Blueberry Basil Jam and Spring Valley Farms

May 14, 2013

Just as the Strawberries finish, in between the Zucchini…the Blueberry season starts in Florida.  We start to see the first glorious berries in March.  I am so lucky to have found the wonderful family that owns Spring Valley Farms in Umatilla, Florida.  Vesna and Chuck have been amazing and incredibly generous,  and I am so grateful to have them in my life.  This year I have produced Blueberry DiSaronno, Blueberry Verbena, Blueberry Basil, and Blueberry Citrus Jams along with Blueberry Syrup and sumptuous Pickled Blueberries.  We go out the farm as often as we can during the growing season.  Silvio rides in the car with me, he has worked with me for two years now, I don’ t know what I would do without his help to clean, prep and help me cook all of the wonderful products we make.

Silvio in the Blueberry Field

Silvio in the Blueberry Field


Ripened Fresh Blueberries at Spring Valley Farm.

Ripened Fresh Blueberries at Spring Valley Farm.


I wanted to post up a recipe for my Blueberry Basil Jam.  Fresh Basil gives the jam a really subtle and delightful flavor.  I make my jams without commerical pectin.  This is a bit more time consuming, but I believe it is worth it for the lose set it gives the final product.   If you give this recipe a go, I would love to hear how you like it.


Apple Slice

March 8, 2013


I was inspired by a recipe that I found here.  Of course, Giulia’s photos of the Apple Slice are gorgeous and appealing, unlike the ones I have posted here for you of my rendition!  However, I could not let my photos stop me from posting this here for you today.  This is reminiscent of a French Clafouti and uses very little flour.  I completely love this and will be making it again.  I made a few changes to her recipe which included translating it into American Measurements and then adjusting the cooking temperature and time as I did not want blackened bottoms on my slices.  I have recommended an 8 X 8 baking dish for this, but I believe you could also get away with using an 8 X 6 dish and come away with an even denser custard.  In my photo the apples (which had cinnamon on them) almost look like home fried potatoes!   Believe me, this tastes nothing like a breakfast casserole.   I wonder if a bit more butter and a bit less cinnamon would have given a more appealing and browned look in these photos.  I hope you try this one.

Apple Slice

Apple Slice



Apple Slice Piled High

Apple Slice Piled High



Florida Citrus Salt

February 24, 2013

Here is a simple recipe for preparing a citrus salt that you can use on seafood, chicken, meats, potatoes (any vegetables really), rice, pasta and in your salad dressings.  We love it on our popcorn too!  I use so much citrus to prepare my jams, and this is a great way for me to make sure that the zest does not go to waste.  Make sure your citrus is not treated with pesticides and be sure to scrub it well and dry before zesting.  I use the microplane zester myself.   You can vary the amounts of citrus for your taste, I happen to like it heavier on the lemony side.

Florida Citrus Salt

Florida Citrus Salt


Guest Post for Cranberry & Tangerine Pecan Cinnamon Rolls featuring Tangerine Ginger Rum Jam

December 16, 2012

I get to meet some really talented and special people on twitter and facebook in the course of running my little business.   I met Stacy this fall,  and she was in the midst of creating a new blog called the   We got to talking about developing some recipes, she placed a HUGE order for some jams…and the rest is history!   She has been wonderful to work with, really passionate about baking and has created an original recipe using my very own  Tangerine Ginger Rum Jam.  She gave me two recipe options to choose from (the other a coffeecake), and I selected this one especially for you…my loyal readers and true-blue fans of my artisan jams.   Citrus season as is in full bloom here…our tangerines are starting to dwindle, but I have been taking advantage of all our Florida season as to offer.  In the midst of all of my holiday rush, I have not gotten to make these yet, but hope that you will!    Stacy promises that the fragrance in your kitchen, as these rolls bake, alone will make you swoon…

Here are some words to introduce this guest post from Stacy:

Cranberry & Tangerine Pecan Cinnamon Rolls {Non-Yeast & Overnight-Style with Gluten Free Option}

Cranberry Tangerine Pecan Cinnamon Roll


A New Spin on No-Yeast Biscuit-Style Cinnamon Rolls

Buttery. Gooey. Rich. Fruity. Tangy. Nutty. Spicy. Distinctive. Easy. All of these words aptly describe these out-of-this-world tasty and hot-from-the-oven dreamy rolls, a new spin on traditional pecan cinnamon rolls.

