Homemade strawberry jam

Yesterday morning we drove to a farm just outside Montreal to pick fresh strawberries. Making strawberry jam once a year is part of my beginning-of-summer routine. If you’ve never tasted fresh jam before, there’s nothing like it. And if you’ve never made jam before, I have a few pictures to inspire you to try 🙂

Head off to your nearest U-pick strawberry farm.(Or you can buy your berries at the grocery store or farmer’s market.)
Pick at least 4 quarts (4 litres) to make two batches of jam.We picked one basket for jam, and a second basket for eating.
Try not to get carried away!
There are always more berries hiding… you can’t take them all home.
Jam is really easy, you just need a big pot, some Certo (pectin), and some sugar. Add rhubarb if you’d like to make a tangy strawberry-rhubarb jam.
Get your glass jars out of storage (or buy a new box).I like these 2-cup jars, not too big, not too small.
Wash the jars and the lids in hot soapy water.
After you’ve washed your jars, put about 1″ of water in each, put on a tray, and stick in a warm oven to sterilize while you prepare the berries.
Rinse berries, remove the green stems, and put a few in a big bowl.Crush in small batches with a potato masher, or a pastry blender.
Measure out the crushed berries. My recipe needed 4.5 cups of squished berries.
Make sure your pot is big enough for the jam to double in size while it is boiling. It’s like a scene from a movie!
When the jam is cooling, skim the foam off the top with a metal spoon.
If you have a funnel, it makes getting the jam into the jars just a little bit easier.
After you’ve put the lids on, turn the jars upside-down for 15 minutes (set your timer). This prevents the fruit from quickly settling to the bottom of the jar.
Now that you’re finished, you just need to decide who you’re going to give them to as gifts…

The recipe I use for strawberry jam and for strawberry-rhubarb jam is from the inside of the Certo (pectin) package. I’ll tell you one thing about making homemade jam, once you get started, it’s hard to stop! There are recipes for blueberry jam, crabapple jelly, and orange marmalade…

If you have any jammy questions, just send me a note. You can always reach me at Shelley@OneRoastChicken.com.

All best wishes, and bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu, Owner & Head Chef
www.oneroastchicken.com


“I love the pictures! I made the roast chicken and had a friend over for dinner, and it was totally successful and delicious!” (T. Williamson, Georgia)

“Successful Home Cooking” is selling like cold lemonade on a hot day! OneRoastChicken’s new publication, “Successful Home Cooking” is now available. Not just another cookbook, these are cooking lessons in full-colour delivered right to your kitchen. All recipes include pages of colour photography and step-by-step instructions.

And to keep you on budget, every recipe includes the price per serving. How about Apple Pie for One for $1.23 per serving? Or Lasagne $2.44 each?

Order your copy of “Successful Home Cooking” now…

It comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee. Your friends are going to say “WOW, did you make this?”

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Banana bread for the homeless

 

hen I first moved to Montreal four years ago, I was searching for a local community shelter where I could do some volunteer work. All of my Montreal contacts said the same thing: “Chez Doris.” It’s a daytime drop-in place, to get off the street and get inside, located in downtown Montreal. I went for a tour and was impressed with the sunny inside spaces, the sewing room, the ‘shop’ where visitors can pick out clothes, kitchenware, and bedding. A nurse is periodically onsite to answer questions and check on regulars. The day I was there, a group of women sat around a giant old TV set, all of them knitting.

After I made my first cash donation, a newsletter came in the mail. It was around Christmas, and there was a section in the newsletter listing non-perishable gifts we could drop off: deodorant, toothpaste, socks, winter coats. Then my eye skipped to “baked goods and desserts.”

Really. Did they want donations of food?

I called Chez Doris and spoke with a lovely bilingual receptionist, who assured me that yes, in fact, they did want food. I still wasn’t convinced. “Are you sure you wouldn’t rather have money?” I asked.

“Our kitchen is very busy,” she said. “We provide breakfast and lunch to over 70 women every day. The cooks don’t have time to make a lot of desserts. If you want to donate something, please bring enough for 50-70 people to share.”

Gulp.

