Blogs

Nothing but Nettles

One of the earliest foraged foods of spring, stinging nettles are cropping up in forests and alongside streams all over. These prickly plants require a little special handling (they're called stinging nettles for a reason, after all), but once their formic acid-laden hairs have been tamed, nettles are quite delicious, and remarkably nutritious, making them one of the best foraged foods around.

Foraging Nettles
Foraging Nettles
Know how and where to find and identify wild nettles, and how to process them once you harvest them -- and don't forget the gloves! (Image via Make and Rake)

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Tend Your Garden

Even if you're still buried in snow, it's a good time to start planning ahead on your garden so you can hit the ground running, er, digging when the spring thaw comes. 

Garden Planning
Garden Planning
You know what they say: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Before you do anything in the garden, make a plan, map it out and think about what you want to grow for the year. (Image via Seattle Seedling)
Seed Selecting
Seed Selecting
This is the fun part! But first, take stock of what you've got, including maybe some seeds you saved from last year, and shop or trade for the rest. (Image via Sweet Domesticity)

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Orchard Road Canning Jars: Review and Giveaway

Orchard Road Canning Jars: Review and Giveaway, found on PunkDomestics.com

If you're like me, and I know I am, you occasionally get a little, well, bored with the same old jars. Ball jars can be a bit twee and over decorated, though they certainly are ubiquitous and convenient. I love the look of Weck jars, but don't find them terribly practical for actual canning. 

There's a new jar in town: Orchard Road. These sleek, smooth-sided jars are interchangeable with your workday Balls, but with a slightly more modern profile. Read my full review over on About.com to learn their pros and cons. (Spoiler alert: Mostly pros.)

The good folks at Fillmore Container have graciously provided me a bunch of these jars to play with, but they're not stopping there. You, yes you, can win some of these jars and lids for your very own, as well as an additional 50 smackers to spend on whatever your heart desires at Fillmore Container. And they have a lot of cool stuff.

You want it, don't you? Of course you do. So how do you enter to win? We've got options -- lots of options. You can do any or all of the following things:

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Cabbage from Kraut to Kimchi and Beyond

Cabbage is your friend! Whether you're working with the Western globes in green or red, or crisp heads of napa cabbage, a little salt, time and patience can turn it into a traditional condiment with a global footprint. From tangy sauerkraut to spicy kimchi and beyond, here's a few ways to make the most of this ubiqutous veg.

Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut
Whether you start with green or red cabbage, you can whip up a batch of tangy kraut using just cabbage, salt and a mason jar, but branch out and try variations like cran-apple, jicama-apple or kicked up with Sichuan spices. (Image via Food in Jars)
Cortido
Curtido
Curtido is Central America's answer to sauerkraut: Same tangy taste, but punched up with Mexican oregano and the fiery kick of chili peppers. (Image via rcakewalk)

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We Heart Beets

Jewels from the ground, beets delight with their earthy sweetness. Whether you like ruby red, golden, or candy-stripe Chioggia, here's a bunch of ways to put up these gemlike roots.

Pickled Beets, found on PunkDomestics.com
Pickled Beets
Sliced or chunked beets pickled in a sweet brine enhances their natural flavor. Delicious as part of a cheese plate, or with salads. (Image via San Diego Foodstuff)
Beet Pickled Eggs, found on PunkDomestics.com
Beet Pickled Eggs
Don't chuck that brine! Use it to pickle hard-boiled eggs for a colorful, and very delicious, treat. (Image via This American Bite)
Kabees el-Lift, found on PunkDomestics.com
Kabees el-Lift
When fermented with turnip, they become a mustardy, pink pickle known as kabees el-lift, the classic condiment for shawerma. (Image via The Domestic Man)

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Marmalade: Beyond Orange

Citrus is in, and nothing captures the essence of these sunny fruits like marmalade, whether you're making the classic orange or dabbling in other citrus.

How to Cut Citrus for Marmalade
How to Cut Citrus for Marmalade
First things first: How you cut your citrus can make a big difference in the final product when making marmalade. Here's how to make perfectly uniform cuts.
Orange Marmalade
Orange Marmalade
Sevilles are great, but orange marmalade can also be made with blood oranges, cara caras and others. (Image via Local Kitchen)
Lemon Marmalade
Lemon Marmalade
Sweet and fragrant meyer lemons are a great fit here. (If you don't get local meyers, be sure to order some from Lemon Ladies here in the Bay Area.) But all lemons marm up a treat. (Image via Hitchhiking to Heaven)

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New Site Feature: Rewards by SessionM

I'm excited to announce a new feature on Punk Domestics, in partnership with BlogHer. If you look at the top of the right sidebar, you'll see a badge that says Punk Domestics Rewards Powered by mPoints. mPoints is a program designed to thank you, the Punk Domestics community, for doing the things you already are doing.

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Review and Giveaway: Preserving Everything

Review: Preserving Everything, found on PunkDomestics.com

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links that I may derive revenue from. The author provided me a complimentary copy of the book for review.

As I noted, 2014 was an extraordinary year for DIY food books, with volumes that took the genre to new heights. Each takes its corner, in some cases combining preserving with everyday cookery, as in Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry and Blue Chair Cooks with Jam and Marmalade. Others find niches, as with Asian Pickles. Leda Meredith goes deep down the preserving rabbithole with the aptly named Preserving Everything: Can, Culture, Pickle, Freeze, Ferment, Dehydrate, Salt, Smoke, and Store Fruits, Vegetables, Meat, Milk, and More (Countryman Know How).

The title is brazen, to be sure, and Meredith cops to that right off the top. Without question, this book will not specifically hold your hand and walk you through the hows and whys of preserving each and every specific thing, but by plainly outlying the principles and techniques of preservation, she will leave you empowered with the knowledge you need to take on, well, everything. 

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Kumquats: Funny to Say, Delicious to Preserve

Funny to say, delicious to preserve. Kumquats pack a potent punch of citric tartness in a tiny package. Unlike their cousins, kumquats invert the paradigm, with mild rinds and sour-bitter pulp. They add a distinctive flavor to all kinds of preserves, like these.

Kumquat Marmalade
Kumquat Marmalade
Move over, oranges. Kumquats are marmalade's new best friend. Your scones won't see it coming. (Image via Alyssa and Carla)
Kumquat Preserves
Kumquat Preserves
Put 'em up in syrup, plain and simple or spiked with flavors of mint, rosewater or spices. Excellent in cocktails. (Image via Local Kitchen)
Kumquat Jam
Kumquat Jam
Kumquat pairs nicely with plenty of other flavors in homemade jams: Cranberries, blackberries, rhubarb and even tomatoes. (Image via The Tomato Tart)

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