Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Apple Chimichangas




Our apples are ripe for the picking on the apple trees.  If you are hungry for apple pie but don't know what you would do with a whole pie, try making some apple chimichangas.  Make a dozen or make one or two.  As long as you have apple pie filling tucked away in your fridge or freezer and small tortilla shells it is a quick dessert.    Choose apples that are local to your region so they are as fresh as possible.



Chimichangas
  • small tortilla shells
  • apple filling
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Place a few tablespoons of cool apple filling near the bottom of each tortilla and roll up burrito style, being sure to tuck in the sides. 
  2. Brush each chimichanga with melted butter and place on a skillet on low heat, turning them until browned on all sides.
  3. Combine sugar and cinnamon and spread on a flat bottomed bowl or plate. 
  4. Remove from skillet and roll in the combined sugar and cinnamon mixture.  
  5. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream if desired.
Apple Filling  ~ Makes about 5 cups
  • 8 cups peeled and chopped apples  (about 8 apples)  Our apples are Jonagold. 
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups cold water
  1. Combine apples and lemon juice and set aside.
  2. Combine sugars and cornstarch with cinnamon and salt in a large saucepan.  Slowly add water while stirring to eliminate lumps and bring to a boil.  
  3. Add apples and stir until the mixture comes to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes or until apples are tender crisp.  Do not stir more than necessary to avoid turning the apples to sauce. 
  4.  Remove from heat and cool. Filling will thicken more once cooled.  Refrigerate in jars or portion and freeze in freezer bags.   

Monday, September 29, 2014

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes


What a treat it was for me to have our youngest daughter surprise me with these wonderful delicious cupcakes that aren't really like a cupcake at all. They have the texture of pumpkin pie, dense and moist. Topped with whipped cream and pecans, it was the perfect dessert for my favorite season.
  • 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda


  1. mix pumpkin, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla and milk
  2. add the dry ingredients.
  3. fill 12 greased muffin tins.
  4. bake at 350 for 20 min
  5. cool in pan for 20, remove and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes. 
* We make our own spice blends, and this is what Emily used to make two teaspoons. 
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of each, cloves, ginger and nutmeg. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

BFTJ - He Giveth More Grace



  1. He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
    He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
    To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
    To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.
  2. When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
    When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
    When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
    Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
  3. Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
    Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
    Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
    The Father both thee and thy load will up bear.
  4. His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
    His power no boundary known unto men;
    For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
    He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
  5. Annie Johnson Flint.
  6. James 4:6
  7. This hymn has played over and over again in my mind over the past while.  In all of our lives there are daily challenges, large and small which God in HIs mercy gives us the grace and strength to face and overcome. 
  8.  I read up on the background of this hymn and found that the author experienced many difficult challenges throughout her life. She lost her parents as a very young child and as a teen was afflicted with arthritis. She loved music and pursued an career as a composer and pianist, however it wasn't long before the arthritis ended those dreams.  Ultimately, she took up writing poetry, often using her knuckles to punch the keys of a typewriter and put some of her poems to music.
  9. Indeed, she experienced the grace of God throughout all her challenges and now we have this lovely hymn to encourage us in our daily walk.
    1. His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
      His power no boundary known unto men;
      For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
      He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Apple Slab Pies for a Crowd - Serving the Kiev Symphony Orchestra and Chorus


Every once in a while special opportunities come our way. Earlier this year we were asked if we would be willing to prepare and serve a meal to a group of musicians from the Ukraine...and we said yes. 

A week before the event we met in the kitchen of the Chilliwack Alliance church to pre make some of the meal we would be serving to the members and some guests of the Kiev Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. This group arrived in Canada September 7th and September 9th was the date of their first Canadian Tour concert, and we had the joy of preparing and serving them dinner before the evening concert. We were so thankful that Kay joined us as this is a kitchen she is very familiar with and she was such a tremendous help.

This group of talented musicians has performed at 17 concerts so far. 
This evening they will be giving a concert at Knox Metropolitan in Regina. From there they will travel to Manitoba and on to Ontario,
You can find a list of all their upcoming concerts here.
We encourage you to attend one of the concerts in your area and please pray for them and the ministry of Music Mission Kiev.


At every concert across Canada there is a group of willing people who are preparing and serving a meal to these guests from the Ukraine. There is also a committee at each hosting venue who find a host home for these guests. Many have been so blessed through their music and many have been showing hospitality to these guests to Canada from the Ukraine. 


