2016 Marketplace and Last Tours of the Year

Our Marketplace is extended to Sunday, Nov. 20th, 9 – 2!

img_0524At Finch Frolic we’ve come to celebrate the end of our season with a Marketplace. This year our Marketplace will happen one day only, this Sat. Nov. 19th from 8-3.  Finch Frolic is located at 390 Vista del Indio, Fallbrook, CA.  We’ll be selling our abundance. Here’s some of the goodies you’ll find:

Tiny Cocktail Mouse Melons (cucumbers… so cute!)

Amazing, milk-free Passionfruit Curd

Incredible tropical Guava Jam

Pickled Garlic

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Whiskey Cranberry Relishimg_0506

Nectarine Amaretto Jam

Tangy Plum Jam

Our very best dill Picklesimg_0517

Jelly Palm Jelly img_0500

Spicy Jalapeno Carrotsimg_0519

Hand-grated, homegrown organic Horseradish Sauceimg_0529

Guava Halves in Simple Syrup

Guava Paste squares – eat as is or put them in baked goods, or pair with slices of cheese. Ummm!img_0537

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Frozen Passionfruit Juice cubes

Our famous Pomegranate Gelato

Frozen Pomegranate Arils, all ready to sprinkle on your baked goods or mix in a salad or stuffing.

Clear, amazing Guava Jelly

Frozen Plum, Guava and Peach slices

Frozen strained cooked organic home-grown pumpkin, all ready for a pie or bread!

Our best-selling Cranberry Biscotti

Gingerbread Houses. Pair them with our Passionfruit Curd for a memorable dessert!

Lilikoi (Passionfruit) Poundcakes. Small amazing tropical bundles of yum.

Guava Sauce, like applesauce but guava. Very low sugar!

Fresh Jerusalem Artichoke (Sunchoke) roots. Cook them or plant them!

Layered Curry Mix – a sensual trip to the Middle East, either layered in cute little jars for a gift or in bags for use at home. Make a curry with these organic spices!

Lime Juice Cubes

Candied Orange Peels. From our organic oranges. A much better stocking stuffer than hard candy. Or top your baked goods with a twist.

Fresh, fragrant guavas, both white and pinkimg_0541

Fresh kiwanos, those thorny African fruit that sell for a fortune at the stores.

And more!

Plus, we’ll be selling some knick-knacks, and a few garage sale items . A punching bag anyone?

PLUS, we’ll have a selection of native plants lovingly grown locally.

And we’ll have amazing succulents from our neighbor Rosa of Roja’s Succulents. You’ll pass by her business on the way in, so please stop by on the way out and see her incredible inventory of plants, all organically hand-grown by Rosa. I never loved succulents until I saw her collection, and her very low prices!

Except for the gelato, we’re dairy (milk) free this year. We use organic eggs from cage-free hens, and otherwise use vegan butter that I make at home which is coconut-oil and rice milk based.

Our last two tours of the year (the garden closes from Thanksgiving until March 1.  We will still be available for consultations and appearances) will be this weekend, Nov. 19th and 20th, both at 10. [UPDATE: THE SATURDAY TOUR IS FULL. THERE IS STILL ROOM FOR THE SUNDAY TOUR]. The tours are our usual 2-hour concentrated Intro to Permaculture walks through the garden. The tours cost $15/adult and you will come away with so many ideas and so much information that you’ll spend the next week working in your garden! Please RSVP for the tours to dianeckennedy@prodigy.net.

Your continued support helps Miranda and I keep our consultation and tour prices low, and enables us to keep teaching and spreading the word on permaculture. So thank you!

Finch Frolic Marketplace, Revisited

Wonderful, tasty winter squash of all kinds!

Wonderful, tasty winter squash of all kinds!

Due to popular demand, we’re having one more short Marketplace this Saturday, 9 – 1.

Join us on Saturday, November 29nd  from 9-1  for the annual Finch Frolic Marketplace, the Extended Version!  We’ll have for sale fresh and prepared foods straight from our permaculture gardens.  All are excellent gifts, or will grace your holiday table. We’ll have the much-desired Pomegranate Gelato again, and new this year, Passionfruit Gelato!   Squash, fruit, veg, preserves, passionfruit curd, baked goods, and much more.