Wait. Did we just say the word “easy” to describe irresistible home-baked cinnamon rolls? Yes. Yes, we did. Why easy? First, the recipe is a real time saver. It is a no-yeast recipe comprised of rich biscuit dough which saves on the prep time required with yeast dough risings for cinnamon rolls. Second, this quick bread version is prepared overnight-style so that these warm and gooey babies are freshly baked in the morning with the greatest of ease. Want to know the best part? This all means that you can enjoy your steamy cup of morning coffee with a fresh, warm sticky bun without having to get up early to do all the work. The glaze is so easy to prepare, it is a breeze. In fact, it can be made the night before as well. Stress-free holiday baking is where it is at these days. And, it just doesn’t get better than this!

With the addition of Wendy’s tangerine jam to the filling, these exceptional cinnamon rolls, which are like a cross between a biscuit and sour cream coffeecake, taste like they were kissed with pure Florida sunshine. The richness in the dough comes from using real butter, dairy sour cream instead of milk or buttermilk, and only egg yolks versus a whole egg for incomparable taste and texture. Biscuit dough has never been so moist and tender! In fact, the rolls stay moist and delicious the next day—if they even last that long at your house! The buttery-rich Orange-Vanilla Glaze? It’s the cherry on top.

For those on a gluten free diet, I am happy to report that Cup4Cup Gluten Free Flour performed extremely well in this recipe. Handle the dough carefully when rolling it into a cylinder to create the cinnamon rolls. As I mention in the recipe, a dough cutter, or even a pancake turner, can help you get under the dough and turn it upward as you work to start the rolling process. If the dough tears, simply pinch it closed and continue to roll. The taste and texture was stellar in the gluten free version and I bet no one will be able to tell that the rolls were made gluten free!

This past fall, when Wendy asked me if I would be interested in sharing a holiday recipe for her blog, I knew it was meant to be as her vast array of unique and naturally flavored artisan jams truly sparked my creative interests. Literally, I ordered an entire case of her exquisite jams and fruit butters to carry me through the holiday season with my baking and recipe development. The Tangerine Ginger Rum Jam by Sunchowder’s Emporia inspired me to dust off an old recipe and update it to incorporate the holiday flavors of cranberries, tangerine, brown sugar, spices and toasted pecans in a foolproof cinnamon roll recipe to share with others.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays! ~Stacy, Wicked Good Kitchen

Please hop on over to Stacy’s Blog to find the recipe!  Overnight Cranberry & Tangerine Pecan Cinnamon Rolls


Cranberry Tangerine Pecan Cinnamon Rolls fresh from the oven

A family unraveled and the cord that binds them – A grateful Thanksgiving

November 20, 2012

The ebb and flow of life and introspection.   So many beautiful memories of Thanksgiving, many that I shared with my parents and my Aunt and Uncle when we were all together in New Jersey.   We had tradition and wonderful food, and we never missed a holiday together.   My Aunt would always serve the canned jellied cranberry sauce which she sliced into circles, laid on equally perfect rounds of fresh orange..each one placed with surgical precision around the huge brown bird.   Crystal goblets, fine china–everything polished and fresh for the holiday.  The hors doeuvres were always served downstairs with adult cocktails, each year she presented chopped liver with square crackers and tiny bowls of salted peanuts.  All expected and all quite comforting.  My Aunt’s sister would have just have that one more Black Russian to put her in the mood.   Dinner was  always served upstairs in the grand dining room.   Looking back as we do and remembering…my Mom and my Dad have both passed on, my older brother lies in a psychiatic hospital and my middle brother lives in California with my sister-in-law and his wonderful twin boys.  My Aunt still lives and today is on watch in NYC while my Uncle has Open Heart Surgery.  This is just how it is this year.

For me, I left the warm arms of New Jersey in 1991 for the unknown in Florida.  At that time I was chasing a job assignment and running from the pain of loss.    I soon married and raised a blended family.  Now my stepsons have a life of their own, one will be visiting his own family– my daughter-in-law and grandson– and the other will be spending Thanksgiving in Texas with new friends.  I want to embrace all of the changes that life brings to us, some so difficult and heartbreaking and others so warm and delightful.   I am very thankful that the light of my life, my daughter, will be returning from college on Wednesday to share the Thanksgiving break with us.  She is the cord that binds us, she knows my heart.  We are a small family now, but a peaceful, tranquil one and I will enjoy the quiet still with her.  We will cook and bake together and make new memories and connections that she will pass on to her children.  For we never know how long we will be here and when we will be called away.


