Kitchen Bites

Lots going on in the kitchen these days, but I’m writing most of it up over at the Kitsap Sun. The latest thing? You need this. You really do. You’re welcome. Here’s my favorite chocolate cake recipe, coming at you just in time for February.file_001-1First in the category of ‘how I do all the cooking there is to be done on Sunday and eat for the rest of the week’…pita! I used this recipe from trusty King Arthur, substituting whole wheat flour for both the white wheat and the AP. I also stocked up on granola and bagels today. Needless to say, there was flour everywhere. (Look for an article soon about steam ovens and bagel making…uncharted territory!)file_000-1

Nut Balls

Let’s chat about nut balls. (No, not your visiting relatives…) These often masquerade as energy balls or ‘no bake’ cookies. Really, it’s just a simple vehicle for quickly getting protein into your belly. Or, in our case, into a belly of an on the go kid. These are the snacks that he requested and so we made up a batch to our liking. Using King Arthur’s formula as a guide, we made it our own with a few add ins from the pantry. I’m sure you’ll make it your own too. It’s easily customized to your little person’s preference. Be sure to assess the dough for moisture before you roll the balls. It needs to stick together and appear smooth. Go ahead and add a little drip of water if it’s too dry.

img_2143Nut Balls, A Protein Packed Snack

3/4 c. nut butter
1/3 c. honey
1/4 c. dry milk
1 tbls. raw cacoa powder (not cocoa)
1 tbls. hemp powder
2 tsp. vanilla

1 cup rolled oats
1 cups of yummy stuff: chopped nuts, seeds, coconut, or whatever you choose

  1. Haul out the food processor. Pulse the nuts and seeds, if you like. Set those aside.
  2. In the now empty bowl of the food processor, add the first group of ingredients: nut butter, honey, dry milk, powders, and vanilla. Pulse until mixed.
  3. Add in the oats and yummy stuff.
  4. With damp hands, roll this dough into balls. Coat in some more yummy stuff, if you like.

Makes about 16-24 balls, depending on size.

img_2149Notes:

  • Store in the refrigerator.
  • You can definitely do this without a food processor, mixing with muscles and a sturdy spoon. I thought that the food processor simplified the steps.
  • Look for an organic source of cacoa powder or hemp protein powder.

Holiday decorations

I had a few holiday columns over at the Kitsap Sun that you might like to check out. If you’re looking for an easy gift for kids to make or a way to embellish your own tree, you might like the recipe for salt dough ornaments.

salt dough ornaments

We plan to use them as tags for the homemade jams we made this summer. It’ll be a pretty, thrifty holiday gift.

Pear Butter and Tips For Baking Frozen Fruit Pie

I have officially declared this year’s canning season closed. I have canned all of the things. I have used all of the jars. All of them. Aside from one excusable weakness (peaches!), I stuck to my goal of only canning free fruit. This wasn’t too hard this year, actually. Even though our garden production isn’t fully up and running, when friends know you preserve, somehow bags of produce seem to make their way to your back porch. (Lucky me! But really, people, canning season is CLOSED.)

Recently a friend and I were invited to pick some pears from a regal and impressive old tree. Such a gift! I made a lot of chocolate pear jam (which I’m renaming, more appropriately pear butter) from Preserving by the Pint. I look forward to eating this on a snowy day in December in front of a fire – it’s definitely a holiday jam.

 With the pears, also, I made several pear anise pies from the one pie book you absolutely must own. On some of the pies, I added a streusel topping. I froze the pies raw and plan to bake them as needed. To do this, line your empty pie plate with plastic wrap and then build your pie on top. Freeze for about 2-3 hours, then pop out of the plate. Wrap and label. I find it helpful to list which pie plate I used since I have many of varying sizes. To bake a fruit pie from frozen, unwrap, place in plate, and pierce vents on top with a chef’s knife. Follow baking temperature and time in recipe, adding 25-30 extra minutes. If your pie begins to brown, loosely lay a square of foil on the top.

