Prickly Pear Jam-not a fan!

When I was complaining to one of my husband’s friends that I couldn’t grow anything outside. It either needed more water than I gave it, or it got too much sun, he said he knew exactly what I needed. The next time he came to visit he brought me a prickly pear cactus.

And I will agree, it does like the soil, the sun, and the lack of water that is the high desert of SE Oregon. The first summer, when it was establishing roots, the plant looked healthy but didn’t grow much. It has tripled in size and this year had the prettiest blooms.

With all the blooms I was excited about the fruit that it had. Magnificent magenta colored, pear-shaped fruit. But beware! They have small spiny moles, as I call them. Spots on the outside that are a mass of small spines that you have to remove before you can do anything with the fruit. This process required rubber clothes, a plastic scrubber and water.

When the spines were off and I’d had to stop many times to pull of the gloves and extract a spine from a finger, I cut the the fruit in half and scraped out the seeds and pulp. The pulp went into the blender and was blended, then strained.

The juice was cooked with sugar, pectin, and water. Then it was poured into hot scalded jars and lids attached before I put them in a water bath to seal the jars.

The longest part of the whole process was scrubbing the “moles” off the outside to make sure you didn’t get any in the jam.

Once the jam was finished, I didn’t really care for it. Hubby said it was okay and work in a pinch, but it wasn’t something he’d have to have. So, it looks like I made prickly pear jam once and will not be doing it again. Have you ever made something and in the end decided it wasn’t worth making again?

Yule Log/ New Year Treat/ Birthday Roll by Paty Jager

For Christmas for my family, I made a Yule Log we had after Christmas Eve dinner. Th first version didn’t turn out very pleasant to look at but it tasted okay. I wasn’t happy and made a second one, tweaking the original recipe. This ended up being made from three different recipes combined to make my newest creation and one my granddaughter asked me to make for her birthday in July.

Cake:

¾ cup cake flour

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

5 eggs, separated

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat over to 375° F. Grease 15 ½ X 10 ½ inch jelly roll pan; line with waxed or parchment paper.  Grease the paper, set pan aside. Place flour, baking powder, and salt in small bowl; stir to combine. Beat egg yolks and 2/3 cup of sugar in separate small bowl with electric mixer at high speed about 5 minutes or until think and lemon colored, scraping down side of bowl once. Beat in vanilla; set aside.

Beat egg whites at high speed in clean large bowl using clean beaters, until foamy. Gradually beat in the remaining ½ cup of sugar, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until stiff peaks form.

Fold flour mixture into egg yolk mixture. Fold flour/egg yolk mixture into egg white mixture until evenly incorporated. Spread mixture into prepared pan. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched with finger. Meanwhile, lightly sift powered sugar over clean dish towel.

Loosen warm cake from edges of pan with spatula; invert onto prepared towel. Remove pan; peel off the paper. Gently roll up cake in towel from short end, jelly-roll style. Let tolled cake cool completely on wire rack.

cake rolled in towel

Filling:

Makes 2 cups

2 Tbsp cornstarch

1/3 cup sugar

¾ cup milk

1 egg yolk beaten with ¼ cup milk

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Blend cornstarch, sugar, and milk in a small saucepan and heat, stirring constantly, over moderate heat until mixture boils and is thick; boil and stir ½ minute longer. Off heat, beat a little hot mixture into egg yolk, return all to pan gradually, beating constantly. Mix in vanilla and cool to room temperature, beating now and then.

cooking filling

After filling has cooled; whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Fold into the filling. Unroll the cooled cake, spread the whipped filling across the cake and roll up without the towel. Place on plate or platter.  Cut one inch off one end and place against the side of the longer piece. (This will resemble stump or a branch).

I made my “stump” branch a little longer to make the cake fit the platter.

Frosting:

6 tablespoons butter, softened

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

2-3 tablespoons milk

Stir together sugar and cocoa. Beat butter until fluffy. Alternately add sugar mixture and milk, beating until frosting is smooth and fluffy.  Frost the entire cake. Swirl ends of log and flat side of stump to resemble cut section of log. Run tines of fork along the length of the log or spread frosting to resemble bark.

Can be sprinkled with nuts or other adornment. I fashioned white poinsettias from mints I made earlier.

Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. Makes 8-10 servings.