Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Recipe for Fig- Quince- Ginger Jam (Vegan Gluten-free)

Yes, Fig-Quince-Ginger Jam sounds pretty darned exotic from the blog of a granny living on the currently rainy Vancouver Island off the West Coast of Canada.   

Especially exotic when you realize that I didn't even know that I was growing a quince tree in our backyard!

We thought we had planted a PEAR tree.  This is the first year that these hard, furry, bulbous fruits produced more than a couple of little fall-offs.  And I still thought they were pears until I saw a friend's show piece on quinces that she harvested.

A second crop of Green Figs
Katsikopoulos Dimitris
So, this is brand new territory!  I also have a fig tree, as you will know from blogs past, so I went looking for fig-quince jam recipes.  We have a second crop of these little green figs.  My husband is a real "fig pig" but I'm kind of 'meh' about them.  Jam is always good though.

The Quince that we have are rock hard-- even though they are 'ripe'.  You have to sort of hack them in quarters with a big heavy knife (after you have washed the offending fuzz off-- it comes off well just by putting it in a bowl of cold water and sort of rubbing it off with you hand or a soft brush).  Quince are rarely eaten raw (I can see why).  When I was still under the illusion that they were pears, I had put a couple of them into a brown paper bag, the way I do with hard pears... they didn't get soft, but when I removed them, the bag had the most delightful fresh confectionary scent-- my husband said it smelled like jelly.  I'm not sure.  But QUINCE JELLY is one of the things that this fruit often gets used for.

What quince lacks in looks and tenderness it makes up for in fibre, vitamins and minerals apparently.  As well as being a great anti-cancer food, the quince also has anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory qualities that make it a healthy choice for a lot of suffering souls out there-- you might just be one of them discovering a fruit you didn't know existed that will help you in your struggles!  CAUTION: Quince Seeds are Poison!

HERE IS THE RECIPE for FIG-QUINCE-GINGER JAM (or Marmalade, if you wish) :
Quince on Tree courtesy of Adriana Herbut

Combine the following in a glass or ceramic bowl for an hour or overnight:

  • 4 C. of Figs and Quince, washed and stemmed (the Figs) cut into small pieces (the Quince)
  • 3+C. Coconut Palm Sugar (or your usual sugar)
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • Large knuckle of Fresh Ginger, Grated (to your taste)
The next morning put the above masceration in a large pan and bring ingredients to a boil.  Turn down to simmer, stirring throughout, for about 45 minutes to an hour.  

I freaked a little at about the 40-minute mark and added in about a tablespoon of Agar Agar flakes to "jam" it up but I think I would have been fine just stirring it for the next 15 minutes without worrying about whether it would thicken up.  With the agar agar, though, it IS super thick, if that is the consistency you desire.  That's the way we like it!

Best way to eat this jam?  Why, on a baguette, of course!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Collecting and Saving Teeny Yellow Tomato Seeds

Today we have teeny yellow (and red) tomatoes coming out our yin-yan.

I am joyful with such abundance during a year of drought, and grateful for the friends who passed the wonderful little yellow tomato starter plants on to us (when we had opted not to grow tomatoes this year after a couple of bleak harvests).

These tomatoes were labeled "Tumblers".  My gardener-daughter-in-law was here earlier in the summer and exclaimed several times over how sweet and tasty the tiny yellow tomatoes were.. like candy.  Could she have some of the seed?

Soooo.... I am saving seeds... and with a method that will work for any other tiny tomato (grape, cherry, etc.).

HARVEST: For the best possible seed production, let your fruit ripen on the vine if at all possible (and you know that it happens quickly with these little tomatoes).  

If you want to ripen the little guys you save from the first frost, they WILL ripen, but slowly, and in a cool, dry location. Seeds will always be most viable if collected from fruits that have at least turned colour... and definitely MOST viable of all from a very ripe fruit.  (Of course, this is where you also get your very delicious flavour, from the vine-ripened tomato-- but try not to eat them all!  Save the Seeds!)

PROCESS: Working with little tomatoes is easy-peasy-- no arduous slicing and wasteful elimination of the flesh around the stem-- just slice them in half around their middle/equator.  

Gently squeeze or scoop out the seeds from the vertical cavitiesCareful work will give you the rest of the little gems to sun-dry (or dehydrate), add to a salad or other dishes, or just enjoy as they are! 
Put the gelatinous matter and seeds into a small jar.   If you use less than about a 1/2 of a 1/2-pint jar of seeds and jelly, then add a little water.  

Cover with something like a coffee filter held in place with a rubber band.  Put somewhere warm, around 65-70° F, 20C,  like the top of the fridge.

Leave the solution in a warm place for about 3 days, stirring daily.

