Category Archives: Food

Easy Plum Squares

List of ingredients is at the end of the post.

Don’t be fooled by this butter picture. I tried to use less than the recipe called for and it didn’t work. You need the full cup of butter for the crumble to stick together.

So! Put one full cup of butter into the food processor. Then add the flour, salt, and cinnamon. Give it a few pulses until the butter is finely mixed with the flour mixture. THEN add the sugar and rolled oats and give it a couple more very short pulses – just enough to mix it all in.

Why not put it all in together? If you put the sugar in sooner, it makes the butter smear a little, and if you put the rolled oats in right away, the blades will cut the flakes up into a fine oat mixture. I like to see the flakes and keep them coarser, but if you want them to be smooth, you know what to do.

Pour about two-thirds of the mixture into an ungreased pan and press it flat with gentle pressure using your hands.

Now for the plums. I have plum trees in my backyard so in the fall, I wash, cut and freeze the plums, 24 to a bag because that’s how many it takes to make a cake. They thaw easily in warm water  for use in this recipe. If you have plums available in the store you can buy them to make this cake. If not, you may want to substitute some other fruit at this point. Apples, pears, apricots, and dates should work well for this dish. I wouldn’t try it with berries as they would make too much liquid, but most other fruit is very forgiving as a substitute.

I’ve tried it with apples and pears and they work very well. With pears, I’ve used powdered ginger instead of cinnamon.

Notice that the plums are placed skin side down, so the juice doesn’t soak into the bottom layer of crumble.

Sprinkle the last third of the crumble mixture over top of the plums (or whatever fruit you use).

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes. Usually when the fruit starts to bubble, it’s time to take the cake out of the oven.

When the cake is cool, cut it into squares and top with ice cream, whipped cream, or have it just plain. It’s good no matter how you serve it.

Ingredients:

1 cup flour

1 cup butter

2/3 cup brown sugar (I cut this down from 1 cup)

1 and 3/4 cups rolled oats (large flakes)

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon (or ginger if using pears)

24 plums (or enough of whatever other fruit you use to make one layer)

Bake 350 for 40 to 45 minutes.

 

Scones

Some people call these tasty biscuits “scones,” to rhyme with “bones.” I prefer to call them scones to rhyme with “prawns.”

I found out today why they are called scones (my way). It must be because as soon as they are out of the oven, someone “absconds” with them.

They are very easy to make if you have a food processor to mix the butter with the flour. The old pastry blender method is just too much work.

I did a post about scones two years ago, which you can visit if you like: https://wordsfromanneli.com/2016/10/31/scones/

Since then I have made many batches of scones and have stopped looking at the recipe.

Some changes?

I only use the baking soda if I add a squeeze of lemon.

I use two eggs if I have them to spare, rather than only one. One time I completely forgot to put the eggs in and they still turned out okay. The biscuit is very forgiving that way.

You can add grated cheese instead of currants. Probably there are a lot of things you could add if you wanted (chopped nuts, dried cranberries, raisins), but preferably not all in one batch.

One thing you don’t want to do is handle the dough too much. It makes the biscuits tougher if you do.

I will repeat the recipe here, but you can substitute and change things without fear of doing too much damage. One change I like is to use a lot of sour cream and less milk, but it depends what’s in the fridge that day.

Scones

All the dry ingredients go into the food processor:

3 cups flour

1/2 tsp. salt

3 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda (if using a squeeze of lemon for flavour)

3 Tbsp. sugar (optional)

Then add about 3/4 cup of butter and pulse the food processor until the butter is cut into the flour mixture evenly.

In a measuring cup, stir an egg  with a fork, or use two eggs, but reserve some of the egg white to mix with a drop of milk for a wash on top of the batter before putting it in the oven. Add enough milk to make a cup. At this point I also add, as part of that one cup of liquid, whatever I have on hand – yogurt, sour cream, or a squeeze of lemon or lime – just to get the baking soda working well. You may have to add a drop more liquid if you use sour cream or yogurt.

Pour in the liquid and give it a few pulses, add a handful of currants (or whatever you’ve decided on), and pulse again. You don’t want to mash the dried fruit so this goes in last and is just barely mixed in.

