How to Cook Sausage on the Stove

On a blog where many of the readers make their own sausage from scratch it might seem odd to write a post about something as basic as cooking said sausage.  Sometimes, when I write posts like this, I am informed that ‘everyone knows how to do that’ and I sometime hesitate at sharing the fundamentals.

There’s 3 reasons why I share these things:

  1. They’re fundamental.  Important.  If you don’t do them right you’ll be paying the price many times in your life.  They’re more important than the next food trend or obscure ingredient because you’re likely to use them often.
  2. Not everyone knows how to do them.  Really, it’s true.  Even experienced cooks can improve their cooking by examining the flaws in their fundamental techniques that were often learned long before many learned to ‘properly’ cook.
  3. I messed them up.  I like to share my mistakes and my mistakes give me an opportunity to learn and share.  I’ve burned more sausage while also serving plenty of the same sausage undercooked than I care to admit.  In order to overcome this I ruined plenty of sausage by cutting into them to test if they were done and drained most of the moisture, fat and flavor from them.

How to Cook Sausage on the Stove [Read more...]

Thank You

Last Wednesday we announced that we were hosting a festival in September.  And that we’d launched a new website for our events.  We even announced a few events there without teasing them here.

On Thursday we announced the book that we’ve been working on for a year (it will hit shelves in 2016).  We asked for volunteers to test recipes.

By the time Saturday rolled around, things were very…real.  Incredibly exciting, relieving (we’d been keeping these ‘secrets’ from our online presence for a long time) and comforting.  The preserving community from around the world sent us congratulations, kind words and offers of help.  We are so incredibly thankful to this community and each of you who shared your excitement, kind words and offers to help.

Saturday threw us a bit of a curveball – I was at least a week away from testing and figured I had everything under control when I found out that rhubarb was finishing 10-14 days earlier than previous years.  It was time to scramble!  It took almost a day to get 15 pounds of volunteers and another day to share it with friends and family who were willing to test on short notice!

Testing meant building our testing forms, figuring out how to send recipes and get feedback – it was a hurricane of activity.  Here we were with a lineup of testers, little rhubarb and I had no efficient way of distributing recipes!  It was a little comical but, with the help of a bunch of people across our city (and across the border), we were able to get the recipes tested!

In some ways we’re now ahead of the schedule – but I haven’t hit my goal of completing all preserving recipes by July 1st.  Thankfully I’m taking a 4-day weekend and have a goal of finishing the final 50 recipes (the key ingredients, techniques and ideas are documents) will be complete by Tuesday.  I’m really excited about having 4 whole days to bear down and knock them out and hope to share that we’ve caught up by then.

I’m then hoping to start to contact each of you who offered to help (you can still get in the action if you’d like).  I’m going to start with the early summer fruit that’s appearing and will be in contact with everyone before long – thank you for your patience, it’s a bit of a zoo around here.

My real inspiration for writing this note was to say thank you.  And though I’ve said it above, I need to say it again.  I just don’t think I have the right words to express how deeply touched – and thankful – we are to all of you for helping inspire this project.  I’m beyond excited (and a little intimidated) to be entering testing where, in a way, we’ll be cooking together!

So, once again, thank you.  This book is going to take a village to raise and we’re thankful to be part of one!

Hugs,

Joel

WellPreserved – The Book Announcement!

We shared two secrets with you yesterday.

We held the biggest secret for today:

WellPreserved   The Book Announcement!

Dana and I are thrilled to finally share the news that we’re working on our first cookbook! It will be published in the Spring of 2016 under the Appetite by Random House imprint. We’re thrilled to be working with Robert McCullough and his team at RHC. The instant we met Robert we knew we wanted to work with him (and talk butter churns and rosé among a tonne of other things…)

Previous International titles from Appetite include River Cottage Veg (Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall), Jerusalem (Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi), The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (Deb Perelman) and What’s for Dinner (Curtis Stone).  They are also massive supporters of Canadian talent and have printed The Toronto Star Cookbook (Jennifer Bain), The Butler Speaks (Charles MacPherson)and Beerology (Mirella Amato).

We are both thankful and completely excited!

