Tuesday, October 25, 2016


Lately I've been switching up ingredients in my usual baking routine and I have been enjoying the results immensely.

First, I cooked all the sweet potatoes from my farm share, all six pounds, and puréed them in the food processor. With the first two cups I made a batch of pumpkin bread but with, of course, sweet potato. And it was really, really good. I froze the rest of the sweet potato purée: three cups for a pie and two more cups for another batch of bread.

Today I made bread, using Legion and my usual recipe but, on a whim, I'd bought Sprouted Wheat Flour. Sprouted grains are supposed to have improved bioavailability of nutrients. So instead of the whole wheat flour I usually use, this batch was bread flour and sprouted wheat flour. And all I can say is...Whoa.

The flavor and texture are so different! The bread is softer, and moister, and it smells really rich. I might have to do this all the time. Regardless of whether or not you believe there are nutritional advantages, the taste is certainly worth it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Pickled Beets, Always More Work Than I Think

The last distribution of the farm share was yesterday and there were no more beets. That meant that I could get all the beets I'd been saving pickled, finally. I have a note next to my recipe to double the liquid, which I did. But, first, I had to make my own pickling spice as I seem to have run out. I couldn't find any in the cupboard.

Pickling spice: bay, cinnamon stick, coriander seeds, cardamom, mustard seeds, dill seeds, whole allspice, cloves, ground ginger, crushed red pepper, and black peppercorns. Some people also add juniper berries which is one of the reasons I don't often buy it pre-made. No sense in making something to which I'm allergic!

So. Using the recipe for pickled beets in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, but doubling the liquid, I made enough pickled beets to fill three quart jars. The beets themselves took a long time to cook and slip the skins off. If I had to guess, I'd say that they longer they were in the fridge, the harder it was to remove the skins.

What do I have left? Six pounds of sweet potatoes. Two large bowls of squash: 3 butternut, 5 delicata, 2 acorn, 3 carnival. 3 cobs of popcorn. About 5 pounds of onions. 6 leeks and 2 bunches of scallions. Some escarole, lettuce, arugula, kale, chard, parsley, bok choy, and broccoli. 1 green pepper and about 6 red meat radishes. Nothing particularly cannable. Unless I want to cube up the squash and can that. Maybe...

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Last Batch of the Season

Of caponata. Maybe?

I had three small eggplants, a green pepper, and five tomatoes from the farm which got converted into caponata today. These, plus onion, celery, capers, olives, vinegar, lemon juice and sugar made 8 cups. When I first got the recipe from Roxanne, the amount of vinegar was listed as 1/4 cup. In the book, it says one cup. That seemed like a lot, having subsequently tasted the end result. So today for one batch I only added 1/2 cup, and I tested the pH to make sure it was acidic enough to can. Which it was. I think these 8 jars will be part of my gift stash.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Catching Up

Two days ago I picked up the farm share. There are only two more weeks left after this one, and things are definitely winding down. There were very few tomatoes left, but lots of kale and escarole. This was also probably the last week for green beans. I came home with a few small eggplants, a few tomatoes, 1 quart cherry tomatoes, 2 quarts green beans, 5 tomatillos, 3 serrano peppers, 4 sweet peppers, 4 squashes, half a pint of raspberries, beets, escarole, kale, chard, lettuce, parsley, cilantro, dill, onions, garlic, leeks and scallions. I have some things set aside to make probably the last batch of caponata, and I'm slowly working through the rest.

Today after work I made another half-batch of salsa verde. The vegetables are first roasted for about 8 minutes under the broiler and then puréed with the vinegar, cilantro, lime juice, and cumin. As before, I got 2 half-pint jars and 1 half-cup jar out of that.

Other things that have gone on this week: I made lobster mac and cheese, which is terrific drizzled with white truffle oil. Along with that I tried macarons again, getting a little better this time. I used up the leftover honey lemon ganache I'd used on my coffee cake I'd made for the fair. When I ran out of ganache, I filled the macarons with strawberry jam.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Not What They Had in Mind

Today, well, starting yesterday, I made a pumpkin pie to enter in the fair's pumpkin pie cook-off. I made the eggnog from scratch yesterday and let it rest overnight. I made the pie crust with half butter and half leaf lard, and let that rest overnight as well. This morning I made the filling, using my favorite recipe with the eggnog and sweetened condensed milk. Then I suffered a series of technical difficulties.

