Archive for the ‘Fruit’ Category

This here is a summer meal.

“But wait!” you say, “it’s only May!”.  Well obviously you didn’t spend last weekend in Toronto/Ontario/my sweltering apartment. So if May seems a little too early to be laying in front of a fan and spritzing water on yourself from the spray bottle normally reserved for punishing the cat, forgive me.  We’re waiting for the screens for our windows to arrive, and since my cat would likely launch herself out of our apartment in chase of birds if I opened the un-screened windows all the way, for now we sweat.

So yes, you may have heard that I moved again. Spare me the “you move a lot!” remarks if you please, because my past bunch of moves have been necessary and had you lived in two back-to-back (TWO!!!) cockroach-infested apartments with a host of other problems to boot, you’d move too. This is the first time in over a year that I’ve felt like I have a home I want to go home to, and it is an immense relief and such a burden lifted off of my emotional and mental health! I am also now embarking on the adventure that is cohabitation, so things are all new up in here.

The new kitchen.

But this is a food blog, not a blog about my life (or is it? are those things not kind of the same anyways?) I owe you a summery meal, and a summery meal you’ll get.

Well hello there, magnetic knife rack…

Last Friday I finally received my copy of Alana Chernila’s cookbook, entitled The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making.  Very honestly, I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen such a beautiful cookbook. I sat down and basically read it cover to cover when I got home on Friday evening, and I rarely do that with cookbooks. I’m usually a page-flipper with new cookbooks. But time and time again, Alana’s blog has had these beautifully written pieces that say so much about food, so much that I wholeheartedly agree with.  I would be lying if I said that my eyes didn’t get a little welly-with-tears when I read certain pages of her book.  It’s wonderful, and on Friday night, I was inspired to start making more than just dinner. Saturday morning I bought rhubarb at the market, and will be making some more Rosemary-Rhubarb jam soon. But on Saturday, though none of the recipes came from her book, I made a summery feast.

Homemade veggie burgers, with homemade whole-wheat buns, maple-lemon fiddleheads (by Paul!) and homemade lemon ice cream. Nom.

Now, I won’t tell you about the burgers, because I’ve already written about them here. I’ll tell you about the ice cream and about the buns.

First, the buns. A confession: I’m a bread cheater, because I use a bread machine. I know that I could do it all without the machine, but the machine makes it SO EASY, and I have it, so I’ll continue to use it until I decide it is no longer fit for me. I adapted the bun recipe from here, primarily changing it to include more whole wheat flour and I used butter and some sunflower oil rather than shortening, because shortening is gross.

Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns for the Bread Machine

1 cup water

1 egg

1.5 cups all-purpose flour

1.5 cups whole wheat flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup softened butter (supplemented with a little bit of sunflower oil, because I didn’t have quite enough butter already softened, and I am now without a microwave and didn’t want to wait)

1/4 cup sugar

3 teaspoons yeast

1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten (optional)

I used the dough setting on my bread machine, and when it was done I punched it down on a floured cutting board and rolled into a kind of log. I cut it into 8 equal pieces, rolled those into balls, and flattened them slightly onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. I covered them with a towel and let them rise a bit more, then brushed them with some egg white, popped them in the oven at 400, and baked them for less than 10 minutes. They were DELICIOUS. I wanted to eat a million of them, but we only had 8 and they were gone so quickly. Thank goodness I’m not gluten-intolerant.

Insert “nice buns” joke here.

Now, the ice cream. The lemon ice cream. If you didn’t already know, lemon desserts are my favourite. For awhile, an old roommate of mine was calling me Liz Lemoncake, after I expressed concern that people would start complaining behind my back that I always make lemon cake. Obviously, my roommate told me I was crazy, and that people would be happy that I was bringing cake at all.  This lemon ice cream is my mom’s recipe. I grew up having it very rarely (because we didn’t use the ice cream maker that much) but remember it fondly. I have often tried to find an ice cream elsewhere that lives up to it, but have never found one – it is truly a rarety to find a lemon ice cream – not lemon sorbet, not lemon frozen yogurt, lemon ICE CREAM. It is tart and yet oh-so-creamy at the same time, and it is divine. Here it is, verbatim from my mom’s recipe (hope this one wasn’t a secret, mom!)