I was single then, and new to the city, and happy for a project. I dedicated several Friday nights to making banana bread for Chez Doris. They’re easy to make, with only 6 ingredients, and are easy to package in plastic wrap and then tinfoil before I pop them in the freezer. Once I have 3 or 4 loaves, I pack them in the car and deliver them downtown.

The greeting I receive when I show up at the door with a bag of baking is always the same: “Great! We’ll use these this afternoon for prizes in Bingo… We’ll eat these today. These will certainly be appreciated.”

When I started dating AndrĂ©, I continued the routine of making banana bread whenever there were 3 dead bananas in the kitchen. And he learned to ask (in a tiny voice) if I was making them for ‘us’ or for les sans-abri (the homeless). He didn’t want to eat more than his share, but his eyes were always wide when I told him I was baking them for us.

OK. So here’s why I’m telling you this story 🙂 I wanted to find some way to tie in the work that I was doing for Chez Doris with One Roast Chicken. So when I launched the illustrated cooking lessons “Successful Home Cooking,” I decided that for every print book sold, I’d make a banana bread for Chez Doris. Imagine the look on their face now when I arrive with my bags…

 

Now I know I’m making you hungry, and you’re saying “where I get my hands on one of these banana breads?” For the next 6 days only, if you purchase a print copy of “Successful Home Cooking” I will send you — free of charge — a bonus illustrated lesson for my banana bread, so you can make your very own! It’s simple with only 6 ingredients, and adapts very well to muffins — which can be frozen for single servings. It’s cheap to make (3 dead bananas, small bit of margarine, flour, baking soda, 2 eggs). And the illustrated lesson will be yours FREE if you purchase your copy of “Successful Home Cooking” in the next 6 days.

One last thing.

I got an email from Stacie on Wednesday: “I homeschool my 2 sons, and they LOVE to watch cooking shows, so, naturally I am trying to teach them to cook. Your book is fantastic in that it is illustrated all along the way, so they can double check what they are doing while they are progressing through the preparation. I would love to have your new book, but it’s just not in my budget.”

How could I resist? Her kids NEED to learn to cook, to measure, to read, to follow-along.

So I created a 4-payment plan for “Successful Home Cooking.” Now for about $25 you can begin cooking right now, and pay the rest off over the next 4 months.

OK, that’s it. What a long letter! Have a great week. Here’s to warm summer days, to kids cooking, to banana breads, and to the look on the receptionist’s face at Chez Doris when I arrive next weekend with … how many banana breads will I have with me? 5? 10? 30? I’ll keep you posted. I’ll take pictures.

All best wishes, and bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu,
Owner & Head Chef
www.oneroastchicken.com


Just a quick note about a movie …

Hi there,

I’ve only got time for a quick message, how is your Wednesday going? It’s gigantically hot here in Montreal this afternoon (39°C / 103°F) and we’re waiting for the thunderstorms to start…

Sorry for such a short message, but I wanted to get this off to you RIGHT NOW before the power flickers off, as it always does during a big storm … I’ve put the finishing touches on a lovely movie for the One Roast Chicken site. Do you remember home cooked meals? http://www.oneroastchicken.com/movie.htm

I personally love the picture of the kid eating spaghetti 🙂
http://www.oneroastchicken.com/movie.htm

It takes a few seconds to load, but it’s worth the wait.

All best wishes, and bon appetit!

Shelley

ps/ Stay tuned for this weekend’s cooking letter – it’s all about banana bread!

Homemade lemonade concentrate

lemonade with cherrieslovely glass of lemonade, pull up a seat outside, find a place in the shade if you can. Put your feet up, and put the sunglasses on, flip through the pages of a magazine… yes, it’s summertime. And as the weather gets warmer in this part of the world, my little family of two can go through a lot of cold drinks in a day. If you’ve got a few kids, or want to go on a picnic, or take a daytrip to the beach – well, before you know it, you’ve spent a fortune on artificially flavoured, coloured water.

OK. So this week I’ve been working on the cure for Kool-Aid. (Or, does anybody remember Tang? Do they still make it? It was an astronaut-inspired ‘orange’ drink that was around a lot when I was a kid.)

