A Crushing Matter

crushing

Blackberries, in Crush

crushed

Blackberries, Crushed

after the crush

After the Crush

Okay. What are we doing here? Hint: a 6 gallon pail. Hint: 22 pounds of blackberries, and the scratches to prove it. Hm. Can't guess? Okay.

We're making blackberry wine. At the moment, I'm waiting for sweet water to cool, to add along with some Red Star Pasteur Red yeast, to the pailful of crushed fruit. Then, it's let it sit bubble bubble, siphon to a carboy, add more sweet water, bubble bubble, siphon to bottles...etc. Yeah, the etc includes the drinking part.

Right now, I'm too tired to be literate. So...enjoy the pics, and if you have a blackberry field near you...get out there and pick!

Thank you, Jasper!

potato cheddar chowder

Potato Cheddar Chowder

What goes best with bread straight out of the oven? How about chowder? Yeah, I think so too. Thing is, there are no lobsters or clams or pheasants in my freezer. Lots of chickens, but, they're all frozen. Oh ha! Potatoes! I have tons of freshly dug potatoes. Two kinds, as a matter of fact: La Soda (red) and Kennebec (white). Can you make a chowder with potatoes as the star?

The award for best collection of chowder recipes goes to Jasper White. His classic, 50 Chowders, has taught me an awful lot about cooking. This particular chowder could have been too humble, but he made it spectacular by adding cheddar. You want the recipe? I know you want the recipe. Here is my take on his beautiful recipe:

4 oz bacon, cut into 1/3" dice
2 T unsalted butter
3 medium onions (10 oz), cut into 3/4" dice (3 young onions from the garden)
1 t fresh thyme, finely chopped (thanks, garden)
1 t dry mustard
1 1/2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4" dice (La Sodas)
3 c Chicken Stock (I freeze chicken stock in ice cube trays...and measured out 3 cups of them)
1 1/2 c heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt
6 oz Vermont or other sharp white Cheddar, grated
Tabasco (optional)

1. Heat a 3- to 4-quart heavy pot over low heat and add the diced bacon. Once it has rendered a few tablespoons of fat, increase heat to medium and cook until the bacon is crisp. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat, leaving the bacon in the pot.

2. Add butter, onion, and thyme and saute, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for 6 to 8 minutes, until the onion is tender but not browned. Stir in the dry mustard and cook for 1 minute more.

3. Add potatoes and stock. Turn up the heat, cover, bring to a boil, and cook vigorously for 15 - 20 minutes, or til potatoes are tender on the outside but still firm in the center. Mash a few potatoes against the side of the pot and cook for 2 minutes more to release their starch.

4. Take the chowder off the heat and stir in the cream. Season with pepper, and hold off on the salt; the cheese will add more salt.

5. Stir in the grated cheese. Stir til all the cheese has melted into the broth. Taste and season with a little sea salt if you like. I didn't use a bit of salt.

This makes a smallish pot of chowder - 6 bowls. I need more cheddar, because I really want more of this chowder. Outrageous, it is.

Mousse Blackberry

blackberry mousse

This airy stuff is the perfect summer dessert. No oven involved. Eggs, cream, blackberries, sugar, and a smidge of gelatin. Mmm. Light, refreshing, essence of blackberry.

(no subject)

cantablkcrmmm
Breakfast

We're on a blackberry binge around here. Picking about 10 pints a day. Hear that Ivy? ;) Put up jam. Made Blackberry Cream Cheese Ice Cream...ohhhhhh yeah! Eating blackberries like they're going out of style. This bowl of yummy goodness comes right from the field...some of the sweetest cantaloupe you can imagine with just picked blackberries, drizzled with blackberry coulis, and dotted with cream cheese balls rolled in graham crackers. Mmmhmm.

Now, I'm down to 4 pints...and I need 12 for 7 more 1/2 pints of jam. So...tomorrow...the plan is to be up very early, before the sun is high, and snag 8 pints. It was 97 degrees in the shade when I finished picking today. And, dearys, there is no shade in the blackberry patch.

Crazy, you say? Well, the thing is, the berries will be all done by the end of the month. Last year, I started jam on the 11th of June with the last batch on the 21st. This year, the berries are bigger, and I started on the 9th. So...this is not the time to be a wuss...because it's a long wait til next June.

Almost Summer!

The Florida Folk Festival has come and gone - for the year. A Memorial Day weekend tradition...this was the 58th festival...and our band, the Flying Turtles String Band, had the great good fortune to play there, again.

Brnstrm Qrtt
Barnstorm Quartet

Flying Turtles n Azalea Stage 1
Elle & Tom of the Flying Turtles String Band

Malcolm
Malcolm McKinney at the Seminole Stage in the Pouring Rain

Jan P
Jan Pearce Finally Having Lunch

Will on Edge
Will E on Edge, Oh My

I posted many more shots on my facebook page...(Ellen Smith Hogan)...but, I suggest marking your calendar and coming to White Springs next year as a much better way to see the FFF. Florida music by Florida musicians in one of the most beautiful parks in the country. Ooo la la!