I think this recipe came with my mom’s ice cream maker?

makes 1 1/2 quarts
2 cups milk
4 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup lemon juice (approx 2 lemons)
2 tbsp grated lemon rind
1 tsp vanilla
heat the milk to simmering point.  In the meantime, stir together the egg yolks, sugar, and salt.  Stir the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture and return to the saucepan.  Place over low heat and stir constantly until thickened into a light custard. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients.  Cool the mixture before pouring into the ice cream freezer can.
Churn for approximately 20 minutes or until the consistency of whipped cream.  Transfer to containers and freeze until firm.
If you don’t have an ice cream machine, I can’t help you. Except that I can, if you are my friend and live in Toronto and want to come over for ice cream.

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PEACHES. Holy moly, do I ever love them. I feel like this year I’ve missed a lot of the summer seasonal fruit, both because I was out of town so much during the month of July when things like raspberries and blueberries were in their heyday, but also because this year was actually not very fruitful for some of our more beloved summer fruits – mostly the stone fruits.  Why? Well, we had a wet spring, and our already-waning pollinators can’t go out in the rain to pollinate those beautiful cherry and apricot blossoms.  Not Far From the Tree has a great blog post explaining this, check it out here.  What this all means is that now that I’m finally moved and settled, I’m also ready to start cooking, baking, and preserving like a madwoman, and peaches are right on time.

I bought myself a basket of Ontario peaches, and since our dear friend Emily was coming over the next day to see our new apartment in the morning, I wanted to make some kind of breakfast cake to be enjoyed with coffee or tea.  In the recent tradition of my freestyle banana bread, I decided to essentially make the recipe up as I went along.  The problem? Well, it seems that when I cook I can remember EITHER to take photos, OR to write down the recipe I’m making up as I go.  I have yet to master the taking of pictures AND the recipe recording AND the cooking altogether.  The result this time is that I have a great new recipe for you, with no photos of the work in progress. D’oh!

The good news? I couldn’t have been happier with how this little coffee cake thing turned out.  It was just the right sweetness, a great texture, and the peaches weren’t overpowered by the other ingredients.  Without further ado, here’s my recipe – finally, an original of mine!

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour (I used bread flour because it’s what I had on hand)

1/4 cup or so of regular large flake oats (this was an afterthought so I just dumped some in)

3/4 tsp of both baking soda and baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

some freshly grated nutmeg, and a generous pinch of cinnamon

Stir together those dry ingredients!

3/4 stick of butter, softened (a stick is one quarter of a 1lb block of butter, or 6/8 of a cup)

1/4 cup of white sugar

1/4 cup plus another small glug of maple syrup

1 egg

a splash of vanilla and a splash of dark rum

3/4 cup of plain yogurt

1 cup of chopped peaches

Cream together the butter, sugar and syrup, and then beat in the egg, vanilla, and rum.  Stir in the yogurt and then add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Stir until combined and then add in the peaches.  Bake in a VERY well-greased or parchment-lined loaf pan for approximately 45 minutes at 350 degrees.  You’ll have to keep an eye on it and just keep inserting a toothpick or fork to test for the cake’s doneness – for a long time it seemed like the top of mine was going to burn long before the cake was cooked, but it worked out fine.  I also sprinkled the top with some turbinado sugar before baking for that crunchy sugar topping!  A great finishing touch! Here’s what the cake looked like when it was done:

Now, since I did such a poor job of photo-documenting this tasty little creation, I’ll end with a smattering of photos of recent edible delights.  Next time I’ll do better, I promise!

Pizza with golden zucchini, caramelized onions, and fresh basil and kale from the garden!

Bread and Butter Pickles with Fresh Ginger!

Strawberry summer cake back from Canada Day weekend! Kat didn't get any and she was sad...

See you next time! I’ll keep you posted about my preserving exploits and the vegetarian creations I cook up on my brand new (drumroll!) BBQ!

