When Life Gives You Cherries

Typically, when I acquire a massive hoard of food it’s intentional. I find myself lost in thought while wandering through sun-ripened fields, full of fresh produce just begging to be picked. This past Spring was very cold and very wet, so it pushed our growing season back just a bit. Fast forward to mid July when I had assumed there was still time for cherry picking. Wrong. I missed the deadline by a few days.

Last week while picking up a few needed items for my weekly meal planning sesh, I stumbled onto a sweet cherry sale, as in less than $2 a pound kinda sale. Naturally I went completely overboard and ended up saving more than I spent! Now faced with a fridge packed full of delicious, dark red cherries, I had the daunting task of preserving these tasty little gems so they could be enjoyed throughout the year.

My initial plan of attack was clear, some would be eaten fresh, some would be dehydrated, and quite a few bags were destined to end up in my deep-freeze. Then came the not so clear part, canning. I began skimming my preservation books to see what recipes would interest me and much to my surprise there were quite a few! Being a fan of all things dessert, these recipes made their way to the front of the line. First up: Danish cherry sauce. I found it to be a simple but satisfying topping for cheese cake, one that would not overshadow the dessert, but elevate it just a bit.

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Danish Cherry Sauce -yields 4 pints

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

3 cinnamon sticks, approximately 4″ each

1 1/2 tsp almond extract

1 cup water

3/4 cups corn syrup

7 1/2 cups pitted sweet cherries

Combine sugar, almond extract, cinnamon sticks, corn syrup, and water in a large stainless steel sauce pan. Over med-high heat bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce to a gentle boil, add cherries and stir until heated through. Remove cinnamon sticks.

Ladle hot cherries and syrup into clean, hot, pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch head-space. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims, and adjust two-piece lids to fingertip-tight.  Process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.  Remove canner from heat, wait 5 minutes and then remove jars and allow seals to set for 12-24 hours.

For a thicker sauce combine 1 tbsp cornstarch and 2 tbsp water in a small sauce pan, then add one pint of Danish cherry sauce. Bring to a boil over med-high heat, stirring until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. DO NOT add cornstarch before canning!

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Images and content copyright © 2016 Danielle R Limoge. Recipe from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving


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Apple Explosion Muffins

My selection of home-canned fruit preserves is quite large, almost to the point of embarrassing. Seriously, who needs 15 different varieties of jam and jelly when you know peach, grape, and strawberry are all that you reach for? I needed to get my recipe wheels spinning and come up with some new ways to start using up what I’ve put up!

apple explosion muffins

Apple Explosion Muffins

1 cup all purpose flour

1 1/4 cup oat flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 eggs

1 cup vanilla soy milk -regular milk can also be used

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup grapeseed oil or another neutral oil, such as sunflower

1 cup apple pie filling

1 pint apple butter

sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a medium bowl whisk together both flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl combine eggs, milk, vanilla, brown sugar, and oil. Gently fold in the apple pie filling. Carefully add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until barely blended; be careful to not over mix the batter or your muffins will become tough. Fill muffin cups halfway with batter then spoon in 1 tsp of the apple butter, top off with more batter. Lightly dust on a bit of granulated sugar and a sprinkling of sliced almonds. Bake for 20 minutes at 400°F or until you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean. Transfer muffins to a wire rack and allow to cool 5-10 minutes before eating.

Recipe yields approximately 14 muffins.

Images and content copyright © 2016 Danielle R Limoge.

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Filed under Baking, Fruit Butter, Vegetarian

Spoon Butter

There are two seasons of the year when I add to my arsenal of wooden cooking utensils, festival season and the holiday season. Being someone who creates handmade items, I understand the amount of time invested in those pieces, so keeping my spoons, boards, and spurtles looking as beautiful as the day I brought them home is a must! I’m going to let you in on my magical little secret, it’s called spoon butter. Not only will this glorious concoction keep those wooden utensils in like-new condition, but it will also do wonders for weather-ravaged hands!

