Pickles!!!!

Whenever I make pickles, I always think of my favorite Scrubs episode. I can’t figure out how to embed video, so here’s a link to a clip.

Pickles!

Anyhoo, yesterday morning, I canned 10 pints of bread and butter pickles with cucumbers and basil from the garden. I also threw in a few tomatoes and onions, just to see how they will turn out.

Woohoo, I just figured out how to insert more than 1 photo at a time!!!!!!!

The pickling brine, which had to come to a boil, and smelled horrible, and has the whole house still smelling like garlic and pickles!

The pickling brine, which had to come to a boil, and smelled horrible, and has the whole house still smelling like garlic and pickles!

Packing the jars with fresh ingredients.

Packing the jars with fresh ingredients.

Fresh basil flowers.

Fresh basil flowers.

Pickle express, how may I pickle you?

Pickle express, how may I pickle you?

Waiting for their processing bath.

Waiting for their processing bath.

We are expecting so many cucumbers out of the garden, I imagine I will be able to definitely offer some for sale at the Farmer’s Market in October.
   

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Schwarzwald Kirsch Kuchen

The original recipe I started with can be found here: Black Forest Cake. Yes, 72 hours preparation is not a gross over-statement. This isn’t yo’ Mamma’s instant cake mix!

Being that I have been dieting since April, I felt a need to make some substitutions, so that each slice did not contain the 1,021.4 calories of the original recipe. However, I did not want to fundamentally change the essence of the cake. Traditional Black Forest Cake is not the overly-sweet confection Americans think it is. As the author of the recipe states, “This cake isn’t meant to be very sweet but is rather a dessert for adults with deep rich flavours and enough alcohol to make your head spin!” Mine won’t make your head spin (I scaled back on the amount of alcohol significantly), but it also weighs in at a skinnier 796 calories per slice. Still not something you could eat every day, but I made this for a family gathering, so most of it is gone. I also had dental surgery yesterday, so I imagine the rest will be eaten before I can handle solid food again!

Here is the original ingredients, compared to what I used:

For the cake itself:

1 2/3 c all-purpose flour   –   didn’t change. I suppose one could use whole-wheat flour, but again, I was trying to create something that would taste as authentic as possible. I imagine this cake came into being at a time when counting calories, or the virtue of whole-wheat vs. refined flours was the least of anyone’s worries!

2/3 c cocoa powder   –   didn’t change.

1 1/2 tsp baking soda   –   didn’t change

1 tsp salt   –   didn’t change

1/2 c shortening   –   omitted. A half-cup of shortening contains 906 calories!

1 1/2 c sugar   –   substituted 1/4 c sugar, 1/4 c Splenda, and 3/4 c unsweetened applesauce. The applesauce not only adds sweetness, but it replaces the 1/2 c shortening, at a much better 49 calories! Almost any baking recipe can have the sugar cut by 1/3 without changing the taste or properties of the final product. I wanted to dial back the calories just a little more and used a sugar/Splenda mix.

2 eggs   –   used the equivalent amount of egg substitute, with a savings of 130 calories.

1 tsp vanilla   –   I always double the vanilla in any recipe, for what reason, I am not entirely sure.

1 1/2 c buttermilk   –   When substituting applesauce for sugar, one should always dial back the other liquid ingredients by 1/4 cup, so I used 1 1/4 c lowfat buttermilk.

Mix the dry ingredients separate from the wet ingredients, initially.

Mix the dry ingredients separate from the wet ingredients, initially.

The recipe for the filling and the icing, I did not fundamentally change, other than to double the espresso in the filling. The recipe says to marinate the cherries overnight in 1/2 c of kirsch, which I did. I was afraid I wouldn’t have enough cherries to spread on both layers, so I drained them, and minced them in my Ninja Bullet. The cherries soaked up so much kirsch my filling was a little runny, so to fix that, I had to use more confectioner’s sugar. I ended up freezing a lot of excess filling. It will come in handy at Christmas-time!

Beat the applesauce and sugar together. Add this to the dry ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk.

Beat the applesauce and sugar together. Add this to the dry ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk.

I also found that the icing recipe called for too much liquid and too little dry ingredients. I only used 1 c whipping cream, and needed 1 c of confectioner’s sugar (as opposed to the 2 c whipping cream and 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar the recipe called for). At this point, I was out of confectioner’s sugar, and still needed to thicken-up the icing, so I added 2 Tbsp of cornstarch.

Prick the top of the cake to let the kirsch absorb fully into it, and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.

Prick the top of the cake to let the kirsch absorb fully into it, and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.

I did not use alcohol in the icing, as I was making this cake for the significant others’ Mom and sister, and did not want it to have an overly alcoholic flavor. However, I did soak the bottom layer of the cake in kirsch overnight. I used the kirsch I had drained off the cherries before I minced them. The cake soaked up the kirsch splendidly, yet did not become crumbly, like cakes sometimes tend to do when they are too moist. I was really pleased with that.

Ta Da! The Final Product!

Ta Da! The Final Product!