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The following post can be read to the tune of:

I have been a very bad blogger.  This has, most certainly, been my biggest lapse and as always, I apologize.  But rather than dwell on reasons or excuses, how about I just tell you about some delicious things?  Since it’s been so long since I’ve posted here’s a smattering of images from foods I’ve made in the last couple of months:

Buckwheat pancakes with blueberry-rhubarb compote

Shaved asparagus pizza

That last photo is of my go-to veggie burger recipe.  I’ve been making it for years, and I often crave it.  Usually I have everything for it on hand, so it’s a great recipe for when you are trying to use up things in your fridge.  The first time I had these burgers my good friend and housewife Krista Nerland made them for me and some friends, back in Montreal, many moons ago.  This was when I still ate meat, and when I thought of vegetarian food as usually lacklustre – particularly when it seemed like vegetarian “health food”.  What I’m trying to say is that I was expecting to hate these burgers, and to lie through my teeth that I liked them.  But then, I DID like them.  I was surprised.  They contained something called “bulgur” and that did not at all sound appealing.  Perhaps my now-love of delicious, natural, whole foods can be traced back to this moment.  The recipe itself is from a Moosewood cookbook – Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home – to be precise.

I’ve adapted this recipe slightly – mostly to make a smaller batch, and used their variation of adding chickpeas (I honestly can’t imagine these burgers without the chickpeas – I don’t think I’d like them nearly as much).  The “small” batch – the one I’m sharing here – still makes 6-8 good sized burgers.

Mince 1 garlic clove, and saute it in some oil for a couple minutes with 3/4 cup of bulgur.  Add 1 1/2 cups of boiling water, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and bulgur is tender.  *NOTE* for years when I made this recipe I made it with fine bulgur, and never needed to actually cook it at all – I just poured the water over and covered it and let it sit (like couscous) off the heat.  This was the first time I’ve ever actually cooked it on the stove, because now I have whole bulgur which is much larger, like wheatberries (are they the same thing?!) so just note that if you have fine grain bulgur you really don’t need to cook it.

Meanwhile, assemble the following things in a mixing bowl:  1/4 cup chopped green onions, 1/4 cup grated carrot, 1/8 cup chopped parsley (I frequently use cilantro instead, and I also don’t ever measure it, I just throw a big pile in, YUM), 1/8 cup tahini, 1 tbsp. tomato paste (get the stuff in a tube and you won’t have a rotting can of paste in your fridge!), 1 tbsp. tamari, 1/2 teaspoon (or however much you like) dijon mustard, add your favourite hot sauce (optional) and salt and pepper to taste.

Mix all those things together! Then, mash 1/2 -1cup chick peas (the more you add, the harder it will be to get them to stay together, but I generally use more than the 1/2 cup the recipe calls for) and add them into the mix.  When the bulgur is ready, mix it in too.  Then form your patties (don’t burn your hands!) and place them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Bake for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.   You can also fry these burgers, but I gave that up a few years ago because they never stay together and they become an oily mess.  In the oven they still sometimes fall apart when you flip them (be gentle!) but it’s nowhere near as bad as the frying scenario.  But if you’re brave and wanna fry them, be my guest.

If you love chick peas and veggie burgers that don’t try to taste like meat, I hope you will like these a lot.  They are nutty, and the flavours all mingle so well.  I imagine you could alter this recipe to put your own favourite seasonings/sauces in it, but you would want to keep the same amount of binding liquid-y stuff (i.e. tahini, tomato paste, mustard) to drier grainier things if you care about them actually staying together.  Yum! Now I just want these for dinner, but that’s not what I’m having tonight.

In other news, that time of the year is here again – the time when I feel busy all the time because I need to use most of my precious non-working moments to can things.  Canning! I made two batches of jam today, which meant standing in a small, sweaty kitchen and stirring for longer than I normally would on a day off, but really it’s so easy and satisfying and it made me remember why I like preserving things so much.

I made an old favourite today – my Aunt Linda’s Christmas Jam, which I blogged about last year (and used my own blogged recipe today while making it, which Paul thought was cool), but I also made a new, slightly experimental jam.  Rosemary Rhubarb.  Now, I followed a recipe, and in theory it’s not very different from the Rhubarb Ginger jam I’ve made a few times before, but obviously the flavour combination is totally different, and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Paul loves it.  I like it quite a bit, though it’s the kind of thing that tastes good but also confuses your brain a little bit.  I’m interested to see how other people find it, but I think that it would definitely be amazing with a good goat’s cheese and some bread.

