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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Spreading the Love

For the past year or so, I have been learning the art of preserving from the wonderful women in my "Can-Can Girls" group.  My skills increased with each session,  but perhaps I relied too heavily on the other's expertise to get the job done.  Quite frankly, as much as I liked canning, I wondered if maybe, I was there more for the camaraderie, gourmet lunch and glass or three of wine. 
It is a good thing that I absorbed plenty of knowledge during our group work sessions, because as it turned out, the last time we girls got together, the price of admission, was a dish inspired by a recipe from the book Preserving by the Pint, by Melissa Mc Clellen.  This meant I had can all by myself!

My first three jars of Tomato-Corn Relish.  How cute are these jars?

Never one to miss a party, I dove head first into this charming book on small batch canning.  I chose the Corn and Tomato Relish featured on page ninety four.  With my ingredients and jars purchased, I began my solo canning session early one Saturday morning.  The house was quiet, except for the lovely sound of glass jars, gently clanking against one another in a large pot of boiling water.  I chopped, measured, sterilized, filled, processed and listened for the triumphant popping sound of the jars, sealing.  Success!  I had so much fun making that first batch of relish, that I made and processed another recipe the very next day.  One week later, I found myself teaching a neighborhood friend how to can.  I must have been feeling pretty confident that day, as we put up pickled okra and Spicy Apple Cider and Mustard Glaze  from Preserving by the Pint.  We had a great time and I was happy to be the instructor, rather than the student.  Even more satisfying, was that I feel certain that I have spread the love of canning with my friend. 

Apple Cider Glaze and Pickled Okra
The Glaze will be perfect on a pork tenderloin and the pickled okra is destined to garnish a spicy bloody Mary

Southern Summer Salad: Inspired by the corn and tomato relish
Southern Summer Salad:

1 bag of mixed salad greens
1/2 of an English cucumber, sliced
1 large beefsteak tomato, cut into wedges
1 avocado, diced
2  scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup toasted pecan halves
1/4 cup of cooked and crumbled, proscuitto or bacon
1 half-pint jar of corn and tomato relish*

Place ingredients in a salad bowl in the order listed above.  Toss with a light coating of dressing just before serving.

*1/2 cup of seeded and chopped tomatoes and 1/2 cup of fresh corn kernels may be substituted for the relish.

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon coarse Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons local honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of cayenne
Sea Salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients in a mason, attached the lid and shake it up.

I have certainly found a new hobby to be passionate about!

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