Fruit & Veggie Salad.. with Sweet and Sour dressing

This is very light and fruity salad to perk up a summer meal. I have made this a couple of times now with different kinds of fruits .. this combination turned out to be the best. However , there is still no dearth of combination s if you are willing to be creative : apples, pears, strawberries , grapes,carrots, green onions... anyone ??

2 cups of pineapple chunks
1 cup peeled oranges
1 cup of cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup pitted black olives
1/2 cup pickled sweet peppers

For the dressing:
1 tbs of extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs of lemon juice ( or lime juice)
1/4 tsp of black pepper powder
1 tsp sugar

How to go about
  • In a bowl whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Please note that the measurements are variable; you could omit the pepper or sugar, tone down the lemon part for a less tangy version... just play around till you get it right for your palette.
  • Toss in the fruits and veggies and mix well
Sit back and enjoy your salad :)

Happy weekend everyone !!

Strawberry Jam

The so far mild-summer in the valley is almost over, hopefully ; and our household is desperately exploring creative ways to entertain the little chimp here . One such sunny day, we took a drive to an organic-strawberry farm nearby ,to re-orient with the elements. After half a day of pretend-driving the tractor, pulling the wagon, petting the horsey , picking rocks and eating berries right off the vine we got back home with a nice tan and a big basket of juicy and sweet strawberries.

Left to Blu, he would have finished off the berries in a day. However, we had had such a relaxing time at the farm that I wanted to preserve the moment forever.. well, I had enough photos to preserve the "forever" part and for fear for my baby ending up with a bad tummy , decided to make a quick preserve out of the berries.

A quick search on the internet got me this** video. I altered some of the ingredients but followed the general guidelines from the instructor regarding the strawberry-sugar ratio and the canning tips. While making the jam it took much longer than quoted in the video and but it really helped to see how the instructor was checking the consistency of the jam and did the canning. Here is the recipe of what I did with the alterations .

Prep time : 20 min
Cook time : 1 hour (plus)
Canning time : 10 min for bottling + 15 min in the waterbath

6 cups of diced strawberries
2 cups of table sugar
1 tsp dry ginger powder
2 tbs of lemon juice
6 cloves

Yields : Enough to fill 2 pint size jars

In the order
  • Set 2 small plates in the freezer for testing the jam consistency ( these will be used later in the process ).
  • Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Slowly drop the glass jars in there ( for sterilizing them)
  • In a smaller pot sterilize the lids also similarly.
  • In a large pan combine the strawberries , sugar, lemon juice, ginger powder and the cloves*
  • Set in medium heat and keep turning with a heat-resistant spatula.
  • It will take you anywhere from 30 min to 1 hr for the water content of the strawberries to evaporate and get the jam to the required consistency.
  • To test the consistency of the jam, take about a teaspoonful and drop it on one of the plates from the freezer. Let stand for about 15 seconds. Then tilt the plate; if the juice is still running around like a syrup it means the jam is not done yet. When it is done you will see that some of the pulp remains in place when tilted and the syrup has thickened. ( Shown in detail in the video). Take it off the stove.
  • Using a jar lifter ( or a set of tongs) carefully lift the bottles from the pot making sure to empty all water from them. Please be extremely cautious while doing this. There is no need to wipe the bottles .
  • Spoon in the jam into the bottles .
  • Carefully left the lids from the pot and set them on top of the bottles. Fasten the ring to the tightest.
  • Using extreme caution , put the closed bottles back into the big pot of water. Leave it in the boiling water for another 15 minutes.
  • After 15 min , bring it out of the waterbath and let cool for about 12 hours. Now the jam is ready , canned well and would stay fresh for atleast 6 months.
*If the thought of biting on a clove while having your toast doesnt sound appealing , you could do a bouquet garni : make a small sachet out of some cheese cloth and wrap the spices in it and then let cook with the jam. When the jam is ready toss out the sachet, before the canning.

**Please note that my contribution to this recipe and the process is only the ingredients and the labor. There are several different canning methods being practiced all over the world, in fact some are simpler than the waterbath method. I encourage you to do some research on other canning methods before you start off; as you might have figured already the entire process can be rather tedious . The video in the link belongs to Marge Braker of Preserve an I have provided you with the link because I found it useful and empoyed her method to do the canning.