an embarrassment of saskatoon berries

It took me about an hour this morning to pick three and a half pounds of saskatoon berries, which are seriously over-achieving this year. These went directly into a crisp, whereas the seven pounds plus that Robin, Foster and I picked last night went into jam or the freezer. Only another four thousand pounds to go.

oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Look, I never claimed to be a great food photographer, okay?

These aren’t healthy, but they’re good. And fast and easy.

  1. Throw 1 cup of butter and 1 1/4 cups of packed brown sugar into the stand mixer and let ‘er rip until smooth.
  2. Add a dash of vanilla and 2 eggs and mix some more.
  3. Dump in 3 cups of large flake oats, 1 1/3 cups of whole wheat flour, 1 tsp of baking soda and a decent pinch of salt and mix yet again. (Sure, you can combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl first and add them to the wet all at once, Martha, but I don’t bother and they turn out fine.)
  4. When it looks like cookie dough, add 1 cup of chocolate chips or raisins, if you’re weird, and mix just enough to distribute them evenly.
  5. Roll the dough into golf ball-sized balls and bake a few (at 350° for 10 minutes) to gorge upon now, but stick the rest into the freezer and bake whenever needed. Like, say, tomorrow and the next day and every day thereafter until they’re gone.

very easy cranberry orange chutney

Don’t judge me; taking appealing photos of food is really hard.

In a fairly large pot, combine all of this:

2 bags cranberries (6-7 cups total)
3-4 onions, depending on the size
2 cups raisins
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1.5 cups white sugar
1.5 cups brown sugar
zest and juice from 2 oranges (zest first, then juice)
2 tsp each of salt, cinnamon, ginger and ground cloves

Bring the pot to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about half an hour, stirring occasionally. Be careful not to stand over the pot and inhale too deeply because all that vinegary steam probably kills brain cells.

Once it has thickened and most of the cranberries have burst, let it cool a bit and taste it. Good, right? It’s sparky. Puts hair on your chest. Now ladle it into jars. I’d say it makes about six cups’ worth, but I’ve never actually measured. Label the jars and refrigerate or freeze. Serve with anything that needs a bit of cranberry sauce with attitude.

homemade hot cocoa mix

Want to know the ingredient list of a popular, unnamed hot cocoa mix? Are you sure? Here goes:

Sugar, Modified Milk Ingredients, Glucose Solids, Hydrogenated Coconut, Palm Kernel and Soy Oils, Cocoa, Salt, Cellulose Gum, Flavour And Artificial Flavour, Dipotassium Phosphate, Mono- And Diglycerides, Datem, Silicon Dioxide, Guar Gum.

Yeah, nothing says warm and delicious like palm oil and silicon dioxide.

Or you could make my homemade hot cocoa mix with four totally ordinary ingredients:

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/4 cups powdered milk
1 tsp salt

Put it all in a container and shake. Done. Next time you’ll find a bigger container and double the recipe, mark my words.

To serve, put a few teaspoons (or tablespoons, whatever, I don’t judge) of the mix in a mug and add hot water.

I can’t believe it’s tofu: an egg-free, oil-free banana bread cake

Not long ago, I read somewhere that silken tofu can be used as a substitute in baking for either eggs or oil. Ah, I thought, but what about using it as a substitute for both? Challenge accepted.

The result is this egg-free and oil-free banana bread that I call a cake only because I bake it in a 9×13” pan. When I make it in the stand mixer, it takes no more than ten minutes to prepare and it’s really, really good.

Here’s what I do:

Mix together two cups of flour*, one cup of sugar** and one teaspoon of baking soda.

Dump in one 300g package of silken (soft) tofu, a splash of vanilla and two large bananas (or three if they’re on the smaller side) and mix it until it’s all wet. (For the first five seconds of mixing, I always panic and think there isn’t enough moisture, but there is.)

Toss in two tablespoons of chia seeds, one-third of a cup of chocolate chips and about one cup of nuts. Hemp or flax seeds would probably be good here, too, as would shredded coconut or dried cherries.

Give another quick mix to incorporate the add-ins and scrape the bottom of the bowl to make sure there’s no pocket of flour hiding there.

Plop the batter into a parchment-lined 9×13” pan, spread it around, sprinkle another quarter cup of chocolate chips on top and bake at 350°F for 25 minutes.

Notes:

* For flour, I make a gigantic jar of my own gluten-free mix by dumping in approximately equal measures of every crazy kind of flour I can get my hands on. Spelt, buckwheat, coconut, barley, quinoa, farro, oat – you name it and it’s in there. Because I’m only interested in increasing the diversity of our food and not baking for someone with celiac disease, this is good enough for us. For this recipe, I sometimes use one and a half cups of my mega-mix and half a cup of whole wheat.

** For sugar, I use half a cup of regular white granulated and half a cup of turbinado when I have it. When I don’t, I use all granulated.

Disclaimer:

This is just the way I make it. I’m not a chef or a nutritionist so I can’t say how many calories are in it or what will happen if you want to make huge changes like cooking it over a campfire or substituting turnip for the banana. Give your weird idea a shot and see what happens. If it’s good, you’ll look like a genius. If it’s…interesting, don’t despair because someone at some point will be desperate enough to eat it, especially if there are chocolate chips involved.

an embarrassment of eggs

Our lovely young ladies have been defying my expectations and laying like champs all winter, even through the darkest, coldest days. I know the day will come when they go moulty or moody or broody and slow down or, gulp, even stop laying for a while so I’m appreciating every egg they gift us, but at the same time it can be a bit overwhelming.

With nine hens, we usually get eight eggs per day – although there have been a few days when all nine laid – which means about 56 eggs per week. So we’ve been eating lots and lots of fried eggs, scrambled eggs, hard-boiled eggs and French toast. We’ve given dozens away to the neighbours, to co-workers, to my parents. And yet, as of this moment, our egg count is over 80 (that’s 50 in the bowl above) and the ladies haven’t even laid yet today.

Anybody want some eggs? Free-range, lovingly tended, very reasonably priced. Anyone?