Saturday, January 7, 2012

"Ogres are like Onions, They have Layers!"

I love onions! They are such a resource. Not only are they delicious-to me, but, they provide hidden qualities medicinally that are not commonly used anymore. They are one of those foods that God intended for our use. I am studying natural healing through diet and herbs and the onion has been used for hundreds and hundreds of years as not just a food, but, a medicine. Used internally and externally it can draw toxins out of the system and to it's location, it can stimulate circulation, evoke tears when chopped which aids in respiratory problems. Poultices and broths, aroma therapies and more.  Eaten consistently raw onions can reduce high blood pressure and lower high cholesterol. There are so many uses for onions! And, it is a great escort to most foods, enhancing it's flavor.  Onions should be studied further for their inexpensive, yet powerful medicinal actions they posses. If you have time, this is a great article on the medicinal uses of the onion. So, let's see what we can do with the onion this week!
Have Fun!

Where's the Apple?

Apples are one of my most favorite fruits, foods for that matter. They are great alone, added to something, or as the main focus of a dessert or meal. You'd think I'd have this amazing apple themed food. Well, I have had a busy week and had birthday cupcakes to make for my son and a blog to participate in. So, I "killed two birds with one stone". Where did that phrase ever come from? It sounds so violent. Anyway. My 5 year old wanted chocolate cupcakes and that is perfect because all the women in my family NEED chocolate. :) I mean, we would come home to mom telling us, " Girls, I made brownies for dinner. If you would like anything else, you'll have to fend for yourself." Ahhhhh! Dream come true!  Back to apples. I did find a use for apples in my chocolate cupcakes. I have buckets full of apples in my garage that I haven't finished dehydrating from the fall. So I use them often. Here is my recipe for Chocolate Brownie Cake(low fat too!) and below a smoothie to wash it down with!

Chocolate Brownie Cake
1/2 c. coconut oil or non hydrogenated oils
1 apple chopped and blended in 1c. water (no need to core it)
4T. cocoa powder
2 c. whole wheat flour (I did half wheat, half buckwheat)
1 1/2 c. sucanut or honey
1 c. non dairy milk (almond, soy, or coconut) with 1T. apple cider vinegar (homemade buttermilk)
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. vanilla
1/4 c. ground flaxseed
dash of salt
1 c. chocolate chips

Combine all dry ingredients. Set aside.  Melt coconut oil into a liquid. Blend apple and water until smooth. Combine and add to your dry ingredients. Make your mock buttermilk by adding vinegar to your milk. Let sit for 1 min. Add the milk to your mixture. Mix well. Add the chocolate chips. Place in  oiled or parchment lined cupcake holders or pan and cook at 400 for 15  min. approx. for muffins and 20 min. approx. for a 10 x 15 pan.
I forgot to take pictures of the icing I made following this picture. It turned out great!

Chocolate Icing
1/4 c. coconut oil
1/4 apple cut into chunks
4 medjool dates pitted
4 T. cocoa powder
about 1/4 c. agave, honey, or maple syrup until desired taste
Add all the ingredients into a blender and mix well. You'll need a good blender to get it nice and smooth. I will spoon this over the brownies and then place in the fridge or freezer. The coconut oil firms considerably in cool temperatures.
Good Luck!

I also made a drink that my children loved this week. Often apples that were put into lunch boxes come home and I don't want to throw them out. Or a child won't finish eating their apple. So, I will cut off the part they ate and save the remaining. I put them in the freezer and later put them into a smoothie. Waste not, want not, right? Heidi am I grossing you out? Well,  I forgot to take a picture of it. It had a lovely red coloring too. Beets have amazing color. Well, try it. Tell me what you think!

Sneek it to 'em Smoothie
1 handful of spinach
1  sqaure inch piece of raw beet
1 c. raw cranberries
4 c. apple juice or 2 apples chopped and add 3 c. water.
2 hand fulls of ice.
(1 hand full of strawberries would have gone well in this drink. Didn't have any at the time.)
Honey, agave, or maple syrup if you need it sweeter.

Blend. My kids and I really enjoyed this drink for breakfast.

Dehydrated Apples

I eat way more apples if they are dried than if they are big and juicy.  Maybe it's because it's a lot easier to snack on a few bits of dried fruit throughout the day than to commit to eating the entire apple in one go.  

