Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sweet Melissa Sundays & Heavenly Cake Bakers


I learned to can from my Grandma, scared out of my shoes. We didn't have much money at the time and my daughter Ashley was maybe 3 years old. I found the hot produce spots to hit from my old neighbor, Walt (who has canned for years), had $100 to our name, a Ford pick-up tank full of gas (Grandpa filled the tank) and off we went to Eastern Washington to get peaches, pears, tomatoes and whatever else I could get a hold of. I was so excited.




I have been known to be exuberant, spontaneous and over-enthused. We came home with 250+ pounds of produce. At one stop, I paid for (2) 35 pound boxes of peaches at $7.50 a box. Picked the largest looking boxes and loaded them into the truck. Went back to look at pears. In the meantime, hubby also loaded (2) 35 pound boxes of peaches into the truck. We did not figure this out until we were back home.

We get home and unload and unload and unload the truck. My kitchen and washroom was covered in boxes, stacked two high, and none of the fruit was ripe enough to can . . . except for the tomatoes (all 75 pounds of them!).



Grandma called (from 1 mile away . . . she knew a LOT of work when she saw it) to tell me that I did not save money if all the fruit spoiled instead of being canned AND that my fruit WAS going to all spoil!

I inherited her stubborn streak . . . and it was GAME ON! I lost a total of 6 peaches. I had to wait for the fruit to get ripe but when the fruit "did" get ripe . . . ALL of the fruit was ripe! I did not sleep for 3 days. It was horrible and THAT is how I learned to can.



I now know how to enjoy making a single small batch and I always laugh when I pull out "ol Faithful" my canning pot.

Sweet Melissa Sundays brought Plum Raspberry Preserves, chosen by Margo of Effort to Deliciousness, and was a breeze to assemble and using Granny Smith apples for natural pectin was a nice change of pace. I stuck to the recipe because raspberries, plums, and apples cooked down has a delicious sweet, tart flavor. I did cut my sugar down by 1/2.


The jam thickened up to a consistency where you do not have syrup and you are not cutting the jam out of the jar . . . spreadable.



I canned miniature jars (hold 4 ounces each) for Christmas presents and the rest is for hubby and I to enjoy.



The color turned out bright red with the right amount of soft chunks of fruit. Just how I like my preserves.

Thank you Margo for the wonderful run down memory lane and a delicious choice to be enjoyed now and later! You can find the jam recipe at Margo's blog or you can buy Melissa's cookbook and have ALL the recipes at your fingertips!

Presents:
Chocolate Tomato Cake with Mystery Ganache


I dreaded this cake, I know Rose would NEVER put a sub-standard cake in her cookbook but the IDEA of tomato soup in the cake batter AND in the ganache had me worried. Especially since this was going to be my step-son's 18th year birthday cake.


Whipping the chocolate cake batter together was a rather quick session, especially after completing a 7 page dessert last week. I tasted the chocolate batter and could not detect any tomato flavor. Unfortunately, I told Larry (hubby) about the tomato part of this recipe last week and he has had the dreading look on his face since. So when I asked him to try the batter, he ~ of course ~ said he could taste the tomato but just slightly. Yeesh!

The cake baked up fluffy and had just a slight crack in the middle when removed from the oven. The layers were allowed to cool overnight and the ganache was made in the morning.


I had just as much trouble telling myself to put tomato soup in the ganache as I did the cake batter. I would now like to state for the record how the tomato soup was NOT discernible in the cake batter nor the ganache. I was relieved and excited. We have not cut into the cake yet because we took Dustin to an all-you-can-eat Asian buffet (what he asked for) and now he is too full to squeak. I will return in the morning with cut cake pictures!

23 comments:

Hanaâ said...

Your jam is pretty (isn't that color beautiful?). Glad you liked it. Your tomato choc cake turned out gorgeous. I made myself a couple cupcakes so I could taste it before serving it to my guests tomorrow, haha. It's delicious and I couldn't discern the tomato in it. Btw, thanks for the heads up on hubby's reaction. That's what made me decide not to tell hubby anything about the tomato!! Haha.