Herbs, veggies, frozen juice, gelatos, curds, jams, preserves... and much more!

Herbs, veggies, frozen juice, gelatos, curds, jams, preserves… and much more!

Finch Frolic Garden is located at 390 Vista del Indio, Fallbrook, CA.

Directions:

Finch Frolic Garden is open by appointment only for tours, lectures and other activities.  The address is 390 Vista del Indio, Fallbrook, CA  92028-2548.  Please call only if you are lost or delayed; we use our house phone only and are often not inside.  Please use the email above for any other communication.

From the North (Temecula and above): take 1-15 South to Exit 51 and turn right.  Make the next right onto E. Mission Rd/County Hwy-S13.  In .8 of a mile turn left onto E. Live Oak Park Rd.  In 1.6 miles turn right onto Alvarado St.  In .7 miles at the top of the hill turn left onto Vista Del Indio, at Roja’s Succulents.  Make the very first right; 390 is at the end to the left.

From the South (Escondido and below): take I-15 North to Exit 51 and turn left over the freeway.  Make the next right onto E. Mission Rd/County Hwy-S13.  In .8 of a mile turn left onto E. Live Oak Park Rd.  In 1.6 miles turn right onto Alvarado St.  In .7 miles at the top of the hill turn left onto Vista Del Indio, at Roja’s Succulents.  Make the very first right; 390 is at the end to the left.

From the West (I-5): take CA-76 East, Exit 54A and drive for 12.6 miles.  Turn left onto S. Mission Road/County Hwy S13 for 4.1 miles.  Turn right onto S. Stagecoach Lane (at the high school).  In 2.8 miles turn right onto Alvarado St.  At the top of the hill turn right onto Vista del Indio, at the Roja’s Succulents sign.  Make the very first right; 390 is at the end on the left.

 

Making Ethical Butter

Vegan butter!

Vegan butter!

I’ve labeled myself an ‘ethical vegetarian’ for nearly two decades.  I stopped eating animals when I became horrified at the dichotomy of having glue traps under the house to catch wild rats and mice (and any poor, poor animal that happened upon it, such as lizards. Glue traps are horrendously cruel. I hadn’t put them there.) and a cage with an exercise wheel and specialty food for ‘pet’ mice in the bathroom. Justice is a man-made effort, and by not eating animals I was no longer approving of mass torture by buying into it. Although I no longer ate animals, I have still indulged in animal products, namely dairy products. Slowly it has sunk in how badly animals are treated for those, too. As someone who loves cooking, it has been difficult for me to wean away from dairy products. Butter is especially difficult. Unlike hens who have been bred to continuously lay without needing the services of a rooster, dairy cows must be lactating to produce milk. Cows are usually artificially inseminated, then after giving birth their calves are replaced by milking machines. The calves are most often slaughtered for veal. This process is repeated until the cow is used up from the constant pregnancies and lactating, and then she is slaughtered. This horrible practice is disguised by advertisements showing happy cows grazing in fields. That is a fantasy. ‘Grass fed’ and ‘pasture raised’ are sly terms that give you an image that is nowhere near to the truth. Please read Michael Pollen’s Omnivore’s Dilemma to understand where your food comes from and why.

To find an acceptable butter substitute has been an expensive and frustrating endeavor.   For awhile I used a dairy substitute from Trader Joe’s, who I swear keeps tabs on what I buy the most and then discontinues it. All other butter substitutes either taste horrible, can only be used for spreading, or more commonly contain palm oil. The sudden fad for palm oil has created extreme clearance for the growing of palm in the areas which are habitat for the orangutan; indeed, if we don’t curtail our consumption of palm oil quickly the orangutan will go extinct within our lifetimes.

I finally found a recipe for a butter substitute that works pretty well for both spreading and baking. It is made mostly of refined coconut oil. At this point coconut oil is sustainably produced – please make sure that you support companies that do so. Refined organic coconut oil has no flavor or scent; unrefined has a mild coconut flavor and a toasted coconut scent. If you are using a batch of this butter for baking where coconut flavor is desired, then use the unrefined.

