of fruit. I just love it! I knew my grandmother would, too. She really misses being my taste-tester since moving to Kentucky. And last year's Raspberry Jam was one of her personal favorites.
I have to tell you, she's going to have to make room for a new favorite. My husband loved it so much he asked if we could keep a jar for ourselves. So, her package will be a little lighter, but just in time for Christmas.

Honey Lemon Apple Jam
Recipe courtesy and adapted from Food in Jars
12 cups chopped apples ( I used a mixture of mostly Fuji and some green apples)
2 cups lemons juice
2 cups honey
3 cups sugar
1 envelope of liquid pectin (can be omitted if you use a few firm, green apples). I did not use pectin because of the green apples.
zest of three lemons

*I used a quarter of the above recipe and filled three pint (8 oz.) mason jars. (3 cups apples, (mostly Fuji and a couple of green). 1/2 cup lemon juice. 1/4 cup raw Arizona honey. 1 and 1/4 cups sugar. Zest of 1 small lemon. No pectin because of the green apples.)


Add water to canning pot (or large pot) and ready your jars, 7 pint jars for this recipe as written. Prepare jars by boiling for ten minutes and then allow to fully dry. Boil lids and screw bands at a more gentle boil in a smaller pot for 7 minutes, allow to fully dry.
To large, heavy-bottomed pot (or Dutch oven), add chopped apples and lemon juice. Stir frequently over medium-low heat until apples break down. (This took me longer because I used firm Fuji and Green apples, and then I still had to use a fork before adding final mixture to jars to break apples down further to achieve the consistency I was looking for.) When your mixture looks like a chunky applesauce, add in honey and sugar. Stir until thoroughly mixed in.
Allow fruit to come to a rolling boil and cook for at least five minutes. (Be careful as mixture can splatter a bit, especially in a more shallow pot, and sugar gets very hot.) Add pectin, if using, boil a few minutes longer to activate. When you've reached a good jam-like texture, remove pot from heat and add in lemon zest. Stir.
Carefully add jam into your jars, clean rims with towel. Vinegar can be used on towel to clean rims if needed to remove sticky mixture. Cover jars with lids and screw the bands on securely. Boil jars, covered with water, in water canner for ten minutes.
Test jars for seal by pressing lids. If you do not hear a clicking sound, they have sealed properly.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving & Cran-Raspberry Cheese Tart

I just love, love, love fall in New England. I've said it before, I'll say it always: It's my favorite magic! This year has been especially wonderful getting to experience fall for the first time through the eyes of my son, Barrett, who is just fascinated by all the colors of the vibrant trees, now nearly gone. And the bright, chirping birds, soon to depart.

Photos taken on Boston Common.

Not to mention, the food, of course. The cool, sometimes downright bone-chilling cold air begs for things that feature cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves... to be baked--filling your home with deliciously intoxicating warm air.

I came across this recipe about a month back on the Joy of Baking website, and even though it was almost identical to a recipe my grandmother found under the top of a tub of cool whip we've been making for years, with the exception of real whipped cream in place of cool whip, I just loved the festive addition of cranberry topping on a simple dessert I make every year over the holidays with Thanksgiving and Christmas just days and weeks away. Can you believe I never thought to use cranberries? Maybe you'll remember I made something very similar last year, Pear-Cheese Tart
with a Chez Panisse Gingersnap Cookie crust.

I will make this harmoniously blended mix if sweet and tart confection again tomorrow, along with last year's favorite: Green Apple-Cranberry Pie, to serve on Thanksgiving. It was delicious.

