recipes

Redbuds are beautiful this time of year. You should eat them.

Did you know the redbud is in the pea family? I didn’t until recently, but if you go eat the blossoms, you will believe it. They taste just like peas. Think what an interesting addition to a salad that could be! And after the flowers are gone and they prduce those little pea-like pods, those are edible, too! Just fry them in a little butter. For now, however, I’m content working amongst the bees in order to make some redbud jelly.

redbud jelly recipe

Because, as anyone who has followed this blog since last year knows, I love floral jellies.

I wasn’t so sure about this one. After all, the buds tasted like peas. The infusion smelled like peas. And whoever heard of pea jelly? But I’ll try anything twice. So now for the recipe:

Redbud Jelly

4 cups redbud buds (Make sure you know what you’re harvesting! I don’t know of anything you could confuse with a redbud, but just be sure, OK?)
4 cups boiling water, plus some extra water
8 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 packages dry pectin
8 cups sugar

Procedure:

Place your flower buds in a heat safe dish. Cover with boiling water. Cover and leave for 24 hours.
Strain out the flowers and squeeze out the excess moisture. Add enough water to the infusion to make four cups.
Stir in pectin and lemon juice. Bring to a boil.
Add sugar all at once, return to a boil and boil for one minute. Skim the foam and pour into jelly jars. (I got eight from this recipe.) Process as you would any other jelly in a hot water bath.

I think this is the most beautiful jelly I have made yet. It was perfect. I love the color. The jelly is clear and there are few bubbles. It set nicely, with that perfect jiggle-on-the-end-of-your-spoon consistency. And did I mention what a lovely color it is?

redbud jelly recipe

I left the foam on a plate to cool for our first sample and it was delicious. It wasn’t quite lilac jelly, but it has a nice tangy flavor. A lot of that is from the lemon juice you have to add which gives most of your floral jellies a citrusy taste, but it is definitely a pleasant, light flavor. And it doesn’t taste anything like peas.

Makes me wonder what pea jelly actually would taste like.

Recipe for Queen Anne’s Lace Jelly

Anyone who has been around me here or on facebook for long knows that I love making floral jellies. There is something almost magical about harvesting the essence of the season and packaging up in a jar for later.

recipe for queen anne's lace jelly

One of the first one’s I wanted to try was Queen Anne’s Lace jelly, but that was when I was just starting to read about foraging. And I read about this woman in Iowa who thought she was collecting Queen Anne’s Lace and made herself up a big batch of hemlock jelly.

And that made me nervous. Because what if all along, I’ve been collecting water hemlock to stick in jars of dyed water to show how water moves through a plant? And collecting water hemlock for spontaneous wildflower displays in my window? I mean, I grew up in the suburbs, harvesting food from the grocery aisle. What did I really know about foraging, and edible plants and deadly look alikes?

Except the more I read, the more I was convinced that hemlock didn’t look all that much like Queen Anne’s Lace. It doesn’t grow in the same places. And it stinks. And is irritating to the skin (though the green leaves of Queen Anne’s Lace can be, too!). But Queen Anne’s Lace just smells like carrot. It makes your hands smell like carrot. And it usually has a dark blossom right in the center. It’s sort of purplish. Did you know that? I didn’t know that. I had never looked closely enough at it until I was trying to make sure it wasn’t going to kill me.

Make sure you know what you’re harvesting. And don’t accidentally kill yourself and your whole family with a little forray into floral jellies.

So, Queen Anne’s Lace Jelly.

By the way, I’m kind of a sucker for natural. I don’t add artificial dyes to any of my jellies. Even lilac jelly which would be beautiful if it were a subtle shade of lavender. Feel free to add food coloring if that makes you happy!

Queen Anne's Lace Jelly

Queen Anne’s Lace Jelly

(This recipe is for a double batch and will make about 8 half pint jars.)