This recipe is by no means my own. I found it and a detailed description of the science behind it at VeganBaking.net . There are several options listed and a lot of cooking science behind the butter.

The mouth-feel is amazingly creamy and satisfying.

The mouth-feel is amazingly creamy and satisfying.

I used the basic recipe, Regular Vegan Butter, Coconut Oil Base. The recipe calls for curdling the soy milk, which will drive the butter flavor. I tried the full teaspoon of cider vinegar, then half cider vinegar and half coconut vinegar, then just half a teaspoon of coconut vinegar, and finally no vinegar, and thus no curdling, at all. I found for my taste that the vinegar flavor carried through and was much too dominant. Even at just half a teaspoon it was so noticeable to me that I didn’t like it on toast. It was good, however, when my daughter used it on sourdough and topped it with fresh avocado. The slight vinegar flavor enhanced the avocado deliciously.

The batch I made without vinegar seemed perfect. The mouth-feel of this butter with or without the vinegar is creamy and all that a high-fat butter should be. It looks, cuts and spreads like butter. The flavor is creamy and very mild, almost like a slightly salted sweet butter. This was a winner for me. For the soy milk I used Trader Joe’s Organic Plain, which does have some sweetener in it. I’ll try with an unsweetened plain organic soy milk another time.

I keep my butter on the counter. I know that organic butter holds its shape better in the heat than processed butter, but both stay stable unless the temperature is in the 80’s. Coconut oil melts at 76F, and in my summertime Southern Californian kitchen, this vegan butter must be kept in the refrigerator. The butter is hard when needed, so the next batch I will take the author’s advice and swap out a tablespoon of coconut oil with regular oil to make it more spreadable.

I wanted to test the butter in cooking and baking. I melted it in a pan and cooked eggs and other breakfast items in it successfully. I used it on toast and on mashed potatoes with great success. The experiment with shortbread cookies went wrong, however, but I don’t think that that was the butter’s fault. These were lemon rosemary shortbread cookies, and contrary to my baking sense I followed the author’s (another blog) directions and didn’t sift the powdered sugar before adding it. There were lumps, therefore, in the batter and I mixed it extra to try and beat them out, which I believe was responsible for making the cookies tough. They were flavorful, but not crumbly. Oh well, I’ll just have to try again! The cookies rolled out, cut, and baked well, retaining their shape and performing as well as with cow’s butter.

Shortbread didn't spread using this butter, which was great.  I don't have a finished photo of the lemon-rosemary cookies because,  well, they were eaten.

Shortbread didn’t spread using this butter, which was great. I don’t have a finished photo of the lemon-rosemary cookies because, well, they were eaten.

As with all substitutions, there is always a difference and vegetarians and vegans have to embrace it. Of course fake bacon and ground ‘meat’ is not quite the same: the great part is that it is far more healthy for your body (lower fat, few preservatives if any, often organic, and not the pesticide-drenched and drugged animals that people eat) and doesn’t perpetuate the extreme cruelty to animals about which humans have become nonchalant. Yes, other animals aren’t kind when feeding off of other animals (those which aren’t vegetarians). Yet we as humans have the option the others don’t, to make eating choices.

Here is the basic revised recipe; please see the original blogpost on VeganBaking.net and give the options a try. I found xanthan gum from Bob’s Red Mill at my local grocery store, and liquid lecithin and coconut vinegar online through Amazon.com.

You can double or triple the recipe with no problem!  Enjoy.

Recipe update: I’ve since made some changes to the recipe, exchanging some vegetable oil for some coconut oil for more spreadability, and adding a little more salt for a more satisfying (to me) taste when spread on toast.  I’ve been using this butter for a month now, and have noted that: when melting in a hot pan it will brown faster than regular butter, so keep the temperature down, that it will melt and separate at room temperature (its summer now, so the kitchen is usually in the 70’s – in the winter it will be different) so I keep it in the refrigerator.  I found butter stick molds that have the teaspoon markings along the side, so I’ve made 8x the original recipe and poured it into the butter molds, then wrapped each unmolded stick  in wax paper and frozen them.

