Desserts in Jars: a chat with author Shaina Olmanson [RECIPE]

A taste of Desserts in Jars, available now
A taste of Desserts in Jars, available now

This Sunday afternoon at Kitchen in the Market in Midtown Global Market, blogger and author Shaina Olmanson will be signing copies of her new book, Desserts in Jars. Registration is free, and the first 50 attendees will receive a free copy of the book. Before the big bash, we chatted with Olmanson, who writes for Babble, among others, about her first book, blogging, and getting kids in the kitchen. She also shared one of her recipes with us, and it's a keeper.

How long have you been blogging?
I started my blog in March of 2009 after spending five years working for myself in the editing and transcription world.  I wanted to start writing something that would have my name attached to it.

What was your original perspective back when you began Food for my Family?
I had lived with a roommate whose culinary claim to fame was burning water trying to boil noodles.  It had always saddened me that she didn't have the basics down.  As I looked around me, I realized that so many people feared the kitchen and opted to call the pizza delivery guy instead of use a stove or cut a vegetable.  I wanted to encourage other parents, families, and young people (I was 27 with four kids when I started my site) to embrace the kitchen and feeding themselves.

It seems your writing pops up all over blogs aimed at parents. Who all do you write for?
I am a daily contributor to Babble's Family Kitchen site.  I have served as the food editor for Lifetime Moms, a digital property of A&E Networks.  I also contribute to Food Your Way and Simple Bites regularly, and as a true freelancer, I'm always working on contract jobs and one-off articles for different magazines and digital sites.

For some parents, I think the farmers markets can be a little intimidating.  I know you're a great proponent of taking the kids along. Any tips for the uninitiated on how to manage an excursion?
Visit the market by yourself first so you know the lay of the land, and when you have a good idea of how the process works, get your kids there.  For us, we know the stands that hand out samples, which is a great way to break up the shopping trip when you want to, but it's also good to know so we can avoid that awkward "My kids want a sample, but we don't actually need a pound of pickles this week" situation.

Finally, get them involved.  I will assign an item we are looking for to each of my kids, and then we'll give them a duty of looking for it at stalls and determining which stalls are the best buy and why we'd choose to buy cilantro at one over the other.  it's a great skill in how to shop, how to barter, and how to pick produce.

Which was the last recipe from your book that you prepared?
Just yesterday I made the vanilla bean pudding from the Banana Buttermilk Trifles, but I paired it with pound cake and strawberries instead for the Fourth.  Not counting that, I made the dark chocolate hazelnut pots de creme, the peanut buttercup cupcakes, peach granite bellinis, and the peach raspberry verrines with lemon-thyme cream when I hosted the get-together at my house to shoot the book trailer video.

There's something so nostalgic about food from jars. Who does it remind you of?
My grandma and her sister were the jammers of the family, and still do to this day.  My aunt's daughter delivers yearly jams and jellies from her garden.  i love the giving nature of jars, how they pass between hands and homes.  Every time I cook, I am looking to give a piece of myself to someone else.  Also, I adore how durable they are.  I have jars that are twice my age that proudly store dry nuts and seeds in my pantry today, and I'm sure they will continue for many years to come.

Peach Granita Bellinis
from Desserts in Jars. This was the first item Olamanson shared with guests at her book trailer event.  These are so easy and delicious.

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3 medium-sized peaches
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 (750ml) prosecco or sparkling grape juice

1. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until all the sugar is dissolved. Remove the simple syrup from the heat and cool slightly.

2. Combine the peaches, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a blender and pulse until smooth.  Spoon approximately 1/2 cup of puree into each of 8 tall pint jars. Cover, freeze for 2 hours, and stir each glass with a fork.  Continue to freeze for an additional 3 hours.

3. Remove the jars from the freezer and uncover.  Use a fork to loosen the granita mixture one more time. Top off each jar with the prosecco and serve immediately.
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Midtown Global Market

920 E. Lake St.
Minneapolis, MN 55407


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