Category Archives: Cooking

Making Plum Preserves

Strainer
Straining the plum preserves.

We hard a large harvest from one of our plum bushes this year! We purchased them from our County Extension Office as pencil sized twigs several years ago. The largest is now about seven feet tall. They are covered with sweet smelling white blossoms in the spring. I recently read that the type we have are called wild plums or sand cherries, among a few other names. They start to bloom after three years and produce fruit after four to six years. So we may have even more fruit next year if our other bushes kick in.

I made our first batch of plum preserves last week. I followed a recipe I found on-line which called for lime zest and juice to be added. I strained the final product through a colander which was a bit of work and had some waste. The result was tasty, if a little tart.

Just after that we went to our neighbor’s barn sale. She will be moving soon and was clearing out a lot of things. We will miss Shirley. She has been a good neighbor. And Zekie has certainly enjoyed chasing the geese off her pond. https://sanctuary-acres.com/2021/03/22/a-working-dog/ My husband and I had found a few items and were ready to leave the barn sale when we saw one last item we had to have. It was the colander type strainer with wooden pestle seen above. Our neighbor said she had used it for making applesauce. We knew that it would be perfect for making plum preserves!

I had four more pounds of plums from this week’s picking, so I made more plum jam this afternoon. This time I made plum cinnamon for one batch and the other was plum ginger with freshly grated ginger root. Both are delicious. I used the new strainer set up to remove the plum skins and it worked beautifully.

Preserves
Two flavors of plum preserves.

I also made a peach custard pie this morning with peaches I purchased at a local farm stand. It was a productive day and I am happy we were able to take advantage of local produce.

Peach custard pie
Peach custard pie.

A Summer Garden Dinner

Garden plate
Garden Plate

Late summer suppers are wonderful!

My meal this evening consisted of the following. The main entree was a fried green tomato sandwich with pine nut hummus and Lacey baby Swiss cheese on Asiago peppercorn bread from the bakery. My sides were all fried veggies from our garden. Some okra, a Japanese eggplant, and the obligatory zucchini. I did add a wedge of freshly sliced tomato too.

We go above and beyond on getting our daily allotted servings of vegetables in the summer. I haven’t bought vegetables from the grocery store in weeks. And we’ve been giving friends and family some of the excess which makes us popular.

We haven’t resorted to sneaking vegetables into strangers cars yet, but I can’t say I haven’t considered it!

A Recipe for Fresh Turnip Sauté

A turnip, just minutes out of the soil

I came up with this recipe a few years ago when we were inundated with turnips from the garden. There must have been 50 turnips, all ready for harvest at the same time. I learned my lesson. Now, I plant a short row of turnips and replant as I use them, so we have only a few turnips needing to be used at any one time.

Sautéed Turnip with Greens

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 medium turnip with greens,

Cut the end and top from the turnip. Discard end and set the greens aside. Peel the turnip and cut into slivers, or do a fine dice. Cut the greens from the turnip top and discard the top. Strip the tender greens from the tough part of the stems. You can just pull and strip them off with your hand in one fluid motion. Discard the stems. Hold the greens in a bunch on the cutting board and cut into long strips.

In a medium size skillet, heat the oil on medium heat until it swirls freely in the pan.* Add the garlic and cook until golden brown and crispy. Add the white part of the turnip and cook until tender and edges are browned. This only takes a few minutes. Add the greens to the pan and cook until partially wilted. Add more oil if needed. Be sure to flip the greens and stir in the garlic and turnip so they don’t burn on the bottom of the pan.

Add the salt and pepper. Continue cooking until the greens are fully wilted. They are especially tasty if you let the greens brown slightly. At this point, the dish is ready to serve. It holds well if you need to prepare other courses. Just turn the burner off and cover the pan. Let it sit on the burner to stay warm.

Serves 2-3 people.

Finished turnip dish.

*You may have noticed that I always mention heating the oil in the pan before adding the ingredients. This is an important step. Foods cook differently if they heat up along with the oil and it will change how the dish turns out. Also, some foods make stick to the bottom of the pan if they heat up along with the oil. You must, however, not let the oil get so hot that it smokes or it will burn your ingredients. Oil at the preferred temperature has a nice glossy flowing look to it as it swirls around the pan. It will also easily move around the pan and cover the entire bottom with ease.