Dottie Dot Dot, RIP

No picture today. Too sad.

Today, at noon - exactly, Dot the Chicken died in my arms. She was the most cheerful little soul, always paying attention, running after me, coming on walks, jumping up on my shoulder, riding around on the back of my neck - really trying to participate. She preferred hanging around with people to competing with the big chickens. So, we let her. I'll never forget the way she would run headlong up the hill to the house after breakfast...as if to say..."Mom! Mom! Here I am! Here I am!" And that would be the beginning of my day with Dot.

She was born November 4, 2009. She had congenital defects that stunted her development. Her little body was not very cooperative. She struggled for every breath. But, boy, she wanted to live in the worst way. In the end, she just wore out.

You'll forever live on in our hearts, Dottie. Happy dreams.

Dove's Roost Sourdough



Sometimes, I don't want to wait 12 hours for a loaf of bread. Sometimes, I just want to decide in the morning...mmm sourdough would be good with soup for supper...and pull a couple loaves out right on time.

This is my version of a fast sourdough. This bread uses a ripe refreshment. I used my "250 year old" starter as the base. But, I also use a bit of yeast, and good flour. Tang, texture, and speed. Not bad. Here's the recipe.

Dove's Roost Sourdough

Makes two big boules.

Refreshment

1 c active bubbling starter (this one is not liquidy...rather a very holey airy dough)
1/2 c lukewarm water
1 c unbleached all-purpose flour

Dough

2 c warm water
The Refreshment
4 1/2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
2 t instant yeast
1 T sea salt
1 egg whisked with a bit of water for a glaze

First, get the refreshment going. In a medium sized bowl, pour 1/2 c luke warm water. Break up the starter in the water. Moosh it through your fingers. Stir in 1 c flour with a wooden spoon. Cover, and let this rise for a half-hour or so (up to 4 hours if time is not tight).

Then, make the dough. Pour 2 c warm water into a big bread bowl. Break up the refreshment in the water. Whisk together, in a separate bowl, the flour and yeast. Now, add the flour mixture, a cup at a time, to the refreshment. Either work it in by pulling and stretching with your hand, or beat it in with a wooden spoon. (I like to use my hand. Gets the gluten going.) Halfway through the flour addition, sprinkle the salt on the dough and beat it in. Finish up with the flour addition. This dough will take almost all the flour. Knead the dough a bit, it'll be amazingly supple and lively. You don't need to knead this for 10 minutes. More like 3 or 4. Just to get it to the point that it doesn't flatten out when it rests. Let the dough rise in an bowl lightly oiled with olive oil (turn the dough so the entire surface is oiled). Cover and let it rise for an hour. Punch it down, let it rest for half an hour.

Finally, make the bread. Turn out the dough onto a floured countertop. Use a dough scraper and cut the dough into two pieces. Flatten each half, and using your fingertips, poke and push at the dough (it will look like a slab of focaccia). Then, roll the dough up into a boule, chopping the roll after each turn to kick out the air. Pinch any seam together - this will be the bottom. Let the loaves rise on a baking sheet covered with parchment for about 40 - 50 minutes. They will easily double in size. (If for some reason they don't...proceed with the recipe and cross your fingers for "spring" in the oven.) At the 20 minute point, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Slash the top of the boules with two long cuts each. The slashes angle out towards the sides...this gives the dough a place to rise. Brush the loaves with an egg wash glaze. Bake the bread for 35 - 45 minutes. I don't know your oven. My bread is done at 40. The bread should go in the center of the oven, either on a sheet, or on an unglazed tile. I use a rimmed cookie sheet on the lowest shelf of the oven to create steam. Just pour a cup of cold water into the cookie sheet (that has been preheated in the oven), and close the door.

The loaves should look like the ones in the picture. Dark and shiny. A few bubbles on the surface. As the loaves cool, they crackle and snap. And your house smells like heaven.

Feel free to post your experience with this recipe.

Chipotle Brownies!



Alright, friends and neighbors. Here's a taste treat for you. Chipotle brownies. Oh my Lawdy over the top yum yum yum.

Do you remember the movie Chocolat with Juliet Binoche and Johnny Depp? Did you read the novel Chocolat by Joanne Harris? Did you then go on to read the rest of her insane magical fabulous stories? Well...I do. I did. And the thought of the chocolate spiced with pepper has had me intrigued ever since. Oh, I make mole with chocolate. I even make chili with chocolate. But chocolate with chili is just a little different. How much do you use? What kind of pepper?

This month's Penzey's catalog, the famous, fabulous catalog of precious spices, features, as usual, recipes from readers. One reader...a certain Bernadette Ghaemmaghami, a family practice physician turned SAHM, submitted something called Chipotle Chocolate Chunk Brownie Bites. I saw it. I read it. I made it. I ate it. I swooned.

This is for you, my dear readers, because I love you.

Chipotle Chocolate Chunk Brownie Bites

1 c AP flour
1/4 t salt
1-2 t ground chipotle pepper*
1 t ground China cinnamon*
1 t powdered ginger
3/4 c butter
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
3 large eggs
2 c sugar
3 T water
1 t double strength vanilla (2 t regular ol' vanilla)
2/3 c chocolate chunk morsels or real good chocolate chips*

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan.

