Friday, July 08, 2016

Pollinator Garden



Today I planted a pollinator garden to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service and to take my mind and heart off of the horrible violence in the news today.    I'm tired of reading preachy facebook posts from people who think they know all the answers.   I sure know I don't have all the answers, but I got some seeds from the NPS, and planted them in the garden of our lake house, which is on the shore of Lake Superior in the Keweenaw.   Hope they grow!


The seed pack included lupinus perennis aka wild lupine which I see growing all over the Keweenaw. There was also Asclepias tuberosa  which we know as butterfly weed, Rudbeckia hirta or black eyed Susan, Monarda fistulosa, which is wild bergamot and Solidago canadensis or Canadian goldenrod.  Here's my garden located on the map!


To find out more about the project, check out the Pollinator Project.    Also you can get free seeds from the National Park Service.   Find your park!  Hopefully, a year from now I will see some flowers in my garden and remember that even though there is evil in the world, there is also good people and love and flowers.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Strawberry Shortcake with Sweet Cream Biscuits and Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

I got home from a business trip yesterday with strawberries on my mind.  We've had odd weather this spring, and a local berry farm said it was important to pick berries now while we can.  So I took their good advice and stopped there to pick some on my way home from the airport.


I was looking for a recipe like Zingerman's Sweet Cream Biscuits but found an easier recipe on The Kitchn that required just one bowl.   I was tired after all that travel after all, plus I liked that it was a bit lighter with just heavy cream for all the fat.   And I could save some for whipped cream on top.


Cream Biscuits

Makes 8 biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (divided)


Place a layer of parchment paper across the bottom and up 2 sides of an 8x8-inch pan. Preheat oven to 425°F.  In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients until combined. Add the cream: Pour in all but 1/4 cup of the cream. Stir until the dough is shaggy, then add the remaining cream and stir to combine. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface. Knead the dough for about 30 seconds, just until it all comes together. Form the dough: Shape dough into a rectangle, about 12 inches long and 4 inches wide. Cut it in half lengthwise, then cut each piece into 4 pieces horizontally. Place each of the pieces in the prepared pan. Transfer the pan to the oven, and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden.

I still had some berries left, so I tried David Leibovitz's strawberry yogurt.  He's right, this isn't frozen yogurt you can get at the mall.   I can't wait to check out his book The Perfect Scoop.  I made some changes to make it easier and quicker.  



Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
makes 1 quart

1 pound strawberries, rinsed and hulled
2/3 cup  sugar
 2 teaspoons vodka
1 cup plain 2 % milk Greek style yogurt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Slice the strawberries into small pieces. Toss in a bowl with the sugar and vodka until the sugar begins to dissolve. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 3o minutes, stirring every so often. Transfer the strawberries and their juice to a blender r. Add the yogurt and fresh lemon juice. Pulse the machine until the mixture is smooth. If you wish, press mixture through a mesh strainer to remove any seeds. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

I love strawberry season!

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Rhubarb Jam with Susan



Rhubarb is one of my very favorite things to eat.   Of course, there is pie....



I made these pies earlier in the season to celebrate the Kentucky Derby and for a woman that won my silent auction donation of "Pie Of The Month" at church.   

Today, I've got a canning project lined up with my friend Susan.   I usually can stewed rhubarb, which I like to eat with yogurt and granola in the morning, but I haven't the past couple years.  I've gotten away from canning things only I will eat around here.  Taking a stroll down memory lane,  I am humored by my rhubarb canning posts from years past.   There's this one, about me trying to can rhubarb in mid May for a farmer's market demo during a bad storm.   And then there was another year when I was doing the same thing  and there was a tornado warning.  That day, a bridge washed out on Maple Rd. in Ann Arbor.   It's only fitting that we got a ton of rain yesterday and we are under a small stream flood advisory in Washtenaw County and the forecast shows more rain for today. Susan and I are going to make rhubarb jam, because she has fond memories of doing the same with her Grandma when she was a little girl.   I am fired up to make jam myself since I spent some time last weekend at the Jam Pot in Eagle River.  Plus, I think the family will eat it.   




I am inspired rhubarb jam inspired by a couple recipes I have seen on the internet and in my canning book collection.   First, I found a recipe in Marissa McClellan's canning blog "Food In Jars".   (if you haven't yet checked out any of her canning cookbooks, you should!).   I liked the combination of vanilla bean and Earl Grey tea, but I don't use commercial pectin.   I looked in another favorite canning cookbook, Linda Ziedrich's Joy of Jams since she and I are of the same mind about commercial pectin and her recipe doesn't have any added, but calls for overnight maceration a la Mes Confitures.   I don't have time for that....I am going to pick rhubarb this morning at my friend Dan and Joe and Lisa's house.   It's always good to have friends with rhubarb!  Some more googling around led me to Leite's Culinaria and another great cookbook in my collection, Urban Pantry  by Amy Pennington.   Her recipe has a lemon added for pectin.  I am not confident rhubarb has enough pectin in it to set on it's own, and I have seen conflicting reports on the internet, Some recipes say you need it, some say you don't.   I can't find any actual pectin content data, so I am going to play it safe and use lemon for good measure.  Plus, I think the flavor will be nice with the Earl Grey tea,   So, here's the recipe I developed for today's canning ventures.....

Rhubarb Earl Grey Jam with Vanilla
makes about 5 half pint jars

4 lb. rhubarb cut into small chunks
4 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. boiling water
2 Earl Grey tea bags
1 vanilla bean, split
1 lemon

Prepare canning jars and water bath canner. Since this recipe has a processing time of 5 minutes, the jars need to be sterilized.   Read here to learn about how to do this.  Combine rhubarb and sugar in a large bowl, mixing until all the rhubarb is covered.    Juice lemon, reserving seeds and rind  Put the seeds in a tea ball or tied in a cheesecloth pouch.   The seeds and peels will provide pectin.  Brew tea in water for a couple minutes.It should be strong.   Combine rhubarb mixture, tea, lemon juice, vanilla beans, lemon rinds, and lemon seeds in a  large pot, and bring to a boil.  Boil for 15 minutes, stirring constantly and skimming the foam.  Check temperature at this point.   The goal is to get to the gel temperature of 220 F.  (+8 F from the boiling point of water at your elevation.  For less than 1000 ft. use 212+8 = 220 F)  Reduce heat to simmer and stirring frequently, simmer until it reaches 220 F.   Remove from heat.   Remove rinds, seeds, and the vanilla beans.  Ladle in prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace, process in boiling water bath fore 5 minutes.

I just looked at the radar....of course there is a big storm coming our way! It's time to can some rhubarb, I guess.