Recipe for Beans and Rice

This beans and rice recipe can be used as a main dish or as a side dish. It is a good side to serve with the quesadillas shown above, link to that recipe follows. In Search of the Perfect Quesadilla This beans and rice recipe is a staple at our house. We serve it when we are due for a trip to the grocery store or don’t have any other ideas for dinner. This and spaghetti are two dishes that we have about once a week or so, because they don’t take much thought to prepare. Do you have dishes that are old standbys at your house too? What are they? We can all use more ideas of what to make for dinner!

Ingredients:

  • 1 13/4 cups water
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 small onion, chopped in large pieces
  • 1/4 of a red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cumin (adjust to taste)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1/2 to 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • tortilla chips to crumble on top
  • may be served with salsa, sour cream, or guacamole
  1. Make rice per package directions. Generally bring the water and salt to a boil, then add the rice. Cook covered for 20 minutes or until done. You can leave the rice sitting on the burner until you are ready for it. Just be sure to turn the burner off when the rice is done.
  2. While the rice cooks, prepare the other ingredients. Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Add the oil olive when the pan is hot, then heat the olive oil. You can tell the oil is hot when it easily swirls around the pan to coat the bottom. Do not let the oil smoke or burn.
  3. Add the chopped garlic, onion, and red pepper to the oil in the pan. (You can also add chopped if you want.) Sauté the vegetables until tender. You may need to put a lid on the pan for part of the cooking time to get the veggies tender without burning them.
  4. When the veggies are nearly done, add the spices and sauté for a minute or so. Keep an eye on it so the spices brown and do not burn, or they will become bitter. Drain about 1/2 the liquid from the bean can. (You could also use kidney or pinto beans.) Add the beans and remaining liquid to the mixture in the skillet. (You can also add frozen peas, finely chopped broccoli, or spinach at this point. Or not.) If you added more veggies, cook or heat until they are tender. If you only added beans, just heat them through.
  5. Add the cream of mushroom soup. (You could substitute any cream soup, celery, broccoli, golden mushroom.) Heat the mixture through.
  6. At this point, you are ready to transfer the warm rice from the cooking pot into the skillet with the soup-veggie-bean mixture. Mix the rice thoroughly with the other items, this will take a minute. Reduce the heat to low. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top. (You can use any kind of cheese. Provolone, Havarti, mozzarella, brick are all good.)
  7. Put a lid on the skillet and wait for the cheese to melt.
  8. You are ready to serve! We cut ours’s into pie shaped pieces for serving, then garnish with the crumbled chips, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole.

Serves 6, or 4 very hungry people as a main dish.

Cranberry Orange Scones with Maple Icing-Gluten Free Version

Scones
Gluten Free Scones

When I made the Cranberry Orange Scones with Maple Icing https://sanctuary-acres.com/2021/04/29/cranberry-orange-scones-with-maple-icing/ , I also made a gluten free version. Here is the recipe I used from Pinterest for the gluten free version https://feastingonfruit.com/vegan-oat-flour-scones/

I did make a few alterations to the gluten free recipe. Of course. I used chopped cranberries for the fruit and added the maple icing. I also used regular sugar and butter. The texture was a little on the crumbly side but the flavor was good.

Scones
Left: regular scones, Right: gluten free scones.

I have been experimenting with various gluten free recipes so you may be hearing more about this from me. Baking is my forte and it appears that there is nothing that reacts the same way as wheat gluten. There are substitutions but they don’t work in the same way, so the results are different. This usually means a different texture and in my experience a flatter product. Gluten appears to be necessary for the rise.

When I make some other gluten free baked goods that I am happy with, I will share the process with you!

Scones
Left: regular scones-iced, Right: gluten free scones-iced.

Cranberry Orange Scones with Maple Icing

Cranberry-Orange Scones
Cranberry Orange Scones with Maple Icing

I posted a picture of these scones and had several requests for the recipe. I had to type it up to include my alterations as I never prepare a recipe without making some changes. I figure, I know what I like so why not adjust the recipe accordingly?

