Today–More Canning

I love that my last post was titled “No, I Didn’t Die.”  And then I disappear. For about three weeks.

So maybe I didn’t die.  But *apparently* I was abducted.

By whom or what I HAVE NO CLUE.

*lol*

So today I canned plum jam, made a crisp, marinated a roast for dinner, made a pumpkin spice latte knock-off, and…

And…

I don’t know. 🙂

Did you know that peeling plums will turn your fingers brown?  At least it turned my fingers brown.

And I spent something like two and a half hours peeling little plums that were being so stubborn.  They didn’t want let go of their skins.  And I blanched the things!

So, here’s where it all starts.

(Listening to a song, and it just mentioned snow.  And it made me get excited.  Can’t wait till it snows!)

_MG_2282

Mashed plums.  That turned brown because I was going slow.  (Welcome to my life.)

So after mashing them and measuring them, I dumped them in a pan and mixed in the calcium water, pectin, and sugar (that’s minus a few steps).

_MG_2283

Next I filled some jars.

_MG_2297

_MG_2299

And then canned them.

Hey look!  A pile of pits!

_MG_2302

Then I still had about a cup and a half of plum smash goo.  So I had to do something with it.

So I turned to what is becoming my favorite way to use up miscellaneous fruit: a crisp.

And I threw together a plum apple blueberry crisp.  No one’s had any yet.  So I have no idea how good it is.  Or how good the plum jam is, because no one’s had any, because I canned all of it.  Otherwise it would have been tried.

*Sidetracked!*

Back to the crisp.

_MG_2303

_MG_2304

_MG_2306

_MG_2311

And then I had to clean the kitchen.

_MG_2308

Goodness.

But actually, I started cleaning the kitchen, then started dinner, played piano (not necessarily in that order), and cleaned up more.

But I also interrupted the cleaning to make a pumpkin spice latte.

Boy was it good!

(Note:  I don’t necessarily know this website.  Not vouching for everything on it, and not even everything on this page.  Just love this recipe.)

_MG_2310

It was SO GOOD!

I’m so excited – I’ll hopefully be posting an exciting (for me!) post tomorrow.  So check back tomorrow to see it!  Oh, and you may find a hint in this post!  (And if you already know, don’t give it away!)

Inspired by Lime (With a Bit of Chocolate, Too!)

When I went to the grocery store the other day, I spotted several bags of lemons and limes on manager’s special.  I purchased three two-pound bags of limes.  I was planning to make limeade.

But that afternoon I didn’t feel too well, and after I juiced them, I just refrigerated the juice.  No limeade.

Then I thought.  (I try to do this every once in a while.)  It occurred to me that a nice lime coconut sorbet/ice cream would be quite tasty.  So I searched, and found a recipe.  As usual I just used it as a basic guideline, and changed it a bit.

I ended up with a lovely ice cream.  It’s only fault is that it is just not quite sweet enough.

(I checked out a book on food photography from the library, and looked at it briefly.  It has made me try harder with my food photography.)

_MG_6770

 

_MG_6773

 

_MG_6778

 

Mom bought several avocados for me the other day, and as usually happens, they all ripened at the same time.  So I decided to make chocolate avocado pudding.

But when I was on Immer Wachsen, I saw a recipe for Key Lime Pie, and the filling was avocado based.  I had seen an avocado-based lime pudding recipe somewhere (I think), and I had wanted to try it.  So I did. I split my avocados and made lime pudding AND chocolate pudding!

The lime pudding was pretty good.  I made it by combining all the filling ingredient recipes (minus the Irish moss).  The coconut oil formed little chunks after I refrigerated it, which I would rather not have had happen, but it is still edible.

The chocolate pudding is better.

What is really good is if you take a small spoonful of lime and a small spoonful of chocolate, and eat them together.  MMmmm!

_MG_7010

 

_MG_7021

 

_MG_7028

 

_MG_7036

 

_MG_7045

 

_MG_7047

Chocolate Truffles

I used most of the leftover can of coconut milk to make chocolate truffles yesterday.  The little bit of the coconut milk that I didn’t use for the truffles was used for my coffee non-break in the middle of making the truffles.  Mmmm…

Anyway, the truffles turned out pretty well.  I dipped mine in chocolate, just because I am that kind of person.  🙂  Half of the filling I flavored with mint extract, so some of the truffles are mint chocolate.