There are so many people that have helped with this journey – and so many more that we’ll need to thank before we’re done.  We could list 50 or 60 people – plus every reader, tweeter, facebook sharer and more to say a big thanks to.  For now we just want to share the excitement – and the credit – that has brought us to today.  This announcement is the result of hundreds – if not thousands – of people who have added their voice to WellPreserved over the years.  So thank you.

We’ve been working on the book for almost a year. From pitching to publishing – it will take almost 3 years to complete.  We’ll share some details as we continue to work on it.  Here’s what we’ll tease you with for now:

  • All of the recipes are 100% new content.
  • It will showcase many different styles of preserving.
  • It’s going to feature preserving as well as showing how you can use preserves in regular everyday cooking.
  • It’s going to feature some awesome photography and feature a lot of Dana’s art and design.

We’ll also be sharing our adventure as we go! Follow #WPcookbook

We’re looking for recipe testers – No Experience Required

Are you interested in being involved in the project?  Are you willing to test a recipe – or several?

If you’re interested in testing, we have a form (it should take less than 5 minutes to fill out) which will help us stay organized and help ensure that selected testers get to test things that they want to eat.

Onwards and Upwards

We can’t wait to see what the next 2 years have in store – and we’re so excited to have so many people joining us in this journey – we hope you’ll be part of it with us!

Strawberry Preserving Round-up

We send a weekly newsletter focused on a single-topic related to preserving, cooking, local food, foraging, gardening or something else.  Our goal with the newsletter is “to be the most useful resource in your inbox.”  The newsletter includes links to many other websites with ideas sharing knowledge about the topic as well as original content, announcements and occasional contests from us as well.  As an added bonus we send all subscribers the link to a file for labels that Dana hand-designed so you can print your own designer labels to decorate your jars.  You can sign up here.

This weeks theme was: Strawberries!  New preservers will find everything they need to learn to preserve strawberries and veterans will (hopefully) find new ideas and great preserving ideas for the first fruit of the year!  Strawberry wine, spicy preserves and recipes for beginners are all included.

Strawberry Preserving Round up Strawberry strawberries round ups [Read more...]

4 Things I’m Learning About Homemade Hamburgers

I’m particular about hamburgers – mostly in a bad way.

Like many people, I have a strong emotional connection to food.  It’s not my parents fault or the fault of society or my upbringing; this one falls squarely on my shoulders.  This doesn’t make a difference on most days but I catch myself craving certain foods on days that are particularity fantastic or horrible.  I have a fairly healthy relationship with food but when I’m having an stressful or emotional day it is the place I go to find comfort or celebrate success.  I’m aware enough to know that I’m eating in ways that are been triggered by emotion but seemingly powerless to change my behavior.

Which brings me to hamburgers.  If there’s one food that I eat way more than I felt philosophically comfortable with, it’s frozen hamburgers.  You know the ones; the ones you get at diners.  They come in packages with waxed paper dividing frost-ridden layers of meat mixed with filler and meat bi-product.  Meat-like burgers really.

My connection to them is even more ironic given that I grew up with many homemade burgers that were made with ‘real’ ingredients (often including moose or deer) and were cooked perfectly.

We eat a lot of vegetarian meals, especially at home. Nearly 100% of the raw meat and fish that comes into our home is from small farms and/ or sustainable sources.  But the odd diner hamburger comes through – and I’ve struggled to find a homemade version that connects with the same emotional appeal as the ones I grew up with.

Until now.

Before sharing my four ‘secrets’, allow me to share one that didn’t make the list.  In the search for a better homemade burger I made super thin patties last year.  They were about the size of a frozen patty.  They cooked quickly on high heat, charred well and had a great texture when combined with condiments.  I played with all sorts of additional ingredient and almost wrote this article back then.  I’m glad I didn’t; my burger strategy has done a completed turn-around!