Cranberry-Raspberry Cheese Tart
Recipe courtesy and adapted from Joy of Baking

Graham Cracker Crust:

1 cup (100 grams) graham cracker crumbs or digestive biscuits (crushed)
1/2 cup (50 grams) crushed ginger cookies (homemade or store bought)
2 tablespoons (30 grams) granulated white sugar
5 - 6 tablespoons (70 - 85 grams) unsalted butter, melted
zest or lemon or orange (I used the latter)


One 8-ounce (227 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature, preferably Philadelphia in the rectangular package.
1/4 cup (50 grams) confectioner's sugar
1& 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream

Cran-Raspberry Sauce:

3 cups (300 grams) frozen unsweetened raspberries
2 cups (200 grams) fresh cranberries
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar (or more to taste)
Zest of a lemon or orange (optional)

For Crust: Process graham crackers and ginger cookies until finely ground. Add lemon zest, if using and pulse again. In processor (or bowl), mix graham cracker and cookie crumbs with sugar, and melted butter. Pour into bottom of a well greased 8-9 inch tart pan. Evenly press mixture over bottom and up sides of pan. ( You can also use a springform pan, evenly spreading mixture over bottom and up sides, about 1 inch, of the pan. I've even done this in a pie plate.) Cover with plastic and refrigerate while you prepare your filling. *You can choose to bake crust at 350 degrees for 6-8 minutes, allow to cool and then cover and refrigerate, if you like a firmer crust like me.

For Filling: Using electric, or hand mixer, mix cream cheese until smooth. Add in sugar and continue mixing until light and fluffy. Scrape mixture down from sides of bowl. Add vanilla extract and mix to incorporate.
In medium, clean, cold bowl, mix or electric whisk whipping cream, forming soft peaks. About 2 minutes. For light filling, gently fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture. For more dense cake (which is what I prefer), mix whipped cream into cream cheese mixture until combined. Use plastic wrap to cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

For Cranberry-Raspberry Sauce: Add all ingredients into large saucepan. Over medium heat, cook, stirring often until the fruit bubbles and thickens. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Taste for sweetness and add more if desired. Store, covered in the refrigerator.

Assembly: Once all of your components have cooled/chilled, simply add cream cheese mixture into crust and spread evenly. Top with fruit mixture. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Happy Thanksgiving, Friends!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The First Four Months & My Happiest Me

Well, some of you may have been wondering where I've been, but first things first...

My little cub, Barrett will be four months young tomorrow, Halloween. To say my life 'has changed' would be an understatement. My life has bloomed, flourished, ignited with joy and love and completeness. All the things I dreamed for his Dad and I when he flew in from Paris to meet me for the first time when we were still (just barely) 'young enough in the world' to question the wisdom of our bold chance have come true.

From the moment Barrett was wheeled into the hospital room he was smiling and looking over for Mommy's voice when I called his name. Watching him develop into a curious, giggling, book loving, cuddly, lady loving, brilliant, talking, attempting to walk and jumping, sweet, beautiful, blue elephant best-friending baby boy has been my honor.

I have no prior experience with children, never having even held a baby before, but as far as baby's go, I think he's spectacular. I love him madly!

This isn't to say life has been without its challenges. If you've read one of my pregnancy update posts', you may remember me talking about discovering I had massive fibroids (uterine tumors) during my pregnancy which complicated the pregnancy. As a result, I went into labor a just over couple of weeks early and delivered by emergency c-section. Following that, I've been battling some difficult symptoms exacerbated by the delivery and subsequent healing that have kept me out of the kitchen for the most part. And made blogging all but impossible...Until now!

Recently I started to experience longer periods of time sans any pain or sickness and I've been eager to get back into the kitchen, give attention to my poor, neglected blog, visit you and yours and share the Milk, Sugar, Musings & Love(s) of my life.

Since My Last Post, Barrett has changed quite a lot. Here are the first four months...

My brother, Billy came over to visit on my 32nd birthday (the day my son was originally due) to meet my greatest gift and his brand new nephew.

When Barrett was just a few weeks old, we took him for a stroll through Faneuil Hall Marketplace. Being so small, he really caused a stir.

Again at five weeks. His growth spurt began.

He just loves to be in Daddy's arms.

Barrett's grand-mere flew in from Paris to meet her grandson. She was thrilled!
Week 6.

Week 10.

