It’s not too early to start preparing for Christmas! By day, I am a sales rep. to our bookstores for our publishing house, Paraclete Press. For a couple months now, we have had our focus on offering our Advent and Christmas products to start stocking for the holidays. It always feels a bit odd, as the leaves are just beginning to turn, to talk about a season that feels so far off – but then again, it is almost October!
This is the perfect time to start thinking about making homemade gifts for your loved ones. The gardens are still yielding, and the season just begs us to do some canning. Since the Farmer’s Almanac predicts a long winter ahead, you might want to consider taking some time to get a jump start. Homemade gifts are a thoughtful touch, especially when you have put your own heart and time into preparing them. Cut down on the frenzy of shopping, and maybe you’d have a little more time to spend with Jesus!
This recipe was inspired by jalapeno peppers given to me from my parent’s garden. Gift wrapped with a box of Ritz Crackers and Philadelphia Cream Cheese, this is the ultimate homemade Christmas gift!
Cape Cod Cranberry Jalapeno Pepper Jelly
- Bring boiling-water canner, half-full with water, to a simmer.
- Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling the jars with jam. Keep jars warm and dry in a low oven.
- Make the Jam: add prepared fruit, peppers, salt and vinegar to a 6 or 8 quart pot
- Begin heating on medium high and stir in the sugar
- Once the mixture comes to a full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred), add the pectin.
- Return to a full rolling boil and continue boiling for exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
- Ladle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within an 1/8th of an inch of the top. Wipe rim with a clean, damp cloth, put lid on followed by the band, and screw tightly.
- Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into the canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 min. Remove jars and with a mitt, make sure band is tight, and invert the jar. After 10 min, place the jar upright on towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. (If lid springs back, lid is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)
Today I am looking out on a winter wonderland! We are in the midst of a blizzard that has dumped an amazing amount of snow as far as the eye can see. One of those days to sit by the fire with a hot cup of tea and a slice of warm Apple cranberry bread.
We still have apples in the refrigerator from our fall harvest which are in surprisingly good shape – the one I munched on while making this bread wasn’t fresh from the tree, but still crisp and sweet. We also were given a large quantity of cranberries from a local bog, so it seemed like a good use of the two to put them together in a quick bread. We are always looking for different morning snack ideas to serve at our community work time break. I tried a couple of different recipes and actually left the peels on the Apple’s to give the breads a little more texture. Here is one variety that I thought the most flavorful and moist.
- Heat oven to 350 degree F. Grease bottom only of an 8 x 4 inch loaf pan
- In large bowl, mix 3/4 cup sugar, the oil and egg.
- Stir in apple, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir in cranberries.
- Spoon batter into pan.
- In small bowl, mix 1 Tablespoon sugar and the cinnamon; sprinkle over batter.
- Bake 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
- Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack before slicing.
- For glaze, combine confectioners sugar and half and half or milk, drizzle over bread.
Today was a beautiful day – it was warm and smelled like spring – do you know what I mean? The daffodils in the orchard had opened up, along with the grape hyacinths. Lots of buds on the apple, peach, pear, plum and nectarine trees. I just love all that new life waiting to burst forth!
There is nothing like a good cookie, don’t you agree? We serve a lot of them here – for tours and receptions, coffee hours, lunch desserts, to name a few; so I have found the recipes that work well in quantity and that I really like. And actually a lot of other people really like them, too. I have a weakness for white chocolate. I love other chocolate, too, but I really like white chocolate – and yes I know it’s not really even chocolate, but I do really like it! Anyway, I thought that it would be a great companion to cranberries – which are so Cape Cod – and pecans, so I started experimenting with recipes that would stand up to that threesome. Here is the result:
White Chocolate Cranberry Pecan Cookie
- Combine sugars, butter, shortening, salt, baking soda; cream together.
- Add eggs slowly.
- Add flour.
- Mix until just combined; do not over mix.
- Add white chocolate chips, cranberries and nuts, mix just enough to combine.
- Drop by large tablespoonfuls ( I use a #40 ice cream scoop) onto a parchment lined or greased pan.
- Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 to 17 minutes or until golden brown on the edges.