Monday, December 19, 2011

A Very Davis Christmas

Thanks, Becky, for this cool decorative craft that kept us busy and knee-deep in glitter for days. A trip to Michaels, some fishing line, some marker and glitter, some jingle bells, and viola! The kids are excited about the tree and the cookies! And we had to do the Target dollar spot festive headgear.


Now that I'm selling out on the locavore life for the winter (I just don't have the energy for it this year), I'm back to shopping at Produce Junction and paying next to nothing for exotic produce.

I thought I'd share the tip a few years ago from some internet site about cooking artichokes, written for us east coasters with no idea what to do with them. It said to trim the pointy edges off and then cook them for 20 minutes with a half lemon, a garlic clove, salt, and a bay leaf. I really like the flavor!

Runny Marmelade: AKA, Orange Syrup

So, I must say up front, making marmalade, for me, was so not worth it. I was feeling pressure, mostly imaginary, as the principal's wife, to come up with some creative Christmas gift for the teachers at Owen's school. I think it was about trying to live up to some ideal I'll never live up to. Anyway, not having a clue about making marmalade, I thought it would be the perfect gift to make.

I should have been clued in by the fact that the marmalade recipes I was finding were for a few pint jars. Here's why! It takes so long to peel the oranges with a peeler, peel the membranes off of the orange, slice the zest into thin ribbons . . . to make 15 jars, like I did, took about 10 hours. And then, to make matters worse, I just couldn't wait any longer for it to thicken, so I jarred hopefully. And found in the morning that I'd made orange syrup. Pretty, tasty, time-intensive orange syrup.

I must say, though, that it was lovely on greek yogurt.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Movie Recommendation: Forks Over Knives

If you are a Netflix watcher, this is on the "Watch Instantly" list. Forks Over Knives is an interesting and compelling documentary about the links between diet and heart disease and cancer. (In the interest of full disclosure, it does recommend a primarily vegan diet, I should warn up front.) It's well-researched and discusses why the findings of a massive study are not being more widely applied--fascinating. Anyway, happy viewing, if you choose to watch it. Owen even liked it, if that says anything for it. :)

Here's the Netflix link:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Banana Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe is from the blog, and has become a family tradition. Ithought I'd put it on my blog so it will be easier to find (I do a search for it online every year). It's pretty healthy and easy and tasty.

Nikki's Healthy Cookie Recipe

You can use unsweetened carob, or grain sweetened chocolate chips, or do what I did and chop up 2/3 of a bar of Scharffen berger 70%. I sort-of shaved half the bar with a knife and then cut the rest into bigger chip-sized chunks. You can make your own almond meal by pulsing almonds in a food processor until it is the texture of sand - don't go too far or you'll end up with almond butter. And lastly, the coconut oil works beautifully here, just be sure to warm it a bit - enough that it is no longer solid, which makes it easier to incorporate into the bananas. If you have gluten allergies, seek out GF oats.

3 large, ripe bananas, well mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut oil, barely warm - so it isn't solid (or alternately, olive oil)
2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup almond meal
1/3 cup coconut, finely shredded & unsweetened
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 - 7 ounces chocolate chips or dark chocolate bar chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, racks in the top third.

In a large bowl combine the bananas, vanilla extract, and coconut oil. Set aside. In another bowl whisk together the oats, almond meal, shredded coconut, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks/chips.The dough is a bit looser than a standard cookie dough, don't worry about it. Drop dollops of the dough, each about 2 teaspoons in size, an inch apart, onto a parchment (or Silpat) lined baking sheet. Bake for 12 - 14 minutes. I baked these as long as possible without burning the bottoms and they were perfect - just shy of 15 minutes seems to be about right in my oven.

Makes about 3 dozen bite-sized cookies.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Cactus Time

I like to post a picture of my Christmas cactus each winter around this time. Every year it shocks me to find it in flower (maybe because I basically do nothing for it but provide occasional water). There is something just amazing about such a brilliant flower at such a dark time of year. I think God likes to surprise us with sparks of beauty when we're not expecting them.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Ride 'Em, Cowboy . . . and Cowgirl!


So I thought I'd put a few more kid pictures on here. I promise I did not put them up to this to exploit them on my blog. They really were
this cute for their own enjoyment.

If my camera battery hadn't gone dead, I'd have included the pictures of Jesse "lassoing" Abigail's car (he had me tie the rope for him) and pulling her over to his horse. That was pretty adorable.

Getting Saucy!

I don't know if I'm in the minority here, but my contact with the cranberry has always been in the opening of a can. I'm a cranberry fan, but I was a little daunted by the real deal. Last fall I saw some nice red berries in a quart basket at Reading Terminal Market and thought, "Wow, pretty, but what would someone do with these?"

This fall, I was surprised by a windfall of cranberries. A good friend had bought two bags to make a bread and only needed half of one. She (erroneously) assumed I'd know what to do with them since she didn't.

Of course, I took the berries. I mean, I told her I didn't know anything about making cranberry sauce, but she was just happy to find someone who'd do something with them. And so I was introduced to the cranberry. I washed them, picked out what I assumed were bad berries (I figured if they were black inside and smelled really funky--or if they were super squishy--that it would be a safe bet to toss them), and then followed my friend, Rachel's, instructions explicitly. When I called her (frustrated by elaborate and rather icky sounding internet recipes) for advice, she read me the Ball Canning recipe and made me promise to use as much sugar as they called for (Who, me? skimp on sugar?) so we wouldn't end up with botulism.

The recipe was successful, I hit a farmer's market and bought the quantity pictured in my sink above, and made about a dozen jars of cranberry sauce. I don't know if this sounds exciting to anyone but me, but it tastes just like Ocean Spray! I love the cans, I was thrilled to replicate that taste.

I thought I'd post the recipe, and also encourage any other cranberry-phobes: You can do it! It's exactly like making any kind of jelly. (You can use a water bath canner if you're going to can it. If you weren't going to can it, you could skip all steps but boiling the ingredients below.)

Simple Cranberry Sauce Recipe:

Start your water bath and have sterilized jars ready.
4 c water,
4 c sugar, and
8 c cranberries
Put in a dutch oven and boil till they "pop." (You'll know, trust me.)
They need to hard boil for 10-15 min. You can add OJ or orange zest (I didn't), and if you're canning, leave 1/4" headspace at the top and waterbath can for 15 minutes (Ball's directions).

It was really empowering, let me tell you. If I can make cranberry sauce, what else can I do that I never realized was possible?! Who knows? Today the cranberry, tomorrow the world! . . . or, I don't know, maybe the kumquat, whatever that is.

Anyway, yum!