Tuesday, November 25, 2008

jam time

If you happen to have scientists for friends and about 10 pounds of free grapes, I highly suggest making white grape jam. Real grape jam tastes like summer and sunshine, not purple.

What you need:

mason jars
a lot of grapes picked off the stem
juice of 1 lemon

cheap vodka
a lighter

What you do:

Put a plate in the fridge. Throw grapes into a big pot and mash them up. Add lemon juice. Cook over medium high heat for a long time, stirring continuously. Will bubble and hiss and threaten to burn your delicate arms.

If you are a food scientist, consider using a candy thermometer and pH paper to deduce whether any sporulating microorganisms will survive your brew.

When your jam mixture seems jam-like, drop a spoonful onto that plate you put in the fridge, chill it for a few minutes, then see if the jam is the consistency you want. If it's too runny, cook down longer.

When it's ready, pour into mason jars, screw on lids, and submerge in pot of boiling water for 30 minutes. Let sit overnight and see if your jars seal. Keep jam refrigerated.

**Sanitation Bonus Feature!**

Did you know that if you buy Taaka in $2 quantities it actually comes in a glass bottle? Fancy.

Wash out jars with hot water and soap, then fill with a dash of vodka and light on fire. Dim the lights for maximum mood effect.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


In the past, I've had trouble with roasted pumpkin seeds tasting a bit off or burnt despite my best effort to keep an eye on them while toasting.

The standard drill is to coat seeds in butter/oil, sprinkle with flavorings of choice, and bake. It occurred to me that the oil might be developing a rancid flavor while being heated in the oven, so this time I omitted it entirely, and took a page from granola-making and dropped the temperature for a more gradual drying process. The moisture on the raw seeds was enough to get the seasoning to stick, and efforts were rewarded with nutty, crunchy seeds. I found that the different flavors came out more clearly sans oil, too.

Roasted Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

Heat oven to 300F. Spread raw seeds from a pumpkin out over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with sugar, salt, cinnamon, and cumin. Bake 20 minutes, stir seeds around, add more seasoning if needed, then return to oven for another 25 minutes, or until they taste toasty and done.