Blueberry Zucchini Muffins

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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

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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

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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.

Laundry on the Line

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It’s finally dry and warm enough to hang laundry on the line again!  For us, this one of the true harbingers of Spring. We so love the smell and feel of sheets, towels and clothes hung in the sunny air to dry! We’ve been experimenting with different homemade laundry soaps in our attempt to eliminate toxic chemicals from our little corner of the world. So far, our favorite is an adaptation of a recipe made with soap nuts, water, and essential oils.  We make our version in a large batch and like a citrus-y scent–we think it goes great with sun dried laundry!

Citrus Laundry Soap

Put 25-30 soap nuts in a large kettle or pan and add 1 gallon hot tap water. Put this on the stove and turn to medium high heat.  When the mixture starts to steam, turn the heat down to medium and let simmer for one hour.

Remove from heat and strain into a large glass jar (we use gallon jars like the ones used for cider or vinegar).

Add 10-15 drops each: grapefruit, sweet orange, and lemon essential oils. Put on a lid and shake carefully to combine.

This will keep for a couple months, but will likely need to be shaken a bit periodically.  We use about 1/4 cup per load of laundry. This can be combined with other detergents or soaps, if you’d like, but it works just fine on its own.

Creamy Potato Salad

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It’s Spring! We have eggs, eggs, and more eggs and that means preparing some of our favorite egg-laden recipes. This is Kori’s basic potato salad recipe and it seems to get made a bit differently every time.  It can be spicy or mellow; full of fresh herbs or dried; and it goes oh, so well, with everything from baked ham to roasted chicken (Teri likes to eat it on its own as a lunch dish!)  Here’s how it’s done…

Creamy Potato Salad

12 medium potatoes–whole and unpeeled (but washed)

6 eggs, hard boiled and cooled

1/2 cup chopped onion (yellow, white or red)

1/2 cup diced pickles (dill or sweet)

2 Tablespoons pickle brine/juice

4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1/4 cup prepared mustard–homemade or purchased

1/2 cup sour cream

1 cup mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon celery salt

salt & pepper to taste

Optional: chopped parsley, chopped cilantro, 1/2 cup chopped celery, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, fresh or dried dill weed, etc.

Cover potatoes with water and put a pinch of salt in the water. Boil 20 minutes or so until fork-tender, but not soft. Drain and allow to cool. Meanwhile, peel eggs and chop the onion and pickles.

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After potatoes have cooled, slice into bite-sized chunks. Toss these in a bowl with chopped onion and diced pickles. Cut peeled, boiled eggs in half, putting the yolks in a medium-sized bowl. Chop the whites into small pieces and add to the potatoes and vegetables.

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Mash the yolks with a fork. Add pickle brine/juice to the mashed yolks and stir to make a paste. To this, add the minced garlic, mustard, sour cream and mayonnaise and stir well. Pour this over the potato mixture. This is where you can add any other seasonings like celery salt, dill, etc.  Fold all ingredients together carefully until well mixed. Add salt & pepper to taste and top with sprinkled parsley, smoked paprika, dill or other garnish of choice.

This is best made a few hours before you intend to serve and then refrigerated. This gives the flavors a chance to blend and become well-incorporated.

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Amazing Applesauce Cake

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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

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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.

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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

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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.