Monday, August 30, 2010

blackberry jam

Picked some blackberries from our yard the other day.

When I was 11 years old, my mother and I moved from Tampa, Florida to Intercoastal City, Louisiana. Most Louisianans haven't even heard of Intercoastal, it's so small. It was situated right next to the Vermillion bay, and parts of it were so low that every time it rained, some of the roads would flood. We only lived there for 3 years, but when Hurricane Katrina came in 2006, I couldn't even let myself think about what remained of that little city.

When we first moved there, we lived with my uncle's family. One day, out of boredom, my cousin suggested that we go pick blackberries. There was a field close by that no one owned, and it was filled with low blackberry bushes. When I think about my summers in Louisiana, I think of the heat and sweat on our backs as we bent down, of the thorns scratching our legs, and the purple stain on our fingers, as we picked those berries. After picking, we would wash them, and stick them in the freezer. Once they were frozen, we would eat them like ice, or smash it with a bit of sugar for a poor man's fruit sorbet. Sometimes, the berries might go into cold glasses of Sprite, and the bubbles would pop, pop, pop around the fruit until we chugged down the fizziness to get to the tart berry at the bottom. I really miss those summers now, because they were also filled with crawfish boils, oyster bakes, and the best $1 boudins from the corner grocery. 

Great. Now I'm craving cajun/creole food, too.

Using this recipe from, I used these Washington berries to make...

Blackberry jam

I reduced the sugar (of course) by only using half of the amount called for, subbed lime for lemon, and it still turned out delightful. I like the tartness with a hint of sweet...It goes great on english muffins, cinnamon bagels, vanilla ice cream, and 

with a pb sandwich.

"I don't mind the seeds too much" is what I keep telling myself since I don't have a medium sieve to strain out the seeds. Really. I don't mind the seeds too much.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Stove top vs oven roast

I love a good, slow roasted pork. For the thriftster in me, there is something magical about taking a cheap hunk of meat, and turning it into something delightful. (That's what she said?)  While I usually prefer the oven method, I thought I would try a stove top recipe. 

Can we get a few more carbs on this plate, please?

The recipe called for garlic and rosemary, which I love. The meat and some red wine (also love any excuse to open a bottle of wine) created a lot of juices in the pot, which I used to cook potatoes in before pan roasting them. Verdict: The flavors were ok, but not great, so I'm not sharing the roast recipe.  I do frequently use this one, even though it doesn't require wine.

 No uploads of the whole roast, because I don't know how to take pictures of meat without making it look repugnant.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Oatmeal peanut butter cookies

These are the best peanut butter cookies I've ever had.  What makes them even better is that they also contain oatmeal (my favorite kind of cookie), and are reduced fat (thank you, applesauce). They are: buttery, soft, chewy, and melt-in-your-mouth-y.

I made a  few changes to the recipe: add extra 1/2 c. of oats, reduce sugar levels to your preference (remember that the peanut butter also contains sugar!), don't use shortening (butter or margarine instead), and replace 1/3 of fat content with applesauce. With the changes, they were still really buttery, and moist. I cannot wait to try this recipe with added chocolate chips. It can only get more amazing. Edit: I also used crunchy pb,but I wonder how it would have turned out with reduced fat pb.

These were made for a bible study group, but I'm thinking that a few (lots) of these may be staying home...or in my belly.

Friday, August 20, 2010

awesome things

Hi, friends. My plan for this post was to write about a recent break up. I was going to explain how I'm still grieving the loss, and follow it up with a story of how baking the hell out of things when stressed helps, until I found this particular entry on 1000 Awesome Things. Go on, read it. 

So, I am choosing to move forward. This does not mean that I will stop being sad, or that I will care less about what happened. It just means that I'm going to try to focus more on what's in store, rather than obsessing over how I feel each day, comparing good days to bad. I know that God's in control (which can be difficult for a control freak like me), but I must trust Him.

I did bake some "heartbreak muffins", but I've renamed them "blueberry and strawberry muffins":

Recipe here. My changes: omit crumb topping, sub applesauce for oil, add extra berries, and reduce the sugar to suit an Asian family's tastes. I doubled the recipe, and froze a bunch of them for busy mornings, when your only other choice is greasy McDonald's or a stale donut from 7-11. Verdict: My favorite muffin recipe so far. Good, moist, semi-healthy, and they boosted my spirits. Bueno.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mac n Cheese

I never knew that mac and cheese could be more than the boxed variety until I was in high school. (I don't know how I survived such a sheltered culinary life.)  This was a low-fat mac and cheese recipe that I adapted from, my favorite site, allrecipesSome changes: no onion, and didn't bake it.  It's been so hot here lately that I couldn't bear to use the oven.   It doesn't exactly taste like the mac and cheese that remember from childhood (not really a bad thing), but it's light, creamy, and quite pleasant paired with some grilled Italian sausages and a humongous salad.*

*And a beer.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Pink Lemonade

Remember this post? Well, I tried making rosewater yesterday...

My niece picked some roses from the garden, and we decided that we would try to make rosewater lemonade.

If you've had this kind of lemonade before, or looked at the photo from Pita House, then you know that it's not supposed to be pink. My method of extracting the rose essence was incorrect. <--- (Wow, my nerd level just rose to an extreme level after that sentence.) I was going to do a write up of the different methods there are to make rosewater, but you really just need to know that if you ever try to make your own, use this method. Don't use a shortcut, because the results will not be as satisfactory.

In the end, though our rosewater lemonade was not as fragrant as Pita House's, it was still pretty good lemonade. The flavor of the rosewater was not as strong as I would have liked, but it was still neat to be drinking something that was refreshing with a pretty pink color.

*I imagine that adding some alcohol to this pink lemonade would make for a really lovely and light summer drink for a bachelorette party or baby shower. J/k about the bachelorette party.