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 Tablespoons butter, chilled
  • 1/3 cup cranberries, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (I substitute regular milk or almond milk with a splash of white vinegar)
  • 1 Tablespoon orange zest, freshly grated
  • 1 egg
  • 1teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda. Use a pastry cutter to cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. The butter melts during baking and allows air spaces for a soft interior texture. Stir in the chopped cranberries. The dough may require a bit of kneading to come together. Knead as little as possible, so you don’t melt the butter and lose the air spaces.

Pat dough into an 8 or 9 inch diameter circle on a greased cookie sheet. Score the circle into 8 wedges with a serrated knife, or adjust the size and number of wedges as desired.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes and move to a serving dish. Frost (or not!) when mostly cool.

Maple Icing

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, melted and slightly cooled so it doesn’t melt the sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup

Mix above ingredients together. Add more sugar to thicken, or more syrup to thin. The ratio may need to be changed slightly, depending on the temperature. Spoon mixture evenly over scones and frost with a butter knife.

Enjoy!

A Disjointed Morning

Zekie assisting momma during her on-line college class.

Today is one of those days. My activities are varied and unrelated. Do you have those days too? There is no flow and they don’t make any sense.

View of our burning bushes over the dog yard fence.

First off, remember how I said Mother Nature was confused? Mother Nature Is Confused Well, was she ever! I woke up to three inches of snow this morning. On April twenty first. In Ohio.

Azalea blanketed in snow.

We were more fortunate than others. I saw on my Facebook feed this morning that some of my friends who live closer to Lake Erie had seven inches of snow. Ours’ is mostly melted now that it is mid-afternoon. So far, our plants don’t seem to have sustained a lot of damage. We will be better able to tell when things have thawed out again tomorrow.

View out the back door this morning.

So, more about my morning. Since I didn’t want to go outside, I thought it would be a fine day to our our dog rescue’s taxes, so I did. I worked on the filing and figures for a bit the previous days. Non-profit taxes are due on May 15th, so don’t worry, I wasn’t late. And non-profits don’t actually pay taxes, at least for smaller groups. There may be a filing fee on a sliding scale, but mostly the filing is to make sure you are legitimate.

After that was out of the way, I moved on to baking. We were out of sweets, except for ice cream, which is nearly always in the freezer and it is too cold to eat that today. I baked cranberry-orange scones with maple icing. They turned out to be very tasty. I will provide that recipe another day. I also baked lime-ginger cookies made with spelt flour because hubby is on a low-gluten kick. The cookies taste good, but they are very flat and dark in color because of the spelt flour. Not the best thing I have ever made but they serve the purpose.

Refer back to the first photo in this post. This is how Zekie decided that I should attend a portion of my college course on The Science of Well-Being this morning. It’s ok, the lectures are pre-recorded so no one knew. Apparently, I was paying too much attention to the computer for too long to suit Zekie. I get a kick out of this dog. He is so interactive. After I petted him on my lap for a while, he got down and went back to sleep. A few other dogs nosed me for pets throughout the class too, but none are as insistent as Zekie. This is the major benefit of working from home. There are dogs.

And that is how I passed my morning. Once again, life is good.

Did You Know There Were So Many Kinds of Tea?

Various types of teas
So many types of tea! (Photo is not mine-from Ahmad Tea)

Who knew there were so many types of tea time? Certainly not me! Looking at these British definitions puts tea in a whole new light. In America, we are thirsty, we drink. No occasion, just a mug sitting on my desk, of coffee or tea, and there it stays with me slurping away while working and getting refills as needed. In my working years, I was so often drawn away to attend to other matters that my hot beverages were always stone cold by the time I returned. I learned to drink tea, coffee, and even “hot” chocolate when they were cold. It seemed too much time and trouble to wander down the hallway to the office microwave to reheat all the time. But look at this wonderful list of all the types of teas:

  • Cream Tea-This is what I think of when I think of tea. Tea and scones with toppings.
  • Elevensies-Morning coffee hour. Hmmm, I have this all morning long.
  • Afternoon Tea-Served with little sandwiches, scones, and sweets.
  • Low Tea-As above, using low chairs. So mine would be office chair tea?
  • Royale Tea-Tea  with Champaign or sherry. This sounds suspiciously like happy hour.
  • Celebration Tea-Afternoon Tea with cake. Cake does make everything better!
  • High Tea-Served in the late afternoon or early evening with a cooked dish. Sounds like supper to me.

