Saturday, January 29, 2011

Gluten Free

Nope, I'm not.  But I do happen to be surrounded by several wonderful women and children who are.  We get together every Friday amid baked goods and coffee and it always saddens me when not everyone gets to sink their teeth into something fresh from the oven. Lately, I've been visiting Gluten-Free Girl on her blog and in her recent book.  We eat a lot of pasta and other wheat-based products around here and I'm always on the search for something new and different to toss into our diets.  When I came across her whole grain muffin post, I knew I had to try it. The boys scarfed them up and they were a hit at play group among my gluten-free friends.  And the best part?  They're good....really, really good.

Whole Grain Blueberry Lemon Muffins

Adapted, slightly, from Gluten-Free Girl

A total of 350 grams and equal proportions of each:  millet, oat, amaranth, teff, and quinoa flours
(use a scale, but it was about 1/2 c. of each grain)

A total of 150 grams and equal proportions of each: white rice flour and cornstarch

Combine the flours in a large bowl and there you have your whole grain mix.  As this was my first gluten-free baking event, I erred on the side of caution and halved the recipe for the mix. Next time, I'll make the full 1000 grams and am really looking forward to trying new grain combinations. Store the extra in a glass mason jar-it looks pretty.

350 grams whole grain flour mix
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
180 grams dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla salt (regular is fine)
2 eggs
300 grams vanilla soy milk
100 grams canola oil

zest of one organic lemon
Heaping 1/2 c. blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line 15 muffin tins with paper liners.

Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, and vanilla salt in a large bowl. Whisk them together and toss in the blues to coat.
Whisk together the eggs, soy milk,canola oil, and lemon zest. Add them to the dry ingredients. Stir with a fork and rubber spatula (not at the same time) until well combined.
Fill the muffin tins 3/4 full. Bake until the muffins are browned and a toothpick comes out clean, about 25 to 35 minutes.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Winter in the Garden

Who says a garden isn't beautiful in winter?  The garden seems to mirror the rest of nature during this season...quiet, a little slower, but still very much full of life.  If I ever need assurance of that, I look to the round and crimson buds on the red leaf maple or the sunlight streaming through wilted leeks.
Today, I took a little stroll around my backyard and captured beauty. 

These are for you PJ :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Brighten Your Day

You know that old question, "What 5 things would you want on a deserted island?"  Well, one of mine would be lemons (or in today's case, oranges).  I may even include my Microplane, but I figure I'll get crafty and make my own in all of that spare time.  Why?  Because everything tastes better with zest.  I'm zest obsessed.  It works with sweet and savory...and it's pretty. The smell alone will brighten your day.  Make this cake. You will not be disappointed.

Double Chocolate Pear Cake with Orange Zest

adapted, slightly, from Edible

1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
2/3 c. sugar
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt (I used vanilla salt)
1/4 c. cocoa powder
3/4 c. bittersweet chocolate chips
3 ripe pears, peeled, cored, and chopped
Zest from one orange (use less if it's huge and/or if you want a subtle flavor)
1 1/2 T. freshly squeezed orange juice
1 large egg
3/4 c. milk (I used nf)
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1 t. pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Lightly grease an 8 inch round or square baking pan.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and the salt.  Sift in the cocoa powder and stir to combine with the other ingredients.  Stir in the chocolate chips; set aside.
In a large shallow bowl, combine the pears, orange juice, and zest.  Mash the pears until smoothish with a fork or a potato masher.  Whisk in the egg, milk, oil, and vanilla.  Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients.  Stir just until blended.  Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out barely moist., 35-45 minutes.  Let cool on a rack for 15 minutes.  Remove cake from pan and cool completely before serving.  If you can wait, I never can.  Enjoy!

PS my photo was awful, but you can see a decent one here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fresh Pasta with My Sidekick

Talus is my sidekick in the kitchen.  Of course, he thinks I'm his.  One of our favorite things to make together is fresh egg pasta.  He loves using the pasta machine and gets his own small chunk of dough to do with as he pleases. The beauty of making pasta with kids is that they are totally occupied and interested (no small feat with T), but really, mama is in control.

                                             As you can see, I have really fancy drying rack...

