Gifts From My Kitchen – Pickled Cherries

I was giving a ride to my 4 year old son and a couple of 11 year-olds to their zoo camp. The older kids and I were discussing jobs for teenagers. Zoo teacher’s assistant seemed liked a cool option.

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“Much better than working at a McDonalds,” I voiced my opinion.

“No, mommy!” said my son, laughing at me, like I said something very silly, “I love McDonalds!”

“Do you? Have you ever been to McDonalds?” I asked ready to have a serious talk with my husband…

“Of course, mommy,” and he started singing, “Old McDonald had a farm EE-I-EE-I-O!”2013_May_CherryFarm-18

 

We have taken the kids to a farm. A cherry orchard, to be exact. Here is what came out of it.

Pickled Cherries

From While Chasing Kids | Condiments and Sauces | American

This is a perfect gift from your kitchen, which would be an excellent addition to many savory hot dishes

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cal Calories 328kcal

Low fat Total Fat 1g

sat-fat Free Saturated Fat 0g

chol Free Cholesterol 0mg

Low sodium Sodium 7mg

High carbs Total Carbohydrate 79g

Serving size 401g Calories from fat 5kcal Fiber 4g Protein 2g Sugar 72g
4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs fresh dark cherries
  • 3 stems fresh rosemary
  • 2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbl allspice
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 2 fresh bay leaves

Directions

  1. 1.Sterilize the jars.
  2. 2.Wash the cherries and pat dry. Snip the stem ends leaving ¾ inch intact. Prick each cherry in several places with a toothpick. Fill the jars with cherries.
  3. 3.Divide rosemary between the jars.
  4. 4.Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, allspice, anise and bay leaves in a medium sized saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Boil the liquid for 1 min and remove from heat.
  5. 5.Fill the jars with hot pickling liquid leaving ½ inch headspace. Seal with lids. Cool at the room temperature before transferring to the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks

For free canning labels and gift notes go here.

Special tools:

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Things To Do With Kids – Traveling

Last month my children landed in Moscow wearing a perfect shade of San Francisco Pale on their skins. These city kids were raised where outside requires constant adult supervision, they had only minor encounters with nice weather, and were yet to experience a water or electricity outage.

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In 3 weeks they were completely transformed into tan Russian-speaking sun-loving kids who had a bite of freedom and lots of bites of freshly grown produce right outside of their great- grandmother’s house!

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Their only swimming experience up till now was in a heated pool. I don’t quite get it, but apparently swimming in a river with cousins, fish, ducks and frogs is much more fun!

 

Grandma’s garden was an endless source of entertainment and nourishment. Apples, cherries, currant, strawberries – and that’s just the begging of the list. The kids had a blast playing in all this lusciousness!

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They even found it cool to be washed outside with water heated up by sun.

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Though, you should have seen my son’s excitement when he got back home and went to the bathroom: “Есть вода!” (The water is on)! Hmmmm….

 

Here are some Instagram favorites from the trip. Enjoy!

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Plum Pie

 

This report has been brought to you from a special place where we had no internet, only 2 and a half TV channels, intermediate phone service, and issues with water pressure… Yet, the 3 weeks we spent there are beating all the awesomeness charts!  In June I gulped a can of courage pills, loaded my 4 and 2 year-olds on an airplane, waved bye bye to the husband, and took the kids on a 30-something hour trip to my homeland!

So, here are some shots and recipes from our visit to Russia, where my children were running in my grandmother’s garden, in the house where my mother was born, where I spent so many happy days, and where you don’t need special photo props to give recipes a hint of old country.

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[kitchenbug-your-recipe-appears-here-11465]

 

 

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My son met my babushka, godmother, and two aunts. All these ladies were introduced to him as babas. One evening I asked him, “Who do you love?”

“Mommy, daddy, Pea, baba… [silence] … baba …. Baba…. Baba… baba…. Baba…. “

 

 

 

Things To Do With Kids – Gardening

It surely wasn’t San Francisco weather, it was the calendar, that reminded me of all the amazing months we spent at babushka’s every year: playing in her beautiful garden; eating cherries, apples, and pears fresh off the trees; picking the sweetest strawberries EVER… and slaving, slaving, slaving in the vegetable garden.

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Ohm.. Our hose was useless since the water pressure was so low. We filled huge buckets with water over night, and irrigated the whole plantation manually. And if that was not enough – there were also disgusting tasks – like picking up bugs from the potato leaves, or tortures tasks like pruning. So, you can imagine my love for growing all things green – there isn’t any!

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Once in a while I would buy a huge plant at The Home Depot and put the black plastic container it comes with into a nice ceramic one.That’s been my idea of gardening for years.

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During my mom’s visits here, such plants would be watered on regular basis and somewhat loved (by mom). Then she would leave. The plant would survive (miraculously or because of whatever drugs The Home Depot stuffs it with) for a few months, and then I’d have to replace it with a new one.

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The food blogging community touched some strings in me, that I thought didn’t exist. So, this year, the kids and I planted some herbs and flowers.  This time, I controlled the amount of stuff we are going to grow (or kill).