4 cups Queen Anne’s Lace blossoms, green stems removed (I just snip with scissors. Don’t worry about separating each individual little blossom.)
4 cups boiling water
8 tablespoons lemon juice
2 packages liquid pectin
8 cups sugar

Rinse blossoms and place in a large glass or stainless steal container. Cover with boiling water, cover with a lid and let sit for 24 hours. This makes the infusion for the jelly. It doesn’t smell as nice as some of the other infusions but don’t worry about it.

Strain the blossoms, squeezing out the excess water, and discard. Add the sugar and lemon juice to the infusion and bring to a boil, stirring continually.

Once it reaches a rolling boil, add the pectin and stir for one minute, skimming off the foam as it forms.

Process like you would any other jelly. Here’s a great tutorial from Owlhaven.

And enjoy a teaspoonful of the summer sunshine on a piece of toast. Maybe it’s because it’s the first jelly I’ve made this year, but the flavor rivals any I’ve made before. It was that good.

I’m sure hemlock jelly wouldn’t have been nearly as tasty.

Other floral jellies I’ve made:

(If you actually read these, you’ll notice that the recipes are pretty much the same. You just substitute whatever EDIBLE blossom for what is in the recipe. I used to use powdered pectin but have switched to liquid because it is more forgiving of doubling the recipe. And all these recipes are doubled.)

Do you harvest any wild flowers or greens for the table? What recipes do you like best?

Lilac muffins with crabapple blossom garnish

Beautiful, delicious and deceptively simple. What more could you want in a muffin? This particular muffin gave me great joy as well, because my daughter made it. My floral obsession is rubbing off.

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk
2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup lilac blossoms and buds
crab apple blossoms to garnish

Preaheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse lilac blossoms and make sure to remove all green parts of the flower as well as any bits of stems or leaves that fell in. Blend butter, sugar, egg and milk. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. Stir dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Fold in lilac blossoms.

Fill greased or lined muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for approximately 30 minutes.

After the muffins are cool, ice with your preferred icing and garnish with crabapple blossoms just before serving. Crabapple blossoms are perfectly edible. They do not, however, last very long. Collect them shortly before you need them and if needed, you can float them in water if they have to wait very long. They are stunningly beautiful when first placed on the muffin, but after an hour, they look pretty wilted.

You could candy them to make them last longer which I’m sure would be stunningly beautiful and delicious as well. But also way too much work for me.

I love them just the way they are.

 

Henbit fritters, a delicious treat from the first greens of spring

henbit fritters“Mommy! Mommy! You should come out and try the honeysuckle. It is so good!”

“Yes, I’ve heard it’s delicious.”

I looked at Mouse, excitedly coaxing me outdoors. I had always wanted to try honeysuckle. So I gathered the children and followed them out the backdoor and up to the playground by the tiny church where we used to live.

“Um, this isn’t honeysuckle.”

She popped a little purple flower in her mouth before I could stop her. Bug and Bear followed her lead as I grabbed their hands and told them to stop.

“You never eat plants if you don’t know what they are.”

“But I do.”

“No, you don’t. You only think you do. I’ll show you a picture of honeysuckle. This isnt it.”

“But it tastes good.”

And such was my introduction to henbit, so called because chickens love it. And it is perfectly edible for humans as well, thankfully. Those little purple flowers are delightfully sweet and with my love of floral jellies, I’ve always wondered what a henbit jelly would taste like. But the flowers are awfully tiny and spaced too far apart for a convenient harvest.

So every spring, my girls sit down by the garden grazing on the tiny purple flowers and I wonder what else I could do with this first green of spring in bloom before even the dandelions.

This year I decided to do something besides wonder.  Instead, we gathered, rinsed and chopped then folded them into a simple batter for henbit fritters. And we served them with the redbud jelly I had just finished processing.

And everyone loved them.

Henbit fritters

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup kefir (or milk)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 cup diced henbit

Stir dry ingredients. Add liquids and stir until smooth. Fold in henbit and fry in butter. Serve with honey, syrup, jelly or whatever you like.

We are rather new to this whole wildcrafting thing and stick to the things I know or are not easily confused with other, less edible plants. Have you ever eaten wild foods? Or what would you like to try?