 

lemonade with raspberriesI thought it was going to be easy. But do you know how many different recipes there are in the world for lemonade? Hard to believe it’s so complicated when there’s really only three ingredients: sugar, water, and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

First things first. The lemons. Sometimes they’re on sale for ridiculously cheap prices. So I thought I should create a recipe that makes frozen lemonade concentrate rather than lemonade, so that you can make the concentrate when lemons are on sale.

 

Recipe:

In a saucepan, stir together 1½ cups of white sugar (375 mL) and 1 cup (250 mL) of water. Heat until the mixture boils and the sugar is dissolved. Let cool.

Meanwhile, juice 8 medium-sized lemons until you get 1½ cups (375 mL) of juice. You may need to strain your juice if you have pits or too much pulp. Once the sugar syrup has cooled a bit, add the juice, stir, and then put in a plastic container with a lid in the freezer. This is about 3 cups (750 mL) worth of concentrate. Freeze solid. Can be stored for up to 6 months.

On a hot sunny day when you feel like a lovely drink, defrost the concentrate. To make a big jug, mix the entire 3 cups (750 mL) of concentrate with 3 cups (750 mL) of water. Fill glasses 3/4 full, and top with ice cubes or fizzy soda water. To make only one glass, combine equal parts concentrate with water, and keep the rest of the concentrate in the fridge for later.

You can freeze raspberries, blueberries or cherries in ice cube trays to add colour. Fill the trays halfway with water, put in the fruit (which will float), and freeze. Once solid, you can top up with additional water to cover the fruit, and freeze again.

Variations: Mix lemonade with cranberry juice and soda water … mix equal parts iced tea with lemonade … float a bit of rosemary in your lemonade … mix lemon and orange juice to make the concentrate … grate a bit of the peel into the concentrate to intensify the lemon-y flavour, and strain before serving … add a shot of your favourite alcohol (tequila, vodka , or white rum)…

And congratulate yourself. You’re not drinking a lemon-lime mix that is “10% real juice”. You’re drinking the real thing 🙂

Thanks and bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu, Owner & Head Chef
www.oneroastchicken.com


“Successful Home Cooking”
is selling like mad!

T. Williamson (in Georgia) says:

“I love the pictures! I made the roast chicken and had a friend over for dinner, and it was totally successful and delicious!”

OneRoastChicken’s new publication, “Successful Home Cooking” is now available. This is not just another cookbook. This is a cooking school in full-colour delivered right to your kitchen. All recipes include pages of colour photography and step-by-step instructions. And to keep you on budget, every recipe includes the price per serving. How about Apple Pie for One for $1.23 per serving? Or Hammy Cheesy Pasta for $2.35?

Order your copy of “Successful Home Cooking” now…

 

Easy family dinners

Yes, it’s finished, yeah hooray. The collection of recipes that I’ve been working on for you, for over 6 months, was completed Friday June 8th. And everyone who pre-ordered a copy has already received their volume of “Successful Home Cooking.” Have you received yours?

I thought it was only going to be 95 pages, but it kept growing and growing –– there was so much great stuff to include — that the document grew, and grew to 122 pages long!

It’s been quite an adventure putting this together. With suggestions from all over the globe (chicken tandoori), and readers sending me their wish lists for perfect lasagne, for a great spaghetti sauce recipe, for a fish recipe that is cooked perfectly, for apple pie that is sweet and sour and has a rich crumbly top, and for easy meals that come together with regular grocery store ingredients…

Well, you don’t have to listen to me 🙂

You can read what Dawn wrote:

“Dearest Shelley,

Thank you so much for sending me the pdf version of your book. Was I ever pleased when I came across your site two weeks ago. I immediately signed up for your newsletter and what excellent candor! It is so wonderful to have an email from a real person in my inbox every week.

I agree with you about your last email. I have been pulling my hair out in the kitchen because once I had settled on a free recipe [out of thousands] from the internet, it almost always turned out badly.

All I want are some down-to-earth recipes from somebody who has tried them and say they work.