Vegan butter sticks with teaspoon markings along the side for ease in baking.

Vegan butter sticks with teaspoon markings along the side for ease in baking.

I’ve also poured it back into the cleaned coconut oil jars and frozen them, keeping one in the refrigerator for unmeasured use.  I’ve used it along with a non-dairy creamer in the  Chocolate Ganache recipe and it is very chocolaty, but not as rich as the original.  Part of that is due to the creamer; heavier creamer will produce creamier results, but in no way was it disappointing.  It was very tasty, but not as heavy.  When refrigerated it didn’t solidify as much as the other, so more chocolate might need to be added depending upon the type of creamer used but it was still spreadable and yummy.

Another Recipe Update:

I’ve been making the butter with unsweetened organic rice milk and it turns out well.  At first it tasted too light to be satisfying, but when I had dairy butter at a restaurant it tasted greasy and heavy – my taste buds wanted the vegan butter!  I found out that even when the kitchen is colder than the melting point of the coconut oil, it isn’t a good idea to leave the butter refrigerated because unlike dairy butter it will grow mold.  The rice milk butter with the increased vegetable oil makes it perfectly usable from the refrigerator.  I make sticks and freeze them in a freezer bag for baking and pour the rest into glass jars with screw-on  caps for spreading.  The jars are kept in the freezer until needed, then switched to the refrigerator.  I’ve made biscuits, cookies, cakes, scones  and breads  with this butter, and with proper  handling they all come out just fine.  We offered both dairy and vegan butter to our holiday guests and they didn’t detect much of a difference.  Since vegan butter is so much lower in calories, and coconut oil is so good for you, I  don’t have to hesitate to use it.  It is actually part of my weight maintenance  program!

Ethical Butter
Author: 
Recipe type: Condiment
Cuisine: Vegan
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
A wonderful vegan butter with no palm oil, but lots of options. My version is without curdling the soy milk. Please see the original excellent post for more explanations and options.
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup + 2 teaspoons organic plain soy milk
  • ¼ + ⅛ teaspoon salt (I increased the total salt to ½ t. for spreading butter)
  • ½ cup + 2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon (130 grams) refined coconut oil, melted to room temp. (For more spreadability, I used ½ cup coconut oil and changed the 2T and 1 t to vegetable oil, along with the following 1 T for a total of 2 Tablespoons and 1 teaspoon vegetable oil.)
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil or light olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon liquid soy lecithin or liquid sunflower lecithin or 2 ¼ teaspoons soy lecithin granules
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum or ½ + ⅛ teaspoon psyllium husk powder (I used xanthan gum)
Instructions
  1. Combine soy milk and salt in a food processor or blender.
  2. Melt the coconut oil until it is just room temperature and barely melted.
  3. Add the coconut oil and the rest of the ingredients to the soy milk.
  4. Blend or process for about 2 minutes on low.
  5. Pour into ice cube trays, or into butter molds or trays.
  6. Freeze until firm, about an hour.
  7. Serve.
  8. Keep wrapped in refrigerator for a month, or frozen for a year.
  9. Makes one cup.

 

 

Spicy Chocolate Squash Bread

 

Cocoa + squash + habinero = YUM.

Cocoa + squash + habinero = YUM.

My collegiate daughter needed a recipe to use up leftover frozen kabocha squash.  She found a chocolate kabocha bread recipe, adapted it for ingredients she had on hand, and sent me the recipe.  I’m such a proud foodie mom: this is the first recipe she’s sent to me.  She had substituted yogurt for the oil, and only had cinnamon as a spice, but really liked the results.  She said that it was kind of like hot chocolate in bread form; not too sweet and not too plain.  Hot chocolate in bread form?  I’m so there.

Today has been cold and a little rainy. My shoes and socks were wet from standing in wet grass trying to coerce my 100-lb tortoise back inside his heated room before he became too cold to move.  I had some thawed pink banana squash puree leftover from making pumpkin scones for my son last weekend.  It was so squash bread time.

