Tag Archives: recipes

Canning Sand Pears

I know this post is a couple of weeks delayed, but I spent some time canning sand pears and wanted to share with you how I did it!

Canning Sand Pears  | Oysters & Pearls

When Wheat and I went home to visit my parents (and got the Swamp Ship!), we also picked a 5-gallon bucket’s worth of Sand Pears.

Sand Pears | Oysters & Pearls

Sand pears (Pyrus pyrifolia), also known as Asian pears or Apple pears, are common in North Florida and South Georgia.  They have a softball-sized fruit that can double as a softball – they’re hard as rocks!  They’re also sweet and crisp, hence the “apple” monicker.  My dad’s parents used to spend summers at “The Farm” (aka where I grew up), and my Grandmother used to make “Florida Pear Preserves” out of pears from these very same trees!  The history of recipes is my very favorite part.  I’m so grateful for this family cookbook and for family recipes.

Florida Pear Preserves

I thought about using this recipe to put up pears (sans paraffin wax sealing!), but I figured that would really limit what I would be able to do with all of them later on.  So basically, I just followed the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s guidelines for canning Asian pears.  I also had a comment from a reader on my Facebook page suggesting I can them the same way she does – in white grape juice.  Once the NCHFP confirmed it, I was sold.

Canned Sand Pears
makes 11 quart jars of canned pears

ingredients

– approximately 5 gallons of sand pears (aka a 5-gallon bucket-full)
– 3 64-ounce bottles of Welch’s 100% White Grape Juice (or whatever brand you prefer – this is just what I used)
– 1/2 cup or so of lemon juice
– cold water

instructions

First, run your quart jars, lids, and bands through a sanitize cycle in the dishwasher, or sanitize them all in a large canning pot.  Whichever you prefer.

Add lemon juice to a large bucket, bowl, container, what-have-you.  Fill the container about halfway to 3/4 full with cold water and mix.  Peel pears and place them in the lemon-water.  You can peel all the pears at once, but I did it in batches because I didn’t have a big enough container to hold all the peeled pears.  Once I filled the lemon-water container with peeled pears, I moved from the sink to the island and cut the pears into slices.  I started out using a mandoline, but the pears are so crisp the often broke on the mandoline rather than slicing neatly.  Turns out an old fashioned chef’s knife worked the best.  Cut around the core, then slice the sides up into fairly thin slices.  I had a pot full of grape juice that I added the slices to in order to keep them from browning.  Then I repeated the entire process until the pot was full.

Bring the pot of grape juice and pear slices to a boil.  Using a slotted spoon or tongs, pack the warm jars with fruit, then using a ladle, pour the hot grape juice over the pears.  Remove bubbles by sticking a chopstick down into the jars or by lightly tapping the jars on the counter (covered in a dish cloth).  Place lids on jars, tighten bands, and process in a canning pot for 25 minutes.  Remove from the canning pot and set on counter (covered in a dish cloth) until cool.  As they cool, they will “pop” and seal.  If any don’t seal within an hour or so, put those in the refrigerator immediately.

Sand Pears in Lemon Water Bath, Ready for Canning | Oysters & Pearls

Some of my pears had ripened more than I would have liked in the bucket between picking and canning, but that’s okay as long as they aren’t too ripe.

Slicing Up Sand Pears for Canning | Oysters & Pearls

I cut one big side off the core (just outside of the picture above on the right), then sliced two more sides off the core as seen above.  Then I cut the last side off the core, cut it in half, sliced the rest up, and added them to the pot full of grape juice.

Sand Pear Slices in White Grape Juice for Canning | Oysters & Pearls

These will be perfect for eating as is, making tarts and pies, maybe on top of yogurt, and who knows what else?  Any other suggestions?

Canning Sand Pears | Oysters & Pearls

I packed the pears in really tightly.  If I hadn’t, this probably would have made an even 12 quarts.  But why waste that 12th jar?  Jars ain’t cheap, and I use as few as possible when canning.

Canned Food Etiquette Note: If someone you know gives you anything in a mason jar, when you finish said canned good, wash the jar and give it back.  I promise they will appreciate it!

How to Can Sand Pears | Oysters & Pearls

So tell me: what’s your favorite way to eat canned pears?

20130818-170606.jpg

Savory Pumpkin Dip

Attention all pumpkin-lovers and tailgaters (or tailgators, if you please): Click print.  Right now.  Because you HAVE to make this dip.

