02 . 06 . 12
Even after all this time,
the Sun never says to the Earth,
“you owe me.”
Look what happens with a love like that.
It lights the whole sky.
The words can’t quite come together for this one. Better not to force it. Alas, there is cake. Beet Cake. A bit more on the earthy side then carrots are to carrot cake, the beet variety with the added texture of the seeds and sweetened with brown rice syrup makes a more lasting impression than the former. Add a drizzle of the orange-poppy glaze to make it dessert, or enjoy plain with coffee in the morning. Red beets immediately stain the batter, but once baked you’ll cut into a fabulous rainbow assortment of color and texture.
Beet, Seed, and Blood Orange Cake
Adapted from Tender by Nigel Slater
- 1 3/4 cups gluten free flour blend
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- scant tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 3/4 cup walnut oil
- 1 cup brown rice syrup
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups raw red beets, shredded
- juice of 1 blood orange
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1/2 cup mixed seeds (flax, sunflower, pumpkin)
Blood Orange, Poppy Seed Glaze
- 1/4 cup brown rice syrup
- juice of 1 blood orange
- poppy seeds
Preheat the oven to 350′ and prepare a loaf pan with oil and line with parchment. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat together the oil and brown rice syrup. Mix in the eggs one at a time. Grate the beets and fold into the mixture, adding the blood orange juice, seeds, and raisins accordingly. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Slowly fold into the wet ingredients. Pour the mixture into the loaf pan and bake for 55-60 minutes. Test with a toothpick around 50 min to test for doneness. Let cool for 15-20 minutes before serving.
For the glaze, simply mix together brown rice syrup, juice and a bit of zest of a blood orange, and a few shakes of poppy seeds in a small jar. Set in the fridge while the cake bakes to serve chilled and thickened later.
01 . 08 . 12
When I began blogging in 2010 I was completely blown away by the prolific community of food writers and home cooks who shared their stories and their inspiration on the web. Come to think of it, I barely visited blogs let alone food blogs, until giving it all a go myself… It was one of those “jump before looking how deep the water was first” sort of things. Needless to say, I spent countless hours pouring over gorgeous, articulate web pages, trying to learn as much as I could. Good Things Grow (formerly So Good and Tasty) was one of the first to educate me on this crazy, cool world of food blogs. Beautiful photos, authentic writing, and Jacqui’s detailed consideration to the process of creating wholesome, seasonal meals was (and still is) incredibly inspiring. I was thrilled and totally honored when she agreed to guest post this week. In addition to her beautiful blog, Jacqui owns and operates her own creative studio, Slide Sideways, with her husband Scott. They make some of the coolest graphics, logos and other goodies on their etsy shop. Thank you Jacqui for sharing this stunning lemon tart. You’re the best….
(more…) «Guest Post from “Good Things Grow”»
Connections are made every day. Sometimes they’re large or life changing. Other times they’re as simple as a smile to a passerby on the street or stopping to observe Spring’s first flowers pushing through the cool, heavy earth. These little connections are made everyday whether you stop to take notice or not.
One connection that continues to intrigue and inspire me is food. It’s amazing to think that one little seed, when loved and cared for, grows into something that nourishes the body and mind. That those little seeds make a meal that I can then share with friends and family, making even further connections, that soon become memories of those meals and times past.
When I take the time to photograph a new recipe I’ve made and post it to share with others, who then take the time to read it, I think about all those connections I’ve made with people I don’t even know and it blows me away. I’ve entered their lives in some small way and it feels good. So when Kelsey asked if I would be a guest on her blog, I couldn’t say yes fast enough. The food, photographs, and writing she shares on Happyolks inspires me and it’s another connection I’m glad I’ve made.
This lemon tart is the perfect way to end any meal. The yogurt keeps it light and the lemon is refreshing and bright. It’s on the tart side though, so if you prefer something sweeter you can add a little more sugar to the filling (about 3/4 cup total), although I’m a big fan of tart meets slightly sweet desserts. The rosemary in the crust is very subtle, but adds the perfect earthy touch to make the tart more interesting.
Lemon Tart with Rosemary Crust
Created, photographed, and shared by Good Things Grow
for the crust
- 1 1/3 cup spelt flour
- 3 tablespoons cane sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
- pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup cold butter, cubed
- 1-2 tablespoon ice water
for the filling
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup cane sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Lightly butter a 9-inch tart pan and set aside.
