Archive for Holidays

Spiced Pear Freezer Jam Recipe

Hello my Green Friends!  How have you been??  To say that I fell off the face of the Earth for a little while seems to be a bit of an understatement, but all is well.  We’ve been super busy getting things done around the house, work’s been getting fairly busy, and we got to take a trip to WI for my honey’s brother’s wedding.  The trip was extremely busy but it was really nice to see the family and visit with some friends.  We were able to enjoy real fall weather while we were up North!  It was in the 50’s during the day, so we got to wear jackets!  That may not sound that unusual but it was a nice change from the 80 degree weather that we’re still getting in FL.  On our last day, we visited an apple farm and got some hot apple cider, apple fritters, apple cider doughnut holes, and some apple butter.  Such delicious fall goodies!  The trip really got me in the mood for fall, even though once we got home, I immediately put on shorts and a t-shirt.

Spiced Pear Jam 1

Over the summer, when the local strawberry farms were in full production, I tried making my first freezer jam and it was delicious!  I used the last of the jam as a filler in a strawberry shortcake style cake recently and knew that I had to replenish my jam stock.  Strawberries are no longer in season, but pears are and they are perfect for that taste of fall that I’m craving!  I’ve never made a pear jam before, so I did a little research and came up with a new freezer jam recipe to try.  I don’t have all of the paraphernalia required to can, so that’s why I stuck with the freezer jam, but I’m sure this recipe would work just as well if you were to can it instead (although the process may be slightly different).

I prefer low sugar jam recipes and discovered that Pomona’s Universal Pectin is highly recommended.  Not only is it good for low sugar recipes, but you can also use honey, agave, maple syrup, stevia, xylitol, sucanat, or even frozen juice concentrate.  It keeps indefinitely, is gluten free, and vegan!  Every package comes with a set of recipes and directions (also available on their website here) and I do recommend you check it out because it does work differently than other pectin since it is 100% citrus pectin with no added sugars, preservatives, additives, or dextrose.

This recipe made 6 cups or 3 pint jars.

Spiced Pear Jam 3

Low Sugar Spiced Pear Freezer Jam

Ingredients

  • 4 cups mashed pears (I used 5 large Bartlett pears)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar (I did use granulated sugar for this recipe, just to keep things simple (since I’m still fairly new to jam making!), but I think experimenting with honey will be next on my list.
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 3/4 cup water (for dissolving pectin)
  • 3 tsp pectin
  • 4 tsp – 12 tsp calcium water (instructions included with pectin)
  1.  Clean your containers.  I used Mason jars, of course!
  2. Prepare your fruit and combine with lemon juice in a large bowl.
  3. Add sweetener, cinnamon, and ginger to fruit and stir well.
  4. Bring 3/4 cup of water to boil.  Put in blender and add pectin powder.  Vent lid and blend 1-2 minutes, until all powder is dissolved.
  5. Add hot liquid pectin to fruit and stir until well mixed.
  6. Add 4 tsp calcium water, stir well.  Jell should appear.  If not, continue adding 1 tsp calcium water and stirring well until jell appears.  Jell may be softer than cooked jam.  (It took the total 12 tsp for me.)
  7. Fill containers to 1/2″ of top, put on lids, and store in freezer immediately.  Store in freezer for up to 1 year.  Keep in refrigerator after thawing.

Spiced Pear Jam 2

My pear jam came out tasting just as delicious as fresh fruit and wonderfully warming with the added spices.  I couldn’t help but make a couple of baguettes to go along with the jam!  This would make a great hostess gift if you’re visiting for the holidays.  Just add a label (you can find some fun, vintage style free printables that you can customize from World Label here) and wrap in a tea towel with a raffia ribbon.

Have you tried making jam?  What are some of your favorite flavors?  I’m suddenly thinking about all kinds of yummy sounding flavors like pear vanilla, peach blackberry, plum cardamom, raspberry lime…

Mother’s Day Eco Gift Guide

Mother’s Day is just around the corner!  Have you already made plans for the mom(s) in your life?  My fur baby (Jack the cat) already gave me the KitchenAid Mixer ice cream maker attachment as a fantastic early Mother’s Day present.  I can’t wait to start experimenting with it (there is so much extraneous stuff in some commercially made ice cream)!  If you have any (healthy) ice cream/sorbet/sherbet/frozen dessert recipes, please share in the comments!  Anyway, if you have an eco-friendly mom in your life or you’re trying to get her to be a little more eco-conscious, here are some ideas for celebrating her this weekend!