Here’s my 4 tips for better burgers:

  1. Weigh your meat.  This isn’t essential if you’re cooking 1 or 2 burgers but essential if you’re cooking more than that to ensure that all burgers are cooked evenly.  An extra pinch of meat can easily weigh 5-10% more (and take that much longer to cook).  I like to use 225-250 grams (about a half-pound).
  2. Hands-off.  Food television tells us to handle the meat minimally.  While this makes sense I think it’s more important to make sure that the meat is built into a perfect cylinder.  If you form the patty between your hands it will often be thick in the middle and thinner around the edges.  I form the patties on a cookie sheet and push a second sheet down on top to evenly press the patties.
  3. Salt and pepper.  Lots of both.  Nothing else.  Meat, salt a pepper.  No egg. Not breadcrumbs or brown sauce or crackers.  Good (great) meat and salt and pepper.  Treat it like a steak – and it will be amazing.  Place patties in the fridge to help them ‘come together’ and cook without effort.
  4. Heat.  Medium-high high and flip once.  If you cook them too hot, they’ll need frequent flipping and risk burning.  Place them on medium-high and, when the edges start to change color and blood appears on the patty, it’s ready to flip.

What’s your secret?to a better burger?

Kick-Up the Jams Round-Up

We send a weekly newsletter focused on a single-topic related to preserving, cooking, local food, foraging, gardening or something else.  Our goal with the newsletter is “to be the most useful resource in your inbox.”  The newsletter includes links to many other websites with ideas sharing knowledge about the topic as well as original content, announcements and occasional contests from us as well.  As an added bonus we send all subscribers the link to a file for labels that Dana hand-designed so you can print your own designer labels to decorate your jars.

This weeks theme was: Kick-Up The Jams!  Bourbon, pepper, balsamic, habaneros, elderflower, ramps and candied ginger all find their way into jam in this weeks round-up as we take a look at some of the less common combinations of flavours that can be added to fruit and jam!

Kick Up the Jams Round Up waterbath round ups Jam

You can sign up for the newsletter here.

Every Wednesday we share the links from the previous weeks newsletter as we know that some of you would prefer to read these on the site and that sharing the links here increases the reach/ exposure of many of the writers working so hard to share their passions.  These links celebrate the work of so many people working hard to share knowledge and their passions of cooking, preserving and the love of the kitchen and we want to help spread the work of great sites and blogs. [Read more...]

Steam Juicer Results Round 2: Strawberries

I’m beyond excited to share the results of our second round of steam juicing!

I had another chance to test the steam juicer last night.  And, like before, this remains one of the most surprising/ exciting pieces of equipment that has come into my kitchen in a long time!

Steam Juicer Results Round 2: Strawberries Strawberry steam juicer [Read more...]

Rhubarb Round-Up

We send a weekly newsletter focused on a single-topic related to preserving, cooking, local food, foraging, gardening or something else.  Our goal with the newsletter is “to be the most useful resource in your inbox.”  The newsletter includes links to many other websites with ideas sharing knowledge about the topic as well as original content, announcements and occasional contests from us as well.  As an added bonus we send all subscribers the link to a file for labels that Dana hand-designed so you can print your own designer labels to decorate your jars.

Rhubarb Round Up round ups Rhubarb

You can sign up for the newsletter here.

Every Wednesday we share the links from the previous weeks newsletter as we know that some of you would prefer to read these on the site and that sharing the links here increases the reach/ exposure of many of the writers working so hard to share their passions.  These links celebrate the work of so many people working hard to share knowledge and their passions of cooking, preserving and the love of the kitchen and we want to help spread the work of great sites and blogs.

Here’s the list from last week:

[Read more...]

How Does Asparagus Grow?

Have you ever seen asparagus grow in a field?  I hadn’t either…

How Does Asparagus Grow? Asparagus [Read more...]

Asparagus Round-Up

We send a weekly newsletter focused on a single-topic related to preserving, cooking, local food, foraging, gardening or something else.  Our goal with the newsletter is “to be the most useful resource in your inbox.”  The newsletter includes links to many other websites with ideas sharing knowledge about the topic as well as original content, announcements and occasional contests from us as well.  As an added bonus we send all subscribers the link to a file for labels that Dana hand-designed so you can print your own designer labels to decorate your jars.

You can sign up for the newsletter here.

Every Wednesday we share the links from the previous weeks newsletter as we know that some of you would prefer to read these on the site and that sharing the links here increases the reach/ exposure of many of the writers working so hard to share their passions.  We had almost 20 links to other sites; you can find them as well as the links to some of our asparagus archive below:

Asparagus Round Up round ups Asparagus [Read more...]