Friday, May 11, 2012

Pantry Jam Crumb Cake

I recently came across the notion of depleting ones larder full of preserves from the previous year.  A  revelation! I've been canning since my Grandmother taught me while I was pregnant with Jake. At first, so proud of my preservation projects, I saved them. Some may use the word - hoarded. With years of experience, I've realized each season comes again and with it the joy of preserving more. No need to save (okay, hoard). Give, share, enjoy, repeat.

I am an avid collector of basic buttermilk crumb cake recipes.With berry season barreling down the pike, I took the opportunity to incorporate some of my homemade jam into my favorite kind of cake.

For the first cake, I chose a mixed berry jam full of local blueberries, raspberries and wild blackberries of foraged last summer. The second time around it was strawberry-tarragon. I vote for mixed berry.

Butter, sugar and cinnamon = A delicious crumble topping.

Cake. Delicious, delicious cake.

Only six more jars - of mixed berry - left.

For more idea for using your stock, check out Food in Jars and the Preserves in Action page.

Hurry! Summer is just around the corner.  

My Pantry Jam Crumb Cake

for the cake:
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. kosher salt
1/3 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1/2 c. sour cream or Greek yogurt
1 t. vanilla extract
8oz. fruit jam of your choice

for the topping
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. dark brown sugar
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 c. butter, melted

Butter an 8" square baking pan. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

To make the topping
In a small bowl stir flour, sugar and cinnamon. Pour melted butter over and stir into chunky crumbs.

To make the cake
Whisk together flour, soda, powder, and salt. In a large bowl beat butter until fluffy. Add sugar and beat until well combined. Add egg, sour cream and vanilla extract and beat until just smooth. Stir in flour mixture until just combine to form a thick batter.

Smooth the batter into the prepared pan. Dollop jam on top and evenly spread with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the cake with crumb mixture.

Bake in the center of the oven approximately 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cook in the pan on a wire rack 15-20 minutes.

Lovely warm but equally delicious room-temperature.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Welcome Back Ladies!

The ladies of The Yellow House Apiary have returned! We purchased three pounds of Italian honeybees and installed them on Sunday afternoon.

I had forgotten how much I enjoyed having them in the yard. It's peaceful to watch them work and fun to share what we've learned with anyone interested. They are truly fascinating.

This year there will be honey. We are so lucky.

Whatever would we do without them?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Trashy Girl's Trash Bowl

I like to keep the kitchen neat when prepping. Sometimes though I get over excited and begin to prep too many things at once and the counters get messy. Never fear -  I pull the garbage can out of its conveniently built-in drawer, push my stuff in and return it to its place. "Genius!" I say to myself.

A certain gal famous for super fast meals makes a fancy garbage bowl to put your prep scraps in to avoid messy counters. It retails for about $20. Doug says it's made out of about 3 cents worth of plastic.

Who's the genius now?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Orange Braised Fennel

In case you may have missed it, I love fennel. It's a vegetable obsession I've not had for many years but have definitely made up for lost time.

Recently, I made Orange Braised Fennel to accompany a lovely meal reminiscent of childhood - salmon cakes.  Obviously, beyond the fennel was the orange juice. I sprung for a tiny bottle of freshly squeezed - worth every penny.

Once quartered and cored, a nice brown crust adds caramel-y flavor.

Juice, a bit of wine and slow even heat to render the fennel silky smooth and thicken the sauce.

It was truly delicious.

The essence of spring when paired with asparagus. I smashed the new potatoes and topped them with cottage cheese like my mom used to do.

The sophisticated me likes to think the fennel and asparagus elevated this humble meal.

The real me doesn't care. It included everything I love on a plate - memory, comfort, freshness and flavor.

If your sophisticated self needs a "just" side dish -  make the fennel. Your real self will love it, too.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Killer Egg Dish for All Seasons

Every recipe box needs to a "go-to" egg dish. A strata, frittata or bake to get you through the holidays. We hosted Easter brunch for many this year and I was looking for something easy. Something that didn't require last minute work, but would be served hot and wouldn't be bad cold. I wanted something different so I scratched frittata off the list. It also couldn't include too much starch so a strata didn't fit the bill either.

A fast search brought me to this lovely dish. It was the perfect way to highlight the eggs from the yellow hen house and the chives from my garden. It saved the day - or at least a bit of my sanity.


The custard came together quickly in the Vitamix and I made it about an hour in advance. Once popped into a hot oven, it was on the table in about forty minutes. Gotta love an egg dish like that.

Special thanks to Doug for having the forethought to ask if I would be photographing before the masses hit the table. Gotta love a guy like that. 

Baked Egg Custard with Gruyère and Chives 
I've added a few of my own notes but it's modified in verbiage only
6 oz. Gruyère, grated (1 1/2 c.)
1/2 c. chives, chopped
10 large eggs, pastured if possible
1 1/2 c. whole milk
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 t. grated nutmeg
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F with the rack in middle.

Butter a 2-quart shallow baking dish.

Sprinkle Gruyère and chives evenly in the dish.

Blend eggs, milk, cream cheese, and nutmeg in a blender with 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt until smooth.

Pour egg mixture over Gruyère and chives in the dish.

Bake until puffed, set, and golden, 35 to 45 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Lunch Box Tip

In the last 10 years I've packed a lot of lunches. A LOT of lunches. I take it a bit seriously and always try to keep them interesting. They must include the basic food groups. They can't include anything orange (the it-o family-Fritos, Doritos) or soda but there can always be a sweet (but not of the fruit snack variety).
When the kids reach middle school, they take over the making of their lunches and they must follow the lunch box rules. I still cut-up veggies, bake cookies and make egg salad and the like but they have to assemble and pack. It's an easy step toward greater responsibility needed in middle school. I think it reinforces learning to feed oneself, too. Also, I am sooooo tired of packing lunches.

Occasionally, if I was feeling especially proud of the stock in the lunch kitchen I'd stick a post-it (or  recycled envelope) on the inside of the "lunch cabinet". Not being a morning person, Ella was always appreciative since it takes a lot of thought out of lunch packing.
I made the dry erase frame (from Make and Takes via Pinterest) to hang on my fridge as a menu board/grocery list and I love it. One day I thought "why not hang one inside the lunch cabinet?" Duh.

3-M velcro tabs affix it to the door. A dry erase maker hung from cook's twine might be handy to prevent its disappearance.

 Ella loves it.

And I love that because it's one more lunch I don't have to pack.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Jimmy Would Love This

I am a sucker for any book on preserving any-thing. Thanks to Amazon's ability for anayltics, I never miss the release of a new one.

Though released last year, one full of particularly wonderful ideas is Put 'Em Up by Sherri Brooks Vinton. Most preserving books are include all seasons of produce but in this one I find more year-round recipe which really appeal to me. Recipes using fennel and mushrooms. Lots of ideas for citrus.

A stroke of brilliance is a suggestion for using dried limes to flavor soups and stews.

Okay, I'll be honest. It spoke to me because I always seem to be in the process of dry limes - though I never intend to.

A revelation for chicken tortilla soup. Def.

Limes not "wasting away in Margaritaville".

Now it's nobody's fault.