Place the flour, sugar, rosemary, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times. Add the butter and pulse until little pea sized bits start to form. Add in the ice water, starting with just 1 tablespoon. Pulse a few more times, then check the dough to see if it holds together when pressed between your fingers. If not, add the 2nd tablespoon. The dough may still seem crumbly, but as long as it holds together when pressed it will be perfect.
Dump the dough out into the prepared tart pan. Starting from the center, work your way out to the sides by pressing the dough firmly into the pan. Make sure you press it up along the sides evenly. Pierce the bottom with a fork a few times and place in the oven to bake for about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for at least 5 minutes before filling.
Meanwhile prepare the filling. Place the yogurt and sugar in a bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, then add the lemon juice and zest. Whisk until smooth and everything is evenly combined.
Pour the filling into the crust and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the center is set and only slightly jiggles when shaken lightly.
Allow to cool completely then place in the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour before serving. Tart can be made the day before and kept covered and chilled in the fridge. Serve with fresh whipped cream if you’d like.
12 . 16 . 11
I love this season. It’s cold. There are lights. There is hand holding. There is fellowship among strangers. Joy elevates the mundane, and cultivates memories to satiate and linger through the early months of another year, a new year. The blankets come down from the closet, there is ample excuse to bake, and we somehow find time, make time to connect.
For no particular reason, there are some days when I am shaken by the absurdity of my blessings. I learned at a young age that the holidays are not all gingerbread and champagne for everyone. I remember that when everyone seemed to be getting out of school and taking time off, my mom’s private practice was just ramping up. While the “other moms” were planning progressive dinners, she was helping the mourning, lonely, and lost to navigate the hardest part of their year.
There can be just as much sadness as there is joy associated with this season. I try to remember this everyday. While I indulge in the sweet embrace of loved ones next week, I know that someone, somewhere, is alone. Someone, somewhere, is piecing together a semblance of celebration after deep, confusing loss.
It’s startling, to witness your own luck. How mind-blowing it is to have so much, again, another year.
Of course there are moments throughout the season that frustrate. Our relatives can make us crazy. You’ll bump into that person from high school you really would have rather avoided. You’ll feel obligated to attend certain neighborhood functions. Your partner will exceed the 50lb baggage limit. You’ll be late to work. Someone will forget to change the roll in the guest room. There will be thousands of crazy, maddening moments and interactions this season.
Remember that someone, just like you, somewhere on this planet doesn’t get those crazy, maddening moments. They have no one to burn the biscuits for. They are trying to understand the meaning of tradition when there is now an empty seat at the table.
Here’s the thing… I want every single crazy moment that comes with this time of year. I know that one year, if I am not so lucky as I am now, that I will cling to the taste and the touch and the sounds of all these moments and how they made my life so rich and full. I want to do the things I don’t want to really do, I want to see the people I don’t really want to see, I want show, express, and appreciate every bit of it.
Roasted Chestnut Spread
- 1 lb Chestnuts
- 1 1/2 – 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
Roasting and shucking chestnuts is more fun with a partner, so grab a partner and tell them to set the oven to 425.’ As the oven preheats, begin working with the chestnuts by cutting a large x on the rounded side of each shell. Place flat side down on a pan. I cover mine with parchment because it’s a bit “seasoned” if you know what I mean. Pour a cup of water over the cross-hatched chestnuts and roast for about 22-25 minutes.
Remove from the oven, the skins should have peel back a bit by now. Let cool for about 10 minutes before getting started on the peeling process. You’ll need to discard the tough, dark brown shell as well as the thin brown skin that coats the actual soft nut. From all my research, each nut has a different story. Some shells and skins are a nuisance while others come off quite easily. It’s a tedious job, but definitely worth it. Toss naked chestnuts into small pot and cover with 1 1/2 – 2 cups of water, depending on how many nuts you ended up yielding. I usually come out with a few nasty moldy dudes and some that crumble apart when I’m trying to peel, so my best guess is that I have about 8-10 ounces of actual nut when it’s all said and done. Add sugar and vanilla. Bring to a boil and stir, allowing to simmer for about 15 minutes.
Remove from heat. Let sit in the pot for a bit before transferring to a food processer with the blade attachment. Process for about 5 minutes, adding a tiny bit of water or warm milk to the mixture to help things along. Transfer to a jar or serve immediately with crepes, toast, or apple slices.
Recipe adapted from Jennie. Cowl/Scarf made by Melissa. Find more music by the amazing (22 year-old!!) Ben Howard Here.
