Tag Archives: organic

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

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Plum Wonderful!

pluotMy neighbor and organic gardener friend, Lucy, brought me some beautiful pluots last week.  I never tasted this pink fleshed sweet-tart fruit (pluot – plum/apricot) until I lived in the Pacific Northwest.  She brought grafts from her trees in California when she moved up here and this is the first season they have fruited in abundance.  Seems like everything up here in the Pacific Northwest is lush this summer!  The next day, my other organic gardener and artist friend, Jackie brought me some figs and Italian Plums from her garden.  I have also started picking some apples from my own trees, so I had an abundance of fruit on hand.

Once the fruit flies started circling…I knew I had better find a solution for all this fruit! It was then I came across a lovely blog called The Savory Sweet Life and found a recipe for Plum Jam without using pectin.  I don’t object to pectin, I just didn’t have any on hand.  This was great…a 3 ingredient solution to my plum dilemma!  Upon Googling further, I found another article about using figs in plum jam from What A Dish!    This one also had no pectin in it!  Yet another recipe told me that pureed cooked apples had enough pectin in them to substitute for the powdery stuff!  I was in luck.

Jumbling all these recipes together, I came up with Plum Wonderful….a spicy fig, apple, pluot, Italian Plum Jam to die for!  Sooooo good.  Try some!

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2 apples, peeled, seeded, quartered and cooked.  Then puree the apples in a food processor.

 

Dip plums, pluots, and figs (or any other stone fruit like apricots or peaches, any you like) into boiling hot water for 2 minutes, remove with slotted spoon and put into an ice bath until cooled (about 5 minutes).  When cooled, peel and remove stones. The fruit will peel very easily.

peaches_inhotwaterplums_inicewater

 

 

 

 

 

Dice peeled fruit to make 4 cups into sauce pan and simmer on medium heat until fruit starts to soften.  I like my jam chunky, so I used a potato masher to break up the fruit into smaller chunks….but not smooth like applesauce.  Leave chunky.

Add:  1 cup sugar, 1 cup apple puree, 1 t. cinnamon, 1/2 t. ground ginger, 1/2 t. Allspice to pot and simmer on low until liquid is decreased and mixture is thickened.

You can then add 2 T fresh lemon juice or freshly squeezed orange juice to mixture and simmer another 5 minutes.  Cool and pour into jelly jars.  Refrigerate when cool.  Keeps in the refrigerator up to 2 months.

Since the kids are out of town on a family vacation this week, I can’t wait til they get back and we can try this on our PB&Js.  If they were here, they could help with dicing fruit, measuring ingredients, but probably not with the cooking….hot jam splashes really hurt!  Just be careful to keep the temperature low and be careful when pouring it into the jars!

Sweet, spicy, flavors of fall and the abundance of summer!  Plum Wonderful!

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What To Do With All Those Tomatoes!

This year is a bumper crop for tomatoes in the Pacific Northwest…which is unusual.  Tomatoes are among the hardest fruit to grow up here because of the cool summers and short growing season, but this summer, they seem to be thriving and I have a lot of them!  (That is what Global Climate Change does to us!)

cherry tomatoestomatoes on the vine

yellowPearTomato

Besides eating them still warm from the sun with a bit of salt and pepper, tossing them into salads (I especially like the yellow pear tomatoes for that!),  I also make them into spaghetti sauce and tomato paste.  But this year, the gkids and I decided to try to make our own catsup, ketchup,…or however you say it or spell it!

To make catsup you can start with tomato paste or make your own by cooking down your chopped tomatoes, adding a bit of onion, salt and pepper (perhaps a bit of oregano for an Italian flair!) and simmer them over medium heat until they have reduced by 1/2 – this takes a couple of hours on lowered heat.  MMMM…very sweet and delicious all by itself!

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catsup 013

This basic recipe is good for making spaghetti sauce or in Nana’s World Famous Chili! or to top off Nana’s Special Meatloaf!  (see recipes page!)

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But today we are making catsup! So after cooking the tomatoes down to half their volume, I put the cooled batch through a blender or food processor.  When I am making catsup, I use tomatoes that have been peeled (Dunk them in boiling water for 2 minutes and the skins will come right off!)  Once the mixture has been blended, return the pureed mixture back to the pot and add in the spices.

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For 2 1/2 cups of Nana’s Spicy Ketchup you will need:

4 lbs. of tomatoes, peeled and diced.  Add salt and pepper, and Italian seasoning if you wish and cook down to 4 cups. (1/2 the original volume).  Puree in food processor and return to pan.

To the pan add:

1 medium onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 – 4 T dark brown sugar

3 T apple cider vinegar

pinch of cayenne pepper

1 T salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 cup water

Juice of 1/2 lemon.