I hope to do a lot more experimental canning this year, and I want to break away from just jam and into more challenging things – more relishes, chutneys, sauces, syrups! I also have big plans to buy a bushel of tomatoes and can them all so that I can live off them in the sad winter months.  So stay tuned, this won’t be my last sweaty stove afternoon!

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Yesterday was a really awesome day.  It was really lovely weather, and Paul and I got up early and went to the St. Lawrence Market for the Sunday antique market. I’d never been before, and there was some really cool stuff there.  AND! I got a quilt stand! I know, I know, you’re thinking “how old is this lady?! Ninety-five?!” because really, who buys quilt stands? Well, I do.  I have this beautiful quilt I got last year in Montreal that’s more than a hundred years old and I love it and the backing is silk and I always want to look at it but I simply cannot sleep with it on my bed – I’ve done so on a few different occasions, and I’ve made existing tears bigger, and felt the backing rip over my feet.  My mom has an antique quilt stand and I thought it was exactly what I need and then I stumbled right upon one yesterday! Mega score. Paul and I also bought a Super Nintendo with a whole bunch of games.  After the market we were really hungry.  Like low-blood-sugar-cranky-pants-hungry.  I was too hungry to even think about what I wanted to eat, but Paul wanted savoury french toast.

So savoury french toast we had.  When I later explained the concept of savoury (rather than sweet) french toast to my dear friend Mara, she cringed and pretended to vomit.  To each their own, I suppose!  Really it’s just adding a bit of salt to your egg/milk mixture (and herbs, if you want to ) and then varying your toppings. Instead of maple syrup, I had mine with this delicious fresh yellow tomato and sour cream.  Paul had something strange like sour cream with ketchup and hot sauce. Either way, a delicious brunch.

Speaking of tomatoes, that yellow tomato came from Paul’s mom’s garden in Kitchener.  He went home for a quick visit and came back with 3 litres of tomatoes for me.  About half were red and half were low-acid yellow, so I decided it was definitely a bad idea to try and can the low acid ones.  I had been intrigued earlier this summer by a recipe for a yellow tomato sauce on 101 Cookbooks and decided to try it out.  The recipe was really very simple – as tomato sauces likely should always be – and it was more that I had never thought of making a sauce with yellow tomatoes before.  But how pretty!  I invited Mara over for dinner to see my new place and Paul and I made this yellow tomato sauce, also stealing the onion technique from this tomato sauce recipe from over at my other go-to food blog, Smitten Kitchen.  I think I’ve now decided that cutting an onion in half and letting it simmer in with sauce is basically the most ingenious way to get onion flavour into sauces.  Or soups for that matter, or who knows what else!  I love it.  I love this onion technique the way I love cobbler.

This sauce smelled so good while it was cooking.  Paul and I both had our concerns that it wouldn’t taste nearly as good as it smelled, but it was actually really delicious. We sauteed and threw in some of my many CSA veggies at the end (namely a funny shaped yellow zucchini, spinach, and a store-bought portobello mushroom) in an attempt to use up the many veggies I’m having a hard time consuming now that I live alone (I’ve been giving away cobs of corn and bunches of beets!)

We had the sauce over pan-friend mini gnocchi, topped with parmesan, and served it alongside a simple salad of lettuce, grated carrot and pea shoots (also all CSA items) with delicious ACE bakery baguette.

And then we ate it on my back patio.  It was awesome.  And we had cobbler for dessert (again).  This time it was peach rhubarb cobbler, and Paul thought it was better than the peach blueberry one, but I didn’t think so.

Then I left my camera sitting on the patio overnight and I’m pretty sure it rained and I KNEW when I was coming inside last night that there was something I meant to remember but couldn’t actually remember what that thing was and when I remembered this morning it was out there on the ground all soaked with beads of water but miraculously it seems fine.  The reason that I went looking for it this morning was because I was making another something delicious for breakfast in honour of Paul’s first day back to school, and first day going to school full-time in a very long time.  Again, in an effort to eat up some of my veggies I made corn pancakes!  I used a Smitten Kitchen recipe again, which you can review here – though mine seemed to turn out quite differently – the batter was pretty runny, even though I added a generous extra sprinkling of flour at the end – and they turned out more like crepes than like puffy pancakes.  But I didn’t mind, they were delicate and delicious and not too sweet so they were so good with maple syrup and coffee.  And man, they fried up really nice and golden, which I must say is the most satisfying pancake-cooking experience.

