I spent this past weekend in Vermont with a wonderful group of people as a part of Alejandra RamosSweet Escape, a long weekend filled with culinary and crafting activities at Good Commons in Plymouth, Vermont. I knew I was in from the moment I read about the concept. I love Vermont, and this sounded like a perfect way to get out of the city for a long weekend (and the idea that we would be enjoying Alejandra’s amazing cooking all weekend definitely didn’t hurt). I’ll be sharing more about my experience there in the coming days/weeks.

My main goal for the weekend, aside from relaxing and disconnecting (as much as possible) from social media was to get some inspiration to start cooking more. I have a big move coming at the end of the month. I will be moving into my own place, which means a kitchen all to myself and, oh yes, full responsibility for all of the bills! Let’s just say cooking in home might be featured here more prominently, with restaurant reviews still here, but less frequently.

One of our sessions about midway through the weekend focused on making jelly. Not just any kind of jelly. Wine jelly. We were lucky enough to get to spend some quality time with Nancy, the master of all things jam or jelly at The Potlicker Kitchen. She walked through the basics of making and canning jelly, as well as her fascinating story about how she got into doing this full time. Her line of jams/jellies is quite extensive and unique. She had a small sub-set of the selection with her, ranging from oatmeal stout to strawberry habanero to carrot cake to knotweed. I’ll admit, I was amused at the varieties and initially was wondering how many varieties I really needed with my biscuits – until she started to talk about how to possibly use them in recipes. Reduce over heat and, logically, you get a sauce. Brilliant!

She went onto describe how the pineapple habanero jam worked great in stir-fry. This popped into my head when I was getting ready to leave work yesterday afternoon, and I decided to keep the momentum going from the weekend and head into the kitchen. I found a quick recipe online for stir fry for 1, which I modified a bit to the below, and doubled. I’ll admit, I was a bit antsy. Modifying recipes isn’t something I’ve done a bunch of, and I wasn’t sure if I could figure out just what to do in order to make this jam into a sauce of sorts – so I opted to try this one for myself before sharing with anyone else. I was relieved to find how easy it really was to do.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons cider or red wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 pound chicken breast, cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1/2 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup diced green or sweet red pepper
  • 1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 6 tablespoons beef broth
  • 2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons pineapple habanero¬† jam
  • Hot cooked rice

The recipe claims this takes 25 minutes. I will not say how long it took me, other than that I did not end up doing any packing last night. Ooops. Anyhow, it’s easy enough.

In a large resealable plastic bag or shallow glass container, combine the first four ingredients. Then add your chicken and make sure to turn to coat. Seal or cover and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes. I did this with a container and feel like the plastic bag might have better coated the chicken.

In a skillet (or wok, if you should you have one), stir-fry the broccoli in the oil until vegetables begin to soften. Add chicken and marinade (don’t forget the marinade – I didn’t remember to put it all in, and it made my chicken end up a bit dry). Then cook on medium-high for 3 minutes. Add green pepper, and water chestnuts and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Next add the onions.

Combine broth and cornstarch until smooth, and add to skillet. Bring to a boil. At this point, I added in the jam to make sure that it didn’t cook too long, but yet had time to reduce. I would recommend incorporating it a bit earlier to make the flavor more distributed. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened, and serve over rice.

Remember to start cooking your rice well before you start all of the above (or use microwaveable rice), or else you’ll end up with crunchy rice like I did… Overall though, the recipe was great and the jam was a great way to add a bunch of flavor using only one convenient ingredient. Love it!

If you’re interested in ordering some of Nancy’s jams and jellies, they’re available here online, I bought one other one this weekend and will share how that works out once I figure out how I’m using it!