Monthly Archives: September 2013

Our First Pawpaws!

DSC_0015While walking by the pawpaw tree I noticed the sweet smell of fruit. When I tested a few of the pawpaws 2 were soft to the touch! This means they are ready to be picked. This is extra exciting because it is the first time we have pawpaws and it isn’t a  fruit that is available at stores or markets. Also, my father is visiting and will be here tomorrow so he can sample them as well. This has been a long term family project to cultivate trees that produce this wonderful “exotic” fruit that is indigenous to the united states as far north as Michigan.
DSC_0016 DSC_0018The taste is truly its own- the texture is like a custard or creamy banana but the flavor is like a mixture of banana (not over-powering ripe banana), coconut and peaches. Many years ago my father got a hold of a pawpaw and I remember thinking it was like a Kahlua custard. My guess is that it was overripe after tasting this just ripe fresh from the tree. We found the best way to eat the fruit was to scoop it out with a spoon and spit the large seeds out (as delicately as possible). Xav and I are excited to share this with friends and see what they think so there may be an update with a better description of the flavor. There are so many fruits that I will also need to figure out what to do with them. According the the Miller Nurseries catalog (where we purchased the tree) the pawpaw is “high in protein and a good source of vitamins and minerals”. Check out the detailed nutritional breakdown I found through Kentucky State University. I am saving the seeds because my father is interested in starting a tree from seed and this particular tree is quite beautiful and produced an abundance of fruit.


Summer’s End Meze

The overcast sky kept the promise of sun at bay most of the morning. Being a big baby about working outside in less than perfect conditions I quickly picked what was available in the garden and returned inside with cold wet fingers. This morning was dedicated in part to canning tomato sauce. After the farmers market, with the sun’s full cooperation, I spent time outside taking care of some fall preparations in the garden. After a productive day we celebrated what is still coming out of the garden with:
DSC_0021Quinoa Tabouli
1/2 cup quinoa
1 clove garlic; crushed
1/8 cup fresh pressed lemon juice
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
pinch fresh ground black pepper
1 cup tomatoes; chopped
1/2 cup peppers; chopped (I would normally use 1 cup cucumber but there are none left in the garden)
1 cup parsley; chopped
1/4 cup red onion; minced OR 1/4 cup scallions; diced

Cook quinoa- bring 1/2 cup quinoa and 1 cup water to a boil, reduce heat and simmer till water is absorbed (about 20 minutes), place into a glass or ceramic bowl/casserole dish and add the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, stir, cover and set aside to marinate at least 1 hour. Add the remaining ingredients stir and serve.

Marinated Yellow Wax Beans
2 cups yellow wax beans; cleaned and cut into 1 inch lengths
1 clove garlic; crushed
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
pinch ground white pepper

Combine all ingredients and set aside for at least 1 hour.

Carrot Salad
2 cups shredded carrots
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
pinch sea salt
dash ground white pepper
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup pine nuts

Combine all ingredients and set aside for at least 1 hour.

The arugula is fresh from our garden and nearly the last of the season. I ate mine with a few chunks of goat milk brie (if I had feta at home that would have been ideal) but omit for a vegan meal. Xav enjoyed his with a sprouted whole grain tortillas but any bread or flat bread will do.

Fruit and Nut Brownies; Gluten and Dairy Free

Craving brownies…
DSC_00221/2 cup coconut oil; warm it if it has solidified so it is the consistency of room temperature butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup gluten free flour (I have used oat flour in the past but I had a homemade gluten free mix left over so I used that)
1/3 cup cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional) I used slivered almonds, because that is what I had on hand
(you may want to add 1/2 cup of chocolate chips to make it a double chocolate brownie)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 9” square glass pan (I use a pastry brush to apply the coconut oil). Blend together coconut oil, brown sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each. Mix together oat flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt then stir gently into oil and sugar mixture. Mix in raisins, nuts and/or chocolate chips if using. Bake 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool, chill in refrigerator before cutting into squares and removing from pan carefully with a spatula.


DSC_0039I basically followed the recipe for applesauce from the Ball website substituting pears for the apples, cutting the recipe in half and omitting the sugar. I also decided to go with half pint jars.

6 lb pears (I used anjou and a handful of bosc pears); quartered, cored and damaged spots removed (see ** in directions below)
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
8 half pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands

Sterilize jars by placing them in the canning pot with water, bringing to a boil and simmering for 10 minutes. Leave the jars in the hot water until ready to use. Place lids and rings in a bowl, pour hot water over them and let them sit until ready to seal the jars- Do Not Boil Lids

Pour enough water to cover the bottom of a large stainless steal stock pot, add the pears and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the pears are tender (5-20 minutes) depending on the type and ripeness. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Put the cooked pears through a vegetable strainer. The peal will be extracted from the end and the lovely pear puree will glide effortlessly into a bowl.
DSC_0030 DSC_0031 DSC_0032

**if you do not own a vegetable strainer you can still make pear sauce as long as you peel the pears and remove all stems and hard spots. The cooked pears can be pureed in batches in a food processor or blender.


