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Blueberry Chocolate Amazeballs

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At least that is what my grandkids would call them.  These yummy treats are easy to make, and very good….and, amazingly, good for you!  There is a simple ingredients list with a lot of options.  No baking necessary!

 

24 almonds (or pecan or walnut halves…heck even macadamia or cashews would do!)

1/2 cup raisins (or craisins, or chopped apricots, or cherries, or currants)

1 pint blueberries (if you absolutely can’t find them…used dried)

12 oz. dark chocolate chips, melted

flake sea salt

 

Line a muffin tin with cupcake papers.  Dry roast nuts in a skillet until fragrant – 3-5 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool.  Sprinkle cooled nuts, dried fruit and blueberries into muffin cups about half way up.  Spoon 2 T (about 2 oz.) dark chocolate over each fruit and nut cup and allow to harden.  At the last minute, sprinkle flaked sea salt on top.  Let cool completely before removing from cups.   Makes 12. 

 

Watch out!  These will go fast!

Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pandowdy

The grandkids and a friend, Delaney, came over this week to help me pick apples.  My tree was loaded this year, and It took all of us with the ladder to get about 50 lbs of apples!  (and a few of Cooper’s favorites – carrots!)  The apples in the top of the tree (which I failed to prune last year) will fall eventually and then the deer will be happy once more!

apple picking time

It was hard for me to keep them from eating them as fast as they picked them…especially the carrots, but after a good hose washing, picking out the worms

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(in the case of the all organic apples) and biting around the bird pecks and the deer bites…everyone got a taste of goodness!

Now the chore of peeling, coring, slicing and packaging these beauties for the freezer, and some fresh apply treats….apple pie, apple crisp, applesauce, apple fritters, etc.

I know!  APPLE PANDOWDY!  The kids had never heard that term, and I was curious too, so I looked it up!

When I was growing up, my mom’s favorite TV show was the Dinah Shore Show…many of you weren’t born yet, so you won’t remember, but she made one song famous that we sang around the house “Shoe Fly Pie and Apple Pandowdy”.  I grew up wondering what those enticing sounding foods were made of besides the obvious – apples…but probably not flies…eouwwwww!  Well now that I’m writing  food blog and humming the song once again…I did a bit of research!

Shoe Fly Pie has it’s roots in the South and can be anything from caramel based pie to a kind of pie that has a soft gooey center like Pecan Pie…just without the pecans!  That sort of makes my teeth hurt just thinking about it.

But Apple Pandowdy has a longer history.  The word “pandowdy” is something of a mystery and its origins are contested among dictionaries and historians.  Some think that pandowdy is an eighteenth century Americanization of the French word pandoulde which means “custard or pudding”.  Other believe that it comes from an English dialectic found in the original colonies of pan + dowl – which means to mix dough in a hurry (Perhaps a variant of dough).  A third meaning derives from our current word dowdy, which means  rather plain or unlovely.  My granny used to say that a pandowdy was basically a one crust apple pie with bits of left over pie crust “dowdied” on top….by that she meant that she covered her apples with strips of left over crust from all the other pies she was baking that morning which she pushed down into the cinnamon juice of the apples to glaze them before baking.  This often made a softer, biscuit-like crust.  But however this humble dish got its name, it is very delicious!  Here’s the one we made:

Crust:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

Apple Filling: 

6 or 7 pie apples (Granny Smith, Jonathan, MacIntosh, Roma, etc.) peeled and cut into slices to make 6 cups of fruit.*

1/3-1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar – depending on the tartness of your apples

(I like to substitute 1/4 c Maple Syrup – here’s how:)  http://www.ehow.com/how_7384139_substitute-maple-syrup-brown-sugar.html

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg (fresh ground if you have the nuts on hand)

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 tablespoon heavy cream

2 teaspoons coarse sugar

*All kinds of optional fruit can be added like:  raisins, rhubarb, raspberries, cranberries, etc. to be included in the 6 cups.

Make crust: In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, and salt until combined. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly, but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add 1 tablespoon more ice water). Do not overmix. Form dough into a 1-inch thick disk, wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate until firm.

Mix sugar, lemon, flour, salt and spices together and mix liberally with fruit.  Place the fruit mixture in the bottom of a deep dish.  Allow apple mixture to macerate for 15 minutes.  Dot with butter over the surface of the apples.

Roll out dough and cut into uneven strips.  Place dough strips at various angles across the top of the pie leaving a few holes for filling to bubble through and brush with cream. (This is the dowdying part).   Sprinkle coarse sugar over crust and bake at 350 for about 50 minutes or until the top of the crust is browned and apples are bubbly.

Serve with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Hope you enjoy this down-home treat!

apple and cranberry pandowdy 2

The Garden Abundant!

It’s that time of year….the garden is beginning to show its first fruits (and veggies) and everything is ripening in the sun!  My green beans are abundant, and I pulled my first carrots, gathered some baby cucs, shallots, and squash!  The pattipans are especially prolific this year.  My apple tree is loaded down (although mine ripen late) and the bees are buzzing happily.  Life is good.

greentomatoesaboveprunedsucker  herbs

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But how to preserve all that abundance!      Pickles!