I had all the spices, but I changed them up a little.  I added some freshly ground nutmeg in place of some of the cinnamon.  Due to conversations with others in my exercise class about eating fresh homegrown fruit with chili pepper and other warming spices sprinkled on them (spring fantasies!) I thought I’d heat up this recipe, too.  Before Christmas I purchased some habinero powder at Old Town Spice Merchants in Temecula, and fell in love with their habinero sugar which they sprinkled over samples of dark chocolate brownies.  I added some habinero powder to this recipe and it is fantastic.

The loaf took an hour and five minutes to bake.  It was slightly crispy on the crust and dense, moist and dark on the inside.  Yet it wasn’t cloyingly heavy or too wet.  The cocoa flavor was satisfying; too often cocoa recipes taste as if the chocolate was just a coloring rather than a flavoring. This was good.  The spices were just enough and not overpowering.  The habinero powder was just right, making just a little heat in the mouth that really accented the chocolate flavor and warmed me up from the inside.  I am freezing the rest of it, just so I don’t eat any more today.  It was really wonderful, and it had vegetable in it, too!  Thanks, daughter of mine!

I’m sure you could eat this with cream cheese, marscapone cheese, or dust it with powedered sugar, but it doesn’t need anything.  Not even, apparently in my case, a fork or plate.  So much for dieting today.

Spicy Chocolate Squash Bread
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Like spicy hot chocolate in bread form.
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ⅛ teaspoon habinero powder (or ¼ teaspoon if you like it spicier. It will be a slow warm heat in your mouth)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1⅓ cups sugar
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil or plain yogurt
  • 1 cup squash or pumpkin puree (or plain canned pumpkin)
  • 1 large egg
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease and lightly flour an 8½ x 4½ inch loafpan.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients.
  4. In a large bowl combine the oil, puree and egg until well combined. Beat in dry ingredients until well blended. (If using electric mixer, beat on low speed. You don't want a lot of air in the batter).
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  6. Bake 350 degrees F for 1 hour and five minutes, or until a toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool on a wire rack for fifteen minutes then cut around loaf and turn out onto a plate or wire rack.
  8. Serve warm, or any way you'd like to!
  9. (Options: serve with cream cheese, marscapone cheese, or dust with powdered sugar. It is also great drizzled with chocolate frosting (what isn't?) or with chocolate ganache. Both recipes can be found on my blogpost on Buttermilk Chocolate Ganache Cake).

 

 

Two Sure-fire Zucchini Recipes

Zucchini plants are like cats:  They both look harmless when small, so you think the more the merrier.  One plant is always enough, but it is hard to plant just one seed in case it doesn’t come up.  Then the sprouts are hard to thin.. what if something eats it?  Then before you know it, there are five enormous plants growing giant green clubs in the dead of night, just after you’ve checked all the plants.  Well, that’s my situation anyway.  Too many cats; too many zucchinis.  When there are enough all at one time, we’re taking them (the zucchinis, not the cats) to the Fallbrook Food Pantry along with pumpkins and tomatoes.  Until then, we’re exploring new ways to eat them.  And I refuse to sully cheesecake with zucchini! (yes, there is such a recipe!). 

My son who is studying Culinary Arts at the University of Hawaii sent me a link to smittenkitchen.com with an exceptional zucchini pancake recipe… not sweet, very light and completely tasty.  I’ll include my version.  But first I want to explain my ‘discovery’, which everyone but me probably knows about anyway. 

SAUTEED ZUCCHINI

 I had grated zucchini for bread and had some left over.  It was dinnertime and I was alone, so I experimented.  I heated a skillet with a little olive oil in it, threw in the grated, undrained zucchini, and stirred it around on medium-high heat for about five minutes.  When it was beginning to wilt and brown a little on the bottom, I sprinkled sesame oil on it lightly, and then gave it a touch of Bragg’s Amino Acids, which I use for many things.  A light soy sauce may substitute, but Bragg’s is high in nutrition, low in salt and a wonderful flavoring.  Buy it online or in health food stores.  The zucchini came out tasty and with a mouth-feel of wet wide noodles.  It was fantastic.  I’ve since made it for my daughter a couple of times, and each time we wanted more!  Imagine that!  On the plus side, it used up a medium zucchini.