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Luckily, our San Francisco yards are tiny. Strangely enough, the kids love to water the new greens. Don’t ask me why. Silly things! They also keep looking for pixie dust, and leave cookies and milk for ferries before going to bed. Sorry, Santa.

 

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Gifts From My Kitchen – Smoky Ketchup

I bake about 4-5 loafs of bread every week. You are probably thinking, “How does she still fit in those jeans?”  Well, she doesn’t!

The truth of the matter is – my family barely finishes one loaf.  The rest goes to our friends and neighbors. I love offering gifts from my kitchen.

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Today’s gift is a collaboration project with the awesomest neighbor and his lovely wife.  They own a smoker, which is responsible for the exceptional flavor of our ketchup.

 

/The recipe was adopted from one of my absolute favorites, “Gifts Cooks Love” by Diane Morgan/

Smoky Ketchup

From While Chasing Kids | Condiments and Sauces | American

Say goodbye to Heinz! This homemade ketchup is a parade of flavors and is a great present for any kitchen: carnivore or vegetarian.
It could be stored in a fridge for up to 1 month.
Yields: 3 8-oz bottles

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Low cal Calories 42kcal

fat Free Total Fat 0g

sat-fat Free Saturated Fat 0g

chol Free Cholesterol 0mg

sodium Sodium 419mg

carbs Total Carbohydrate 11g

Serving size 64g Calories from fat 0kcal Fiber 1g Protein 0g Sugar 9g
16 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 medium yellow onion, smoked
  • 2 x 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbs capers, drained
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • Juice of 1 orange, strained
  • Juice of 1/2 grapefruit, strained
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon, strained
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground paprika

Directions

  1. Process tomatoes in a blender on high speed for about 2 minutes or until smooth. Pour processed tomatoes into a dutch oven.
  2. Process onion, garlic and capers in a blender until smooth for about 2 minutes. Add brown sugar, and process to incorporate for about 1 minute. Add the remaining ingredients, and process one more time for about 30 seconds.
  3. Pour the onion blend over the tomatoes and mix with a wooden spoon. Bring the mixture to boil on medium heat. Lower, the heat, and let steam for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until it reaches ketchup consistency; stirring occasionally.
  4. In the meantime, sterilize the bottles or let them go through a full dishwasher cycle.
  5. Using a funnel, ladle the ketchup into the bottles, leaving ½ inch headspace. Wipe the rims and secure the lids. Label, and refrigerate.

Tips

  • Could be refrigerated for up to 2 months.

For free canning labels and gift notes go here.

Special tools:

Russian Friday – Farmers Cheese (Low Fat Version)

Ladies, happy International Women’s Day! Let it be the most beautiful spring day filled with many smiles! My daughter and I are totally prepared to be admired and cherished for the next 24 hours! No doubt the husband and the son are ready to deliver! Wink-wink!

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As always, feeling a bit nostalgic this day, I’m putting together a recipe from my homeland.  OK, I posted it before, but my mom informed me there is a low fat version that works just as well! So, here is a low fat Russian farmers’ cheese. It could be enjoyed on its own, sprinkled over your salads, stuffed into huge dumplings, baked with, and the list goes on and on.

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Don’t be intimidated by the word “cheese”. It’s very easy to make, and requires only about 15 minutes of hands-on time!

Low Fat Farmers Cheese

From While Chasing Kids | Side Dishes | Russian

This homemade cheese is used in so many Russian dishes, there would be enough to fill a cook book. Its consistency is very similar to goat cheese, but the flavor is much milder.

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10 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 liters fatfree milk
  • 2 tbs low-fat sour cream

Directions

  1. Combine milk and sour cream in a large jar (I used 3 Liter glass canning jar). Leave at a room temperature to ferment for 12-24 hours). Cover with a lid but don’t clamp it.
  2. When the milk turns into a clabber of hair-jell-like consistency, the cheese is ready to be made.
  3. Fill a large pot 1/2 way with water and warm it up on the stove.
  4. When the water is almost boiling (about 180° F /approx. 80º C or higher) carefully place the jar with clabber into the pot. It’s ok if the water is below the sour milk level. Let it heat up for about 10 minutes. The milk will start separating into curds (solid) and whey (liquid).
  5. Line up a large colander with a large cheese cloth folded twice. Carefully dump the milk mixture into it and drain. You may have to use a spoon to empty the jar. Tie a knot with a cheese cloth and hang it above a dish or your kitchen sink for a couple hours.
  6. If you don’t fully drain it, the farmers cheese will be very soft and tender, ready to eat.
  7. A drier farmers cheese is perfect for cooking.

Tips

  • Keep an eye on your fermentation process. Try a little bit of the clabber – it should have a pleasant slightly sour taste. Too long of a fermentation could cause bitter clabber; the cheese made with it would have an unpleasant taste.
  • The farmers cheese should be stored in the fridge for a few days, and could be frozen for up to 1 month.

 

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