Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pear Butter

After my recent post on preserving pears, I learned that I had not nearly exhausted the possibilities.  I ended up dehydrating more to grind up for a crumbly topping on oatmeal and muffins.  I canned loads of pear sauce and I had my first attempt with pear butter.  This stuff was worth making just to enjoy the smell that wafted through the house.  I never wanted it to be done simmering!

It ended up cooking down to about half, I canned 8 half pints in a water bath, just as you would regular jam.  As long as you have a good blender, you don’t even need to peel the pears.  I loved how it was super sweet without too much sweetener added, unlike common jam.  AND, no pectin requiredJ

10 pounds bartlett pears, cored
1 cup white grape juice
2 inches fresh ginger, quartered
1 cup lemon juice
1 cup sucanat
1 cup honey
½ teaspoon all spice
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon lemon zest

Simmer pears in white grape juice until very soft (20 minutes).  Puree very finely (I used my vitamix).  Place pear sauce, ginger,  lemon juice, sweeteners, all spice, cardamom and nutmeg in crock pot or other deep pot to simmer for 12 or more hours.  Tent with tinfoil, or position lid to keep the splatters in, but allowing steam out. When first setting the temperature, stir every 20 minutes.  Once a low simmer is holding, stirring is unnecessary.  After 12 hours, check the viscosity.  Take a spoonful out and drop it on a plate.  If liquid pools around it, it needs to simmer longer.  Once the dollop stays set, without pooling juice, it is done.  Pull out the 4 pieces of ginger, mix in vanilla and lemon zest and bottle up!  Makes about 8 half-pint’s.

Great on toast, waffles, pancakes, biscuits, in muffins, on top of pastries, yogurt, oatmeal or ice cream.

links; Pennywise Platter, Simple Lives Thursday, Frugal Friday, Fight Back Friday, Grocery Cart Challenge

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Partly-Sprouted Puff Pastry

Who new such a fancy treat could be so attainable in any ol’ kitchen?  I have been sad that Trader Joe’s no longer carries their all butter puff pastry. Other health food stores ask a steep price, while regular grocers only carry the hydrogenated types.  I always assumed it to be too complicated to make myself.  Although it turned out great my first try, it was after my second that I found my groove and decided this was a recipe to be made again and again.

I adapted this recipe for Peter Reinhart’s "Laminated Dough" in his cookbook Artisan Breads Everyday, which is a GREAT read.  Recently I made a double batch and have a nice stack in my freezer for quick dinners and desserts.  I canned some apple pie filling this fall, which means SUPER fast and easy apple turnovers!

¾ cup milk
¼ cup yogurt or kefir
½ cup water
2 tablespoons butter
2 ½ cups sprouted or whole grain flour
2 cups white flour (plus more for texture and rolling)
¼ cup honey
1 tablespoons yeast

Mix all ingredients in mixer with dough hook for 1 minute.  Add more white flour as necessary.  Dough should be very sticky, but not batter like. Knead an additional 1 minute.  Place dough in oiled bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight and up to 2 days.

Butter Block:  Just before removing dough from the fridge, cut up 1 ½ cups cold butter into ¼ inch pieces.  Whisk with 2 tablespoons sprouted flour, scraping down the sides as needed to make a smooth paste.  Form into a 6 inch square about ½ inch thick, smooth the top and square the corners.  Envelope in plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

Roll dough into a rectangle that is just wider than the 6 inch butter block and twice as long dusting the counter with white flour as needed.  Place butter block on one half of the rectangle and fold the other half over to encase.  Seal the edges by pinching all around the sides.  Rest in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. 

After rest time, roll dough to a large rectangle about 16 by 9 inches taking care to keep the butter inside the dough.  Fold dough into thirds, rest in refrigerator and repeat 2 more times.

After final rest, roll out dough to final thickness, depending on the recipe.  I like to roll out to ½ inch thick, cut into large squares and freeze between sheets of parchment.  The dough can always be rolled thinner once thawed.  This pastry should be risen slightly before baked at 400 degrees until golden brown, approximately 7 minutes.

links; Real Food Wednesday, Hearth and Soul Hop, Top Ten Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy, Whole Foods for the Holiday's

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

6 Tips For Your Real-Food Journey

It has been many years since I have put the boxes aside and  enveloped a whole food repertoire of skills, recipes and creativity.  I can bring back some thoughts and feelings of those early days, but much is gone and much has changed.  It is an exciting time, one of the many reasons I love teaching classes!  Witnessing that rapid learning and zeal for food is euphoric.

It never occurred to me that people might be reading my blog and NOT making the recipes.   Kami, from Birth with Confidence is helping me out on this one.  There are so many obstacles, it is no wonder many people grab a box of cereal in the morning instead of embarking on a recipe for granola with 14 ingredients, half you have never heard of and 10 plus steps that take almost 2 days to carry out.  Yikes!  I am scaring you away.  On with Kami's tips to bring you back;

1. Read, Read, and then Read some more! There is nothing more powerful than knowledge. Learn about food. Learn about its origins, where it comes from, why we eat it, how it's made. Learn about your body - how it functions and how food affects it positively or negatively. Read anything and everything you can get your hands on about whole, real food. The more you read and learn, the easier it will be to make changes. The changes will come naturally as you learn. If you are trying to make changes without really knowing or understanding deeply why you're making them, it is likely that the changes will not last. However, if you have a foundation of knowledge and understand why you are on your journey to whole foods, you changes will become a lifestyle. Learning also makes changing easier. It isn't hard to stop eating processed food once you understand how truly detrimental it is to your health.