All in all, I was really pleased with the outcome of this recipe. I was concerned any of three things would happen with it: that 1, it would be too alcoholic-tasting, 2. it would be too sweet, or 3. it would fall apart. Fortunately, none of those things happened! By far, I do believe this is the best cake I have ever made. It was a perfect balance of fruit, coffee, sweet, and liqueur. This one definitely gets saved to the cookbook!

Shopping, shopping, shopping…

I have called or been to 5 liquor stores trying to find this cherry liqueur for my Schwarzwald Kirsch Kuchen. No luck yet. Hoping Thrifty Liquor can get it–waiting on a call back from them. Maurice’s (a bar around the corner from us) had empty bottles of it, but that doesn’t necessarily help me any. The guy at Thrifty Liquor tried to tell me “all flavored liquors are the same.” Yeah, well, Heering has been the same since 1818, so that’s what I want. LOL 

I wish you could buy alcohol online–that would make this soooooo much easier.

Hallelujah! It Worked! Gluten-Free Bread Recipe Test, Take 2

Today’s recipe came courtesy of My Life of Spice (her blog is here: http://mylifeofspice.wordpress.com/), and can be found here:

Grain-free Sandwich Bread (Paleo and SCD)

At first, when I was gathering the ingredients for this, I was a little concerned. The recipe seemed to be a little light in the flour department. Even in other recipes I have tried, it called for up to 3 cups of flours or flour substitutes. This recipe only called for a 1/4 c of coconut flour. However, other ingredients seemed to be right on. There was a liquid fat (cashew butter), eggs as a binder, an acid and a base to cause a chemical reaction to cause the bread to rise, and a flavoring agent (honey). I decided to carry on, despite my initial concerns.Image

This cooks on a relatively low temperature, something I also questioned in the beginning. However, I was determined to follow the recipe to the letter, and set my gas oven for 300 degrees.

As you know from the previous post, my bread pans are with my son in Little Rock, so again, I am using the Bundt pan for this recipe. The recipe read to place parchment paper in the pan (a little hard to do with a Bundt pan) and grease it with coconut oil. If I haven’t said it before, I absolutely adore coconut oil. I have never used it in a food, that it did not improve the flavor of. I liberally greased the pan down with a large spoonful of coconut oil.

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The next step was to separate the yolks from the whites of the eggs, and mix the yolks, the cashew butter, the honey, the vinegar and the almond milk together.

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If I haven’t mentioned it, I love my stand mixer that I salvaged from the rental house. It is wonderful. 🙂

The egg whites were to be beaten to soft peaks in a separate bowl. I had to turn the mixer all the way up to get the peaks to form.

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Next, the dry ingredients had to be mixed separately.

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The recipe said to add the dry ingredients first, and then add the egg whites, making sure the oven was pre-heated. The chemical reaction between the eggs, baking soda, and vinegar would begin as soon as the egg whites entered the batter. The recipe said not to over-mix it, once the egg whites went in, so I switched to mixing it by hand, just until everything was blended.

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Into the greased pan it went.

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The lighting was wonky with this picture. I didn’t have the flash on, but it was wonky, anyway.

Then, it all went quickly (as the recipe said) into the oven.

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It took 50 minutes to cook. The recipe said to place a container of water on the bottom rack, but I only have one rack, so it’s in front. (I so need a tripod–pardon the blur.) It is strongly suggested, by the recipe, not to open the oven door for at least 40 minutes to check on it, so as not to dissipate the steam, which will interfere with how the bread rises.

Finally, once out of the oven, it is to sit for 15 minutes, to cool.

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You can see where I tested it at 40 minutes and it needed another 10 minutes of cooking. Once it is out of the pan, the recipe says to let it sit for an hour before serving.

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It popped right out of the pan, perfectly, unlike my 3 previous attempts at gluten-free bread. However, it looks more like a wheat bread than a white bread. I can live with that, if I can make a sandwich or toast out of it! Now, we wait, with anticipation, for an hour.

 

 

I couldn’t hold out for a whole hour. I cut into it after 45 minutes.
1st slive, 2
The crumb factor is far better. It is still a little crumbly, but you can actually slice it and put things on it. It is a very soft bread. The cashew butter imparts a very nutty flavor to it. Next time, I will scale back on the honey I use. This time I used the full 2 Tbsp. It tasted very sweet to me, especially when combined with the strawberry jam I canned the other day. (Which by the way, didn’t set properly. I apparently didn’t use enough pectin. Now I have a pectin-free recipe.)
with jam, 2
The final test of any bread recipe for me, is how well it holds up in a sandwich. I may have wonkered the test results by cooking it in a Bundt pan, but I still had some success with it. I made a summer-sausage, pepperjack cheese and garlic mustard sandwich with it. It crumbled a little, but held up way better than any previous recipe.
sandwich 2
As a final “yes” for this recipe, the significant other, who does not have a gluten problem, said it was yummy, both with jam and as a sandwich.
In closing, cooking this in the correct pan may greatly improve it’s “sandwich-ability”. Cutting the honey down (and perhaps adding garlic?) will improve the taste for me. I can’t wait to make it again!