Tag Archives: mint

The Gentleman’s (+ Momma) End of Summer Strawberry Jam (video)

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

If you, dear reader, haven’t noticed how much I enjoy all things strawberry, well, you need to spend more time on this website. It’s summer’s end and not the most traditional time to put up strawberry preserves, especially given that I am presently in Texas. But momma and I discovered some beautiful berries at the local grocery store on sale for a song. Since I sing for my supper, I couldn’t pass up the bargain.

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Momma, Sharon Jo Thompson Taylor, has a backyard resplendent with gifts from the ground. I must tell you I am quite responsible for much of that, but don’t tell her I took credit. Presently she has a sweet mint plant that has somehow been kept at bay and we decided to enhance our jam recipe with some mint and brighten it with lemon peel.

Now, these strawberries are glorious on their own and those enhancements are simply gilding the lily, but it’s kind of like gluing glitter on something and I am always going to do that.

So I give to you, The Gentleman Caller’s (and Momma’s) End of Summer Strawberry Jam.

Here’s what you need:

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  • Mason jars, rings and lids to accommodate about 5 pints of jam
  • 8 cups of cut up strawberries with the green cap removed
  • 7 cups (YES, SEVEN) of granulated white sugar
  • 1 box of Sure-Jell; fruit pectin
  • 2 tablespoons of very finely chopped mint
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon zest
  • 1 pat approximately 1 tablespoon butter

Sterilize your jars , lids and rings by boiling them in a large stock pot for 10 minutes.

 

While killing germs in the above step, in another large stock pot or dutch oven start putting heat on the chopped berries. Take a potato masher and mash the berries to the consistency you like. I enjoy tangible pieces of berry in my jam so I try to achieve a nice ratio of mashed fruit to larger bits. This will give you a shoulder workout.

By this time the lids and rings should be sterile. Use tongs to remove them from the boiling water and place them on a CLEAN towel.

Add the box of pectin (Sure-Jell) to the mashed fruit with the pat of butter. This is going to keep the foam to a minimum.

Crank up the heat and get the berries to a rolling boil. A rolling boil is a boil that persists while stirring. Once that is achieved, add the sugar swiftly. I know this seems like a sh** ton of sugar – it is. If you don’t use this much it will not set up. Let me repeat, It Will Not Set Up. And you will have already gone to all this work!

Bring the mixture back to a full rolling boil for precisely one minute. Remove from heat. Skim any foam with a slotted spoon. Toss in the lemon zest and mint; stir.

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Ladle the boiling hot lava berry mix into the prepared jars. It is VERY hot! If you have silicon hot pads, use them. They rinse clean the most easily. I didn’t have a funnel on hand so I sliced a soda bottle in half, washed it up, and it did a  fine job. Plus I didn’t have to clean it up! Leave about ½  inch from the top when filling; wipe any jam off the lids if you spill.

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Tighten lids and bands on the jars.

Bring the water you used to sterilize the jars back to a simmer. If you have a rack to put on the bottom, great. If not, get some extra rings and put those on the bottom to keep the jars off the metal pot surface. Put the jars in and cover the tops with at least an inch of water. Bring to a solid boil.

Process your jam in the boiling water for 10 minutes. After that, remove them carefully from the cauldron of hot water and set them right side up on a towel. Allow to remain upright and cool for 24 hours. You’ll hear the lids give a cute little <pop> as they cool. That is a good thing! It means they’re sealed. If any don’t pop, store in the refrigerator and use within two weeks.

This jam is so good that my mom and stepdad kept getting into the leftover with their spoons and finally broke down and went to the store for a baguette!

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Finally, there’s an art to selecting the right jar. This is a special project and you should want to use special jars. Mom actually played a key role in this one; she selected very cute ½ pint jars and we decided they should definitely be labeled as well. The flourishes add to the deliciousness of the product, whether you realize it right away or not. Your friends will be impressed, so do it right!

Tell me how you do with this in the comments!

Out for now,

The Gentleman Caller

 

The Lover’s Mojito (video)

Printable PDF at the bottom of the page!

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

I had my best girl, Kelly Felthouse, over for brunch yesterday morning and we had a delicious balsamic pineapple salad (see recipe). I was about to start putting away the leftover and she said, “You could make this into a cocktail. Like a mojito!” Genius.

So we did. Here are the results.

What you need (for 2 cocktails):

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  • 1 cup (scant) leftover balsamic pineapple salad
  • 5 sprigs fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • seltzer
  • 4 oz Malfy Italian gin
  • 2 oz limoncello
  • square ice cubes

Put 2 tablespoons of sugar in a shallow bowl or plate. Take 2 rocks glasses: dip rim in the pink liquid from the leftover salad, then roll the rim in sugar.

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Go pick some mint.

