Posts tagged ‘organic’

June 7, 2011

Black Bean Blender Brownies

Today, we’re testing recipes for Colin’s upcoming birthday party. He’s craving brownies and I just had to try this recipe I found on the Whole Food’s website: Flourless Brownies. I’d seen recipes for black bean brownies and really wanted to try it out. Since Colin is looking for a fudgy rather than a cakey brownie, we made a test pan.

Organic black beans…

All the ingredients are to be mixed in a food processor, but alas my processor died awhile back and has not been replaced. I used the next best thing, my blender…

Super nutritious and taste rich eggs from Ravencroft Farm…

More blender magic…

Blender black bean brownies baked (say this several times fast)…

Cut and ready to try…

The result: A fantastically fudgy brownie enjoyed by all:)

Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food? Job 12:11

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June 6, 2011

New Chicks, Pizza & Donut Chips

School is finally out for most of us (except for my high school sophomore) so this morning we went to Ravencroft Farm to see the new chicks. New chicks mean more delicious, organic eggs – I love new chicks!

So precious!

The huddled masses…

After a fun day in the sun, we had home-made pizzas for dinner:)

Do you remember life before Domino’s Pizza? One of my dearest friends when I was growing up, her parents’ owned and operated a pizzeria – the kind everyone flocked to after Friday night football games. They made incredible pizza, but the piece de resistance were their beloved donut chips – oh, my! These lovely little bits of fried pizza dough were tossed in sugar and served with a bowl of hot fudge for dipping. Dreamy!!

It’s a little scary how some of my best memories are tied to food – hmmmm…

Donut chips are simple to make. I simply doubled my pizza dough recipe so I had enough for pizzas and fried dough. Since I don’t have a frier, I heated canola oil in a pan.  Using my pizza cutter, I cut pieces of pizza dough – some much bigger than others. I plopped the dough in the hot oil and within seconds the dough puffed and danced. I sprinkled and tossed them with granulated sugar & delighted my sons with a nostalgic after-dinner treat.

Not exactly uniform…

Dancing dough…

A whole lotta lovin’!!

And some hot fudge to boot:)

I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body. 2 Peter 1:13

April 1, 2011

Show & Tell: Brotform Proofing Basket

I’ve always LOVED school and when I was a little girl “show and tell” was the ultimate!  I especially loved “show and tell” right after Christmas and my birthday.  Here’s the beginning of my grow-up version – self-indulgence at it’s best!  I received so many lovely and thoughtful gifts for my birthday a few weeks ago.

Two summers ago, I set out to really learn and understand yeast-based baking.  I’d baked before, but I really wanted something more like a class.  So, I checked out many, many books from the local library (and order others) on bread baking.  Some titles I read included The Bread Makers Apprentice, Crust and Crumb and Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads.  I read these books cover-to-cover and tried many new techniques and recipes (Poolish and Biga bread starters).  My head ached from all the new information, but I loved the journey.

In my study, I discovered the beauty and usefulness of bread proofing bowls.  Well, guess what I got for my birthday this year?  Yes, a Brotform Proofing Basket!!  Love it and I used it as soon as I could….

Not a great pix – but isn’t it just lovely?

My sour-dough bread dough (and do you see my organic bread cloth beside it? *smile*)…

I baked it on my bread stone – look at those pretty lines…

Looks beautiful and tastes yummy!

More show & tell to come…

You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit. Job 10:12

May 6, 2010

Breakfast in Bed: Green Style

Perhaps Breakfast in Bed this year should be a bit more…. green….

I just love Zen tea by Tazo – a tasty green tea with a touch of spearment which soothes the tummy and calms the nerves (hence the name)….

And these pretty, potted tea cups from Holy Mountain… I also have a beautiful hand-potted, green tea set. Asian inspired, it includes a bamboo handled pot and a whimsical twist – all the pieces are little green turtles. It’s stunning and a cherished wedding present from a dear friend/mentor. This image also reminds me of my niece who also makes stunning and award-winning handcrafted pottery (she’s incredible!).

These pretty napkins from Etsy completely tie everything together…

And a bamboo tray from Target….

Breakfast in Bed Green-style would not be complete without a yummy asparagus dish. Reminiscent of bamboo, this irresistible green veggie completes the Asian motif. Buy organic asparagus and heighten the greenness (is that even a word?) of this gift.  The perfect recipe is the Asparagus and Leek with Gruyere Quiche from Martha Stewart – delicious! Make it the day before in little tart pans, plate and reheat – it’s that simple (plus you can freeze some for later…).

Add some flowers with simple lines (a single lily or a bunch of tulips), some Green & Black chocolate (organic and fair-trade certified), some exotic fruit, a little yogurt and you’ve a divine celebration of MOM!