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I have found that a ratio of about 3.5 parts oil to 1 part wax works best when using coconut oil, since it melts at 76°F, creating a smooth spreadable butter. To make spoon butter place a medium sauce pan on the stove and add about an inch or so of water. Using a wide-mouth mason jar add your oil and then the bees wax. Bring water to a slight simmer so the bees wax begins to melt, stir occasionally. Once the mixture is fully melted allow it to cool so the wax sets. I keep the jar in the pan as to not chance splashing hot wax around.

For my spoon butter I use bees wax pellets, so I don’t have to grate a large bar of wax. In the past I’ve used mineral oil, but after a bit of research I felt really uneasy about using a petroleum product on items that would be in contact with my food!

Slather a coating of spoon butter on your wooden spoons, cutting boards, anything made of wood and in need of a little love. Let the spoon butter work its magic overnight; in the morning, using a dry cloth, give everything a gentle buffing. The spoon butter creates a protective barrier allowing your cherished wooden tools to ward off staining and cracking!

Images and content copyright © 2016 Danielle R Limoge.


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That time I stopped blogging for several years

Friends, it has been far too long! It’s not like I haven’t thought about you or wanted to share all of the exciting, life-changing events that have taken place over the past two years, because trust me, I have! It’s just that my time is no longer mine. I share it, and everything else, with this little human. Meet Emersyn Renee, aka Emi or M.


My labor began July 1st around 3:30am and M was born the following morning at 1:19. I pushed for about 15 minutes and she was out! It was far from easy, but our 12 week Bradly Method childbirth class had us more educated and prepared than most laboring parents. I achieved my drug-free, natural birth, which was a personal goal for as long as I can remember. I could not have asked for a more supportive partner or had a more perfect birth (we really had to fight for it). And I’m never doing it again! Spoken like a true mother of a toddler. She is hell on wheels folk. HELL. ON. WHEELS.

I could go on and on about her and our life, but this is not, nor will it become, a mommy and me blog. I’m sure from time to time I will share snippets of our life along with a few photos, but I’m a very private person and plastering the web with pictures of my kid kinda freaks me out. But that’s enough rambling from my slightly neurotic mama-brain.

In other news, I bought a house last fall! It is a cute little gnome home, just like all the previous ones I seem to gravitate towards, but this time it is all mine! Talk about anxiety-inducing debt! Over the past few days I’ve really begun organizing my thoughts on garden layout and now the seed starting is about to commence! I know I will have to start off small but as M gets bigger so will my gardens!

I’m so excited to be back, even if it is only part-time! There are over 40 half-written posts squirreled away in the publishing que, just begging to be finished. Slowly but surely they will make their way onto these pages! Until next time, friends.

Images and content copyright © 2016 Danielle R Limoge.




Filed under Chatter, Everything Else

New Garden Construction

I wanted to share with you my 2013 gardening adventures.  Originally I had planned to do this during the month of December, kind of as a year-end wrap up, but that never happened.  Oh well, what better time than the present, right?

So much has happened over the past… year?  I’m not even sure where to begin.  I thought about making one giant post; however, that felt very overwhelming.  Just thinking about trying to squeeze an entire year into one entry makes me want to run away screaming.  Then, I thought about breaking it up into several small posts, but that seems like it will take forever, especially since I barely find the time to write regular seasonal posts.  So, I’m just gonna go with the flow and see what develops!

The first thing I’m excited to share with you is my garden!  After my last move, I left behind a glorious 80×30 growing space.  Knowing that my boyfriend is VERY fond of his monoculture of grass I was going to have to take what I could get, if that was going to be anything at all!  After weeks of debating size and location, and even tossing around the idea of a community plot at Horn Farm Center, conveniently located right down the road, I finally had a 16×16 plot for my veggies to call their very own!

