Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pancakes, Pies and Bears (I mean muffins)- Oh My!

Where to start...I almost feel like this has temporarily become a cooking blog. I've just had so much produce (so so so much) that is rapidly going bad all the time that now I feel like I have to bake and cook things as fast as I can just to keep up! Tomorrow is my local CSA pick up. Now, don't get me wrong, I love the days where I get to pick up my produce from the CSA and I look forward to it all week (getting a surprise of fresh produce is so exciting!), but I also get stressed. Have I mentioned I get stressed easily? Well yeah...I do. I get stressed out earlier in the week because I feel a need to purge the fridge and try to make use of as much as I possibly can so that I'll have room for the coming "shipment" of fruits and vegetables.

So what have I done this week to prepare and assist in "purging" the fridge? I've baked, and I've baked and I've baked...and cooked occasionally...

For those who are interested, I shall now go through my more successful expenditures...

Since last Wednesday, I've now made Blackberry/Raspberry Pie in a Jar three times. Yup, three times now (I made it again last night). They have been very popular...with this however, I have now worked through all of my raspberries and blackberries (with the exception of one raspberry package which I am saving for some pancakes tomorrow).

Earlier in the week I discussed a few of the other pancakes etc I've been baking, and yesterday I made Whole Wheat Brown Sugar Banana Bread Pancakes. I ended up using only two bananas (I didn't have a third) and added an extra 1/4 a cup of milk. They were still very thick, but overall turned out well. The only "criticism", (if it really is considered criticism) was that it was like eating a cake :) This recipe wasn't really used for the intention of using up produce, however I was able to finish off some bananas that I had.

(Here's a picture of them with butter and maple syrup. Sorry, they aren't very pretty looking- I'm not a good enough chef to be able to cook things to look pretty *and* tasty so right now I focus on tasty. Maybe once I become better at cooking, I'll learn how to make them look prettier too- and I'll be able to buy a better camera that can somewhat decent photos, as opposed to my Yesterday I also made Carrot Applesauce Muffins as well! Unfortunately I have misplaced where I got the recipe from, since it was saved as a word document on my computer, but here is my adapted version:

Carrot Applesauce Muffins

- scant 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda + 1 tbsp lemon juice to activate
- 1 tsp ground orange zest
- 2 large eggs, separated
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1/2 cup apple sauce
- scant 1 cup sugar
- scant 1 cup roughly chopped dried apricots
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
- scant 1 cup roughly grated carrot (if anyone has a juicer, I often save save bits that are leftover after juicing some carrots and stick it in a ziplock bag in the freezer for instances such as this!)
- pinch salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease 16 muffin tins or line with cupcake baking cups.
2. Separate the eggs and lightly whisk together the two yolks. Add the oil, sugar and apple sauce and beat together with an electric mixer for about 1 minute until well combined.
3. In a small bowl pour lemon juice over baking soda and mix well, until only bubbles are left. Pour the bubbly liquid into the batter. Add the flour, the baking soda and the orange zest to the batter and mix until just combined. Add the carrots, the walnuts and the dried apricots and mix lightly. Be careful not to over mix.
4. In a separate dry bowl beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form firm peaks.
5. Next, gently fold the egg whites into the carrot mixture. Again, be careful not to over mix; it is fine to have streaks of white remaining in the mixture.
6. Using a large ice cream scoop, pour the mixture into the prepared muffin tins and bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
7. Let the muffins cool completely, then remove from the tins.

I really liked this recipe and the dried apricots tasted amazing in the muffins!

In preparation for the CSA tomorrow I am making...another pie. This one is a Peach-Pear Pie since I had a lot guessed it- peaches and pears that were about to go bad. The pie is in the oven now and smells amazing - I just hope it turns out as well as it smells!

Update: The pie turned out AMAZINGGGGG WOW!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Welcoming Fall

With the beginning of fall I have decided to do a pancake bonanza!

After all, what goes better with fall, beautiful weather, a clean apartment, sunlight than pancakes?

As we know, Saturday I made Almond Oat Pancakes but Sunday, I made Sweet Potato Waffles from a recipe I found in The Sugar Mill Caribbean Cookbook.

