Guava Jelly

Today I started a side hustle. A factual profitable side hustle. I was not looking for said hustle, but I stumbled upon it just the same. And it’s working out quite nicely.

Do you remember my post about being a good neighbor? And not letting your fruit tree spawn only to leave the fruit untouched and let it fall to the ground in a stinky pile of leathery dried fruit and gnats?

My aunt’s neighbor didn’t read that post. They have a guava tree that hangs over the property line and drops full ripe yellow guava onto the driveway. Dozens of them. Are you familiar with guava? They are either yellow or green on the outside and they have either white or pink flesh. The seeds inside are small and hard. The skin is thin, malleable. Most people bite them the way you would an apricot or plum. And guavas stink. Like… stink.

The smell of guava could literally keep you away from them forever. But inside? The beauty in the brightness of opposing colors is phenomenal. And the taste is sweet but subtle. They’re a treat!

Anyway, I picked the guava. Once I got them home, I realized that I had somewhere around ten pounds worth. I decided to “do something” with them. Below is an image of my third haul.

To Pinterest I went. The most popular recipes call for “guava paste”, but there among the many captivating images of “guava cupcakes” and the most requested “pastelitos de guayaba”, I found guava jelly. I reviewed my cabinets for the necessities, had to make a trip to Walmart and then I set off to make jelly for the first time.

Wash fruit. Remove tops and bottoms. Quarter.

Cover fruit with water. Bring to a boil.

Drain the water. Purée the softened fruit. Pour through sieve to separate the seeds.

Return purée to pot. Add sugar, pectin, and lime juice. Bring to a boil.

Pour hot jelly into sterilized jars. Cover and seal by hand. Return full jars to pot filled with water. Bring water to a full boil with the full jars covered by the boiling water. Pop!

Once you hear the Pop! you can remove jars from the water and allow them to cool completely. Share.

I posted about my journey via my social media channels and it sparked quite a bit of interest. All of my tropical and islander friends inquired as to the exact day and time that the jelly would be complete and how quickly would it be available for pick up, drop off, or mailing. I was surprised. And quite honored.

Thus far, it’s met with rave reviews. I gave sizable jars to my benefactors, and a few small sample sizes to those closest to me. I’ve even received Zelle and PayPal payments. Rose was right (you were right, Rose), “all you need are some labels”. Well… here they are:

This could really turn into something awesome and sustainable. A few friends have extended their grasp and asked their friends and family for any surplus fruits. I would love to make more jellies and jams, and spreads and butters. I’ll keep you posted. 😉

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Baking Blog 3: Product Review of Baking Buddies

Recently, I received an email that caught me off guard. It was a proposal. The New York Baking Company asked me to review their silicone baking cups (me? really? OMG!). After a few email exchanges, I received the silicone baking cups and after a few-too-many delays, I used them. Here is my review.

These are Baking Buddies silicone baking cups by the New York Baking Company:

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I will start my review with the package listed facts:

~ Standard Size
~ 100% Food Grade Silicone
~ Non Stick
~ BPA Free
~ Oven safe up to 475° / 250°C
~ Freezer / Microwave / Dishwasher Safe

Here is the link to the product:
http://www.amazon.com/Baking-Buddies-Reusable-Silicone-Guarantee/dp/B00EVQ167A

Here are the website listed features:

~ Never have to use environmentally damaging paper cups ever again! All our silicone baking cups are made from BPA free, FDA approved, eco-friendly, nonporous and stain proof silicone!
~ Flexible and easy release silicone! Perfect for dinner parties, just peel the side to pop out your muffin, cupcake, dessert….!
~ Nonstick silicone means cupcakes; muffins or other scrummy treats you knock up won’t fall apart when you pop them out! But what about all that mess? No need to worry, all our silicone bake ware products are dishwasher safe!

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I have used a few different silicone baking items in the past. I was not satisfied. The other brand of baking cups were thicker and heavier, but turned out to be flimsy. When they were filled with cupcake batter, the sides began to bow outward and the sides buckled when the heat of the oven softened the silicone. To worsen matters, the other brand of baking cups was not non-stick. The cakes had to be pried out, leaving sizable remnants of crumbs that then had to be scrubbed out. No. Benefits. Found.