I think the British got it right. These various tea types all sound like fun, making every day into a special occasion. Which sounds like more fun? “Would you like to join me for a slice of cake and a mug of coffee?” Or, “Would you care to attend Celebration Tea with me?” I vote for Celebration Tea. That’s why children don’t have coffee pot parties, they have tea parties. I suggest the next tea you offer a guest a cuppa, you ask them if they would like to attend Cream Tea. Let’s make our worlds a little more fun!

How Many Variations Can You Come Up With For This Cookie Recipe?

Orange ginger cinnamon cookies
Orange, Ginger Cinnamon Cookies

I love this cookie recipe! I got it from Pinterest, the source of most of my new recipes. Click on the following link for it. Easy Snickerdoodle Cookies Without Butter Recipe – The Frugal South Note that the recipe is not mine. The original recipe at the link above, is for snickerdoodles, but anyone who knows me, knows that I like to alter things.

I first found this recipe during the beginning of our state’s first stay at home order during the pandemic. I was looking for dessert recipes without butter because I was running low on it. This recipe uses oil instead of butter. The other great thing is, the recipe is easy! Always a plus. As the pandemic has dragged on, I have made many variations of this cookie and all have been delicious. One special note, which is pointed out on the link, do NOT over bake these cookies or they will get hard.

Some variations I have made on the original recipe follow. Add the ingredients in addition to those in the original recipe:

  • 1 box lemon jello, 1 teaspoon ginger, and 1 Tablespoon milk (or almond milk), add almond slice on top
  • 1 box lime jello, 1 teaspoon ginger, and 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 1 box orange jello, 1 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, and 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 1 cup oatmeal, 1 Tablespoon milk, and optional-1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/3 cup baking cocoa, 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter

Any of these variations could have the following added too:

  • chocolate chips, or any flavor chips
  • walnuts, pecans, almonds, etc.
  • coconut
  • dried dates, apricots, craisins, raisins, etc.

I stopped adding the sugar and cinnamon mixture from the original snickerdoodle recipe to the top of each cookie, only to save time and make it easier. You could continue to do this, if you wanted.

snickerdoodle cookie recipe
Cookies fresh from the oven!

How many variations can you come up with for this recipe?

If you enjoyed this post, consider following my blog at one of the links on this page. Thanks for reading!

Recipe For Coconut Walnut Cake

Coconut walnut cake
Coconut Walnut Cake

I was looking for a coffee cake recipe that didn’t require butter. I couldn’t find one so I adapted my old standby muffin recipe. The cake turned out to be exactly what I had in mind.

Muffin Recipe

Muffin recipe transformed to cake follows. Double the recipe above so there is sufficient volume for a Bundt pan. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. (I made adjustments to the time and temperature to accommodate a cake. )

First, combine the wet ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup liquid-I used vanilla almond milk
  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 eggs

Whisk the above ingredients until thoroughly combined.

Sift together the dry ingredients.

  • 2 1/3 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Add to wet ingredients and stir just until mixed. Then I greased a Bundt pan and added chopped walnuts to the bottom of the pan. Approximately 1/2 cup.

Then I folded the following into the batter.

  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Pour the batter into the pan. Place in oven for approximately 45 minutes. Remove from oven when toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5-10 minutes. Turn cake out onto a large plate. Allow cake to cool completely.

You could consider the cake done at this point. I decided to add an orange glaze. To do this I mixed together the following:

  • Juice of 1/2 an orange
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar

Blend these three ingredients to desired consistency. Add more juice if you want to thin the glaze. Add more sugar to thicken.

Use a spoon to drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake.

And you are done! Enjoy the cake with a scoop of ice cream on the side, or just with a warm cup of tea.