A couple of weeks ago I wrote about an LA Times article on the food aspects of Purim (Preservation Supplement to LA Times Food Section 2/25/10). I suggested using homemade preserves when making Hamantaschen and, although Purim is over, Food in Jars had the same idea (Jam-Filled Hamantaschen). As FiJ says, although Purim "has already come and gone for this year ... there’s no need to wait for next year before making these cookies."
If you're not familiar with "Little Homestead in the City," it is worth checking out. In their own words, they are "Eco-pioneers living a homegrown revolution on a sustainable, real-life original urban homestead in Pasadena, California." Their progress is nothing less than very, very impressive.
They grow most of their own food. Every week (mostly) they provide a complete report of their meals, noting the few foods that didn't come from their homestead. Their latest report covers the past two weeks (Urban Homestead's Weekly Meal Wrap x2). What is interesting to me is the amount of preserved foods that make it into their meals. Fruit preserves, pickled squash, dried tomatoes, pickled garlic, tomato sauce (I'm assuming it is canned from summer), and beans (I assume were dried), were just some of the preserved foods that made into their meals over the past couple of weeks. It's inspirational.
SippitySup goes to the Hollywood Farmers' Market weekly (though, to my knowledge, he's never stopped by my table), and creates some of the most interesting and delicious dishes from what he finds at the market. This week he came across a different variety of kumquat, the mandarinquat (a cross between mandarins and kumquats, of course) and decided to turn it into marmalade (Market Matters- Mandarinquat Marmalade My Newest Quat to Quaff). I'll have to track some down myself, just to taste.
The New York Times has a weekly series called Recipes for Health. Every week they "present recipes around a particular type of produce or a pantry item. This is food that is vibrant and light, full of nutrients but by no means ascetic, fun to cook and a pleasure to eat." This week they make a frittata that features canned tuna (Baked Tunisian Carrot, Potato and Tuna Frittata). I couldn't help but think of All Types of Cooking, and a Whole Lot of Canning Here!'s homemade pressure canned tuna.
I have a passion for preserved citrus and so does Tigress in a Pickle, who shares two differently spiced versions (Persian and Maghreb) of the eminently versatile flavor enhancer (Preserved Lemons Spiced 2 Ways).
What Julia Ate is playing with marmalade before she gets too busy with her garden and raising chickens (Marm: Orange Fig and Orange Earl Grey). One marmalade she added figs to, and the other an infusion of Earl Grey tea (which is one way to get bergamot into your marmalade).
We often thing of adding herbs and spices to change the flavor of jams or jellies, but it is easy to forget that non-traditional infusions are another way of creating new and interesting flavors. Other teas, of course. Green, black and chai are all good ideas. It may sound sort of cheesy, but "Chinese Restaurant Tea" works as a flavor for me, since it brings fond memories whenever I smell it. Coffee and espresso can also make surprisingly good additions to certain flavors. And don't be afraid to go off the beaten path. Consider, for example, kombu. You might get a little sea flavor, but you'll also be getting a lot of glutamic acid, which is a major flavor enhancer you might know as umami.
To make a kombu infusion, also known as kombu dashi, wipe the kombu leaves (easily found in Japanese and Korean groceries) with a dry cloth (do not wash them), place in a pot of room temperature water and bring the pot to a simmer. When it reaches a simmer, turn off the heat and allow the kombu to infuse for ten minutes. Remove the kombu (it can be used in other dishes) and you're done.
The Frugal Fraulein is looking for someone to help her pretty up her blog (now that you mention it ... this blog could use a makeover as well), and she is willing to barter for services (sounds like someone could get some nice preserves if they have some free time and talent) (Blog).