  You really must give these pancakes a try. 

 

Fabulous Zucchini Pancakes
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
A light, flavorful, really good pancake that uses up a lot of zucchini and tastes like zucchini bread.
Ingredients
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
  • ¼ cup buttermilk or soured milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
  • Oil, for coating skillet
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl whisk eggs, olive oil, sugar, buttermilk and vanilla until smooth.
  2. Stir in zucchini.
  3. In a smaller bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  4. Stir dry ingredients into zucchini batter, mixing until just combined.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips.
  6. Heat oil or butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat.
  7. Scoop ¼-cup rounds of batter in pan so they do not touch.
  8. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  9. Flip pancakes and cook another minute or two.
  10. Keep pancakes warm in on a tray in the oven set on low or in a toaster oven.
  11. Repeat with remaining batter.
  12. Serve warm with or without traditional pancake toppings.
  13. Pancakes freeze well.

Lavender Cookies with Rose Water Drizzle

This is not the everyday, lunchbox type of cookie.  This is the cookie you put a sign next to with the name on it, and listen to the oohs and ahhs and hmmms when it is sampled.  These cookies are buttery and with no added extract have a very light lavender flavor.  The rose water icing should be added sparingly; it is better even to make the icing the day before to let the rose fragrance mellow some.  You don’t want cookies that taste like hand lotion.

That said, these are fun to make, smell great, taste good, and are perfect for teatime or to bring to a ladie’s function.  Don’t forget the sign.

Most lavender recipes require dried blossom.  This recipe calls for dried leaves.  If you don’t have dried leaves, you can set a few sprigs in the sunshine on a hot day, or dry them at lowest temperature in the oven or toaster oven.  My toaster oven has a ‘dehydrate’ setting, and it did an admirable job drying some fresh sprigs.  You don’t want nasty bits of leaf in your cookie.  Use a mortar and pestle to grind up the dried leaves.  The result should be like fluff.  Yep.  It doesn’t powder, it fluffs.

Rose water can be found at International markets, some grocery stores, many liquer stores, or online.  If you can’t find it, or just don’t like the smell or taste of rose, then leave the icing unflavored, or add a drop of vanilla.

Lavender Cookies with Rose Water Drizzle
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 dozen
 
An English teatime-type cookie.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons lavender, crushed until fluffy
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • For icing:
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 5 - 6 teaspoons water
  • 6 teaspoons (or less... try it!) rose water
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.
  3. Add the eggs.
  4. Add lavender, flour, baking powder and salt.
  5. Drop by small teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Leave space between for spreading.
  6. Bake 10 -12 minutes, until edges begin to turn brown.
  7. Cool on racks.
  8. To prepare icing, mix the powdered sugar with water and rose water until it has a nice, non-globby drizzly consistency.
  9. Drizzle over cooled cookies.

 

 

How Desserts Lose Calories: My Theory

After years of careful scientific research,  I have discovered that food can lose its caloric content under certain conditions.  I’m not talking about after you eat half of it, either.  This thesis, which I firmly hold to be true, gives a little break to all of us who gain weight if we even see a drawing of a donut.  Here it is:

High calorie foods, such as cakes, cookies, ice cream, pastries, pies… you get the picture… lose caloric content when:

They are dropped on the floor.

When they are stale.

When they are given to you by someone who doesn’t want them.

When left over.

When eaten from the container.

When slightly burnt.

When overcooked (different from being burnt).

When eaten reluctantly (food guests force on you and you have to eat some to be polite).

When someone who is a bad or indifferent cook makes them.

After the cat has sniffed them.

When reduced to crumbs in a pocket/purse/backpack.

When eaten other than in their native environment (i.e., ice cream on a cold day, pie in the garden, batter-dipped cheesecake-onna-stick at the fair.  No, wait, that is its natural environment!).

