Monday, July 15, 2013

Good Morning...

     Welcome to my new series featuring my favorite vendors at the Third Place Commons Farmer's Market in Lake Forest Park Washington.  What better way to start off than a lovely breakfast?

     A familiar face at the market has a new name.  Anthem Farm was previously called Five Acre Farm, but has grown so much they had to come up with a new name.  I couldn't be happier for them.  This year they are selling beautiful pasture-raised eggs by the truck load besides all the beautiful produce they bring!  Today, I'm featuring an egg laid by one of their lovely ladies, and some jam I made using their luscious strawberries.

     New to the market this year is Shen Zen Tea.  These guys take tea seriously.  I bought their Masala Chai tea (pictured at top) and it has got to be one of the most wonderful teas I've ever had.  A couple of weeks ago, on one of the hottest days of the year so far, they ingeniously debuted tea soda.  You can tell when you taste it how dedicated they are to their craft. 

     And finally, another new addition this year, R Heritage Farm.   When the Third Place Commons announcement went out about this farm, I looked them up immediately.  What I found nearly made me cry.  I'm not kidding.  I had little happy tears dancing in my eyes for, like, 30 minutes.  I told everybody I knew about this farm, in fact, I may have even stopped some strangers on the street.  They raise pigs, chickens, and turkeys and get this: the animals live outside.  The pigs root around in actual honest to goodness dirt.  The chickens eat bugs.  The turkeys are brown, for Pete's sake!  I had never cooked a heritage breed bird before, and all the meat is in the "wrong" place!  The legs are long and firm, the breast is much smaller, and the back has a lot more usable meat.  I am debating trying to get a Thanksgiving group together this year just so I can make a turkey.  They're taking down payments already!  I can't say enough about this farm.  I really like these two, I like the way they run their farm, and I'm happy to buy their meat.  And I'm a vegetarian, so my husband feasted on a lovely bratwurst this morning! 


I modified Rachel Saunders Children's Strawberry Jam recipe from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook (p. 177) to make my 

Strawberry Rhubarb Cherry Jam with Thyme

3 1/2 pounds hulled large strawberries
2 large rhubarb canes (about 3 oz)
 2 oz pitted cherries
4, 4 inch sprigs thyme
2 pounds 10 oz white cane sugar
3 2/3 oz plus 2 2/3 oz strained freshly squeezed lemon juice

Place a saucer with five metal teaspoons in a flat place in your freezer for testing the jam later.

In an 11 or 12 quart copper preserving pan or a wide nonreactive kettle, combine the fruit, rhubarb, and thyme with the sugar and 3 2/3 oz of the lemon juice.  Place the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula.  After a few minutes, as the juice starts to run and the mixture begins foaming a little around the edges, gradually raise the heat to high, stirring often.

Boil the mixture vigorously for 20-30 minutes, gently scraping the bottom of the pan every minute or two with your spatula to be sure the jam is not sticking.  If it begins to stick, decrease the heat slightly, being sure the jam continues to cook at a rapid boil.  Continue to cook, stirring and scraping frequently until the foam subsides, the mixture acquires a darker, shiner look, and the berries appear softened and saturated with liquid, about 25 minutes total.

At this point, stir in the remaining 2 2/3 oz of lemon juice, continuing to stir frequently.  Fish out the thyme sprigs.  If necessary, lower the heat slightly to prevent scorching.

After 3-5 more minutes, your jam should look shiny and thickened.  At this point, remove from the heat and test for doneness, using a stainless-steel spoon to carefully scrape all the white foam off the top of the mixture while you test.  Do not stir.  To test for doneness, carefully transfer as small representative half-spoonful of jam to one of your frozen spoons.  Replace the spoon in the freezer for 3-4 minutes, then remove and carefully feel the underside of the spoon.  It should be neither warm nor cold;  if still warm, return it to the freezer for a moment.  Tilt the spoon vertically to see how quickly the jam runs; if it runs slowly, and if it has thickened to a gloppy consistency, it is done.  If it runs very quickly or appears watery, cook it for another couple of minutes, stirring, and test again as needed.  This jam, while spreadable, has a relatively loose texture, Pour the jam into sterilized jars and process according to the manufacturer's instructions.  (Ball's book on home preserving says to process jam in a water bath for 10 minutes.)

This jam is a little looser than most jams, but is still pleasantly spreadable.  The rhubarb really shows through and the herbiness of the thyme is my favorite little last minute finish on the palate. 

I hope you enjoy this series as much as I am already.  I love these guys...

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