I was fairly happy with how they turned out.

(Quick break while I go to get one.)

Where was I?

Oh, yes.

So I am fairly happy with how they turned out.  The plain chocolate ones have a bit of a “healthy” taste to them (due to the use of coconut oil and honey).  I don’t care for the mint extract that I used for the mint ones.  I think it taste rather toothpaste-y.  I know toothpaste is minty.  But this mint extract seemed to have a more toothpaste-y flavor.

This time I tempered the melted chocolate before I covered the truffles.  I was hoping that it would make the chocolate less melt-y when they were eaten.  It wasn’t that difficult.  In order to temper the chocolate, after melting it, you cool it down to 83*, then heat it back up to 88*-89* (chocolate melts at 110-120*).  The hardest part was getting it to cool down.  It did NOT want to cool down.  I finally just called it good.

I am not sure that it worked, since I am storing the truffles in the freezer, and we have been eating them frozen.  This doesn’t give the chocolate much chance to melt.  I am letting this truffle that is sitting to my left thaw, so I can see if it works.

I made a royal mess making them.  You’ll see that in the pictures in just a moment, though.

_MG_5081

Mmmm…coffee…it smells so good…

_MG_5082

…and looks so good in the jar…

_MG_5083

Tempering the chocolate

_MG_5085

Still have a way to go

_MG_5086

The chocolate truffles are done (and I tried one – see the empty spot?)

_MG_5087

Now the mint ones are done (and tried one – see second empty spot)

_MG_5089

See?  I made a LOVELY mess!

Oh My–This is SO GOOD (and fun!)

I made these AMAZING little things today.  They were wonderful.  Amazing. (Although I already said that.)  And I had a BLAST making them.  The caramel was my favorite part to make (especially since it was mostly dairy free – it just had butter, which could have been changed).  Dipping in chocolate is always fun.  But I have done that before.

Now that I have raved on and on, I am sure you are wondering what I made.

You’re not?

Oh.

Well.

I’ll just tell you anyways.

How’s that?

And you’ll pretend that you are excited?

Thanks.

I made Paleo/Primal Twisk bars!

Oops.  Did it again.  I mean Twix bars.

Isn’t it easy to say it the other way?  I also have an extended family member who used to say it that way (quite a while ago).  I was thinking of you today while I was making these. 🙂

I was so excited to try them once they were done.  And I wasn’t let down.  They were SO SO VERY GOOD.  I stood there on the rug in the kitchen and ate one.

While eating it, the chocolate melted and oozed all over my hands and my (already chocolate smeared – this always happens when I deal with melted chocolate) face.  I am somewhat tired, so I kind of zoned out.

Dad said I looked funny.

I think I did too.

O.K.  And now the pictures.

(Don’t drool.  Or at least try not to.)

_MG_4920

The unbaked cookie layer

_MG_4922

“I am ready to be baked!”

_MG_4927

Baked, and cooling

 

*WE INTERRUPT FOR A BREAKING NEWS ALERT*

_MG_4929

Mom bought the first bit of egg nog today.  Drake and I love egg nog, and we drink it together in the winter.  Sometimes while we are making dinner.  *Sigh*  I am SO looking forward to winter.  And I am enjoying the first tastes that are already here.

_MG_4931

I so need to make a paleo version of this.  This stuff is wonderful.  Even if it isn’t chocolate.

_MG_4932

Cheers!

 

*WE NOW RETURN TO OUR STORY*

_MG_4933

The caramel ingredients in the pan

_MG_4937

Lucy being her usual cute self.  She *actually* looked at me when I took her picture.  She usually won’t.

_MG_4942

Isn’t she JUST SO CUTE!!!!!  (My family hears this probably about 25 times a day.  Lucy hears it probably ten times that.)

_MG_4943

The caramel, now melted

_MG_4945

Swirlies!

_MG_4957

While waiting for the caramel to come to the proper temperature, I discovered that caramel drips are fun to photograph!

