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This is the hardest part of the recipe, I promise

I made a Dutch Baby. Or maybe it’s not a Dutch baby; it’s just a big apple pancake. I’m not entirely clear on the difference, but boy was it delicious. Really, so darned good. And pretty, but I’m afraid you’re going to have to take my word on that. I always saw these going by to other tables on visits to the Original Pancake House, but I never had the patience to order one. They take extra time, and I wait for no pancake.

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Pre-deflation cake

Last weekend, we made our annual pilgrimage up to Oak Glen’s apple farms. Last year, the apple crop wasn’t strong enough to sustain their usual u-pick operations, so we were happy to see that this year there was a healthy crop of fruit-laden trees. Right now, they have Granny Smith, Red Rome, and Red Delicious ready for picking, but it changes as the season progresses. We picked a peck of all three (after surreptitiously taste- testing the Red Delicious to make sure they were as different from the supermarket examples of that variety as we hoped — they were, crunchy and sweet, with a little tartness). We used up all our cash paying for the apples we picked, and then it was downhill from there. My husband left his Visa at home, I couldn’t use mine because some fool in Florida made a counterfeit card to fund his $5/gallon gas habit, and the yummy barbecue place didn’t take AmEx. But at least we had apples. Lots and lots of apples.

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Fig upside-down cake

No spam was harmed in the taking of this picture.

We have this thing in our house. Whenever the kids are giving us a hard time about food — you know, won’t choose a snack, can’t decide what they want — we offer them figs. Figs figs figs. Sometimes we throw in some Spam. Figs and Spam Spam and figs. For some reason lost to time, they find the idea of figs hilarious and kind of disgusting. Figs figs figs. Read the rest of this entry »

tartredux1

Of course they were on sale. Strawberries, $1.25 a pound; blueberries, $1.25 a pint. I bought five of each and made the hell out of some jam, and when I was done, there were leftover berries. What to do with them? The answer seemed obvious: Make a tart.

I live about two blocks from my office, and smack-dab in the middle of that short distance is the Whole Foods, a gleaming, delightful emporium of products that someone more ethical than me would be able to figure out a way to afford. I, on the other hand, merely wander its aisles occasionally marveling at the otherworldliness, and/or run in there begrudgingly when I realize I’ve run out of sugar halfway through jam-making and don’t have time to drive to a cheaper store. Whole Foods: my corner bodega.

Anyway, one of the many things I covet at Whole Foods is their tarts. Behind the gleaming, curved glass of the pastry counter, they beckon me with their bright colors and perfect sugar glaze. And they are like $4.99 for a two-bite tart. Now, I will not lie and tell you I have never succumbed. Even the stingiest coupon maven has to throw caution to the wind sometime. But I simply cannot justify the frequent consumption of those tarts.

When berries are on sale, though, I can damn sure make my own.

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Beff inspired me, and so I made blueberry jam.

Jamjam2

I am eating this RIGHT NOW. Are you jealous? I don’t blame you. I finished this jam about midnight last night, and all I have been saying since then is “I made jam! I made jam! I made jam! I made jam! Hey, [Husband], did you know I made jam? I MADE JAM!”

But seriously, y’all, this is delicious. And frugal! I did what Beff said and followed the instructions inside the pectin, but here are the details if you are curious:

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A surfeit of fruit

It’s that time of year, when the U-Pik signs go up along roadsides, advertising cheap berries for the effort of crouching in the fields over low strawberry bushes, sticking your hands into god knows what…. Sorry. Bad childhood experience.

Did you know? Most U-Pick places also have some already-picked flats for purchase. And the cost is not that much more. There are better ways to earn your Janie Dollaz. Like, say, making jam!

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strawberry rhubarb and peach crumble

strawberry rhubarb and peach crumble

Or, how I am becoming my mother.

Exhibit a) Going to the grocery store so frequently I’m on a first name basis with most of the checkers.

Exhibit b) Frequent employment of illogical logic to the ultimate frustration of my mate.

Exhibit c) Halving (at least) the sugar content of every recipe.

It used to drive me bonkers that my mom would cut the sugar in our cookies, and add back in things like wheat germ and brewers yeast. I suppose I should be thankful that she at least had the sense not to replace the semi-sweet morsels with the abomination that is the carob chip. The sweet tooth that was so deprived as a child such that I would apply sugar to my unsweetened cereal like lake-effect snow in Buffalo has, probably as a result of my mother’s efforts, mellowed and refined. And as a result, I find most baked goods to be (gulp) Too Sweet.

Enter Crumble.

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Me + dessert generally = epic disaster, but this was a dinner party, dammit.  It was the right thing to do.

Kheer 1

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crumble2

Raspberries were two for one at Harris Teeter this weekend, and I bought some, because raspberries are the food of the gods to me. Seriously, when I was a kid on summer break, I used to take my babysitting/lemonade-stand money and ride my bike up to the grocery store and buy as many raspberries as I could afford and take them home and nom them up without restraint. It’s been much too long since I had fresh raspberries, and I was nomming today’s up like the berries of old when it occurred to me: Hey, you can cook with these things.

So I looked around the Internet a bit, seeking a recipe that didn’t call for a bunch of stuff I didn’t have (cream cheese, Cool Whip, graham crackers). Finally I found this and it looked good, so I decided to make it.

Here’s the recipe, copied and pasted from Allrecipes:

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Or, “Everything tastes better with flowers”

DSC_0008

I think all of us are familiar with the old adage “When life gives you rotting bananas, make banana bread” and no one lives by that principle as much as I do, but life has been dealing me more rotting bananas than usual lately, and eventually one does grow tired of the traditional banana-nut loaf. So with the knowledge that there were bananas quickly aging in my fruit bowl yesterday, I grabbed a bag of sweetened coconut flakes at the supermarket, figuring “bananas…coconut…Epicurious has gotta have something.”

And of course it did. I chose this recipe for its simplicity, and for the many helpful reader tips for variations upon the theme. My adaptation was to use less sugar, add some lime juice and zest and some ground cardamom.

Banana coconut muffins with lime and cardamom
(see — it already sounds more sophisticated)

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 very ripe bananas, mashed (3/4 cup)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
Juice and zest of one lime
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line muffin cups with liners.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together bananas, butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, lime juice and zest, cardamom and 1/2 cup coconut in a large bowl until combined well, then fold in flour mixture until flour is just moistened.

Divide batter among lined muffin cups and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup coconut. Bake until muffins are puffed and golden, about 25-30 minutes. Transfer muffins to a rack and cool slightly.

The verdict? A tasty little muffin if not much to look at. Moist and crispy at the edges. Still, in my opinion, too sweet, you might want to cut down on the sugar even more, especially as the sweetened coconut is really sweet. I will definitely make this again, trying other variations. I see chopped nuts, dried fruits and different spices in its future..