Happy Hour

I know I’ve been out of blogging mode for awhile, but we’ve been working on getting our house on the market – it will be for sale this week, just in time for us to fly to Seattle for a week. It’s been hectic. So, in light of that, I figure it’s time for a drink. And since my mint came up like crazy with the heat this week, I figured it’s mojito time.

Not a lot of locals know that we have a rum and vodka distillery right here in Hampton Roads- Chesapeake Bay Distillery. I was “blessed” with a bottle of their small-batch rum a few months ago when I went to visit the Distillery. So between my backyard mint and this “Chick’s Beach” rum, this really is a local imbibe worth sharing.

local yokel mojito

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Snip several stems of fresh mint and muddle in the bottom of a large glass with a spoonful of raw, organic sugar and the juice of half a lime. Fill the glass with ice, then fill the glass 1/3 full with rum, then a jigger of sweetened lime juice, the juice of the other half of the lime and fill the rest of the glass with club soda. Stir well and enjoy.

Cheers!

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Herb Jelly

A few weeks ago my mom, myself and a friend of ours went to an herb preservation workshop where we learned how to make herb vinegar as well as herb infused oils and jams and jellies. I have a jar of herb vinegar stewing away in the back of a cabinet, which I will blog about soon, but it’s so easy to do it’s almost pitiful. In the meantime, our friend Theresa took on the more complicated process of making herb jellies and at a dinner this past week she presented us each with a jar of basil and rosemary jelly. I was so excited to try this flavor combination with anything I could find: fruit, bread, meats, cheese, an old flip flop – whatever!
The whole thing was made even more appealing by just how adorable the jelly was to begin with:

Rosemary and Basil Jelly

So this morning for breakfast, I decided to try it with a slice of multi-grain bread and some fresh, local peaches I got from the farmers market this past week. I know, peaches with rosemary and basil may not be the first thing that comes to your mind, but it should be! This combo was amazing. The heartiness of the bread, the sweet but herbal flavors of the jam and the tart but subtly sweet peaches were perfection. It doesn’t look like much and I realize you can hardly see my bread for all the peach, but seriously – amazing.

Multi-grain bread with herb jelly and peaches.

If you are already making jams and jellies, then add this recipe to your repertoire:

Herb-Apple Jelly

  • 4-5 fresh basil sprigs
  • 1 fresh rosemary branch (not too large or flavor will overpower the jelly)
  • 3 cups unsweetened apple juice
  • 4 ½ cups sugar
  • 3 oz. liquid Pectin (1 pkg.)

Make this jelly with different fresh herb combinations, either basil with rosemary or
thyme with mint. It’s good on toast, and excellent on pork and chicken.

You will need 6 clean (8-oz.) jelly jars and two-part lids (seal and screw-on band). Fill a
large stockpot or canner with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Sterilize jars and
lids. Keep at a simmer while you prepare the jelly.

Tie basil and rosemary sprigs in cheese-cloth. Place in a 5-quart pot along with apple
juice and sugar. Bring to a full boil and continue boiling for 1 minute.

Add pectin, stir well, and boil for 3 minutes. Remove and discard cheesecloth with
herbs; skim foam if needed. (you may also add a teaspoon of butter to reduce foaming)

Pour hot jelly into sterilized jars. Wipe jar rim if necessary, press on lid, and screw on
band. (If there’s any extra jelly, you can enjoy it right away and it will last in your fridge
for a while.) Work quickly but carefully, as the jelly will be very hot. Place jars in
simmering water and raise heat to bring water to a boil. Boil jars for 5-10 minutes, then
remove and allow to cool to room temperature. Leave for 24 hours.

You should hear the jars pop shortly after removing them from the canner. This
indicates that it’s sealed. When cool, the lids should be smooth and flat. Store for up to
a year in a cool, dark area out of direct sunlight.

This recipe and the others we received in the workshop are courtesy of local personal chef and herb-master, Elizabeth Meska. 

 

I can’t wait to try this jelly with so many other things. Anybody have any suggestions?