Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Apple Crisp & Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Yep, I made this. The vessel for this dessert is a cute little orange exterior enamel coated cast iron piece I found on my last outing. No real markings other than it is made in Belgium....♥ it though!! Now you know why I didn't accomplish any cleaning today.

OK, the ice cream is technically a "custard" as the cream/milk is heated then added to the egg/sugar mixture using a method referred to as tempering. The end result was rich and decadent. I made a small amount of each, basically enough for two. My portion is long gone, but I will be delivering the remainder to my Aunt Barbara tomorrow! The recipe for each can be found below:

Apple Crisp

serves 2

2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 tbsp organic cane sugar
1/4 tsp Vietnamese cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375. Mix and place in a small baking dish.

3 tbsp spelt flour
4 tbsp rolled oats (not quick)
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp organic unsalted butter, melted

Mix first three ingredients in a small bowl. Add melted butter and mix to incorporate. Sprinkle over apple mixture. Bake in oven for 30-40 minutes or until apples are tender and topping is golden.

Note: I used organic Fuji apples and they do not have alot of moisture so the apple portion was not "saucy" perse. In the end I did not mind because the ice cream and caramel sauce more than compensated.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

makes about 4 half cup servings

3/4 cup skim milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean
1 egg
2 egg yolks
3/8 cup organic cane sugar (1/4 cup plus 1/8 cup)

Combine the milk and cream in a small saucepan. Use a sharp knife to split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Use the knife's edge to scrape out the seeds. Stir the seeds into the milk/cream mixture. Bring the mixture to a simmer and maintain for 10 minutes to impart the vanilla flavor.

Combine the egg, egg yolks and sugar in a small bowl. Beat until the mixture is thick, smooth and pale yellow in color. (My mixture never reached a "pale" yellow color since I was using farm eggs and the yolks are much darker than commercial varieties.

Using a whisk, gently stir egg/sugar mixture and slowly pour about half of the milk/cream mixture into the egg/sugar in a slow steady stream. When thoroughly combined, pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and stir to combine. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium low heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Transfer by straining mixture to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap directly on the custard and chill completely. Once chilled, place in ice cream maker and follow manufacturer instructions.

I own a Cuisinart Automatic Ice Cream maker (ICE-20 Series). They do not make a large amount, but the price is right. I ordered mine online at Sur La Table. They now carry the newer model, but the older model can still be found on Amazon.  This batch took about 20-25 minutes to freeze.

Place a scoop of freshly churned ice cream onto cooled apple crisp. Top with Kings Cupboard Organic Caramel Sauce that has been warmed slightly. Enjoy!! (PS. I'm starting a 5-day cleanse tomorrow!!)

Monday, March 28, 2011

New Find on Old Jars

OK, its not midnight yet. I've promised that today I would post my antique/thrift store purchases, so I'm here to deliver.

This adventure starts out innocently enough.  I happened across a fellow bloggers' (Chiotsrun) photo on Canning Across America "photo of the week". This photo had canned food put up in vintage bail type jars! I was mesmerized by the beauty and had to know more! I immediately went to the corresponding blog post and commented on her photo asking for "how-to" details. I received a prompt reply directing me to another bloggers' (FoodinJars) post regarding canning in vintage jars. I read the post with great earnest.

I personally own several vintage jars, but I've just relegated them to storage of bulk items such as quinoa, poppy seeds and the like. This is where the shopping part comes in. I decided I needed more pretty vintage jars. On my first outing I came home with a few half pint screw top jars, a few bail jar glass lids, a few glass seals for zinc lids AND...wait, wait for it, ta-dah...a french style glass rolling pin. Yep, pretty cool.

I initially held off telling you about it because I was trying to search online for more information about era of production, etc. Suffice to say I have exhausted my research capabilities and know nothing more than when I found this gem...I assume it is made out of tempered glass, it will make a great tool to use when rolling pastry because of its ability to be chilled, and well, I just love it...plain and simple!

After reading my first blog post, a fellow co-worker was inclined to give me this vintage jar. Thanks Taffy!

On my second outing I came across these vintage beauties. While the bails are a bit rusty, the glass lid and jar sealing surfaces were perfect in that they had no chips or imperfections...aka perfect for actual canning. Notice the jar in the lower left of the photo. It actually has a purple hue, made during a period when magnesium was added to the glass making process.

I have since talked at length with my Aunt Karen regarding using these jars for canning. She is an avid canner and processes all her food with a pressure canner. She is a wealth of information and this what she had to say:
  • Bail Type Jars-fill jar with food, add rubber gasket and glass lid. Secure upper bail on top of glass lid and process as usual. After processing, secure lower bail. This tightens the top bail and increases the pressure on the seal between the glass lid, rubber gasket and jar.
  • Zinc Type Jars-fill jar with food, add rubber gasket and zinc lid. Secure lid, but do not tighten during processing. Tighten afterwards.
While this information for bail type jars differs from that which was found online, I have no doubt my Aunt's method works as well.  The rubber seals needed for these jars can be found at our local True Value hardware store. I was able to find a few online sources as well and have listed them below:

Due to cost and availability I will not be putting up all of my food in these vintage jars, but you can bet I'll be giving them a try. Oh, and on that note, I also found an online source for reusable canning jar lids for today's style (screw top) of canning jars. They are bpa free and made right here in America! I'll be giving these a try as well.

So for all you folks who received jams and pickles at Christmas time, start eating and get those empties back to me for refilling this summer! 

