Sweet Melissa Sundays & Heavenly Cake Bakers

I learned to can from my Grandma, scared out of my shoes. We didn't have much money at the time and my daughter Ashley was maybe 3 years old. I found the hot produce spots to hit from my old neighbor, Walt (who has canned for years), had $100 to our name, a Ford pick-up tank full of gas (Grandpa filled the tank) and off we went to Eastern Washington to get peaches, pears, tomatoes and whatever else I could get a hold of. I was so excited.

I have been known to be exuberant, spontaneous and over-enthused. We came home with 250+ pounds of produce. At one stop, I paid for (2) 35 pound boxes of peaches at $7.50 a box. Picked the largest looking boxes and loaded them into the truck. Went back to look at pears. In the meantime, hubby also loaded (2) 35 pound boxes of peaches into the truck. We did not figure this out until we were back home.

We get home and unload and unload and unload the truck. My kitchen and washroom was covered in boxes, stacked two high, and none of the fruit was ripe enough to can . . . except for the tomatoes (all 75 pounds of them!).

Grandma called (from 1 mile away . . . she knew a LOT of work when she saw it) to tell me that I did not save money if all the fruit spoiled instead of being canned AND that my fruit WAS going to all spoil!

I inherited her stubborn streak . . . and it was GAME ON! I lost a total of 6 peaches. I had to wait for the fruit to get ripe but when the fruit "did" get ripe . . . ALL of the fruit was ripe! I did not sleep for 3 days. It was horrible and THAT is how I learned to can.

I now know how to enjoy making a single small batch and I always laugh when I pull out "ol Faithful" my canning pot.

Sweet Melissa Sundays brought Plum Raspberry Preserves, chosen by Margo of Effort to Deliciousness, and was a breeze to assemble and using Granny Smith apples for natural pectin was a nice change of pace. I stuck to the recipe because raspberries, plums, and apples cooked down has a delicious sweet, tart flavor. I did cut my sugar down by 1/2.

The jam thickened up to a consistency where you do not have syrup and you are not cutting the jam out of the jar . . . spreadable.

I canned miniature jars (hold 4 ounces each) for Christmas presents and the rest is for hubby and I to enjoy.

The color turned out bright red with the right amount of soft chunks of fruit. Just how I like my preserves.

Thank you Margo for the wonderful run down memory lane and a delicious choice to be enjoyed now and later! You can find the jam recipe at Margo's blog or you can buy Melissa's cookbook and have ALL the recipes at your fingertips!

Chocolate Tomato Cake with Mystery Ganache

I dreaded this cake, I know Rose would NEVER put a sub-standard cake in her cookbook but the IDEA of tomato soup in the cake batter AND in the ganache had me worried. Especially since this was going to be my step-son's 18th year birthday cake.

Whipping the chocolate cake batter together was a rather quick session, especially after completing a 7 page dessert last week. I tasted the chocolate batter and could not detect any tomato flavor. Unfortunately, I told Larry (hubby) about the tomato part of this recipe last week and he has had the dreading look on his face since. So when I asked him to try the batter, he ~ of course ~ said he could taste the tomato but just slightly. Yeesh!

The cake baked up fluffy and had just a slight crack in the middle when removed from the oven. The layers were allowed to cool overnight and the ganache was made in the morning.

I had just as much trouble telling myself to put tomato soup in the ganache as I did the cake batter. I would now like to state for the record how the tomato soup was NOT discernible in the cake batter nor the ganache. I was relieved and excited. We have not cut into the cake yet because we took Dustin to an all-you-can-eat Asian buffet (what he asked for) and now he is too full to squeak. I will return in the morning with cut cake pictures!


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