Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I Have a Thing for Bottles Spring 2012

I HAVE A THING FOR BOTTLES AND JARS.                                                                              By Chef Elizabeth Podsiadlo ©2012

I think Obsession is too strong a word for how I feel about bottles and jars, but that word is as good as any.  Ever since I was little, I’ve loved bottles.  Especially the pretty  blue ones that lined my mother’s kitchen window, along with bundles of drying  dill.

Old bottles capture my attention most these days, especially when they turn a delicate tint of purple, which is a telltale sign of very old glass.  I only use the very old glass bottles as a display.  I’d hate to stress the glass.   Besides, you don’t always know what was held in the bottle before.

The  practical side of bottle collecting is the many uses and re-uses for your bottles and jars.  It is said, that food stored in glass is much healthier than when stored in plastic or tin, and glass doesn’t impart any metallic or plastic flavors to what ever’s being stored inside.

When I make my own soup stocks, I store the stocks in one quart canning jars and freeze them.  Mind you, I never fill them to the top, or the jar would crack. . I leave a  two-inch space between the top of the soup  and the lid to allow for expansion while it freezes solid.   Then when I need some stock,  I can simply pull jar from freezer remove lid and place in microwave to thaw. Be careful when removing frozen jars from freezer as they are slick.  Also, be sure if you are thawing soup in microwave that you reheat at 50% power.

As a personal chef, folks sometimes purchase a “soup service” from me.  I have found  two-quart Mason Jars at my local craft store.  Large enough for an entire batch of soup and they’re affordably priced, worth their weight in gold and can be used in place of a canister as it has a good fitting lid to keep the critters out.  So, excellent for flour, cereals, sugar ect.

I grow a lot of my own herbs which I dry and use for cooking, such as Rosemary, Bay leave, Oregano, Sage, marjoram and Thyme.  Once they are good and dry, I’ll store them in small jars that I’ve saved and sometimes I give them as gifts to friends.  I remove any old labeling and place one of my own labels onto the bottle, sometimes with a recipe.   I store left over walnuts or almonds in smaller pint jars and the same with sesame seeds.  All my seeds and nuts are stored in glass jars and stored  in the same location in my pantry.  Easy to find and easy to identify.

Here is a wonderful recipe for Herbes du Provence.   A mixture of several dried herbs that is French in origin.  Excellent over chicken, in soups on pork roasts, sautéed zucchini or on bread sticks.   I make enough to fill several little jars and give them as gifts.  Here below is the recipe and further below a great easy appetizer for Spring, Herbed Chicken Wings.

                            Herbes de Provence

1               cup  dried basil                                                                                                                  3/4           cup  dried thyme                                                                                                                   1/2           cup  dried savory                                                                                                                  1/3           cup  dried oregano                                                                                                               1/4           cup  dried sage                                                                                                             1/8           cup  ground fennel seeds                                                                                                          1/8           cup  dried lavender blossoms

Measure out all ingredients and mix well in a large bowl.  Package in a glass jar with a good sealing lid, or in small envelopes tobe given out as gifts.

Serving Ideas : Excellent for baked chicken, boiled potatoes and bread sticks

Herbed chicken wings

Elizabeth’s Kitchen                                                                         Herbed Chicken Wings                                                                                                                             12 chicken wings.  (washed and patted dry)                                                                                         1 ½ tablespoons Herbes de Provence                                                                                                  2    Tablespoons olive oil                                                                                                                           1    Teaspoon salt  ½ teaspoon of pepper.

You will need a large metal baking pan that will allow room for all the wings without touching.  Preheat oven to 325.  Add a teaspoon of oil to your baking pan and coat entire bottom and sides of pan.

Place chicken in baking pan, but do not crowd.  Brush olive oil onto chicken wings and sprinkle with Herbes de Provence, salt and pepper.

Cover pan lightly with foil and place in oven and bake for 45 minutes.  Turn wings over, remove foil and return to oven for 30 minutes, turn and bake 14 minutes more.  Serve hot.

Hope this helps to inspire you to re-use your jars.. 

Here is one final photo of what I do with the smallest and most delicate of jars that I find.  Bye for now, and have a beautiful Spring  -Chef Elizabeth Podsiadlo 

P.S., I’ll be visiting Romney this July and will be offering a cooking class and book signing.  Hope to see you there. Contact The Hampshire Review or Anderson’s Corner for details. 

PLEASE NOTE:  When I post to this blog format, it does not allow for me to place the photos where they are most appropriate.. rather at the bottom which I will do..
however if you want to see the blog with the correctly positioned photos.. this is the blog spot of my hometown paper, who publishes my blogs.  There is another chef who posts there as well.  I believe he is local to the region.  Anyway, thank you for reading!

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