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I can confidently admit that the New York Baking Company Baking Buddy Silicone Baking Cups are fantastic! They are brighter, lighter, thinner and more supportive than the others. The Baking Buddies held their shape when filled with heavy cornbread batter. They also maintained their perfect shape through baking and cooling.

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And to end, they proved to be 99% non-stick!

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In conclusion, I find Baking Buddies to be an awesome product! If you’re a baker and you make muffins, cupcakes, breads, or other individually proportioned desserts, you will appreciate the quality of this product. In an environment that’s riddled with side effects, toxicity and illness-inducing concerns; finding a reusable BPA free, FDA approved, eco-friendly product is a bonus.

I’m going to be a Baking Buddy for life! I wonder what other awesome products they might have!! 🙂

baking blog ~ 2: lena b’s banana nut bread

 

i love to bake.  particularly desserts, but if you can put it in the oven — i’ll give it a try. my favorite things to bake are stand alone favorites: several types of cookies, a killer chicken pot pie, cupcakes and banana bread. i think we all (except for those that are allergic) love banana bread, don’t we? well i have a story to share about some banana bread and it is going to knock your socks off. the bread is divine. but the story, well, the story makes it better.

outside of the facts learned in school, i got (most of) my intelligence, my humor and my county-girl charm from my grandmother. she was a phenomenal person. she also taught me respect. the born-and-raised in the south and we-don’t-take-none-of-that-backtalk-’round-here respect. she taught me about personal space, real friends and why you should never keep your car and house keys in the same place. she taught me how to sew, bake and gave me Kitchen 101.

it was during our time in the kitchen that she shared with me her many recipes.  i have lots of hand written recipes and notes from her.  i have newspaper clippings, magazine pages and even some word search puzzle entries that contain recipes that she enjoyed. or at least, wanted to enjoy. of all the years and all the recipes, one of them outweighs the rest. it is her recipe for banana bread. here is an image (the measurements have been eliminated to protect the integrity of the recipe and elude the plagiarizers):

when i was in high school, the upper left corner fell off and i laminated it in an after school print shop program. we determined from the writing on the back that she had written it down in approximately 1956. *mumbling* minus the …  carry the .. and then move the… hey, yeah! that’s fifty-six years ago. that is about the same age as my parents. 🙂 i cannot provide you with any more historical information than that. she gave me the recipe and told me to hold tight to it. and i have.

i made it from time to time. not really enjoying the process or the outcome. she gave me compliments and critique along the way. if i had known, then, what i know now — i would have spent every day, since the day she gave it to me, perfecting it and honing the recipe into exactly what it is today: a legend. it’s that good.

my high school spanish teacher, used to purchase loaves from me at two dollars a piece. that was a nice little allowance until she got a loaf that wasn’t quite done in the middle and she gave up on me. understandable. i don’t remember making them too often during my college days either. what bread i did make was for my grandmother, at her request. i enjoyed it, but not enough at that time. she once told me “you make it better than i ever could”, which of course warmed my heart. i would make it for her and never think more about it.

eventually i grew up and moved out. i got a few jobs and when the spirit moved me, i would bake and share the famous bread. as time passed, i came to find that it was a certifiable crowd pleaser. it has never failed me. it has been mixed incorrectly and undercooked, but that’s user error, you see. the recipe, itself, remains consistent and predictable. exactly what a baked good should be. it has always been moist, delicious and impressive. at least, that’s what my fans tell me. 😀

i made it when i worked as a police dispatcher and have been reminded of how much it is missed.  i have made it for people along the way and always received compliments on it. i also made it for my friends at the hotel. i remember taking a loaf to the housekeeping department who promptly grabbed their morning cups of coffee and sat in silence enjoying the bread. it wasn’t until a few days later that i learned the bread was the topic of discussion that day.

i have been asked for the recipe many times to which i reply “i’m sorry, that recipe is going to make me famous. it’s a secret.” a certifiable look of disappointment comes at me followed by “well, if you change your mind”. i’ve only shared the recipe three times:

  1. after many years, my grandmother told me that she wanted to share the recipe with someone she worked with. i don’t know if you’ll believe this, but i actually refused to give it back to her. she scolded me. i retorted with my standard “make me famous” line. she didn’t buy it. i gave her the recipe. she was the author, after all.
  2. to my best friend’s grandmother (Nanny). she’s a sweet old bird who used to share “our grandkids are crazy” laughs, cured salt pork and southern lady conversation with my gramma. i made the bread, she loved it and i gave her the recipe. hesitantly.
  3. earlier today, after a little more than three weeks of deliberation and a few pleadings i shared the recipe with two of my coworkers.
    1. cee-dub (cw or coworker)one is a fellow baker who has promised me three things: a) a secret family recipe of her own, b) her help and her kitchen in creating a new baking masterpiece and c) her first-born grandchild. i intend to collect on all three.
    2. cee-dub two saved my rump last week and if my gramma were alive she would have said “you better give that girl the recipe, she helped you when she didn’t have to”… i can actually hear my gramma saying it. ugh.
    3. i started this entry a couple of months ago and have actually shared the recipe with several other people. now, you might be saying “but you didn’t share it with aaaaaaaaaaaall of those other people from way back when” and you’re right. but the fact of the matter is that i don’t follow the recipe. 😀 it’s true. i know it by heart, can predict it’s outcome and have tweaked it just enough to call it my own, so sharing it — is just a formality. it stands true, always delivers a quality product and those that have received the recipe and followed it’s instructions have yet to stop thanking me. it’s that good.

as you can see, i’m stingy. this legend of a recipe is going to put my son through college. maybe. speaking of son, he’s the number one fan. he loves the banana bread and can hardly wait for it to get out of the oven. seriously. he’s touched several hot loaf pans and stolen countless HANDFULS and slices of the bread. it is his favorite breakfast treat.

but wait, there’s more. my job recently had a bake sale. naturally, i agreed to bake. i originally intended on making cookies. but when it got down to crunch time, i didn’t have the ingredients that i needed to make the cookies i wanted to make and then i remembered the dozen-and-a-half bananas in the garage freezer. they were provided to me by a coworker after our annual benefits fair. the bananas had been a little abused from travel and were almost prime bread making real estate. she came to my section of CubicleWorld and stated “hey baker, you should take those bananas home” (thanks, Paula, i miss your smile). perfect. the recipe is simple and doesn’t require special ingredients. so i decided to make banana bread.

the sale required that all foods be individually wrapped and labeled for sale. i was completely oblivious to this fact, but decided to make mini banana bread bundts. they are just so cute and so perfect for a bake sale. i only have three mini pans, so i had to bake in shifts. grease and flour the pans, bake three breads, allow them to cool, wash the pans and then start anew. it took me six hours to bake a dozen mini bundts. and i still had batter left over.

i let them cool and sealed them up in my handy-dandy cake saver and travel container. a God send of a gift from my aunt, Martha Stewart and the fantastic folks at Wilton. the next morning i trotted off to work, proud and excited. when i got to the bake sale area, i had forgotten to wrap and label the cakes. i hurried back to the break room… found some clear plastic plates, white paper doilies and saran wrap. i printed up some labels and priced the pretty little breads at $3.50 each. the packaging was so simple and cute. the only thing that would have made them better was ribbon and instead of labels, vintage shabby chic graphic art tags. i started with twelve, took ten to work because my aunt and son claimed one each. ten mini bundts.

as i was preparing my food fare for sale, one of the potential patrons walked by. she saw the bread under the cake saver cover and was drawn in by its sheer beauty. she approached the table, eyes wide, inquiring

“what are those?”

and me, being me, went into my whole schpiel like i’ve just shared with you. she asked about my grandmother and i had to tell her that she had passed away several years ago and how my aunt and i had taken care of her those last few years and so forth and so on… well, the story ended in with the two of us hugging, and in tears. she had shown an interest in the bread from the start but revealed to me:

