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.

 

 

Passionfruit Curd

 

Passionfruit curd. Yum.

Rather than post photos of the rabbits eating my vegetables,

or other Eastery things, I thought I’d put in a recipe that is rather exotic.  If you have a passionfruit vine (the ones that produce edible fruit) you may be inundated with the fruit about now.  Also the flowers were named passionflowers because of the Christian symbolism read into the shape of the flowers.  I always wondered about this, but I figured that faced with ‘heathens’ who ate this aromatic, voluptuous and kind of sexy fruit, some Christian missionaries decided to put the stamp of Christianity onto the plant rather than try to ban its consumption.  That’s just my theory, of course, but it makes sense.  Therefore a post on passionfruit for the passion of Christ on Easter.  Yep, I’m stretching it, but you’ll like the recipe.

Anyway, passionvines have abundant growth (as I mentioned in my post about building a trellis for them http://www.vegetariat.com/2012/03/questionable-carpentry/).

Gorgeous flowers.

There are many colors of flowers of both the ornamental and edulis varieties.  The flower has a tiny fruit all ready to go and awaiting some friendly bee to come rub herself all over the anthers and stamens (the missionaries are shuddering) and pollinate.

Looks like the fruit is wearing an Easter bonnet! Kind of. Okay, it doesn't.

The fruit grows as the flower fades. There is some mother-child allusion somewhere in there but you’ll have to go there yourself.

A developing passionfruit.

When the fruit is ready to fall, a good shake of the vines will make them come down.  Usually they are still smooth-skinned at this point.  You want to wait until the fruit starts to wrinkle before it is sweet, ripe and ready.  (I’ll not touch that one at all.)

The fruit falls off still smooth... wait until it wrinkles to use

Don’t eat the skin, but cut the fruit in half.  Many people like to eat the seeds as well as the pulp.  I’m not one of them, and neither is my daughter who very patiently sieved the insides of about 80 passionfruit to obtain the juice.  I like to add the juice to tangerine juice for breakfast.  We’ve also successfully made a hedonistic passionfruit ice cream that was stupendous.  This time we decided to make passionfruit curd.

Wait until they're wrinkly, then scoop out the insides.

I’ve posted already on how to make lemon curd (http://www.vegetariat.com/2011/03/when-life-gives-you-lemons-make-lemon-curd/).  (You’re wondering, what is UP with this woman and curd, anyway?).  The passionfruit curd is slightly different, but yet has that nice bite to it that doesn’t make it too sweet.  I thought this curd came out tasting a little eggy, but I believe that is because we used eggs from our own spoiled hens, which have a definate healthy flavor to them.  The eggs, not the hens (that we know of, nor will we find out).  It was all okay, though.

Scoop and strain.

We made two half-pints, and I didn’t ‘can’ them.  However you may sterilize the jars and lids, add the hot curd, and give them a 15 minute hot water bath and the curd will last for months.  I still refrigerate it, just to be on the safe side.

I found the original recipe in Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess.  She stirs some passionfruit seeds back into the curd, which looks nice (if you like the fish egg look to your food) and can certainly be done for all of you who enjoy the seeds.  I like my curd seedless.  On scones.  With mascarpone cheese.  Mmmm.

Happy Easter!

Passionfruit Curd
Author: 
Recipe type: Spread
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
This wonderful spread based on Nigella Lawson's recipe can be used to top baked goods, put in a pie shell, in a jelly roll cake, or used any way you would lemon curd, jam or jelly. It makes an exotic gift, too!
Ingredients
  • 12 passionfruit
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup granulated sugar (superfine if you have it)
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted (good quality) butter
  • 2 sterilized ½ pint jars
Instructions
  1. Cut the passionfruit in half and scoop out the insides into a sieve.
  2. With a spoon, strain the juice into a measuring cup. You should have about 10 tablespoons, or a scant ⅔ cup of juice. If you'd like seeds in the curd, reserve the pulp of the 12th one instead of straining it.
  3. In a bowl beat the eggs, yolks and sugar together.
  4. In a saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.
  5. Stirring continuously, add the passionfruit juice and then the sugar mixture, being careful not to cook the egg.
  6. Keep cooking and stirring until the mixture thickens, about five minutes. It should coat the back of the spoon.
  7. Take the pan off the heat. If you have reserved the pulp of that one last fruit, here is where you whisk it into the mixture.
  8. Pour the curd into the jars and seal.
  9. Store in refrigerator. Try it on scones with mascarpone cheese. Really. I mean it.
  10. Makes two half-pint jars full, about 1¾ cups.

 

 

Pomegranate Paste

4 cups fresh pomegranate juice

1 tsp. fresh lime juice to taste (if juice is sweet; you are aiming for sour)

1 tsp. salt

In a heavy four-quart saucepan combine the juices and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium-high add the salt, and let simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about one hour.  Remove pan from heat.  Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator.  Makes about half a cup.

This is often combined with walnuts.

Pomegranate Sauce

1 tbsp.  oil

1 large onion, sliced

2 cloves minced garlic

4 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

1 cup vegetable stock or broth

¼ cup whole walnuts (optional)*

Dash of sugar (optional)

In a medium frying pan heat the oil over medium-high heat and add the onions.  Sauté until the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes, stirring often.  Lower the heat to medium-low.  Add garlic, molasses, stock or broth, and walnuts and dash sugar, if using, and combine well.  Simmer until at desired thickness.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm over seitan, tofu, vegetables, rice or grains, or add browned seitan or tofu to the sauce during the last thickening stage.    Serves two to four.

*Whenever using nuts or spices, toast them first in a pan or in a toaster oven.  Watch carefully because they can burn quickly.  This brings out the flavor and adds texture.

Pomegranate Syrup or Molasses (or ‘reductions’):

The difference between these two is only in the cooking time; the difference between the syrup and grenadine is the addition of sugar.  If you like a tarter flavor, add ½ to 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.

4 cups pomegranate juice

½ cup sugar

Combine in a 4 quart saucepan, and stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.  Turn heat down to medium-low and cook until reduced to 11/2 cups for syrup (about two hours), or until reduced to 1 cup for molasses (about 1 hour 20 minutes).  Cool completely and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to six months. 

Use the syrup in beverages, jelly, over fruit or ice cream; use the molasses with vegetables and tofu, in marinades and sauces.