_MG_4960

*Drip*

_MG_4962

*Drip* *Sizzle* (As I am not paying attention and holding my whisk over the hot stove, the caramel drips are burning, instead of returning to the pan.  This has a most unique scent.)

_MG_4966

Now we are getting close

_MG_4969

Stir!  Don’t stop!

_MG_4973

Cooling in the pan

_MG_4974

After several hours in the fridge – cutting them up (actually not that difficult)

_MG_4976

Melting the chocolate

_MG_4983

Cooled, right out of the freezer

 

Are you ready for this?  You think so?  O.K.  Here it is:

_MG_4980

Yum.

_MG_4981

That’s all that I can say.

If you want the recipe, please leave me a comment below, and I will email it to you.

 

Now I am off to go clean the last residue of chocolate from the bridge of my nose.

 

~Allison

Strawberry Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Meiling’s favorite ice cream flavor is strawberry.  We have been letting her eat regular (dairy) strawberry ice cream, but since she really can’t have dairy either, I decided to make her some strawberry coconut milk ice cream.

So yesterday, while the boys were at the store and Mommy was taking a nap, we made the ice cream.  Here is the recipe.

_MG_3616

Strawberry Coconut Milk Ice Cream (Primal)
2 cans good-quality full-fat coconut milk
Approx. 13 frozen strawberries
2 tsp. to 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1/4 c. plus 2 Tbsp. honey
Fresh strawberries (optional)

1. Open the cans of coconut and pour them into a medium bowl.

_MG_3621

 

2.  Place the strawberries in a sauce pan on the stove and heat them to thaw.  (You don’t want to cook them, just thaw them enough so you can break them up.)  (I did mine in two batches, so don’t be surprised a there only being 8 strawberries in this pot.)

_MG_3626

 

3.  Mash up the strawberries until there are not many chunks left.  (If you like more chunks, you can leave some more chunks.  If you are using the optional strawberries, those will be chunks later, too.)

_MG_3638

 

4.  Add the mashed-up strawberries as well as all the other ingredients to the coconut milk.

_MG_3634

Adding the strawberries

_MG_3636

 

5.  Using a stick blender or whisk, stir/blend/whisk until well combined.  After it is combined, taste it, and add whatever you think it needs.

_MG_3640

 

6.  Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions.

_MG_3645

 

7.  If using the fresh strawberries, chop them up into small pieces and add them to the ice cream when it starts being more of a solid.

Enjoy!

 

I ran into a bit of trouble with my ice cream, as I left it in the ice cream maker too long.  The ice cream maker wasn’t cold enough any more, so my ice cream melted.  It should have been taken out sooner.  So don’t make that mistake.  Once it gets in the freezer, it freezes, but it is harder than it normally would be.  I may melt mine again and re-freeze it.  We’ll see.

I really liked the ice cream.  Mom and Dad really liked the ice cream.  Drake liked it, too.  But Meiling didn’t.  I am not quite sure why.  Everyone else said that it was really good, though. :/

 

Have a lovely day!

Allison

Water Kefir

When I first tried water kefir at a friend’s home a few months ago, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.  I wanted to make it myself.  I currently can’t have much dairy, which includes dairy kefir and yogurt.  Water kefir would be a lacot-fermented drink that I could have!  Although I have made and enjoyed a lacto-fermented berry drink (based on the Raspberry Drink in Nourishing Traditions), it is slightly time consuming, especially if you want to have some all the time.  Now water kefir wouldn’t be quite as time consuming, and it doesn’t use nearly as many ingredients (it just has water, Sucanat, and the water kefir grains).

So when, this past Sunday, a friend of mine gave me some water kefir grains, I was so excited!  I couldn’t wait to start some water kefir.

So on Monday I started a quart of water kefir.  I sat it on the top of the fridge to ferment (this is a nice warm spot, great for such activities).  After a day, I strained out the kefir grains and put some frozen mixed berries in the kefir for a second fermentation (this adds some more color and flavor).  After another day (or was it 12 hours?  I forget), it was ready.  The next batch I made I let ferment for two days before doing a second fermentation with berries for 24 hours.