“the story makes the bread that much better. i can’t wait to taste it.”

the bake sale opened about thirty minutes later. she bought six of the twelve. i received an email at 9:26 in the morning stating that the bread sold out in twenty minutes. the entire sale was over about forty minutes after it started. almost one hundred dollars was made and thirty-five of it was from my breads. yay!

as the day progressed, i received many compliments and three requests for the recipe. consensus on the terms “moist and delicious”. another coworker poked her head around my cubicle wall stating:

“you’re the one who made the banana bread, right? well… i heard about them but i didn’t get one.”

i made her some a few weeks later. she returned the favor by making a Thomas the Train blanket for my son. he loves it. i have seen the “buyer of six” as well who shared how the bread was already a family favorite and she had also made mental note of my pan situation and was keeping her eye out for additional mini pans. sweet, right? she told me that day and every time that i have seen her since that the bread is “to die for”, but “the story makes it better”. all of the folks that i have “met” since the bake sale, whether in the cafeteria, break room, ladies’ room or in the walkway have said “you’re the one who makes the banana bread, right?” a great reputation to have, if i do say so myself.

i have made the bread regularly and always get smiles and hugs. we had a special meeting and presentation in our department last week and as part of the surprise, i made banana bread. jackie couldn’t contain herself and was ready to devour it upon sight. she sent an email around and within minutes the majority of a large bundt bread was gone. it was fantastic to watch. everyone passing my cubicle, eyes rolled back in their head with butter stained fingers saying “mmmmf, it’s so good”. i cut a few pieces and shared them with other work friends and received more warm and loving compliments. SuperBoy and The MadMan are known for asking for “MUUUUH” (that’s ‘moooooore’) while still having a mouthful.

some of us have no talents. some of us have one or two. some of us have a million different things that we’re “kinda” good at. i have one certifiable talent and it is recreating and baking my grandmother’s recipe banana bread. it’s a simple recipe, hand written by the queen herself. it’s a favorite of all family and friends, a crowd pleaser and has stood the test of time for more than fifty years. the kids, ALL kids, love it. i take pride in it. when i bake it, i use my heart. i concentrate, infuse and incorporate love in every bite (thanks, ma!). what i can tell you for fact is this: 1) the smell is divine and will attract hungry bears, or neighbors — whichever is closer. 2) i get more joy from baking it than i do from eating it. 3) i get more joy from sharing it than i do from baking it. 4) you hope, wish and pray that you might ever be close enough to watch, listen and smell it bake. if you are, i guarantee that you will never want to be far away again.

to my grandmother:

thanks, gertrude. i love you. i miss you and i wish you were here so i could bake for you. thank you for sharing and entrusting me with something so special and wonderful. it’s almost as special and wonderful as you.

XOXOO ~T

 

baking blog: 1 ~ lemon cake by ina garten

did i mention that i love to bake? i do. specifically desserts, but if it goes in the oven, i’m game. last year, for my aunt’s birthday, she asked me to bake her a cake.

“just a lemon cake. a plain lemon cake. you can just buy the box kind and make it. it doesn’t need to be ‘gourmet’ or fancy. you know how you are. no peel or anything like that in it(she meant zest). just a plain lemon cake.”

puh-shaaaaaaw!

lemons! in varying states. a knife: to halve, an old-fashioned-requires-elbow-grease juicer to juice and a zester to... zest!

if you know me, you know that i have no problem buying and using boxed cake mixes and frostings. they are predictable and almost (yes, almost) foolproof. simply follow the directions adding this and that, bake and Viola! cake! i prefer to use them when i am working with large numbers of servings. dealing with homemade recipes can become difficult when multiplying. the most i will duplicate any recipe is tripled. after that, the percentages and consistency become compromised and the end result is not what you anticipated, expected or wanted. fail. but in this case, for my aunt’s birthday, it was one cake for one person. a box? again, i say: puh-shaaaaww! as if!

