Grandma Ruth’s Peach Pepper Relish

September 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

Posted by Grace and Katharine

Ruth Snider was not the kind of woman to spend much time in the kitchen. She fed a family of six using recipes from Peg Bracken’s “I Hate to Cook Book” which gave her some more time to focus on her rather illustrious career in paediatrics. There was, however, one delicious recipe that was always a standard when we went to visit and has made it’s way through the generations.

This was the first big batch we’ve canned, everything else has been fairly small, only 6 jars or so. But we made 18 250 ml jars of this relish!

Grandma Ruth’s Peach Pepper Jelly

2 chili peppers
12 red bell peppers, finely chopped (we used a food processor)
12 large peaches (skinned, pitted and sliced)
1 tablespoon salt
2 lemons sliced, remove seeds
1 cup of white wine vinegar
6 cups of sugar

Sterilize jars.

Combine peppers, peaches, salt, lemon slices and vinegar in a large pot. Simmer for half an hour, stirring every once in while to make sure it doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pot.

Remove the lemon rinds and add the sugar. Simmer for another half an hour.

Fill jars and use sterilized lids. Screw lids on with three fingers (not too tight!) and process jars by boiling them completely submerged in water for 10 minutes. Use a jar lifter or tongs to pull the jars out and let them cool completely. Listen for the “snap!” sound of the lids sealing!

The peppers we used were enormous, so we ended up using about 10 peppers to 16 peaches or so. Basically you just want the amounts of peaches and peppers to be fairly equal. As the peaches break down in the heat, the little pepper fragments cling onto the peaches. The rosy relish is beautiful in the jars. Perfect for eating with lean meat or dipping samosas, but you’ll find excuses to put it on other things.

Cost Breakdown:

Red peppers 2.6 kg $20
Peaches (about 16) $2 (We got the peaches from a distribution centre in Niagara)
Green chili peppers $0.10
2 lemons $1.49
Sugar $2.49
White wine vinegar $0.75
Salt ~0
Total: 26.83

17 x 250 ml = $1.58


Simple August Peach Jam

August 28, 2011 § 1 Comment

The same day that we made corn relish, we made pickles and peach jam. Because Katharine and I are nothing if not ambitious.

The peach jam we made was with a low-sugar pectin. What I like about low-sugar pectin is that the jam ends up tasting so much more like fruit than regular pectin. Eventually I’d like to stop using commercial pectin all together, but one step at a time!

 Simple August Peach Jam Recipe

4 cups of crushed peaches (1.5 kgs of medium sized peaches)
1 cup of unsweetened apple or white grape juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 package of no sugar pectin (We used Bernardin No Sugar Needed Fruit Pectin, $2.79)

Sterilize jars; boil jars in water for ten minutes.

In a pot combine crushed fruit and juice and lemon juice. If you want, add ½ teaspoon of butter to reduce foaming (this seemed to work for us) and add the pectin. Mix until pectin is dissolved.

Bring mixture to a full roiling boil, stirring frequently, over high heat.

If you want to sweeten the jam, this is the part where you do it. We added 1.5 cups of white sugar, but you can add up to 3 cups.

Return to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, and boil for three minutes. Remove from heat and skim off any foam.

Fill your jars. This recipe made us exactly 6 x 250 ml jars. Process by putting on sterilized lids (you should boil the two part lids before this step so that they are still warm) and boiling them in a very large pot for ten minutes.

And you have some simple, low sugar peach jam!

Opening a jar, it smells overwhelmingly like fresh peaches. The texture is nice; the chunks of peaches that didn’t quite loose their shape are soft. Lightly lemony and not too sweet, I can eat a spoonful without being overwhelmed by sugar. This is a great basic recipe and I can’t wait to taste it on some vanilla ice cream, or stirred into plain Greek yogurt.

This is our approximate cost breakdown for our peach jam:

Lemon $0.77
Peaches $5.65
Pectin $2.79
Sugar $0.50
Total: 9.71

6 x 250 ml = $1.61 per jar

Cake+Loaf bakery opens today!

August 26, 2011 § 2 Comments

Cake+Loaf Bakery is officially open for business today on Dundurn Street South. Alex and I spoke to owners Josie Rudderham and Nicole Sherman on The Grapevine last year about their support for small businesses in Hamilton and sourcing locally grown ingredients for their baking. The bakery even offers a CSB program where you can sign up for a weekly delivery or pickup of delicious baked goods.

Their space is small but very pretty. They sell Detour coffee, jams and preserves (I spied some delicious looking peach salsa on the shelf), fancy little cakes, pies, drinks (peach soda), sandwiches, breads and pastries.

Today my mom and our friend Matt had the cheddar scones, which Matt proclaimed was “the best scone I have ever eaten.” They were moist and not too dense. I had the ginger cookie ($2) which tasted heavily of molasses, which I love in baking, and was incredibly chewy and soft.

We took home a loaf of cheddar onion beer bread ($5). Let me warn you: this bread is dangerous. It is so fluffy and moist, cheesy and buttery, that before you know it 2/3 of the loaf is gone between my mom and I.

Their regular hours are 7 am – 6 pm Tuesday-Friday, and 8 am – 5 pm on Saturdays. The bakery will be open tomorrow from 8 am – 5 pm, so I suggest you check it out!

Sweet Summer Corn Relish

August 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

“Rule No. One of canning, don’t get chili juice in your eye. Rule No. Two, make sure the lids are sealed.” Katharine Snider-McNair, on her burning eyes as a result of cutting chilies.

Katharine and I made corn relish from a beautiful book that my NYC roommate brought home for me, Jam, Jelly and Relish: Simple Preserves, Pickles and Chutneys and Creative Ways to Cook with Them by Ghillie James.