Yours is the first cookbook I have ever bought — mine have all been passed down — and I don’t find my current recipes very practical because they are for six to eight [my Grandmother had a big family] and I am only cooking for three.

I am the kind of person that usually cooks meals that include all the food groups already [fajitas, stir-fries etc.] because I am panic-stricken about side-dishes. I will panic no more, however, because you have saved me the grief and simply told me what to include as a compliment to the meat dishes.

The book is comprehensive, the recipes interesting, mouth watering, the ingredients are available. To boot, you have included a price list of each recipe.

You have taken all the major kitchen concerns into consideration, yet kept it simple without making me feel stupid. What this cookbook is, really, is a cooking class with enough good solid recipes for me to keep busy for some time. The kitchen is no longer a place to fear, but a place to rejoice. I am all praise, Shelley — my only complaint is not finding you earlier!

With gratitude, Dawn (in Calgary, Alberta)”

 

Check out OneRoastChicken’s new publication, “Successful Home Cooking” which is now available for order. This is not just another cookbook. This is a cooking school in full-colour delivered right to your kitchen. All recipes include pages of colour photography and step-by-step instructions. And to keep you on budget, every recipe includes the price per serving. How about Meatloaf with Spicy Ketchup for $1.32 per serving? Or Chicken Tandoori for $1.81? Order your copy of “Successful Home Cooking” now…

Thanks and bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu, Owner & Head Chef
www.oneroastchicken.com

“I won’t pay for recipes!”

Lise in England writes: “There are a lot of cheap people out there. And there are so many free recipes online that people won’t want to pay for them.”

I understand Lise’s point. There are in fact billions of recipes online. Let’s take meatloaf as an example. If I go to epicurious.com, and search for meatloaf, there are 48 recipes. Yikes, how could I pick one? I start reading through the first two or three. The first recipe uses oatmeal (yuck), the second one has a list of ingredients as long as my left arm including white wine, and the third recipe also uses oatmeal (what’s the matter with these people?) and calls for something called ‘meatloaf mix’. Now, I don’t know about you, but without a definition, I’m not exactly sure what meatloaf mix is …

Now pretend you’re my ex-boyfriend for a minute, you can picture him – he’s the one with lots of disposable income but for whom cooking wasn’t one of his greatest strengths, although eating in restaurants was. Imagine you’re him, this guy with cash, who finds cooking to be a chore, who says “let’s just order in.” His favourite at-home meal? Meatloaf. But he can’t cook it himself. Never learned how. So, if you’re him, and you go to epicurious.com, and you start looking for a meatloaf recipe, you’d be overwhelmed in about 2.5 seconds.

OK, so to get back to Lise’s email. What she sees as a downside, I see as a problem to be solved. Indeed, the problem is that there are soooo many recipes online, but are any of them any good?

Are these recipes fully illustrated with step-by-step instructions, foolproof, with full colour photography? Do these millions of online recipes come with the email address of a breathing human where you can send your questions if you get into trouble?

Try to imagine if Martha Stewart actually cared if someone could follow her recipes and successfully get dinner on the table night after night. Imagine if Martha Stewart created recipes that used only regular grocery store ingredients. Imagine if every recipe included how much it cost to make per person.

And what if LOTS of the recipes included a mini-recipe version… how to adapt the ingredients and timing to make the same meal for one (or 2 people) (instead of the 4-8 people most recipes feed).

The new book by http://www.OneRoastChicken.com isn’t a cookbook. It’s a cooking school. It isn’t even called a cookbook. It’s called “Successful Home Cooking.” Because I actually want you to be successful, and I’ve done everything in my power to design and create the best product for you so that you can be successful.

Here’s what Priscilla said after she made the meatloaf recipe in “Successful Home Cooking”:

“I really should enter therapy because of my meatloaf and grisly bologna experiences as a child.

I made your meatloaf tonight, Shelley. It tasted unlike any other meatloaf I have ever eaten in my life …… GOOD ! It was more like patĂ© than the chunky dry square hamburger I usually concoct …

I got a little worried when I started your recipe – it started off really smooshy and then all of a sudden it all glued together like really light bread dough. Must have been a combination of some sort of chemical reaction, patience, and following the recipe. I have always balked at the idea of smothering meatloaf in ketchup – but your “spicy” ketchup has a little more class. And it worked for the potatoes too.

