Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Crunchy granola anyone?

I guess I tend to be a crunchy granola type - studying natural resources, growing my own fruit (see the figs in the pictures that follow), preferring wind and people powered watercraft, and that sort of thing.

Here's one the crows decided to get. They get to the fruit when it's hot and they're thirsty.

A nice ripe fig

So, in honor of the granola image, here's a recipe for the granola I've made for years. I like it with yogurt and fruit in a parfait for breakfast (not very crunchy granola of me), and I usually have dried fruit in the winter. Unless, of course, I don't have granola and have steel-cut oats. I found adding the fruit just before serving makes it much more chewable; if you add it before cooking it becomes too sticky to your teeth and pulls out fillings!

Winnie's Morning Granola

1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup cooking oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup sunflower seeds
2 cups nuts (your preference, almonds, pecans, walnuts, etc in good sized pieces)
1 1/2 cups coconut (large flakes of unsweetened is preferred)
3 cups Old Fashioned Rolled Oats

optional: 1 cup mixed wheat germ, oat bran

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Warm oil and honey (I microwave for about a minute, but you could warm on the stove in small saucepan), add brown sugar.

Place remaining ingredients in a large bowl, toss with hands. Add warm wet ingredients, mix well. Spread on two cookie sheets with raised edges, non-stick works well here.

Bake for 5 minutes, stir around on sheets, and then exchange sheet locations. Bake another 5 minutes and remove from oven if coconut is toasted to light brown. If not, bake another few minutes until coconut is golden brown and smells toasty.

Take off cookie sheets into a large bowl to cool, stir while cooling or will clump into large chunks. Bag into a one gallon bag to hold for breakfasts. Recommended portion size is 1/2 cup or less.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bread for chewing

I've been wanting bread worth chewing. Store-bought bread is too fluffy for the mood I'm in of late. I decided to do up a bread with seeds and chewiness - whole wheat, sunflower seeds, wheat berries, oatmeal and using some of the buckwheat honey I picked up at a local farm market. The honey tastes more like molasses, which works well with the whole wheat flavor. If you don't have buckwheat honey, I'd say just use half and half honey and molasses to mimic the flavor.

To cook the wheat berries, put at least 1/2 cup (3/4 works better) and at least twice as much water in a small saucepan on the stove. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for approximately 20 minutes. Taste one to see if it's tender, if so, they're done. If not, keep simmering until tender - it will depend on type of wheat and how dry they are. Any left over can be eaten with milk and sugar for breakfast if you're OK with a fairly bland cereal. The extra wheat berries also can be used to make wheat berry salads with celery, onion, a bit of tomato, etc and a vinaigrette.

Sunny Honey Oat Wheat Bread

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cups buckwheat honey
2 1/2 cups boiling water
1 packet or 2 1/2 tsp of dried yeast
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp cooking oil
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup cooked wheat berries
1 cup sunflower seed
3 cups all purpose flour, approximately

In a large bowl, soak the oats in the boiling water with the honey for 1 1/2 hours.

Add yeast, salt, cooking oil and whole wheat flour; mix well. Add wheat berries, and sunflower seeds and mix well. Add all purpose flour 1/2 cup at a time; mix by spoon until too stiff to mix, then begin to knead in flour until the dough becomes resilient and the seeds begin to show through the dough.

Let rise approximately an hour (if using rapid-rise yeast) or until doubled. Split the dough in half, shape for two prepared 8X4 inch (greased) pans. Let rise approximately 45 minutes until about an inch above the edge of the pan. Heat the oven to 350 degrees about 15 to 20 minutes before baking.

Bake 40 to 50 minutes until the loaf sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hot days, cooking on hold

Yesterday and today are hot, or more accurately humid. It's 80 some-odd degrees and humid, which I know isn't necessarily hot, but doesn't induce me to cook too much.

I did make dinner yesterday. Beef stroganoff and spatzle (commercial). Considering I hadn't made stroganoff in ages it came out pretty good. I had giant oyster mushrooms from the local Asian market which went in, along with the few regular button mushrooms, half an onion, beef stock, and some left over lightly cooked "London broil." And, of course, the necessary sour cream. Yum.

Tomorrow we're headed to an orchard just outside of Charlottesville, Carter Mountain Orchard, to get apples and see what else might be picked up. I guess it's time for apple pies, or apple crisp.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Oops, didn't post yesterday

Today's recipe a baking recipe rather than stovetop. It's a variant on Whoopie Pies, again modified from one on the web. Whoopie Pies are a New England cookie/cake that are usually two filled chocolate cookies. I grew up with Whoopie Pies, and sold them in the supermarket deli where I worked in high school

This recipe is for pumpkin ones! The pumpkin really helps add moisture, and it's more of a spice cookie. I changed the filling which is often based on shortening, to cream cheese frosting. I'd recommend even doing a lemon cream cheese frosting (using lemon zest and lemon juice) in the frosting if you're not going to make some of it chocolate which I did.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1 cup butter
2 cups lt. brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 cups home cooked pumpkin or 1 15 oz. canned pumpkin (not pie filling)

Line cookie sheets with baking parchment or silpat sheets. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk dry ingredients in a bowl. In a mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs individually to the creamed mixture. Add extract and pumpkin. Beat in flour until just incorporated. Drop by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared sheets. Smooth tops of cookies with the back of a spoon. Bake 10-12 minutes in the center of the oven until cakelike and firm.