Apples will oxidize and turn brown unless the fruit is treated in some way.  My favorite way to treat apples is to dip them in pineapple juice.  The dried apples end up with a nice, light pineapple-y flavor to them.

Tools and ingredients needed:
pineapple juice
vegetable peeler
apple corer

      Peel and core apples, then slice approximately 1/4" - 3/8" thick.

      Dip and soak in pineapple juice for a minute or two.

      Place on dehydrator trays single layers.

      Dry for 4 - 12 hours at approximately 135 degrees F until fruit is leathery.

        Seal fruit in airtight containers.  I used a vacuum sealer to package mine.

      Eat and enjoy!  
      I ate an entire package of dehydrated apples trying to get a picture that I was willing to post.  Please keep the snickering to a minimum.

    Apple Dumplings and Burnt Caramel Ice Cream

    Tonight I learned a very valuable lesson. Before you take the time to make a homemade custard ice cream always check to make sure your ice cream maker is in good working order and never ever leave even the smallest amount of salt on your ice cream maker because that salt will erode your ice cream maker until there is a nice sized hole for all your fantastic ice cream to leak through. Also stores don’t carry ice cream makers in the winter time apparently they are a seasonal item, that season being summer. Anyway here is my recipe for Apple Dumplings and Burnt Caramel Ice Cream. Note the ice cream in the picture is not my Burnt Caramel Ice Cream.

    Apple Dumplings-

    2 small tart apples, peeled, cored and cut into ½ inch pieces

    1/3 cup brown sugar

    1 ½ tablespoons melted butter

    ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

    Puff Pastry

    Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss together all filling ingredients.

    Roll out dough on a well-floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a rough 16- by 11-inch rectangle (about 3/4 inch thick). Halve dough lengthwise, then cut crosswise into thirds (to form 6 squares).

    Divide filling among centers of squares. Bring all 4 corners together over filling and pinch together to seal. Transfer dumplings to a well-buttered 13- by 9- by 2-inch ceramic or glass baking dish and arrange about 1 inch apart. Brush tops with milk and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake until Puff Pastry is golden and puffed.

    Burnt Caramel Ice Cream

    This stuff is phenomenal when you have a working Ice Cream Maker.

    2 ¼ cups sugar, divided

    ¼ cup water

    4 ¼ cups heavy cream, divided

    1 teaspoon sea salt such

    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    2 cup whole milk

    12 eggs yolks

    Equipment: an ice cream maker that works

    Heat 2 cups sugar and water in a heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring, until it starts to melt, then stop stirring and cook, swirling skillet occasionally so sugar melts evenly, until it is nice amber. (the darker you go the more intense the flavor will be)

    Add 2 1/4 cups cream (mixture will spatter) and cook, stirring, until all of caramel has dissolved. Transfer to a bowl and stir in sea salt and vanilla. Cool to room temperature.

    Meanwhile, bring milk, remaining cream, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar just to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally.

    Lightly whisk egg yolks in a medium bowl, then add half of hot milk mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Pour back into saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until custard coats back of spoon and registers 170°F on an instant-read thermometer (do not let boil). Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, then stir in cooled caramel.

    Chill custard, stirring occasionally, until very cold, 3 to 6 hours. Freeze custard in ice cream maker (it will still be quite soft), then transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to firm up.

    Friday, January 6, 2012

    Apples, Rocks & Whipping Cream!

    So Heidi gave me the idea of knitting an apple, I really wanted to make Ablekage for New Years, and my feet were cold--that's why I'm an overachiever this week--it won't happen again, I promise!

    Ablekage is a Danish apple cake that my mom always made for Christmas and New Years, or whenever we could persuade her to make it. She of course was from Denmark and many of the Danish customs were childhood delights--like eating dessert before dinner--yum!

    These are the ingredients for Ablekage:

    4 cups bread crumbs
    1/2 cup butter or margarine
    1 cup sucanat (or white sugar)
    1 granny smith apple
    4 cups applesauce
    1 teaspoon cinnamon

    In a skillet, put bread crumbs, butter, 1/2 cup sucanat and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and with a wooden spoon over medium heat mix until browned (not blacked). In the meantime, peal and slice apple and boil for a few minutes till softened. Add apple slices to applesauce with 1/2 cup sucanat and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Of course, Mom never used a recipe, so most of this is to taste, anyway. Layer apple mixture with warm bread crumb mixture in a clear glass bowl--the layers just look pretty. Refrigerate.
    Serve with whip cream--before dinner!                                     

