Blueberry Zucchini Muffins

010

 

I’m pretty sure the saying “necessity is the mother of invention” covers all gardeners and cooks. Maybe that wasn’t the original intention, but it fits perfectly! As our summer garden is coming into full production and the nearby farms are offering up their seasonal delights, we’re starting to get creative with our meal preparations!

This year’s crop of heirloom zucchini is starting to come on strong as our daily temperatures have warmed up quickly and are staying in the eighties and nineties. We’re already starting to share the daily pickings with family, friends and coworkers. Of course, we’re saving plenty for ourselves and this little muffin recipe is the perfect way to enjoy two of our current fresh treats: zucchini and blueberries…

Blueberry Zucchini Muffins

1 3/4 cup organic all purpose flour

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup sugar (white or brown)

2 teaspoon baking powder

2 large eggs

2-4 Tablespoons organic macadamia nut oil (or melted butter)

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup fresh blueberries

1/2 cup freshly grated zucchini (about 1 small-medium)

Freshly grated nutmeg

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease muffin tin (this recipe makes 12 muffins). Blend flour, salt, sugar and baking powder together (either by sifting or with a fork.) Lightly beat the eggs, oil or melted butter, and milk in another bowl and then add to the dry ingredients. Stir until about half-mixed. Add the blueberries, zucchini, and freshly grated nutmeg to taste and stir together with fork just until mixed. Batter will be lumpy and uneven (the trick to good muffins is to NOT over-mix–stir them by hand just until everything is incorporated.)

Spoon into muffin tins and bake for 10-15 minutes or until lightly brown and firm to touch. Serve warm with melted butter or jam.

 

Blueberry Elderberry Pie

DSCN8650

We have been making an attempt to use up some of last Summer’s frozen bounty.  Even though the vegetables and fruits are frozen and well preserved–fresh from the garden–they do not last forever. Discovering a bit of a frozen blueberry stash, we’ve been having pancakes, smoothies, and sharing them with the chickens (the hens all time favorite treats are blueberries and cherries), but we couldn’t help but create a delicious pie too!

This pie is a combination of two somewhat tart berries–blueberries and elderberries and they make a simply scrumptious duo…

Blueberry Elderberry Pie

2 1/2 cups thawed, frozen blueberries (or fresh)

1 cup thawed, frozen blue elderberries (or fresh)

1/4 cup organic all purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar–white or brown

1 -2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon  ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon powdered ginger

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

pinch of sea salt

Butter

enough pie dough for a double-crust pie

DSCN8636

Combine berries, flour, sugar, lemon juice, seasonings and salt and toss together–well, but carefully so you don’t crush the berries. Prepare pie dough and divide in half.  Roll out one half to fit pie tin. Fill bottom crust with berry mixture and dollop with 1-2 Tablespoons butter, in pieces. Roll out remaining half of pie dough. Top berries with crust–round, spiral or lattice. Place pie on baking sheet (to catch any spills) and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour–until crust is lightly brown and berries are bubbly. Allow to cool before serving.

Amazing Applesauce Cake

DSCN8334

From the cinnamon-y apple-y smell while the cake is baking, to the spicy, sweet taste, applesauce cake is one of our very favorites! Like many of our favorite good ‘ole recipes, we’ve adapted it to make it a bit healthier and to add guaranteed wholesome ingredients…

Amazing Applesauce Cake

2 2/3 cup organic, all purpose flour

2 cups brown sugar, packed

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon organic sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons Raggedy Hen Farm Baking Spice Blend

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce*

2 fresh eggs

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

1 cup raisins, chopped (optional)

*We use our home-canned applesauce, but you can use your favorite–chunky is best!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour one rectangle 13X9X2 inch pan or two round or square layer pans (8-9 inches). Measure flour by dip-level-our method and add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spice blend to a large mixing bowl. Stir dry ingredients together until well-blended.  Add butter, water and applesauce and mix for 2 minutes or so until well blended and smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add eggs. Beat 2 more minutes, scraping the bowl to keep things well incorporated. Finally, stir in optional walnuts and raisins by hand and pour into prepared pans.

Bake 35 to 45 minutes until knife or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in pans before turning out on racks.  Frost with cream cheese or other frosting or dust with powdered sugar (our favorite!)

Chocolate-Dipped Huckleberry Biscotti

Image

With the temperatures well below freezing and our entire corner of the world covered with more than a half-foot of snow, we’ve decided it is high time to start the holiday baking.  Inspired by some frozen locally-harvested (and downright delicious) huckleberries we purchased last week from Mycological Natural Products (where we also purchase local mushrooms), we created a to-die-for Biscotti recipe that looks as festive as they taste!  If you don’t have huckleberries, or can’t get them where you live, feel free to substitute frozen wild or cultivated blueberries…

Chocolate-Dipped Huckleberry Biscotti

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease (we used almond oil) two cookie/baking sheets

3 large eggs

1/4 cup sweet almond oil

1 1/4 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon extract

1 teaspoon hazelnut extract

1 1/2 cup thawed, frozen huckleberries

3 1/2 cup unbleached, all purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate, milk chocolate or chocolate of choice

Mix eggs,oil, sugar, and extracts together and beat until well incorporated.  Fold in huckleberries. Sift or mix flour, baking powder and sea salt together and fold into the wet ingredients.  Mix until incorporated.  Divide dough into two halves and shape into flattened logs. Put each log onto the lightly oiled cookie sheet and bake 20-25 minutes until cooked through and golden brown.