Our menu:
Cabbage and Swiss Chard Rolls
Farmer Sausage
Mashed Potatoes
Carrots with Dill and butter
Garden Salad
Fresh baked buns
Apple Slab Pie and ice cream

Back in the kitchen we were making Apple Slab Pies. There was lots of chatter and fun as we peeled and sliced up 25 pounds of apples.


Bowls were filled with slightly salted cold water to keep the apples from discoloring.

At another station in the kitchen pie dough was being made and rolled out.

Sugar, cinnamon and flour were stirred into the sliced apples and then placed into the pastry lined baking sheets. Pads of butter were placed over the apples.

Top crusts were added, edges were pinched, slashes were made, and an egg wash and sugar dusting made them ready to cover and freeze.


The morning of the event my friend Debbie also came to help us, and she and Marg kept watch. We were so thankful for everyone who willingly came to help.
Baked to perfection.

Recipe is for 4 slab pies. Each pie cuts into 24 pieces.

  • 25 pounds apples
  • 5 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 10 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup butter
For the pie crust: (Tip: When preparing this large amount of pastry make 1/2 a recipe at a time which is how the instructions are given below. If you still feel it's too big a recipe to work with divide the whole recipe into 4) 
  • 22 cups flour
  • 8 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 4 pounds Tenderflake, (lard)very cold 
  • 4 tbsp vinegar
  • 4 eggs
  • cold water
  1. Prepare 3-4 over sized bowls with cold water and a few teaspoons of salt. This will be used to keep the apples from getting brown while peeling and cutting.
  2. Peel and slice apples. We used several apple peelers which peel, slice and core the apples quickly. Soak apples in slightly salted cold water. Set aside.
  3. Stir together the white sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  4. To make the pastry divide the flour, salt, brown sugar and baking powder evenly between 2 large mixing bowls. Stir well to mix.
  5. Cut 1/2 of the Tenderflake into each amount of flour until it resembles coarse oatmeal. (Tip: Using a large cheese grater works really well for this. Instead of using a pastry blender, grate your cold Tenderflake into the flour. This gives you small even pieces.)
  6. Place the vinegar and eggs in a large glass measuring cup and whisk. Add enough cold water to make 4 cups. Whisk again.
  7. Slowly pour 1/2 of this mixture into one bowl of flour/Tenderflake mixture and stir until the pastry comes together. With you hands pull together and form a ball. Add the remaining liquid to the other bowl of flour and Tenderflake. Again stir and then pull pastry together into a ball.
  8. Divide each ball into 4 equal pieces. This will give you 2 pieces for each of 4 pans.
  9. On a lightly floured board roll out pastry to fit a 13"x18" baking pan. Once the dough is rolled out, roll it around your rolling pin, place it at one end of the pan and unroll it onto the pan. Line all four pans with pastry.
  10. Drain apples well. Add the sugar, flour and cinnamon mixture to the apples and stir well to coat.
  11. Divide the apples between the 4 pans lined with pastry.
  12. Cut butter into little chunks and 'dot' over apples.
  13. Next roll out the remaining pastry to make the top crusts. Again the easiest way to place this large piece of pastry is to roll it up on your rolling pin and unroll it over the apples. 
  14. Pinch the edges all the way around.
  15. Brush pies with an egg wash mixture of 4 eggs and 4 teaspoons milk or cream. Sprinkle lightly with raw sugar. Slash top crusts.
  16. To bake immediately, preheat oven to 375º F. Bake for 1 hour or until golden brown and you can see the juice from the apples bubbling clear and gelling around the edges. Poke a knife into one of the slash marks to make sure apples are tender.
  17. To freeze and bake later: (this is what we did) Cover pies with parchment and then wrap with foil. Place in a large freezer bag and place in freezer. When ready to bake preheat oven to 375º F. Unwrap pies and bake from frozen for 1 1/2 hours. Poke pies to see if apples are done. If the apples are not soft and if the pastry is still light continue to bake checking every 10 minutes. 
Let us know if you were able to attend a concert. Maybe some of you helped make and serve a meal or helped out in some other way at one of the concerts. We'd enjoy hearing about it.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Flashback Friday..Autumn Apple Cake