    Now the Rocks & Apples!

    Hand Warmer, Foot Warmer, Lap Warmer--or Tush Warmer!

    Notice the Levi pant-leg? Why not! I just cut off about 10-inches below the hole in the knee, cut out  some old corduroy scraps for the apple and leaf, and used a blanket stitch with black crochet thread as a boarder. The stem is a rogue piece of wool yarn embroidered on top. Then I sewed up the cut end, added   $2.00 of rocks from the dollar store and stitched it up.

    Ten minutes in the oven, on a cookie sheet, under 300 degrees and life is warm and toasty! Try putting it at the foot of the bed to warm those icy toes at night.  Here comes my Danish mom again--they would put bricks in the fireplace and wrap them in a towel or blanket to be placed at the foot of the bed. Imagine going to bed and it being so cold could see your breath!

    Too Many Apples?

    I was going to call this next one, "Knitted Apple," but on second consideration, I thought "Leaf with Knitted Apple," might be more accurate. It's 100% wool, so I may just throw the whole darn apple in a hot water wash and see what happens--Maybe then I could simply call it "Crab Apple." At any rate, I've replaced a smaller leaf pattern in the instructions.

    Apple Pattern:
    Using red worsted wool & 4, #6 Double pointed needles, cast on 10 sts, distribute evenly on 3 needles, join for knitting in the round.
    1st Round: Knit
    2nd Round: Kfb of each st. (20 sts)
    3rd Round: K.
    4th Round: Kfb of each st. (40 sts)
    5-15 Rounds: K.
    16th Round:[K 10, inc] 4 times (44 sts)
    17-19 Rounds: K.
    20th Round: [K1, K2tog] 14 times, K2 (30 sts)
    21st Round:[K1, K2tog] to end (20sts)
    22nd Round: K2tog to end (10sts)
    23rd Round: K around, cut yarn leaving 12 inch tail

    Stuff apple with fiberfill. Use large darning needle to sew up the bottom of the apple, then thread darning needle with the 12-inch tail at the end of the piece, pick up the stitches remaining on your knitting needles and, after adding a bit more fiberfill to top things off, pull yarn tight. Secure yarn and then stick needle down through center of apple to the bottom and back up through the top to make that cute dimple on both ends. Secure yarn & snip.

    Stem Pattern:
    Using brown worsted wool, just make a 3 stitch I-cord (Google this-it's so easy) about 2 inches or so and attach it to the top with a darning needle.

    Leaf Pattern:
    Using 2 double-pointed needles, cast on 3sts and make an I-cord about 1/2 inch long.
    1st row: (RS) K1, yo, k1, yo, k1. (5sts)
    2nd & WS rows: K
    3rd row: K2, yo, k1, yo, k2. (7 sts)
    5th row: K3, yo, k1, yo, k3. (9 sts)
    7th row: K4, yo, k1, yo, k4. (11 sts)
    9th row: K5, yo, k1, yo, k5. (13 sts)
    11th row: Ssk, k9, k2tog. (11sts)
    13th row: Ssk, k7, k2tog. (9sts)
    15th row: Ssk, k5, k2tog. (7sts)
    17th row: Ssk, k3, k2tog. (5sts)
    19th row: Ssk, k1, k2tog. (3sts)
    21st row: Sk2po. Fasten off.

    Attach by the stem.

    Whew! Done with apples--what's next?


    Sunday, January 1, 2012

    here's my pile

    This is what I've gathered up.  It's my "before" picture.

    Apples to Apples

    OK OK I will not make the first topic soufflĂ© as much as I really would like to. This is not to say that I won’t at a later date, so don’t think you’ve gotten off the hook yet you smart fish. I decided to go with something a little more well rounded, voluptuous, something with more versatility. Something that would smack Newton right on the head with a new idea, something so enticing that Snow White and Eve would forgo any warning signs or forbiddeness and succumb to a bite of sweet wonderfulness. Not to mention Johnny who was so overcome with the joy of this orb he could not help but plant its seed all over the nation. So all you ‘Apple Kings’ or shall I say queens put on your creative gear and let’s see who takes the crown on this weeks topic. Apples here we come!!! I’m so excited to see what everyone does for the first round. Pictures and recipes/instructions please ladies.
    Apple: the fleshy usually rounded red, yellow, or green edible pome fruit of a usually cultivated tree of the rose family; one that is highly cherished.