Jelly Lessons #2

After five roller coaster years of creating The Jelly Queens, a little organic jelly and jam company, that has won over 12 world awards, I am very clear that it really does give me a voice. The Jelly Queens and I get to be a voice for all good things, especially food. Good, sustainably grown, farmer-friendly, local, organic, healing food! And Texas, home of The Jelly Queens, is a hot, juicy bed for sustainable agriculture and exceptional cooking!

So how did I get myself into this, you might ask when all I was aiming for was a little hobby?It all started with FOX’s, mega-hit cooking show, MasterChef. 39,000 people auditioned and 100 were chosen, including me, to battle it out to become the second season’s winner. Believe it or not, at the end of the show some amazing friendships were formed. And on a crisp fall evening, about six months after the show wrapped, seven of us gathered to make dinner for 200 people at one of the most beautiful homes in Dallas. I knew being on MasterChef was gonna change my life, but dinner that night created a wave that has not stopped rolling. I call it the jelly roll – we are on a jelly roll. The Jelly Queens since that day has changed, morphed and grown. I could even say it has taken on a life of its own.

One of my mentors said to me, “Be prepared, people will come and go, there will be ups and downs, but it will be a great adventure. It will take as many as 10 partners, 10 times to get it right, 10 incarnations, some will be good and some will be bad, some will give and some will take, but each incarnation will better than the next. Stay the course because you are spot on, keep your eye on creating a wave of delicious conscious awakening.” And he was right, partners have come and gone, friendships made and lost, but the concepts, brainstorming, and devotion to goodness have been nonstop.Just like our recipes, there are lots of ingredients,  people, places, things, times and events that have contributed to The Jelly Queens’ creation. I knew from the very beginning that change was part of creation. What I did not know was how much I would love each incarnation of The Jelly Queens, (even the ones that included hard lessons, maybe those are the best), or how much I wanted each to be “The One,” or how hard it would be to let things go, or how each lesson, trial, and tribulation would teach me about what I really want and who I really want to share this process with…or how much I would love and wish blessings on those who have walked with me...

If you know The Jelly Queens, then you know we are all about adventure. We love road trips that take us from the city to the country. Trips that show us the bounty of Texas and beyond. Our trips have taken us from coast to coast, where we gather ingredients from the best farms we can find. Although most of our produce is local to Dallas and Austin, we have farms from California to Georgia that help us achieve our flavor profiles. We use the culinary traditions that have been passed down for generations, some dating back to 1826. We do all this to show you show the importance of our #1 devoted core value, organic living through sustainable agriculture and food manufacturing. I am sure you think The Jelly Queens is a fun name, maybe even silly or frivolous but we are doing some great and serious work, we just have a good, tasty time while we do it! Someone once said they felt sorry for me, working so hard to create the Jelly Queens, but they did not understand me. They did not understand how much I love the creative process, how much I love cooking and especially how much I love feeding everyone and jelly, like most really good food, helps contribute to little moments of joy and adds to all kinds of memories.

The ideas for the company have really come from the way we live our lives. The things that are important to us and the issues we are committed to. The ways in which we show our love, and have come to understand that everything is a reflection. It is about the lessons we want to teach our children that deal with home, family, community, food, and the strength of women. And how we go about creating a life where working, being devoted to a cause and having fun are combined in the same activity, and how to leave a legacy that will contribute to future generations. Our website is being designed to help you understand food, where it comes from and how it is made. It is to assist you in creating great meals and good memories that will make everyone at your dinner table feel like royalty.  And it is a space to let us share our news, to keep you up to date with all our new creations. For instance, we are amping up our healthy, fresh, organic food with new edibles, spices, drinks and body products that will be infused with CBD, essential oils, and herbal supplements to help detox, energize or relax you and promote a sense of well-being. We love being part of the slow food and good food movements. No co-packers for us, we do everything by hand, low and slow, in open kettles to retain nutritional value.

If you are wondering who The Jelly Queens really are, know this, we are the magic people in your life. We come and go quickly, sweep in with change and excitement, set you on a path you never thought of, show you a new way to look at what is important in your life, give you a leg up before you strike out on your own.

We are always pleased to share our concepts, art, recipes, and wild ideas to let you build on them and create something new that is all your own and maybe even more wonderful than we ever imagined. We love looking back on our journey to see the impact we have had on others. We understand the importance of community, of gathering everyone to a common table to share in rhythms of the heart, the harvest, the earth and living a loving life. And we know we are blessed to get to spread our message through cooking and passing our wisdom down as we stir sweet and savory mixtures of fruit and spice. We create a revolution wherever we go, changing the way food is grown, cooked and served, how families and communities gather, and we really are always up for a new adventure, a new lesson, a new challenge and a new beginning.