Egg Salad Sammies

beautiful fresh brown, light green and blue farm eggs

I couldn't resist sharing my lunch today...it was so yummy! The idea came easily enough, even though I'm going to give you the "long" version of the story.  I was running errands this morning & decided to treat myself to an espresso drink, so I stopped by our local gourmet purveyor Babcock & Miles. While there, the gal making my drink recognized me as one of their "egg customers"--I buy farm fresh eggs from them. She informed me they had oodles (my words) of eggs as the hens had finally decided it was spring and revved up their egg production! I didn't buy any today as I had purchased two dozen last week from a friend at the Lazy E-L Ranch after finding that Babcock & Miles was temporarily out due to fussy chickens (again, my words, not theirs!).

Realizing I needed to work on reducing my volume of eggs I had on hand, I decided I would boil some.  I could make an egg salad sandwich for lunch and the remaining could be used for protein on green salads.
open faced egg salad sandwich
The idea for sandwich accompaniments came from my cousin on an earlier Facebook post. The sandwich base was a toasted slice of some spelt bread a friend had given me yesterday. The remaining layers were made up of organic spring mixed greens, crisp bacon, egg salad and sliced avocado. I topped it with some freshly cracked pepper and Fleur De Sel, then plated this work of art with a side of halved cherry tomatoes. Simplistic, but oh so tasty. The crunchiness of the toasted bread and crisp bacon was the perfect contrast to the creamy, velvety texture of the egg salad and avocado. The side of cherry tomatoes were hydroponically grown and provided just the right amount of acidity. I say "you should make some today". Head on over to Babcock and Miles for a dozen (or two) farm fresh eggs.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Carrot Cake Muffins

Upon waking and looking out my window this morning, I made the decision to have an easy morning, OK, mid-day...sip on hot tea, eat leftover groats for breakfast and create my second post detailing all my antique/thrift store finds this past week.

My first blog post was written a little less than a week ago, in the middle of the night during a snow storm. The predicted 3" turned out to be 12" (aka "foot") of heavy spring snow. It has diminished to a third of that, but the weather today is foggy and its trying to snow again. We have a 30-60% chance of snow in the forecast for coming days this week. I understand that mother earth needs the moisture, but dang it, I'm ready for spring..even the robins have returned! Here are a few pictures of what the day looked like.

turkeys and a few deer hanging out along the creek bank

Rock Creek

While having my tea and spending some time on the Internet, a Facebook message from a friend of mine gently nudged me out of my "ho-hum" spirits. Creativity prevailed and I made a batch of low fat carrot cake muffins using low gluten flour. Feel free to use the flour of your choice. I'm a BIG fan of Wheat Montana's Prairie Gold whole wheat pastry flour. You get the goodness from whole wheat, but the rise and fine texture of a white flour. Inspiration for this recipe came from Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts, a gift from co-workers a few years ago.

makes 12 regular size muffins

1 cup packed finely grated carrots
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
7 oz water (3/4 cup plus 1/8 cup)
1/2 cup dried craisins (or any dried fruit you have on hand)
1/2 cup crushed pineapple
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour (I used spelt & added 2 tbsp for high altitude)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
2 egg whites, room temperature and stiffly beaten

In a saucepan, combine the carrots, brown sugar, water, craisins, pineapple, coconut and vanilla. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover, and let sit for at least an hour. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, baking soda, baking powder and chopped nuts. Whisk to combine and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 about 15 minutes before you are ready to mix the batter. Spray muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray or use muffin liner cups.

Stir the cooled carrot mixture into the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Gently fold in egg whites. Using scoop, divide batter evenly amongst muffin cups.  Bake 15-20 minutes, or until toothpick comes clean when tested.

Carrot Cake Muffins in a vintage muffin tin

Once they cooled a bit, I packaged them up and delivered to some friends. Tune in again tomorrow when I post about my treasures I found.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Maiden Voyage In a Snow Storm

This is my first official blog post, and I'm not gonna lie...I am a little nervous! So nervous in fact, that its 2am, and I am up typing this as I cannot sleep from the sheer excitement! Oh, and it's snowing here in Montana on this 22nd day of March. Possible accumulations of 3 or so inches with more to come in the following nights.

OK, I have to say that I have been pondering this idea of blogging for quite sometime. An appropriate blog name seemed to delay me starting, not to mention the daunting task of "creating" my own blog. And there is always the issue of picture quality. I have a decent digital camera, but do not own a light box, something I have read will make a difference in the final photo "product". All those roadblocks went out the window, when I heard and read the newly created blog by a young friend of mine. We messaged via Facebook, she made a few inspiring comments and viola...my blog was born!  Thanks Jeness!

We just had the spring equinox, but lets face it., the green grass and budding trees of spring are not in the distant future for our little mountain town. However, this cold snow still does not stop me from thinking about fresh produce and canning. I came across a new book on preserving when reading a nutritional blog Grains and More this weekend. The blog is written by Mira Dessy, a Bauman College Graduate. The book she mentioned in an older blog post is entitled Preserving Memories by Judy Glattstein, whom she declared is her mother.

What intrigued me was her mention of making homemade pectin out of either apples or lemons. I had never read or thought of this as a possibility, so of course I ordered the book from Amazon and anxiously await it's arrival! I also made a few purchases of vintage canning jars from a local Antique Store, but I have research to do and will have pictures available on my next post....wait till ya see what I came across!
PS. While I mentioned that I like to can, I must tell you that the "jars" are just as great a fixation of mine...especially the vintage ones!