For Flashback Friday I am re-introducing this Autumn Apple Cake. It is the right season when apples are available fresh from the orchards. This is a very moist cake, a recipe from my sister in law.
There are so many varieties of apples in the store and in our backyards right now. I think any kind of apple will do.
This cake smells wonderful as it is baking and your kitchen will be filled with wonderful aromas!
For dessert hubby and I enjoyed a piece of this cake with a dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce. So delicious!
  • 2/3 cup butter 
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 3 cups apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped nuts..I used pecans, walnuts would be good too
  1. Cream together butter, sugar. Add eggs, and vanilla and beat till well blended.
  2. Stir in dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk. Fold in chopped apples and nuts.
  3. Pour into a 9" by 13" greased pan and sprinkle topping over cake.
  4. Bake in 350 oven for 40 minutes.
  5. Cool, serve with whipped topping and a drizzle of caramel sauce if you like.
Topping:
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tsp flour
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts
  • 1/4 cup coconut
  • 1/4 cup toffee bits
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • Crumble this together and sprinkle over cake batter.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tortellini and Cauliflower Bake


This casserole was inspired by a recipe called Cauliflower Tortelloni Cheese on Yummly Recipes. I tried it using beef tortellini, making my own cheese sauce and a combination of grated cheeses. With summer days coming to an end, there is a good feeling about going back to comfort foods in the kitchen.

Ingredients:
  • 4 cups cauliflower, cut bite size
  • 1 (350 g / 12 oz) package tortellini of choice
  • 1 (280 g/ 10 oz)  package fresh spinach
  • 1 1/2  cups combination of mozzarella, cheddar and Monterrey Jack Cheese 
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
  • freeze dried basil
Cheese Sauce:
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups combination of mozzarella, cheddar and Monterrey Jack Cheese
  • 1 tsp freeze dried basil
Method:
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. 
  2. In the meantime, in a saucepan, melt butter, stir in garlic and cook 30 seconds, stirring. 
  3. Add flour, stirring in with whisk, gradually adding the milk and stirring until smooth. Add salt, cheese and basil and continue stirring until bubbly. Set aside. 
  4. To boiling water in large pot, add cauliflower and bring to boil again, then add tortellini.
  5. Bring to boil once more, cooking cauliflower and tortellini 5 minutes, then add spinach and cook until wilted.
  6. Drain and transfer pasta and vegetables into 2.5 liter /quart oven proof dish.
  7. Pour cheese sauce over top and mix in. Top with grated cheese and tomatoes. Sprinkle with extra basil. 
  8. Bake at 375 F for 20 - 30 minutes. Serves 5

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Leek and bacon smashed potatoes


With the cooler weather it's time to add some comfort food to the menu.
Here's a delicious way to dress up mashed potatoes.

  • 4 medium potatoes partially peeled
  • salt 
  • 4 slices bacon, cut into small pieces and fried until crisp
  • 1 large leek, white and pale green part only, washed, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced 
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • warm milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Partially peel potatoes. ( I like having a bit of the potato skins peeping through the creamy white.)
  2. Place in a pan with cold water and salt to taste, bring to a boil and simmer until tender.
  3. While potatoes are cooking, place bacon pieces in a fry pan and cook until crisp.
  4. Remove bacon to a paper towel with a slotted spoon.
  5. Add sliced leeks and minced garlic to bacon fat and saute over medium heat until leeks are soft and beginning to brown.
  6. Drain potatoes and mash, add sour cream and butter and enough warm milk to make a rough mash.  For these potatoes, a rougher mash with a few lumps is desirable.
  7. Add bacon, leeks, garlic and some of the bacon fat to the mashed potatoes and mix well.
  8. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve. Serves 3-4

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"Julie's Flour Blend" Gluten Free (and bread/bun recipe)

I have been working at coming up with an all-purpose flour mix that I could trust.  I have finally come up with a blend that I am really happy with. It is so much easier to reach for ONE flour container instead of several.
I will be offering updated and new recipes using my flour blend.

Here is  "Julie's Flour Blend" 
  • 1 cup millet flour
  • 1 cup white bean flour (grind your own navy beans (small white beans from grocery store) 
  • 1 cup brown rice flour 
  • 1 cup potato starch 
  • 1 cup tapioca starch 
  • 1/2 cup white rice flour 
  • 1/2  cup cornstarch 
  • 3 tbsp. potato flour 
  • NOTE --  I did not include xanthan gum because the amount needed is not the same for bread as it is for cakes and different again for cookies. So I prefer to add it in each recipe.  

I worked until I had a blend that was perfect for bread - and this one is.  I also worked with every tweek and trick I could come up with to ensure a fool-proof loaf of bread that I, along with everyone else could enjoy eating. I have made this bread countless times - it turns out the same every time and has never failed.
It rises well, has a mild wheat-like flavour, has a nice crumb (not cake-like)  is springy like wheat bread,  has a soft texture and is not at all gummy - just a wheat-like chewy.