When eaten onna-stick, unless they are supposed to be onna-stick, such as ice cream bars.

When eaten with an unusual complimentary food (donuts and Corona) (something about food combining, like making a whole protein).

When taken medicinally.

When washed down with a diet drink.

When eaten en masse at one sitting (like the heavenly cranberry biscotti my wonderful neighbor makes every Christmas.  They are MINE.)

When eaten with a plain green salad (they cancel each other out). (If you add sprouts to the salad, you can have seconds on the cake.)

When eaten instead of a regular meal.

Of course, this theory doesn’t work if you plan to do any of the aforementioned.  You can’t drop a cookie deliberately and then eat it (ten second rule or no) and expect calories to break off and go skidding around the floor.  This works only when you forget to set the oven timer and the brownies come out dry, but you eat them anyway.  Or if you are laying kitchen tile and someone brings donuts and someone else brings a six-pack.  So what it comes to is this: there is a reward for clumsiness and forgetfulness.  We should embrace and reward our faults.  With sugar.

I hope this theory aids you in your diet.  If you have any corroborating evidence of your own, please comment.  Someday I’ll write a paper on my findings and send it to medical journals.  Won’t they be surprised!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spiced Pumpkin Scones

Spiced Pumpkin Scones
Author: 
Recipe type: Bread
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Tender, healthy, satisfying scones for breakfast, break or dessert.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ cup pureed pumpkin, canned or fresh (make sure fresh is drained)
  • 3 tablespoons milk or milk substitute
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
  • For Icing (optional):
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk or milk substitute
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • pinch each of ground ginger and ground cloves
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Grease a cookie sheet and dust with flour
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, milk and pumpkin.
  5. Cut butter into dry ingredients using a pastry cutter, forks or your fingers, until there are no butter chunks left, and it is like fine crumbs.
  6. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry.
  7. Form dough into a ball. Dough should be sticky, but not stick to baking sheet, so add a little more flour if necessary.
  8. Pat dough onto prepared baking sheet into 9x3x1" rectangle.
  9. Using a greased knife (spray with cooking spray), cut rectangle into thirds.
  10. Cut each third diagonally to form a total of six rectangles. (If you want smaller ones, cut these in half to form twelve).
  11. Gently pull each section apart so that there is a half an inch between each scone (for even baking).
  12. (Alternatively, form dough into large circle 1" high, and cut crossways into wedges, and pull slightly apart).
  13. For six large scones, bake 14 - 16 minutes until slightly browned; for twelve smaller scones, bake 10 - 12 minutes until slightly browned.
  14. Remove scones to wire cooling tray set over a plate or piece of foil, and cool completely.
  15. Meanwhile, mix together icing ingredients until smooth, if using.
  16. Drizzle icing over cooled scones and serve.
  17. Serve plain, with marscapone cheese, cream cheese or butter.

What to do with leftover pumpkin?  Here is the perfect thing, spiced pumpkin scones.  Hearty without being heavy, healthy without being icky, these scones are more than just a morning treat.    I used fresh pureed sugar-baby pumpkin, but canned pumpkin (unseasoned) works fine, too.  The dough is a little damp, so instead of cutting the scones and removing them to a baking sheet, it is easier to form the scone dough right on a floured baking sheet and then cut them.  The way I show how to do it makes large scones; you may cut them smaller and reduce the baking time.  The scones are great without the icing.  Eat them plain, with butter or best of all, with a smear of marscapone cheese or cream cheese.  They also keep well for the next day, and freeze beautifully.  Wrap them individually in foil and freeze, and when defrosted they are just as good as fresh.

Strawberry Shortcake

 

Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

 

Strawberries are the quintessential food of summer.  Whether served plain, dipped in sugar, chocolate or a sweet fondue, mashed and drizzled with balsamic or flavored vinegar, chopped and mixed with vanilla ice cream, strawberries are happily both delicious and nutritious.  Between summer’s heat spells, take time to light up the oven and treat yourself to some strawberry shortcakes.  They taste as if they were difficult to make, but they aren’t.

Grate frozen butter into the flour.

 

 

Before you begin, throw 1/2 a cup of unsalted butter into the freezer.

