Since this was a long holiday weekend, Gerry and I decided to travel to Austin to spend the weekend with Steph and David. We hit the road yesterday afternoon and enjoyed a wonderful dinner out at Jack Allen's Kitchen last night. This was a new experience for us and we were not disappointed. Today we ventured out to South Congress Street to sample some of the Food Truck options that I have frequently seen featured on the Food Network. The variety of choices was really fun with three of us choosing Coat and Thai and one choosing Short Bus Subs. The food was very fresh and flavorful and the experience very much a part of the Austin food scene.
Tonight's dinner was a superb Broccoli and Cheese Risotto with marinated baked chicken which we cooked at home. This was a really wonderful meal that Steph and I enjoyed cooking together. What a joy to visit your children and cook a wonderful meal with them.
On another note, before we left Plano, my local supermarket had blackberries on sale so I bought a package to make sure they were really good which they were. I went back and bought lots more to make some jam with it. I recently made strawberry jam which used pectin as the thickening agent. This recipe had two ingredients - blackberries and sugar. I wanted to make it seedless, so I went out and bought a food mill which I thought would make the process a lot easier which it did. The trick to this kind of jam (without pectin) is in boiling it to the just right consistency. I also used a thermometer to help me judge when it was ready. I was really pleased with the way this came out and can't wait to try it with other berries.
Blackberry Jam (makes about 7 half-pint jars)
9 cups crushed berries
6 cups sugar
Combine berries and sugar in a large saucepot. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cook rapidly to gelling point which means to boil rapidly for 10-15 minutes until the jam starts to drop off the side of a spoon in sheets rather than in drops. Another way to check it is to cook it until it registers 220 degrees on a candy thermometer. As the mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 15 minutes in a boiling-water canner.
Note: If seedless jam is preferred, crushed berries may be heated until soft and pressed through a sieve or food mill; measure pulp and proceed as above.
Adapted from the Ball Blue Book of Preserving