This is a recipe from lasts fall issue of Gatherings, Rustic Romance (the digatal version is free by the way). It is a simple soup recipe I wanted to share!
Carrots are an ubiquitous vegetable and one that I always keep on hand. This soup is straight forward. Carrots are cooked in broth and pureed with a touch of cream. What gives the soup its depth of flavor is the hazelnuts and the parmesan rind. I got the idea from light summer minestrone I make, full of vegetables and herbs. I try to keep the leftover rinds from my wedges of parmesan cheese and throw them in soups. After the soup is cooked, I toss the rind away. It is like getting one last squeeze of flavor from the cheese. Simply garnish your soup with some toasted hazelnuts and hazelnut oil. You have a clean but richly flavored soup!
Carrot Soup Garnished with Hazelnuts 6 small servings
2 shallots, peeled and minced 2 TBL olive oil 5 cups carrots, trimmed, peeled and sliced into ¼ “slices 4 cups of chicken broth or water Heal of parmesan cheese (the thick end of a wedge that is inedible) ¼ cup cream Salt and pepper to taste ¼ cup toasted hazelnuts, with skins rolled off and very coarsely shopped Toasted hazelnut oil or good flavored olive oil
In a soup pot over medium heat, sauté shallots in oil for five minutes or so, until they are soft but do not burnt. Add carrots, broth and cheese rind. Cover pan and simmer ½ hour, until carrots are soft but not mushy. Remove rind and throw away. Add cream and blend with a blender stick or regular blender until smooth. Taste and add salt/pepper to your liking. If the soup is too thick, blend in some water. When you are ready to serve garnish the bowls of soup with hazelnuts and a of drizzle hazelnut oil.
Notes Since this is such a simple soup the better tasting the carrots are, the better tasting the soup will be. Another garnish that would be good with this soup is chiffonade fresh basil.
I wrote this post 3 years ago but I have to say these words mean more to me now than when I wrote them. David and I are working on getting rid of all debt. We are cash only now. Which is great but leaves very little after bills. We have been frugal over the years but still found ourselves falling back on credit for extras. We did not have best communication in this area. We never fight about money (we do not fight about much) but to be on the same page now is much better. Sticking ones head in the sand is not a good idea. Having written this though I have to say it is hard being on such a tight budget. It is hard to be in our 50’s and not be able to travel, our bills seem bigger and we just feel more insecure. I have had to say no to several wonderful invitations and opportunities. Not that I am complaining!! We are blessed beyond!! It is just that I needed a reminder of the beauty in frugality and thought maybe you do too. So I am reposting, Frugality Is Not A Killjoy xox
“By sowing frugality, we reap liberty, a golden harvest” ~Agesilaus
I love this saying! I have it written on my chalkboard, which came from the old school house down the road. When I was young though, I hated the word frugality. To me it meant NO fun, no adventures, no joy! I thought frugality was just about the things you lose. It was all about self-denial and I will be the first one to say, I am not good at self-denial.
I was pretty pampered as a girl. Life was about more and I liked it that way. Instant gratification worked for me ;- ) Well, until it did not but I am getting ahead of myself. Life was always one expensive adventure after another. I will be honest and say it was fun. I loved seeing new places (like Paris and Venice), trying new restaurants, buying new outfits but the thing is I had all this fun because I have a father who worked hard to buy those things and I did not appreciate that fact. My father was a workaholic and I took it for granted how hard he worked. Plus my father likes to shop, dine and travel even more than I do! The interesting detail is when I wanted to get married I did not want to marry a man like my father, who lived for making money. I love my father but I could see how lacking the other areas of his life were.
“I sometimes wonder whether all pleasures are not substitutes for joy.” C S Lewis
Well one day my knight in shining armor came galloping in (who scrubbed my coffee pots at work, so I did not have to, without even being asked. Now if there is ever a way to win a girls heart, especially a pampered girl like me, that was it!). He did not live for making money. He is hard worker but is much more interested in his family, his life, his wife and children. This means he was never going to make the kind of income my father made
I was torn in half; I wanted to be a fulltime homemaker. I loved the challenge of making the most around me. Like our first Christmas, when I decorated the house with the pine boughs from outside with gold painted stars. BUT I also love Paris and the thick hot chocolate I had that could barely be poured. Sadly I could not have both. I was going to have to choose, I was going to have to be frugal. Well if I was going to have to be something, I would have to find the fun in it. I had to embrace frugality and as I did, I started see what it added to my life. I was wrong as a girl, frugality was not a killjoy, it was a liberator. Now it can be a killjoy but anything can be. It is all how you use it. Before embracing frugality I struggled with:
Depression (Depression, from all the things I wanted and could not afford.)