My Winner's Bread - a basic bread -slices/toasts/freezes well 

  • 1/4 cup milk 
  • 3/4 cup water 
  • 1 tsp sugar 
  • 1 tsp unflavoured gelatin 
  • 1 1/2 tbsp reg. yeast (not quick rise) 
  • 1 egg 
  • 1/8 cup butter (trick - cut 1/4 cup off a pound of butter then cut it in half diagonally for 1/8 cup butter)
  • 1 tbsp honey 
  • 1 1/2 cup Julie's Flour Blend 
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum  (too much xanthan  gum can make bread fall) 
  • 3/4 tsp salt 
  • 2 tsp powder egg replacer 
  • 1 tsp baking powder 
  1. Heat milk and water -- I find 50 sec. in my microwave brings it to a perfect temp. -- if you have chlorine in your water do not use it for yeast baking - it hinders the yeast from rising. 
  2. Add mixed sugar/gelatin/yeast to warm fluids and let proof 
  3. Add room temp. egg and honey and softened butter to mixer bowl and mix. 
  4. Stir proofed yeast and add to liquids. 
  5. Add mixed dry ingredients, stir until blended 
  6. Beat on high for 6 minutes  -- dough will look smooth and stretchy 
  7. Line glass loaf pan with parchment paper (don't have to line ends) 
  8. Scrape dough into pan and  wet your hands under warm water to smooth top of loaf. 
  9. Let rise on range top beside a steaming pan of water. 
  10. It will take about 1/2 hour to rise over the top of the pan so make sure you allow time to pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. 
  11. When loaf rounds top of pan, place loaf in microwave on high for 60 seconds,  then straight into pre-heated oven. 
  12. Let bake for about 40 minutes.   Remove from oven, remove loaf from pan and paper and let cool completely on wire racks before slicing. 



 We were planning a family wiener roast and I wanted a nice hot dog bun.
Because GF dough is much softer than reg wheat dough you cannot just shape buns on a pan so I
created little boats out of parchment paper.   I cut the parchement paper 7 1/2" x 4 1/2 " - folding it in half lengthwise, then the long edges to meet at the centre, then folded up the ends and stapled them in place. (I have contacted/corresponded with someone who designs/manufacturers baking pans to see if he will make a hot dog pan according to my specifications )  In the meantime I found my parchment trays worked well and can be reused several times.  Make sure you tuck them up against each other in a pan - I found that 6 fit snug in my glass cake pan (11 1/2" x 7 1/2". The ends will hold, its the sides that will spread with the rising dough if not tucked up against each other.

One bread recipe makes 6 hot dog buns.



The buns were enjoyed by both gluten-free and wheat eaters ... See how springy the bun is?


My grandgirls love pizza buns and these worked great. I sliced them, lined them up on parchment paper on a cookie rack and spread them with our favourite pizza sauce and grated cheese.  



 I bought a Whoopie  Pie pan  and tried it for baking buns.  The indents are not very deep but deep enough to keep the bun rising each in their 'space'. The bun size would be perfect as mini hamburger buns or anything else you choose to do with them!

One bread recipe makes 12 buns - 1 tbsp. in each space and dough smoothed with wet hand to fill indent.




NOTE :  I would suggest that you try this bread/bun recipe exactly as is before you try to change it -  adding or substituting ingredients.   The margin between success and fail in GF yeast baking is very narrow - I know this recipe works !   If you make changes and are happy with the results post a comment and let the rest of us know.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Tuscan Tomato & Basil Soup


We have a favorite soup that comes from the Safeway deli...a zippy tomato and basil bisque.  Here's my version of that soup...one I make in fall when the tomatoes are plentiful.  I'm sure it could also be made with canned tomatoes...but fresh is always better.  It also freezes well...to be enjoyed later. 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium sized butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 4 cups peeled and diced fresh tomatoes (or 4 cups canned diced tomatoes)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon thyme or oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup cream (or 1/2 cup milk and  1/2 cup sour cream)

Method
  1. Heat olive oil in large pot, over medium heat.
  2. Add garlic, onion and bell pepper.  Cook and stir for about 10 minutes, or until soft.  
  3. Add broth, squash, tomatoes, basil and thyme (or oregano).
  4. Cover and simmer for about 35 minutes, or until very tender. 
  5. Purée soup in a blender (in small batches).
  6. Return pot to stove and re-heat on medium-low heat.
  7. Add seasonings and cream and heat until steaming, stirring as necessary.
 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Bread for the Journey


On his deathbed the famous evangelist Dwight L Moody told Will Thompson, the composer of this hymn..that he would have rather written this hymn than anything he had been able to do in his life. High praise from someone as accomplished as Moody.

