Yesterday's lesson plan assigned me the task of creating loganberry (similar to raspberry) jam and a chorizo and tomato pasta sauce. I am proud to report that the jam came off without a hitch (I even have a picture to prove it!)! Though jam is something I never would have attempted on my own, I can confidently say that I will never buy jam again! Raspberry jam in particular is so easy (if I can do it, anyone can) and so much more delicious than anything you can find in any store. Trick #1: the faster the whole cooking process, the better the jam. Therefore, heat the sugar in the oven before you add it to the raspberries. This allows the sugar to dissolve more easily and more quickly in the berries. Trick #2: do not let the mixture boil until all the sugar has dissolved. Remember making jello as a kid, and not waiting for the gelatin to dissolve before adding the cold water? This is the same principle (I think? At least that's how I am going to look at it). Depending on the pectin levels in the fruit (pectin is what makes the jam "set"), you will boil it for 5-10 minutes and pour into jars immediately.
Et voila! Fresh jam for breakfast every day next week! Now all my friends know what their Christmas presents will be this year!
For the afternoon demonstration, while our teacher described the process of cooking and extracting meat from a crab, a half dozen live crabs, caught that day, crawled all over the counter in front of him. He cooked them by the Humane Society Approved method of immersing the creatures in cold water and slowly bringing them to a boil. Animal Lovers and Crab Eaters alike will agree to this practice, for not only is it better for Mr. Crabs, but also it results in less 'tense' meat. He advised that crabs should always be alive (or just dead) when you cook them, and that they should feel heavy when you buy them (more weight, more meat).
We also learned the art of the roux (both gluten-full and gluten free), tomato puree (for soups and sauces), white soda bread (another easy breezy dish you should try...picture below!), and various crab-centered dishes like a crab and coriander tart and crab cakes.
Some health tips for today:
- Muhammad said that black onion seeds (or Nigella seeds) can cure anything except death. Sprinkle them on salads, over toast, or in tea, and see if he was right!
- Another healing herb is pomfrey (like Mmd. Pomfrey, the infirmary nurse at Hogwarts) - try some pomfrey tea
- Rosemary tea is said to be good for the memory (if you can remember to buy some at the store)...