I like the details you give: the REASONS for doing things and EXPLANATION of why you do something. (Like don’t reheat in the microwave unless you want to eat sponge.)

I can’t wait for leftovers tomorrow and for more recipes.”

To make this recipe and more…

Check out OneRoastChicken’s new cookbook, “Successful Home Cooking” which is now available for order. This is not another cookbook. This is a cooking school in full-colour delivered right to your kitchen. All recipes include pages of colour photography and step-by-step instructions. And to keep you on budget, every recipe includes the price per serving. How about Meatloaf with Spicy Ketchup for $1.32 per serving? Or Chicken Tandoori for $1.81? Order your copy of “Successful Home Cooking” now…

Thanks and bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu,
Owner & Head Chef
www.oneroastchicken.com


Why does food taste better outside?

It’s Spring where I live, and Spring is the perfect time to break out of our regular food routines. Away with the heavy table cloths, the dark napkins, the dimmer switch in the dining room. Now is the time for long evenings, picnics, lighter meals, and candles outside. In fact, eating outside is one of the things I love most about this time of year.

Breakfast: Starting as soon as humanly possible (and this year that was at the beginning of May), I start eating breakfast on my apartment balcony every day it’s even remotely possible. My favourite breakfast is toast with butter and a layer of smoky cheese (Applewood cheddar if I can find it), topped with one lightly egg fried in a non-stick pan. And a side of green veggie (beans or spinach or bok choy). And decaf coffee. I set myself up on the wooden patio table, with a place mat, napkin, and a magazine. I sit, facing east, reading Food Illustrated or Cook’s Country until it gets too warm and I have to go inside and get to work. If you don’t have a balcony, maybe you have a porch (veranda?), the front steps to your apartment, or a nearby park bench. I find that eating breakfast outside is a quiet, peaceful way to begin your day.

Lunch: If you work in an office, you can take your packed lunch away from your desk and head to the nearest playground. Your tuna sandwich and pickles taste magical when eaten outdoors. Use any excuse to escape your florescent environment. If you work right downtown, you might have to hunt for a restaurant with a patio where you can order a cup of coffee and eat your homemade lunch. Some places are more friendly about you bringing in ‘outside’ food than others… search a bit until you find someplace near you.

Dinner: Plan a picnic supper, leftover Roast Chicken with Rosemary and Three Bean Salad go well together. Cold roast chicken is divine, and goes well with the vinegary bean salad. Add extra chick peas (garbanzo beans) to the salad for extra protein. Take a blanket, a good book, and settle yourself near the best view – whatever kind of view you can find: beach, mountains, prairie, duck pond.

And since it’s nearly a scientific fact that food tastes better outside, now is the time to find the door ‘out’ of your usual routine. This afternoon I proposed to AndrĂ© that we could make margaritas in glass jars with lids, pack a picnic, and head off the park for supper. Then I thought I’d sweeten the deal by saying we could take the new laptop computer, pop in a DVD, and watch a movie outside under the stars with our mason jar drinks. He looked at me like I had a watermelon where my head should be. OK, maybe we’ll leave the movie at home.

Welcome this week to all of our new subscribers. And, of course, welcome to those of you who’ve been here awhile … come on, everybody wave ‘hi’ to Lida in Sweden, Khadija in Mauritius, and Eva in Kenya 🙂 I’m glad you’re all here.

To make these recipes and more…

Check out OneRoastChicken’s new cookbook, “Successful Home Cooking” which is now available for order. This is not another cookbook. This is a cooking school in full-colour delivered right to your kitchen. All recipes include pages of colour photography and step-by-step instructions. And to keep you on budget, every recipe includes the price per serving. How about Meatloaf with Spicy Ketchup for $1.32 per serving? Or Chicken Tandoori for $1.81? Order your copy of “Successful Home Cooking” now…

Thanks and bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu, Owner & Head Chef
www.oneroastchicken.com