04 July 2011

Happy Independence Day!

It's been a thrilling weekend at the Aylward household!  We have spent our days catching up on household projects and enjoying the beautiful weather in Michigan!  I've been slathered with bug spray versus suntan lotion and all is good in my life! 

I had my first garden harvest...a little odd to have both raspberries and lettuce at the same time of year!

Today I will be picking some wild blackberries to add to the raspberries and make freezer jam.  It is my favorite jam ever.  Some may not like all of the seeds, but it doesn't bother me a bit!  The wild berries are just so intense and sweet, black juice that stains your hands and lips. 

I am using the Pomona's Universal Pectin for my jam as it's a natural pectin derived from citrus and doesn't require the crazy amount of sugar usually necessary to set jam.  You can also choose to sweeten with honey, agave syrup etc. and it still sets up!

 I picked up some really nifty labels that will remind me what's inside those jars!

I defrosted my upright freezer circa 1975....I won't tell you what was stashed in the back under a film of frost.  Now it is ready for a new season of fruit and vegetable harvests!

John is always willing to rev up the smoker and with the freezer defrosting, I thawed a little roaster chicken, stuffed it with onions, garlic, salt, pepper and fresh lemon thyme!  I put it on for about 5 hours at 200 degrees with applewood chips (last month's tree trimming expedition) and some local charcoal made with any chemicals.  Here she is about 2 1/2 hours in:

This lovely little bird was a deep mahogany color when finished and beautifully juicy and crisp on the outside!  We threw the breast meat on fresh greens with black beans and colby jalapeno cheese from The Boulevard Market with tomatoes and a light maple cider vinaigrette!  So, so delicious.  I still have a couple pounds of chicken left, so I think  this recipe will be today:

2 cups smoked chicken, diced
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
salt & pepper to taste

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon chives, finely chopped
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Whisk olive oil into mayonnaise until fully emulsified, add vinegar and chives and whisk until blended.  Stir in chicken, fruit, celery and nuts and stir until completely coated.  Let rest in refrigerator about an hour until flavors meld.  Taste and season appropriately!  I've got a lovely baguette to go with and a cold cucumber soup! 

Happy Independence Day!   

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