Saturday, July 27, 2013

Cooking For a New Baby

So my cousin and her husband had a baby! (Unfortunately, the baby can't eat real foods yet, but .... soon)

And since I live three hours away, unfortunately I don't have the opportunity to bring them dinner on a regular basis, to make their lives a little easier.  What I COULD do, is make them a bunch of frozen dinners, that they could then heat up whenever they wanted to, and it was almost like I brought them dinner (but on their own sleep deprived schedule, which is probably even better) 

So the baby was born, and the next weekend, I booked it up to New Jersey to make use of my Mom and Dad's kitchen, and prepare a bunch of stuff to make for them. 
All the food before I packed it up! 

I made a bunch of stuff, (obvoiusly) but I only took pictures of the process of one of them, and that's the turkey shepherd's pie. 

The first thing I did was prepare all of the ingredients: Sauteed onions, and ground turkey, and then make a gravy to go with it (a little flour and chicken broth, seasoned, with a dash of half and half at the end to make it creamy) 
First layer!

Then, I did the arduous task of opening a bag of frozen veggies. Guys, my life is hard. So hard. 
Veggies are layered in!

Then, I made my mashed potatoes- Yukon gold potatoes, put through a ricer so that they are nice and smooth, then added butter, half and half, and a good amount of salt and pepper, stirred through until it is the right consistency. 

Shepherds pies ready to go! 

Then I labelled the top of them, with the cooking instructions: 

I made some other stuff for them too: 
 Roasted Veggie Lasagna, and Cold Peanut Noodles (these were for the fridge, not the freezer)

And you can't forget the dessert! I threw a bone to the brand new dad, and made one of his favorites: Banana Pudding. These are nice because you can also freeze them! 

A hat tip to my cousin Kelly, who advised me to use containers that did not need to be washed- I went to a party store, and got these aluminum pans, and they are just perfect- after they are done with them, they can just toss them out! No worrying about extra dishes.

I hope this makes their lives a little easier- I can't imagine how exhausted they must be, with their one hour naps substituting an actual night's sleep. I also can't wait to go and hang out with that kid some more! I think I may be increasing my trips to NJ in the near future :).

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Black Currant Jam- into Jelly

So something you may not know about me is that I love the flavor of black currant.  It started on my trip to Ireland when I was ten, and has not left me since.  Every time I have a friend or relative who goes to Europe, I request that they bring me back black currant flavored things, because that flavoring is not very common over here.  I can find it occasionally, and Trader Joe's recently got a black currant juice that is pretty solid, but finding it in other things is pretty rare. 

And then, at the farmer's market this morning, there they were: tiny little black currants, calling my name. vaaaaaaaal, vaaaaaaaaaaaal! buy usssssssss! they yelled.  Anthropomorphic fruit aside, I knew what I must do. 
Buy the berries. 

And then make some Jam. 

Canning supplies!

prepping for jamming.  I used this recipe, and tweaked it a little (I added some lemon juice, because I like it tart) 

Berries on the boil

Delicious jamming action. 

It was at this point that I realized that a) I couldn't find the thermometer, and b) this jam was really, really seedy.  So I made the executive decision to strain it before I put it into the jars. This resulted way less product than I had intended, but I will guard these jars with my life. 

the top one is just a little tasting amount. 

Bring on the summer of canning!