For a special hand-made Mother’s Day card, how about an acronym:

G – Gorgeous, You’re make everything gorgeous because…

R – Regal, Our home is a regal palace because…

E – Every, Every day you make me happy because…

E – Each, Each day I thank God for you because…

N – Near, I love when you’re near because…

As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you. Isaiah 66:13

May 2, 2010

Nana’s Cake

Poppies make my Nana’s heart sing so I made this sweet delight for her 84th birthday party! Organic & Chic continues to inspire…


April 27, 2010

Dandelions

The darling of seasons, SPRING, has arrived. Flowers are popping up to treat winter weary eyes with their unmatched beauty. One of the first lovelies is the humble dandelion. Just as the majestic lion is the crowned king of the beasts, dandelions are the reigning monarch of SPRING!

Recently, I read an article about the woman who brought dandelions, not indigenous to North America, to Minnesota for her famous dandelion bread and other concoctions. Dandelion bread – who knew? I’ve had dandelion greens in my spring salad green mixes, but the thought of bread opened a whole new world. I began to research and found other recipes such as dandelion wine (my grandmother used to make) and jam, but what really caught my fancy was dandelion syrup.

I read several references about Swiss grannies in the Alps with jars and jars of dandelion syrup. Now not only was my curiousity peaked, but now my imagination was in full bloom. I had to have some – I became a bit obsessed. If little Swiss grannies can, I can too!

Gathering my faithful foragers, we picked a bucketful of the fragrant spring blossoms (fortunately, I’m closely related to some certified organic farmers so I knew where to find the good stuff!). Alas, my busy bee-like boys soon got bored, and grabbed their baseball equipment. Apparently, the romance of gathering spring flowers for sweet and sticky syrup was lost on them. I knew once they tasted dandelion syrup, they would be transformed. Undaunted by their lack of enthusiasm, I acquiesced and joined the ball players. Even though I was stuck in the outfield, I managed to continue to pluck a few more dandelions and chase the occasional ball that came my way. In the end, we had a ton of fun and my bucket of flower heads was full.Then came the work of separating the petals – this was fairly easily managed with a knife. I covered the blossoms with filtered water, boiled for the designated amount of time, turned the heat off and let steep overnight.

In the morning, the mixture was strained and I was left with a yellowish, dandelion blossom tea. I added sugar and some lemon juice, and the mixture was simmered for about 3 hours. The end result was a unique and special syrup rather honey-like in taste.

Dandelion syrup is a delightful addition to warm cornbread or wheat germ pancakes. I’m excited about the possibilities; a whole new world has opened up to me. I’m now eyeing the fields of yellow dots of sunshine with a fresh point of view (my taste buds). Dandelions, the reigning monarch of Spring, have found a new and sweet place in my heart!

Follow some of my rabbit trails for dandelion recipes & inspiration:

5orangepotatoes.blogspot.com

fxcuisine.com

yummysupper.blogspot.com

fat-of-the-land.blogspot.com

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Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.” Song of Solomon 2:12

April 23, 2010

Family Movie Nite Treat: Honey Carmel Popcorn

Family meals and family movie nights are an integral part of our family’s culture. Our “Comfy, Cozy, Casual Nights” have seen many slight modifications over the years as our family has grown and aged. We probably won’t be watching Pooh’s Great Adventure anymore (unless we do a themed night or a family retro night), but the basic premise has remained the same: our family together enjoying a “family movie,” some cuddle-time, some laughs and some yummies. The yummies may vary in popularity, but Honey Carmel Pop-corn is certainly a family favorite.

Looking for a sweet pop-corn treat sans corn syrup? Look no further. I copied this recipe from a honey cookbook borrowed from my parents, but have modified it a bit. Most often, I make a half batch which is sufficient for our family of 6.

1/2 Cup raw honey (from unmedicated bees)

2 Cups organic brown sugar

2 sticks (1 cup) organic butter

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

6 quarts popped corn

Pre-heat oven to 225 degrees (I have a very hot oven so I heat at 200 degrees). In a heavy bottomed pan, cook first four ingredients over medium heat. Bring to a boil, and continue the boil while stirring for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add baking soda. Mix and pour over popcorn. Spread on cookie sheets and bake for 15 – 18 minutes. Please note: Honey burns easily so remember to be conservative when heating.Happy Movie Nite!

She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. Proverbs 31:15

April 22, 2010

My New Cookbook!

As a hopeless bookworm, there’s an extra special spot reserved in my heart for cookbooks. As a teeny toddler, I could often be found sitting cross-legged on the floor pouring over the pages of the Betty Crocker’s Cookie CookbookConsequently, I learned to bake quite young because I had a mother who was patient enough to give me free rein. I was baking cookies and cakes by age 10. During my teen years and into my twenties, I found baking a great stress reliever. On the other hand, I had a personal aversion to basic cooking. Since I’d every intention of being a full-time career woman and never a mere housewife, what was the point? Weren’t there plenty of good restaurants?