So there you have it.  A lot of really good foods in a short period of time.  And well-balanced meals! And local fruits and veggies! A pretty great day off in every way possible.

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A new house…

I realize that once again I have left you, dear (and few) readers, without a post for quite awhile.  But this time I have a really good explanation! You see, I moved!  I moved over August 27th and 28th, and then promptly went out of town until the early days of September.  So since I last posted my time has been filled with a lot of packing, moving, and unpacking (and re-acquiring of kitchen staples like bay leaves and baking soda).  Needless to say, I haven’t done a lot of cooking, let alone cooking that deserves a blog post.  So today, I’m going to tell you about a few things.  The first being that – I have a new kitchen!!! I suppose that was fairly obvious given the fact that I have a new apartment.  My new apartment is all my own though – this is the very first time I’ve ever lived alone, and so far, I love it.  One of the perks of this is that the entire fridge and freezer are mine!  My new kitchen is significantly smaller than my old kitchen, and I now have an electric stove rather than gas (whimper) and it’s one of those tiny stoves, on top of everything else.  It has virtually no counter space, but I got lucky and scored a prep table type thing from my landlord.  I was worried about this kitchen, but now that it’s all set up, I totally love it.  It’s very bright, and it has a brand new le creuset kettle on the stove (who put that there?!)

After much bulk store shopping I have built myself up a little pantry on these life-saving open shelves I got at Ikea – without which I would have virtually no room to store dry good foods.

And, last but not least, I actually have a magnetic knife rack thing now! I installed it myself, and shhh you can only tell that it’s crooked if you stand far back and look very closely!

So that’s my new kitchen! I mean sure, I don’t have a giant gas stove anymore.  And no, I don’t have anywhere (in the whole apartment) to sit and eat my food at a table; and yes, all my jams and preserves have to live wayyy on top of my cupboards.  But in the end, I think it’s a pretty good little kitchen.  And yesterday I got a pie pumpkin in my CSA (didja see it there on my pantry shelves?) and so I think that there’s some pumpkin foods in store for the near future of this blog.  Now that I’m settled you can expect some regular posts from me again!

In the meantime, I won’t leave you totally without a food post – a week or two before I left my old apartment, Paul and I made a feast of foods in order to try and use up some of the many fruits and veggies from my CSA and from assorted other food projects.  We’d bought these BEAUTIFUL wild blueberries when we went up to my uncle’s cottage, and we still had a lot of them left, and I had a few rogue peaches that were very quickly going bad.  And so, a cobbler!  I had never actually eaten or made a cobbler before, though it is apparently the easiest and most delicious dessert creation in the world.  Seriously.  Why hadn’t I had cobbler before? It is so good! All those years I spent making apple crisp in university, and never a cobbler! I am in love with cobbler.  I am tempted to throw cornmeal biscuits on top of everything I make forevermore.  Not surprisingly, I took the recipe from the beloved Smitten Kitchen, and you should take a look at her recipe.   I did, as usual, make some changes.  The big difference with what I did was that I didn’t have as much fruit as she had.  So instead of making a big casserole, I just made this cobbler in a 9-inch pie plate, with the fruit I had, and cut down on the sugar accordingly.

HOWEVER, I opted to make the same amount of biscuit topping, because I figured who doesn’t want full biscuit coverage?!  It turned out wonderfully, and like I said, you may catch me dropping cornmeal biscuits on top of nearly everything from now on.

Well friends, stay tuned! I’ll be cooking lots again, especially now that the fall crispness has set in and it’s actually tolerable to stand in a kitchen with appliances that emit heat.  I expect that these cooler months will bring a lot more soups and stews to this blog, and also a lot more recipes that aren’t from actual recipes – I tend to cook lots of meals where I indiscriminately throw things in a pot and see what happens.  And I’m looking forward to it!

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"I can haz piece of pie?"