Rachel on her High school graduation day



Pumpkin Custard Upside Down Crisp

November 11, 2012

As we are getting closer to Thanksgiving, I wanted to post up a recipe for a simple and tasty dessert for your holiday table or to be enjoyed the morning after for a decadent breakfast treat!   This custard takes advantage of seasonal pumpkin and,  an added bonus, you don’t have to add any sugar to the custard!  One eight oz jar of my Pumpkin Butter (or Fruit Butter of your choice) is all that you need to sweeten this delightful dessert.  If you are lucky, all of the topping will sink through the custard so that you will have a delightful bottom of gooey oatmeal to enjoy with each bite!  If you look at my photos, you will see the lovely bottom layer all nice and browned 🙂  Simple and old-fashioned dessert reminds me of something my grandmother would have served–hope you love this recipe.


Pumpkin Custard Upside Down Crisp

Rustic Apple Cake featuring Sunchowder’s Apple Butter

October 19, 2012

It is finally fall…the weather is beginning to break here in Florida.  We have had some cooler nights (in the 70s) and I just love it.  Fall is my favorite time of the year, it reminds me of Spring renewal in the Northeast.  I have planted a bit of a garden this year and now is the time for hurried growth, completely the opposite of how I grew up in New Jersey.   I love this simple recipe for Rustic Apple Cake.  It is not too sweet, even with the addition of my Apple Butter.  I prefer using Granny Smith apples, but you can, of course, use your favorite apples and swap out the walnuts for your favorite nuts or those that you have in abundance.



Rustic Apple Cake from Sunchowder’s Emporia






Peach Bourbon Mojito #FridayCocktail 1 Year Celebration!

September 14, 2012

In Florida we have another thirty days to continue to feel the full brunt of the summer heat, and on an afternoon after my markets, a beautiful cocktail such as this one always hits the spot.    I  put together this post to celebrate the anniversary of The Friday Cocktail with Barbara of Creative Culinary.   Not only does Barbara have a fabulous blog, but her full time busniess is building and providing web support over at Kinetic Webs.  Barbara is having a big celebration today over at Creative Culinary and if you follow that link, you will see a huge line-up of brilliant cocktails from all over the blogosphere!

I hope that you will enjoy this drink, it uses my Peach Bourbon Jam as the sweetner instead of sugar and also uses my most favorite ginger beer in the whole world which is Bundaberg.

Fabulous cocktail for a hot summer afternoon by the pool!





Fresh Ricotta Panna Cotta with Port Fig Sauce #Baketogether

August 31, 2012

I very much wanted to participate in the No-Baketogether this hot month of August with Abby Dodge, so here I am on the last day of the month, rushing to put this quick dessert together.  I must admit I have never made panna cotta, and was really looking foward to trying this perfect florida weather dessert.  So nothing like being an over-achiever or anything, but in the middle of processing 525 jars this week, (not complaining)  I just stopped short and made this not only because I love the baketogether, but I had this idea to use up some of my “tester” fig jam from the 100 or so jars that were processed here in the kitchen this week.  Abby’s recipes are always so terrific and they end up being staples and keepers in my files.  I would like to try this particular recipe with marscapone cheese next time as I would prefer a smoother tongue-feel, but this recipe is low-calorie and so fresh-tasting, if you don’t mind that little bit of “grain”, you will love it!

If you would like to participate and find out more about Abby Dodge and the Baketogether, please read more here.  Abby and the entire community are really fabulous and I enjoy learning something new each month and really get a kick out of all of the different variations the group can come up with when given a basic recipe.



Lovely no cook panna cotta with fig and port preserves topping.

Our Movie is here!

August 13, 2012

We have been working hard behind the scenes here at Sunchowder’s Emporia.  Barry Kirsch of Murder City Photography came to the house to shoot a video for our little company.  I hope you will enjoy it!  Please click on the link below.  I will have this video up in a working box to the side of my webpage at some point in the near future.

Sunchowder’s Emporia Company Story



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