our messy table

Category: Summer Berries

blueberry sauce

I am watching “Spirit” (you know, the horse movie) with my son and husband on this cool, rainy Sunday night. We picked the movie up from the library yesterday, a free rental. I am quite sure we won’t see “Frozen” until it becomes a free rental. Its how we role.

Last night, I put my son to bed after reading a large stack of books and cuddling under two blankets. His soft, white hair pressed against my neck. His eyes were heavy. We had just wrapped up the full day all to ourselves. We ate yogurt and banana cookies. We let our rabbit out his cage and followed him frantically around the yard. We made a cheesecake. For dinner, we cooked potatoes, carrots and onions warped in foil over a fire.

It’s not very interesting to read about all the good things happening in other people’s lives. And any attempt at vindicating how grateful I am for my family, for my life up to this point would cheapen it. So I won’t try.

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When the movie gets scary or sad, my son takes his two blankets and runs over to me, where I sit in this chair typing. He crawls into my lap and looks away, waiting for the sad part to be over. When the horse gets taken from his family. When he gets taken from his friend.

When it’s over, my son runs back to his spot on the couch. A blanket in each hand.

With these two people in my life, my son and my husband, my life has expanded. Far beyond the parameters I had dreamed for myself. I am a mother, a spouse. Comfort. Stability. A teacher. A learner. And they are my whole heart.

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Blueberry Sauce

Yield: about 2 cups

  • 1 pound fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 Tablespoon orange or lemon zest
  • 1 Tablespoon honey of maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup natural cane sugar

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the mixture begins to slowly bubble and boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until mixture begins to thicken, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Serve warm or at room temperature over pancakes, crepes, yogurt, or anything, really. Let cool and store in airtight container in the refridgerator  for up to 3 weeks, or in the freezer for 6 months.

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skinny

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I suppose this blog is due for a summer salad recipe… something green and fresh from my garden, toppled with fresh herbs, dried fruit or sharp cheese and some tangy, inventive dressing. But to be honest, I have not seen or heard from my garden in two weeks. The carpet in our house is getting washed today, so I plan to visit my mom’s for a bit of garden-time while they dry.

I feel ready to tackle the massive bed of weeds that has most surly made its home there. But before I hack away hopeful heads of leafy greens, I will write once more about breakfast. For my purposes, the non-green kind.

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I am not shy about that fact that, when it comes to using dairy products in cooking, baking or straight up drinking from the carton, we don’t fear fat. That’s not to say we frequent McDonald’s for Oreo Blizzards (and that’s not to say I would turn down an Oreo Blizzard if you offered me one… right now…). But when it comes to stocking our fridge, we welcome the whole milk yogurt and cheese, the sour cream and butter. We don’t deprive ourselves because, lets me honest, everything is better about these products. The flavor, the texture. The minimal processing. The way they function in a recipe.

Aside from the groceries we used for baking, we didn’t start buying a lot of dairy until our son was old enough to drink cow’s milk and eat solid food. As you probably know, it is recommended that you start offering babies whole milk because the calorie content is good for them. And after a bit of research, I learned that the same applies to yogurt and cheese. Babies need that healthy fat for their brains and bodies to develop. And after sampling all the full-fat dairy we were buying, we learned that it straight-up tasted way, way better than the skimmed versions we knew so well.

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This wasn’t terrible news for us. Whole milk, especially organic milk since the cows eat grass and not grain, has many unique fats, including omega-3 fatty acids. Research has found that people with high levels of these fats have lower rates of obesity and diabetes. Also, the fat in whole milk is proven to help the body to absorb fat soluble vitamins, like vitamin A and D.

Some researchers suggest there may be bioactive substances in milk fat that alter our metabolism in a way that helps us utilize the fat and burn it for energy, rather than storing it in our bodies.

((On another note, whole-milk dairy products are relatively high in saturated fat. And eating too much saturated fat can increase the risk of heart disease. So many experts would agree that adults with high cholesterol should continue to limit dairy fat.))

I personally suspect that I may be bit lactose intolerant. But I find that full-fat dairy products agree with me better than 0% fat Greek yogurt, for example. When we can afford it (and when I can even find it here in the Midwest), I like to buy goat or sheep milk yogurt because it is easier for me and my son to digest. A little more information on that here.

http://www.mtcapra.com/benefits-of-goat-milk-vs-cow-milk/.

And of course, there are healthier fats, like virgin coconut or grape seed oil, which frequent our shelves as well. I am not recommending you bask in cream-based gravy every night (though I don’t think my husband would be opposed). But in moderation, we believe whole-milk is our delicious, satiable friend.

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I am also convinced that calories are not my enemy. And that I would rather model a healthy life after my most admired cookbooks authors than the dull-faced, skeletal “6 hour workout!” diet models I see every. dingle. day. on pinterest.

a few sources:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/02/12/275376259/the-full-fat-paradox-whole-milk-may-keep-us-lean

http://www.pccnaturalmarkets.com/sc/1301/whole_milk_dairy.html

Ok. Enough of that soap box. I promised a recipe.

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This quick jam comes straight from Megan Gordon’s beautiful book, Whole Grain Mornings. We have been through three separate batches of this and I plan on making another later this week. The classic strawberry-rhubarb combo pairs wonderfully with tangy yogurt, mellow vanilla ice cream, and spread over scones, waffles, crepes and pancakes. This week, we have loved spooning it over yogurt or ricotta along with these oat-based, toasty little cardamom biscuits, found on My New Roots. I know the amount looks to be a lot. But with how addictive and healthy these are, I don’t recommend halving this recipe. You will surly regret it.