Nobody ever really called my mom’s mom “grandma” or any of the other variations of this term.  She never wanted to be called such a thing, and so opted to have us all call her Marnie instead – a nickname for her real name, Marion.  Marnie was a master pastry chef.  I mean, she was never a pastry chef by trade, but she definitely made the best pie crust ever. EVER. Other grandmothers, back off, because Marnie had it down.  And she always said that if you want to make good pastry, that you need to make a pie a week for a year.  That’s a lot of pie, but when she had five kids plus two parents whipping together a pie for Sunday night dinner wouldn’t be too outrageous really.  For the last number of years that she was alive, making pies on holidays became too much work for her, and so holiday pies became the task of my mom and I.  And frankly, it was a harrowing experience.  We always set out with a positive attitude and relatively high hopes – at least the first few times we had a positive attitude, but I think it dwindled over time, after many overworked, broken, dry, burnt-edged pie crusts we came to dread trying it again.  Every time someone else would say “Here! I have the EASIEST pastry recipe.  It’s fool-proof”.  You know, calling something fool-proof really does a good job of making you feel like a failure when it doesn’t work out for you.

Anyways, last year I decided I wanted to make a peach pie.  Peach was always my mom’s favourite of Marnie’s pies, and I wanted to try it out and take another crack at pastry.  I used my then-roommate’s Cook’s Illustrated America’s Test Kitchens recipe to make a pretty decent peach pie, though when I took that pastry recipe home for Thanksgiving it did not work out so well.  That was the biggest pie disaster of all time, and I don’t even know if I want to talk about it.  I came back to pie again this summer, and really wanted to make a cherry pie, having never had one made with real cherries and not canned filling.  I used (as always?) a recipe from Smitten Kitchen, and also used her pastry recipe and that cherry pie was PERFECT.  I mean it, it was perfect.  So today, I try peach pie again, armed with a new pastry recipe and some tips that made all the difference.  On Smitten Kitchen she explains her pastry recipe, and I had never fully understood the mechanics of pastry before reading it, and it has made all the difference, because ladies and gents, pie crust is SCIENCE.

The most crucial bit of information is this: People like flaky pie crust, that is what makes a perfect pie crust.  The way that you get flakiness is with butter.  But here’s the trick – butter melts when it’s hot, right? So when you blend your flour, etc. with your butter you want your butter to be REALLY REALLY COLD and you want to leave pretty sizeable butter chunks in your dough because then those butter pieces will be whole when you put the pie in the oven but when it’s in the oven THE BUTTER WILL MELT AWAY and THEN you will have little empty pockets where the butter once was. AND THAT IS FLAKINESS!

I honestly did not understand this before, and understanding this has made a big difference for me.  So now, I cut up my butter into the little cubes and then stick them in the freezer for a few minutes before mixing them with the flour and I really like to leave big chunks, more than pea-sized, to get a good pastry.

One other trick that is particular to peach pie is one that I learned from that Cook’s Illustrated recipe.  You see, peaches are very juicy.  They are juicier than most other fruits that go in pies, and they tend to get a bit soupy.  So you need to add a thickening agent, and people generally use flour or cornstarch for such a thing and MAYBE tapioca.  But Cook’s Illustrated tested all those out and said that what actually works the best to cut down on soupiness while not leaving a gross floury taste is to use potato starch.  Potato starch, what even is that? Who cares, because it works better than the others.  I found a bag at the grocery store and I keep it around now for peach pies.

I also recommend getting an awesome vegetable peeler like the one I got for Christmas in my stocking – the peeler blade is serrated, which means that things that would normally be impossible to peel – like tomatoes and peaches – are totally peelable, which means I skip the blanching step that most people use to loosen the skins on peaches, because then you’ve got whole peaches without their skins and my god, have you ever really tried to pit those things? They are unbelievably slippery! Instead I get the pits out and then peel the peaches in halves or quarters with my awesome peeler.   I also recently bought a pastry blender/cutter thing at an antique shop and was excited to use it, but abandoned it pretty quickly for my hands anyways.  I prefer to use my hands to work the dough because I can feel how big my butter pieces are.

So what has all this pie ranting been about? Oh yeah.

Peach Pie

Pastry recipe, from Smitten Kitchen.  Rather than me repeat all the instructions, I suggest you just go to that link and read all about how to do it.

