Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Plum Fruit Leather

Plum jam?  Check.  Made two batches.
Plum sauce, to use on chicken or ribs?  Check.  Made the delicious recipe from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
And still . . . a tree full of plums.
So today's project?  Plum fruit leather.  You just pit the little suckers, pop 'em in a saucepan with a bit of sugar (about 2 T. per each cup of plums), smash them up a bit with a potato masher, and cook over medium heat until mixture is just about boiling.  Then, in batches, puree in a blender until mixture is smooth.  If you want, at this point you can put the pulp through a fine wire strainer for extra smoothness.
Now tape plastic wrap onto a cookie sheet and pour the puree onto the wrap -- it should be about 1/4-inch thick.
Cover plum puree with cheesecloth, clipping it tight with clothespins, and set outside in the sun.  I'll bring this in tonight so the critters don't get it, and set it out again tomorrow.  According to the Sunset Cook Book of Favorite Recipes II, where I got this recipe, it should take 20 to 24 hours to dry.

"When fruit is firm to touch, try peeling fruit sheet off plastic (fruit is sufficiently dry when whole sheet can be pulled off plastic with no puree adhering . . .)"  Sunset also says that after you roll them up and seal them in plastic, you can refrigerate for four months or freeze for up to a year.

Can't wait. 
If this turns out to be wonderful, I know what I'll be doing for the next few days.

Anyone else inundated with summertime fruit?  What are you making?

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Friday, May 8, 2015

Sparkling Roasted Lemonade

Lemons, wearing a hat of sugar, then roasted with water and vanilla bean added -- should morph into the most delectable lemonade ever, yes?
Sadly, no.  The results tasted so bitter from the peel, it was all Kahuna and I could do to gag down two sips worth.  Then . . . down the drain it went.  All of it. 
Iced tea, anyone?


Monday, April 6, 2015


I don't believe I've ever made Challah before, but decided to give it a try this year, to go with our Easter dinner.  I was very happy with this yeasty, puffy marvel, braided, brushed with egg wash, then sprinkled with poppy seeds.   Though maybe I used a few too many poppy seeds.
Or perhaps my sprinkling technique just needs a little work.
I used this recipe from the Urban Homemaker, which I saw originally in the New Harvest Homestead newsletter.
Any one else have any Easter dinner success stories to report?


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Lindsey's Brandied Cranberries

What am I doing, making cranberry recipes in mid-March, you ask?
Cleaning out this.
 Which, just a couple months ago, looked like this.
We are getting there, people.  To quote Gladys Taber, "We feel the secret softening of winter as the deep freeze gets nearly empty." 
Way back in spring and summer, while putting up all those orange jams, peach butters, and herb pestos, we were feeling mighty virtuous.  Now, as it's time to clear out last year's abundance in readiness for this year's, the feeling is more one of over-saturation.  We froze too much tzatziki sauce, let's face it.  And the frozen dill pickle spears just were not such a hot idea.
 Now, as Margaret Roach, author of The Backyard Parables:  Lessons on Gardening, and Life, puts it, we are on the freezer diet, "when the garden manages to provide anyhow, despite prevailing conditions." And we are down to just a jar or two (or three) of tzatziki sauce.  The end is in sight.  (Check out Margaret Roach's blog, A Way to Garden, here.)
Fortunately, nestled way back on one of those shelves was a lovely bag of cranberries, purchased in November.  And tucked away in my files of Thanksgiving Recipes to Try was this terrific recipe for Brandied Cranberries from our friend Lindsey, who says it's her very favorite way to make cranberries.  "This recipe is very quick, produces only one dirty pan, and is extremely yummy over turkey or vanilla ice cream!"  I heartily verify its yumminess, as we had it last night over slices of pork tenderloin, accompanied by Kahuna's first flush of 2015 garden goodness, tender asparagus and itty baby potatoes.
1 12-oz package cranberries (mine were frozen)
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. brandy
Place cranberries in microwave-safe 3-quart pan (a 9 x 13-inch glass pan works well, reports Lindsey).  Sprinkle sugar over cranberries; cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 12 minutes (that's right, 12 minutes).  Remove pan from microwave, stir mixture, and, while it's still hot, add brandy and mix well.
That's it.  The perfect sweet-tart combo, this is so good you will plan to buy extra cranberries next November just so you can chance upon them later and make this.

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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Chestnuts Roasting on an Open fire . . .

. . . make the house stink of burnt stuff.
And taste kind of like half-burned, half-raw baked potatoes.
But if you're dying to wear a tank top and shorts even though it's brrrr-cold outside, this is the project for you.  Because sitting close to an open fire with red hot coals for 30-plus minutes is HOT.
How to roast chestnuts on an open fire.
Merry Christmas.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Lavender Sugar Cookies

My inspiration for today's bake-off was this book, Best Little Stories from the White House by C. Brian Kelly with Ingrid Smyer, which contained a sugar cookie recipe from '50s first lady, Mamie Eisenhower.
I am a sucker for books about the presidents, and even more so for ones with information about the first ladies.  Throw in a recipe or two, and I am yours.  Completely yours.
This book contained plenty about the first ladies, and also two recipes -- one for Ike's barbecue sauce, and the other for Mamie Eisenhower's sugar cookies.  Bingo.
(If you are likewise an aficionado of weird hybrid presidential recipes, you can find links to other favorite recipes of Dwight Eisenhower's here.) 
So this was my chance:  time to try out the lavender sugar that's been infusing itself on my kitchen counter these last couple weeks.  Would substituting out the regular sugar for lavender sugar make any difference in the cookies' taste?  Would it? 
Well hold your breath no longer, people.  The answer is . . .
Not a bit.
Not one iota.
While the cookies were everything you'd want a sugar cookie to be -- dough easy to work with, finished cookies just the right amount of sweet and crunch (thank you, Mamie) -- I must report that you cannot taste the lavender.  At all.
Yet another burning scientific inquiry answered.  I soldier on.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Happy Bastille Day!

