Never-thrower-outers

My niece Gracie has strived towards a number of career goals in her first decade of life. The first, age 3, was the “Pizza Monkey” (grown man dressed as a purple monkey holding a pizza sign on a street corner). Thankfully, she was encouraged to aim a little higher. Her dreams of being an Acrobat lasted the longest and was her official preschool career. She would only agree to pursue the big top if “her husband was willing to stay home with their children”. No, I am not making this up. Next came, “wedding-dress-picker-outer”, as defined by Grace as someone who helps a bride pick out her wedding dress and telling her how beautiful she looks. The girls were watching quite a lot of Say Yes to the Dress at that time.   

Grace and I have a lot in common. In addition to a variety of career goals, we also like to make words string together by other words. That’s how we come to the Never-Thrower-Outers. 

Never-Thrower-Outers are sharers rather than hoarders. For example, my cousin Susanna saved and later passed on all my Grandma’s costume jewelry. No on is going to wear the jewelry again, but neither of us could throw it away. I shoved it all in a drawer then forgot about it for a year. A brilliant idea came to me. With a little hot glue, I turned Grandmas awful earrings into new and retro refrigerator magnets.   

The people in my family aren’t hoarders, as far as I know. We just keep things forever knowing, deep in our souls, that we or someone we know will find a good use for it someday. We are very generous with our stuff too. I always have a pile of random gifts to pass on to friends or family. Currently the pile includes flower cupcake liners for Chef Lily and DVDs of a college professor for my sister Rachel. I cleaned out recently or the pile would be larger. 

Susanna passed on all of her gardening soil, pots, stones, fertilizer and hazelnut shells. Cora loves pulling up delicately planted blossoms by their head and burying them upside down. Susanna gave up. Cora’s indelicate “love” of gardening is my gain.    

    
    
 

And in case you’re wondering, Gracie now wants to be a teacher. 

Welcome Baby Sam & New Flavors!

Blueberry Mojito Compote and Fig Strawberry Jam! Yes please! You know how sometimes people post stuff on Facebook like, my life is awesome and here’s a picture to prove it. Well, this is one of those. So if you just aren’t in the mood, then skip right to the flavors. I am happy! And my life is awesome! And frankly, it’s been a rough road. One might say (and that one would be me) that it’s about time! Fair warning…this post will have a lot of exclamation points!

I have an awesome family. I love my job and my jam business. I have a boyfriend, John, who is pretty awesome and makes me laugh so hard that a variety of liquids have almost sprayed from my mouth as he tells a joke. And he’s geeky and nerdy and snuggly, just like I like. And my garden is, well a bit of a hot mess lately, but that’s okay. So yeah, I’m happy. On top of all of that, I have BIG news! I mean B – I – G!


My nephew Samuel is officially adopted! Yeah! He’s so sweet and plump and happy. He’s pretty sure the world revolves around him. Let’s face it, if your world was as small as a kitchen/dining room, that might be true for you too. Also, having four older siblings wouldn’t hurt.

And on top of baby Sam, I have some new flavors. It’s about time! Seriously, I’ve been trying to find time for Blueberry Mojito Compote for a year! A year! Good grief! Well, the wait was worth it.


 Also, the Fig and Strawberry Jam is pretty amazing too.


Both flavors have been taste tested by my co-workers. They are always willing to take one for the team and shove some jam in their mouths. They are just that nice. Either flavor works, so eat up!

Chef Lily Bakes Gluten Free Apricot Almond Coconut Bars

Chef Lily likes to stay up on current cooking techniques and experimenting with new ideas. In this recipe, we created a gluten free option from a recipe favorite. With a great base recipe, using coconut flour instead of wheat flour is an obvious choice.

Coconut flour is not only gluten free but also grain free. It’s high in fiber and protein. If you’ve never baked with coconut flour, it’s not a one to one ratio with wheat flour. A little coconut flour goes a long way. Nuts.com is a great resource for Organic Coconut flour. This recipe has been tailored to specifically address the changes needed for a successful cooking using coconut flour.

Gather It

Crust

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 3/4 cup flake coconut

Filling

  • 1 cup apricot preserves (1 jar Aunt Becky’s Apricot Fruit Spread)

Topping

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut
  • 1/2 cups chopped or sliced almonds

Mix It

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Combine crust ingredients in a bowl and stir

  • Grease 9×9 pan
  • Spread crust mixture into pan

  • Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until set
  • Spread Aunt Becky’s Apricot Fruit Spread over crust
  • Combine topping ingredients in a bowl and stir

  • Spread the topping over the apricot layer

  • Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brow

Gobble It

  • Use a spoon to scoop a piping hot portion in to a bowl and top with vanilla ice cream. Do it right away!
  • Cool the rest until room temperature then cover and refrigerate before cutting into squares.

Grape Jelly

If you’re excited to hear that I’m now making grape jelly to sell…you are going to be disappointed. I made a small batch for my nephew Lincoln from grapes my sister Rachel picked and juiced last summer.

Because I love Lincoln and grape jelly is one of his favorites, I whipped up a batch to send to him. Because I spoil him, he deeply believes that every package that arrives at the house is a present from his Aunt Becky. I can live with that!

