Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Chirstmas My Darling Clemetine

I have been getting a farm box from Farm Fresh To You; off and on for several years now. I love the abundance of fresh food delivered to my door step every week. Occasionally I have an over abundance, such as  this week when the children and I sent most of the week out of town. So I came home from San Jose on Wednesday night to most of the fruit that was here when I left, and a whole new box on my doorstep Thursday morning; Clemetines, navel oranges, apples, kiwis, pomegranates. Far more than we will eat before the next batch arrives next week, what's a girl t do? Jam I say!! And just in time to gift the Grandparents with for Christmas.
I looked at the fruit I have the most abundance of and peeked at two of my fave canning blogs; and to get some ideas.

First I decided on a Clementine Marmalade taken mostly from, with the addition of some liquor of course!! As well as using the whole fruit instead of just the juice and peel.   

Cointreau Clemetine Marmalade. 
1 case clemetines washed and sliced thinly into half moon shapes
3 cups sugar
1 pkg pectin
1 cup water
1tb vanilla
1/4 cup Triple Sec or other orange liquor

Slice clementines thinly into rings, and then cut circes in half again.
In a large non reactive pot, combine clemetines, and water and bring to a boil, lower heat, and rapidly simmer for 30 minutes.
Add sugar, vanilla, and pectin and cook at a high boil for 2 minutes. Stir in the liquor, and let stand for 5 minutes to be sure that the peel is evenly distributed, and ladle into jars. Attach your lids and rings and process for 10 minutes.

Next I decided to try a Brandied Pear Butter, this is my favorite of the three, and possibly my favorite Jam experiment ever :) I think it will be fantastic on ice cream, oatmeal, or fresh warm biscuits.

 Brandied Pear Butter

6 pounds of pears cored and cut into chunks ( I used 1/2 Bosc and 1/2 Bartlette)
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/3 Cup Good Brandy or Cognac
6 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 White Sugar
1 vanilla bean split open with seeds removed with flat edge of knife or thumbs removed.
1 1/2cinnamon stick
pinch salt
3 additional tablespoons Brandy or Cognac

In a large non reactive pot, combine pears, wine, cognac, and 5 tablespoons of the lemon juice; simmer until softened, about 20 minutes. Run pear mixture through a food mill, or mash through a wire colander, discard the skins, then return pears to the pot. Combine the vanilla bean seeds with 1/4 cup of white sugar, then mix the pears with sugars, vanilla bean, cinnamon, and salt. Boil gently stirring occasionally for about 40 min until thickened. Remove the cinnamon stick and vanilla bean (I cut my bean into pieces and put one piece in the bottom of each jar before filling), mix in remaining cognac and tablespoon of lemon juice. Ladle into jars, attach your lids and rings and process for 10 minutes.
I think you can omit the food mill step and make a nice Pear Syrup, I'll let you know if I try it!
Enjoy!! And Merry Christmas!! 

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pancakes flaky and fluffy and curled

Adjusting from a family that just doesn't 'drink' milk, to accommodating an actually allergy to all dairy has been far easier than I originally anticipated. Our only major hiccup has been with cheese, I have yet to find a cheese alternative that is yummy and melty the way dairy cheeses are. But we're experimenting, every recipe is a new adventure; adjusting for what will or will not work. I am developing an eye for what will set up well and what won't, and sometimes I am surprised, pleasantly or not, by the outcome ;p

Pancake Poem

Shel Silverstein
Who wants a pancake,
Sweet and piping hot?
Good little Grace looks up and says,
"I'll take the one on top."
Who else wants a pancake,
Fresh off the griddle?
Terrible Teresa smiles and says,
"I'll take the one in the middle."

This morning Tasha wanted pancakes, and all of the mixes we have around the house contain dry milk, so I explored The Google, and found a recipe that would work with dietary restrictions and our lack of eggs. The result was that we made totally vegan pancakes, and they were surprisingly light and fluffy and way delicious! Tasha made dozens of silver dollar sized pancakes, I wish I would have taken a photograph, they were adorable. This Recipe is great for Vegans, or just for when you're out of eggs, as we were this morning ;p

Totally Vegan Pancakes


    * 1 cup flour
    * 1 tablespoon sugar
    * 2 tablespoons baking powder
    * 1/8 teaspoon salt
    * 1 cup Almond or Soy Milk
   * 2 tablespoons light olive or vegetable oil


   1. Set out all your ingredients.
   2. Set a stove element with a pan to medium heat.
   3. Combine the 4 dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder -- two Tablespoons, not two Teaspoons as some have suggested, salt) in a bowl.
   4. Add the milk and vegetable oil to your mixture.
   5. Mix until smooth.
   6. Now the pan should be ready for your batter, so spoon one pancakes' worth of the mixture into the pan.
   7. Flip [carefully] when you see bubbles in the middle of the pancake, or if the edges are looking stiffened.
   8. Lather, Rinse, Repeat, until batter is gone.


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Monday, November 1, 2010

Pumpkiny vegan cupcake goodness (Gluten free too!!)

