The Gift of Jam

Since I start making jam in late spring, by this time of year I have a few varieties. I always like to give some jars to special friends to enjoy.

Below is a simple way to package it up. I included peach jam, strawberry and red grapefruit marmalade.

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Chicken Stock

Whenever I roast a chicken, I save the carcass and freeze it. After I have about two or three in the freezer, I make chicken stock.

Here is my recipe.

Two to three chicken carcasses (thawed or frozen)
2 carrots coarsely chopped
1/2 chopped yellow onion
2 stalks of coarsely chopped celery plus celery leaves (loads of flavor)
2 or 3 sprigs of fresh parsley and thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Place carcasses in a deep stockpot and fill without enough cold water to cover about two inches above the carcasses. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and add chopped vegetables removing any scum that rises to the top of the stock. Cover and simmer for two to three hours. Check the stock every half hour or so and add more water, if necessary.

Cool to room temperature and strain into a large bowl. Place stock in refrigerator overnight. A layer of fat will form over the stock. Remove it with a shallow spoon and dispose of it or freeze it for another use. (It is great when making home fried potatoes.) You can then either use the stock at this point in time or freeze several portions in small containers.

I always have chicken stock on hand in the freezer for soups, sauces or risottos.

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Barbecued Chicken

Tonight I decided not to bother with turning on the oven and heating up the kitchen.

I have a “Big Green Egg” so I got the charcoal heated up and decided to barbecue a chicken.

Here is the recipe.

1 roasting chicken
half a sliced lemon
fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

Wash and dry chicken. Stuff cavity with lemon and fresh thyme. Cover the skin with olive oil and salt and pepper. I have a chicken “impaler” which I stand the chicken up on and then place on the grill. Barbecue over a fairly high heat until the breast meat is around 160 degrees and the dark meat around 180.

Let the chicken rest for about fifteen minutes before serving and carving.

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Recovering the Kitchen Chairs

Earlier this week I went to the fabric store and purchased new fabric for my kitchen chairs. This is a project that I do every few years. For some reason even though I did them last summer, they were really tired looking.

All you need is fabric, a staple gun with shallow staples, sharp scissors, pliers and either a good screwdriver or a cordless drill/driver kit. This is one of my favorite tools for little projects around the house that I end up doing myself.

I used the pliers to remove the old fabric from the seats and pull out the old broken staples that were sticking out.

This is an almost all-day project, but worth the effort when it is done.

I used Scotch-Gard Fabric Protector when I finished to protect the fabric from any “accidents” that might occur.

If your chairs look tired and the seats are removable, give this project a try.

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Pasta al la Checca

This is a summer-time standard recipe that is quick and easy. Tonight I am making it for two. Here is the recipe

2 diced Roma tomatoes
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 cup of chopped Buffalo Mozzarella
1/2 cup chopped basil leaves
1/2 cup good quality olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

I usually put all of the above ingredients in a bowl and mix gently. You can make this hours ahead and store at room temperature covered with plastic wrap.

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