I couldn’t quite get the grape jelly made in time for my last visit to Seattle. The highlight of the trip was taking Lincoln to his very first Mariner’s baseball game with his parents and his “Hanty” Michelle. He ate so many snacks and cheered and sang during the 7th inning stretch. We had a great time!

The next morning, Lincoln woke up and put on all of his gear including T-shirt, ball cap, lanyard, and the Batman sunglasses I bought him. Mini bat in one hand and his green bear “Scout” dressed in a t shirt in the other hand, he announced that he was ready to play ball! (Notice Wyatt in the background trying to bust out of the house.)

Meanwhile, Wyatt stood in the door to the bathroom with sad eyes because I wouldn’t let him swirl his plump little hand in the toilet. I’m so mean.   In case you are worried that Wyatt is anything but a happy and loved little boy, this is his happy flirty smile. Adorable!

If you really want grape jelly, look no further than Mt. Hope Farms in Molalla, OR. They grow their own grapes and make several flavors of grape jelly. As a bonus, they are about the nicest family you will find. You can check out their website at Mt Hope Farms. I know it’s crazy that I’m telling you to buy jelly from someone else, but I am. And I’m not sorry. I love supporting local farmers! Their grape jelly is delicious and they are super kind and generous!

Tiffany’s Jam

My friend Tiffany Ioves my Raspberry Jam with Pear infused Brandy so much that she calls it “my jam”. “Oh, do you have any more of my jam?!?” 

  
Concurrently with making a huge batch of Tiffany’s jam , I’m also listening to Willie Nelson in advance of this Friday’s concert with Wille and Alison Krauss. “You are always on my mind” reminded me of, you guessed it, Tiffany. The bummer is that Tiff has a long term illness as well as four kids which makes it hard for her to galavant around town. As previously mentioned, I’m up to my eyeballs with fruit processing and jam making this time of year. 

So, Tiff, here’s to you. While you are not always on my mind (let’s face it, only my dreams of food meet that criteria), you are often on my mind. Love you!

PS To my other friend Tiff, love you too girlfriend! 

PS2 No one else get worked up cause you weren’t mentioned (you know who you are). 

Good Times

I’m having too much fun! It turns out that with jam-making, berry picking, planting and working in my garden, visits to spoil my nieces and nephews whom I adore, and my new boyfriend whom I also adore, writing a blog post seems to take more time than I can find in a day.

But still, so so much fun! Case in point, Cherry Pie Plum fruit spread over vanilla bean ice cream topped with white chocolate chips.   

When I first started my website, my goal was to write once a week. It worked out. But then, I started selling jam, lots of jam. So with only a little regret, I’m decided that it will be ok to post lest often or with more updates and pictures. You can expect more photos and quick blurbs until the craziness of the Farmers Market Season is over at the end of September. 

Chef Lily Bakes Sunshine Cupcakes

Chef Lily is sunshine. Her light blond hair is only the outside representation of her sunny disposition. Lily wakes up every morning at around 5:45 am with an indescribable joy to be alive. (The other members of her household are not as excited that she’s awake so early.) Her happy smile lights up the room and it’s hard to resist. After that intro, who else could make sunshine cupcakes except Chef Lily.


Sunshine Cupcakes with Pomelo Marmalade Buttercream Frosting

Gather It

Cupcakes

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 cups shredded coconut
  • 1 cup cup macadamia nuts, chopped
  • 3/4 cup pineapple, chopped

Frosting

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup Pomelo Marmalade
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Make It

Cupcakes

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Line 2 cupcake pans with paper liners (makes 24 regular size cupcakes)
  •  
  • Cream butter and sugar in a mixer until smooth
  •   
  • Add eggs, vanilla extract and almond extract until combine
  •  
  • In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt
  • Add half of flour mixture to butter mixture and gently stir
  • Add milk and stir
  • Add remaining flour mixture and stir
  • Add lemon zest, coconut, macadamia nuts and pineapple until combined
  •  
  • Use spoon or scoop to divide cupcake batter evenly into 24 cupcake paper liners
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minute until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean
  • Remove from pan and allow to cool completely before frosting (you may choose to eat a piping hot cupcake right out of the oven just to make sure they’re ok)

Frosting

  • Cream butter and powdered sugar together until smooth
  • Add Pomelo Marmalade, milk and vanilla extract until combined
  • Frost cupcakes
  •  
  • Lick some of the remaining frosting from the bowl

Gobble It

  • After frosting the 21 or so cupcakes that are remaining after you “tested” more than one, enjoy with a big glass of milk on a warm sunny day and smile
  •  

Aunt Becky’s Freezer Jam Classes at the Library

Aunt Becky will be teaching freezer jam class at two Multnomah County (Portland metro area) libraries in July. Freezer jam is the most simple and easy to make of all jam methods. It’s perfect for a beginner!

berry basket

You will learn how to make freezer jam from start to finish. The flavor of jam will depend on seasonal availability of local Oregon fruit. Materials include information on basic freezer jam recipes, ingredient information (e.g., types of sugar and sugar substitutes), and local Oregon farm locations for picking your own fruit.