In my favorite home away from home (Italy) they make something called giardiniera….which just means pickled vegetables.  The Italians make it a hundred ways, but my favorite is veggies cut into bite size pieces and then pickled in spicy brine.

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You can virtually use any semi hard raw veggie.  Cauliflower, sweet peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, carrots, onions, celery, hot peppers, fennel, asparagus, radishes, green beans, watermelon rind, green pea pods,  green tomatoes, even small red one as long as they are firm….the sky is the limit.

This is a no brainer for the kids to make as well because there’s no blanching of veggies, no processing, no special jars.  As a matter of fact….old pickle jars work just fine!

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The kids use serrated picnic knives or some special plastic knives I bought for them to chop the veggies.  No need to worry if they get big pieces or small….it all works.  The brine is simple too and you can make it as spicy (or not) as you like!  There are as many ways to make giardiniera as there are Italian Mothers!  Here’s an easy version from “In My Kitchen” by Ted Allen.

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Pickled Veggies

Brine
  • 4 cups water
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • Several sprigs fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink peppercorns (if you have them)
Vegetables*
  • 6 pickling cucumbers, quartered lengthwise
  • 6 medium carrots, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 handful green beans
  • A few cauliflower florets
  • 4 small hot red chilies or 2 jalapeños

*Or use whatever veggies you like best!

Instructions

In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil, reduce heat so the water simmers, and add garlic. (Simmering the garlic in water cooks out sulfur compounds that otherwise will cause the cloves to turn a harmless but very unappetizing blue-green color from the acid in the vinegar.) Cook garlic for 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and salt, raise the heat, and bring to a boil, stirring until the salt dissolves. Remove from heat.

In two sterile 1-quart canning jars, place a few sprigs of dill. Divide the seeds and peppercorns between the jars. Using tongs, remove the garlic from the brine and place 5 cloves in each jar. Then pack the jars full of the veggies and chilies (you want them to be tightly stuffed).

Bring the brine back to a boil, pour it over vegetables to cover completely, let cool and refrigerate. The pickles will taste good in just a few hours, better after a couple of days. And they’ll keep for about 3 months.

Note: Keep the chilies whole for a mild heat, or cut them in half for additional kick.

PER SERVING (2 pickles): calories: 17 (7% from fat); protein: 0.6 gram; total fat: 0.1 gram; saturated fat: 0; cholesterol: 0; sodium: 204 mg; carbohydrate: 4 grams; dietary fiber: 0.8 gram

Happy Gardening!

 

Strawberry Season

AH….my favorites!  Love strawberries, and this time of year I get to combine two things I really love!  My own granny’s scones (she pronounced them scuns) which are very much like shortcake…and some fresh home-grown strawberries!  Yummy!

My good friend and neighbor, Lucy, has a prolific strawberry patch, and she has been gathering strawberries for about a month now…and up here in the Pacific NW…they seem especially sweet!  Maybe it’s just because she gifts them to me about once a week during strawberry season!  What a friend!

driveway_strawberries

I keep intending to make strawberry jam but they are so good plain and fresh…that I end up eating them all before I get anything made from them.  So to have my (short)cake and eat it too….this morning I had scones and strawberries for breakfast! lucys strawberries Yummy!

My granny’s scone recipe is pretty simple and I often add different things to it.  Sometimes I add nuts or raisins, currants or dried cranberries, some orange or lemon zest, etc….but today I made them just plain so as not to detract from the strawberry lusciousness!

shortcakeLemon-Scone-Dough

I did put a bit of lemon rind in this batch to enhance the scones, but you can also make them plain.

Many folk like to cut them up into triangles, and although this is a very traditional shape, I don’t do it for a couple of reasons.  First, the corners of the triangles tend to burn before the center is done, and second…I’d rather use my granny’s cutter….it’s an old fluted biscuit cutter that makes just the right size scones for shortcake!

sour cream sauceI also do a variation on “cream” on top of the scones.  Granny used to serve them with strawberries and a tall glass of buttermilk…but that’s getting harder to find in stores these days, but I like the creamy tartness of buttermilk when you can get it.  Otherwise I use a dollop of sour cream sweetened with just a hint of brown sugar and that does the trick for me!

Before……and after!  Yum!

strawberry shortcake with creamlicked clean

Coconut Craze

I have rediscovered coconuts!

While I have long used coconut milk in a lot of different recipes, including many curries, recently I was also introduced to coconut oil for higher temperature cooking.  For me this replaces olive oil for much of my sautéing and roasting, which looses many of its nutrients at high temperatures.  I  discovered that the oil is very good for my skin and hair taken internally, but  I now also use the oil as a skin lotion topically and it has worked wonders on my psoriasis!