 

Super Moist Roast Turkey Review and Giveaway

OK, before I get started with this review and giveaway, I thought I would share a couple of tips.

1. When you go to the store for the few things you need for a review of Hellmann’s® mayonnaise, and you forget the recipe, and you call your husband to read it to you, write down everything he says. If you skip what you think is obvious, you might get home without the Hellmann’s® mayonnaise. And beyond requiring a second trip to the store, it would be kind of embarrassing. Because it seems kind of obvious, you know?

2. It doesn’t really matter if your turkey has been defrosting in the refrigerator for several days, you really should check it before 2 o’clock the day you plan to cook it. As much as your children may enjoy helping you roast a turkey at eight in the evening, your Thanksgiving guests may not.

Not that I know anything about that from experience or anything. But the holidays are hectic, and I could see something like that happening. To you. Not me. Which is also to say that it is a good thing this recipe is so super easy and tasty because busy moms have enough to worry about.

Reading over the recipe, I was a little concerned about the mayonnaise. I love mayonnaise on a sandwich with some leftover turkey, but I’ve never had it cooked on the whole bird before. I was pleasantly surprised, however, that there was not any mayonnaise flavor at all to the finished turkey, even when I got bits of the mixture with the turkey on my fork. It just tasted like sweet onion, a bit of thyme and super moist turkey.

All you need to try this Super Moist Turkey Recipe for yourself is:

  • 10 – 12 pound whole turkey
  • 1 cup Hellmann’s® or Best Foods® Real Mayonnaise
  • 1 large shallot or onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary, sage and/or thyme (or one teaspoon dried)
  • 1 envelope Knorr® Roasted Turkey gravy mix, prepared according to package directions

1. Preheat the oven to 425. Remove giblets and the turkey neck. (Don’t throw them out, though. When you are done with the turkey, you are totally going to want to have them for stock. I’ll share my recipe after we’re done eating all the turkey!) Season according to taste.

2. Combine Hellmann’s® or Best Foods® Real Mayonnaise, shallot or onion and herbs in a medium bowl and set aside. Then, starting at the neck, loosen the skin on the turkey and spread 1/2 of the mayonnaise mixture under the skin. (That part is kind of gross. Except I have an eight year old boy who thought that was about the coolest thing I ever let him do in his whole life.)

3. Arrange turkey, breast side up, in a large, shallow roasting pan. (I used my electric roaster and piled vegetables up around it.) Rub the remaining mayonnaise mixture over the outside of the turkey. Tent with heavy-duty aluminium foil.

Decrease oven to 325 and roast turkey 1 1/2 hours. Remove foil and continue roasting about an hour, basting occasionally with its juices, until it reaches an internal temperature of 180.

Let stand covered loosely for 20 minutes before carving. Serve with hot Knorr® Roasted Turkey gravy. And mashed potatoes, of course.

What is your favorite way to prepare turkey?

Just leave a comment to enter the sweepstakes from BlogHer and Hellmann’s® for a chance to win a $100 gift card to www.cooking.com!

Rules:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post

b) Tweet about this promotion, adding @hellmanns to the end, and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post

c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

For more opportunities to win, visit the Hellmann’s Round-up page on BlogHer.com to read other bloggers’ reviews!

But wait! There’s more! (I’ve always wanted to say that.)

You can also try for a chance at winning one of four $250 grocery gift cards each week! Just cast your vote for your favorite turkey recipe at Hellmanns.com to enter to win. If there are more than 10,000 entries, the prize value will double to a $500 grocery gift card!*

For more information on contest or Hellmann’s®products and recipes, visit Hellmanns.com

*No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. The Hellmann’s Turkey Challenge is sponsored by Conopco, Inc., d/b/a Unilever. Open to legal residents of the 50 U.S. & D.C., 18 & older. Begins 12:00 a.m. ET on 9/12/11 & ends 11:59 p.m. ET on 12/5/11. For official rules, visit Hellmanns.com.