  1. Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
    Calling for you and for me;
    See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching,
    Watching for you and for me.
    • Refrain:
      Come home, come home,
      You who are weary, come home;
      Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
      Calling, O sinner, come home!
  2. Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading,
    Pleading for you and for me?
    Why should we linger and heed not His mercies,
    Mercies for you and for me?
  3. Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing,
    Passing from you and from me;
    Shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming,
    Coming for you and for me.
  4. Oh, for the wonderful love He has promised,
    Promised for you and for me!
    Though we have sinned, He has mercy and pardon,
    Pardon for you and for me.
  5. This hymn is a calling from Jesus for all of us to come and accept God's mercies. It is our choice, no force, no harshness, only a soft and tender invitation.
  6. He is waiting, He is watching for you and me..

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Damson Plums ~ jam, plum sauce, and vinaigrette

Damson plums are a beautiful fruit from a bygone era...and often hard to find in this modern age. They are a European variety of plum that originated in England and around the Black Sea.  Damson plums are small, round and dark purple with intense colour and flavour...which makes them perfect for jams, jellies and preserves.
 
 

Here in the Fraser Valley, they are ripe for the picking in September...just as summer is about over. We happen to have friends with Damson plum trees on their yard and have enjoyed many delicious gourmet treats from these wee plums in recent years.  

 
 
The downside to preserving Damsons is that most varieties are not freestone, so removing the pits can be a bit of a challenge.  The simplest way to do that is to simmer the plums and then pick out the pits by hand.  Here's how:

  • Wash and pick over the plums.
  • For every 8 cups of  plums add 3 cups water. 
  • Combine the plums and water in a large heavy-bottomed pot. 
  • Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Allow to cool enough to handle and then fish out the pits.
*I put them through an old-fashioned food mill (the kind with the wooden pestle), and then removed the pits from the pulp left left behind with gloved hands. The pulp goes back into the plum mixture.

Damson Plum Jam:
  • 6 cups prepared plums
  • 4 cups sugar
Measure the plum puree into a large heavy-bottomed pot.  (For every cup of prepared plums, add 2/3 cup of sugar. You can cook up slightly larger or smaller batches than the one posted here.)
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
While stirring, continue to boil rapidly for 20 minutes...or until mixture coats the stirring spoon.
As the jam cooks, remove any pits you may have missed.
Remove from the heat; stir and skim for several minutes.
Pour into hot sterilized jars and seal.



This makes a soft-set jam...perfect for spreading on biscuits or breads.  Damson plum jam is also a great addition to sauces and dressings.


 Plum Sauce:

  • 1 cup plum jam
  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  1. Combine all ingredients.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat while stirring.
  3. Remove from heat.
  4. Allow to cool; store covered in the refrigerator.
*Serve with chicken or with pork.



Plum Vinaigrette Dressing: 
  • 5 tablespoons Damson plum jam
  • 1/4 cup white-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup canola or olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion
  •   salt and freshly ground pepper  to taste
  1. In a blender, pulse the preserves, vinegar, and mustard until smooth.
  2. Slowly add the oil until smooth. 
  3. Add the onions, salt, and pepper; pulse briefly. 
  4. Refrigerate in a bottle.
This dressing goes well with a salad of mixed greens, chopped red onion, fruit (peaches or nectarines), feta cheese and toasted almonds or pecans.
 
* * * * * 
 
Those are a few of the Damson plum dishes we have enjoyed here recently.  These are not my grandma's Damson plum recipes however.  She baked Platz (coffee cake) using this delectable fruit.  It tasted great but should have come with a warning attached...beware of pits!
 
Have you got a Damson plum memory, recipe or story you would like to share with us?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Raisin Bread or Raisin Apple Bread (Flashback Friday)


For some time now we have wondered how we could highlight some of the recipes we eagerly published when we began posting. There is something about going back and remembering those first steps of writing recipes out in our own words, plating, taking photos, and how we felt when we realized the unique kinship amongst us, even with some of us never having met in person. We do not ever want to forget those initial moments of delight when we saw there were readers who acknowledged our efforts. This is why it was difficult to know just how to re-publish some of the
recipes that, if nothing else, needed some order, some reformatting to how we currently post recipes.

