I love strawberry season. It lasts only a few short weeks, but it sure is good while it lasts. We are not growing strawberries this year - well, we are, but they are not big enough to fruit this year - but they can be found all around here. Strawberries are at local farmer's markets, roadside stands, u-picks, and in CSA's. We have picked up strawberries every time we see them, knowing that in a week or two they will be gone. I love making some jam and drying some for granola, but really, sorbet is a must. It is the perfect thing on a hot day.
Making an unheated dairy-free sorbet is really the best way to get the full amazing strawberry flavor. I know many recipes call for syrups with water, but really, who wants watered down strawberries. I want it to taste like an explosion of strawberries in my mouth. I don't like using white sugar and my body doesn't like me using white sugar, so I have experimented to get a scoopable sorbet using a natural sugar. This recipe uses raw honey and a wee bit of limoncello to keep it from freezing too solid (I love our homemade limoncello!!!!). This remains scoopable and a vivid red with the full pow of fresh strawberries. This *only* uses 3 Tbsp of limoncello per full quart of sorbet, but if you wish to have no liqueur in this, you can use 2 tsp of vanilla instead of one (vanilla extract also uses alcohol, which is what helps keep the sorbet from freezing into solid ice chunks) - but it WILL still be hard to scoop since you won't have the same recipe ratio and nobody wants several tablespoons of vanilla extract in their sorbet to compensate. Don't add *extra* limoncello though, as too much alcohol will make it more of a slushie. This recipe really is a great balance of flavor and freeze consistency and sweetness.
This is an unheated strawberry sorbet that packs so much intense strawberry flavor you will want more!
Blend the strawberries & lime juice on high in a blender until smooth.
Strawberry season doesn't last very long, and while we *could* buy strawberries from the grocery store all year 'round, we all know nothing tastes as good as locally grown strawberries in season. This recipe really takes advantage of the natural sweetness and amazing flavor or summertime fruit. I think I have a sorbet recipe for just about every single berry all summer long, but strawberries are the first berries after a long winter and spring, and the taste is just...summer. I sometimes try to tuck a quart of it down at the bottom of the chest freezer so we can find in the fall and get all excited that we still have strawberry sorbet in October - but it never lasts that long. That is partly because I just have horrible secret agent stealth skills, and partly because it is so good and who wants to save some for later when you can have it now, when it is hothothot outside. We had strawberries in our CSA yesterday, and picked up a few extra quarts, so I am going to go make some more sorbet!
This is the time of year for apple orchards, cool autumn days, and falling leaves. It is also the time for simmering pots of cider on the stove, infused with spices to warm the body and make the whole house smell amazing.
We are lucky to live near many apple orchards - the closest is just 4.5 miles away. Just about every weekend from late September until November we are picking up gallons of freshly pressed cider and bushels of apples to make and bake with. As it gets dark earlier and earlier, we tuck in more in the evenings and play board games, cards, and even poker together. It is a family ritual to have a cup of steaming cider while we play and I make this almost daily.
Chai Spiced Cider
This mulling spice blend is based on aromatic chai. These spices are wonderful with cider, and add even more depth and flavor to your hot cider recipe. Double or triple the recipe and put it in a crockpot on low or pour warm into a punch bowl - perfect for parties!
Pour your fresh apple cider into a pot.
Cider in the fall is one of those family rituals that makes the season feel complete to us. The house fills with the amazing aroma of apples, cinnamon, and other spices. It warms us after an evening walk on a chilly night. It simply means fall is here. Enjoy!
Capturing my love of whole foods, combined with the activity of a bustling kitchen.
A weekly collection of photos from the center of my home.
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Top to bottom:: blueberries (over 20# this week), blueberries in the dehydrator for granola all winter long, blueberry-coconut water sorbet with orange blossom water, smoothies (peaches, blueberries, cherries, banana, spirulina, coconut water), gathering herbs to dry from the garden, spiralized cucumbers for making miso fermented pickles, tomato season has arrived, gluten free/dairy free blueberry upside down cake (a blueberry adapted version of this recipe), and blueberry mostarda.
Blueberries is my theme for the week. Ha! We try to get things in season in bulk whenever we can, and then preserve enough in many ways to last the winter, of course. This week we froze a lot, dried a lot, made cake, mostarda, and a few other things. I try to freeze and dry enough fruit to last us all winter. We make smoothies all the time, plus dried fruit is amazing in homemade granola/granola bars. As for the mostarda, well, none of us really likes jam or jelly. Too sweet. We don't eat bread. So no need to make it. But, mostarda is amazing. I make tweaked versions of mostarda. Usually it is big whole fruit which is sweet and twangy and savory all at once. I like it more like a compote mustard texture. It has the flavor of the fruit, a lot of mustard seeds, the richness of the vinegar (in this I used raspberry balsamic), and isn't too sweet. I usually make several kinds to last us through winter - blueberry, peach, white currant.