Pumpkin Dip Recipe | Oysters & Pearls

As you all know, I am on a quest to see how many different ways I can eat pumpkin thanks to a prolific little pumpkin patch.  Last week, I was attempting to make a dent in my backlogged blog reading queue and ran across this gem of a recipe from Gimme Some Oven.  I was intrigued.  So when Maggie and Greg invited me over to watch football on Saturday, I knew what I had to do.

Savory Pumpkin Dip
(almost completely unadulterated, via Gimme Some Oven)

ingredients

– 1 8-ounce brick of cream cheese (I used Neufchatel cheese, which has less fat but is still creamy)
– 1/2 cup freshly shredded cheddar cheese
– 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (I, of course, used freshly baked Seminole pumpkin)
– 1/4 cup toasted chopped pecans
– 4 to 6 slices of bacon, cooked until very crispy and crumbled
– 3 or 4 green onions, sliced thinly
– 1/2 teaspoon Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
– 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

instructions

Mix all the ingredients either in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer until well combined.  Garnish with extra green onions and crumbled bacon and serve with buttery Ritz crackers.

Cook’s Note: To toast the pecans, put dry pecans in a dry skillet and turn the heat to low.  Toast, shimmying and shaking the pan every once in a while until the pecans are fragrant and warm.  Watch them closely, as they’ll burn easily.

Savory Pumpkin Dip Recipe | Oysters & Pearls

This pumpkin dip will bring the boys to the yard.  Just sayin’.

It received a hearty welcome at the home-gate, and I’ll be making it again Thursday to take to Gainesville, fo sho.

I also like that it’s orange-ish, which will coordinate well.

For some other tailgate or home-gate ideas, I thought I’d share the rest of our home-gate on Saturday.

In addition to orange dip, we had an orange cat named Buster.

Buster the Cat | Oysters & Pearls

Buster tried his very best to get into the dip, and succeeded once, too.

Pumpkin Dip with Ritz Crackers | Oysters & Pearls

We had the pumpkin dip, obvi.  But you can also see some delicious sausage with mustard dipping sauce back there, and Maggie and Greg had some delicious cheeses, too.

They also had the cutest little cutting board you ever did see, complete with Marcona almonds, dried fruit, and sliced apples.

Bainbridge, Georgia Cutting Board | Oysters & Pearls

That heart is over Bainbridge, and there’s another hidden-under-almonds-heart over Atlanta, which is where Maggie and Greg just moved back from.  I <3 it!

Ha, I’m a cheese-ball.

Ha.  That recipe is coming later this week!  For a chicken cheese ball, that is.

Maggie also made the best rice crispy treats I’ve ever eaten [three times].

Smitten Kitchen Brown Butter Rice Crispy Treats with Sea Salt | Oysters & Pearls

The recipe is from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook, but turns out that Deb (the writer behind Smitten Kitchen) posted them on her blog, too!  (<– click for recipe)

I might have to make these for this weekend, too.  Or just to hoard alone.

I mentioned the pizzas (the pizzas!yesterday, but it was worth sharing a couple pictures of them so you can understand how good they were.

Gourmet Homemade Pizzas | Oysters & Pearls

Clock-wise: 1) fig, mozzarella, and gorgonzola; 2) ham & pineapple with a balsamic reduction drizzle; 3) pizza margherita; 4) (my FAVE) pear, prosciutto, arugula, & gorgonzola

There was also a “meat lovers” with prosciutto, pepperoni, ham, and I might be missing something, and a couple extra pizza margheritas.  They made homemade flatbread dough, the secret to which they revealed is “00” flour.  I realize homemade pizzas may be more suitable for your next home-gate, but they did grill them on their grill, so it’s totally tailgate-able.

I’ll be back with more tailgate-able recipes, but since this post included the recipe for pumpkin dip, let’s have one more look, shall we?

Savory Pumpkin Dip with Ritz Crackers | Oysters & Pearls

And one more cute kitty picture, for good measure.  Wallace got curious when I got the camera out at home.

Curious Cat | Oysters & Pearls

Happy Tailgating!

20130818-170606.jpg

White Cookies

Good morning!

Or as my undergrad Chemistry Lab T.A. used to say, “Pneu-monia!”

Needless to say, I didn’t really know what was going on in Chem Lab.

Anyway, this week has been one of celebration!

We celebrated a milestone at work for Wheat, and a sweet friend’s birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!), and we celebrated good news on the job front for a couple more of my besties from afar.

My cup runneth over for these wonderful people.

This has also been a very busy week for me work-wise, so despite there being a birthday involved, this post does not revolve around cake in any way, shape, or form.

I baked cookies instead!