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The construction of my garden became more than I had imagined.  Goodbye variegated rabbit fencing that barely protected my tender plants from oh-so-hungry critters, say hello to shiny new picket fencing!  My garden project is about 85% done, the gate still needs built and the chicken wire needs attached to the fencing.  This and another coat of stain will all be done this Spring.  We (and by we I mean he) simply ran out of time last summer.  I was in charge of the staining, the boy and his buddies did the excavation and building.  To be quite honest, I was just happy to be able to dig in the dirt, despite having to replant beans 3 times with no success!  This is where the chicken wire will become a lifesaver; several times last season I saw baby bunnies squeeze their cute little bodies through the fence when I approached the garden.

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Originally, Jase was going to apply grass/weed killer, but knowing how anti-chemical I am, he appeased me and removed the sod.  🙂  Since our backyard is on a slope the guys had to level out the garden so that all the fencing went in straight.  This meant lots of back-breaking work due to one end of the garden is sitting on top a bed of rock.  However, having crappy soil did land me the best gift ever…

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Three giant scoops of the best mushroom/screened topsoil this side of the river!  Best. Present. Ever.

Images and content copyright © 2014 Danielle R Limoge.

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Jerking Around

Once upon a time I stumbled across a little something called eggplant bacon.  Immediately I was all like “WHOA, WHAT?!?!”  Did I just discover the blissful marriage between one of my all-time favorite vegetables and the most delicious edible ever?  Because lets be honest folks, bacon is magic.  Pure magic.  Period.  During my vegetarian years, the one thing I missed the most was bacon.  Imitated, yes.  Duplicated, never.

Several years ago I tried out various forms of this said “facon bacon” delight, and you know what?  It tastes NOTHING LIKE BACON.  After revamping and melding a few recipes, I came up with a damn good substitute for jerky and that made me a very happy girl!  I’m not a big fan of jerky, it gets stuck in my teeth, makes my stomach uneasy, and leaves a weird aftertaste in my mouth.  It is a big fat trifecta of no-thank-you-ness!  But still, there is just something about jerky that makes me think I want to eat it… and then I’m immediately reminded as to why I don’t!  Eggplant jerky satisfies my cravings without all the regret!

eggplant jerky Eggplant Jerky

2-3 medium-sized eggplant, I like to use globe-shaped varieties.

1/4 cup neutral oil, such as sunflower, grapeseed, or safflower.

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup white rice vinegar

3 tbsp Worcestershire

1 tbsp water

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp cayenne

1 tsp liquid smoke

pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to incorporate, set aside.  Wash and dry eggplant, cut off stem and blossom ends, and slice lengthwise into 1/4″ pieces.  Slice in half again and marinate in spice mixture for 15 minutes, toss occasionally so that all pieces are well coated.  Place on dehydrator trays in a single layer and turn up the heat to the veggie setting.  Remove from trays once the eggplant is dry but pliable.  Usually I let mine run overnight.  Place in an airtight container for long-term storage.

eggplant jerky jar



Images and content copyright © 2013 Danielle R Limoge.

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Herbed Green Beans

It has been three years since my last canning of green beans; this is not because I haven’t wanted to, but because nature has not allowed me to!  In both 2011 and 2012 I battled bugs, lots and lots of bugs.  And I’m not talking about a bite here or a nibble there.  Those tiny mouths of destruction waged an all-out war on my garden and made Swiss cheese of my bean patch!  This year I had the bunnies to thank for completely devouring my plants before they ever had a chance to produce beans… that the bugs could then eat.  The bunny mishap could have been prevented (and will be for next year’s growing season); however, due to the time constraints of my “workforce” the garden gate has yet to be constructed.  This translated into a big flashing sign that read EAT HERE!!!  Sigh.

My non-existent green bean harvest has forced me to continually set aside a canning recipe I’ve been wanting to try out.  Fortunately, Farmer Josh’s second planting of beans was ready for the pickin’, so I was able to secure a half-bushel along with my yearly order of corn.

herbed green beans Herbed Green Beans – yields 6 quarts

24 cups snap or wax beans, washed, ends trimmed, and cut into 1 inch pieces.