I was certainly naive (complete understatement here!). Fortunately, when I was a young mother, Martha Stewart came on the scene. Although we never met, she was my mentor. Watching her show and reading her magazines, I learned a tremendous amount about cooking and homemaking. She elevated it to an art-form rather than a task. She taught and inspired me. I discovered I could cook just about anything I wanted, and I rediscovered cookbooks.

All this to say, I have a new cookbook in my life! My sister and brother-in-law, knowing my fondness for cookbooks, gave me the inspirational and pretty, Organic & Chic Cookbook (thank you, thank you!!). Written by the like-minded, Sarah Magid, this book is a visual treat featuring unique recipes, great tips, and a feast for the eyes.

Not wanting to feed her children junk-food sweets made in large factories, Sarah developed her own recipes reminiscent of store bought favorites. Her background as a top accessories designer shines through with each whimsical and artistic, edible masterpiece. As a true artist, she understands form follows function. Her recipes begin with quality, organic ingredients with a healthy dose of love.

This book is simply brilliant – a must read from cover to cover! I’m looking forward to duplicating many of these wonders!

“And from fine wheat flour, without yeast, make bread, and cakes mixed with oil, and wafers spread with oil.” Exodus 29:2

April 13, 2010

le fort café et boulangerie

Here’s what’s cooking at Le Fort Cafe et Boulangerie a.k.a The Strong Cafe and Bakery (it’s always better en Francais – oui?):

Breakfast was a warm Oatmeal Porridge reverently referred to (by me) as “Heaven in a Bowl.” The organic steel-cut oats are cooked to perfection and served with a dollop of butter (real, of course) and raw, locally harvested honey (Ravencroft Farm). A comfort food and taste sensation, Irish oats are pure bliss in the AM! But, alas, the food critics they demand more. They find this simple fare, well, simple. Consequently, the pressure for a pleasing lunch selection was keenly felt, I had to rally…

Lunch….hmmm… Did I mention I had a deadline yesterday and so my 14 year old graciously offered to help with lunch?  I was Chef (chopping vegetables, barking out orders, emailing attachments, and re-emailing attachments) and he was Sous Chef. Well, when I told him to add 2 cups of flour to the mixing bowl (homemade egg noodles for the chicken and vegetable soup boiling away on the stove), he assumed I’d meant for him to add them to the bowl of cherries (hand-picked last year) with a handful of sugar and a pinch of pectin thawing on the counter. Barely making my deadline, I rushed back to the kitchen for some quick kneading of the noodle dough. And then, I saw the bowl – a pink, pasty mixture of cherry delight.

When life gives you lemons – right?  Okay, we’re trained experts here, we can handle this. Added was a few more packages of frozen cherries and more sugar to thaw & marinate on the counter. Today, it was cooked down a bit and it’s now slated for cherry cobbler (writing my own recipe) and cherry turnovers (left over puff-pastry from the Asparagus & Gruyere Tarts made for Easter – AMAZING!!).

It’s hard to think about lunch when you’d rather be a Pâtisserie Chef than just a plan old, boring Chef. As the critics began inundating with questions as to the identity of the Lunch Special, I started to grab. I pulled out my trusty 9×9 ceramic pan in a lovely, spring-green hue and buttered it (again real butter). After slicing the last few pieces of bread, I grabbed and quickly grated all the cheese ends I could find (we’re down to just cheddar – Gruyere doesn’t last here). I threw in some diced ham left-over from Easter; some free-range, organic eggs with their glorious bright orange yokes (indicating a high level of nutritional content); and yummy mushrooms who spoke (“eat me, eat me”) to me when I was rummaging through the fridge. Viola! The Lunch Special was in the oven.

Ham, oh my! A ham hock still remained in the fridge. While lunch was baking, the ham was tossed in the crockpot on a low heat with some water.  Last year, my attempt at Ham & Bean Soup became a copious amount of  salty, mushy bean disaster. But, not one to give up too easily, I’m starting again – perhaps, I learned something and this year it will be tres magnifique… FYI – Mere de Chef doesn’t love Ham & Beans so her attitude may have created a biased that affected the whole process.

Turns out lunch was not so special for all the foodies. One critic, in particular, spent most of lunch comparing the homey Egg Strata to Quiche (which is what he would have preferred to have).  When the general unrest trickled down to the rookie foodies who started to request items from the Ala Carte Menu, Mere de Chef pulled out her standard line perfected with years of use:  “I am not, nor will I ever be, a short-order cook!”

Remember the cherries and puff pastry?  The Cherry Turnovers turned out divinely, and proved to be a triumphant ending to The Lunch Special.  Mere de Chef can kick her feet up still donning her “power apron,” sip her green mint tea from mismatch chinz, contemplate her bowl full of cherries (literally and figuratively), lament another day without homemade yogurt, and plan for The Dinner Special…  Welcome to Le Cafe!!

“These all look to you to give them their food at the proper time.” Psalm 104:27