Classes sizes are limited on a first-come, first-serve basis. Here are the details:

  • Thursday, July 9th from 6:00pm to 7:00pm, Hollywood Meeting Room at 4040 NE Tillamook Street, Portland OR
  • Monday, July 13th from 6:30pm to 7:30pm, Gregory Heights Library at 7921 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland OR

If you’re interested in classes at your library or other location, please email Aunt Becky at http://www.auntbecky@gmail.com. See you at the library!

Check out the library website for more information here.

Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate Brownies with Blackberry Merlot Jam

Luscious chocolate bombs of goodness filled with melty blackberry merlot jam. Bonus is these take less than 10 minutes to make and 20 minutes to bake.

Gather It

 

  • Ghiradelli dark chocolate brownie mix (also need one egg, water and vegetable oil)
  • 1/4 cup Aunt Becky’s Blackberry Merlot Jam

Make It

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Follow instructions on box for brownie mix
  • Fill muffin tin with 12 paper liners
  • Using measured scoop, fill paper liners 1/3 full of brownie mix
  • Add 1 tsp. jam
  • Divide remaining brownie mix into paper liners
  • Bake 20 minutes until brownies are done

Gobble It

Who are we kidding? Don’t wait for the brownies to cool! Use a butter knife to wedge a brownie out of the piping hot muffin tin. Try not to burn your finders as you delicately tear the paper off the brownie over a bowl. Since it’s warm, I guarantee the brownie will fall apart. Add a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream. Sneak to another room in your house to hide from your significant other/children/dog to gobble it down quickly and secretly.

Reduced Sugar Strawberry Fruit Spread

Reduced Sugar Strawberry Fruit Spread is here! And it’s good! I mean really good! And there are no natural or artificial sugar substitutes. The only ingredients are Hood Strawberries, organic cane sugar, pectin, water and calcium powder (used with pectin to thicken).

The Story – Drew’s Jam

My almost-adopted 5 year old nephew “Drew” (previously referred to as “A”) has a hard time processing sugar. Like almost every kid, Drew loves candy, jam, etc. Unfortunately, every time he eats sugar, he takes a lot more trips to what I call “Melt-down City” for the next 24 hours. So occasionally he is allowed to eat sugar or sugar-free candy, but he can’t enjoy Aunt Becky’s Special Jam very often. Not wanting to compromise on taste, I went about developing a jam that he could eat with every PB&J sandwich and Eggo waffle. After all, I spoil and I’m not Aunt Becky for nothing!

The Sugar

As I mentioned, one goal of making a reduced sugar product was to spoil my nephew Drew in a manner that I feel is adequate. I also wanted to provide a product that my brother-in-law Scott and many of my other customers could enjoy. Scott has diabetes and has to watch his blood sugar really carefully.

Most reduced sugar jams either contain a sugar substitute which often leaves a weird after-taste or uses another natural sweetner. Since both Drew and Scott have to limit sweets in general, a sugar substitute like honey or white grape juice or agave was not a option.

Organic cane sugar at 1/3 the amount of Aunt Beckys regular Hood Strawberry Fruit Spread combines with uber sweet little Hood strawberries to make a bright red, lovely fruit spread.

The Cause – Alliance for a Healthier Generation

When I’m not making jam or developing recipes or selling at a craft show or farmers’ market, I have a day job I love. I work for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation (the Alliance). The goal of the Alliance is to reduce childhood obesity. It’s a mission close to my heart. One dollar of every jar of Reduced Sugar Strawberry Fruit Spread will be donated to the Alliance. Check out the Alliance website at www.healthiergeneration.org if you want to learn more about the Alliance or  www.teamhealthiergeneration.org to participate in a Team Healthier Generation event.

The Name

This is the funny part. When trying to decide what to call my new flavor, I asked for input from several people.

My co-worker Brian suggested “Mountain Strawberry Chutney” because of the big chunks of strawberries. Although I didn’t think the name quite captures what I am going for, now I might make some strawberry chutney!

Another co-worker Nicole suggested “Simply Sweet Strawberry”. This was a good suggestion as well, but didn’t give me a name if I want to create more reduced sugar flavors.

My sister Rachel came up with a LOT of ideas including:

  • Kick diabetes in the teeth
  • Take THAT glycemic index! Blam! Pow!
  • Delicious descent into jam world
  • Give sugar the shaft
  • Becky we shrunk the sugar
  • Try it or I’ll give you a knuckle sandwich (ala Lucy from Charlie Brown)
  • Less sugar but without the disgusting after-taste
  • You don’t have to worry it down (a nod to my Grandma Pauline)
  • You can eat three times as much. Please do, we’ll make more
  • Smackerel of sugar (thanks Winnie the Pooh)
  • So good, you’ll betray your friends to the White Witch (deep reference to the Chronicles of Narnia)

The best name suggestion was from my 4 year old nephew Lincoln, “Batman’s favorite jam!”

You can try a sample this Saturday, April 4th from 9am till 1pm at the Cedar Hills Recreation Center.