Cool on wire racks. When cooled, fill with your favorite cream cheese frosting. For easier filling, put frosting in a plastic bag, cut the corner off the bag and use as an informal pastry bag.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pumpkin pancakes

The pumpkin vine growing over and around the compost heap

Two nights ago I made pumpkin pancakes for dinner with Surry sausages. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Surry sausage is a smoked pork sausage that is dense, hammy, peppery and is a local product in the Tidewater of Virginia. The pumpkin came from one of five that we picked a few weeks ago. The pumpkins came up volunteer out of my compost heap. Last year's lumina went bad before I roasted it, so off "to feed the opossums" it went. Only the 'possums didn't get it, and we have pumpkin climbing over the carport and back fence. It's repaying us with a bounty of white pumpkins and the first one has delivered about 10 cups of roasted pumpkin meat which I've pureed.

One of the pumpkins set on in the shrubs next to the carport.

Two young pumpkins and a pumpkin blossom.

Pumpkin Pancakes

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup pumpkin puree (you can use canned)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl with a whisk. In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry, whisk quickly, but leaving a few lumps is OK, over mixing can toughen. Cook on a hot greased surface (skillet or griddle).

Recommended accompaniment: maple syrup, applesauce, fried apples, whipped cream depending upon your fancy.

Note: mine came out thick - you may want more milk, also this makes a BUNCH, so may be better for a brunch with friends. Of course the canine friends are always happy to help clean up at my place.

Today, chutney!

Ah, a surfeit of figs, from my tree and another locally. I've made fig jam, eaten figs fresh broiled with cheese and pork, so now it's time for chutney. This chutney would be good by the scent with all sorts of things, Indian Food, chicken, roast pork, and cheese.

This recipe is adapted from two online recipes, this one and this one. I wanted to use fresh peppers, so I substituted for dried and used half golden raisins and half dried cranberries. Beyond that I think you can figure out any other adaptations, mainly just in measures.

Fig Chutney

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 large onion peeled and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic peeled and thinly sliced
1/3 cup grated fresh ginger
5 Tbsp black mustard seeds
5 serrano peppers, two seeded and diced, the remainder just diced
1 Tbsp salt
8 cups fresh figs quartered if small, eighths if large

Bring sugar and vinegar to boil in a heavy medium sized non-reactive pot over medium heat. Add dried fruit, salt, spices. Bring to a simmer. Add figs. Reduce heat and maintain a gentle simmer. Cook approximately four hours until thick and dark.

Put in sterilized 1/2 pint jars and process 10 minutes.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thursday Pickles

At the moment I have four quarts of cucumber slices marinating with salt and ice to make the second batch of pickles for the summer (although it's currently autumn, what the hey!). The dogs are hanging out in the living room happily stretched out in front of the fan, on the sofa, or where ever is the most comfy.

I now know what I did wrong with last year's pickles - I let them come to the boil and let them cook too long in the syrup AND I processed the jars too long. Well the first batch this year came out so much better that I tossed the remaining three jars from last year on the compost heap and I'm making a second batch. I'll split the batch and do half regular bread and butter and half hot.

The recipe for bread and butter pickles is one adapted from a website that I've now forgotten. If it was from your site, my apologies for not passing along credit! I made the mistake of handwriting the recipe in my notepad and did not list the website.

Bread and Butter Pickles

4 quarts thinly sliced cucumbers
3 thinly sliced large onions
1/2 cup pickling or kosher salt
5 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp tumeric (powdered)
1 tsp celery seed
2 Tbsp mustard seed (yellow is prettier, but black works)
5 cups cider vinegar

Salt cukes and onions with the pickling/kosher salt. Add 2 quarts of ice and mix thoroughly. Let rest for 3 hours. Drain well and put veggies in a large kettle. Add sugar, spices, and vinegar. Bring almost to a boil stirring often with a wooden spoon, but do not boil. Pack into hot jars and seal. Process for 10 minutes for pints and quarts if lower than 1000 ft in elevation (I live nearly AT sea level, check for your area!)

To make hot sweet pickles, I added two tablespoons of flaked hot chili to a half batch of pickles last batch. This time I'll add six small dried hot chilis (about three inches long). The first were good - a bit of heat, but not too much. Of course the chili flakes had been sitting around for awhile so it had lost some potency. The new batch may be really hot. Will let you know!