Fresh Egg Pasta

From The Herbfarm Cookbook

2 cups unbleached bread flour -or AP
2 large eggs
1/4 t. salt
2 t. olive oil
About 2 T. water (I always need more)
Rice flour, for dusting

Pulse the flour, eggs, salt, and olive oil together in a food processor until the mixture looks like cornmeal.
Add 2 T. water and process.  Add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the dough spins itself into a ball.
Put in a covered container and let rest at least 15 minutes.
Roll out the dough according to your pasta machine's directions. Rice flour is key isn't absorbed into the dough the way that flour is.  Love it.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Autumn in the Garden

It's been a strange year for weather here in the Pacific Northwest and the garden has definitely reflected that.  It is what it is. Every year is different.  We still ate solely from our garden all summer and the tomatoes continue to come in red.  The onions and carrots have been epic in size. We were swimming in green beans all season, still are, actually.  The freezer is full of veggies for the winter.  Not bad. I'm grateful.

Here is what I planted for fall and winter:

Lacinato Kale (will overwinter)
Rainbow Chard (doesn't like hard frosts)
Red Russian Kale (burly plants from a salad mix-overwinters)
Leeks (overwinters for spring)
Winter salad mix (in the cold frame-see below)
Mizuna and other mild greens (not liking the cool nights)
Parsnips (these were actually planted mid-summer and taste best after a frost or two)
Sugar Snap Peas (second planting in early August-they probably could have used more sun)
Carrots (seems like they can just hang out in the dirt forever)
Beets (ready in the spring)

Bret built me this great cold frame a couple of years ago for our winter lettuces...still working out some kinks, but I love it.  We didn't use the Ikea shelving since the hubby is so handy. I'm off to get garlic and shallots for planting today. Enjoy the comes the rain.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Braised Beef with Fennel and Orange Zest over Bay Scented Mashed Potatoes

What's that?  You say you don't like fennel?  Try this can be brave and stick with the fennel or just omit.  Like coffee, everyone has a certain way they prefer to make their mashed potatoes.  Skin on, peeled, with cream and a pound of get the point. So, make them your way and try adding a couple of cracked, fresh bay leaves to the water while they boil away.  If you enjoy them, try making a small slit in your Russet and slide a bay leaf in the next time you have baked potatoes. Of course, I'm lucky to have a MIL that has a huge bay tree.  I just have to make the .9 mile trek that way...pretty sweet.
This recipe is sort of a combination, Mo twist, on Suzanne Goin's, "Boeuf a la Nicoise" and Patricia Wells'  Beef with Carrots.  Feel free to adjust the amount of beef and carrots. I love my meat, but we prefer to be heavy on the veggies around here. I just bought the stew meat pre-cut.  You can buy chuck and cut it up if your are so inclined.  Or use short ribs.  Or some other cut you fancy.  We tend to go organic or grass fed here as well.

Braised Beef with Fennel and Orange Zest

1.5 pounds stew meat cut into 1-2 inch cubes 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3-4 T. extra virgin olive oil

1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced fennel
1/2 cup diced carrot
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 bay leaves, preferably fresh
8 sprigs of fresh thyme
Zest of one organic orange
3/4 cup chopped tomatoes (we had some from the garden, but canned is fine)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups red wine 
4 cups beef stock, preferably homemade
4-5 large carrots cut into 2 inch chunks
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley 

Preheat oven to 325 F.
Season the beef with salt and pepper to your liking.  Heat the oil over high heat until smoking.  In a large dutch oven, brown the beef in single layers-don't crowd.  If using more than amount above, you may need to brown in batches.  Sear until well browned on all sides and remove.

Turn the heat down to medium and  cook the onion, fennel, diced carrots.  Scrape up the brown bits.  Add the thyme sprigs, bay, garlic, and orange zest.  Cook 6-8 minutes or until the veggies caramelize.  
Add the tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes to coat the veggies.  Add the balsamic and reduce to a glaze.  Add the wine and reduce by half.  Add the beef stock and bring to a boil.  Add the carrots and reserved meat with juices.  Cover the pan with foil and a tight fitting lid.  Braise for about 3 hours in the oven.
During the last half hour, make the potatoes or boil up some fresh egg noodles.

Serve with mashed potatoes or egg noodles.  Enjoy!

Monday, October 4, 2010


This weekend the family headed north to the, "City of Subdued Excitement."  I love Bellingham. I used to be obsessed with moving there, but that has tapered off a bit over the years as T-town has found a place in my heart.
We went to their amazing farmers' market, ate great food, watched the hippies spin, and most importantly spent time with friends and family.  The boys had a blast playing with their cousins and friends and we burned the midnight fires rehashing old memories and creating new ones.  We are blessed with fabulous and genuine friends.  I am thankful.