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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Oh... Hello There!

Hello there Blogosphere... I'm sorry I've been away.  I've missed you horribly.

Ooooh man!  I wasn't kidding when I said back to school = less fun in my kitchen.  It all promptly stopped as soon as term started.  I went from "Feijoa Fun" and "Feijoa Frolic" to "Those Bloody Feijoas" in a matter of weeks.  They're littering the front yard, and I just don't have the time or energy to gather them up to make one last batch of loaf.  I really should though.  It was really yummy.

Today, I tiptoed my way back into the kitchen.  Thought I needed to ease myself back into it... so I made some bread.  I have a love/hate relationship with this bread maker.  My bread never rises.  I was quite discouraged for a while and stopped making bread, but I gave it a go today.  Mostly because I felt too lazy to leave the house to get bread (and I forgot we had a loaf in the freezer) so I thought I'd bake some.  This time, I tried the recipe in the Edmond's Cookbook.  All I have to say is:  I freakin' love the Edmond's Cookbook!

Success!  My first loaf that wasn't thick and dense!  It's risen!

Soft, fluffy, airy, bready goodness.  The crust was the perfect golden - not too hard and crumbly, but not insipid and soft.
Still warm, with a scrape of butter and some homemade apple and feijoa jam. (After trying all my jams, this one is my favourite, as the flavour is the most subtle.)
The house smelled of that beautiful, yeasty bread smell this evening... such a comforting smell on a cold, grey afternoon.  The bread was equally as wonderful with a bit of homemade garlic butter to go with the lasagne I made for dinner.  Bready bliss. 


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Back To Work Tomorrow = Less Feijoa Fun

I had to make up for the lack of feijoa-related activity yesterday, so I went wild this morning!

I baked this recipe for a feijoa, ginger and coconut loaf (my love affair with ginger continues).  The only thing I'd do differently next time is a touch less ginger (I used 2 tbsp - I'd use 1 1/2) or a heaped cup of coconut.  I can't really taste the coconut, and the ginger is super strong (but I do like it!)

Mini-loaf lovin.
I made 6 mini loaves + 1 almost loaf - the recipe makes a lot!  Cooking time was about 20 minutes less than the recipe called for.

A small slice with a dollop of Greek Honey yogurt.  Divine!
See?  Div.  Ine.
And because that wasn't enough, as it baked in the oven and I chatted on the phone with my mum and sister-in-law, I just whipped up another batch of the amazing feijoa, vanilla and ginger jam (as you do.)

I think I'm a bit in love with the combination of feijoa and ginger... How sad I have to go back to work tomorrow!  There are still so many recipes to play with! 


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Feijoa, Vanilla and Ginger Jam (In A Pot)

There was a time in my life when I hated ginger.  There's been more than once where I was out for dinner and couldn't finish my meal, simply because of the gingery taste.

This jam completely changed my mind.  Holy crap!  It's amaze-balls!  The ginger taste is perfect with the feijoa and vanilla.  It's subtle enough so that you only get a hint of ging, but it's definitely there.  And the vanilla... heavenly.  Funnily enough, I never really used to like the smell of vanilla either, but that's also changed recently. 

The stars of the show!  I also used a fresh lemon from my tree.
 After my friend left yesterday, I went out and picked another bag, as I mentioned.
I picked out the most firm feijoas for the jam, as they have higher pectin levels.  I gave the rest away (some to the census guy who came over last night to survey us - there's no WAY he was leaving without a bag full of fruit and the rest went to work today.)

I left work around lunchtime today, just so I could come home to enjoy the last day of my holiday jam making.
A lot of sugar... I find that because I'm more aware of how much sugar is in jam, I'm eating less of it and really savouring what I do eat.  Does that make sense?   This recipe basically had you pop it all on the pot and go with it... pretty easy.
Double bubble toil and trouble...

Glossy goodness.

I tried another jam set test.  I put the plate in the freezer as I was making the jam - after 10 minutes of hard boiling, I put a blob on the plate and stuck it back in the fridge for a couple of minutes.  When I took it out and pushed it around with my finger, it wrinkled and was gooey (like jam is meant to be.)
 