I am quite pleased with the kefir.  I have only tried the first batch, but I like it.  It actually doesn’t taste like a whole lot.  It smells fairly strong, but the smell is (surprisingly) not an accurate representation of the taste.   I have not tried the kefir that I fermented for two days (three, if you count the second fermentation), since I am still working on drinking my first batch.  I will be trying it in a few days, though.

So I have done a total of two batches of kefir.  I started with about a quarter cup of kefir grains (probably since they weren’t packed together, they filled a half-pint jar halfway).  Now I have a pint jar more than halfway filled with kefir grains.  I discovered this the other day when I was straining my second batch.  It really looked like I had more grains than I started with, but when I poured them in the jar, you could really tell how much they had grown!  I knew they would grow, but I was quite surprised with how fast they grew.  I currently have my little grains resting in the fridge, since I have plenty of kefir right now.  I will probably make some more tomorrow.

_MG_3550

See the line about halfway up the jar?  Everything below that is kefir grains.

Right now it is pouring rain outside.  It has been raining off and on all day today.  Currently, the sky has dropped 2 inches of rain on us.  I am so happy.  It’s been so dry this summer that we are glad for any rain that we get.  Hang on a minute.  We were just upgraded from a tornado watch to a tornado warning.  I and my laptop are going to relocate downstairs.

Now we are downstairs.  Everything looks pretty calm outside, but we’ll se how crazy things get.

So I have been enjoying the rain today.

In the past few weeks, I have been cooking all kinds of things:  Chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons, coconut milk ice cream, Arnold Palmer (half lemonade and half sweet tea, a drink that I was introduced to up at my aunt’s home), lots of dinners, and plenty of soups.  Oh, and on Tuesday I made grain-free chocolate muffins with chocolate frosting.  The cupcake part wasn’t all that good.  But the frosting.  Oh, the frosting.  It was basically melted butter and melted chocolate chips.  How much better does it get?  Maybe if I made it mocha?  🙂

I know I haven’t posted about any of the food I have been making.  Mostly because I have been busy.  And because I haven’t taken pictures of any of it.  But I will try to post more often now.  I should have time and plenty of food!  (Tomorrow Meiling and I may make some strawberry coconut milk ice cream, as strawberry is her favorite flavor.  She has to continue feeling better, though.  She’s getting over a bit of a stomach bug.)

Watching for tornadoes,

Allison

P.S.  We are no longer under a tornado warning.  Just thought you would like to know.

Chocolate-Covered Vanilla Coconut Milk Ice Cream Bars

This morning my mom came upstairs with a can of coffee.

“This needs to be put in a glass jar,” she said, “It’s spilling in the freezer.”

Well, having that coffee upstairs made me want some coffee.  So I decided that now was the perfect time to open a can of coconut milk, and I started a pot of coffee.

I opened a can of coconut milk that we had gotten at our local grocery store.  It turned out to be not nearly as creamy or rich as the cans of coconut milk from the co-op.  In fact, it was pretty watery.

I didn’t think that was much of a problem until I started adding it to my coffee.  Instead of making it creamy, it just watered it down.  I decided to try to just drink some of the coconut milk straight.  But it was too watery.

I dumped the coffee. Now, though, I had about 2/3 of a can of coconut milk that I needed to do something with.  I remembered this recipe, but I didn’t have all the ingredients for it.  It also sounded a bit involved for what I wanted to do today.  After some thinking (again, a little dangerous), I decided to make vanilla coconut milk ice cream bars and dip them in chocolate.

For the vanilla ice cream part, I just mixed the rest of the can of coconut milk with some honey (approx. 2 tbsp.) and vanilla (approx. 2 tsp.), to taste (inspired by this recipe).

I poured that into molds and let it freeze for a half hour, stuck the popsicle sticks in, and finished freezing them.

Once they were done freezing, I unmolded them, and let them stay in the freezer until I was ready to coat them.

I put a handful or two of dark chocolate chips in a sauce pan on the stove on low heat until they melted.  Next I stirred in some coconut oil (approx.2 tsp.).  I poured this mixture into a half-pint jar.

