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Canning

Call it zacusca, ajvar, relish, dip, or any other way you like: Its real name is delicious!

Looking for a recipe to make on Game Day? Look no further, I have what you need! This is an appetizer I ate a lot as a child, and I love eating it today with my family. We call it zacusca, but you will find it in other Eastern European cuisines under the name of ajvar. This light, low calorie dish is a bit time-consuming, yet also unbelievably easy to make: it’s a a delicious concoction of open-fire roasted eggplant and bell peppers and oven-roasted tomatoes, with extra helpings of crushed tomatoes. It’s aromatic, wholesome, and truly addictive in its simplicity. My daughter loves to eat zacusca on fresh bread, and her hands and smiling face smeared with this colorful spread are truly a vision of happiness πŸ™‚ Make this at home instead of buying it from the grocery store, and you will not be disappointed! Keep Reading

Celebrating summer flavors: sour cherries, the ruby fruits that keep on giving

Mom and MIL getting busy over jars of sour cherry preserve

You get sweet, you get a hint of bitter, you get caramel notes. It’s layer upon layer of thick, rich flavor, sophisticated yet pure. The moment you try sour cherry preserve, your mouth explodes with this complexity of summer tastes, and your foodie world changes for good forever. Having used sour cherries every summer since childhood, I have taken it upon myself to let everyone know how wonderfully versatile they are. Right now, I just want to pack this sour cherry preserve in tiny jars and gift it to the whole wide world. It’s that good – and, in my opinion, deeper and more satisfying than the coveted jarred amarena cherries.

We used to do a lot of baking and canning with sour cherries when we lived in Europe. These fruits are precious and very delicate, and there is only a small window of opportunity at the end of June -beginning of July when you can buy them and use them straight away, otherwise they spoil. You can find sour cherries at select Chicagoland grocery stores, such as Fresh Farms International Market and Rich’s Fresh Market. For those of you with a bit of time on your hands, I strongly suggest you pick them yourselves. It can be so much fun!

This is what we did recently, when we spent one lovely Saturday morning picking sour cherries at The Valley Orchard. Keep Reading

For the love of berries: another “remembrance of things past”

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Going back to this blog to write about food and the pleasures of eating and drinking – to write about life – is not easy after a week of grief, following the death of a friend. I needed time to heal from sadness, and now I’m glad to be back. Also, on the plus side, my job has kept me very busy, and I’m grateful for that. Being so busy, I had less time to cry while thinking about my friend, and I channeled my energy into my work and my new responsibilities as a school tutor.Β  It is difficult but not impossible, and I’m working on it – taking it step by step, one day at a time.

Another thing which helped was that I couldn’t wait to write about my next topic: raspberry jam. Keep Reading

Blueberry syrup: a very easy summer recipe

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As a child I never had much of a relationship with blueberries. My aunt was great at canning, and she would spend summers at her house in the countryside, picking various fruits and canning them with a vengeance. She did not have blueberry bushes in her garden though, and she hardly ever used blueberries. I also remember my parents buying blueberries for me during the summer from farmers selling them by the cup on the side of the road. I loved the deep blue color of the blueberries, but as a child I didn’t know much about them. Keep Reading