That being said, I'm not sure it's set properly - I've been either boiling my jam too long and it sets too hard or it's not boiled long enough and it doesn't set.  We'll see how it goes once it cools. 

If I wasn't feeling too lazy to wash up the pots I used, I would have promptly made another batch of this jammy goodness!  (Oh, and I'm nearly out of jars...)


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Microwave Jam?

Where did today go?  Can someone please tell me?  Yes, I may have snuggled further and further under my duvet this morning (it was cold!) but still... How is it already late afternoon?

I had such plans for today...  It's not that it was a bad day, it just went a different direction than the day I had planned.  The happiest detour was a visit from a friend and her two gorgeous kids.


Double dose of gorgeousness through the kitchen window!
Cutie!!
The other visitor, our new resident hedgehog, dozing after his fresh feijoa feast.

I had planned to whip up a batch of apple and feijoa jam in the early afternoon, as I had a microwave recipe that as meant to be a breeze.  I had images of me happily bottling up this jam, as my feijoa, ginger and vanilla jam bubbled away on the stove, all while effortlessly entertaining my friend and her kids... I could even sing sweetly and make it all look very effortless and Martha-esque.   

HA!  Not so at all!

I followed the recipe to the letter.  It did not work.  I attribute it to the 'cooking times may vary according to microwave' disclaimer.

It was promising.  I had such lovely firm fruit and gorgeous apples, all happily dappled by sunlight on my kitchen table.

It was lovely sitting in the sunshine while prepping the fruit.
I'm getting a bit fed up with the sideways photos.  Anyways, 2 cups of mashed feijoas, 2 cups of peeled chopped apples and 1/2 a cup of water.  I popped it in the microwave for 20 minutes on high, as per the directions.

Then mash, mash, mash and add 3 cups of sugar.  I also put in three tablespoons of lemon juice.

Stir, stir, stir until the sugar dissolves (it had that lovely, glossy sugar sheen that I'm starting to become very familiar with.)  Pop back in the microwave for 15 min (HA!)
 After about 30 min in the microwave, it still hadn't reached setting point and I got fed up.

I tipped it in my trusty pot, added another squeeze of lemon juice and let it bubble away until I knew it was about right.

Done and delicious.  Unfortunately, I've almost run out of jars now.
Next time, I'll stick to the pot.  I was right to be skeptical of microwave jam... but I suppose it was worth a shot.  Didn't get the other one made though.  Maybe later on tonight?  I did pick another bag of feijoas this afternoon.



Another Fantastic Feijoa Experiment

So I've tried to make something with my feijoas every day so far.  I've also given away more than a couple of bags... Feijoas abound in our humble abode!  I made another batch of jam yesterday and ended up with five more jars.

I thought it time to branch out, so I tried this recipe for preserving feijoas.  I was a bit nervous about it, but I figured I had enough fruit that if I mucked it up it would be no big loss.

The first peeled and halved feijoa.  The first of about forty.
We are not under any illusions that this is healthy.  That's a LOT of sugar.

Sugar dissolved, with the cinnamon and vanilla floating fragrantly around.
After the sugar boiled, I added the feijoas and let it boil again.
Well... all I have to say is:

Oh.  My.  God. 
Louisa smelling and loving the heavenly fragrance.
As it cooked, the sweet aroma of the feijoas mixed with the sugar, vanilla and cinnamon sent Louisa and I into a bit of a tailspin.  She said "I think this is what heaven would smell like."  I reckon she's absolutely right!

Bottled and ready to use.  We (Louisa and I) decided it would be divine over ice cream.  We couldn't let all the sugary syrup go, so I bottled that up to use as cordial.
Yum!  A couple didn't fit in the jars (pity) - naturally we decided to 'test' them.  It was so divine, I actually did a happy dance.  All three of us had very happy mouths (and this was even BEFORE dinner!)
Well worth the effort and ensuing mess (I am not a tidy cook.)  The only question is:  How long will they last?

