Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Zucchini bread

The mini-heat wave we had over the weekend finally broke and I managed to make it up to the garden to see what was growing. I picked a bunch of overgrown zucchini and two watermelon before I ripped out the plants. The recent wind storms had really done them in.

Last night, I made zucchini bread using a recipe that I found in Pinterest, modified to fit my tastes. Because, when is the last time I followed directions as they were written. My main goal was to make it a little bit healthier by reducing the amount of oil and sugar used.

Zucchini Bread, Redux

2-3/4 c flour
3-4 c wheat bran
1-1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg (I was out and used ~3/4 tsp allspice with equally delicious results)

1 c brown sugar
3/4 c unsweetened applesauce
1/4 c oil
4 eggs
1/3 c water
2-3 c shredded zucchini
1 tsp lemon juice
1 c nuts or chocolate chips

Mix together the dry ingredients. I have used all sorts of combinations of spices, pretty much anything that works in pumpkin pie, will work here.

I am uber lazy and dumped some applesauce into a 1 cup measure and topped it off with canola oil. To that I added the brown sugar and eggs, mixing until blended. Then the water and zucchini went into the bowl along with the lemon juice. After everything is well mixed, I added the dry ingredients and mixed until just blended, then add the nuts or chocolate chips.

This makes two loaves that have a delicious, crunchy crust and with a lovely tooth because of the wheat bran. They have just a hint of sweetness and are not greasy at all.

I cannot wait to make them again!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Apple butter finished

Today, I finished off the batch of apple butter that I started yesterday. I had spent entirely too much time surfing the net looking for recipes and ended up not following any of them. First, I don't understand the need to add extra liquid in the form of apple cider (which I misread as apple cider vinegar about 83 times before I got it right), just to spend additional time simmering.

Nor did I bother to use multiple varieties of apples. I suppose I could have, because my folks have a couple of different trees. All but one of them are a pain to get at, so I only used the one. I am way too cheap to buy apples for this.

I had 4.5 quarts of unsweetened applesauce when I began, to which I added roughly two cups of brown sugar and some cinnamon. Overall, I am pretty happy with the results; however, it is sweeter than I expected. Next time, I will try an applesauce to sweetener ratio of 8:1.

I ended up with an even dozen 4 oz jars and four 8 oz jars. I cannot wait until I can try the stuff out! I think it would be phenomenal over vanilla bean ice cream!

Saturday, September 10, 2011


I finally feel like I might possibly be in a place to start blogging again. So many changes have taken place in the last 3 (ack!) years that it would be impossible to try and chronicle them all. Instead, the super-condensed version is that

1. Sophie arrived at the tail end of January 2009
2. In May of 2009, Eric graduated from medical school
3. We moved to his residency location in June
4. In August 2009, we separated and the kids and I moved back to my hometown and have been shacking up with my folks ever since
5. I started working part-time via the internet in February 2011
6. In March 2011, the divorce was finalized.

Not much to sum up two years of angst and turmoil.

The knitting hasn't been as frequent as I would like, but there is still some. My fascination with cooking has increased, in an inverse relationship to my freedom to do so.

This fall, I have been experimenting with applesauce. Yes, I realize that I am late to the game and that there isn't much new to learn, but it has been fun trying out different things. Luckily, my folks have an apple tree that produces small, but tasty fruit. The tree is beset by an infection that is nearly impossible to eradicate, but that does not affect the taste or quality of the apples, but leaves them rather ugly. In other works, perfect for applesauce. Today, while Sophie and my nephew napped (he was visiting for the day), I grabbed a small ladder and picked a milk crate full of apples.

Normally, I go through the painstaking process of peeling and coring them before cooking the applesauce. I had read somewhere in the ethernet that cooking the apples with the skin intact will release more pectin and cause the sauce to set up more firmly. Since, this batch is destined for apple butter, I thought I would give it a whirl. Actually, what I read also recommended leaving the cores intact, but given how bitter the seeds are, I didn't want to risk that flavor seeping into the finished product.

It finally dawned on me that I don't need to quarter the apples and then remove the core. Instead, this time setting the apple on its blossom end, I made a slice that went very close to the core, but just missed the seeds. Then I turned the apple 90 degrees and made another slice. Doing this twice more left me with a square core and 4 apple chunks. The best part of doing it this was is how much faster it was than my normal routine of using the combo peeler/slicer that my mom has.

I tossed the apples in large stock pot with some water. No precise amount, just until the water came about a quarter of the way up the apples. Then, onto medium heat until the water started to boil, then I turned it down as low as it would go so as not to scorch the sauce. I cooked them covered, stirring occasionally, until everything was good and mushy. At this point, all of the skins had slipped off and were suspended in the sauce in huge chunks; not particularly appetizing. I set a food mill over a large bowl and worked the hot sauce through, leaving a silky smooth sauce.

For now, this went into the fridge. Tomorrow it will become apple butter.