Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mama's Garden Jars

The grass is getting greener, the days are getting warmer and that can only mean one thing... my mom's spending her weekends in the garden. This year for Mother's Day I got her started on her herb garden.

After a trip to a local green house and Canadian Tire I was prepped for an afternoon of potting jars.

What is needed: 

  • jars (500mL)
  • a bag of potting soil 
  • a variety of potted herbs - If you are really on the ball, which I wasn't, you can do this from seed. 
  • basket 
  • twine 
  • tags

What to do:

  • Put some potting soil in each of the jars 
  • Place in plant. Remove extra soil to make it fit. 
  • Water the plants. 
  • Tie twine around the mouth of the jars and attach tag with name of the herb.
  • Place in basket. 
* the herbs will eventually have to be transplanted when they outgrow these little jars. 

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Working Jars

Spring has brought out everyones creativity and mason jars are everywhere I look! My apologies that things have not been fresh here at The Mason Jar lately but spring has brought lots of exciting changes. 

On the top of that list is the completion of the PR Post Grad program at Niagara College. It has been a bitter sweet month. The sweet - getting out there and using all the knowledge and tools in a career I am excited to jump into. The bitter - A great time with a steller team has come to an end. 

To celebrate this change (and my birthday) two of my favourite ladies, Renata and Marta, decided to jump start my career - in jars.

A-MASON' right? 

Let's break it down:

Jar 1: Fresh cut Lily of the Valley - who doesn't love fresh cut flowers on their desk?
Jar 2: The resilient Spider Plant - tough to kill plants are perfect for the workplace. 
Jar 3: Green Tea - better alternative for those coffee breaks.
Jar 4: Apple Cinnamon Tea - yummm. 
Jar 5: Supplies - all the things that float around your desk drawers junking it up! (paperclips, elastics, twist-ties, and Eco-stapler) 
Jar 6: Candy Cigarettes - for a healthy smoke break.

And to top it off a vintage holder that came with pens and pencils that grade 2's would fight over! 

Cheers to jars, friends and the future! 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Infused Alcohol

I naturally always look for people's unique uses for Mason jars. This one I got from a friend  and I cannot wait to share it. Infusing Alcohol.

Let's get one thing straight - we are not making alcohol here (yet) - we are just going to try and naturally flavour it, to make types of alcohol taste bearable - I mean better.

Infusion is the process of drowning a plant, fruit or vegetable in liquid, to extract the flavours into the liquid.  Yeah I know, why would you want to infuse alcohol yourself if there is now a liquor store full of inventive flavours. Go outside the box and create flavours you can’t find.

Here are some of the basic steps:

Your poison: It is your spirit that will be the base so make it a decent one. You want one that is smooth so it can make the flavours sparkle. A clear alcohol is necessary: so stick with vodka, rum or even tequila.

Flavour: When infusing alcohol spices, fruits and herbs are most common. I am going to stick with the most popular – fruit - for the first time. This is where you get creative. – Combine. Create. Use Your Imagination. For best results it is important to use fresh ingredients.

The Jar: Use clean air-tight quart size Mason Jar.

My First Attempt
Strawberry Infused Vodka
Starting Point: Wash the ingredients, cut them up if necessary and place them inside the jar and fill it with your poison. Shake a few times and cover tightly with a lid.
The process: The jar should be stored in a cool and dark place. A fridge or pantry would work. Shake your jar often during the infusion process. The infusion process will take from days to months, - this is based on your personal taste. If you are using intense flavors it will need less time then flavours that take longer to extract. Be sure to taste often to make sure you get your preferred flavour and can monitor the change.
Enjoy: Serve your new flavours over ice or in a cocktail. Share with friends. 
I just completed my first attempt- Strawberry Infused Vodka. Still debating on adding cinnamon later on in the infusion process. Thoughts?

Monday, March 05, 2012

The Bar Jar

Ladies and Gentlemen I am proud to announce I am not alone in this jar-affair. 

The Toronto Star and bars across this region are putting the Mason jar in the spotlight.

Mason jars and alcohol are a perfect match but definitely not new to the bar seen.

During prohibition mason jars were used to smuggle alcohol into the country. If you were to sneak a drink in those days it was common that it would be in a trusty mason jar. Pretty convenient if you ask me, especially if you were on the run.

