A celebratory crumble..

jenjoycedesign© apple crumbleHearing the excavator scraping away against a very rocky volcanic earth for a new foundation at 7 o’clock this morning was absolute music to my ears, and watching the gradual additional equipment arrive up one by one on our dusty road is just making me blast off into an orbit of happiness. I welcome the noise of production finally, over the deafening silence of waiting .  Starting rebuild construction,  twelve days short of a year since the wildfire, and no more waiting!  I have in fact, made a celebratory apple crumble to bring up to the workers this afternoon, when things settle in a bit.  Here’s my totally improvised recipe …

Jen’s Apple Crumble (from the Tiny Oven)

Sugar Mixture: blend 1/2 cup brown and 1/2 cup white sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp salt. Set aside.

Apples: Peel, core & quarter 3 large tart apples. Blend 1/2  of sugar mixture with 3 tablespoons flour then into the apples, place in bowl and set aside.

Crumble: In small processor, grind 1 cup of rolled oats (or just use quick oats), empty into large bowl.  In processor blend 1/2 cup cold butter and 1 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour, finely as for pie crust, and add to oats. Add the rest of sugar mixture in with flour & oats and toss with just enough ice cold water to make it bind a little when pressed together, but much of it still very crumbly & loose.

Assemble: Press a little more than half the flour/oat/sugar mixture into bottom of an 8 or 9 inch square baking dish.  Layer apples evenly, but not touching dish, then sprinkle the rest of the flour/sugar mixture on top.  Sprinkle additional sugar on top to taste.

Bake at 350F until crumble is golden and apple layer begins to bubble. ( In our Tiny House tiny oven, most things burn, so I waited until the fruity syrup began to bubble before taking out of the oven, at the risk of a little burn)

Bergamot

Earl Grey tea

I noticed this particular blend of Earl Grey tea has blue flowers. Blue flowers? Not knowing what flower this could be, I did a tiny bit of research on Earl Grey tea, and of bergamot too, wondering if those petals could be bergamot flower?  My findings  enlighten me to the fact that there are actually two kinds of bergamot in the botanical world!  First, the European grown Bergamot Orange , botanical name is Citrus Bergamia.

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Second, the North American herbal plant Wild Bergamot, also known as Bee Balm,  botanical name is  Monardae20b82df1129d9ef5b8e8e91d7e1a0cb
This was confusing to me, because the herbaceous bergamot has a purplish flower, which some of the Earl Grey tea blends have.  Now, reading up on ingredients in Earl Grey blends, I found that the dried petals in my tea could very possibly be cornflower petals !HHDL_Garden_Cornflower
The type of blue flower petals in my tea blend is still a mystery, however, there is no debate that the signature flavor of Earl Grey tea is the citrus kind of Bergamot, the essential oil which is extracted from the aromatic skin of the sour fruit.

I have also discovered that Earl Grey tea is one of the most varied blends of tea,  and that “Earl Grey” as applied to tea is not a registered trademark, thus numerous tea companies produce their own blends of Earl Grey tea, using a wide variety of tea leaves and additives.  Aside from black tea, obviously, ingredients vary enough to make me dizzy; there is foremost the essential oil of the citrus bergamot, but may also citrus rind, licorice root, lavender, mallow flower, monarda flower, cornflower, jasmine, rose petals lemon grass,  vanilla ~~ just to name a few ingredients I have found so far.  What are the ingredients in your favorite Earl Grey blend?

All very well & good!  Actually, the reason for my curiosity is that I have been thinking about making Earl Grey ice-cream lately,  among other forthcoming tea-inspired ideas, so I finally did, and here’s  how I made a small sample batch, including a little photo slideshow…

  1. Heat to scalding, 1 cup of heavy cream with 2-4 tablespoons of your favorite Earl Grey blend in the cream — no need to boil.
  2. Add 1/2 cup sugar, and let it sit a couple of hours at least, to get the Earl Grey flavors exuding into the cream.
  3. When completely cool, stir well, and strain through sieve, then and add 1 cup milk.
  4. Churn freeze & enjoy!

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Served up in a little espresso demitasse,

and let me tell you,

the ice-cream is every bit as fragrant as the tea,  

absolutely delicious … 

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Earl Grey  tea ice-cream

… and I think that the Earl himself would approve!

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The Earl Charles Grey, 1764-1845

 

Invincible Summer Lemonade

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” In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”                           — Albert Camus

In California in winter you might very well witness yellow lemons fattening on the branches of the Meyer Lemon tree, bringing summer into winter.   This is so at odds with one’s expectations, that I found the quote by Camus to be perfect!