Sweet-Potato Waffles with Orange Butter
Adapted from The Sugar Mill Caribbean Cookbook by Jinx and Jefferson Morgan

Orange Butter:
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 T curacao liquor
1 T grated orange zest

(I'll add here that I didn't make the orange butter- I just put my own homemade jam on)

Sweet-Potato Waffles:
2 Cups flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
3 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups cooked, pureed sweet potatoes
1 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup melted butter
2 T grated orange zest (I also didn't use this- basically I didn't have oranges)

Whip together ingredients for orange butter in a small bowl until mixture is fluffy and put aside.

Sift first first 3 ingredients and set bowl aside. In another bowl, combine egg yolks, sweet potatoes, milk, sugar and butter and add to flour mixture. Beat egg whites until they are light and fluffy and fold into mixture.

Cook away in a hot waffle iron!

The recipe recommends that you serve it with orange butter, maple syrup and garnish with orange slices (I just used salted butter and jam).


Later this week I plan on making Whole Wheat Brown Sugar Banana Bread Pancakes and Hearty Raspberry Pancakes! Can't wait!!

Sunday, August 28, 2011


So here in Brooklyn, Hurricane Irene was scheduled to tear through the city and cause MASS CHAOS AND THE APOCALYPSE! Or, at least that's what I had been expecting based on how people were reacting to the potential storm. Friday afternoon I went to the grocery store to pick up some ingredients for dinner to find it the busiest I had ever seen, and significantly lacking in milk. Apparently when a huge storm is scheduled to come and all hell breaks loose, and the electricity may be cut, people believe it is good to stock up on milk. Which of course doesn't go bad when the fridge is out or anything like that...also, in preparation for the storm, the MTA decided to cut service yesterday (saturday) at 12 until Monday afternoon or so. So no one can go anywhere.

I'd like to point out now that nothing really happened. It rained heavily for a bit, and lightly a lot, and has been windy, but that's about it. A few trees and branches have also fallen but nothing too major, however I have been spending most of the time in the apartment. Nothing much is going on with work because no one can travel, so I've been keeping busy at home, taking advantage of my "vacation". I've been doing a lot of baking, cooking, canning and spinning. Just made a lovely Blushing Peach Jam Instead of adding pectin, however, I boiled it for 25 minutes, stirring continuously to get it to a nice gelatinous texture.

I also made Almond Oat Pancakes Saturday morning which I definitely plan on making again. My only recommendation would be to add a little more milk or water because the batter was very thick, making it difficult to cook all the way through.

Another thing I made this weekend was Blackberry Pie in a Jar. This was actually the second time I made it and I think the first time I made it I liked it better...the first time, I used half blackberries and half raspberries so it was less tart. I also omitted the extra butter and just sprinkled a little bit of cinnamon sugar on top of the crust (after poking some holes). These were really fun to make because they were perfect little individual sized pies! Much more exciting than messy slices! Along the note of messy, however, a piece of advice- put the filled jars on a cookie sheet when baking because despite poking holes, it always ended up leaking overboard out of the jar!

Thursday, August 18, 2011


In New York real estate, August is the busiest month of the year. So it comes as no surprise then, that I have been incredibly busy. Everyday there's new apartments to see, new ads to make, advertising to do, apartments to show (and of course, haggling to be done to try to get people to rent said apartments). In some ways however, it has been relaxing too. Because I work near my apartment, between doing all of these things, I often have some time to go back to and eat a homemade meal, or organize for a little bit at a time before rushing back to apartment showings.

Tonight was one of the first times in a while now that I've had time to sit down and "play" with some tea (currently, I'm still experimenting with a Taiwanese tea I received- I think I'm getting a better handle on it now). After spending a lot of time organizing this evening, it was very relaxing. Having a clean and calm environment really does make such a difference in drinking tea and I've really been enjoying the new furniture I got recently. It seems to make everything else seem more, "homey".

I wish I could say there was more of a purpose to this post, but really I just wanted to express my own contentment.

I can't wait to go to The Tea Gallery/Mandarin's Tea Room tomorrow! (well, today, technically)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

New Furniture!

One of the tenants that I've been working with offered to sell me some of their furniture because they didn't want to deal with moving it. I gladly took it off their hands and yesterday happily moved it into my apartment.

This is the first piece- it's a beautiful handmade Mexican chest. Each side opens up for storage (and I was able to store away a lot of things because it's so big!)

Glowing dogs!

And I also got a china hutch which has worked well to store all of my teapots, cups, saucers and other such things. Unfortunately the door broke when moving it, so I have it sitting off to the side and will have to repair it later with some wood glue :(