12 . 04 . 11
Muscle memory. By definition it’s synonymous with motor learning, a form of procedural memory that involves consolidating a specific motor task into memory through repetition. The idea is when a movement or thought process is repeated over time, a “long-term muscle memory” is created so that with practice that task can be performed without a conscious effort. It’s a concept that’s been on my mind lately. With the end of another semester upon me, I’ve begun to feel the usual stresses that accompany it.
With three and a half years practice, the muscle memory is pretty reliable by now. My mind and body quickly get with the program, summoning my emotion, faculty, and willpower to engage at full speed. In some ways this is great. Things get done. Books get read. Term papers get written. But what trappings have my conditioned mind led me into again? Unnecessary stress? Check. Anxiety? Check. Emotional highs and lows? Check. Silly stuff in the big picture.
I think the whole muscle memory concept is amazing when you step back and look at how it works in so many aspects of our lives. On the physiological level, a person can teach her legs, her heart, and her lungs to run, jump, skip, swim — and with time she can be active without a conscious effort. In the same way I think there is a sort of psychological muscle memory that exists too. We can program our thoughts and responses to variety of situations through repeated practice to a point where these things too can be performed without conscious effort. Over time instead of stopping and thinking, our brains skip thinking and our muscles just “do,” or react. In some ways, this can be incredibly powerful. We can condition positivity, optimism, and non-judgment to inherently color our intentions and actions. On the flip side, it also means we fall into traps of repeated emotions and behaviors that we’ve been programmed for so long to experience the condition in a certain way.
Here’s the awesome part: we can totally reprogram our muscle memory. It takes one conscious second to check yourself and say, “Hey, experience X, so we’ve been here before, how has my programmed response been working out? What if we tried this a little differently?” With enough practice (and a bit of patience and self-love) we can rewire our responses to certain experiences and situations to better serve us. There will be slips. We’ll fall back into those old habits and thoughts. It’s okay. We’re human. But in time those yucky, dark spots that we find ourselves falling into in certain situations will be obsolete.
I’m practicing, in oh so many ways. Final exam preparations included. It’s working. Start with a piece of Spiced Apple Molasses Cake.
Spiced Apple Molasses Cake
Slightly adapted from Real Simple
- 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
- 5 apples (I used fuji) peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
Heat oven to 350° F. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside. In a mixing bowl or stand mixer, whisk together the oil, molasses, brown sugar, egg, ginger, vanilla and ½ cup boiling water. Slowly stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Add the apples last, folding generously to disperse evenly throughout the mixture. Pour batter into an oiled and floured cake pan, or cast iron skillet. Bake for 45 minutes (closer to 55 with the cast iron) until it passes the toothpick test. Let cool for at least 10 minutes. Enjoy as a dessert or breakfast cake with a cup of french pressed coffee.
11 . 15 . 11
“Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.” ― Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking
This is my only offering this week. Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant. Death reminds us that our time on this planet is precious and unknown. All we have is this day. Today. Ask yourself how much did you love? Would it be enough?
With guidance from Tartine
- 3 cups persimmons, chopped
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 tsp butter
- 3 tsp sugar
- 4 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 T. baking powder
- 3/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, very cold
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk or dairy-free alternative
- (optional glaze or reduction, see footnotes)
Preheat the oven to 400′. In a medium saucepan over high heat, melt 2 teaspoons of butter with vanilla and sugar, add chopped persimmons. Reduce heat and stir for 5-10 minutes until softened. Set aside.
Combine flour, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. Add sugar, salt, and stir together. Cut or shave the butter into dry ingredients. Use a fork or whisk to break up the butter into small chunks throughout the mixture.
Add the buttermilk, then the persimmons. Mix lightly with a wooden spoon until the dough holds together, adding buttermilk or the reserved persimmon liquid to the dough as needed.
Dust a piece of parchment paper with flour and turn out the dough. Pat the dough into a rectangle (if making round scones, er, hockey pucks like mine) or into two circles, about 1-2″ thick. Using a round cutter, press out scones and lay on a baking sheet with parchment paper making sure to leave at least 1″ of space between each scone. Sprinkle raw sugar over the tops, generously, and bake for 25-35 minutes until just slightly browned.
*I think this Maple Nut Cream from Adrienneats, or a Maple Glaze from The Healthy Green Kitchen would make winning toppers to these guys. They’re more on the biscuit end, so a hit of sweet frosting or glaze would really make these a treat.