Strawberry Shortcakes
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert or Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 - 10
 
These scrumptuous, not-too-sweet cakes are ideal for a summertime dessert or for a special breakfast or brunch. You can even serve them at high tea!
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon lemon or orange zest
  • 5 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, frozen
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • ½ cup cream or ½ and ½
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • 10 - 12 ounces fresh ripe strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup whipped cream
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 425F.
  2. Stir together the flour, salt, baking powder, zest and 3 tablespoons of the sugar in a bowl.
  3. Grate the butter into the dry ingredients, then with your fingers or pastry blender gently incorporate the butter into the flour.
  4. Whist the egg into the cream and slowly pour into the dry mixture while mixing with a fork, just until the dough begins to form (you may not need all the liquid).
  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured area and roll gently to about ¾ ".
  6. Dip the cutter in the excess flour and cut out rounds.
  7. Place the shortcakes one inch apart on a greased baking sheet, or one lined with parchment paper.
  8. Gather the scraps of dough and continue rolling and cutting until used up.
  9. Brush the tops of the shortcakes with egg white and sprinkle with one teaspoon of remaining sugar.
  10. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes until golden brown.
  11. Allow to cool on a wire rack (you'll want to eat them while warm).
  12. Slightly crush the strawberries to release the juices.
  13. Sprinkle with last teaspoon of sugar. You may also drizzle with balsamic or flavored vinegar, stir in fresh snipped mint leaves, or stir with a tablespoon of whiskey.
  14. Split each shortcake lengthwise and add strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream, then top with the other half of the shortcake like a little hat.
  15. Makes 8-10 shortcakes.

 

Gently cut into 2 1/2 inch rounds.

 

Bake until browned, then cool on a rack.

 

Candying Kumquats

 

An army of kumquat halves

We have two small but prolific kumquat trees.  Kumquats are very small citrus that are tart and sweet at the same time, and you eat the skin and all whole.  Kind of scary.  Not wanting to waste food, my daughter picked a whole batch of them and was determined to juice them.  And she did, one tiny half at a time!  There was about half a cup of juice in all, which she froze in plastic butter molds for future use in drinks, etc.

De-pithed kumquat shells

Then we had all these little half shells, so she carefully scraped the pith out of all of them and candied them.  The idea was to make little candied shells in which we’d put little scoops of vanilla ice cream, lemon sherbet, or something yum.  We tried a couple with homemade vanilla ice cream, and it was worth all the work.

Cooking kumquats in simple syrup

The kumquats needed to dry round, like little bowls, so I picked some more kumquats (yes, there are still more!), halved them and used them as molds for the shells, which were put onto the halves like little hats.

Using kumquat halves as molds for shells

All the split ones were set aside, and then everything was sugared and dried.  Several years ago we candied orange and lemon peel and I pulled some out of the bags now and then for use in baked goods.  Now we have candied kumquat peels and shells.

Sugaring the peels and letting them dry

But we still had all those kumquat halves that we’d used as molds.  We also had half a saucepan of simple syrup in which the kumquats had been cooked.  So, not wanting to waste, we put the kumquat halves into the syrup and boiled it again until the halves were candied and then I put them in jars and sealed them.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them, but they can be used to decorate desserts.

Candied kumquat preserves in syrup

I also had another ginger beer recipe that called for slicing the ginger, cooking the slices in a sugar and water mixture until reduced, then using the liquid as a base for a ginger drink.  The slices could then be sugared and dried and eaten.  I keep candied ginger from Trader Joe’s in the car to snack on, because ginger helps with car sickness or an upset stomach.  These homemade ginger slices were quite hot, so I think I’ll save them to use in cakes and pies instead.

Stored candied kumquat shells and peels

So it was a day of sugaring, preserving and messing about in the kitchen.  We now have seven quarts of pickles, a couple of bags of dried kale that is not only good to munch on, but great to crumble over rice or noodles, jars of candied kumquats, a jar of sugared kumquat peel, a bag of candied ginger slices, some miscellaneous jam, and lots of zucchini with more to come!