Tomato season is here finally as well. Time to dry a bunch, roast a lot, make salsa to freeze (I like the freshness of frozen salsa more than canned), and later, sauce. We don't use that much sauce these days, so I prefer drying and salsa the most. Cucumbers are here too. This is another one we use differently. We are not huge fans of pickles. Just regular pickles. We make a few bags of freezer pickles every year, plus a few jars of lacto fermented garlic pickles, but overall I like relishes and unusual flavors better. This week I made miso fermented refrigerator pickles. Almost ready to crack them open for a taste!
Door County Cherries should be in soon, so I will have more fruit after this batch. And we will be up to our noses in tomatoes.
How about you? What has been happening in your kitchen this week?
Be sure to visit Heather at Beauty that Moves for all of the Blog Hop-ees.
Capturing my love of whole foods, combined with the activity of a bustling kitchen.
A weekly collection of photos from the center of my home.
* * * * *
top to bottom: radish slaw fixin's, mushrooms, scallions from the garden, rat's tail radish (our new garden favorite), peas, margaritas (best when fresh picked ingredients are used!), strawberry ginger syrup in process for homemade soda, crispy sage leaves with coconut aminos, and our home roasted coffee beans.
In the summer there is so much making. So I thought this week I would focus on ingredients and didn't take many meal shots. There has been so much rain rain rain that there are now swarms of mosquitoes. So garden excursions are quick and involve a lot of smacking and waving. But so much is ready every day that it is worth it. I think. This week will involve a lot of weeding and pickling, I think. We are loving the rat's tail radishes this year. With the sudden heat blast not long ago a lot of our other radishes bolted and I let them flower for pollinators. But the rat's tails are perfect no matter the temps and the perfect crisp radish flavor with the pea texture is fantastic. I know they could get a bit bigger, but I was impatient and we are eating even more of them today. I'm definitely planting a lot more of those!
Be sure to visit Heather at Beauty that Moves for all of those in the blog hop this week!
I love baking. Since two of us have had to eliminate all gluten, I tend to bake less, use the dehydrator more, and would generally just prefer to eat other foods rather than "substitute" foods. But my two that are fine with gluten and also love baked goods are so very happy when I bake. My husband also loves to have something for his kaffeeklatsch (he works from home most days). He tends to work non-stop most of the day and leaves half of his lunch untouched on his plate up in his office. He is usually starving by mid afternoon and this helps him get along. Any gluten free goodies that I bake have to be approved and dearly loved by those that COULD eat gluten if it wasn't for us (ahem), as well as by my allergy boy. By having a few base recipes that I can adapt to whatever fruit is seasonal in the garden means that I have something I KNOW everyone likes and that I can make easily with whatever is ready NOW. This cake is a great base. And with strawberries and rhubarb? Over the top.
Gluten Free/Dairy Free Rhubarb Upside Down Cake
A not too sweet gluten free / dairy free cake that is delicious warm or at room temperature. Seasonal goodness!
First prepare your rhubarb. Place your 2 cups of rhubarb in a saucepan with the 1/4 cup honey. Sauté until the rhubarb is soft, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat. Let sit.
As I said, the main recipe is a great base. If you don't want to make it using strawberry/rhubarb, make everything as a stand alone cake (skip the rhubarb/strawberry steps, leave out the cinnamon, and no need to invert). My boys love it as a pound cake with a lemon glaze over the top (see above).
Now, for the GF flour mix. I really like theratio guide over at Gluten Free Girl and the Chef. It is clear and easy to remember and no matter how I mix it, it is a solid ratio and things come out great. I have used this cake recipe with several different blends of my own making as well as a few different store bought GF all purpose blends. Always good. This rich dark amazingly delicious rhubarb upside down cake was made using a blend I made that has several different GF whole grain flours including buckwheat, which is what adds to the lovely color (in addition to coconut palm sugar). So good and moist.
Now I want to go make another rhubarb upside down cake as the last one disappeared quickly. And in not too long I will have fresh raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries to add to it. Yum.
Don't forget to zip over and leave a comment on my giveaway post for a chance to win the Summer 2014 issue of Tend Magazine! Comments will close at midnight Sunday, I will announce the winner on Monday.