Month 3.

For weeks I worked to get our new room ready with a fresh coat of paint and putting together the baby's crib.
He loves his new space!

With Love from Ree, Daph & Barrett. Thank you for sharing.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Our Greatest Blessing & Deepest Joy

I woke up Sunday feeling absolutely wonderful and full of energy. A feeling that had become familiar to me in my last two months of pregnancy. I danced. I cleaned; did laundry. I prepped food for the BBQ Daph and I were planning later that night. The day before, Saturday, I had a pressing feeling something was in store for me on Monday, 7-11-11, so I rushed to prepare the house, myself and get things in order for what might come. I didn't want to get my hopes up, but...

We ate late and shortly thereafter something told me I should shower quickly if I was expecting to get one. I did. Approximately one minute, literally 60 seconds after stepping out of the shower, my water broke. I shrieked and started to hyperventilate. I didn't expect it to happen so suddenly. I immediately called an ambulance because I was concerned I may need a c-setion quickly even after being assured I shouldn't.

Everyone I encountered in the first hour, from the EMT to the the nurse who signed me in to the E.R.said I may have jumped the gun and could have waited until I, 1. had contractions, and 2. they were closer together. By then I only had 1 or 2 fifteen minutes apart. I felt naive and foolish for over-reacting. When the fetal heart monitor was placed around my belly 5 minutes after intake, a nurse came in and then stepped out after saying 'your baby wants attention'.

A doctor followed her to review the baby's heart rate. While she was asking me questions I noticed her countenance change to one of concern. She excused herself. Several nurses appeared in the room at once all poking and prodding some part of me and hooking me up to different machines, followed by two doctors who were telling me they were going to do everything they could to keep my baby safe, and then an anesthesiologist who wanted a brief medical history, explained what was about to happen, and obtain my signature of consent.

I was rushed into the operating room for an emergency c-section to remove my little cub whose heart beat was dropping during contractions. I lay on my side and watched the baby's heart rate drop to below 100 during contractions while they struggled for 20 minutes to get the epidural in. 'You're doing a great job, Mommy', they said. I prayed. At 4: 05 on the morning of 7-11-11, my little cub, Barrett Leo Alemy, was born just over two weeks early weighing 6 lbs. 1 oz. at birth. He is perfection!

We are blessed to be able to hold and hug and give kisses and caress that ever-so-soft skin and experience this most precious, brilliant little miracle of ours. It's the greatest gift in the world being able to say I'm his Mom. And I only hope that one day he feels as proud of the job I did for him as I am of the one he has to make his way into the world healthy & strong, and into hearts of his Mommy and Daddy.

We're just mad about about him!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Our New Favorite & Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

When I was a little girl, my grandmother brought me to the home of a family friend named Richard who lived in Canton, Ma. He had the most beautiful garden. I remember being fascinated as he walked us through his backyard to share with us all the strange and wonderful things he was growing. One of which, rhubarb, immediately caught my eye--it was so interesting and new to me. Years later I threatened to bake a pie using the vegetable I remember seeing in my childhood, but just never got around to it. Would I even like rhubarb(?)

When I learned Daph, who is French, never had pie before, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to use it. That way we'd both be trying something new. Upon peeling and cutting the vegetable I decided immediately I'd hate it because the smell wasn't very appealing.

Hours later the pie was baked and ready to be cut into and served with the vanilla ice cream I made...Well, how do you describe love at first bite? The perfect marriage of sweet and tart. The quintessential taste of summer. The essence of home baked goodness. I could on, but this pie speaks for itself. I've made Triple Berry and Peach and Green Apple and Sweet Potato, but Strawberry Rhubarb pie stands alone as the best and favorite among everyone in my home. Maybe it will come to be in yours too.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Recipes Courtesy and Adapted from Simply Recipes and What's Cooking America


2 & 1/2 cups red rhubarb stalks cut into 1/2 inch pieces (Trim outside stringy layer of large rhubarb stalks; make sure to trim away any and discard of the leaves which are poisonous; trim ends.)
3 & 1/2 cups strawberries, stemmed and sliced
(The ratio of strawberry and rhubarb is pretty flexiable. 6 cups total was my goal)
1 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons of quick cooking tapioca (I used corn starch and it worked out great)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

*Unbaked pastry for two-crust 10 inch pie (See below)

Method: (Start with pie crust then return to begin filling)

1. Set oven to 400 degrees F to Preheat. In large bowl, add strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, tapioca or corn starch and lemon juice. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.