I like my Ketchup smoky…so I also add 1 tsp. ground cumin – this is optional.

Cook and simmer together for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, to again reduce the mixture by half.  The Ketchup should be thick and creamy.  If they are lumps, cool and puree again.  When mixture is completely cool, add to sterilized jars with tight fitting lids.  Stores in the refrigerator for up 3 months.

catsup from scratch

Now wouldn’t that taste good on a Summer Grilled Burger?  Enjoy that taste of summer all year long!

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

Simply Spaghetti

My gkids are spaghetti lovers…are yours?  They like it simple. . . spaghetti, tomatoes, a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper….and then sprinkle on the parmesan. (I like some red pepper flakes on mine).   Lovely.  Simple, quick, good, filling, a kid pleaser.

spaghetti

Yes they love meatballs too…but that is another story.

If you are making simple spaghetti, you want to make sure these few ingredients are the best you can possibly use.  I personally like mine with fresh, vine ripened, garden tomatoes…but up here in the Northwest…those are as rare as hen’s teeth until around the end of August.  And with our short growing season,  big, ripe, juicy tomatoes at the end of summer are not guaranteed even then!

greentomatoesaboveprunedsucker

If your tomato supply is scarce….or the ones available in your area are the “shipped in” ones (to me these taste like cardboard!)  then my suggestion is:  POMI

Yes, Pomi Tomatoes are THE BEST.  I used to have to import them from Italy (where they are grown and processed) but now I can find them in my local organic market.  But even if you can’t find them there….you can always order them on line. there are now several stateside distributors.    Pomi Tomatoes come in a box…so they are not subjected to the “tinny” taste you can get from many canned tomatoes and they are sealed in BPA-Free packages.  I have also recently read that many of our canned tomatoes – even the organic ones –  are processed using chemicals to take off the peel.  Pomi tomatoes are 100% organic, natural garden-ripe Italian tomatoes.  steam peeled, Fat Free, Gluten Free, no preservatives, no added salt or other ingredients.  As a matter of fact under Ingredients…it says:  Tomatoes.  That’s it.  That’s all.  Pure vine-ripe tomatoes!  Best you can get!  1/2 cup serving is only 28 calories too!  pomi tomatoes

pomi side of box

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course you can add whatever else you like. I personally like garlic, torn basil leaves, a few olives…and the aforementioned red pepper flakes…but keeping it simple, fresh and quick is a real treat for the cook as well as the diners!   My gkids like to make it with me too.  Cooper is our head chef….and Olivia likes to get her fingers into it.

cooper chef

Liv's fingers

 

 

 

 

 

And frankly…my grandkids think I am magic….they even tell their mom they want “Nana Spaghetti”….nice!

 

 

 

 

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!

Into the Souk!

I think I may have mentioned that my son-in-law spent 18 months in Qatar during his Reserve Duty recently. Randy is an adventurous eater, and he came home telling tales of visiting the wonderful baazars while stationed there.

man in spice shop

spices in the souk

Randy brought home some great spices for us all to try that he thought were “new”. He and my daughter don’t have time to cook a lot since they both work long hours, and Randy’s expertise mainly revolved around the grill. But he had enough wonderful “shish-ka-bobs” (as we call them) to want to try to re-create these dishes once he got home.

His favorite spices turned out to be ones readily found here as well. Turmeric, paprika, fennel seed, fenugreek, saffron, cardamom, cinnamon, allspice, ground ginger, etc. But the one spice that eluded him was “shakta”. After some investigation, my daughter found a Middle Eastern spice called “shatta”….and we decided this must be it and the pronunciation was different in various regions throughout Africa. Randy thought it was funny that when they asked what was in this spice (he had already determined it was a blend of spices…like curry is a blend of many spices)…they just said “shatta”. Finally one enterprising vendor who’d been to school in the US said, “It’s like our catsup”. Really?  More like hot sauce…since it’s full of hot peppers.  The vendors sold him a mix they called shatta…which was powder (probably a blend of chili powders) so he brought that home, but we did finally find a “recipe” for shatta sauce using local/available peppers.  Although I am sure that the local shatta was made with their peppers.  And we have used it in several things recently to try it out.  Like these lamb meatballs served over couscous.    I like it best with tomatoes and used like taco sauce or spaghetti sauce.

Here’s the recipe for “Mediterranean Catsup (hot sauce)”  or Shatta

Ingredients:

  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 3 red jalapeno peppers, stem removed
  • 15 Thai bird chilies, stems removed
  • 1 cup of fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 cup of fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 6 oz of tomato paste
  • 1 cup of water

If you try it, I sure would like to know how you did and whether you liked it as much as we do!

Moroccan meatballs and couscous294454_2539300167101_1972003724_n