White Cookies with Buttercream Icing | Oysters & Pearls

You may be wondering, “What in the world are white cookies?”

I’m so glad you asked.

My Dad’s family has a family cookbook that my Great Aunt put together back in 1979.  I was fortunate enough to inherit my Grandmother’s copy.  I’ve baked the sugar cookie recipe a million times (we’ll get to that around Christmas), but I had never baked the “White Cookies.”  Let me show you why.

White Cookies Original Recipe | Oysters & Pearls

Cryptic much?  I mean, water isn’t even in the list of ingredients!  And that was sort of rude, Amelia, to tell me that I’m going to have to use my own judgment for the flour.  Why couldn’t you just tell me?

Don’t you just love how old recipes assume you know how to do everything?  A lot of these recipes in our family cookbook are practically ancient.  My grandmother’s family was originally from Canada, and a lot of the recipes are passed down from there.  My grandfather’s family was from Beaufort, South Carolina, though, which resulted in quite the eclectic mix of recipes!  I’m sure more will turn up here on the blog over time.

But anywho, when I said I would make cookies, Wheat REALLY wanted some with icing on them, and it just so happened I had some leftover Bakery Buttercream icing.  This recipe looked far less sweet than a true sugar cookie, so I thought I would finally give it a go.  It was a resounding success.

Amelia H. Osborne’s White Cookies
(interpreted for the modern day by yours truly)
makes approximately 40 cookies

ingredients

– 1 cup sugar
– 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
– 2 large eggs, at room temperature
– 2 tablespoons buttermilk
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 2 and 3/4 cups all purpose flour

-also: plastic wrap

instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, using the whip attachment of a stand mixer (or just use a hand mixer).  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Add the buttermilk, then the baking soda, mixing well after each addition.  Finally, add the flour, little by little (maybe a quarter-cup at a time), incorporating each addition before adding the next.  When you’ve added all the flour, turn off the mix and scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Turn the mixer back on to medium speed and mix until everything is smoothly incorporated.

Pour the cookie dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap, centering the dough down the middle of the sheet as much as possible (which should be at least 3 feet long).  Wrap it up tightly, and twist one end closed.  Holding on to that end, use your other hand to spread the dough down the plastic wrap until you have a log that is two to three inches in diameter.  When you do, twist the other end shut and place the entire thing in the freezer for 30 to 45 minutes.

At this point, you could leave the dough in the fridge and just cut off enough cookies to satisfy a craving.  But I baked them all, obviously.

When the cookie dough is thoroughly chilled, and you can cut off a slice without squishing the log (super scientific terms), then you’re good to go.  It took almost an hour for mine to be cold enough.

Slice them up and bake them at 400 degrees for 9 minutes.  Watch them when it gets close to 9 minutes though, because oven temperatures differ and they brown quickly.

Cool for five minutes or so on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to completely cool.  Then frost as desired.

~

Below: cookie dough batter ready for rolling and freezing.

White Cookie Batter | Oysters & Pearls

When you roll it up in plastic wrap, it’s sort of awkward, but keeps you from getting the dough EVERYWHERE and also keeps you from adding extra flour just to be able to roll it out.

White Cookie Dough, Rolled Up For Freezing | Oysters & Pearls

Once chilled, it’s really easily sliced.

White Cookies, Ready for Baking | Oysters & Pearls

They bake right up into puffy little clouds that are crispy on the outside and soft and crumbly and delicious on the inside!

White Cookies | Oysters & Pearls

I’ve really got to retire so I can do my baking during the day and quit torturing y’all with bad pictures… or at least, that’s what I keep telling Wheat. ;)

You could have dipped them in sugar or sprinkles prior to baking, or you can ice them with your choice of icing.  I, of course, chose buttercream, which I colored sky blue.

Blue Buttercream Icing | Oysters & Pearls

I used a small offset spatula to ice the cookies.  They aren’t super fancy, but they sure satisfied.

White Cookies with Buttercream Icing  |  Oysters & Pearls

It reminded me of undergrad and buying those soft iced cookies from the bakery of a Florida-based grocery store chain that shall remain unnamed… and eating far too many of them.  Cough, Brittney, Allie…

These cookies turned out to be a lot like those cookies, but with more of a crisp crust, and the texture more akin to a shortbread cookie.  Deliciously addictive!  Says Wheat, who ate an estimated five yesterday (he wouldn’t commit to that number for sure).

White Cookies with Buttercream Icing  | Oysters & Pearls

So cookie cheers to my husband and all my friends.  I’m so proud for y’all!

20130818-170606.jpg