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Jelly and jam

Posted on by MK Carroll

This week's canning: liliko'i jelly, guava-liliko'i jam, and white guava-liliko'i jam. 

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The liliko'i jelly has black flecks in it because I ran the pulp through the blender at a high enough speed to bust up some of the seeds into pieces small enough to pass through the sieve. It's edible, so not a problem. The guava-liliko'i was to make use of a batch of cold process (freezer) liliko'i jelly that had a good flavor but was both runny and lumpy, and a batch of guava jam that I tried to make without added pectin (it was bland and had a gritty texture). Combined, brought to a boil and canned - great flavor, so if I can get my hands on more guavas soon, I'll do this flavor combination again. The white guava-liliko'i has less liliko'i than the guava-liliko'i, and the white guavas I used have a milder flavor. The results are okay, but the flavor is delicate and doesn't hold up well on toast. 

Reading Homeward Bound and eating sauerkraut

Posted on by MK Carroll

Homemade sauerkraut 

Homemade sauerkraut 

Although Emily Matchar's book Homeward Bound had been on my radar for a bit, it was Kim Werker's post "I'm an unnatural mother." that got me to move past the preview on my iPad and buy the book. 

Today is one of my "work from home" days, where I set up my laptop and iPad on the small dining table (covered by a cross-stitched tablecloth I bought via Etsy), and multi-task, doing paid work alongside things I enjoy that can get done in the background or during short breaks. Today's plans include finishing up a spreadsheet, revising some writing, reviewing a book proposal, pickling a bag of eggplant, making a batch of jelly, and deciding what to do with a batch of jam that turned out bland and oddly gritty. I had coffee and a green smoothie for breakfast, then tasted a batch of homemade sauerkraut (after I took a photo and Instagram'd it, of course). 

Kim has been putting out some great writing that has been pushing me to think and challenge myself and how I present myself on social media. The #nogloss challenge, for example, which was interesting to do not just because of how uncomfortable I felt posting a photo of my home office desk, and how I felt the need to defend myself somehow by pointing out that the desks I share in other workspaces are much tidier, but also because that seemed to be a common feeling. In some very real ways, giving you a tidied up version is my job, and in some very real ways, giving you a tidied up version is part of a larger problem. I'm only a couple of chapters in so far, but I can see that Homeward Bound is likely to push me to think about things I'd rather gloss over. 

The sauerkraut is pretty good, a mix of green cabbage, red cabbage, lacinato kale, and carrot. It's a bit bland - could have used more time to ferment, or some dill or caraway seeds, perhaps. There's another batch bubbling quietly in my office right now, this one with juniper berries, green onion, and beet shreds in addition to the cabbages and carrot. 

As a member of the Powell's Books Partner Program, I receive a 7.5% commission on referrals.  

Manapua (Spinach or Char Siu)

Posted on by MK Carroll

My post about hand-painting sock yarn and setting it in a bamboo steamer got me to thinking about making manapua (also called bao or Chinese steamed buns). The original recipe for the dough and spinach filling is from The New Chinese Cooking for Health and Fitness, and the char siu filling was adapted from a recipe by Titus Chan that ran in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

Dough (makes 20):

4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup warm water
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp salt

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  Add sugar and salt. When mixture begins to bubble, add the flour and mix well. Knead the dough until soft. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until double (about 1.5 hours). When it has risen, punch down and knead again. Roll into a long snake 2" in diameter and cut into 20 equal pieces. Let rest while you make the filling. Flatten each piece in the palms of your hands and roll into 5" diameter rounds. Leave the center thicker than the edges (will make it easier to fill and shape).

Spinach filling (for 10 manapua)

1/2 lb frozen spinach, thawed and drained

1/2 Tbs toasted sesame oil (the dark stuff)

1 tsp salt

Squeeze as much water as you can out of the spinach.  Mix with sesame oil and salt.

Char siu filling (for 10 manapua)

1 tsp vegetable oil (roughly - I don't measure it)

1/4 pound char siu, diced

1/2 tsp soy sauce (I don't really measure this)

1 tsp oyster sauce (...and I don't really measure this either)

3/4 cup water

2 tsp sesame oil (again, the dark stuff)

1 Tbs cornstarch dissolved in 2 Tbs water

Stir-fry the pork and seasonings in oil until hot and bubbly, then add the cornstarch.  Stir until cornstarch thickens. Take off the heat and let cool.

Fill: Lay a flattened round of dough in your left hand (or your right, if you are left-hand dominant) and place filling in the center of the dough. Cup your left hand and fold the edges toward the center with your right hand. Twist the top shut. Put a square of waxed paper on the bottom of the bun and mark the top in some way to let you know which filling is which (a dot of food coloring, for example). Repeat until all are filled. Let rise 10 minutes while you set up the steamer. Lay damp cheesecloth on the bottom of the steamer baskets and arrange buns so that they have space to expand. Steam over high heat for 20 minutes - don't forget to check the water level! Step back after removing the lid and let the steam escape.