2. Add filling mixture to pie crust lined pan. Add top crust and either fold edges underneath and pinch dough around or trim edges and crimp upper and bottom crust together. Make slits over top crust to allow steam to escape while baking.

3. Place pie in 400 degree preheated oven and allow to bake for 20 minutes. Lower heat to 350 degrees F. Continue to bake pie for another 30-40 minutes, or 40-50 if baking 10-inch pie. Place on cooling rack to cool. If serving warm pie, juices will definitely run, but pie will still be delicious!

Shortening-Butter Crust:

2 1/2 cup all-purpose unbleached flour, plus extra for rolling
2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup Plus 1 teaspoon chilled vegetable shortening
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
6 to 8 tablespoons ice water


Rolling Pin
Wax Paper

To Sprinkle over bottom of crust before adding fruit:

Mix together 1 tablespoon each, flour and granulated sugar. This will help prevent pie filling juices from soaking through bottom of crust.

*Serve pie with softly whipped cream or Vanilla Ice Cream.

To Make Crust:

In standard sized food processor, or large bowl, process, or mix with hand mixer, flour, salt and sugar until combined. Add in shortening and process or mix until mixture resembles coarse sand, approximately 10 seconds. Add pieces of butter over flour mixture and process in 1 second pulses, or mix, turning hand mixer on then off, until pieces of butter are no bigger than small peas. Add 6 tablespoons ice water to mixture and, using a rubber spatula or hand mixer on low, fold in, or mix until just combined. Pinch dough with fingertips to be sure it sticks together, If not, add an additional 2 tablespoons ice water. Do not process or mix more than 30 seconds.
Turn dough onto work surface and gather into ball. Divide dough in half and flatten each into a round disk-like shape. Cover each with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour before using.

After an hour, remove one round of dough from refrigerator. Measure out and lightly flour two equal pieces of wax paper. Place dough, in center, between two pieces of wax paper, begin to flatten round of dough with rolling pin. Give wax paper square a quarter turn after each roll. Roll dough two inches larger than inverted pie plate. (Place pie plate, upside down, over dough to make sure it's big enough.) Carefully remove only top layer of wax paper. Turn remaining wax paper holding dough, so that the dough is facing down, into pie pan. Make sure dough is even in pan. Carefully remove second piece of wax paper, which should be bottom side up. Brush off excess flour. Roll hanging dough under itself to crimp or cut off excess. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Reserve both pieces of wax paper and repeat process of rolling with second dough round, only this time, leave rolled out dough in wax paper and refrigerate until needed.

Immediately start making pie filling.

Monday, July 4, 2011

4th of July & Red, White & Blueberry Cupcakes

Happy 4th of July everyone! No matter where you are in the world, I hope today is spectacular.
Last night Daph and I put the grill together. No easy feat for a French guy and a girl who takes the 'directions are optional' approach to putting things together.

I've been looking forward to grilled summer squash all year long. And something I've never tried before but looks oh-so-irresistible, fresh peaches grilled and served over vanilla ice cream.
At over 9 months pregnant, I've decided it's best I don't venture Downtown Boston and attempt navigating through blustering crowds of people for the annual fireworks display over the Charles. Surely something to see at least once if you're ever here! Instead Daph and I will stay home and enjoy the show my neighbors put on every year that's pretty impressive in its own right. The legality of which notwithstanding. What is it about fireworks that bring out the kid in us all?!
I've issued an everything goes on the grill policy all day long, so we're guaranteed a good time that's not only bursting with things that go boom in the night, but delicious too.
Might I add, these cupcakes...or muffins (you decide) are a perfect way to start a day like today.