Slow Cooker Pork with Plum Jam

cold plum treeRemember those summer days when we were rolling in plums? The tree is cold and lonely now, but our shelves are WELL stocked with plum jam. Let’s just say, one can only eat so much toast. We wondered if there was a savory way we could use up some jam. An answer presented itself when we brought home From a Polish Country House Kitchen from the library. After salivating over many of the winter appropriate recipes in the book, we began to notice a pattern. Apparently there are a lot of plum trees in Poland and many of the dishes involve prunes. What thrifty people. Upon the book’s suggestion, we adapted a recipe to include plum jam and used the slow cooker instead of the oven to ease our schedule. I hope you’ll find this easy, tasty dish comforting for your winter evenings. The jam will give you a little sweet reminder of sunny days.

plum pork roastPolish Style Pork Roast with Plum Jam

2.5-3 pound pork arm roast (or a comparable piece of pork)
1 large clove garlic
2 tbls. dried marjoram
2 tbls. olive oil
4-8 ounces plum jam
coarse salt, pepper
1 1/2 c. water

  1. Rinse the pork, pat dry, and cut a deep pocket in the side of the roast.
  2. With a mortar and pestle, grind marjoram and garlic together to form a paste. (Alternatively, you can mince and mash with a fork.) In a small bowl, mix this paste with about 2 tbls. olive oil, 2 tsp. coarse salt, and many grinds of pepper.
  3. Rub this paste all over the meat and inside the pocket. Let it sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour. (Overnight would work just fine, too.)
  4. After the meat has rested, fill the pocket with jam. Tie it closed with butcher’s twine.
  5. Heat a skillet over medium high. Brown the roast on each side (even the ends) for about 1 1/2 minutes each side. Place the roast in the slow cooker and deglaze the pan with the water. Pour this and any scraped browned bits from the skillet into the slow cooker. Cover and cook at least 6 hours.

plum pork roast 2Note:

  • To make tying a little easier, lay your string out in rows on a plate. Then, place your roast on top of it. Bring strings together and tie.
  • We served it with cabbage, beans, and sweet potato one night and mashed potatoes the next. What a great, simple winter meal!

Corn and Pepper Soup

FullSizeRender (2)You must know I was completely intrigued when I found a new book at the library that featured the unexpected pairing of spatzle and pea greens on the front cover. The ultimate winter comfort food plus the first green veg of spring together in one beautiful dish? What else would I find in this book? All the things you might guess would be in a German cookbook are in there – jam filled buns, crisp potato pancakes, sausage dishes. However, I was so pleased to also find lighter soups and salads, featuring many of our seasonal veggies. This is the perfect book to bridge the transition between summer and fall dishes.

At the last market, I walked away with a literal armload of Persephone Farm’s corn. This over enthusiasm for the appearance of corn coupled with my weekly ration of Laughing Crow’s peppers, made trying this recipe an easy first choice. I’ve simplified the directions and procedures, but you’ll find the recipe mostly intact,  as an encouragement to check out Das Cookbook yourself.

Corn aIMG_3300nd Pepper Soup

4-6 servings

3 ears of corn
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

6 tbls. butter
1 onion
1 yellow pepper
2 cloves of garlic
1 bay leaf
sprinkling of fresh nutmeg

  1. Cut the corn off the cob. (Instructions with photos found here.) Reserve the corn for later. Into a separate bowl, milk the corn with the back of your knife and also reserve this chunky liquid for later.corn off cob
  2. Add the now empty cobs to about 5 cups of water in a pot. Add the salt. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer for 30 minutes.IMG_3296
  3. Meanwhile, chop onion. Remove seeds from the pepper and chop. Peel two cloves of garlic.
  4. Melt butter in your large soup pot. Saute onions, pepper, and garlic until soft, about 10 minutes.
  5. Add bay leaf, most of the corn, and cook for five minutes.
  6. Hold a mesh strainer over your soup pot and pour 2 cups of the corn stock through it. Stir in the corn milk and nutmeg. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove bay leaves.
  7. Puree soup with an immersion blender (or blender.) Serve topped with the remaining corn.

Notes:

  • Hold the soup on low before blending, if you’ve made it ahead of time. Or, alternatively, cool, refrigerate, and blend before reheating.
  • Other favorite corn recipes for the season: potato corn chowder, puffy corn omelet