Worry (Worry, from the money I spent on things, I should not have.)
An unhappy marriage (Unhappy, because of the fights with hubby over the money I used.)
Disregard (Because when you just buy something and never make anything with your own two hands, you do not understand and appreciate all the work that goes into it. I will never take a loaf of bread for granted after trying to hand grind wheat!)
Un-creativity (Well actually I was pretty creative when I had money BUT I was way more creative when I did/do not.)
“Joy is not in things, it is in us.” Richard Wagner
This opened up a whole new world to me. Not having money forces you to think out of the box. Make the most of what you have. See things in a new light and you know what? It is fun! I have made candles, picked grass for salad (well dandelions), shoveled goat manure for a raspberry patch so I could make yummy, homemade ice cream, cut up an old flannel nightgown to make a pretty rose covered petticoat, scented baking soda for homemade cleaners and a zillion more things. I am so much better for it. I do things with more thought and care now. I see the world around me in more detail and appreciate it. I admire and have a bond with others who create. I think the big thing is I am not so me, me anymore. I will not say I am not that way at all because we all know that’s not true ;- ) But I have learned that more things do not equal more happiness. Actually less things, means I love the things I have more. I am not looking for the world to fill me up; I am busy filling myself up.
Also being frugal does not mean we have to think small. Making frugal choices, does not mean the choice has to be frugal. I am all for making your dreams come true. It just means you do not run off with every whim. Especially if you are like me and have expensive whims. No, it means thinking long and hard before deciding what is really important to you. It might be some over-the-top thing like hundreds of paper butterflies tacked to a hall (which I was considering). But by being frugal it will also mean saying no to a lot of other, less important things. Frugally is not about loss, it is about making choices, owning those choices and being better for them. And that my dears, adds to one’s life, not takes away!
“I was wrong as a girl, frugality was not a killjoy, it was a liberator.” Me
So I posted last week about my Roasted Pear Sauce , which I have to say is brilliant (and I am not bragging, I took some to my mom and she LOVED it)! It is amazing all on it's own. With potato pancakes, homemade yogurt or shortbread cookies but I wanted ot create a recipe using the pear sauce. I mentioned on FB (as I often post what I am cooking for dinner) I had made this amazing cake using the pear sauce. Everyone wanted the recipe, so here we are. It is grain-free (because that is what I can only eat but you can use the pear sauce with any apple sauce cake recipe) and easy but please read all my notes below the recipe. Not that I am trying to make the recipe harder but I think if you understand a recipe, what you are trying to create, you will have a better produce in the end. Plus if someone cannot explain to me what and how their recipe is all about, I am weary of their recipe. Enjoy!!
Roasted Pear Sauce Cake, grain and dairy free
Makes 8’ round cake
Please read all my notes before making the cake.
2 ½ cup almond flour 2 TBL. psyllium husk powder 1 tsp baking powder ½ tsp baking soda ½ tsp salt ½ cup sugar ⅟ᴣ cup coconut oil, melted 2 eggs 1 cup roasted pear sauce
Pre-heat oven 300◦F
Grease a round cake pan (or a loaf pan). Start by melting your coconut oil and then set aside. In a large bowl shift all dry ingredients. In a small bowl whisk together wet ingredients and then add them to dry. Stir the wet and dry together. Scrap batter into pan. Bake 40-50 minutes (see notes on how to tell when the cake is cooked). Let cool in pan and then enjoy! The cake is good and moist for at least 3 days.
1. Now about how to tell when the cake is cooked? I will be honest, it is hard to tell. This is a veryyy moist cake. Plus almond flour cakes have no gluten and do not bake up firm like a regular cakes. This is what I look for when baking; the center to feel like the edges. The cake will rise a bit but it is still soft. Not totally mushy like when it is first baking. Since the edges cook first, I look for the center to be similar to the edge. Also let the cake completely cool in the pan. It will fall apart if not.
2. You will see there are no spices or vanilla in the recipe. That is because my pear sauce already has so much flavor and I want to highlight that. If you are using a sauce with no spices, you would want to add them to the batter.