Butcoconut water have you succumbed to the new coconut water craze yet?  I have!  I think I have found the fountain of youth!  Coconut water is starting to show up even in my local Fred Meyers!  I found it at my whole food store Chuck’s in Vancouver some months ago, but even Safeway and other local supermarket chains have picked up on the coconut water craze!  Make sure you look for 100% pure coconut water!

I had all but forgotten the benefits of coconut water which I was introduced to when we lived in Hawaii during the 80s.  My kids who hung out with all the locals (especially the surfers) drank it fresh from the green coconuts at the beach.  The surfers just husked one and chopped it in half with a machete and drank it right from the shell.  Great!

lori and cooper at the beachcoconut on the beach

I guess I figured once we moved away from Hawaii…I would be hard pressed to find it “on the half shell” any other place…so I was more than happy to find it here on mainland shelves and “rediscovered” as a health drink!  While the bottled and jarred juice is not quite as beneficial as drinking it raw, there are many types out now in stores that have little to no preservative in them.  Consequently, they have a short shelf life, but all the health benefits are still there.

Drinking coconut water is not only refreshing, but very beneficial to your health.  Raw fresh coconut water contains a whole range of vitamins and minerals and is 99% fat free….unlike it’s relative coconut milk.  Coconut water is high in potassium content and therefore balances electrolytes easily.  It also contains B vitamins, Vitamin C and calcium.  It is more nutritious than Orange Juice and has more protein than whole milk.  It can be given to babies and pregnant women with no fear of harm, and is often used as a remedy for bowel problems in the elderly.   It contains only 5 g of natural sugars and is naturally sterile.  It can be used to dress wounds, as a topical disinfectant and you can drink it!  How perfect! It is a staple plant in the Islands since every part of the plant is used.  Palm fronds are woven into baskets, canoes, and carriers of all kinds.  The husks are cut in half and used as bowls or other food containers, the meat is used to flavor savory and sweet dishes either raw or condensed into coconut milk.   Coconut milk is not the liquid in the center of a whole coconut. Coconut milk is actually made from extracting the juice from the coconut meat. Coconut milk is creamy and tastes nutty. When buying coconut milk, do not confuse it with coconut cream, which is a tasty sweetened beverage often used in desserts. Canned coconut milk is unsweetened and can be used in both sweet and savory recipes.

I like using it in recipes as well.  My favorite is what I am calling Pina Colada Punch.

1 quart  ppumphouse-rum-drinkineapple juice

1 quart coconut water

1 cup orange juice

mint leaves and lime slices for garnish

Just mix together and enjoy! The kids love it!  For a more grownup drink just add a jigger of spiced rum or flavored vodka to your 8 oz glass.  Yummmmy!   Enjoy!

Grandparents’ Day

40083_1552916748132_789470_nYesterday was Grandparent’s Day at my grandchildren’s school.  Every year, this private church school sets aside a special day to honor grandparents at their school.  If a child does not have a grandparent living close by, other family members are invited to participate with the kids, or barring that….there are lots of volunteer grandparents to call upon in their congregation.

Fortunately for me…I live close enough to the grandkids to participate in this every year!  I always look forward to this day.  Grandparents are treated to all kinds of special treats during the morning, and then school is dismissed early (11:30 AM) and teacher conferences with parents follow over the next day and a half.  For me…it means a whole day with my gkids!

Our morning started off in Cooper’s classroom where we saluted the flag, said a morning prayer (it’s a church school) and what followed was acting out certain bible verses.  What a hoot.  Cooper’s class acted out (very appropriately) the scene near Jesus’ tomb when several women came to collect his body for burial and found the stone rolled away.  The kids acting out the soldiers (with aluminum foil swords) who guarded the tomb, the women (with blankets over their heads)…and then the angels that appeared…well you can imagine.  Saying their bible verses in unison was very sweet, until they came to the part where the angels rolled away the stone.  The verse says “Suddenly…”  When this happened all the kids clapped their hands and fell to the floor!  (It’s what the tomb guards evidently did when they saw angels!)  Those angels were some scary dudes!

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Much more entertainment followed.  I was invited to the big assembly in the middle of the morning to be serenaded by a remarkably good Middle School Band number, some HS singers, and the musical stylings of the 3rd Graders.  Fun!

After assembly, since I have two grankids in the same school, I visited Olivia’s 3rd Grade Classroom where we played math games and I was interviewed by my granddaughter for their story journals.  Some of the questions surprised me…like who my favorite friend was in Elementary school….what advice did I have to give her?  Good questions all, can’t wait to see the story she writes about me!

Olivias Interview

So after school let out, we opted for a special treat….lunch out!  No cooking!  So by unanimous consent…off to the local pancake house we went!  We were kinda lazy after chocolate chip pancakes, french toast, eggs and sausages!  Wow what a treat!

254423_2102191239651_7265277_nLater that day, I spent some time with Olivia at her horseback riding lessons.  Cooper likes to go watch too, but fire and brimstone wouldn’t get him on a horse.  He has more fun with the barn cats!

All in all, even without the cooking lesson, it was a very good day!