In a roomy bowl, sift together flour, salt, chipotle pepper, cinnamon, and ginger and set aside.

Carefully melt the butter & chocolate in a heavy saucepan over very low heat**, stirring frequently. Let cool. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until foamy. Gradually, add the sugar, stirring constantly. Add the water, vanilla, and melted butter/chocolate mixture. Add the dry ingredients and stir quickly until well blended. Fold in the chocolate chunks/chips. Pour into the pan & bake for 30 minutes. Let cool slightly before cutting.

Yield: 48 bite-sized pieces...or 30 Elle sized brownies.

* Penzeys sells some rockin' chili peppers. I used Chipotle. I also used their Vietnamese cinnamon. Awesome. For chocolate chips, I went with Ghiradelli 60% Bittersweet.

** Rather than potentially scorching chocolate, or doing the double-boiler dance, I use the Warmer Zone on my Kenmore range. It has 3 settings Low - Medium - High. Using the medium setting, I set a pyrex dish on the burner with the chocolate sitting on top of the sticks of butter. The butter melts slowly, and the chocolate melts gently, and with a couple of stirs - when there are still a couple of bumps of chocolate left - the 2 come together smoothly. The resulting mixture is not hot, rather, as Goldilocks might say...it is just right...and can be worked right into the eggs.

Lemon Coconut Pound Cake



You are having a wild rice - cranberry - caramelized onion pilaf with an Indian spiced napa cabbage/carrot saute for supper. Your hens are giving you a dozen eggs a day, and you already figured out how to serve half a dozen for breakfast. What's for dessert?

Walking up from the henhouse yesterday afternoon, in totally balmy weather...68 degrees on the thermometer that felt like 85 to this winter chilled skin...I juggled 5 perfect warm eggs. This little walk was a meditation on dessert. Looking at the eggs, I realized that 5 was the perfect number for one of my favorite cakes...and they were already "room temperature."

I pulled a few sticks of unsalted butter out of the fridge, 1/2 c of milk, and a lemon. All this needed to come to room temperature, too. By the time the oven was hot...the chill was off the ingredients, and I was getting hungry.

In a bundt pan, in my oven, a pound cake bakes in 50 minutes. I'm still smiling this afternoon.

Here's my recipe, developed from a combination of influences...Rose Levy Beranbaum and her Cake Bible (oh Rose, I have worn out two volumes) and years of great articles in Fine Cooking.

Lemon Coconut Pound Cake

Ingredients

Cake
2 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter (at room temp)
1 3/4 c sugar
10 1/4 oz cake flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
3 eggs plus 2 yolks (at room temp)
1/2 c milk (at room temp)
1/4 c lemon juice
1 c sweetened flaked coconut
1 t lemon zest
2 t vanilla

Glaze
1 c confectioners sugar
1/3 c lemon juice

Set the oven on 350 with a rack in the center of the oven. Butter & flour a 12 c Bundt pan.

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium sized bow.

Beat the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment. Let it go on high about 2 minutes til its light and fluffy.

Flip the mixer to low, and beat in the yolks. Scrape down the bowl. Then add the whole eggs on medium low speed. After the addition of each egg, mix for half a minute, stop, and scrape down bowl and beater.

Flip back to low, slowly add 1/2 the dry ingredients, then the milk, then the rest of the dry ingredients, then the lemon juice, then the coconut and zest, then the vanilla. Bring the speed up to medium high...for about half a minute. The batter will be smooth, light, and fluffy.

Spoon or scrape into the Bundt pan. Even it out with the back of a spoon. Run through the batter with a butter knife, then tap the pan against the counter to pop any air bubbles.

Bake for 45 - 55 minutes. Cake will be gloriously golden brown. A tester will have few if any crumbs sticking.

While the cake is cooling, whisk together the confectioners sugar and lemon juice.

Let cake cool for 15 minutes, then turn it out onto a cake plate or wire rack. Poke the cake all over with a skewer or broom straw. Brush every drop of glaze over the cake. The entire top of the cake. Yes, down in the center too. The glaze will work magic. Not only does the glaze soak into the cake, perfuming and moistening it, it will also help keep the cake fresh for up to a week.

Serves 1 or 2. HA! Serves...jeez, I don't know...12? In my house it really is 1 or 2. ;)

Lickin' Lichen



Holly & Sally having lunch at The Oaks. Heh.



Okay...I know the pictures are crummy. Here's why: I shot this picture from about a million miles away. Well, alright, not quite...but from a long way away. See, Holly & Sally should be munching those lichens, but if they knew that I thought it was alright...well, they wouldn't. They love to sneak and filch. It's their sport. They take pride in their sleight of hand.

So...from far away...this was the view. I wish I had caught a good picture of sheep lips...I could see great through the viewfinder...but, they're faster than my finger, evidently.

With all the rain we're getting today, can green grass be far off?