Then, as I was pouring the chocolate into the jar, disaster struck.  The spoon, covered in melted chocolate, fell. Now this would be bad enough (a waste of good chocolate), but what I didn’t know is that when you drop a chocolate covered spoon, the melted chocolate splatters everywhere.  And I mean EVERYWHERE.  All over the floor and the cabinet.  And the spoon had also left a large spot on my skirt.  Somehow I managed to get a slightly smaller spot on my shirt.  So I insert here: pause and wipe up the floor.

Once the floor was clean, I proceeded.  I took the ice cream bars out of the freezer and dipped the first one.  The chocolate only covered it about halfway.  I just used a new spoon to ladle the chocolate onto the bar and smooth it out.  As the level of chocolate decreased in the jar each time, I used the spoon to finish coating each bar.  The chocolate hardens almost immediately and forms a delicious coating.  I then put the bars back into the freezer.

I tried one after dinner.  The middle tasted rather watery, but the chocolate coating made it yummy (of course, right?  Chocolate or bacon makes everything better, depending on what it is).

Next time I may try freezing the ice cream in the ice cream maker until it is soft, them put it in a bar form.  It may just work better with creamier coconut milk.

_MG_2673

The ice cream bars, before being coated in chocolate

_MG_2677

[Does this need a caption?]

_MG_2686

 

Coated and ready to go into the freezer (or eat, whatever you are inclined to do)

Miscellaneous Food

So on Monday, in the afternoon, our co-op order arrived.  I was so happy to get the coconut milk and the dates.  I had been waiting for the coconut milk in particular to make coconut milk ice cream (and try some in coffee, too, once I had looked at it and decided it would be good for such a purpose).  So I set out to make coconut milk ice cream.  It turned out good, nothing great.  It tasted like the stuff we’ve bought at the store before.  Next time I am going to try a more interesting flavor.  This is the recipe I used, but I used honey instead of the agave syrup.

 

_MG_2481

I must confess that before I used the ice cream maker on Monday I didn’t know what the hole on top was for.  But I soon found out.

_MG_2482

It is for trying the ice cream as it is being made.  You just stick a spoon in there and it immediately fills with ice cream (since the ice cream is moving).  Of course you have to hold it the right way for this to work (i.e. not backwards).  Requires skill.  Much skill.  Which I just happen to have.  (My dad suggested that the hole is for adding ingredients.  I still think its main purpose is for eating the frozen deliciousness inside.)

 

For dinner we were making red sauce and pasta.  I didn’t remember for a bit that I couldn’t have the pasta.

Hmmm.  Now that was going to make itself a bit of a problem.  Especially since I had forgotten what I had previously decided to do instead of pasta.

Then I remembered.

I checked out this awesome book from the library, called Fresh Fast Green.  It had a recipe for summer squash linguine.  Although she didn’t mention it, I thought it would be a great bed for pasta sauce.  Hey, at least I had to try, right?

Well, it was AMAZING!  I didn’t miss the pasta at all.  My dad liked it, too.  Definitely a make-again.

_MG_2490

The julienne-sliced squash, ready to be cooked

_MG_2495

My plate with my zucchini linguine (as I termed them).  And kale.  I love kale.

_MG_2507

The coconut milk ice cream, which I had after dinner

 

Yesterday I split the box of dates.  (We bought a big box and split it with a friend.)  Having all those dates out made me want to try something with them.  So I did.

You may remember from this post that I tried Larabars.  Now I have come to love Larabars.  But I had heard that you could make them.  Well, actually, I saw another recipe that I wanted to try (for some raw chocolate ball things), so that’s why we got the dates.  But I decided to try the Larabar recipe too.  So I made some chocolate Larabars.

THEY WERE AMAZING!!!!  WAY better that the store bought ones.  I have actually been craving them more that the ice cream, if you can believe that.  And most of the rest of my family liked them, too.

This is a site with a bunch of links to other sites with lots and lots more Larabar recipes.  *Note*  I have not been to all these sites, and I don’t necessarily approve all that is on each website.  Use discretion.  Just lots of great recipes to try.

_MG_2510

Dates, my inspiration

_MG_2515

All the ingredients in the food processor

_MG_2522

Chopped up – It was a little hard to form into bars, but once I got a handful of the stuff and started kneading it, it stuck together fairly well,  Next time I will probably try adding a bit of water.

_MG_2537

Eating one later.  These things were great, even if they didn’t look great.