September 13, 2012
The gorgeous weather on Sunday inspired me to grab my camera and head over to the Stockton Market.
On the way, I found Ken, the owner/chef of The Bridge Cafe in Frenchtown, picking hot peppers in his garden behind the restaurant. The place was buzzing with dozens of bicyclists stopped for food and drink.
Pink is my favorite color.
Sunflowers greet you at the door.
Eat This has jams, curds and olive oil bread baked in beautiful Weck jars.
Crossroads Bakeshop. Almost sold out as usual. You’ve got to get there early for their fabulous olive rolls.
This was the inspiration for the excursion. Couscousieres, tagines and pans from Tunisia. The unfiltered olive oil on the right has become one of my favorites. The price is incredible at $20 a litre. Abdel should be back from Tunisia this week. I’ve been purchasing his family’s olive oil at the Ottsville Farmer’s Market and he told me he had tagines at the Stockton Market. Pretty sure I’ve picked my favorite, but I like to obsess over things so I’ve delayed the purchase. Then each day I can settle on a couscousiere and then the next day change my mind and insist that I can’t live wit’hout one of those gorgeous pans. Add in a color selection and, for someone as manic as me, its like living in a Hitchcock thriller!
Gravity Hill Farm has a stand at Stockton and I decided to proceed down Route 29 a little ways to visit their organic farm.
Didn’t ask her name; it’s probably adorable.
This is on Lewis’ to-do-list. Yes, ” poor Lewis”.
And you get one of those beautiful wooden boxes with your mushrooms. I picked the lemon ones.
Look at that kitchen in the background!!!
A quick stop at the Cookery Ware Shop in Lahaska to replace the glass for Lewis’ French press coffee maker and I began to think I crawled out of my burrow into the Times Square. I rarely shop on weekends – one of the perks of being self-employed. So when I do venture out on a Saturday or Sunday, the traffic and lines are a surprise. I joyfully returned back to my little ramshackle farm. The overgrown lawn, where I had discontinued mowing on Friday after hitting a yellow jacket nest didn’t even perturb me. And “poor Lewis” had finished the last doors for my kitchen cabinets. A wonderful day.
August 22, 2012
The zucchini bread on the left is my favorite tea bread. The recipe is from “The Book of Bread” by Judith and Evan Jones, originally published in 1982. I must have bought this book shortly afterwards because I’ve been making this quick bread for more than 25 years. In fact, I made it every week for my farm market that I used to have in my barn. Then, after I was done using my girls in colonial craft shows to sell soap, we made it together every week one summer for a farm stand down the road.
Yes, that’s Judith Jones, the publisher who was the the one brave enough to print Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, predicted by all other publishers to have no interest for American home cooks. I only realized this year she was the one and the same!
Zucchini Bread with Orange Zest and Ginger
Adapted from Bronwyn’s Orange-flavored Zucchini Bread
The Book of Bread by Judith and Evan Jones
1 1/2 cups flour + 2 tablespoons for the baking pan
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground dried ginger
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup canola oil + 1 tablespoon for the baking pan
Zest of 1 orange
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9″loaf pan with oil and 2 tablespoons flour.
Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger and walnuts in a mixing bowl. Place the eggs, oil and orange zest in another mixing bowl. With a handheld mixer or a whisk, combine the dry ingredients, then whisk together the wet ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mixture, add the zucchini and, with a large spoon, stir until just combined. Place in the baking pan and smooth the top.
Place in the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes until browned. Test by putting a knife into the center of the bread. It should come out clean. Place the bread pan on a cooling rack for 5-10 minutes. Use a knife to go around the edge to loosen, turn out the bread and place right side up on the cooling rack. Cool completely before serving.
Like all quick breads, this will taste even better the next day. Wrap in plastic and keep refrigerated.
I still make this once a year in the summertime. As to the mysterious bread on the right, that’s peach and blackberry in an almond and butter based bread. For that recipe you will have to come to my Quick Breads Class at http://www.thekitchengardencookingschool.com.
August 2, 2012
Homemade Baking Powder
I can hear your little voices penetrating the ethernet, “Homemade baking powder, you have got to be kidding!”. That’s what I thought when I first discovered it a few days ago while researching Tea Breads for an upcoming class. Although I have no interest in the ancient origins and histories of food, quirky things intrigue me and I had to know more.
The advantages to making your own include freshness, no chemical taste in the finished baked goods, avoidance of GMO’s by purchasing organic cornstarch and aluminum free baking.
My off the shelf baking powder contains calcium acid pyrophosphate, cornstarch, sodium bicarbonate, potassium bicarbonate, and monocalcium phosphate. Some baking powders contain aluminum compounds which create a metallic taste in food. We’ll take them one at a time.
Calcium acid pyrophosphate is a chemical compound formed by the reaction of pyrophosphoric acid and calcium phosphate. It is often used as an abrasive in toothpaste.
Cornstarch is how it sounds.
Sodium bicarbonate is baking soda.
Potassium bicarbonate is often added to bottled water to affect the taste.
Monocalcium phosphate is phosphate rock treated with calcium carbonate and is used as a fertilizer.
If you make your own, these are the three ingredients you will need: baking soda, cornstarch and cream of tartar, which is potassium bitartrate, a crystalline residue that forms in wine casks during fermentation.
Homemade Baking Powder
Makes 1 teaspoon. Increase proportionately as needed.
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Sift together all of the ingredients and use immediately.
One last thing I didn’t know is that these ingredients have a shelf life and should be used up within 6 months or discarded. Store in a sealed, airtight container in a cool, dark place.