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces, 16 tablespoons or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold

Filling recipe, from Cook’s Illustrated

5-6 cups of peaches, pitted, peeled and sliced (I used 8 peaches)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 cup granulated sugar (I used a touch less)

3-5 tablespoons potato starch

Cinnamon, nutmeg, and whatever else you want to season it with

Oh yeah, and last but not least – if you don’t want burnt pie edges, you want to cover the edges with some tin foil.  Put the tin foil on when you put the pie in the oven, and then you can take it off for the last little bit so that they brown up but don’t burn.  Cook’s Illustrated also taught me the easiest way to do this, which is to fold a piece of tin foil in half and then cut a half-circle shape out of it that is about the size of your pie – then you’ll have a piece of tin foil with a circle in the middle, and thus the perfect piece of edge-covering tin foil.  After years of cutting little pieces and trying to fold them around a hot pie plate with edges that had already started to burn, this made my mom and I feel pretty silly (again) for our old ways of doing things.  See awesome looking space pie below.

Here’s the finished product.  It has to cool for a LONG time before it’s ready to eat, and since I’m taking it to a friend’s house for dinner tonight I haven’t actually tasted it yet.  But just LOOK at it.  It’ll be good, I just know it.

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My mom’s side of the family has a cottage in Muskoka – it’s strange because I’ve never thought of myself as somebody who HAS a cottage to go to, you know? But this is for two reasons:

a) While my immediate family and I went to this cottage every summer until I was about 13 years old, we then stopped going entirely, since my uncle (the now-owner of said cottage) was spending virtually the whole summer up there with his kids, and also since the cottage was getting a little cramped for our family as us kids got larger in size.

b) This cottage has no electricity or running water, so I’d long thought of it as a different experience than what most people think of as cottaging in Muskoka.

This year, however, I’ve been back to this cottage for the first time in 10 plus years.  And it was so SO lovely to go back – my mom’s dad bought the property and built the cottage himself when my mom was 2 years old so there’s so much family history there – my increasing heights are etched into the same wall as my mom’s.  Paul and I went up a couple of weeks ago, just for 3 days, and it was so nice.  It’s sort of like luxury camping, and it’s really quiet and beautiful.  But when you’re cooking on a propane stove with no running water in the house, you want to sort of think ahead regarding your meals.  We’re going again this coming Monday for a few days, and I wanted to plan ahead better this time, and make some food to bring up with us.  So today, after buying THESE hideous shoes for work (so ugly, but sure to prevent my debilitating leg pain from wearing horrible shoes for long stretches on my feet), I set out to make muffins.

Last time we went to the cottage we bought a bag of apples at the grocery store in Huntsville – none of the loose apples were local, so we bought a 3 pound bag, and it’s been more challenging to get through them then it would have been if so much other amazing fruit weren’t also in season right now (cantaloupe! blueberries! peaches!).  So I thought I’d make some apple muffins, using Smitten Kitchen’s Whole Wheat Apple Muffin recipe.  I didn’t have buttermilk – since I almost never do – but I also didn’t have any regular milk.  But what I DID have was cream.  That’s the same right? So I made my homemade buttermilk (1 tbsp. lemon juice per one cup milk) with cream instead of milk.  It can only make them more delicious, right?

The recipe was really easy and fast, and I love the sprinkled brown sugar on the tops of the muffins.  The only difference (besides the buttermilk/buttercream thing) from the recipe and how mine turned out was that I ended up with 12 muffins, not 18.  But, to be fair, I didn’t really want to make a second pan of muffins, and so I decided to really heap my muffin tin full of batter, hoping that this would, if nothing else, result in muffins that really have those TOPS that you get with good muffins but which I can never reproduce when I follow recipes that instruct me to fill my muffin tin 2/3 full of batter.

And MAN OH MAN did it ever work.  These babies have real muffin tops!

Now I just have to make them last until Monday morning when we leave for the cottage – I let Nicole have one because she was here when they came out of the oven (Shhh…don’t tell Kat) but I think the others will be covered with a note that says “PLEASE DON’T EAT ME” to protect them from being eaten by both myself, and anyone else who happens by this kitchen in the next 48 hours.

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