And now for a little fun research on the extraordinary & delicious Meyer lemon ~~ ​In the turn of the last century, American “agricultural explorer” Frank Nicholas Meyer collected a sample of a native​ lemon plant on a trip to China​, which was believed by him to be a hybrid of a lemon and a mandarin orange. He introduced ​it to the United States in 1908.

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The Meyer lemon is commonly grown in garden pots as an ornamental tree​, I personally have one, and feel they are delicious and wonderful potted citrus to have.  California Cuisine chef Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in Berkeley  rediscovered this fruit in the cuisine revolution of the 90’s, as did Martha Stewart when she began featuring them in her recipes.  I remember that era & the popularizing of the Meyer lemon very well. ed4eb8cff64f736b233f46e4813b5fd7

“The Meyer lemon fruit is yellow and rounder than a true lemon. The skin is fragrant and thin, colored a deep yellow with a slight orange tint when ripe. Meyer lemon fruits have a sweeter, less acidic flavor than the more common Lisbon or Eureka varieties. The pulp is a dark yellow…” read more …

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Happy Summer Solstice everyone ~~ and on this first day of summer, I give to you my very own extremely delicious sparkling Meyer lemonade recipe ~~ having just renamed it just for this solstice  “Invincible Summer Lemonade” ! ​ This recipe will make you  a couple of tall glasses of delightful ice-cold lemony refreshment, so dig out your zesters and make sure there’s plenty of ice in the freezer.

  1. Pick 1  ripe fruit from your Meyer lemon tree, or from the produce stall at the market, but really, any kind of  fresh lemon will do,  just avoid using old stale lemons.
  2. With a zesting tool, zest outer skin of entire lemon, only the yellow part, avoiding the bitter white of the peel if possible.   If you don’t have a zester, then use a grater, but more often than not, too much of the peel is lost to the grater.
  3. Into a glass quart jar or liquid measure, combine 2-4 tbsp organic sugar, and lemon peel and let sit for 30 minutes, while stirring once or twice while sugar is leeching out those tasty essential oils from peel, the signature flavor in this drink.
  4. Now juice the peeled lemon and pour juice over sugar-zest mixture. Stir well until all the sugar dissolves in the lemon juice.
  5. Pour into juice 2 to 3 cups sparkling mineral water ( or a combination of sparkling and cold water).  Add more sugar if desired.
  6. Pour lemonade through strainer over ice into pitcher or glasses & enjoy the best taste of summer you’ll ever have.   Perhaps while contemplating the following text by Albert Camus …

In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger — something better, pushing right back. Let the situation be as cold as winter but the heat lies within you. “

moody monday

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Emma and I are moody.

When feeling under the weather (on the eve of a birthday)…make candy!

Emma wants some …

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( See her nose? )

 Honestly, I have not gone on a candy-making jag in years.  I used no recipe, just tossed ingredients ( about a cup of org. sugar, a bit more than half cube of salted butter, a glob of corn syrup, and a dash of cream) in a small saucepan over a low flame while cold-water testing until it was right. Poored in a buttered pyrex dish over a bed of chopped toasted almonds, then sprinkled more on top.  I ate a ton of it, it shook off the blues, and then I felt better.

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Oh, and knit something really amazing !!!  Anyway, the rest of it is just cozy, dark drizzling dank gorgeous wintery day, while drinking coffee, munching butter toffee and knitting. I will be home in my hermitage for the week just working on forthcoming design. 🙂

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Three Days

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One of my weird kitchen concoctions ~~ hot pepper chocolate.

I have been home alone on the mountain with Emma and The Ravens for four days now.  Jeff is returning tonight,  from Mexico where he has been visiting with his daughter in Cancun since the nineteenth, visiting ancient Mayan ruins and enjoying a lovely warm beach.  Here, I’ve been very busy with holding the fort, and working on this lacey thing . . .

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But really what I’ve been working hard on while alone in the house, is my traditional gift of Christmas to Jeff, but I dare not show you a thing until Christmas morning. In the mean time, still serving up my Spiced Chocolate drink if you’d like to stop by ~~I’ll whip one up for you !  If you can’t make it over, I understand, but you’ll have to try this at home ! Here’s how :

 Jen’s Spicy Bittersweet Chocolate 

(For two servings)

With a mortar & pestle, crunch up a couple of cinnamon sticks, and dried chile flakes or a whole small chile pepper  ~~ to taste, what you consider ‘barely hot’ , or ‘really hot’, it is up to you.

