Thursday, October 13, 2011

Boxed mac & cheese

No matter how much I LOVE homemade, I still enjoy boxed mac & cheese.
 Mac & cheese with hot dogs, peas, & carrots.

I know it's not fancy or classy, but it's good!

Mint Tea

Edit: I forgot to address this earlier. You may be wondering, "But Chau, why come you no blog any more?"  In addition to my jobs as optician, office manager, nanny, and ministry coordinator, I am now also a retail cashier. Obviously, this cashiering job fulfills all my professional dreams (no, it doesn't).  Just in case retail doesn't work out for me however, I'm also going back to school in a couple of weeks. I've been accepted into seminary at ______ University, and will be earning my Masters of Religion in Intercultural Studies. It is my hope that I'll be able to use my degree for global ministry work. So, I don't know how often I'll be writing in the future. I'll still be cooking and eating, so let's hope I'll remember to continue writing about it!

Ok. I just posted about blackberry mint jam, and now I'm going to talk about mint tea. My sister and I grew some pineapple mint in a container garden this summer, and it grew so abundant that we couldn't eat it all.
Earlier in the summer, when the weather was still chilly and wet, I came down with a cold. Even with drugs, my throat felt raw. So, I made a tea with our extra mint and some ginger. Mint soothes, and ginger has anti-inflammatory properties. It was perfect for my sore throat.

Using a teapot with a removable infuser, I combined the herbs, and added hot water.
Once it got warmer, our mint plant thrived even more. I found that iced mint tea with honey was pretty dang refreshing.
Now that it's autumn, maybe I should stop posting about summertime. Yeah?

Blackberry Mint Jam

We had a very late summer here in Seattle. At the end of September, we FINALLY hit 80 degree temps. During that time, the blackberry vines in our neighborhood ripened, and I was able to harvest the fruit.
Blackberries and snow peas
I froze about half of the them for use during the rest of the year (I put it in oatmeal, tarts, and pies), and the rest I used for...
Blackberry Mint Jam
Last year was my first attempt at blackberry jam, and I was looking forward to jamming again this summer. However, I did two different things this time: 1. I added mint. 2. I used freezer pectin. I have to admit, it kind of felt like cheating when I used the pectin. I wasn't standing in front of a hot stove, pouring tons of sugar onto fruit pulp, and waiting for it to thicken. That being said, I love love love freezer pectin. It came together in a short amount of time, and there was no need to sterilize glass canning jars. I just put the finished product into plastic freezer safe containers, and ate, froze, or gave it away. 

There was very little effort put into this jam, but I loved it's flavor so much more than last year's version. It tasted fresher, and the addition of mint extract was awesome. Its tingle added to the mingle of sweetness and tartness in the jam. 
Instructions for blackberry mint jam:
1. Combine 2/3 c. sugar and 2 Tbsp of instant pectin (I used Ball Brand)
2. Crush 1 2/3 c. of blackberries in another bowl, add mint extract (I added to taste).
3. Add crushed fruit mix to sugar/pectin combo, and stir 3 minutes.
4. Wait 30 min, then ladle into clean containers.
5. Makes 2 half pints of jam. Enjoy!