Tonight after work, I’m transforming my backyard to an impromptu outdoor yoga class. There are pop up stores…why not pop up yoga? I sent word around so we’ll see who shows up.
My long-time yoga teacher and friend is taking a break from teaching but she’s in town and popping over to teach a class as the work day winds down. I know it will be my Friday favourite.
If nobody else can make it, I just might get a private class.
I love shortbread. I’m not fussy. It can be plain, with nuts or as the crust for a gooey fruit topping.
And as if someone can read my mind, a recipe appeared in my inbox this week for sugared shortbread.
I didn’t have rice flour in the house or I would have made the shortbread as soon as I read the recipe. I contemplated making my own rice flour in the food processor but I only had brown rice and wasn’t sure how that would taste. So I did what people who can delay their gratification do and added it to my grocery list.
What I like about this recipe, besides the obvious fact that it produces shortbread, is that you melt the butter and just pour it in the bowl with the dry ingredients. It was really quick to throw together and the shortbread was delicious! Here’s the recipe:
- 240 grams all-purpose flour (2 cups)
- 36 grams rice flour (1/4 cup)
- 62 grams sugar (1/4 cup), more as needed
- 2 grams fine sea salt (1/2 teaspoon)
- 16 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 cup), melted and cooled
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper. In a bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar and salt. Stir in the butter. Press dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes. Sprinkle evenly with sugar while warm and slice; cool completely.
Tis the season for a lot of fresh local produce…and I just keep looking for more things to preserve. It’s so satisfying – in a whole different way than cooking a meal – to make something that I can eat or share all year long.
Maybe I should have been born before refrigeration.
This week it’s been more raspberry jam. Bread and butter pickles. And zucchini relish – which I don’t even like but am so happy to make it on request for someone else. I’m waiting for some fresh apricots to ripen a little more to make them into jam.
I’m slowly getting the tools I should have had all along to avoid hot water bath burns and the inevitable cursing when I try and remove a mason jar with simple tongs.
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It took me a total of about 30 minutes to make these two jars of pickled onions and cucumbers. The only ingredient I didn’t have was the coriander seeds but a quick stop at Ed Hyder’s Mediterranean Marketplace solved that problem. (If your travels take you to Worcester MA, stop at Ed Hyder’s!)
The brine was simple: 1 cup white vinegar, 1 cup water, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns.
Bring the mixture to a boil.
For the red onions: Combine 2 medium red onions cut in thin wedges, 1 teaspoon coriander and 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper in a 1 qt mason jar. Pour the hot brine into the jar to fill it and screw the lid on and let cool. Store in the frig for up to 1 month.
For the cucumbers: Slice 2 unpeeled cucumbers into 1/4″ rounds, combine with fresh dill and 3 cloves of sliced garlic in a 1 qt mason jar. Add the hot brine, seal and store.
I served the pickles and onions with just about every meal this weekend and loved the tangy taste of summer!
My daughter-in-law-to-be’s parents gave us a book for the holidays called Shrubs – An Old-Fashioned Drink for Modern Times by Michael Dietsch. I had never heard of a shrub before but since they are from Northern California where all cool trends start, I eagerly read more to enlighten myself!
A shrub is a colonial day drink, derived from the Arabic word sharab, to drink. It’s a concentrated syrup made from fruit, vinegar and sugar and then mixed with water, seltzer or alcohol.
I decided to try the Fresh Ginger Shrub since it was used in the recipe for Moscow Mules in the next chapter. I peeled 4 or 5 large pieces of fresh ginger, cut them into smaller pieces and pulsed them in the food processor. Then I squeezed the pureed ginger into a sieve lined with paper towel to get 1/2 cup of ginger juice. I added 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar and 1/3 cup sugar and put it in a mason jar.
When I tested my shrub, my mouth puckered! This was spicy from the ginger and tangy from the apple cider vinegar. But it’s meant to be a concentrate so I knew enough to wait until I mixed it with vodka and lime juice!
The next day I made the Moscow Mules from the book. They called for 2 oz vodka, 1 oz fresh lime juice, 3/4 oz fresh ginger shrub and soda water. Friends were over for dinner and they were game to try the drink so I filled four glasses with ice, followed the recipe, added a little tonic water and a lime garnish and we clinked our glasses and drank. The faces we made were not pretty! This was a tart drink that tasted like a lot of ginger and apple cider vinegar! With the addition of more vodka and tonic, we got the ratios right and it was a very refreshing summer cocktail.
Most of the recipes involve fruit as the original idea behind a shrub was the vinegar would preserve the fruit before the days of refrigeration. The NYTimes has a recipe for Summer Fruit Shrub from the same book if you are curious to try making one but I scared you off with the ginger recipe! If you like kombucha, you will probably like shrubs. Let us know if you try it!
It might have been the freshly served preserves on our recent mini vacation that got me in the mood to get into a hot, muggy kitchen…and make jam!
Raspberries are in season and they make a beautiful jam. I found a recipe for “old-fashioned raspberry jam”. Not sure what qualifies it as that – maybe the simplicity of just fruit and good old fashioned sugar!
This was such an easy recipe, I’m going to make more while the raspberries ripen. It’s my Friday Favourite – to make and eat.
Old-Fashioned Raspberry Jam, The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving
- 4 c granulated sugar
- 4 c fresh raspberries
- Place sugar in a shallow, ovenproof pan and warm in a 250F over for 15 minutes. Warm sugar dissolves better.
- Place berries in large stainless or enamel saucepan. Bring to full boil of high heat, mashing berries with a potato masher as they heat. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
- Add warm sugar, return to boil and boil til mixture forms a gel – about 5 minutes. (I put a few spoons in the freezer, and then dip the cold spoon into the jam and hold it up on its side. The jam has gelled when the slow, gooey drips off the spoon run together and drip off slowly. Read more about testing for the gel stage.
- Ladle into hot jars and process for 10 minutes in a hot water bath. Watch this short video on the water-bath method of sealing.
Makes 4 cups.
This was fast and simple. Here’s what it looked like in the process.
mashing up the fresh berries
boiling into a gel
admiring the view