3. The amount of sugar is somewhat reflective of the sweetness of your sauce. If it is very sweet you could cut down the amount of sugar to a ⅟ᴣ cup and if it is not sweet at all you could add a bit more. It is really about what you like and how sweet the pear sauce is. I use coconut sugar but brown sugar would be really good in this.
4. The cake can be made with apples sauce too. I try to look for fruit that is ripe and smells good BUT still a bit firm.
5. If I have ripe pears on-hand I cut them into bite size squares. Set them in the pan and pour/spread the batter over them.
6. If you cannot get your hands on psyllium husk powder, you can use coconut flour too. I do not like it as well but in a pinch it will work.
7. I also make these in muffin tins. They will make about 12 muffins and bake more like 30 minutes.
I have decided to go back and rewrite some of my old recipes (Hopefully in these past 8 years I have learned to write recipes better.). Roasted pear sauce is a recipe I make every year so it is a perfect choice since this is my favorite and simplest way to make pear sauce (or apple for that matter). Please check out the notes below before making. There is also a recipe for Caramel Pear Sauce using the leftover juice. It is wonderful on pancakes, ice cream or fresh fruit!!
PS I have a rockin grain-free cake highlighting this sauce that I will be posting next week. Make sure to come check it out!
Roasted Pear Sauce
enough pears to fill a large baking pan w/ a lid (I used about a dozen) I like anjou
2 cinnamon sticks
2 vanilla beans, cut in half
4 whole anise
2 large slices of candied ginger or fresh ginger, cut into wide strips
½ cup sugar (I use coconut sugar), see notes
1 cup water
Pre-heat oven 250°F
Do not peel or core the pears. I cut pears into 1/4, leaving seeds, skin and all. I only remove the stem. Fill pan two thirds of the way and tuck whole spices in/around the pears. Then top with more pears. As many that will fin in your baking pan. Sprinkle sugar on top and then water. Cover with a heavy lid or foil. Roast one hour. Pull the pan put of the oven.Let the pears sit, covered for one hour.
Strain pears into a large bowl. Set the juice aside for caramel pear sauce. Remove all the whole spices except the candied ginger ad one vanilla bean for the caramel sauce. The ginger gets soft and mushy like the pears, so it can be run through the food mill. Process the pears through a food mill. I fill glass canning jars with a 2" header at the top (so when the sauce expands while it freezes, you have room and the jar will not break). Store jars in freezer. Since the sauce has almost no sugar, I am not sure if it would can well.
Caramel Pear Sauce
usally makes about 1/2 cup
juice from the pear sauce
vanilla bean from the pear sauce, cut open and scrap out the inside, add that to the pear juice. Discard the pod.
1-2 TBL butter
Set juice in a heavy sauce pan. Boil juice over high heat until it reduces by two thirds. Keep an eye on it. The sauce should be thicker and look for it to start smelling caramelly. Pull off heat and add 1 TBL of butter. If you want the sauce more buttery, add another TBL. Fill one or two small jars. Store in the refrigerator or freezer. Warm sauce berfore serving.
1. Ideal pears are ripe but NOT mushy. A bit firm is a good thing. I actually buy them hard and let them ripen, so I can pick the perfect time. I smell them. If they smell likes a pear then that is a good thing!
2. I have found every year, even though the use the same type??? of pears, some years they are sweeter, some years not. Some years they put out more juice, some years not. Since it is easier to add sugar than take it away, I go light handed. After I have cooked and ran the pears through the mill?? I taste it. This year’s batch really needed a bit more sugar and vanilla. So I threw the sauce in a big pot, gently heated it (did not boil it) add some more sugar and some vanilla extra. It was fine and not too sweet in the end.
3. Some years a add lemon peel too. Cut pieces about an inch wide. Try to only get the skin not the white pith. Tuck that in with the spices and throw them away after the pears have cooked.
4. Do not forget to keep the vanilla beans for the caramel sauce.
We have been busy harvesting our Italian prune plums. I LOVE these plums but really did not pay attention to them until moved to the island 23 years ago. The old tulip farm we lived on had a huge tree. Oh my goodness they were wonderful and perfect for cooking. I was on the island the other week and picked up some beautiful, artisan made heritage pork sausages. So I thought it would be fitting to create a recipe for these sausages using some of our prune plums. Now I used unripe plums because I liked the idea of a bit of tartness against the sweetness from the pork, cabbage and cream but you can use ripe plums too, just read my notes about them at the end of the recipe.
