Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Cooking, Gardening, Stitching

Garden Duckie Apron
This apron seems to combine
3 things that are important to me:
Cooking, Gardening, Stitching
Summer grilling season is upon us.

In honor of the summer cookout season, I've decided to start posting recipes and the results of cooking experiments here for all of you to enjoy. Likewise, I plan to start posting bits and pieces related to gardening in addition to bits about what I've been stitching.


Because I have a degree in landscape management (urban horticulture + some business), and I want to be able to use it. My previous experience has mostly been with ornamental plants. However, you may catch bits and pieces about my vegetable garden this year.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Pomegranate Molasses Apple Pear Cake

Have you ever encountered pomegranate molasses at an ethnic market? It's a syrup entirely from pomegranate juice, so it's an interesting way to incorporate the nutrients from this superfood into your baking. Although it has molasses in the name, it's not terribly sweet.

I managed to find some recently at a Pakistani/Indian food market, so I threw on an apron and got to work on an easy-to-make cake. The following has been adapted from the Old-Fashioned Pear and Ginger Cake recipe found in The Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn:

3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 stick butter (6 tbsp), melted
1 sm.can pear halves, sliced thickly
1 cooking apple (such as granny smith), sliced thinly
1pkg. yellow cake mix
1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup pomegranate molasses
1/3 oil
3 eggs
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Rack should be in the middle of the oven.

2. Spread the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan with an even coating of melted butter and brown sugar. Arrange the bottom of the pan with sliced fruit. I sliced the pear thickly and the apple thinly to even out the cooking times (the pears were already cooked until soft during the canning process).

3. Mix remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl until well combined. Pour over the fruit.

4. Bake 43-46 minutes - until the cake springs back lightly when pressed and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Serving Suggestion: Flip the cake upside down so that the fruit slices are visible on top.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Squash Soup in a Crockpot

I've used this recipe for a variety of winter squash, including pumpkin, butternut, and hubbard  It's a great recipe for when you see squash at reasonable prices. For example, I traditionally make it each fall right after Halloween or Thanksgiving (I see no reason to toss the uncarved pumpkins I place on my porch for fall decor). I made it today after I found some calabaza squash at the grocery store.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can make it in the crock pot and the proportions are extremely forgivable. 
 * Onion - diced
* Garlic - minced
* Winter Squash - peeled and cut into pieces 
* 1 can diced tomatoes
* Chicken Stock - enough to cover the squash in the crock pot
* Salt, to taste
* Pepper, to taste
* 1 1/2 cup cooked rice (optional)
* 8 oz. Sour Cream
* Coriander, garnish

1. Cut up the squash. If you do not plan to blend the soup later, be sure to cut the pieces into bite-size chunks. Otherwise, you can get away with relatively large pieces. 

2. Add onion, garlic, tomatoes, and squash to crock pot. Add enough chicken stock (or water and bullion cubes) to barely cover the vegetables. Since it's a crock-pot recipe, the soup will not reduce significantly during cooking. 

3. Cook until the squash is tender. This will depend, in part, on how big the squash chunks are. 3-4 hours on high is definitely enough time even if you use large chunks. You can also cook it on low for longer periods of time. 

4. Add salt and pepper to taste. If desired, blend the soup into an even consistency using an immersion blender, or process it in batches using a food processor. 

5. Stir in rice. Toast a bit of crushed coriander. Add sour cream and coriander (either as a garnish or stirred into the soup).

6. Serve.