So this is what we decided to do. Every Friday we will update a favorite recipe using our current, easier to read, format and most likely a new photo. In other words, the recipe will be edited and republished by simply changing the publishing date on the original. This method will not delete the comments along the way, yet we hope this will be a way to keep the recipes looking current and consistent in style.

So, for our first Flashback Friday, we would like to share a recipe first posted on July 23, 2008. It is a
variation of a recipe found in the Mennonite Treasury (page 26) and includes a twist with an apple filling that takes a raisin loaf a step further. 

Ingredients:
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon or rind of 1 lemon
  • 4 – 4 ¼ cups flour, divided
  • 2 Tbsp instant yeast*
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups raisins (rinsed with hot water) 
* about the yeast - the original recipe calls for 1 pkg yeast, letting it proof in warm water first. If you use water, adjust the milk or flour. 

Method:
  1. Melt butter and add milk to a combined warm temperature.
  2. Beat eggs and sugar, adding salt, cinnamon (or zest) and gradually the liquids.
  3. Stir in 2 cups flour mixed with instant yeast.
  4. Add rinsed raisins and then the rest of the flour, mixing until dough comes together. This works best with the dough hook attachment if you are doing it in a mixer.
  5. Dust with extra flour if necessary to shape. Cover with tea towel and plastic bag and let rise at room temperature for about 1 –1 ½ hours.
  6. Divide into two or three parts. If you are only making raisin bread, simply shape each part into a loaf. This will make two medium or three small loaves.
  7. Cover and let rise until dough comes near the top of the loaf pan, about 45 – 60 minutes.
  8. For a glossy look, beat an egg white with a fork and brush it over the tops, just before baking.
  9. Bake in pre-heated 325 F oven for 30 – 45 minutes depending on size of loaf pan. Remove from pan to cooling rack while hot.


Apple Filled Raisin Loaf

Ingredients: same dough as for raisin bread

Filling for one loaf:
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 ½ - 2 apples peeled and chopped into small tidbits
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
Method:
  1. Cook apples in butter for about 3 - 5 minutes, adding lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon. Let cool.
  2. For one loaf, roll out one third of the raisin bread dough into about a 12x12 inch square.
  3. Spread with apple filling, staying away an inch from edges, and roll up jelly roll style.
  4. Place seam side down on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and pinch ends under.
  5. Cover and let rise for about 30 minutes.
  6. Do an eggwash if desired just before baking. Bake in preheated 325 F oven for about 35 minutes. Allow to cool before dusting with icing sugar, if desired.



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Brie, Pear, and Arugula Pizza

This Brie, Pear and Arugula pizza would be great for an appetizer. I used a pound of store bought fresh pizza dough found in the deli section which really made this easy to make. If you want to make your own dough here's a link to one of Kathy's recipes for pizza dough.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of pizza dough
  • 1/2 cup red onion sliced thin
  • 1 small round of Brie (4 oz.) sliced.
  • 2-3 fresh pears cored and sliced
  • A handful of Arugula
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Olive oil



 Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Prepare pizza pan with a little olive oil to coat.
  3. Prepare a surface with a little flour to roll out your pizza dough to fit your pan.
  4. Transfer dough to pan and stretch to fit nicely.
  5. Top dough evenly with the red onion slices.
  6. Bake in oven for up to 12 minutes until the dough is golden.
  7. Remove from oven and turn the oven to broil.
  8. Carefully add the Brie and Pears evenly on the dough.
  9. Salt and pepper these ingredients to your taste.
  10. Scatter the Arugula on top of the Brie and Pears.
  11. Sprinkle with olive oil.
  12. Place pan back in oven set to broil and watch very carefully removing just after the Brie melts.
  13. Cut into serving portions and enjoy.






Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pie Pastry using Oil




There are always those times in the kitchen where the cook will scratch her head for ideas when she's run out of an important ingredient or is serving someone with diet restrictions. 
This pastry has no butter, lard or shortening but is made using vegetable oil. The pastry is easy to make, but there are a few tricks to rolling it out and fitting it into the pie plate. It bakes up tender and flakey. Once you've tried it...come back and let me know what you think.