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In a jar or pyrex or sturdy glass, add the leftover rim sugar to the leftover salad. Add the mint sprigs.

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Muddle away. Get it all good and macerated. Add the gin and limoncello. Dole over ice into the sugar-rimmed glasses.

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Top with seltzer and give it a stir.

Cheers! A perfect summer cocktail. When I was naming this, I had to give a nod to my KelKel. In Trip of Love, Kelly sang the Lover’s Concerto after meeting my character. So I present to you THE LOVER’S MOJITO!

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Cheers to friends – the new ones and the old. And to you for reading. Till next time.

The Gentleman Caller

THE LOVER’S MOJITO

Balsamic Pineapple Salad – More acid than a 60’s flashback (video)

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Now that Trip of Love has closed (sadly) and I am taking a tiny break, the weekend is for brunch. Hell, any time is for brunch. Who doesn’t get down with brunch fare?

Pineapple is one of my favorite fruits; number two behind cherry. Even though it is a huge pain in the ass to cut up and leaves little black things that resemble mouse shit on your cutting board, that sweet tart acidy flesh makes everything ok.

I didn’t want to serve a block of straight up pineapple today, so I set the wheels in motion.

Here’s what I ended up with.

What you’ll need:

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  • one ripe pineapple
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup(ish) fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 tsp citric acid
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar **see note at the end
  • at least 5 sprigs of fresh mint

Spread the blueberries on the bottom of a small saucepan; cover in honey. Add juuust enough water to cover (appx 1/3 cup). Crank up the heat. When a simmer is achieved, reduce heat and allow to cook.

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Here come the knife skills: peel the pineapple, core it, try not to eat it. Good luck. I like my pieces cut into 1/4 inch slices with about an inch of width. Sprinkle the citric acid on the chopped pineapple. By the time you finish that, the blueberries should be cooked. Mash them with a fork. Allow them to continue to reduce. If it looks dry, add a splash more water. You do not want it to be watery. You want it to be syrupy. A good test is seeing if it just coats the back of a spoon.

Once achieved, take the blueberries off the heat and stir in the 2 tablespoons of balsamic.

Most likely there is some syrup residue on the sides of your sauce pan. We want that. Put the pineapple into the sauce pan and let it get all that syrupy syrup all over it.

Chop your mint pretty finely. Toss it in.

Put this all in a bowl or serving dish and allow it to cool before serving.

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Just a hint: if you aren’t serving cheesy eggs, grab some chèvre, put it down on your serving plate and put this all over the top. Heaven.

Can you believe this is good for you? Shhh, I never said that.

Bye for now.

The Gentleman Caller

**Balsamic vinegar comes in a multitude of varieties. This recipe doesn’t call for a tart screw top bottle variety. The bottle should be well aged and have a cork. It doesn’t need to be super expensive, but it should be corked.

Pairings: works beautifully with Italian Brunch Pudding.

 

 

Just Hanging out on Sunday (of a fourth floor window)

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Happy Sunday morning. Sunday is my favorite day of the week; one and done at Trip of Love and then party time! This particular Sunday morning I am skipping the gym and enjoying the break in the oppressive heat to plant my window boxes. I assembled the boxes and filled them with dirt earlier in the week – you can see that article here, too.

So, with a cup of coffee in one hand and Country Legends 97.1 streaming through my bluetooth, it’s time to get our hands dirty.

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Earlier in the week I went around town and sourced my plants. I ended up with the following:

  • Basil
  • Marjoram
  • Dill
  • Flat Leaf Parsely
  • Cilantro
  • Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Lemon Thyme
  • Thyme
  • French Lavender
  • Sweet Potato Vines
  • Geraniums (for color)

Different plants like varying degrees of moisture, and for that reason I grouped the more tuberous, leggy things together (the first six herbs) and the woodier herbs together (the next 5). I also dropped a sweet potato vine and a geranium in both boxes for color and aesthetics. Yes! geraniums are basic, but the petals are edible. I wanted marigolds – also edible and a natural insect repellent – but sometimes you use what you got.

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Get those suckers in the dirt. Leave ample room around them, and encourage the ones that cascade to do so. Be sure and plant the vine near the edge. It will cascade spectacularly. To avoid transplant shock really give them a solid watering once they’re in the dirt. You will eventually need to spike the basil if you choose to plant that, but that’s down the road. Mint is very leggy and can get aggressive; you’ll want to harvest it whether you choose to use it or not. Give it to your mojito loving friends!

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OOOWEE the Oak Ridge Boys are singing to me! Time to warm up for the show. Enjoy your beautiful boxes and start planning how you’re going to use your window box bounty! The Gentleman Caller will continue to share articles and ideas about how to creatively use your home-grown herbs.

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The Gentleman Caller signing out.

xoxo