3 cups chopped onion

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped

3 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped

1 tsp celery seed

1/2 tsp pickling salt – optional

Place beans in a large stock pot and add enough water to cover the beans.  Bring to a boil and cook, covered, for 5 minutes.  Drain beans and return to pot and add onion, garlic, herbs, and if desired salt.  Mix well to distribute herbs.  Fill sterile quart or pint jars leaving 1″ headspace; add boiling water, leaving 1/2″ headspace.  Remove air bubbles, wipe rims, and adjust lids to fingertip-tight.  Process quarts for 25 minutes and pints for 20 minutes in a pressure canner at 10lbs-weighted-gauge or 11lbs for a dial-gauge, at sea-level.

PDFBadgeImages and content copyright © 2013 Danielle R Limoge. Recipe adapted from a book I borrowed from the library several years ago and did not write down.  I know, worst credit acknowledgement EVER!


Filed under Pressure Canning, Vegan, Vegetarian

Stuffed Chard Rolls

My career change (which I’ll elaborate more on in a future post) has afforded me two luxuries: less stress and more time!  Clearly a win-win situation, which makes me a very happy girl!  This new-found freedom if my day-to-day work-life has given me the delight of once again stepping back into the garden, albeit a smaller one, but a glorious garden none the less!

In my garden I have a small row of rainbow chard, 6 plants in all.  Knowing they are abundant producers I contemplated cutting back and only planting half of them; however, being someone who is always up for a challenge, especially one involving the kitchen, I decided to go for it!  So far I’ve received a thumbs up regarding my sautéed chard and I know this cheesy bread is sure to please his picky pallet.  Unfortunately, neither of the former foods happen to be meal worthy.  So, I started spinning my foodie wheels  to come up with something that can stand on its own.  That is when I started playing around with the idea of stuffed chard rolls! stuffed chard rolls Stuffed Chard Rolls – yields approximately 14 rolls

3/4 cup cooked lentils – I used brown

3/4 cup cooked rice – I used black Thai rice

one large bunch of chard leaves, washed with stems cut off at base of the leaf

1 leek, (white part only) chopped

1/3 cup minced garlic scapes

8 oz sour cream

2 tsp pureed salt preserved lemons – zest and juice of 1/2 lemon can be substituted

3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste

olive oil

Greek yogurt – optional

Cook rice and lentils using a 2/1 ratio of water to rice/lentils.  Depending on what varieties you select this can take anywhere from 20 – 45 minutes.  Once they have finished cooking set aside.  Place a large saute pan over med heat and add a generous drizzle of olive oil.  Cook scapes and leeks until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.  Add rice, lentils, and sour cream; mix well.  Season with salt, pepper, and garlic power, add pureed lemon and feta cheese, stir well to combine. Blanch chard leaves 3 or 4 at a time in boiling water for approximately a minute, remove from water and lay flat.  If the center rib is too thick and does not bend without tearing the leaf, then cut it out. chard leaf

chard leaf cut Once the rib has been removed gently overlap the two sides. chard leaf overlap Place several tablespoons of filling at the base of the leaf.  Tightly roll the leaf around the filling while tucking the sides in. chard leaf filling Place rolls into a baking dish seam side down and bake for 15 minutes at 350°F. chard leaf rolled  Stuffed chard rolls can be enjoyed hot or cold and are delicious when paired with a side of Greek yogurt.  I can see myself making a version of these with ground beef and a cheesy red sauce; this will definitely make my carnivore a very happy boy! stuffed chard rolls 3 Images and content copyright © 2013 Danielle R Limoge.


Filed under Vegetarian

A Case of the Red, White, and BLUES

And by blues, I mean blueberries!  Around this time each year I am reminded just how much I love those tiny indigo berries!  Not only do they lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, but they are also anti-inflammatory, which is a key driver of all chronic diseases!