Speakeasies may be out but the Mason jar forgot to follow.

Great places to drink from jars: (Toronto Star's Choices)
Mildred’s Temple Kitchen - Bungalow Island Caesar ($8.50)
Parts & Labour - Collins McMacintosh ($12)
Burger Bar - Sours ($6)

But better yet, make your own… at home!

Two weeks ago I teamed up with The Lady Lager to blend our loves: beer and jars.
After a few spills and some modifications we were equipped with beergaritas for our night out.

It was only proper for The Lady Lager to add the beer.
What you need:

2 cups frozen limeade (recipe below)
2 bottles of light beer
1/2 cup tequila


In a pitcher, combine frozen limeade, 2 beers and 1/2 cup of tequila.  Pour mixture into Mason jars and close lids. Place in the freezer overnight until frozen through, then mix so that it is in slushy form and serve.

Make extras so you can pull one out when you need a treat. 


P.S. Be sure to check out the amazing Toronto Star tribute to the jars.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Toronto's New Pizza Party Hosts.

Pizza holds a place in our hearts at all stages of life:

Childhood – a birthday party favorite.
High school – a lunch staple.
University – a late night saviour.
Post University – a no brainer date night.

Growing up not eating pizza because of lactose intolerance, I have made it a mission to make up for lost time. Lucky for me Toronto does pizza, and does it well!

There are a number of Neapolitan-style pizzerias across the city, that are worth checking out. I suggest you start in Kensington market.

Kensington Market has been called Toronto’s most eclectic neighborhood that attracts a diverse audience. The market has a charm with its vintage clothing stores, fresh produce, cafes, local watering holes and now Via Mercanti.

Via Mercanti is an unpretentious pizzeria specializing in good pizza and good coffee. True to their roots, Italian flags decorate the restaurant and staff uniform. The honorary big screen T.V. holds a prominent place in the dining area, to ensure that no one has to miss a football match.

But more importantly, I had to find a Mason jar connection to let you know about this fabulous place...

…And then came the meal.
Fungi pizza and its sidekicks hot chili and garlic, in jars, to dress your pizza to your liking. The jars become the centrepiece of the table, adding to the home feel of the restaurant.

Agreeing with my Resto bible, this is a place to discover.

This is your date night secret weapon. 

This place is a Toronto hotspot, with great food, fast service and big screen T.V. programmed to sports. (okay, I suggest leaving that last one to surprise.) 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Swapping Success.

Niagara has already convinced me that it hosts a proud homegrown community, but today confirms it. It was an afternoon of swapping knowledge, ideas, secrets and - of course - jars.

Congratulations to Tiffany, over at Eating Niagara, for organizing the successful Niagara in Jars preserve swap at Rise Above Bakery.

There were sauces, salsas, pickles, relishes, fruits, granola, jams, jellies and more deliciousness.

Don’t fret my readers - I maybe new on the preserve scene but with a little help from my friends I was able to put together a competitive selection for swapping.  Thank you to Renata, for opening her jam cupboard and to Will my beekeeping boyfriend.

Seven lucky people (with amazing taste) walked away with my offerings.

Apple Chutney x 2
Red Pepper Jelly
Creamed Honey x 2
Honey x 2

After ordering my London fog and convincing Kyle Paton, owner of Rise Above Bakery, to enter his home preserves into the mix, the swap was on.

Swap Strategy: 
Find what you like. Scoop it up.
There is no time for humming and hawing.

My Haul:

Bread and Butter Pickles 
Rosehip Jelly
Crushed Tomatos and Basil
Green Bean Relish
Pickled Beans
Cranberry Ketchup 

Driving home all I could think about was sharing this experience with you. Well that... and my newly acquired jar of bread and butter pickles, that I could not wait to crack open.

With swaps occurring in Toronto and Niagara there is no reason that your winter diet consists of a daily side of pickled peppers.  If it does, I do believe it’s time for you to join the swap.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Heart Month

February is Heart Month.

Ladies, this donation is for you! 
The mason jar at Rosewood got my donation.

Show your love for your ladies. 
Donate Here to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
Heart desease and stroke are the #1 killer of Canadian women.