We are grateful for the time we spend with you, no matter how fleeting!         Get ready!!  

 

Jelly Lessons #1

Jelly Lessons #1Every country has a national preserved fruit or veggie that they are known for, from coconut to strawberries, cucumber to peppers, sweet to savory, for dessert toppings, sandwich fixins’ or meat glazes. The ingredients used and how they are prepared to determine the type of preserves;  jams, jellies, conserves, curds and marmalades are all examples of different styles of preserves. In English, the word, in plural form, “preserves” is used to describe all types of jams and jellies.Jelly Queens’Chutney – Sassy Apple Fig – A chutney is a pungent relish of Indian origin made of fruit, spices, and herbs. Although originally intended to be eaten soon after production, modern chutneys are often made to be sold, so require preservatives – often sugar and vinegar – to ensure they have a suitable shelf life. Ours is laced with our favorite spice blend  – Garam Masala.

Jelly Queens Confit – Bacon Bourbon – While confit, the past participle of the French verb confire, “to preserve”, is most often applied to the preservation of meats, it is also used for fruits or vegetables seasoned and cooked with honey or sugar till jam-like. Savory confits, such as ones made with garlic or fennel, may call for a savory oil, such as virgin olive oil, as the preserving agent.Jelly Queens’ Conserve  – Banana Nut – A conserve, or whole fruit jam, is a jam made of fruit stewed in sugar. Because of the quick cooking time some fruits are not particularly suitable for making into conserves because they require cooking for longer periods to avoid issues such as tough skins. Because of the cooking period, not as much pectin will be released from the fruit, and as such, conserves will be slightly softer set than some jams. Conserves usually also include dried fruit, like raisins or nuts.

Jelly Queens’ Fruit Butter – Pumpkin, Apple – Fruit butters are made from larger fruits, such as pumpkins, apples, pear or peaches. Cook until softened and run through a sieve to give a smooth consistency. After sieving, add sugar and spices and slow cook the pulp for 4 days, allowing all the water to evaporate.  The finished product should mound up when dropped from a spoon, but should not cut like jelly, it should be very thick, rich and can be used in other recipes like applesauce would be to replace the fats.

Jelly Queens’ Fruit curd – Lemon Lavender, Cranberry, Strawberry, Coconut, Blood Orange – Fruit curd is a dessert topping and spread usually made with lemon, lime, orange, or raspberry. The basic ingredients are beaten egg yolks, sugar, fruit juice and zest which are gently cooked together until thick and then allowed to cool, forming a soft, smooth, intensely flavored spread.Jelly Queens’ Jams – maybe we should be the jam queens! Four Berries, Strawberry black Pepper, Tomato Basil, Peach Pepper, Lavender Peach, Raspberry Chipotle, Raspberry Framboise, Raspberry Rose, and to many to name!! – Jam typically contains both the juice and flesh of a fruit or vegetable, although some cookbooks define it as a cooked and jelled puree. The term “jam” refers to a product made of whole fruit cut into pieces or crushed, then heated with water and sugar to activate its pectin before being put into containers. Good jam has a soft even consistency without distinct pieces of fruit, a bright color, a good fruit flavor and a semi-jellied texture that is easy to spread but has no free liquid.Jelly Queens’ Jellies – Lavender, Cabernet, Champagne, Six Pepper – To me jelly is the hardest to make, it is pure chemistry. I have seen everyone struggle with jelly – even some of the best chefs I know don’t seem to be able to get it to set correctly. It is either too soft and is just syrup or too hard and chippy. In the U.S. and Canada, jelly refers to a clear or translucent fruit spread made from sweetened juice lemon juice and pectin. Outside North America jelly usually refers to a gelatin-based dessert, what we call JELLO.  Pectin is essential to the formation of jelly because it acts as a gelling agent. Jelly can be made from sweet, savory or hot ingredients. Good jelly is clear and sparkling and has a fresh flavor of the fruit from which it is made. It is tender enough to quiver when moved but holds angles when cut. Jelly Queens’ Marmalades – Blood Orange Lavender, Pink Lemonade, Triple Citrus, Ruby Red Grapefruit, Calamondin Vanilla,  Onion Fig – Marmalade is a fruit preserve made from the juice and peel of the fruit boiled with sugar and water. It is typically produced from lemons, limes, grapefruits, mandarins, sweet oranges, bergamots and other citrus fruits, but also include fruit where eating the skin is delicious, like figs! The benchmark citrus fruit for marmalade production in Britain is the Spanish Seville orange, prized for its high pectin content, which gives a good set. The peel has a distinctive bitter taste which it imparts to the preserve. In America, marmalade is sweet. Marmalade is generally distinguished from jam by its fruit peel.