This is enough dough for 2 single 9" pie crusts or one 9"with a bottom and top crust.
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour, measure it loosely, do not pack it down
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup, plus 1 tbsp vegetable oil, I like to use a glass measuring cup so that the liquid amount is exact
  • 4 tbsp ice water
  1. Measure first three dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
  2. Add oil and stir until the pastry begins to look lumpy.
  3. Add the ice water and continue to stir forming a soft dough. 
  4. IF the dough is dry and not coming together add 1 tsp more oil at a time. Do NOT add more water to make a wetter dough. 
  5. Cut 2 pieces of wax paper that are at least 12" long. Sprinkle lightly with flour and place dough in middle. Sprinkle lightly with flour and top with second piece of wax paper.
  6. Roll dough that is between the sheets of wax paper. Once you have your desired size of pastry rolled out, carefully peel back top piece of wax paper.
  7. Pull the pie plate close to the pastry and carefully lift and flip it into the pie plate, moving it gently  to fit the pan. Peel back the wax paper.
  8. Bake shell empty, or fill with desired filling, top with second crust if pie calls for a top crust and bake.




Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pumpkin Pudding


Autumn is here and so is pumpkin season. So many ways to use pumpkin, here is a very simple dessert that should please the pumpkin lovers in your family!
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 package (4 serving size) instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg..I like freshly grated
  1. Beat milk with dry pudding mix until thickened.
  2. Whisk in pumpkin puree and spices.
  3. Spoon into bowls and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  4. Serve with whipped topping and a dash of cinnamon or sprinkle toasted and chopped pecans over the whipped topping and drizzle with maple syrup. Both are delicious.
  5. Yields: 4 generous half cup servings..in case you are wondering why I only display 3 servings here is because I only have 3 of these fancy dishes, the last one was served in a plain dish:)




Monday, September 15, 2014

Quinoa and Apple Salad with Curry Rice Vinaigrette



Autumn is only one week away and so it is time to think about ingredients that showcase the bounty that is ready to harvest. Our apples are ready to pick and so I'm happy to make recipes that include apples. My friend Jen made this salad last fall for us at a camping weekend. This delicious healthy salad can be easily doubled or tripled to feed a crowd.
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries
  • 1 apple, diced
  • 1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese
Vinaigrette
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cups rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder (adjust to your preference)
  1. Place quinoa in a fine sieve. Rinse and drain. 
  2. In a medium saucepan add the quinoa to 1 1/2 cups boiling water, cover simmer about 12 - 15 minutes until all the water is absorbed.
  3. Place the dried cranberries/raisins on top of the hot quinoa to plump them up. Put the lid back on allow to come to room temperature.
  4. Add the chopped apple, the nuts and green onions and feta cheese.
  5. Mix the curry vinaigrette, toss with salad and refrigerate.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Bread for the Journey


It always amazes me how much the potted flowers depend on being watered to look beautiful all summer long. Daily sunshine and water keeps them going. As much as I love getting out into the garden to attend to the thirsty plants, there are days I loose track of time, I forget or I wrongly assume the little sprinkle of rain was enough, and soon those blooms give evidence of neglect.

The Bible tells us about a woman who was tired of going to the well every day. In reading of the account we know that she was speaking of physical thirst, but we also come to realize that she was searching for more than that. Jesus saw her heart and told her that . . .

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
In Matthew 5: 6 we read, 
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.

The woman at the well accepted the words of Jesus and many believed in Him because of her testimony. They obviously saw the new life in her. When the thirst in our soul takes us to the Living Water we find the spring that keeps on giving. Yes, we still need to drink, but it is right there . . . . strength, guidance and comfort in prayer and in God's Word as we worship Him in spirit and in truth.

Lord, you see the dry lips, the parched hearts in our souls, the thirst we have tried to quench in all the wrong places. Take our cup and fill it up to overflow.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Watermelon Cucumber salad




This salad is the perfect combination of the fresh flavours and textures of late summer.
I've brought it twice to potlucks and it proved to be a hit.
There's nothing fussy about making it which only involves stacking the ingredients in a clear glass bowl to showcase the colours.