Beth said...

The preserves look gorgeous. I loved the story about your first canning experience. Hooray for stubborn streaks!

Flourchild said...

I love your story! Thank you for sharing your jam looks so good!! I may get to it today.

Vicki said...

Great story! How I wish I had learned to can with my grandmother. The birthday cake looks fantastic. I like how you alternated like and dark cookies. I didn't know which ones to buy.

Anonymous said...

Condivido pienamente il suo punto di vista. Mi piace la tua idea. Offerta di mettere una discussione generale.
Assolutamente d'accordo con lei. In questo nulla in vi e credo che questa sia un'ottima idea. Pienamente d'accordo con lei.

Leslie said...

That jam is lovely, but the story is priceless! And I recoil at the idea of tomato soup in chocolate cake (and especially ganache!) so I'm glad it all worked out.

margot said...

Hi Shandy, thank you for preserving with me this week and sharing the story of how you learned to can. It's a good thing to know how to do and preserves make such wonderful gifts. It looks like your preserves turned out fantastic.

That cake looks absolutely beautiful! I've found that it's better to not disclose the weird ingredients until after the dessert has been tasted.

Tessa said...

Wow! Both your cake and your preserves look absolutely awesome. I have never tried canning, but I really want to make these preserves as soon as I can get back to my kitchen. It looks great!

faithy, the baker said...

I love your step by step photos of your preserves..esp. the canning stage.. i've never done any canning before since these fruits are super expensive here where i live so it's definitely cheaper to buy the preserves from supermarket. :)

And your chocolate cake looks delicious..i can't wait to see after you cut the cake!

Gloria said...

Hi Shandy! Sorry its taken me so long to get over to your blog this week. Had to travel for work this last week. It would be tons of fun if some of us bakers lived near each other. Then we could get a taste of each other baking creations!

Your preserves look great. You've inspired to take on canning next time round. I really enjoyed making this week's recipe. I loved the story about your introduction to canning. LOL.

Cool cake! Tomato sounds really interesting. Looking foward to seeing a slice. The question is would you make it again?

Tiff said...

Beautiful preserves! And your cake is awesome!

Sweet and Savory said...

Looks like a double home run today. The preserves are like jewels. The color is stunning.

The cake is a masterpiece but no, I can't imagine tomato in it. This is one, I will take your word on and I do believe you. I just couldn't do it.

I have the book and note, I don't remember that recipe.

thedaintyapron said...

I loved reading your story about your grandma and your first canning experience. Your preserves look great....love the little jars. I will have to get over the fear of canning as it sounds like a great gift for Christmas. I wish I would have been able to cook along with you guys this week.

Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) said...

wish I stay close to you, so I can taste all your delicious food^^

Rebecca said...

That jam looks amazing! I'm gonna HAVE to give mine ANOTHER go to get that beautiful red color!

Eliana said...

tomato in chocolate cake - whoa! - i need to give that a try. oh, and you are the master decorator girl. that cake looks gorgeous.

Julie said...

Your jam looks delicious and will make such wonderful gifts. How special you learned to can at such an early age! Interesting the cake with tomato soup...

Tracey said...

Hi Shandy! I loved your post - what a fun story about how you learned to can! I still don't know how and I'm a bit intimidated by it so I think I'm putting it off until next year.

The cake looks awesome! I've flipped through Rose's book and seen that cake a few times, always curious about how it would taste. I'm just going to have to give it a try one of these days :)

Jeannette said...

Wowza!! That cake looks amazing!!! As do your preserves!

I made ketchup cookies a while back and handed them out at work as 'secret ingredient cookies' and if anyone could guess what the ingredient was then they'll win a homemade baked treat of their choosing to share, or not to share :) Needless to say NO ONE guess it (and I also got guesses like cyanide and bleach....) so I think it's safe to say that the tomato flavor wasn't pronounced! Like with this cake!

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