Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pear or Apple Upside-Down Cake

I made this recipe using Bartlett Pears from our orchard when they were ripe and absolutely fell in love with the results.  I just made it for a second time using Granny Smith Apples from our orchard and have made some modifications to the recipe (added oatmeal and walnuts- everything tastes better with walnuts in my opinion)  Ground flax seed is another ingredient that I add to mostly everything I bake.  I even add it to my crepes.  We are headed to a friend's house tonight for dinner so I haven't yet tasted this newly modified apple version.  I am sure it will taste every bit as delicious and probably better because of the walnuts.  ;o)

Adapted from a Family Circle Recipe

Makes 16 servings  Prep 30 minutes
Bake at 350 (325 convection) for 55-60 min
Cool 5 minutes

2 T cold butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup oatmeal
2 pears or apples (about 1 lb), 
   peeled, cored, thinly sliced
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 T ground flax seed
1 cup finely chopped nuts- optional
   (I use walnuts)
1 T ground ginger or cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cardamon 
  I omitted because I don't have it
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar OR 
   7/8 cup honey
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk

*Heat oven to 350 degrees or 325 degrees if using convection

*Add cold butter to a 10-inch springform pan.  (Mine has a hole in the middle but it gets the job done!)  Heat in oven until melted, about 3 minutes.  Swirl pan to coat bottom and sides with melted butter.  Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar and oatmeal.

*Fan slices of pear (or apple) over sugar, with pointed ends toward center of pan, overlapping slightly.  Sprinkle more brown sugar on top of fruit.  Set aside.

*In a small bowl, whisk together flour, ginger (or cinnamon), baking powder, salt, cardamon (if using), ground flax seed and walnuts.  With a mixer, beat softened butter in a large bowl until smooth.  Add granulated sugar (or honey) and beat 2 minutes, until creamy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla.

*On low speed, beat in flour mixture, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.  Spoon batter over pears (or apples) and spread to pan edge with a spatula.  Wrap bottom of pan with foil and bake at 350 degrees (or 325 degrees convection) for 55 to 60 minutes.  Test center of cake with a toothpick; if pick tests clean, remove to a wire rack.  Cool 5 minutes.

*Invert cake onto plate; use a knife to loosen all edges from pan and remove side of pan.  Carefully lift off pan bottom and cook cake to room temperature.  Serve slightly warm with ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Most Scrumptious "Ketchup" Recipe Ever

So with another summer coming to an end, the summer garden is also coming to an end.  We still have tomatoes to pick and the chard is going strong.  I just processed 40 pounds of asian pears into spiced pear butter and am really looking forward to harvesting apples from our orchard in a month or so.  However, my favorite recipe for the season was ketchup.  It is NOTHING like store bought ketchup and I love it so much I would consider putting it on anything!  My dad is that way with Tabasco.  He puts it on everything...  I processed 34 pounds of heirloom tomatoes (picture to the left) from our garden and made this recipe as well as BBQ sauce.  I got 10 1/2 pints from a double batch and after giving all but 4 jars away I decided this sauce is precious as gold to me and I cannot afford to be giving any more away.  When my daughter's teacher gave me 12 more pounds of tomatoes, I knew I had to make some more of this delicacy.  

The great news is that it is easy to make, although a bit time consuming, and it is soooo worth the effort.  I was able to cut down on the time consumption aspect of reducing it down by using the oven rather than the stove and with future sauces like this, I will forever use that method.  Rather than having to be near the stove for several hours, stirring every few minutes to prevent burning, all you have to do is stick it in the oven for a few hours and let the oven do the work.  With that said, here is the recipe and some photos (although I did not take any at the start because I decided to do this after I had already washed and de-skinned the tomatoes.)

Recipe adapted from The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest by Carol W. Costenbader:

Tools you will need:
  *kitchen scale (optional but in my kitchen it is now an essential)  I have the Soehlne Page Profi and I LITERALLY use it daily for cooking and/mail.  Here is a link to purchase from Amazon if you have any interest.  You will NOT regret it!!  Soehlne Page Profi Digital Scale 
*cutting board and knives
*large pot
*bowl for ice water bath
*wire mesh strainer or similar to strain tomato seeds from juice if you want to make tomato/basil soup with the fresh tomato juice.  Here is the recipe I use and it is AMAZING!  Tomato Basil Soup
*food processor (blender) or stick blender- I use both for this but you will need just one
*water bath canning supplies: large pots with wire baskets, jar tongs, jars and lids 

  Ingredients (for a single batch):
*8 pounds tomatoes
*1 medium onion (I run through the food processor rather than chopping)
*1 cup sugar or 1/2 cup sugar + 7/16 cup honey 
*1 cup distilled white vinegar
*4 tsp salt (I use sea salt)
*2 T dry mustard
*1 1/2 inches cinnamon stick
*1 1/2 tsp whole cloves
*1 tsp celery seed
* 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper 

1) Wash and destem tomatoes.  Dip in boiling water for about 60 seconds, until the skins split.  Transfer to ice water bath, then slip off the skins.  Do this with all the tomatoes before halving them and squeeze out seeds and as much juice as you can.  I feed the skins to my chickens and collect the seeds and juice in a clean bowl so I can strain later to make tomato/basil soup.