2. Find replacements. Don't learn about how bad sugar is for you and say that you will never eat sugar again. Although that is a wonderful goal, it is probably one that is easily broken by cravings or stress. Instead, find replacements. Instead of white sugar, convert to using honey or maple syrup. Instead of making a cake mix out of a box, try making one from scratch using
whole grains and natural sweeteners. You can still enjoy many, many things while eating only whole foods. Once you've found replacements, you'll realize you really aren't missing out on anything after all. You might even be surprised to find that your whole food meals/treats taste even better because you know deep down that they're better for your body.

3. Commit to change. Do you want to dive into whole foods? Commit to doing so. Commit to ridding your life of anything artificial or detrimental to your health. Make a commitment, and keep it. That's all there is to it. Make the decision.

4. Be daring. Buy new things - branch out. Never heard of kamut, amaranth, sucanat? I hadn't heard of them either. In fact, I read blogs that used those foreign terms for a good 6 months to a year before I ever bought any of those "strange" ingredients. Now those ingredients are staples in my house. Try new things - you'll find that most of the time, you'll love them and wonder why you've been missing out all this time!

5. Don't get discouraged. Moving to whole foods is a journey. It takes time and it takes dedication. We live in a world of processed foods. It is not easy to go against the grain, so to speak. It's not easy to make choices that are different than 99% of Americans. But making choices is not always easy and moving to whole foods is a choice that, hard as it may seem, will bless your life abundantly. Take baby steps - pick one thing you want to change and focus on that thing for a week or a month. Then, move onto the next thing. Or if you're more stubborn, do it all at once (I did!). However you do it, remember why you're changing and remember that you are not alone. Many people are realizing more and more that food, made and prepared the way God intended it, is critical to our health and wellness. Enjoy the journey because soon you'll look back and think "It wasn't that hard, after all."

6. Realize that while you may feel you're paying more for "real food," it is a much better investment. You are investing in yourself - your health, your vitality, your life! Those who eat diets of whole foods and avoid processed foods are healthier and experience less disease than those who eat a diet high in processed foods. You may spend more on your groceries than your friends and neighbors, but it doesn't have to break the bank. There are many ways you can save money. Some quick examples are: buying in bulk, making things from scratch (homemade  granola vs. store-bought), meal planning, eating the best quality of meat sparingly, etc. You also may tweak your budget so that, say for example, you spend more on groceries but you go without cable or expensive cell phones. Or, perhaps you eat out less than your family and friends. However you choose to balance your budget, know that eating a diet of whole foods can be done, even on a tight budget.

If you missed it, last week Kami shared an incredible recipe of her own creation; Roasted Vegetables and Garlic Quinoa.

links; Works For Me WednesdayWhat's Cookin Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, Things I Love Thursday

Monday, October 4, 2010

Bok Choy Lentil Pita Sandwiches

In our area there is a co-op called Bountiful Baskets that is wonderful.  I participate every other week when an organic basket is offered.  They really do a great job overall, offering high quality and a pleasing variety. Anyone who is working to up their fruit and vegetable intake, look for a like program in your area.  It really forces you to try new things and find new loves.

Once in a while I have to be super creative, like the week I got 8 bunches of bok choy! But there was good that came out of it.  I like the uniqueness of this meal.  I think it is so important to give thought to eating raw foods at every meal.  This is where the vital enzymes come to aid digestion and help you feel really good.  I have never sprouted lentils before, but would like to try that sometime here.  I did soak them in an acidic medium for 12 hours before cooking, which is better for digestion as well.

2 cups cooked lentils
1 cup purslane or bean sprouts
1 cup thinly sliced bok choy
1carrot peeled, and cut into strips
1 ripe mango peeled and diced
⅓ cup apricot jam
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
¼ cup cider vinegar
½ teaspoon curry powder
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Combine the lentils, purslane, bok choy, carrot, and mango in a mixing bowl.  In a small bowl, combine the apricot jam, ginger, vinegar, curry powder, Worcestershire sauce, and TabascoStir well and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the sauce over the filling, and toss gently to coat all the ingredients.  Scoop filling into pitas and serve.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Waste Not {Pears}

After canning over half of my 50# load of the most lovely bartlett pears, I tinkered out.  Peeling, quartering, coring, boiling syrup, filling jars and carefully wiping the rims, all by myself…for days.  Next day I decided to do the rest without peeling, it made a huge difference in time.  I had a good amount left that was not going to fill another canner load, so I decided to experiment with dehydrating.

I removed the stems and sliced them whole, vertically, with my mandoline at 1.5mm.  Next, I laid them out in a single layer on large cooling racks and placed them in the sunshine.  They took one full day of Arizona summer sun to dry sufficiently.  At this point they were barely pliable and so delicious!  I was surprised as how yummy they turned out, much better than dried apples and peaches.
If I did a lot of these, I would keep them in the freezer for long term storage to be assured they wouldn’t go bad incase there is still some moisture left.  It was surely a great way to preserve, we all loved them to munch on for a snack, but if we had copious amounts, I would make a galette and other fun baked goods.  8 large pears, once dried, took up the space of one quart jar.  I bet pears would make good fruit leather too, anyone tried it?

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