Each December for the last three years, food bloggers from around the world have joined forces to raise money for charity through the Menu for Hope campaign. Started by Pim Techamuanvivit of Chez Pim, Menu for Hope is an online raffle of dozens of food-related prizes, with the proceeds going to an important charitable organization. Last year, the event raised over $60,000 for the UN World Food Programme, which will also be the beneficiary of this year's campaign, Menu for Hope 4.
Participating food bloggers have donated an astonishing array of prizes, from specialty foods to autographed cookbooks to dinner for 2 at some of the finest restaurants...and surely there will be some unpredictable surprises, as well. All you have to do is donate some money (for which you'll receive “virtual” raffle tickets – one for every $10 donated), and any of these prizes could be yours. The campaign runs from December 10 – December 21, with raffle winners announced on January 9.
I've chosen to contribute a selection of 6 of my fine preserves and condiments. If you're a regular reader here, you may know that I have a sideline in putting up delicious things in jars and selling them at the local farmer's market (and through a growing mailing list). Here's everyone's chance for a sample. Descriptions, and instructions for participating in the raffle, follow after the jump.
My one and only goal in preserving is to capture pure flavor in a jar. To that end, I use as little sugar as possible, no added pectin, the most impeccable produce I can find (local where possible, some even from my own garden), and only natural ingredients – never binders, extenders, fillers, what have you.
So. The Fig Conserve was made with Black Mission figs (from California), quartered and briefly cooked with sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest. Figs have such a delicate flavor – easily overpowered by sugar, but not here. This is lovely on toast, but I prefer to save it to serve with cheeses.
The Horseradish Marmalade I consider the crown jewel of this crowd, not only because you won't find anything like it anywhere else, you can't even get mine anywhere else. I only made 9 jars of it – I sold 4 of them, and the jar offered here is the last one I'll part with. The rest will be eaten right here at home, thanks. This was made with horseradish and hardneck garlic grown in my garden, melted for hours on the stove with brown sugar, sherry vinegar, salt and a little cayenne. The long cooking undoes the horseradish's sinus-clearing properties and leaves behind a soft, rich flavor that's hard to describe. I concocted this to go with a poached filet of beef, and beef is what this goes best with. But pork or chicken would like it, too.
I'm a sucker for hot mango chutney, and it's hard to find a good one, so I started making it myself. Green mangoes, golden raisins, garlic, ginger, sugar, vinegar, turmeric, and hot red chile powder – it's what I would politely call assertive. Fine with curries or grilled meats, but I've been known to eat it right from the jar with a spoon (as have several other fans). And no, we don't grow mangoes in Vermont.
The sun-cooking technique is described elsewhere on my blog; basically, it replaces the intense heat of stovetop cooking with a long, slow evaporation in the hot summer sun. Which nicely preserves the delicate flavor compounds of the fruit. The Blueberry Jam (with berries from just over the border in New York) has fat whole berries and a gorgeous garnet color and tastes like...blueberries. The Peach Butter actually has peaches and nectarines in it, from nearby Walpole, NH. While the flavor of fresh peaches is simply impossible to preserve, this comes very close. Both of these are more than welcome on a morning's breakfast toast, but both are equally good spooned over vanilla ice cream or stirred into plain yogurt.
Patrons at my farmer's market booth often ask me what one would do with Tomato Jam, and my smart answer is “Throw away your ketchup”. Really; we use this where any normal person would use ketchup – on hamburgers and scrambled eggs – and it's wild spread on a grilled cheese sandwich. I started with 60 pounds of rich, ripe, local tomatoes and cooked them down to 29 9-oz. jars of jam - that should give you some idea how concentrated this is. It's got a little kick of vinegar and a bite of spice from red pepper flakes, and it's finished with a wallop of fine bourbon (Knob Creek).
All of these are 9-oz. jars, which retail for $10 each, so this is a $60 value (or a little more, because I pay the shipping, too). I'll ship it anywhere in the US or Canada. The prize code for this assortment is UE06 (you'll need this code if you decide participate in the raffle).
The Menu for Hope campaign (“M4H” from here on out) is organized by region, with each region represented on a local host site. I'm part of the East Coast USA Region, hosted by Serious Eats. If you click on that link, you'll find a list of over 40 prizes offered by East Coast food bloggers. If you go to Chez Pim, you'll find a master list of all 7 regional hosts, plus a special wine blog host. From there, you can browse all of the fabulous prizes available through M4H.
Okay, now here's the really important part: instructions for how to participate.
If you're interested in buying into the raffle, here's what you need to do:
1. Choose a prize or prizes of your choice from our Menu for Hope at http://www.chezpim.com/blogs/2007/12/menu-for-hope-4.html
2. Go to the donation site at http://www.firstgiving.com/menuforhope4 and make a donation.
3. Please specify which prize you'd like in the 'Personal Message' section in the donation form when confirming your donation. You must write-in how many tickets per prize, and please use the prize code. Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize of your choice. For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for EU01 and 3 tickets for EU02 (which you would enter as 2xEU01, 3xEU02 in the 'Personal Message' section as shown below).
4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information (as shown in the example above) so we could claim the corporate match.
5. Please check the box to allow us to see your email address so that we can contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.
Check back on Chez Pim on Wednesday, January 9 for the results of the raffle.
Thanks for your participation, and good luck in the raffle!