A blog of hopeful, inspired living: cooking & baking & growing & harvesting & preserving & gleaning & eating & sharing food... while bringing positive change to my kitchen and our food system.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hummingbird Pancakes

Hummingbird Pancakes with pineapple flowers
Ever had Hummingbird Cupcakes?  They are a delicious southern treat filled with banana, pineapple and pecan pieces, usually served with a cream cheese frosting.

A friend was coming into town for brunch.  A pineapple-loving friend.  What a coincidence: I had a lovely pineapple (organic, fair trade) sitting on the counter.  Brunch seemed a little early for cupcakes, so Hummingbird Cupcakes turned into Hummingbird Pancakes.  Warm, 100% New England maple syrup replaced cream cheese frosting -- and we didn't miss it at all (especially with a dallop of fresh whipped cream).   To add pizazz, I went one step further and made pineapple flowers to top our pancakes.  Pineapple flowers?  Lovely, dried pineapple slices, shaped into beautiful flowers.  See directions at end.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Nectarine Sorbet

The farmers' market is overflowing with delicious stone fruit right now: cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines.  I'm experimenting with sorbet and ice cream flavors and the pick of the week is nectarines.  They were perfectly ripe, fragrant and sweet this week.  It has been HOT the past couple days -- in the high 90s-- so a light, refreshing sorbet was the perfect choice.  Ice cream maker or not, you can make this lovely, icy, simple treat for any hot day. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Straight-forward Strawberry Jam

It's true, in California you can get fresh strawberries year round.  However, this time of year they just taste better.  It feels like this is strawberry season.  Maybe it's the east-coaster in me.  Maybe it's just really good strawberries.  Whatever it is, I eat a ton of them this time of year.  And I hoard them.  I freeze them for smoothies and preserve them in silky, sweet jams.  I just can't get enough.

I love a straight-forward homemade strawberry jam.  It's perfect on a warm biscuit, over vanilla ice cream,  on toast or french toast or a fresh bran muffin, on oatmeal, mixed in yogurt.  Or savored (once in a while) by the spoonful. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Peanut Butter Cups

I'm on a sweet kick.  Getting 20 cookbooks dedicated to desserts from the library has not helped.  A zillion June birthdays doesn't help.  A sweet boyfriend with a sweet tooth willing to test all my new recipes doesn't help either.  So on I trudge, into more sweetness.  Project of the day: homemade peanut butter cups. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Magic of Sun Tea

Sun tea after 8 hours in the sun
The sun is finally out!  After weeks of being stuck in a cold, gray cloud, the tomatoes are springing to life, squash blossoms are trumpeting and it's perfect weather for making sun tea.  Sun tea is really one of the simplest things to make (if the sun's out).  It is so lovely to have in the fridge, and it mixes well to make other refreshing summery drinks.

To make a batch of sun tea:

Fill a 2 quart mason jar with filtered water.
Add 8 tea bags (we use plain black, but you can make it with herbal, or with a couple handfuls of fresh mint, lemon balm or other herbs).
Extra flavors to experiment with: a couple cinnamon sticks or pieces of ginger
Place in a sunny spot for about 8 hours.  Remove tea bags.
Chill in the fridge.

This is refreshing all on it's own, but here's a lovely after-work drink that mixologist Bill came up with: 

Summer Sun Tea Cooler
1 1/2 cups chilled sun tea
a few fresh mint leaves
1 ounce vodka or rum
1/2 - 3/4 ounces raspberry (or other flavor) Torani syrup (to taste)
squeeze of lime

Muddle the mint leaves briefly in the tea.  Mix or shake all the ingredients and serve over ice.
(Bill has Torani syrups on hand for making special coffee drinks.  I imagine this would also be delicious w muddled fresh raspberries and simple syrup)
raspberry and coconut sun tea coolers

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


With a camping trip on the books, I started thinking about a camp-style menu.  I got as far as S'mores... which was enough menu planning as far as I was concerned.  Campfire s'mores are the quintessential childhood camp memory.  Yet I have a moral battle each time I am faced with purchasing jet-puffed, infinite-shelf-life mallows.  What to do?  Strangely and fitting enough, a homemade marshmallow vendor recently started selling at my local farmers' market.  What a concept.  I started looking around for a recipe for my own.