First, I had intended that the recipe would make two pies, with one being a back up in case something happened on the drive up. It didn't. It made one very nice pie and there was only a little left over. Since I had the crusts prepared for two pies, I pulled out some pumpkin purée from the freezer, added the rest of the eggnog I'd made, some spices, and some cornstarch, and made a second pie. Which, since the recipe was all over the place, I didn't bring as a back up.

The next issue was that I made a lot of cute leaf and acorn cutouts to put around the pie. They took less time in the oven than anticipated and therefore most of them burned. Whoops. So I used what didn't burn and made a central design. Here's my pie.
The second pie got baked and the last of the filling and the dough got made into little tiny pumpkin tarts in ramekins. Very cute.

This afternoon the youngerchild had something to do so was dropped off two hours early, with homework. This enabled me to drive to Topsfield to get the pie in by 6 pm. My husband then made arrangements to get the youngerchild by 7 pm. The judging, which I'd hoped I could sit through, was closed to the public so I spent 3 hours wandering around the fair by myself. I watched the Mounties do their musical ride and teams of oxen pull progressively heavier weights - the last two teams were pulling 10,000 pounds. It's amazing. Then I went back for the pie announcement.

Sadly, I did not win anything. I did get some feedback. They said the crust was cooked nicely but didn't have enough flavor (which I read as, "needs more butter") and the filling was "too spicy." Everyone has an image in their mind of how something should be. Apparently my image for pumpkin pie isn't the same as the judges'. That's okay, I like my pie the way it is.

Saturday, October 1, 2016


It's rainy and cold today, which is just the day to go to the fair if you don't like the crowds. Which is exactly how we like it! We generally avoid the midway and the rides so the rain doesn't bother us.

Salsa Verde
Part of the collection of strawberry jams
Elderberry Jelly
Strawberry Jam
First off, the canning results: First place for salsa (salsa verde), sweet relish (zucchini relish), and "other" jelly (elderberry). Second place for the collection of 3 jams (variations on strawberry), apricot jam, and "other" pickled vegetables (carrots).  Third place for strawberry jam and raspberry jam. The dill pickles and the bread and butter pickles didn't place. The judges did something different this year. There were no Honorable Mentions, and if they didn't think a category didn't have a first place entrant they just didn't fill it. Some categories only had a third place awarded. Many categories had multiple winners in each place. It was unusual; I've not seen anything like it before.

Apricot Jam
Honey Lemon Almond Coffee Cake
Next, to the bee house for the baking with honey competition! I'm quite pleased to report that the Honey Lemon Almond cake won the coffee cake class and the Honey Whole Wheat Bread placed second in the whole grain yeast bread class. And I got some suggestions for a class to take this winter that isn't far from home and covers top bar hives.

Dilled Carrots
For the rest of the day we wandered around, ate fair food, watched emus race and female lumberjacks chop up logs. We fell in love with the rabbits, as always, and watched a chick hatch. And we rode an elephant. It was an odd collection of things.
Zucchini Relish
Raspberry Jam

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Baking with Honey

This morning I finished up the honey lemon almond cake and brought it and the bread up to the Topsfield Fairgrounds. The cake was made yesterday, and then I put it in the fridge until this morning when I could make the ganache and finish it up. Here's the final result:
For the ganache, I used honey instead of corn syrup as the invert sugar even though the rules exempt the frostings from the requirement that at least 1/4 of the sweetener be honey. I thought it would round out the flavor nicely. And the black walnuts are some of my foraged stash. They smell so lovely when they're chopped and I think the stronger flavor of the black walnuts stands out against this very dense cake.

Here's the bread from yesterday as well. I took the one that I salvaged mid-bake so it wouldn't have parchment stuck to it and entered it.
I will find out in two days how my canned goods and these baked goods did and will report back!