Return the pear purée to the stock pot and add lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking or burning. Fill the hot jars immediately with the hot pearsauce.


Ladle the hot pearsauce into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. If your sauce is very thick remove air bubbles (tap jars on a thick towel so the sauce goes down and the air up or use a spatula and run it up and down along the interior edges of the jar). If your sauce is thin enough to pour in and settle without air into the jars like mine was skip that step. Wipe rims with a clean damp paper towel, center lids on jars and secure the bands.

Process the jars by placing the filled jars back into the canning pot and bring to a boil with water (I usually leave the hot water from the sterilizing step in the pot so it is still hot and heats up to a boil quicker). Boil for 20 minutes, remove jars and cool. The “popping” sound of the lids sealing is so exciting! Check lids for a proper seal after 24 hours- the lid should not flex up and down when the center is pressed.

Wild Turkey Sighting

Yesterday while dining outside on the patio I noticed dirt flying up into the air in the back corner of the property. I wondered what could be digging so furiously. Upon inspection I noticed a wild turkey hen was taking a dirt bath. Dashing inside for my camera I was hoping that I could get close enough to capture her. Earlier in the spring she walked through with her chicks but was much to cautious to let me anywhere near them. She came alone so the little ones must already be on their own.
Here she is walking past “DadCat”. This old guy adopted our garden as his hunting territory years ago. As male cats do he also was a heavy sprayer in strategic places. Xav used to chase him off the property but he would return daily. Over the years his eyesight and hearing have deteriorated (obviously since he is totally oblivious to the large turkey hen waking by) and he walks with what I call a limp but others a swagger. The kids and I refer to him as “DadCat” because after Xav’s knee surgery he and the cat had the same limp/swagger. Xav’s hearing is going after years in the construction industry and he has been caught squinting 6 inches from the computer screen. I’m not sure if the chasing has ceased because DadCat stopped spraying or neither of them can run.

Spaghetti Squash with Moong Dal Marinara Sauce

I purchased a spaghetti squash at last week’s farmers market. Coincidentally, my daughter called from college about the week’s produce from the CSA share she purchased with her housemates. How wonderful that a farm near her college offers a discounted CSA for students that only get to enjoy part of the season! She asked how I make “the spaghetti squash with the marinara with lentils to make it healthier” inspiring me to make that dish for my husband and myself.

1 cup moong dal (or any small lentil)

1 spaghetti squash
extra virgin olive oil

1/2-1 onion; minced
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
12 cups fresh tomatoes; chopped OR 3-4 cups boxed/canned crushed tomatoes
1/2-1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon dried basil (I used my own from the garden)
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
3 cloves garlic; crushed

optional topping- grated pecorino Romano or parmesan cheese
optional sides- salad, bread

Start by soaking 1 cup of moong dal in 4 cups of water during the work/school day. Any lentil will do but pictured here is the dish made with moong dal (I purchased the Deep brand from a local Asian market). Moon dal is high in protein making it great for vegans/vegetarians; 24 g per serving.

Preheat the oven to 400.

Meanwhile, wash the spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds with a spoon and place cut side down on an oiled baking sheet.

Drain and rinse the moong dal/lentils and allow to drain in a sieve. Place soaked and rinsed moong dal (or lentil) into a medium sized pot and add 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until tender, 20-30 minutes depending on the dal/lentil.

Place the prepared squash into the preheated oven and bake until tender when pushed with the back of a wooden spoon, about 30 minutes.

Preheat a wide bottomed stock pot over medium heat and chop the onions. Add olive oil and onions and saute under cover until tender, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile chop the tomatoes then add to the sauted onions, put the cover on, bring to a boil, boil for 5 minutes until the tomatoes begin to break up then remove the cover and allow to reduce (cooking so the steam reduces the amount of water from the fresh tomatoes) for about 30 minutes (if using boxed/canned tomatoes skip the reduction step).

Drain the cooked moong dal (or lentil) well in a sieve and set aside.

Add the salt, pepper, basil, oregano and garlic to the tomatoes and stir. Continue to simmer for another 10 minutes.


When the spaghetti squash has cooled enough to handle (I usually use an oven mitt that is easy to launder) hold it in a bowl and using a fork scrape out the baked squash flesh- it will come out in “spaghetti” strips. Set the bowl of spaghetti squash aside.

Add the drained moong dal (or lentil) to the marinara sauce, stir and bring to a simmer again then remove from the heat and serve over the spaghetti squash.

We ate ours topped with grated pecorino Romano cheese and had a salad on the side. If it wasn’t a school night I would have loved a glass of red wine…

So Many Pears—So Little Time!

We harvested bosc, seckel and anjou pears today and there just isn’t enough time to go through all of them and figure out what to do with them all. We do not have a second refrigerator. Pear sauce, pear pie filling, pears for eating (but honestly, who could ever eat all of those?) and pear pickles? Maybe it will all seem less overwhelming when I come home from work tomorrow. The bosc pears are all washed and sorted so that only leaves 7 out of 9 bags to go.