Corn Relish

5 fresh ears of corn on the cob
2 peppers (any colour), seeded and chopped
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1-2 red chili peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
1 ½ cups cider vinegar
sea salt
½ cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
¾ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon celery seeds

We used yellow peppers, and green chilies since that is what the supermarket offered.

Boil the corn on the cob for 4 minutes and remove from heat. Put 2/3 of the cooking water aside, discard the remainder and let cobs cool. Using a large, sharp knife, carefully cut down the cobs, removing the corn niblets from their husks.

Mix corn niblets, peppers, celery, onion, garlic and chili peppers into a big pot and add sugar, vinegar and reserved cooking water and a sprinkle of sea salt. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally and leave to simmer for 10 minutes.

In a bowl mix flour and spices together. Mix with enough water to make a smooth pourable consistency, and add to the pot. Simmer the mixture for another 15 minutes until your relish is done!

Water bath can your jars: using a funnel pour into sterilized jars, leaving ¼ inch of space from the top of the jar. Use 2-part lids that have been boiled for 10 minutes to sterilize, while they are still warm. Screw on the lids and submerge jars fully in water in a large pot. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Set jars on the counter and wait for that “pop!” sound to let you know they’ve sealed.

This recipe yielded a little more than 5 250 ml jars for us.

When Katharine and I taste tested a spoonful of the relish, we liked the way it tasted so fresh; the corn and celery weren’t overcooked but still had a little bit of a soft crunch to them. The relish is tangy and sweet; author Ghillie James suggests serving it with barbequed burgers or chicken.

We also made a cost breakdown of the recipe so that we could figure out just how much each jar of relish cost us to make. We did not factor in canning equipment, just the approximate cost of each ingredient that we used.

Corn $3.65
Peppers $1.25
Garlic $0.50
Celery seed $0.05
Turmeric $0.05
Celery $0.50
Chili peppers $0.10
Onion $0.60
Flour $0.05
Vinegar $1.00
Total: $7.75

4.5 x 250 ml = $1.72 per jar

Chocolate Zucchini Loaf!

August 17, 2011 § 1 Comment

Posted by Grace

Today I’m headed up to the cottage and I baked some goodies for my friends and I to eat around the campfire. My former neighbour, Mrs. Goodale, grows a big beautiful garden with her friend Rum, and they gave me some beautiful zucchinis. And so I’ve given chocolate zucchini cake a go, something I’ve never before attempted.

One of my favourite food blogs is Simply Recipes, and this is one of blogger Elise’s recipes.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake 


2 1/2 cups regular all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup softened butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups coarsely shredded zucchini
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a larger bowl cream butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gently stir in vanilla and zucchini.

Alternately stir the dry ingredients and the milk into the zucchini mixture.

Pour the batter into a buttered and flour-dusted 10-inch tube pan. Bake in the oven for about 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes; turn out on wire rack to cool thoroughly.

Honestly I wasn’t sure that it was going to be very chocolatey. Only half a cup of cocoa had me tempted to add in some melted semi-sweet chocolate, but I resisted and trusted Elise’s recipe. The result is a mild chocolate loaf, not too sweet, but delicious. It’s not like eating brownies or chocolate cake, but more like a pumpkin loaf.

Organizing for Food Security in the Hammer on Thursday

August 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

Posted by Grace

Check out this event taking place on Thursday at City Hall:

Organizing for Food Security in the Hammer!

Dear: Hamiltonians, Friends, Colleagues, Community Leaders, Gardeners, Teachers, People, Mentors, Hero’s and Agents of Change,

Are you excited, proud or flabbergasted that our City Leaders decided this 2011 season to support Food Security Initiatives by planting vegetables in the front gardens at City Hall………..Amazing right!

Well, if you are excited, proud or flabbergasted, than please join us, as we organize to thank City Leaders and encourage them to continue and support such Food Security Initiatives throughout our beautiful city.

Where: Please join us on Thursday August 18th at 6:30 pm in front of City Hall

Who: Everyone who is happy or inspired about the veggie garden at City Hall and who want to see more veggie gardens throughout the city, should definitely come!

Why: Because we are taking a group photo of everyone who supports this food security initiative (photo will be taken at 7:00 pm)

What: What will be done, with this photo…we plan to send it, with the word Thank-you super imposed on it, with an accompanying letter of praise and encouragement to the Mayor, Councilors and City Manager.

Contact: Theresa

Rainy Day Berry Picking

August 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

Posted by Katharine

Thanks to some good-old-fashioned word of mouth we’ve been introduced to a lovely pick-your-own blueberry farm in Copetown just outside of Dundas. There are rows and rows of bushes covered in plump, ripe berries and the charge is only $4 per litre/quart (about half the cost of what you’d find in an average grocery store!)

Picking your own fruit is a great thing to do with kids, friends, as a date or solo (go early on a quiet morning for some solitude, trust us). It’s simple, provides fresh air and helps us reconnect to where our food comes from. Besides, what could be better than enjoying food at the peak of freshness while also knowing you helped a local farmer keep doing what they do best. If you get tired of eating blueberries straight from a bowl you can try making blueberry jam to top fresh bread or compote to top cereal, yogurt and ice cream. Blueberries also freeze easily and if you’re looking for a way to cool down, add them to a blender with some fresh ginger and apple juice.

So go check it out! The address is 1595 Old Hwy. 99 (map) and there are signs posted along Governors Rd. if you are coming from Dundas. Oh, and this is a bring your own bowl situation. They provide buckets so you know when you’ve picked a litre, but you’ll need something to take your berries home in.