Everyone knows that fresh is best and it’s a no-brainer that blueberries consumed raw is when they best deliver their peak power-house performance!  Wanting to save them to be enjoyed throughout the year I started spinning my preservation wheels and came up with two very delicious recipes!  If you’re looking for something quick and dirty, then the compote recipe is the one for you.  If you have the luxury of time and can commit to some babysitting, then this no pectin jam is the way to go!  These recipes are interchangeable, so if you prefer a blueberry lemon jam or a blueberry vanilla compote then just swap out the cooking times!

blueberry compote

Blueberry Lemon Compote – yields 9 half-pints

11 cups of blueberries

Grated zest and juice of one lemon

1/3 cup honey

1 cup sugar

In a large pot combine blueberries, zest, juice, sugar, and honey over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce to low heat and simmer for 25 minutes.  Ladle compote into hot jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.  Remove air bubbles, wipe rims, and adjust two-piece lids to fingertip-tight.  Process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.  Remove canner from heat, wait 5 minutes and then remove jars and allow seals to set for 12-24 hours.

Blueberry Vanilla Jam – yields 4 half-pints

11 cups of blueberries

juice from 1/2 lemon

1/3 cup honey

1 cup sugar

1 Madagascar vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped

In a large pot combine blueberries, juice, sugar, honey, vanilla bean and seeds and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce to low heat and simmer for 45 minutes; skim off any foam that develops.  Ladle jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.  Remove air bubbles, wipe rims, and adjust two-piece lids to fingertip-tight.  Process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.  Remove canner from heat, wait 5 minutes and then remove jars and allow seals to set for 12-24 hours.

After canning both recipes I still had quite a few blueberries left over.  Seeing as how my freezer is full of strawberries I decided to can the remaining berries in a light simple syrup.

Blueberries in Light Syrup


1 cup of sugar for every 4 cups of water

Dissolve sugar in water over medium heat.  Fill hot pint jars with blueberries and fill with sugar-water leaving 1/2″ headspace.  Wipe rims and adjust two-piece lids to fingertip-tight.  Process in a boiling-water bath for 15 minutes.  Remove canner from heat, wait 5 minutes and then remove jars and allow seals to set for 12-24 hours.

These jars of berries will really come in handy when it’s cold outside and I want to heat things up with a bit of pie and cobbler making!

Images and content copyright © 2013 Danielle R Limoge.

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Filed under Boiling-Water Bath Canning, Jam & Jelly, Spices & Sauces

Strawberry Fields Part 2: Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate

When looking at canning recipes gathering ideas for my next adventure, I try to avoid recipes that contain obnoxious amounts of refined sugar. Every once in a while I will make an exception and give in to my sweet tooth; folks, this is definitely one of those times!

Since the finished product will be diluted (by more than half) with water, I’m able to rationalize the needed 6 cups of evil white sugar. After cracking open my first jar and conducting the initial taste-test, I can honestly say this is one recipe I will make again! I can see myself reliving my bartender days and whipping up a few summer cocktails! I love when one little jar holds so many delicious possibilities!

strawberry lemonade

Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate – yields 7 pints

6 cups hulled strawberries

4 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice

6 cups granulated sugar

Using a food processor or blender, purée strawberries until smooth. Transfer to a large stainless steel pot, add lemon juice and sugar, stir to combine. Heat mixture to 190°F over medium-high heat stirring occasionally. Do not boil. Remove pot from heat and skim off any foam that has developed.

Ladle concentrate into hot pint jars, wipe rims and add two-piece adjustable lids. Process for 15 minutes in a boiling-water bath. Remove canner from heat, wait 5 minutes and then remove jars, allowing them to cool for 12-24 hours.

To reconstitute, mix one part concentrate with one part water, adjust to your own personal taste. I use a 1:1.5 water ratio. I’m thinking frozen margaritas or vodka and seltzer water would be the perfect ending to a hot summer day!


Images and content copyright © 2013 Danielle R Limoge. Recipe courtesy of Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving.


Filed under Beverages, Boiling-Water Bath Canning