Tomorrow's plan is to try a feijoa, vanilla and ginger jam.  We'll see how that goes and if it makes me happy dance also... I'm quite excited for my next Kitchen Adventure!



Monday, April 16, 2012

Feijoa Frolic!

It's been so long since I've had a chance to sit down and write about my kitchen exploits.  Thankfully Sadly, the tomato season is over and I have no more (fresh) tomatoes with which to make my chutney.

So now, I'm knee deep in feijoas.  It also known as pineapple guava in the US and Mexico.  Feijoas are a native fruit of South America, but one that has flourished in New Zealand and very well loved.  It's a perfumey, sweet fruit - a bit of an acquired taste - I hated them when I first tried them, but I've come to really enjoy the tart sweetness of them.  Good thing too, because I have many.  You may think I'm exaggerating when I say 'knee-deep' but I don't think I'm stretching the truth at all. 

The top view of the bag I filled yesterday.  This is about 1/3 of what was outside, but the bag was too heavy to keep filling.  It isn't completely full, as I made some jam yesterday.
It is bigger than an average bag, it actually does come up to my knees.  This is the second bag of this size that I've filled this month.  There are MANY more feijoas to be harvested outside... many... many... many.
I spotted some lovely, fat, juicy, plum feijoas in the yard when I went to get the mail, so I couldn't resist trying to make another batch of jam.  I had to test one of course... it passed quality control, don't worry.  (I've already made a batch of feijoa chutney.  It was good, but not my favourite.  I forgot to take photos and blog about it.  I'll probably make another batch for something to do with the fruit.)

Plump, juicy and oh so yummy!
I used a standard jam recipe.  I've learned from my last few experiences that although the recipe is easy, it doesn't mean that the jam will turn out right.  The plum jam was too runny and didn't set (not boiled long enough and went mouldy after it was stored - I think I didn't fill it enough); the tomato and chilli jam was perfect but it also went straight into the fridge once it was cool so I'm not sure if it was right and the feijoa jam I made yesterday was too hard (I think I boiled it for too long.)  Live and learn I guess.  Good thing I'm not short on feijoas to practise on! 

Get some good, meaty feijoas!

Scoop out the insides with a spoon.  You need 500g.  I tried to peel them yesterday but it was too arduous and I couldn't get the sour pith part off without taking out an unreasonably high proportion of fruit, so I went with the scooping.

For some ridiculous reason, the photo uploaded sideways and I can't be bothered to muck around with it to fix it.  500 g fruit to 500 g sugar.  I used regular white sugar today because I ran out of jam sugar (which has added pectin to help the jam set) but maybe that could be part of why it was TOO hard yesterday?

Chop up the feijoas and toss them in a pot on medium/medium-high heat.

Once the fruit comes to a boil, I reduce the heat and let it simmer down about to half the original amount and it's mushy.  This is generally when I use a potato masher to help it along.  As it cooks, try to skim off as much foam as possible.
Add the sugar, stir until dissolved and then let it boil hard for about 10 minutes - stirring often to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Add a tablespoon of lemon juice after the sugar is dissolved.  It's meant to help the jam set.
Jam set test.  Apparently it's set when you put a blob on a plate and can make a channel through it.  I put the plate in the freezer for about 20 minutes beforehand.  I also thought it was done because it coated (and stuck) to the back of a spoon.
Pour into sterilized jars.  I'm hoping these don't go mouldy!  We'll have to eat the one covered with the cellophane disc first, as it isn't completely full and more likely to go mouldy because of how much air is in there.  I also noticed some condensation collecting on the inside of the disc.  Such a beautiful golden colour.  Yum!

When placed side by side, it's easy to see that the one on the right (yesterday's jam) is deeper in colour - a bit burned maybe? (Not quite right, at any rate... but still tastes pretty good on fresh bread with a bit of butter!)

I have to say - it's delicious!  I'm going to take some things to the Sallies in the next day or two and I may see if there are any jars going begging while I'm there.  I wonder how much feijoa is too much feijoa.