Mother's Day Violet

Flowers

Many people order flowers for mom from one of the really well known flower delivery websites (not naming names, you know the ones).  I was horrified to learn recently that they don’t always use local florists (baffles the mind).  Sometimes, the flowers that you order come from hundreds of miles away and are delivered via a shipping company. I’m willing to bet they aren’t buying any carbon offsets to makes up for that kind of transport.  Not to mention the chemical fertilizers and preservatives used on the flowers.  But there is a better way!

  • Check out this list of five online organic florists from ecosalon.  It includes companies that are committed to sustainability, offer free overnight delivery, a small family run farm, and one that’s committed to local education programs.
  • Pick up some flowers from your farmers market or local organic florist and deliver them to mom yourself.  You’ll be helping support local, independent business, buying organic, and saving the shipping!
  • Do you have a garden?  Go pick some stems.  Wrap them in some brown paper and twine for a lovely, handmade, rustic look.  Or make an herbal wreath out of a grapevine wreath and dried herbs from the garden.
  • Does mom have a green thumb?  Instead of flowers, give her a plant.  The choices here are endless.  If mom enjoys fruit, you can get her a fruit tree or even a blueberry bush.  She’ll think of you every time she shops from her garden.  Even indoor plants make for great gifts.  Not only are they beautiful, but they also help cleanse the air.  If you’re crafty, make her a terrarium.  Seed bombs and heirloom seed packets are fun little gifts, too!

Food

Mother’s Day is one of the busiest days of the year in the restaurant industry.  Avoid the crowds and the exorbitant price tag with these ideas.  If mom is a foodie, I’ve got you covered, too.

  • Make it yourself!  Whether it’s brunch or dinner, there are so many amazing, healthful choices for menus for Mom.  She’ll appreciate the effort that went into cooking a special meal for her (especially if you don’t usually do much cooking!), she’ll be able to spend some quality time with her family, and (this is probably a biggie) she won’t be the one doing the cooking.
  • If you do want to take her out, research a restaurant that sources their food locally.  You will be supporting an independent business that also supports local farmers/dairies/etc and you’ll be eating fresh, in season food.
  • Help mom eat fresh, in season food all year long by giving her a membership to a CSA.  I had been a member to a local CSA that would deliver a box of fruits and veggies to my doorstep and absolutely loved it!  The produce was amazingly fresh and delicious and I loved experimenting with new stuff that I had never had before.  Find more information about your local CSA options from Local Harvest.
  • We can’t forget the chocolates here.  If you’re going to get mom the yummy sweet stuff, go with Fair Trade chocolate.  Black & Green is easy to find at most traditional grocery stores and almost always stocked at organic groceries.  They also make cocoa.  I’m just saying.  (If you want to stock mom up, Amazon offers multi-packs.)
  • Instead of just taking mom out to eat or cooking for her, make a day of it!  Pack up some scrumptious foods and take her on a picnic.  You’ll be able to spend time with your other mother, Mother Nature.

Gifts

What kind of celebration would it be without a present?  I am (obviously) a HUGE fan of going the handmade route, but there are plenty of other green options, too.

  • So, you cooked dinner for mom?  Send her home with leftovers in some new glass storage containers (glass helps reduce your exposure to the chemicals that leach from plastic containers)!  We’ve slowly started replacing all of our plastic storage with the heavy duty glass Pyrex containers and they are great!  If mom is more of a vintage kind of girl, hit up your local thrift store or check out Etsy and ebay for old school containers.  Then pack up all of her leftovers in reusable grocery bags.  I have some Chico Bags that I’ve been using for years, I’ve heard great things about Envirosax, or even just a simple, heavy duty canvas tote would be perfect.
  • Send mom for an organic (your skin is your largest organ, after all!) spa day.  I’ve always loved Aveda for massages and treatments.
  • If sending mom for a spa day is a little out of your price range, make her some pampering gifts like a sugar or salt scrub, a bath soak, some beeswax or soy candles, and a lotion bar.  If there are little kids running around, offer up an evening of babysitting services so she can relax and have the house to herself to indulge in her gifts.
  • Is mom crafty?  Get her some supplies for her favorite craft!  Better yet… spend some time crafting with her.  Pick out a project with her, get some supplies, and have her teach you (or you teach her).
  • Make a family scrapbook for her.  Or treat her to a family portrait session with a photographer and have a print framed.
  • Think you’re too old to make mom a card?  Think again.  You can make something quite elegant yourself and mom would appreciate the sentiment of a handwritten note more than anything from the store.