Well I couldn't let Bastille Day go by unheralded, could I? 
Here is my (somewhat feeble) attempt at an appropriately French,  celebratory dish.
Crème Anglaise.  Also known as custard sauce.  Which, despite the fact that mine failed to live up to the "smooth velvety" texture the recipe promised, I still think will taste mighty good tonight after dinner with some home-grown peaches.

Bastille Day, anyone? 

Any yummy French recipes to share?


Friday, June 20, 2014

Lavender Sugar

Experimenting here at the castle.  I read about making lavender sugar in the most recent issue of Keepers at Home magazine.  And since this lovely, lovely plant resides in our backyard,
I thought I would give it a try.  You take 2 c. sugar, combine with 2 T. lavender blossoms, and let sit for a couple of weeks.  Then you can either strain out the lavender, or put both the sugar and the blossoms in the blender to combine. 

Article author Eileen D. Allen recommends using this in baked goods, notably sugar cookies.

Has anyone else ever used lavender in their cooking?  Please share.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Orange Souffles with Orange Sauce

These are amazing.
You simply must make these individual orange soufflés with orange sauce (recipe makes two), next time you get your hands on a few of these.
With all these oranges, I have been making jars and jars of freezer jam,  lots of juice to freeze, this chocolate-marmalade-gingerbread,
some orange poppyseed cookies, and now, these soufflés.
No kidding, my keyboard and mouse are sticky because of my zest (ha!) to share this with you. 
Seriously.  Mark this one down.  You have got to make these someday.
Recipe from a long ago-clipped magazine article --  if I had to guess, I'd say Bon Appetit.

NOCKERLN (Individual Souffles with Orange Sauce)

(makes 2)
1 T. butter
3 T. sugar
1 t. cornstarch
1/4 c. fresh  orange juice
1 T. grated orange peel
1 t. fresh lemon juice

2 eggs, separated
pinch of cream of tartar
pinch of salt
3 T. sugar
1 T. flour
1 t. grated orange peel
powdered sugar (to garnish)

Make sauce:  In small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  In small bowl, mix together sugar and cornstarch.  Stir sugar/cornstarch mixture into butter.  Slowly whisk in orange juice and lemon juice and orange peel, and cook, stirring, over medium-ish heat until thickened, about five minutes.  Divide sauce evenly into two 4 x 6-inch oven-proof gratin dishes.

Make soufflés:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Separate eggs, putting whites in medium bowl and yolks in small bowl.  Get our your electric mixer and beat whites until foamy.  Add the cream of tartar and salt and beat a bit more, until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and keep beating until "stiff and glossy."  Set aside. Stir yolks with a fork "until lemon colored" (I just did this for 30 seconds or so).  Stir in the flour and peel until mixed (should be thick).    Gently fold the yolk mixture into the whites (use a spatula or large spoon; you don't want to beat this down, you are just trying to mix and add a little air in there with big swooping motions).  Spoon in mounds over sauce and bake until golden, about 14 minutes.  Sift powdered sugar over the top.

These are AMAZING.  Please do try them.  You will not be sorry.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Green Tea Banana Split Smoothie

A really good blogger, I think, would not spend her time pondering why
the lemon, on the left, is bigger than the orange, on the right.
She would probably type in the recipe for the wonderful orange freezer jam
instead of just leaving it on the kitchen counter and hoping it would type itself in.
She would instruct you on how to make your own bragging food labels from leftover scrapbooking stickers that, alas, never made it into the scrapbooks.
Likewise, she'd instruct on making orange sugar with the leftover orange rind.
She would probably regale you with stories of the open road

and inspire you with decorating tips like this antler chandelier
spotted at an Elko, Nevada hotel.
But alas, if you've spent any time at all on this blog, you will realize I am not a really good blogger.  I often go weeks between posts.  My pictures are uninspired.  The careful viewer will notice paper towels in the background or eyeglasses or a pile of mail that has been stealthily pushed to the side, only not far enough.
Aaaah, well.
What can I offer you?  How about this:  Green Tea Banana Split Smoothie.
A yummy snack, made with green tea, which is supposed to be good for you.  (A really good blogger would provide links here.)

Recipe from this book:  Green Tea:  50 Hot Drinks, Cool Quenchers, and Sweet and Savory Treats, by Mary Lou Heiss.
And shared with joy, from one imperfect blogger to . . . well, you.


1/2 c. chilled green tea
1 c. low-fat vanilla yogurt (I used plain yogurt, added about 1/2 t. vanilla and about 1 t. maple syrup)
1 small ripe banana
1/4 c. chocolate syrup
4 ice cubes

Put everything but the ice cubes in the blender and mix.  Then add the ice cubes and whirl away.  This serves 2, by the way, so cut in half if it's just for you.