Actually, there is so much more to non-yeast leavening agents which form carbon dioxide bubbles that cause your baked goods to rise. And there’s acid reaction if you are using things like buttermilk or yogurt in your batter or dough. It’s all too much for me to take in at once, much less remember. So we’ll save it for another post that will include making a savory quick bread. I promise.
Other White Stuff
The two plants in my new white garden that are flourishing and being ignored by deer are the Cosmos and Victoria White Salvia, both annuals but I’ve read that the cleome reseeds itself. However, when you see how many seeds it produces, you will most likely not allow too many of the seed pods to burst.
The white roses are a favorite of the deer living in the woods just across the street. I’m trying to sprinkle homemade deer repellent regularly (you’d think I’m a product of Mother Earth News, but I haven’t had a subscription since I moved to the country!). I take some empty orange juice bottles and fill them with water, then add 1 crushed clove of garlic, a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, a squirt of dish washing liquid, and 1 egg. Shake it up, place in the sun for a few days. Lewis drilled holes in one of the tops for me and it acts as a sprinkler. No need to strain and put in a sprayer. I don’t even clean them out because the horrendous smell just gets the next batch going. The hard part is sticking to the program and reapplying after every rain and as new growth appears.
Two words of caution learned from experience:
1.Add the dish liquid AFTER the water and
2.Shake the container with an UNDRILLED top on.
July 13, 2012
We are inundated with small mammals this year. My guess is that the mild winter did not kill off the less hardy of the populations. They are just chewing through the plastic deer netting surrounding the greenhouse and have eaten almost everything this Spring and Summer, leaving only the onions, shallots, garlic, potatoes, herbs and Swiss chard.
The capture count stands at 7 ground hogs, 5 raccoons, 3 possums and 1 large rabbit. There is at least 1 more medium-sized ground hog out there – Lewis says there are hundreds, but I will remain optimistically naive and plant some late tomatoes. Oh, and I’ll be praying for rain.
June 7, 2012
Last Saturday was a delightful surprise: Earthly Delights. Wow, what a place. This private home is opened up each year for a self-guided tour of the gardens, lectures by the horticultural intelligentsia and upscale vendors selling gorgeous plants and antiques. Jerry Fritz, of Linden Hill Gardens, told me about this and I’ve had it marked on my calender. What an inspirational day.
The owners have quite a hobby collecting eclectic garden-style antiques from around the world and their finds are scattered throughout the house and gardens.
Celebrity Sightings: No Martha sightings, but I did butt in to a conversation that Anne Raver (of The New York Times et al.) was having with another lecture attendee about gluten. I pretended that she was a regular person and contributed all I knew about vital wheat gluten. Anne also pretended that I was a regular person and not an eavesdropping know-it-all. The other celebrity there that I do actually know was Jerry Fritz, a regular on Martha Stewart Television and Radio.
Here’s Jerry (on the right) with Jess, the nursery manager and Evan Fritz, Jerry’s son. Visit them at Linden Hill Gardens in Ottsville, PA. You’ll be delighted by their fabulous plants!
End Note: Here is my own humble earthly delight.
March 7, 2012
Continuing with Moroccan cuisine, I want to give you my recipe for ras el hanout. It is a spice blend that means “top of the shop” and varies by the shop or cook that is devising it. The best contains up to 25 spices, however, you may combine as many as you wish. Except for the mace, saffron (expensive and a flavor that I am not fond of on it’s own), lavender and roses, the spices listed in this recipe should grace any well-stocked pantry for they are used in cuisines from Mexico to Thailand. I didn’t have mace or allspice and won’t lose any sleep over it.
Ras el Hanout
1 tablespoon coriander seed
1 tablespoon cumin seed
1 tablespoon whole black pepper
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
12 cardamom, seeds only
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon dried ground ginger
2″ piece cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon whole mace
1/2 teaspoon whole nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon dried ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
10 saffron threads
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons dried rosebuds
1 tablespoon dried lavender
Roast the coriander, cumin, black pepper, allspice, fennel and cardamom in a dry skillet on medium heat for a few minutes until toasted. Place all of the spices in a spice/coffee grinder and process until ground fine. Store in an airtight container.
Hope you’ve made your preserved lemons because when they’re ready in a few weeks, we’re going to make harissa, get out our tagine and make a Moroccan feast. Subscribe above so that you receive an email when I post the recipes in April.
Note: I recommend searching out an Indian grocery store for their excellent prices and inventory that are far better than the supermarket baking aisle. A mail order source is Kalustyans in New York City.
March 2, 2012
Students often ask me what my favorite cuisine is and invariably I answer Moroccan. I love the not too sour and slightly sweet with a medium to hot spiciness taste sensations. The recipes are adaptable to the seasons and pretty quick to pull together.
One ingredient, however, that you must plan for a month ahead of time is preserved lemons. They can be purchased at great cost and some searching. Forget that, for here is a recipe that can be quickly made at home with items from the market.
Please use organic lemons and look for the smallest ones with thin skins. If you can find organic Meyer lemons, I’m jealous.
12 organic lemons
1/2 cup course sea salt
Cut 6 of the lemons in half cross-wise and then on the cut side make a cross almost to the tip of the lemon. Open slightly and fill with salt. Place them in a sterilized glass container and cover with the remaining salt. Squeeze the remaining lemons and add the juice to the jar. Press down firmly so that the lemons on the top are submerged. Place in a dark cupboard for one month. Shake every few days. Store in the refrigerator for 6 months.
Note: The pulp is discarded and just the rind of the lemons is used in Moroccan cooking. In the photo I’ve added bay leaves and Thai dried hot peppers to really spice it up!