i took the next week to locate, research and compare lemon cake recipes. i look for recipes that require ingredients. not mixes of this or that. i enjoy the process so much that i refuse to short myself. as well, cake that is made with a list of ingredients is simply superior in every way. at the close of the week, i had chosen my recipe: lemon cake by Ina Garten. say whaaaaaaaat? that’s the barefoot contessa! yes, imma go with HER recipe. from the notes, a photo of the cake had been published in her cookbook prompting many readers to request the recipe. yes, that’s the recipe for me. peel, ummmm.. i mean, zest and all.

the recipe called for lemon cake, drenched in lemon syrup and then drizzled with lemon glaze. i know, right? sounds delicious. i read the recipe over and over. i don’t like to try new procedures on my first run through a recipe. i’ve made cake, i’ve made syrup and i have made glaze. SCORE!

i made that cake and it was a hit. my aunt had only the first bite in her mouth and i heard:

“mmm. mmmmmm. mmmph! that’s good. that’s goooood.”

SCORE!! i made the cake again and it was so so good that i couldn’t not share it (and a few of my baking tips) with you. before we get into the specifics of this particular recipe, here are a few of baking tips:

bsb’s baking tips (1 – 7):

tip 1: clean up, before you mess up. simple. start with a clean kitchen (and some fresh, warm dishwater).

tip 2: read the recipe! read the whole thing from start to finish. don’t skip anything, don’t omit anything and for pete’s sake, DON’T ADD ANYTHING (until you have mastered the recipe and you OWN it and can make it flawlessly). read it and understand it.

tip 3: never, NEVER try a new procedure, new recipe or new flavor at crunch time. you don’t want to botch the procedure due to inexperience. you don’t want to get lost in the recipe if it’s your first time and you don’t want to make something that you don’t like or doesn’t taste right when it’s your time to shine! bake with pride! if you want to do new things, try new things and mix and match flavors, by all means, do it, but do not do it the night before. or, as i have many times, you will be sitting on the kitchen floor, covered in ingredients and tears trying to figure out how you’re going to pull it all together before you’re due to deliver. trust me on this.

tip 4: there’s nothing more agitating that being knee-deep in a baking project and having to stop and look for a gadget, tool or ingredient. be sure to pull everything that you know you will need.

tip 5: measure out your ingredients. dry ingredients first, so you don’t have to wash and dry your measuring utensils before continuing.

tip 6: if at all possible, test your oven. make sure that 375-degrees is actually 375 and not 325 or you will be excruciatingly surprised.

tip 7: i don’t believe in margarine. i believe in BUTTER. real butter. Grade AA butter. if i don’t have butter, i don’t bake. you do what you feel is best for you, just know that i always always always use butter.

if you follow those tips for this recipe, or any recipe, you will be prepared and delighted when your masterpiece is complete. except, for the butter thing. that is more of a preference. just know that when you vary ingredients you are changing the final outcome.

and noooooow (drumroll, please)… here is the recipe for Lemon Cake by Ina Garten (<—– did i mention that’s the Barefoot Contessa!?)…

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the glaze:

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

whole lemons (in a bowl i painted) , one beautifully zested lemon, some fresh lemon juice and a mound of ZEST!

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans. (i got the lemons from my neighbor and wanted to share the ‘labor of their fruit’ with them, so i went with mini bundt pans) You may also line the bottom with parchment paper, if desired.

Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and set them on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan; spoon the lemon syrup over them. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

after cooling, spoon or paint the cakes with the syrup. on all sides. don't be shy!

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.

and now (another drumroll, please) TA-daaaaaaaaaaaa!

i made mini lemon bundt cakes. easy for giving. sharing is caring! always share with the neighbors that gave you their lemons. 😀

(i know that last picture is a little on the fuzzy side… i was working with my cell phone, but wanted to show some detail… ).

note: there is no rhyme or reason to why this is “baking blog: 1” other than:

  1. it’s the most recent baked good that i’ve made.
  2. i really enjoy making and sharing it.
  3. i was really happy and proud with the final product.
  4. i wanted to blog about baking.

i hope you get the chance to try it! you won’t regret it. let me know how it turns out for you and if my tips were any help at all. until next time… Stay Sweet!