This is the time of year I most often start in the garden early before it heats up. My boys wake up early and so I start them some breakfast, and then head outside. When I come back in I am often craving something cold. This breakfast smoothie is of course yummy for the whole family, but is a nice adult flavor too. It tastes like a rich chocolate banana milkshake - of course without any dairy. Really good. The cacao and maca also give me a bit of an energy boost for the day, without having a coffee and the chia addition not only adds some nutrients and fiber, but make the smoothie feel even more like a meal. My boys love love love smoothies too, but they usually prefer cherries/peaches/greens/juiced things/coconut yogurt types of sweet fruity flavors, and not seeds or cacao. Crazy boys.
Blue-Banana Mocha Maca Smoothie
An icy morning smoothie packed with nutrients and antioxidants with a rich wonderful flavor. Forget the coffee - start the day with a cool, filling smoothie.
First soak your dates. I will place them in some kettle water first thing when I am making the boys breakfast. Or, soaking overnight even works.
Quite honestly, I rarely if ever eat breakfast. Which is bad for me with how my blood sugar works. I make food for the kids and wander off to work in the garden, clean up, or work on projects for a bit while they eat. Making a smoothie though, is easier for me (for some reason). And after being in the garden something cool encourages me a bit more. As does something that takes just a few minutes to whiz up. This has enough in it that it is a good breakfast, and gets me through to lunch time!
I love small batch fridge preserving. While there are many things I preserve a lot of in season, I prefer to preserve ingredients so that I can make a wide variety of flavors whenever I want. I am not a big sweet person, but I love bold unique flavors. I often make just a few pints at a time of marmalade, compote, aigre-doux, and mostarda. I like the twangy flavors to balance out the sweetness of yogurt (I love it with coconut milk yogurt) or to add flavor to things like snacks of cured meats and flax crackers. This kumquat cranberry compote is so good. It has the burst of cranberry tartness, the rich zest of citrus, with the deeper intensity of kumquat. I freeze Wisconsin cranberries in season to be used all winter if I can - but had one last bag that I had managed to keep fresh in my fridge. It goes perfectly with this short burst of kumquat season.
Kumquats are quirky little citrus similar in color and skin to tiny oranges, but with more of a sour pucker to them, and the fruit as well as pith and skin are edible. Kumquat are packed with anti-oxidants, vitamin C, calcium, iron, selenium, zinc, fiber, and B vitamins. And of course cranberries are full of fiber, vitamin C, antioxidants, and more as well. Having a burst of intense twangy goodness when March is long and gray is a good thing.
Kumquat Cranberry Compote
This is a delicious twangy compote sweetened with honey.
Put your kumquat slices and cranberries into a big pot.
Add the cinnamon stick, grated ginger, and vanilla bean to the pot.
Crush the cloves, allspice, and cardamom with a mortar and pestle a bit (or put into a baggie and crack a few times with a rolling pin). Add the crushed spices to a tea bag or piece of cheesecloth. Tie it up and add to the pot.
Add in your orange juice or whiskey. Start with 1/3 of a cup. Depending on how juicy your kumquats are, if your cranberries are fresh or frozen, or if you use OJ or whiskey, your liquid needs might slightly vary. Start with the smaller amount, add more as you are cooking if it is looking too dry. It should be just enough liquid to soften and integrate the ingredients into a thick but stirrable whole.
With everything in the pot, bring to a boil and stir stir stir. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently, adding more liquid if necessary. If using whiskey the alcohol is cooking off, but leaving an amazing aroma and flavor.
After 15-20 minutes on medium, stirring often, remove your cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, and spice bag.
Add the honey, stir, and turn down to LOW for another 10-15 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir, and then let sit for a final 10 minutes or so to cool. It should be nice and thick and garnet.
Spoon into clean jars, and refrigerate.
This should keep in your refrigerator for a few weeks if you can keep yourself from eating all of it immediately.
NOTE: If you use a very sweet orange juice as your liquid, you might not need as much honey. Taste it as you go!
Make a zingy fresh dressing - mix a Tablespoon of the compote with a teaspoon of coconut vinegar and 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil. Whisk until blended and drizzle over your salad or steamed veggies.
It is fantastic over yogurt, on a cheese and meat plate, as a condiment with roasted chicken, in your morning hot cereal, or as a dressing for salads and vegetables.
I love the color and flavor. It has a punch of twangy cranberry, the freshest citrus zest, and enough sweetness to balance the tart without being overly sweet. It is so good!
I am a certified aromatherapist, clinical herbalist, permaculture designer, organic gardener, plant conservationist, photographer, writer, designer, artist, nature lover, health justice activist, whole foods maker, and mother of two young adults in south central Wisconsin.
©2007-23 Denise Cusack, all photos and text. Feel free to share my posts on FB or Twitter or online media or pin on Pinterest (thank you!), but please keep the links back to my website intact (meaning please do not take or copy my images off of this website and share them unattributed or without linking back here or use them without permission). Thank you! :)
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