I’ve long said that the very best thing to come of this blogging gig are the friends I’ve made along the way, and today I want to celebrate one special person in particular.
I met Amy a few years ago at the first Food Bloggers of Canada conference. She approached me during the opening night dinner and introduced herself, and I’m happy to say we hit it off immediately. Her peppy personality is unlike anyone else I know, and she exudes positivity and a down-to-earth friendliness that needs be bottled and sold in stores everywhere because we could all use a little of her infectious happiness.
The mom of two young boys, Amy lives in Victoria, B.C., so it was a real treat to spend time with her that weekend, and we’ve stayed in touch since, Skyping periodically and keeping connected via our blogs and social media channels. She came to Toronto last week to celebrate the launch of her first cookbook, The Canning Kitchen: 101 Simple Small Batch Recipes, and I was thrilled to attend the event in support of her.
Her book, which she wrote and photographed on the weekends over a period of nine to ten months, is a true labour of love and whether you’re a novice or experienced canner there’s something for everyone tucked into the pages of her beautiful recipe collection. She cleverly combined the traditional practice of home preserving with the tastes of today’s modern cook, and the result is 101 simple small batch recipes. I was fortunate enough to test some of her creations last summer, which resulted in stocking my pantry with strawberry sundae sauce and Southwest corn relish, both of which were crazy popular when served at a few of my summer parties.
Today, I have Amy’s recipe for red pepper jelly for you. I chose this one to share because it’s made with five ingredients, and requires four simple steps, so if you’re new to canning this might be a good one to start with. Plus, you can use the jars to jazz up a simple cheese and cracker platter if you’re entertaining this season, or tie some twine and a sweet notecard around the neck of the jar and hand them out for hostess gifts when you visit a friend’s cottage or cabin this summer.
Also, thanks to the kind folks at Penguin Random House, I have one copy of the book to giveaway to a reader. To enter, simply tell me how you feel about canning. Do you love it? Or maybe not so much? What is your favourite thing to preserve? I have to admit that I’ve been bitten by the bug in recent years, and find it thoroughly addictive.
Contest closes on Sunday June 21st at 6pm. I’ll draw a name at random and update this post with the winner’s name later that night. Good luck, all!
Red Pepper Jelly
From The Canning Kitchen, by Amy Bronee
This classic pepper jelly is beloved for its sweet and sour combination, ruby-red colour and just a hint of heat. I like to give jars of this jelly as gifts because almost everyone likes it. Try it spread onto a buttered bagel, or serve as a party appetizer with warm crostini and a soft cheese like Brie.
MAKES FIVE 250 ML (1 CUP) JARS
- 1 ½ lb (675 g) red bell peppers (about 4 large peppers)
- 2 cups (500 mL) cider vinegar, divided
- 2 tsp (10 mL) dried chili flakes
- 1 package (57 g) regular pectin powder
- 5 cups (1.25 L) granulated sugar
1. Rinse the peppers under cool running water. Coarsely chop the peppers, discarding the seeds and stems. Place the peppers in a blender along with 1 cup (250 mL) of the vinegar. Purée until smooth.
2. Pour the purée into a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Stir in the chili flakes. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
3. Stir in the pectin powder and remaining 1 cup (250 mL) of vinegar. Return to a full boil over highest heat. Stir in the sugar and return to a boil again, stirring frequently. Maintain a full boil for 2 minutes while stirring. Remove from the heat.
4. Ladle into 5 clean 250 mL (1 cup) jars, leaving a ¼ -inch (5 mm) headspace. Process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes using the Processing Checklist on page 17.
TIP: Choose deeply red peppers for the brightest red jelly. For other jelly colours, try using orange or yellow bell peppers instead. If you like it a little hotter, include a couple of jalapeno peppers or even bird’s-eye chilies in your pepper purée.
Updated: Congratulations Joy! You will receive an email regarding the book giveaway.