  • chopped English cucumbers - I used the mini cukes which  tend to be sweeter. I quartered them lengthwise, then chopped them into 3/4" pieces. You'll need enough to cover the bottom of the bowl.
  • fresh blueberries - enough to cover the cucumbers
  • 1- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint sprinkled sparingly over the blueberries
  • cubed feta cheese cut into 1/2" cubes  (250 ml container, drained)
  • Watermelon cut into 3/4" cubes - use at least 2-3 cups 
  • Balsamic reduction (optional) It can be found in the vinegar section of the grocery store, 

  1. Find your prettiest glass bowl. My bowl held about 8-10 cups
  2. Layer ingredients in the order they are listed in. Use the mint sparingly as it can take over!
  3. To garnish the salad, sprinkle more chopped cucumber, and blueberries around the edge of the bowl and place a sprig of fresh mint in the center.
  4. Refrigerate for an hour or two before serving.
  5. If desired, pass the balsamic reduction to drizzle over the salad as a dressing.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Minestrone Soup



The fall is upon us once again, and what goes better with a crisp fall evening but a bowl of warm soup. This is a rich and flavorful hearty meatless soup that you can make completely vegetarian choosing vegetable broth. I like making soup on Fridays so we can have leftovers on the weekend.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red or green pepper, chopped
  • 2 small zucchini, chopped 
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups of low-sodium broth (vegetable, beef or chicken) I used beef
  • 4 cups of water 
  • 1 28 oz can of tomatoes
  • 1 19 0z can of black beans, drained
  • 1 19 0z can of kidney beans, drained
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 teaspoons basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 cups pasta, cooked
  • a handful or two of baby spinach
  • Hot sauce, optional
  • grated Parmesan cheese, optional
  1. In a large soup pot saute the vegetables until soft.
  2. Add the seasonings.
  3. Add the broth, tomatoes, water, beans and bay leaf. 
  4. Simmer for an hour. 
  5. Add the chopped fresh parsley and spinach.
  6. Serve the pasta in a separate bowl and people can add it to their bowls if they wish to have some.  I find that the pasta become to mushy if left in the soup. 
  7. Each person can add the cheese and hot sauce into their own bowl if they choose too. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cornflake Cookies


Cookies..I love them all! What is your favorite cookie?
I browsed through my Mom's old recipes and found this one that I have not made in a long time. I like finding old treasured recipes.
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup coconut
  • 1 1/2 cup cornflakes
  1. Whisk together first 4 ingredients and and set aside.
  2. In a medium sized bowl cream shortening and sugars till creamy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined.
  3. Stir in oats, coconut and cornflakes.
  4. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.
  5. Bake in 350º oven for 12 minutes.
  6. Cool completely on cooling racks. These cookies freeze well.
  7. Yields: 30




Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Belgian Endives



Endives have been around for thousands of years and very popular with Greeks, Romans and Egyptians. It is a green veggie that appears very much like lettuce, aside from the fact that it really is wavy. Endive is really a bitter leafy veggie which is usually utilized in salads or even consumed like a side dish. Just like various other greens, endive has many nutritional values.


Here's a fun appetizer that anyone can put together and your guests will love it.

Ingredients
  • 20 cooked shrimp
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion greens
  • 1 jalapeno (remove seeds)
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 firm rise avocado pitted and peeled
  • 3 small Belgian endives 
  1. Chop shrimp into 1/4 inch pieces
  2. Add shrimp, lime juice, onion greens, salt and jalapeno to a medium bowl.
  3. Stir to combine and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
  4. Separate endive leaves and chill in cool water while shrimp mixture is cooling.
  5. Prior to serving, cut avocado into a 1/4 inch cubes and fold into shrimp mixture.
  6. Arrange leaves on platter.
  7. Spoon about 2  teaspoons shrimp salad onto each leaf.
  8. Garnish with onion greens.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Balsamic Pork Chops


This is such a quick and easy recipe to do and tasty enough to serve to company. The gravy has a really nice flavor if you like Balsamic Vinegar. This amount serves 8 and can easily be adjusted to serve more or less. I would recommend that you use a high quality Balsamic vinegar from a specialty store. It makes a huge difference in the flavor.

  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 pork loin chops
  • salt
  • pepper
  • thyme
  • 2/3 cups of Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups of low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  1. Sprinkle the chops with desired amount of salt pepper and thyme.
  2. Heat your skillet, when the pan is hot add the oil and pork chops. 
  3. Brown for about 4 minutes per side. 
  4. Remove the pork chops onto a separate platter. Drain off the extra fat. 
  5. Add the balsamic vinegar to the hot pan and drippings. 
  6. Bring to a boil until the vinegar becomes a bit thicker, that only takes about half a minute.
  7. Add the cornstarch to the cold chicken broth and stir to dissolve.
  8. Add the chicken broth into the pan and stir until the gravy comes to boil and thickens.  Return the pork chops to the pan. Cook for another 15 minutes. 
  9. Serve with mashed potatoes a side of steamed vegetables.