Red, White & Blueberry Cupcakes

Recipe courtesy and adapted from My via Cooking Light

Cupcakes Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups (about 6 3/4 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
10 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 large egg
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
(I used homemade whole milk buttermilk plus whole milk because it's what I had on hand.)
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed
For the "red" I added 1/4 cup fresh raspberries

Frosting Ingredients:

1/4 cup (2 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Fresh blueberries (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin/cupcake pan with 12 liners. In large bowl, sift together 1 and 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. In separate large bowl, mix melted butter and egg. Allow butter to cool just a minute so egg doesn't cook. Using whisk, stir. To butter-egg mixture, add buttermilk and milk. Stir with whisk. Add in lemon rind, stir. Slowly pour butter-milk mixture into sifted dry ingredients. Gently stir just until combined. Using remaining 1 tablespoon of flour, toss berries in small bowl until coated with flour. Gently fold berries into cupcake batter. Filling cups 3/4 full, spoon batter into lined muffin cups. Bake for 25 minutes in 350 degree oven, or until inserted wooden pick comes out clean.

To Prepare frosting: In medium bowl, add cream cheese, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon lemon rind, vanilla and 1/8 teaspoon salt. On medium speed, use hand mixer to beat ingredients until just combined. Carefully add in sifted powder sugar. To save from washing an extra bowl, I sifted sugar into same bowl. Beat until just combined. Use fork to stir in lemon juice. Spread evenly over cooled cupcakes. If desired, garnish cupcakes with fresh berries. Cover and store in refrigerator.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The 9th Month & My Final Pregnancy Update

I'm so happy to report on what will be my final pregnancy update...Daph and I have been trying to prepare for the arrival of our son. It seems as though, just when we think we're done, there's still so much more to do. I've been feeling a lot more useful these days. Several weeks back my Dr. pushed the baby down lower in my belly, albeit unintentionally, during an exam. This gave me immediate relief. Before then I was in the worst pain I've experienced my entire pregnancy for weeks. And I've endured a lot of pain these past 8 plus months!

One of the complications being pregnant with huge uterine tumors (fibroids) caused me was the baby was higher in my body than a baby should be for most of my pregnancy, a result of trying to find enough space to grow. Incidentally, your organs being crushed, feels exactly like one might imagine it would. I would have endured that and much more for much longer only to know he was safe inside of me.

During my last visit to the Dr. I was informed that the baby is ready, he's no longer breech, and I could go into labor at any time and it would be fine. My body has already begun the process of labor. A month before my due date, this was a surprise. I was just getting used to relishing the joy of pregnancy sans the fear and worry and pain that beleaguered me up until just weeks before then. Even though I have bouts of extreme fatigue, contrarily, I also have sudden bursts of energy which allow me to walk around the city, go out to eat, dance... I even made a pie!

I gained a 1/2 lb. which brings my total weight gain during pregnancy to a 1/2 lb. (this, after losing 13), but I can feel how much bigger and heavier the baby is. He no longer has the space to move. And as my grandmother says, 'You can see my belly come around the corner five minutes before I do.'

The time is literally flying by, so I don't suffer from any of those last weeks' 'Oh, I just want to get this over with already' gripes I was told I could anticipate feeling. I love being pregnant. In fact, I'll be quite sad when I no longer am. I'm thrilled that all the dreaming and wondering about what it will be like, what he'll be like, is a time soon to come. And I'm reconciling that with the fact that he'll no longer be just "mine"; In my belly, connected to me, kicking, punching, turning in ways that only I can feel.

His Dad and I are overwhelmed with a flurry of emotion as we nervously enjoy these final hours, days or weeks until we meet our little cub. Thank you all for your continued and endless support through this entire journey.

--With Love, Ree
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