Alexander had a Halloween party for the first grade classes at his school this year. Since we were potentially inviting 60-ish children I decided on a potluck. My fear was that we would end up with 60 desserts, so I asked the other parents to please bring healthy snacks, and I would provide the dessert.
I wracked my brain for something all the kids would like, that I could whip out 60 of without too much work. The answer, Cupcakes of course! I decided on pumpkin cupcakes because they seemed festive, and work well with or without frosting, and I made them all vegan so I didn't have too much stress about having multiple sections of cupcakes; with dairy, with gluten, without eggs, etc. I made half gluten free and half with traditional organic flour. Surprisingly for me, I enjoyed the gluten free ones more than the traditional, although both were really delicious.
As an activity at the party I left the cupcakes undecorated and let the children decorate them with candy corn, gummi worms, colored icing, and sprinkles, they had a great time doing this, and really enjoyed the cupcakes.
We also played a couple Halloween games, we had a three team race to create toilet paper mummies, we built a giant spider web from yarn, and I had a few tables set up for children to make clothes pin bat or spider decorations to take home.
Everyone who attended seemed to have a really good time, and I was happy to have a chance to meet parents and children that I haven't gotten a chance to interact much with. Our school combined 3 kindergartens into 2 first grade classes this year, so I am still learning who everyone is, and missing the families who ended up in the other first grade class. I am hoping to keep up the effort to keep the two classes mingling over the years to come.
Alexander loved having so many children playing here in his home, and helping to plan the details of the party; we're thinking this may be an annual tradition. :)

Here is the recipe for the Vegan Cupcakes, and I found this fantastic product that made converting the recipe to Gluten free absolutely simple;
It was so easy, and I didn't have to mix 7 different kinds of flour ahead of time. Another parent in the class said there is another brand at Whole Foods market that is similar, but costs less so I'll have to check it out next time. it was also suggested to make  a big batch of my own multipurpose flour ahead of time and keep it stowed in the freezer, which I may look into depending on how often I end up baking Gluten free.

In this recipe I simply replaced the all purpose wheat flour with the Gluten free all purpose flour, and they turned out just perfect with no further tweaking.

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Adjusted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World
Yields 12 cupcakes


- 1 cup pureed pumpkin
- 1/3 cup light olive oil
- 2/3 cup organic sugar
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup vanilla soymilk (with 1 tsp of Apple cider vinegar added and set for 2 minutes to create a 'buttermilk consistency)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cup unbleached white flour or Gluten free all purpose flour
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp cardamom
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Fill a muffin tin with muffin cups.

Stir together the first six ingredients and mix well. In a separate bowl, sift together the remaining ingredients; then gradually incorporate dry ingredients with wet, about 1/3 of a cup at a time until well incorporated.

Line muffin pans with paper liners, and fill them about 2/3 full.
Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cupcake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven, and let them cool before frosting.

I didn't frost mine, but I think a basic traditional or vegan Buttercream would be great on them, or just sprinkle them with cinnamon and powdered sugar for a lighter dessert.

Fluffy (Vegan) Buttercream Frosting (Adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)

- 1/2 cup nonhydrogenated shortening
- 1/2 cup Butter or for vegan Earth Balance, or other nonhydrogenated vegan margarine (watch for Casein if you're going vegan)
- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted.
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup cream or soy creamer

Beat the shortening and margarine/butter together until well combined and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat for about 3 more minutes.

Add the vanilla and creamer, and beat for another 5 minutes until fluffy.

Frost at room temperature, either with a spreader, or pipe it on with a pastry bag. Either way it's just delightful on many kinds of cakes and cupcakes!!


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Friday, October 15, 2010

Mmm, mmm, good pasta. And it's gluten free!!

I'm new at this whole Gluten free cooking thing, and honestly I don't know how much I will do to 'replace' wheat, vs just avoiding it. Currently I am just limiting wheat to a few times a week, rather than finding ways to replace it all together. However pasta is my weakness, so I need a way to fit that in without it being my two wheat servings for the week. So I decided to try a rice pasta to see how it would go over. I was home making dinner for the kids and I, so quick and easy was a must, and it had to pass Tash's picky factor. Perfect time to make pasta, both the kids love it, now here's hoping the Rice Pasta stands up to the test.
It was Fantastic! Seconds all around!

1 package Rice Rigatoni (or Rigatoni of your choice) cooked according to package instructions, drained and tossed with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

1 onion chopped
1 pint criminni mushrooms (add with onion or zukes, depending on how done you like your mushrooms)
3 zucchini chopped
3 cloves of Garlic crushed or chopped finely.
1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
 1/3 cup chopped basil
Salt and pepper to taste, (about a 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to my taste)

Saute onion and mushrooms  for about 5 minutes in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, add garlic and cook another minute, add zukes and salt and pepper,saute until slightly tender and beginning to brown. Add  tomatoes and gently saute another 4-5 minutes. Toss another 2 tablespoons of olive oil and basil, cook 1 more minute and toss with drained pasta.

We had it just like this topped with a bit of fresh basil and chopped garlic, but topped with a little fresh grated Parmesan would probably be just the thing.
The rice pasta was surprisingly aldelante not gummy, or bland, it lent a slightly nutty flavor to the fresh vegetables. This is a great quick one dish meal for summer, I plan to keep in in my quick draw weeknight meals.
Served it up with a glass of Pacific Rim Dry Riesling, and warm poached pears. Sooo yummy!

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