.Image

Remove logs from oven and cool for 5-10 minutes on a rack.  When cool enough, slice into 1-1 1/2 inch slices and arrange these flat on the cookie sheets.  Bake for another 10 minutes and then remove and cool on racks.

Melt chocolate in a heat-proof bowl in the microwave (or in the top of a double boiler over boiling water).  Melt at 30 second intervals, stopping to stir and check the consistency.  When melted, dip half biscotti into melted chocolate or use a knife or spoon to coat one end of the cookies.  Allow to dry on racks until chocolate is firm again.

Once these cookies have cooled and the chocolate has hardened, store in an airtight container and enjoy!

Not-So-Irish Soda Bread

Image

We are of the opinion that recipes morph with tastes and that by knowing the basics and the science of cooking (and baking), we have all we need to get creative! Soda bread is a rather old-timey way of making quick bread and the traditional version has caraway seeds and currants or raisins, as well as buttermilk.  We tend to prefer a more savory loaf with dinners and suppers, but LOVE how quick and easy soda bread is.  So, we’ve created our version–which has a crunchy, brown, salty crust and a soft, light, delicious inside.  And, it’s ready to eat in just about an hour!

Rosemary Garlicy-Oniony Soda Bread

4 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 Tablespoon onion powder, organic

1 Tablespoon garlic granules or powder, organic

1 Tablespoon dried Rosemary, organic

1 1/3 cup soured milk (we use 2% milk with about 1 Tablespoon white vinegar added to curdle and sour)

1 egg

1 Teaspoon coarse sea salt (for top)

In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, onion, garlic and rosemary.  In a smaller bowl or 2 cup measuring container, mix milk and egg, beat with a fork until well incorporated. Add the milk/egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir together with a fork just until moistened.  Turn out on to a floured surface and knead together 12-14 times or turns.  Shape into a ball.  We bake this on a lightly greased baking sheet (so the crust gets nice and crisp), but you can also bake in a lightly greased round pan or glass dish (about 2 quart).  With a sharp knife, cut a 4 inch criss cross in the top of the bread (about 1/2 inch deep). Sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

Bake in a preheated 350-375 degree oven for 45-55 minutes.  The bread will be golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean. Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool a bit before slicing.

Wendy’s Great Grandma Della’s Persimmon Pudding

DSCN8107While we live in the Pacific Northwest now, both Teri and Kori have lived in various parts of the U.S. (and beyond, in Teri’s case). One of Kori’s oldest and dearest friends lives in the heartland of the Midwest (Indiana) where they met when their now-grown kids were starting preschool! This recipe comes from Wendy’s family treasures and we are so grateful she shared it with us; it inspired us to head out on a frosty November day to see what we could do with our persimmon tree!

Harvesting Persimmons…

DSCN8072

Every year, we promise ourselves that we are going to learn more about what to do with the gorgeous little orange fruits that grow on our persimmon tree. The fact is that they are ripe long after we’ve put the garden to bed and they grow so high up on the thin branches, it is a bit daunting to figure out how to harvest.  The squirrels love them, as do the chickens, and our honeybees romped in their blossoms this past mid-spring, but we decided this year we’d make them into people food too!

Since persimmons are a big deal in the mid-West, Wendy was a good source of recipes and lore. Wendy suggested spreading a tarp down on the ground and then shaking the tree so the ripe fruit would drop.  Well, our tree is too thick and sturdy to really shake, so we used a long-handled rake to reach up and shake the branches until the fruit fell…

DSCN8076

With quite the sloppy plop! We had to fend off the chickens who thought surely these tasty morsels were all for them as we gathered them up in a colander.  

Making the Pulp…

DSCN8080

We took the colander full of smushy persimmons in and washed it well, removing stems and twigs and pressed it through a sieve. This took a little while, but we ended up with this wonderful, heady-scented orange pulp and we were finally ready to prepare the recipe…

Great Grandma Della’s Persimmon Pudding

2 cups persimmon pulp

1 1/2 cup sugar (we used brown sugar)

1 1/2 cup half-and-half

2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon Raggedy Hen Farm Baking Spice Blend OR

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon cloves, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, slightly beaten

2 Tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix pulp, sugar, cream, and eggs.  Sift dry ingredients and add.  Melt butter and add this last.  Mix well and pour into a lightly buttered baking dish or cake pan…

DSCN8082

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour.  This makes a super moist, dense, old-fashioned “pudding” which is like a very dense cake.  Once cooled it can be cut into squares and served with ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.

DSCN8077

And, in the end, the chickens got the remaining smushy pulp after all!