A surprising black fungus mat will develop over the surface of the mixture after just a couple of days.  But the GOOD NEWS is that this nasty looking fungus is a super-bonus: not only does the fungus consume the jelly gook
 that coats each seed and stops  germination but it also forms antibiotics that interrupt production of seed-borne diseases (such as canker, bacterial spot, and speck.) 
Finally, about the fourth day, pour warm water up to the rim of the jar.  Allow  the contents to settle and pour off the slowlyPulp and immature seeds will float on the top, and exit with the water. The heavier 'viable seeds' will sink to the bottom of the jar and nestle together there.  
Viable seeds will sink to the bottom of the jar

Re-fill the jar with warm water and pour it off repetitively until you are satisfied that the seeds that line the bottom of the jar are the clean, viable seeds you are looking for.  

Tip the clean seeds into a fine strainer and let the last droplets of water drain 

Turn the strainer upside down over a paper towel or piece of newspaper. Let the seeds dry completely (takes a day or two).

Gently separate the clumps into individual seeds,  and store in a small envelope, plastic bag, or plastic pill container.  I read somewhere about someone's grandfather who unreeled a toilet tissue roll and let the seeds dry there, then rolled it back up again to have a ready made seed mat for planting. 


You can find this article on my Pinterest board for Tiny Tomatoes, along with a couple of dozen great recipes for Tiny Tomatoes... 
 and here is a favourite easy recipe for that abundance:
Oven-Fry Garlic Tiny Tomatoes: Pre-set oven to 350F. Mix tomato halves in bowl with Olive Oil, cracked Black Pepper, Minced Garlic, a little Celtic Sea Salt or Kosher Salt.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Use as a pasta sauce too!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Delightful Crunchy Sunflower Seed Pesto Recipe

Looking for a delicious way to use your yummy fresh garden basil  but almost had a heart attack when you saw the cost of pine nuts for the pesto recipe?   Subbing home-toasted sunflower seeds will give you a very tasty crunchy pesto for a fraction of the cost of pine nuts! 

  • 1 C. raw, organic, shelled Sunflower Seeds
  • 1 tsp. Celtic Sea Salt
  • 3 - 4 Garlic cloves
  • 2+ tsp. fresh-squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 4 C. lightly-packed Basil leaves
  • 1/2 C. extra virgin Olive Oil
  1. In skillet over medium heat, combine Seeds and Salt, and stirring throughout, toast until most seeds are golden (careful not to burn!).  Remove from heat and cool.
  2. Combine all ingredients --except Olive Oil-- in food processor.
  3. Process while drizzling Olive Oil through the top opening.
  4. Store in mason jar in the fridge.  Makes about 2 C. Delicious on pasta, pizza, crackers, brioche, toast, or as the crunchy crust on a  cheese ball.
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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Yummy 3-Ingredient Organic Breakfast Cookies

You may already have come across these delicious breakfast cookies but thought: "hey, where's the good stuff? The sugar? The eggs? The fat?"  Well, the good stuff is all in the ingredients-- this is a whole food recipe which means we aren't using derivatives, we're using the real food, and it doesn't need to be gussied up with animal products to have incredible mouth appeal (that is what fatty, sugary, salty, custard-y textures and tastes contribute).  So, I say, try 'em and if you're disappointed, well, add some of the other ingredients...

Organic Breakfast Cookies (rainbow effect thanks to a crystal on my kitchen window sill)
INGREDIENTS (all organic and non-GMO)
    • 3 well-mashed Bananas
    • 1 C. Old-Fashioned Oat Flakes
    • 1/4 C. Chia Seed Gel
You can go with these 3-- pretty delicious by all counts-- or you can add in one or several of the following:
  • 1/4 C. chopped Nuts (I like pecans) or Seeds
  • 1/4 C. unsweetenened Coconut shreds
  • 1/4 C. Raisins or dried berries, figs, apricots, etc.
  •  1 tsp. grated fresh Ginger or 1 tsp. Cinnamon or 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg, etc.
  • 1/4 C. Apple Sauce
  • Sprinkle of Celtic Sea Salt
  • 1/4 C. Carob powder with 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • ?? (what did you try that isn't listed above? How did it turn out? Please tell in comments below.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F./180 C.
  2. Combine everything until well mixed
  3. Drop 12 cookies onto a cookie sheet covered by a silicone mat or parchment paper
  4. Bake for 15 - 25 minutes (different preferences, different ovens)
  5. Cool.  Eat in-hand as a cookie or, as my husband prefers, in a small stack with almond milk on top (like a super-rich, sticky banana porridge). However you eat them, they are 'natural' and yummy and easy on the digestion!
Here is a link to a very interesting presentation on the nutritional status of GMOs -- explained very clearly by Dr. Thierry Vrain, a soil scientist who worked for Agriculture Canada for many years.   If you are still confused about whether GMOs are over-played by the health nuts or terrifyingly justified by the Frankin-monster agro-industrialist supporters, this is a good video to watch for basic scientific understanding.