It's been a weird ten days. First the destructive Super-Storm Sandy blew through our region, leaving many without power and heat, or even homeless. The photos of all the damage (boats washed onto the land, houses half blown off) are mind-boggling. Then we had another storm, a nor'easter! More high wind, snow/slush, more power problems. Mother Nature has been WILD. Yet I've been fortunate to have lost only cable and internet connection. So I must give the plug again to donate to the many wonderful organizations that are helping the people and animals in need:
For those in the NY/NJ area, this is a useful list Where to Help Hurricane Sandy victims
Text PREVENT to 25383 to donate just $10 to ASPCA's animal rescue and food drive operations OR
Text ANIMALS to 20222 to donate $10 to Humane Society Disaster Relief Fund OR
Text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate$10 to the Red Cross disaster relief efforts
As if the two storms did not cause enough destruction, a truck hit a pole in my neighborhood, bringing down power lines. I feel for all those utility workers who had just repaired the lines from Sandy! So I have been very grateful to have my smartphone so that I can try to keep connected to the world beyond work and my neighborhood. Just as I finally recovered internet connection, I got more bad news. A close family member needed to go into the emergency room and will be in the hospital for a few days. When life gets tough, I get cooking. In this instance, I found comfort in peeling, chopping, stirring, cooking and canning quince and cranberries for Can It Up.
Hima at All Four Burners is hosting Can It Up. Every month, she picks a theme and you can join for one month or every month. This month the theme is cranberries. I love cranberries - tart, bright, brilliant red. Cranberries are native to North America and a major crop in Massachusetts and New Jersey, both places I am connected to in many ways. When I went to school in Massachusetts, I remember visiting my friend and she told me that she lived in the area of cranberry bogs and Ocean Spray. That was the first time I saw a cranberry bogs. Since then, I've seen more in New Jersey. They are brilliant little red jewels.
Another memory I have about cranberries is my aunt telling me that drinking cranberry juice is good for preventing urinary tract infections. And cranberry has lots of vitamin C. With all that going for it, I thankfully love cranberry apple juice. So what should I make for this month's Can It Up? Cranberries are great but very tart on its own and can be almost bitter. I searched my many cook books but was inspired by something I read in Saveur, one of my favorite food magazines. It was Laena McCarthy's cranberry and quince recipe. I was intrigued because I had made quince paste (membrillo) before and loved it.
Quince, a fragrant fruit that looks like a gnarly apple. It has a fuzz on the surface and you definitely do not want to eat it raw. It's very hard and astringent but it's very high in pectin, which is great for jams and jellies. I've cooked quince in syrup and eaten it as a dessert. It's delicious. I find quince so interesting and want to share more information with you about it so try this: wikipedia.
I also like this recipe because it's perfect for Thanksgiving. One less thing to do for Thanksgiving Day. And it will go well with leftover turkey to make a sandwich.
The quince can be hard to peel and chop. I found that a vegetable peeler worked great for peeling the quince. Then quarter it with a sharp knife and cut out the seeded part.
Lastly, I love this beautiful color - quintessential Fall.
If you are unfamiliar with canning/preserving, please read more about it at Food In Jars. In fact, read before you start canning in order to familiarize yourself with it. It's not hard but there are some essential steps that should not be missed. Marisa of Food In Jars has a wonderful list of resources and I find her blog to be very informative.
Quince and Cranberry Chutney
adapted from Jam On by Laena McCarthy
1 lb. quince (two medium-big ones, about 3 cups diced)
1 lb. cranberry
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
2 oz. bourbon
2 tbsp raisins
about 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated or more to taste
1/2 cup water
Cover the raisins with the bourbon in a bowl. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes so that the raisins can get nice and plump with the bourbon. Rinse and peel the quince. Remove any blemished flesh. Core and dice the quince to get three cups. Rinse cranberries and drain; set aside. Place the quince, sugar, raisins (including the bourbon), vinegar, and water into a 6- to 8-quart nonreactive pot; stir well.
Wash and rinse your jars; put them into a big stockpot; cover the jars with water and bring to a boil, lower heat. You can also wash your jars in the dishwasher as you do the preparation work in order to make sure you have clean and warm jars. Get lids and rings ready. Put lids into a bowl.
Bring the fruit mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Reduce the heat and cook uncovered at a steady simmer for about 30 minutes.
Add cranberries and cook for 30 more minutes. Gradually reduce the heat if the jam starts to stick and scorch. Add ginger toward last ten minutes. Keep a watchful eye and stir vigilantly for the last 5 to 10 minutes. When the chutney has thickened and big bubbles are popping all over the surface, test for consistency. You can place a teaspoon of the hot chutney onto a frozen spoon. Place it back in the freezer, with chutney on it, for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the spoon and test the gel by tilting the spoon vertically. If it's thick then it's ready.
Once it is done, give it a quick stir and turn off heat.
Fill jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Yield: 4 (8 ounce) jars plus another half jar.
Note: Keep in mind that your fruit might have more juice and may take longer to cook down. Your yield may be different from mine depending on your fruit.