(( Optional:  a few cardamom pods, and a  ‘petal’ from a star anise pod, a dash of grey sea salt ))

Simmer in a pan with  about 3 cups of water for about 20 minutes, take off heat and melt into it a few ounces bittersweet chocolate, whisking while it melts.

More chocolate is nice… as much as you feel to balance against the heat of the peppers.  I don’t add more sugar, as the idea is to be bittersweet and spicy hot… which is really delicious. However, nobody is stopping you from sweetening it up :).

Whip up a small bowl of cream, again, barely sweetened.

Strain through sieve into cups and pile on the whipped cream , sprinkle with something… like nutmeg or cinnamon… and enjoy !

Wishing You All and Yours lovely days of these fresh first winter days (or summer) and Happy Christmas sentiments.

A Toothsome Treat

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I don’t often post about things outside of knitting or stitching, but yesterday I let my knitting sit, and caught up on some gardening, tomato sauce making, and other things which needed doing.  While I was in the kitchen turning a pile of picked tomatoes of all shapes, colors and sizes into tomato sauce,  I got side-tracked into an experiment of something I’ve never made before ~~ an ice-cream cake !!! I want to share this with you, as it’s really amazingly good.  Here’s how I did it :

I started with one layer, half of my favorite chocolate cake recipe. Heated in a double boiler a cup of cream with about 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, just to melting point, and added a little Amaretto liqueur. This is a very thin genache pour, which in its frozen state does not become too brittle,  then set aside to cool to room temp.  I then made coffee ice-cream, about a quart, and put in freezer.

When cake layer cooled, I cut carefully in half and with cut sides up, spooned into the layers some more Amaretto.  It probably would have been better to do the cake and freeze the layers at this point, for an hour or so, before even thinking about making the ice-cream or genache, though I didn’t and I wish I had.

Next on to one of the halves of the cake, cut side up, I spooned the soft ice-cream, and carefully topped it with other layer cut side down, and pressed in a little.  With a cake knife, smoothing out the sides a bit, and put in freezer to harden up for an hour.

I then began the process of pouring a little  genache on top and spreading it down sides,  while quickly and adeptly scooping up from the waxed paper back on to the sides as it thickened some.  I put back in the freezer for about 10 minutes, and repeated this last step though it quickly became very messy, until there was no more genache left, but enough to put into a decorator bag and write something on top, such as ” I dare you to eat this all at once ! ” or ” Happy Birthday ” or something magnificently poetic.

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  Well, that is how I made this ice-cream cake and I hope you try it some time !

Summer Solstice

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I can’t think of a better  thing to post on the summer solstice than to show off the apricot jam I just made !  I beat the ravens & jays to this year’s crop of uncommonly tiny but plentiful fruits, and surprisingly I was able to make at least a few jars of apricot jam ( I did toss a few dried sour cherries in there too).

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And now for my Fresh Apricot Torte recipe!

This is a perfect desert choice for fresh or frozen fresh fruit. Very rustic, and it’s fruit flavor equals that of any fresh fruit pie ~ without all the hassle of pastry ~ and it is made in minutes ! It’s relatively low in fat too. I’m taking this to a casual dinner party we’re going to this evening. Here’s how :

Beat briefly, two eggs. Add 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup milk, pinch of salt, beat together till blended. Fold in 1.5 cups flour. Gently fold in 1 to 2 pounds in-season fresh or frozen fruit (berries, cherries, apples, pears, apricots, peaches all do really well). Pour into one buttered and floured cake layer pan and bake at 375 or 400 until deep golden on top, anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on whether fruit is fresh or frozen.

Cool on rack, then turn upside down and let torte come out of pan, then place right-side-up on a pretty plate. Serve room temperature, or cold from the fridge.  A dessert of under-statement ~ surprisingly simple, and yet very elegant!

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Happy Summer Solstice everybody ! 

How About A Cafe Frigetto !


Its my new drink, I call it a ‘Cafe Frigetto’ ! Its espresso, ice, more ice, and real cream (yes, heavy whipping cream, not half&half)… and it’s ~~~~ frigid cold ~~~

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Here’s how: In a pint glass filled to the top with ice, pour 2 or 3 shots of fresh brew’d espresso over, stir vigorously until ice stops melting and then more ice to the top. Lastly, a generous amount of heavy cream poured over it all…sinking & swirling down…never quite making it. Nectar !!!

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