I have another project for you today. I've been doing lots of projects lately and I want to share them all, but I feel like I haven't been telling you about our life lately, either.
So here are a few things happening as of late:
1. The dogs are staying inside a lot because it's so cold outside. They sleep approximately 21 hours a day. Jack is desperately trying to get my tomato shaped pin cushion because he thinks it's a ball. He wants it bad. Real bad. He also burned his tongue yesterday on the oven. I opened it. He licked it.
2. I have been entertaining David and the dogs by doing interpretive dances to Josh Groban Christmas Music whilst I cook supper. There's a lot of Groban on my Celine Dion Holiday Pandora Station, but that's OK...I've got a lot of good moves.
3.I'm drinking so much Homemade Hot Chocolate. We'll be lucky if we have ANY to give away. My friend, AC, came over and we made Homemade Marshmallows to go with the Hot Chocolate. They are the bomb.
4. David is running fervently despite the cold. He wants to run a 5k at Brasstown Bald (the highest mountain in GA) this weekend. He says it's the hardest 5k in Georgia or America or something like that. Sometimes I laugh at the fact that we're together. "I'll be in the car with the heater on and knitting, Babe. See ya when I see ya."
5. I am currently mourning the loss of President David Palmer. This past weekend, we bundled up in front of the TV and started Season 5 of "24," because it was simply too cold and rainy to do anything else. I love Jacky B. I can't help myself. I'm practicing my sleeper hold on Jack (my dog, not to be confused with Jack Bauer on TV, whom I could never subdue). I've also been whipping out an imaginary gun in Jack's face and he always looks surprised and scared...he plays a great victim.
Enough about us, here's the next project: Hot Pepper Jelly!
If you have never had Pepper Jelly, you're missing out. I use it as an appetizer, though it can be eaten in many ways. I pour Pepper Jelly over a block of cream cheese and serve it with Ritz Crackers. It is amazing. It is green and festive. It is deliciously southern.
Sometimes you have to convince people to try it because it's green. I can understand that, but once people do try it, they love it. It's a great stand-by, go-to appetizer because it's quick and easy.
Pepper Jelly is really sweet with just a tiny bit of heat to it, and when that taste mixes with a salty cracker and smooth cream cheese -gosh- Amazing things happen.
Serve this at your next party or give it as a gift ,and you'll find yourself saying things like "Merry Merry Y'all!" or "I do declare!" or "Bless your heart."
It's like a Christmas Miracle.
A word of encouragement: This is a really, really easy jelly to make. If you've never made jelly before, I suggest you start here. It's a super simple recipe, you just have to put on your big girl panties, garner all of your courage, and get ready to boil down some sugar.
Come on, Suga,' you can do it!
(All of these pictures were taken in Fitzgerald, in case you were wondering whose kitchen this is. Nana and I like to make Pepper Jelly together. )
Here's what you need:
- 4 large green bell peppers
- 3-4 fresh jalapenos
- 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 6 cups sugar
- 1 1.75 oz box of Sure Gel (or fruit pectin of your choice)
- 4 drops green food coloring
- 6 (1/2-pint) canning jars with lids
This recipe yields 6 1/2 pint jars of jelly and will take about 30 minutes to make from start to finish.
Before you begin, sterilize your jars. This sounds scary and complicated. I think I'm legally obligated to tell you to follow the USDA guidelines for sterilizing a sealing jars, but I also want to tell you that I don't follow them, myself. I'm a Renegade Canner.
I can the same way that my Mama, my Nana, my Mamoo, and on and on have canned. It has always worked and hasn't made anyone sick, so far. We just bend the rules a little. If you feel more comfortable following the USDA guidelines, by all means do that.
Or you can be like me and tell the government to back up off your jelly makin' methods!
Can at your own risk, people.
But it's really not risky.
It's easy and fun.
OK, back to jar sterilization. Here's how I sterilize my jars. Are you ready? Are you sure? OK.
I run the jars through the dishwasher.
It's as easy as that. The water in your dishwasher is hot enough to make them sterile.
Check. Moving on...
Wash your all of your peppers and roughly chop them, being sure to remove all (or at least most) of the white membrane and seeds inside.
Next, put all the peppers in the food processor and pulse until they are chopped up very fine, but not pureed. You want your jelly to have a little texture. Or I do, anyway. You'll have to search your heart to find out what you really want.
Combine the chopped pepper mixture, 1 1/2 cups of Apple Cider Vinegar, and Sure Gel in a large sauce pan and bring it to a rolling boil. You will know it's a "rolling boil" by stirring the pot. If you stir the pot a bit and it stops boiling, then it's not ready. If you stir the pot and it keeps on boiling anyway, then you're rollin' baby!
**Tip: If your mixture is really foamy (like this) you can add 1 tablespoon of butter to the pot. It will get rid of the foam. I don't know why or how, but it works!**
When the mixture reaches a rolling boil, then add 4 drops of green food coloring and 6 cups of sugar.
Yeah, you read that right. 6 cups. It's jelly people...it's made from sugar!
Return to a boil, and keep boiling for 1 minute.
**If you use a different type of pectin, follow the instructions on the box for boiling time, etc**
Remove the pot from the heat.
Use a funnel and a ladle to pour the mixture into your sterilized jars. You DO NOT want to fill the jars all the way to the top. You have to leave some empty space in the top of the jar. It's called head space. Leave about 1/2 inch of head space in each of the jars when you fill them.
Wipe any spills from the rims with a warm wet cloth, and screw on the lids.
Now, here's another Renegade Canner trick. The USDA suggests a method for sealing the jars, but I don't do that. We turn the jars upside down with the hot mixture inside. The heat from the jelly will seal the lids of the jars. As they begin to cool (after 15-30 minutes), you can turn the jars back over, so the jelly will thicken properly in the bottom of the jars rather than in the top.
Make sure that the jars are probably sealed by pressing on the lid. If the lid moves up and down, making a popping noise, then it didn't seal. Turn it back over for a bit longer.
You know that your jars ARE properly sealed if they lids do not pop up and down or make any noise when you press them.
Congrats, Renegade Canner! Your mission was successful.
I'm dressing these little guys up and giving them as Christmas presents. I made enough to stock my pantry, too.
**Tip: Don't double the recipe. If you want to make multiple batches, you have to make one recipe at a time. It's so quick and easy, though, so you won't mind**
I used the same cards that I made for my Homemade Hot Cocoa gifts and tied them on with some ribbon and ric-rak scraps.
It's a quick Christmas Gift.
It's a great anytime gift.
It's a yummy have-on-hand appetizer.
It will make you feel more Southern, and everybody wants that, right?
Make Pepper Jelly and join the ranks of Renegade Canners!
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