Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Strawberry Applesauce Cook-a-long

Ingredients: Apples... I have found that it entirely depends on how big the apples are, what the bag needs to weigh to fill the 8 quart pot. For me this was 11lbs worth of tiny apples that had fallen off my dads tree (first batch). 12oz of juice concentrate. Always use 100% juice concentrate. I have used cherry/apple, apple, and apple/strawberry (which I can not find this year) with great success.
Strawberries... In fact about three cups of any kind of berries will do. I have made Marionberry/blackberry, blueberry/blackberry, cherry, strawberry, and I even tried my hand at grape one day (it was much sweeter with the grape juice) and all have turned out great!

OK... so we have 3 cups of berries, apples to fill an 8 quart pot, and 12 oz of juice concentrate. So start first things first... how to chop an apple quickly. I don't like milling out seeds. So I chop my apples to leave the core behind, like this:

The only thing you have to remember is the near halves of apples will not cook quickly (the more skin, the slower it will cook), so you have to cut that in half one more time.

Adding them to the pot.

I told you these were LITTLE apples.

When you get a full pot; start the burner on.

You will hear them start to sizzle at the bottom. Add the juice concentrate (frozen or not, doesn't matter) along with ONE 12oz can of water. This helps the apples not stick to the bottom of the pot and starts the "steaming/cooking" process.

When the apples are about half way cooked, then you add the berries (again, frozen or thawed, doesn't matter. They still have about 10 minutes to cook).

Now comes the milling. I have found that the easiest way to mill apples is to have two pots. Take laddlefulls out of the full pot and put them into the mill on top of the other pot. (This pot can be smaller as this is only going to produce 6 qts of applesauce in the end.)

Cyan decided she needed to do this part. If you cook the apples enough there is VERY little waste. (I think I got just over a cup of skins)This is the point where the taste testing is important. Call you friends and neighbors over to see if the applesauce will pass mustard. If you need a little sugar, add a little sugar. Most of the time I have found that the juice concentrate is the only sweeter we need, but with some of the varieties (like the cherry) I added 1/4 cup of sugar to the mix before canning and that brought out the 'cherry' much better than before, but added VERY little sweetness... just have fun with this part.

But becareful... it doesn't seem like it, but 1/2 a cup of sugar in this mix has been TOO much. So add slowly and taste often.

And here is the finished product. This batch passed unaltered...

Friday, August 18, 2006

Vegan Zucchini Muffins CookAlong

Canola or safflower oil for greasing muffin tins (you can use PAM too)
1 1/2 c tightly packed, coarsely grated zucchini
3 Tbs flax seeds
1/2 c water
1 1/2 c WW pastry flour
1 c barley flour (spelt works, and I also have used just unbleached in this spot)
1 Tbs baking powder (Rumford)
1 1/2 to 2 tea cinnamon
3/4 to 1 tea ground ginger
1/4 tea ground cloves (or sub 5-Spice)
1/2 tea sea salt (important to bring out the flavors... have tried it without... not quite as good)
1/2 c dried rasins, currents, or cranberries
1/2 c apple juice
1/3 c maple syrup
1/3 c canola or safflower oil
(an overripe banana is my secret ingredient to these muffins for my family... they like things a bit sweeter than the average "food muffin" fare.)

Gather your ingredients:

Gather your help, complete with cheesy grin:

#1. Brush the muffin tins with the oil and set aside.

#2. Set the zucchini in a colander over a bowl or plate to drain.

#3. In a blender, grind the flax seeds. Add the water and process more until slightly gumy mixture is acheived, about 30 seconds.

#4. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients including the currents/rasins.

#5. To the flax seed mixture, add the apple juice, maple syrup, oil and vanilla (and here I add in a banana as well). Process in blender until foamy, about 1 minute.

#6. Press zucchini to make sure most of the moisture is out of it.

#7. Blend the liquid mixture and the zucchini into the dry mixture, just until all of the flour is absorbed (too much more and they get dry).

(See mom! There are no eggs! I can eat the dough!!!)

#8. Fill the oiled muffin tins almost to the top with batter, and bake on the center shelf of an oven preheated to 375* until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean and the tops bounce back to gentle pressure. (18-20 minutes in my experience)

#9. Set the muffins on a rack to cool, running a knife around the outside to remove them from the pans (you may have to remove them from the pans hot because they tend to get soggy around the bottom if you don't). Serve warm or cool or store for future use.

And what does my future Domestic Goddess in Training do while her muffins are cooking?

For vegan baking these are surprizingly simple. You dirty one spoon, one blender, one large bowl, and muffin tins, and they always come out. I experiment with these pretty often because they are such wonderful canidates, esp this time of year with all the zucchini I have running my back yard

I have added dates instead of rasins with only 5-spice as all the spices, and that turned out wonderful. It is a recipe I keep in my mental stocks for when we need a fast breakfast but not for a couple days or so... Like planning a road trip or something. These are always on the menu. They are perfect with a juice boxed size of chocolate rice milk in the car. (or with a juice box for that matter)