Quick Strawberry Jam

July 10, 2012

Are you always busy? Everyone I know seems to be. We’re all over committed and leading lives that just go, go, go. I don’t know if you saw this New York Times piece, “The Busy Trap” but it’s well worth a read. It makes the point that almost all of our busyness is self imposed and avoidable, and that slowing down (not just for five minutes a day, but in terms of the life choices we make) is incredibly important.

My favourite paragraph begins thus: “Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets.

This recipe is for busy types in a very obvious way (it takes less than 30 minutes start to finish!) but it’s also for those who perhaps are trying to slow it down and to find some idle time. I’m in that group. I’m trying not to over-commit this summer because while I like to feel useful, needed, and to find creative outlets, I also value quiet time that is mine to fill however I choose.

Small food projects like this jam allow me a little creative outlet while not taking over my days the way some cooking projects do, thus freeing my time up for reading great books (this, this, and this, if you’re interested), tubing down rivers, swimming, and bike riding, which to me are the life blood of summer.

Dan claimed this jam is some of the best he’s ever had. It’s amazingly sweet but there’s hardly any sugar in it compared to normal jams. The strawberries really do all the work for you as they release their juices and break down.

We’ve been enjoying it on fresh or toasted baguette in the morning and it’s provided a fresh, sweet and easy item to grab on these stupefyingly warm mornings. Hope you enjoy.

Quick Strawberry Jam
adapted from Martha Stewart


  • 1 quart (2 lbs) hulled strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


  1. In a food processor, process strawberries until coarsely chopped – or chop coarsely by hand.
  2. Transfer chopped berries to a large skillet and stir in sugar and lemon juice.
  3. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until jam is thickened and bubbles completely cover the surface, about 10-20 minutes. If it doesn’t seem thick and jammy enough after that time, let it keep bubbling until it does. Transfer jam to a jar and let cool to room temperature.
  4. To store, seal jar and refrigerate, 10-14 days.

We came home with a giant bucket of strawberries from our trip and almost immediately I became anxious about them going to waste. I am a bit of a crazy woman about food waste. I absolutely hate it when we buy food with good intentions and then end up not using it or seeing it go bad before we have a chance. I’ll often eat the most bizarre combinations of things that most people wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole, just to use stuff up.

Anyway, so I was a little anxious that we were overly ambitious in buying so many strawberries and immediately started dreaming up all the ways we could use them. We made simple strawberry milkshakes (I posted them on my facebook page), a quick jam which I’ll post here soon and then I decided I wanted something baked.

You might argue about the “breakfast” designation of this and I’ll give you that – it’s hardly something you should be tucking away every morning – but let’s just focus on the fruit and oats and and never mind the drizzle of cream I highly recommend pouring over it.

What matters is that it’s really good. Strawberries fresh from a Wisconsin farm made into something deliciously simple that you will love. The strawberry base get all jammy and has a good tart edge from the lemon juice and that lovely layer of golden-brown oats and nuts is the perfect topping.

Strawberry Breakfast Crisp
adapted from Whole Living


  • 1 1/2 cups strawberries, sliced
  • 1 lemon, squeezed
  • 1 cup oats
  • 3 tbsp whole wheat flour, divided
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans are especially good)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Heavy (double) cream or Greek yoghurt, to serve (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Mix sliced strawberries with lemon juice and 1 tbsp whole wheat flour; set aside.
  2. Combine oats, nuts, cinnamon, salt, and remaining flour.  In separate bowl mix brown sugar, honey, and maple syrup.  Add this to the oat mixture until combined.
  3. Line an 8×8 inch baking dish with the strawberries, top with oats, and bake for 25 minutes. Serve with a scoop of Greek yoghurt – or, I like it with a drizzle of cream.

English Oatmeal Bread

June 11, 2012

Today’s blog post exists thanks to my husband Dan. He’s generally the cook in our kitchen while I love baking – except when it comes to bread. A couple of weeks ago he made two loaves of white sandwich bread from the same book mentioned below – Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads – and we devoured them in three days. Notice I said two loaves…

I highly recommend the book – it’s quite the tome in fact, coming in at close to 700 pages and has a recipe for every kind of bread you could dream of, from classic white and wholewheat loaves of every variety to fruit and nut breads, cheese breads, French, Italian, sourdough, flatbread, crackers, brioche, croissants, festive breads, and everything in between. If you’re looking to get started with baking breads, this would be an excellent starting point.

This English oatmeal bread is just the kind of bread I love – a soft, pliable inside full of wholewheat nuttiness. The crust has that all-important crunch and the sprinkle of oats adds a lovely texture to each bite. Warm out of the oven with a swipe of butter, this stuff is completely irresistible.

English Oatmeal Bread
from Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads


  • 2 cups of oatmeal, plus two tbsp for dusting
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 2 tbsp butter at room temperature
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup wholewheat flour
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 egg, beaten, mixed with 1 tbsp water


  1. In a large bowl soak the oatmeal in the milk for 2 hours.
  2. Stir the yeast into the oatmeal mixture; add the butter, salt, and wholewheat flour. Beat by hand for 100 strokes. Add 1/2 cup bread flour and continue beating for a few minutes longer.
  3. Stir in the rest of the bread flour, 1/2 a cup at a time, first with the spoon and then by hand. The dough will be a rough, shaggy mass that will clean the sides of the bowl. If, however, the dough continues to be slack or moist, and sticks to your fingers or work surface, sprinkle with additional flour.
  4. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead with the rhythmic motion of push-turn-fold. The dough will become smooth and elastic. Occasionally change the kneading rhythm by raising the dough above the table and whacking it down hard against the surface. Knead by hand for about 8 minutes.
  5. Pulse the oatmeal  in a food processor until mixed. Add the yeast, butter, salt, wholewheat flour, and 1/2 cup bread flour. Pulse 3 or 4 times to blend thoroughly. With the processor running, add the rest of the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, through the feed tube. (You might not need all the flour to form a mass – or you might need a little more – add the last portion with care.)
  6. When the dough becomes a rough ball and spins around the processor, take it out and knead it for a few minutes. If the dough is sticky then dust it with sprinkles of flour to help it form into a smooth ball.
  7. Place the dough in a mixing bowl and pat with buttered fingers to keep the surface from crusting. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and put aside at room temperature until it has risen to about twice its original size, 1 1/2 hours. It can also be tested by poking a finger in it – the dent remains when the dough has risen.
  8. Punch down the dough, turn it onto the work surface, and knead briefly to press out the bubbles.
  9. Divide the dough into two pieces with a knife. Shape into balls and let them rest under a towel for 3-4 minutes. Form each loaf by pressing a ball under your palms into a flat oval, roughly the length of the the baking pan (about a 7×3″ pan). Fold the oval in half, pinch the seam tightly to seal, tuck under the ends, and place in the pan, seam down.
  10. Cover the pans with wax paper and leave at room temperature until the centre of the dough has risen above the level of the edge of the pan, about 45 minutes.
  11. Brush the raised breads with egg wash and sprinkle with 2 tbsp oats.
  12. Preheat oven to 400F 2o minutes before baking. Bake in hot oven for 30 minutes, reduce heat to 350F, and continue baking for another 20 or 30 minutes, or until the loaves are a golden brown and test done. Turn one loaf out of its pan and tap the bottom crust with a finger. A hard, hollow sound means it is baked. If the loaves appear to be browning too quickly, cover with a piece of foil. Midway during baking, and again near the end of it, shift the pans so the loaves are exposed equally to temperature variations in the oven.
  13. Remove breads from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Yields two loaves.