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Lemon Cardamom Biscuits

Makes about 80-90 biscuits

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • zest of 1 large lemon
  • ½ cup natural cane sugar
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • rice flour for dusting (any flour will work)

In a food processor pulse the oats until you have a rough flour. Add the baking powder, cardamom, salt, lemon zest and coconut sugar. Blend for a few seconds to combine.
In a measuring cup, measure out the applesauce, then add the coconut oil and vanilla, whisk to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the food processor and pulse until fully incorporated. The dough should be sticky and wet, but not pasty. If it is too wet to work with, add a little more oats or oat flour. Preheat oven to 350°F.

Dust a large, clean working surface with flour. Empty dough out on to the floured surface and gather into a rough ball shape. Divide dough into quarters. Working with one quarter at a time, roll dough into a log, approximately 10”/25cm long. Then slice log into ½” / 1¼ cm rounds. Place on a lined baking sheet.

Bake biscuits for 10-12 minutes until just turning golden on the bottom, then turn the oven off and let the cookies sit in there until the oven is cool. Once cool, store biscuits in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Quick Jam

Sadly, I have almost no desire to make real jam. Like Megan, all the fuss with sterilizing isn’t appealing to me. Maybe I will change my tune one day. Until then, we love this quick jam.

• 2 cups chopped rhubarb (approximately 4 medium stalks)
• 1 pound fresh strawberries hulled and chopped (about 3 cups)
• 1 ¼ cups natural cane sugar
• Pinch salt
• 2 teaspoons lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

In a large bowl, stir rhubarb, strawberries and sugar together. Let them until macerate until the sugar has begun to dissolve into the fruit, about 10 minutes.
Transfer to a heavy bottom pot. Bring to a moil at medium heat. Stir in salt, lemon juice and zest and decrease heat to medium-low.

Gently simmer the fruit until it breaks down and the mixture starts to cook down, 15-20 minutes. Stir occasionally to avoid sticking. If the fruit isn’t breaking down on its own, you can use the back of a fork or a potato masher to help it out.

Ideally, when the jam is close to done, the mixture will still be loose. Remove from heat and pour into a clean bowl to fully stop the cooking process. Let cool completely and transfer into clean, glass jars. This jam should keep easily for up to 3 weeks, and in the freezer, up to 6 month.

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To Serve

Spoon whole milk yogurt, honeyed ricotta or cream into bowls and drizzle with cooled quick jam. Sprinkle a few biscuits on top and enjoy!

we are here

And now. After months and months of planning then un-planning and treading through the unpleasant unknown, we are here.

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With much help from our amazing friends and family, we moved 4th of July weekend into yet another farm house, located just a half a mile down a gravel road and not really close to anything. We have an unbelievably huge entry way, old, green carpet, a beautiful bay window that showers us with light every morning, a thick grove of trees, and kittens in the barn. I have been suffering a bit from laundry-withdrawal. But thanks to another set of family friends, a solution is on its way (we purchased our own! Are we grown-ups or what?). And though we went through a bit of a rough-transitional patch with our toddler, I think we are well on our way to feeling very at home.

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Which leads me to thank everyone who helped us move on their holiday weekend. My mother and father-in-law are the dynamic moving duo. Their donated time was sandwiched between two busy work days, but they made the 4.5 hour trip here to conquer some heavy lifting and see their grandbaby. My own mom and dad have helped immensely with the drawn-out processes of moving; cleaning, unpacking, babysitting, cleaning. And we have some great friends who stopped by to carry boxes, who babysat my kid while I packed, and lent us their trailers and trucks.

Seriously. Moving can be ugly. But this last weekend went incredibly well thanks to you.

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I have a thick stack of recipes and pictures I have been meaning to share with you. My half-finished books and projects are on the shelves collecting dust. I think my son is just waiting for me to blink away this goofy, post-moving daze floating through my eyes. So I will keep things simple today. Anyway, my baby is bound to wake up anytime now. And with his sweet, agreeable skin long shed, the new, willful, stubborn toddler attitude leaves me needing to a few minutes of shut-eye before nap time ends. So without further adieu…

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My son and I picked a whole bunch of strawberries before leaving our last rental, which was located about a mile and a half from a lovely strawberry patch. After, we washed, hulled and froze a few pounds of them, then zipped through several fresh strawberry recipes that I had been meaning to try. I also remembered a recipe I had been eyeing on Luisa’s blog, the Wednesday Chef, on roasting strawberries, and decided there was not time like the present.

I started with 1 ½ pounds strawberries, then hulled and cut them in half lengthwise if they seemed large enough.  I then scattered them in a large baking pan and added about 1/4 cup of sugar and one teaspoon of vanilla extract. I mixed it up and then spread the berries out evenly. I set the oven to 375 F for 45 minutes and rotated the pan halfway through, but only sort of shook the strawberries a little instead of stirring them.

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This leaves you with soft, dark ruby berries and an amazing red sauce that spoons well over yogurt (or, you know, ice cream). We treated this recipe like a jam and spread it over French toast the following morning. Oatmeal the next. And just like that, the roasted strawberries were gone.

You could try adding a few additions (cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, peppercorn, citrus) but they were truly wonderful the way they were.