Pat the dough together and flatten it on a buttered cookie sheet. More directions are given in my previous post (use the link given earlier in the post).

Today’s scones baked at 400 degrees for about 26 minutes.

But I still wonder … who absconded with that scone that is missing in the photo?

 

 

 

Apple of my Eye

I was disappointed to read that “apple of my eye” probably refers to the pupil of my eye. It has been used in many Biblical quotations, usually in connection with protecting someone. For example, in Psalm 17:8 7:8: “Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings”.

I prefer to think of the expression as meaning someone you like very much.
“She’s the apple of my eye.

As I peeled many, many apples, the wheels turned in my head.

“What a silly expression! Do I want to be the apple in someone’s eye? How dumb is that?”

But old expressions are often like that, and the meaning changes over the centuries.

Luckily, the apple hasn’t changed much. It is still tasty enough to tempt anyone to risk being tossed out of the Garden of Eden.

In my little garden, far from Eden quality, I have lots of apples. Too many to eat all at once, even after sharing many with friends (without tossing them out of the garden).

It is time though, to do something with the last of the apple harvest. I have enough frozen apples, and I’ve eaten all I want for the moment. I can only bake so much before we have to go to Weight Watchers. So what to do?

Last week we had friends over for a visit and they brought us apples they had dried in slices. The light came on in my dull head. Didn’t I have a dehydrator in my pantry? I hauled it out and got busy.

The dehydrator has five trays that sit over a little heater and fan.  Load the trays with fruit, stack them, put the lid on, open the vent on top, plug in the dehydrator, and then go read a book while they dry (for several hours). You might want to choose a nice long book like “War and Peace” or “Gone With the Wind.” It takes a while.

I peeled my apples, but it’s not necessary. Personal choice. As the bottom tray had some dried  apple pieces ready, I took them out and put them into a bowl and re-filled the empty space on the trays with some banana slices.  I suppose you can try drying just about anything. Herbs from the garden, for example.

The dried fruit makes a delicious and healthy snack when it’s done.

Cranberries

Nearly home from Montana, we drove past this cranberry farm east of Vancouver, BC. Again, I only had seconds to snap a drive-by shot, but it made me look up cranberry harvesting when I got home.

I learned that cranberries can be harvested dry or wet. For the dry harvesting they go through the cranberry field with a machine much like a lawnmower except that it doesn’t cut the plants; it only scoops up the berries and bits of the plant. The berries are then sent through a machine that bounces them around and separates them from the other bits of debris through a grooved roller that rocks back and forth. Then comes the assembly line where workers pick out the bad berries from the conveyor belt.

On the tiny photo above, you can see that they have flooded the cranberry field. A taller machine, designed not to churn up the wet ground goes through and scoops up more berries to bring them to the surface.

Then the berries are “herded” together by floating dams just as if the berries were an oil spill.  Once the berries are enclosed, they are vacuumed up into a truck while the water is drained off  as the berries are loaded.

They still need to go through the assembly line for sorting, but machinery does all but this last step.

When you make a cranberry sauce for your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, you need to add about a cup of sugar for two cups of these very tart berries, but you can make your cranberry sauce more interesting by adding plums and apples if you have them handy.

Cranberries also make a wonderful addition to muffins. Throw in a cupful with the batter instead of using blueberries. Add some chopped nuts. The measuring doesn’t have to be an exact science. Experiment. They’re sure to be good.

 

Mick’s Buttercup Squash

The Captain and I try to go to Montana every year if possible. We have found good friends among the farmers we’ve met there. Three years ago, Mick, one of these friends, gave us some buttercup squash that he had just harvested. Since we had our trailer with us, he suggested the easiest way to cook it would be to microwave it.

I did that, and it was very good. So good, in fact, that I saved the seeds of the squash to bring home. For the next three years I planted and saved Mick’s buttercup squashes. This year’s crop is descended from those original squashes he gave us in 2015.

Here is one of them, growing on the garden fence where it climbed up.