This is a very quick recipe about 15-20 minutes cooking. And to save yourself more time, cut up your onions/mushrooms/cabbage in the morning. I used a LOT of cabbage and only 3 sausage to make the meat go father (they were not cheap but oh so worth the money!) but you can use less cabbage or more meat. It does not matter the cooking time is the same. This has become a fall fav of mine. I hope it is for you too!
Plum and Cabbage Quick Braised Pork Sausages
3-4 sausages (I used three, sliced them up just before serving and mixed them in the cooked cabbage/plum mixture)
½ large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
½ large cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
Splash of dry white wine (optional)
3 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup (plus extra if needed) heavy cream
6 plums (Italian is best but any will work) cut into bite size pieces
Heat a large pan (that has a lid) on high heat. After a minute or so add a splosh of oil, then mushrooms and onions. Let onion brown a bit for a minute or two. Then add cabbage and cook 2 minutes with lid on pan. Deglaze pan with wine. Then add salt and pepper. Turn heat down to medium/high. Add cream, garlic and sausages. Cook 5 minutes. If using unripe plums add now, if using ripe plums see notes below. Turn sausages over and cook another 5-8 minutes. Check and see if sausage is cooked, if not cover a cook a few more minutes. If you feel like the sauce it to watery, take out sausage, turn heat up to high and boil a minute or two. Enjoy!
If you prefer using ripe plums, it is up to you of you want to add them the last 5 minutes or wait to the end. But cooking them too long could turn them to mush, so if it were me I would add them at the end.
I said I used unripe plums but not rock hard. You know when they look and smell good but are still firm, that is what you are looking for.
You can use less sausage as I did and just slice them up and add to cabbage before serving or serve whole sausages with cabbage/plum on the side.
Also if you want your sausage really crispy? After they have cooked, just brown them up in a small, hot pan and then add back to the cabbage.
Chloe got braces and this means she cannot eat my artisan bread, the crust to too much for her. So ... (I shutter to share this) I indulged her for a while and bought, (gross and cheap) squishy white bread. But indulgences (and hot summer weather) is over. For years I have been making Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day bread. I keep a big bucket of dough in the fridge and make a loaf of boule every other day. It is sooo easy, even a four year old can make it. But I have never made Buttermilk Sandwich Bread(in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a day book, page 207) with this method and I have to say is was a big success. Also it is just as easy. I am not not going to post the recipe here because the author has not but check your library and see if they have the book. If you really cannot get your hands on the book, look around others have blogged it. So here are some notes and reasons why you should make your own sandwich bread!!
First off bread is expensive, especially is you are looking for organic!! It cost pennies to make a loaf bread. I like to use that money I saved to buy French cheese ;-)
If you need soft bread like I do for Chloe the buttermilk version really helps create a softer product.
Notes about buttermilk. Number one use whole fat buttermilk! It is the fat that gives you the softer dough. What if you do not have buttermilk on hand like I did not, you can use any of these: soured whole milk, yogurt (just thin it a bit with a TBL or so of water) or kiefer from yogurt or making cheese (mine is from making ricotta). I have not tried sour cream, it might or might not work (again thin it a bit with water). So the fat/acid combo is what you want for soft bread!
Like I said it takes like a minute to put together. 2 hours to rise, 30 seconds to shape and 30 minutes to bake. There are tons of tutorials on the subject but here is a great one for shaping the dough for a loaf pan.
Note, my favorite pan for making loaf bread is Norpro because I like the bumpy sides (instead of smooth) which allows little pockets of air to get in and makes it easier to remove the loaf from the pan.
If you have children, this is a great family project. Actually my daughters will start making this from now on because really the bread is for them.
Lastly once you master this dough. you can make a ton of things from it. I made some cinnamon rolls, amazing!! One dough on-hand=lots of options (and money saved)!!
Happy belated Tasha Tudor day! Yesterday was our Saturday and a bit busy, so we had an impromptu tea of biscuits and fruit. (One of the many great reasons to keep un-baked biscuits in the freezer, ready to go). Hubby was busy with 6 cords of wood, so he popped in all dusty and dirty but I told him Tasha would not mind. She liked a hard working man ;-) As always Tasha seems to be a part of our day to day!