Strain the seeds from the tomato juice using a wire mesh strainer or any other strainer.  The tomato juice is delicious to drink or make into homemade tomato/basil soup (as I keep mentioning because it is sooo good).  My five year old LOVES it!  I mean really with ingredients like fresh tomato juice, butter and whipping cream, who wouldn't?  ;o) husband...

The picture above is my chicken scraps container.  It was my grandma's flour container.  She was a make everything from scratch kind of gal so I love having one of her kitchen utensils that I use daily.

2) Begin heating deseeded and dejuiced tomato halves in a heavy pot and puree the onion(s) in a food processor before putting in the pot with tomatoes.

3) Using a stick blender or your food processor, blend the tomato and onion mixture until it is a fairly smooth consistency.  This is all to preference as to how thick or smooth you want your ketchup to be.  I make mine pretty smooth, although it is not as smooth as store bought.  It is still a bit lumpy.  

Below is the consistency of mine.

4) Reduce the mixture down for several hours.  I put my batch and a half in convection bake 250 degrees for 3 hours and it was just the right amount of time.  You want it to reduce down to about half.

Above are the whole spices I put in the cheesecloth (cinnamon stick, whole clove and celery seed)

5) Return tomato mixture to a heavy pot and add sugar, vinegar, salt, dry mustard and cayenne pepper.  Mix then add spices that are in cheesecloth.  I use a clip to hold the cheesecloth spice bag to the side of the pot.  Simmer until sauce "rounds up" on a spoon and there will be no separation of liquids.  I think this took about an hour.  You could always put back in the oven and use that method if you don't want to have to stir frequently.
Note- I would start your water bath pot(s) as the spices are simmering because they take a while to boil.  Because of water's high heat capacity they will stay hot for a long time so if they boils before you are ready just turn off the stove and then turn back on when you are ready.  It shouldn't take long for them to return to a boil. 

6) Remove and discard the spices in the bag.

7) Fill clean, hot jars- leaving 1/8 inch headspace.  I sterilize my jars in the dishwasher and then put them in a cool oven and set the temperature to 225 degrees.  That way they are nice and hot when I put the hot contents in and they don't break.  Clean rims with a clean, wet rag or paper towel before putting hot caps on- I put caps in a bowl of hot water.  Hand tighten rings.

8) Process in a boiling-water-bath canner for 15 minutes.  Add 1 minute for every 1000 feet elevation over 1000 feet.

9) Remove jars and cool on a wire rack on the counter.  DO NOT tip jars to get excess water off the top.  You can use a rag or paper towel to soak up if you care that much.   My water is so hard there is always a white residue from the minerals left on the lids that I then have to go back and wipe off.  Let jars cool for 24 hours before testing lids for seal.  I remove the rings and lift on edge of lid.  If they don't lift up and the center of the lid is indented you have a good seal.  Store up to a year and ENJOY!!!  There is NO WAY mine will last a year.  :o)

 I would love to hear from you if you make the recipe and also if you have any feedback for my FIRST recipe write-up.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Moxie Glass Company Straws

My husband always thought it was ridiculous that I used a plastic straw with my mason jar cup when I told him the reason I liked using my jar cup was because it was glass and therefore did not leach any chemicals into my beverage, PLUS it was better for the environment.  I did major in Environmental Studies for goodness sakes!  ;o)  He is absolutely right that it is a little silly I was not also using glass straws.  I knew they were out there so I did a little research to see what I could find.  There are actually quite a few different places you can purchase glass straws, just as there are thousands of people who make tutus and hundreds who make mason jar cups.  I was perusing the glass straws on Etsy and fell in LOVE with the critter straws made by Melissa of Many Mini'sShe owns Moxie Glass Company in Fort Collins, CO.  Melissa and I got to chatting, as I LOVE to do, and we decided to start working together.  She is going to be supplying me with straws and I am going to be supplying her lids for mason jar cups.  She actually is a VERY talented glass blower and offers many other unique glass creations at very reasonable prices.  You have to check out her art!  I just found that she has a Pinterest page too, but I have YET to get into Pinterest.  I hear from MANY people it is addicting, but between my girls, the goats, chickens, teaching part time, my hobby/side job- Jeni Harvey Designs, I just can't find the time to check out one more thing!  Anyway, if you are looking for the most adorable, custom glass straw to go with your mason jar cup, I know just the lady to help you out.  :o)  Or if you decide to get a straw with your cup from me, stay tuned as I should be carrying her straws very soon!!