The funny thing is that although I carefully started some of the squash seeds in little pots for transplanting when the weather warmed up enough, Mick’s squash has a mind of its own. I must have put some compost in the garden last winter, and this spring, way before I thought it was okay to plant anything, these squashes volunteered to grow in my garden and they have by far outstripped the ones I so carefully tended in little pots for transplanting.

I have found a way of cooking these squashes that makes us very happy. I clean, quarter, and peel the squash and microwave it just long enough to make it barely tender (a few minutes). While that is happening, I sautee some chopped onion  in a pan with butter. When the squash is tender enough to cut easily but not so mushy that it is falling apart, I cut each quarter into slices (the way you would cut cantaloupe in thin wedges) and lay these in the pan to brown a few minutes on each side.

That’s it. Eat and enjoy.

PS When you’re cleaning the squash, be sure to save the seeds for next year’s crop.

Pasta Fun

On Mother’s Day we had a lot of fun. We decided to make fettuccine. Our dinner was already cooking (a beef roast, chard from the garden, carrots, mashed potatoes), but thought we would make some pasta just for fun and freeze it for another time.

We put the flour, eggs, oil, and water in the Kitchen Aid mixer bowl and let the dough hook mix it up  to form a ball of dough that was not dry, but not sticky either. We let it rest about half an hour and then cut it up into eight pieces.


After pressing the pieces flat  we passed them through the roller attachment on the Kitchen Aid, first on setting #1 and then on #2 and again on #6. By the third pass, the dough was thin enough.

We set the flattened dough on a floured board and changed the attachment to one that would cut strips about 3/8  of an inch wide (I’m guessing). The sheets of dough were then passed through the roller, with the mixer at a slightly higher speed.

Once the fettuccine came out of the roller, cut into strips, it was important to dust those strips with flour so the ribbons of dough didn’t stick to each other.

The last sheet was ready to pass through the roller.

Quick and easy and fun to make, this fettuccine is not perfect, but we know the ingredients that are in it, and I like to know what I’m eating.

We put most of the fettuccine on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, to freeze and later put in ziploc bags, but it looked so good that we decided to boil a small pot of fettuccine to have alongside the potatoes, roast, and gravy.

It was delicious and, best of all, we had fun making it.

 

 

More Market Goodies

This is the last of three Farmers’ Market posts.

We’d all like to have our vegetables grown without chemical poisons to kill unwanted insects and weeds, but we can’t all have our own vegetable garden. The next best thing is to buy your vegetables at the Farmers’ Market. You’ll get organically grown vegetables with flavour that you have probably all but forgotten existed in a vegetable.

How about some novelty carrots?  Maybe you had a special dinner for Easter? Maybe the Easter bunny got carried away and painted these carrots. I’m told they taste just like the orange carrots but they add a great splash of colour and more nutrients to your meal.

Researchers in Wisconsin are working to develop and promote these colour phases in carrots. Here is what the various coloured carrots are said to provide:

  • Orange: Beta and alpha carotene pigment. Vitamin A for healthy eyes.
  • Purple: Anthocyanin, beta and alpha carotene pigment. Additional vitamin A, and said to help prevent heart disease.
  • Red: Lycopene and beta-carotene pigment. Lycopene is the same red pigment that gives tomatoes their deep color and is linked to a lower risk of certain cancers, such as prostate cancer.
  • Yellow: Xanthophykks and lutein. Both are linked to cancer prevention and better eye health.
  • White: The nutrients don’t come from the pigment but from the fiber, which promotes healthy digestion.

Need a good bowl, door stop, or rolling pin? Choose from these beautiful handmade products.

Or maybe you’d like to have a handmade wooden box to keep special things in? Each box is a work of art, lovingly polished by the artist.

Perhaps you have a special place in your house or garden that needs a piece of metal sculpture to highlight it. Not only are choices available on the table, but also on the post to the right where the man is standing.

So many things to choose from. If you need some time to think, why not take a load off your feet and sit down to listen to the band playing right by the market stands.

If you’re feeling too chilly, the Espresso and Deli shop is right next to the band’s stage. Pop over and grab a  quick bite and a cup of coffee to bring over to the band area. Bundle up your coat, sip your hot coffee and enjoy the music.

Who knew that a chilly spring day could be so much fun?