Believe it or not, I have a second Wren novel 3/4 written. A much bigger story 80,000 words so far, minus recipes. I have tried to finish it but cannot get to it. So the only way I am going to get this book finished is the way I wrote the first Wren. That means locking myself in my library and immersing myself until this novel is done. I am going to only be posting here once a month and instagram once a week. Hopefully it will only take 2-3 months to finish the bulk of it. So if you need me and I do not get back to you, be patient with me. I will soon xox
Since my diet is at lest 60% vegetables, I am also looking for interesting ways to bling them up. Then I came across coconut bacon! Wow what an interesting concept. Basically you take unsweetened large flaked coconut (I buy 5# bags through my co-op), mix it with oil and spices, then cook it in the oven. You end up with a crunchy, savory treat that taste similar to bacon. It really does!
I like this idea for several reason, it is inexpensive, it is healthy, it is a way to enjoy bacon flavors when I do not have pastured pork and it taste so dang good. I find myself just munch on it but I created a salad. The coconut bacon is also wonderful on morning eggs with avocado! I encourage you to give it a try and here is a link to several version of the bacon!
Raspberry Coconut-Bacon Salad
I am not putting amounts because you can make a tiny salad or huge. I toss the spinach, cucumber, radish and avocado with the vinaigrette. Then garnish the top with raspberries and coconut-bacon.
1 TBL Dijon mustard
1 TBL raw apple cider vinegar
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 tsp honey
oil to taste, 1/4-1/3 cup or so. I like avocado oil for this.
salt and pepper to taste
Whisk all together, taste and adjust to your liking.
I have to say this is truly my favorite treat/candy. A top and bottom layer of dark chocolate sandwiched in between with a thick orange/vanilla scented almond dough. I came across this recipe for Cookie Dough Bark (Aimee blog is one of my favorites) and thought it could easily be made grain-free. It could actually be made gluten free as I think most any flour would work. I added the orange flavor but it could be left out. As long as you do not eat the whole pan, which is easy to do ;-) this candy is quite carb friendly and healthy. A fat bomb! I keep small squares in the freeze as a yummy treat!
PS. Don't you love this carved wood frame I picked up in Oregon? I am not sure what I am going to do with it yet but it is a $4.00 bargain!
Orange Chocolate Cookie Dough Bark, grain-free
Makes about 27, 1' squares
1 ½ cup fine almond flour
¼ cup coconut sugar (that is less than ½ tsp per square)
a generous pinch of sea salt
4 drops of Flori Di Sicilla or orange extract or juice
5 TBL butter, cut into small cubes or coconut oil
1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate or chips, I use 80% (If you use semi-sweet or milk leave out the 1 tsp. coconut oil)
1 tsp. coconut oil
Set aside 9"x4" loaf pan, silicone works best. In a food processor add flour, sugar and salt. Mix together with a few pulses. Add butter and flori. With pulse, mix until it starts to come together as a ball. Do NOT over mix the dough. You want a soft play dough. It comes together in about 30 seconds or so. Get a piece of parchment or wax paper bigger than your pan. Lay dough out on parchment in a log the length of your pan. Using the extra paper (so you do not touch the dough with your fingers) and push down on dough until you have a piece that fits inside the pan. It does not have to be perfect. Just try to make is the size of the pan. Then take the dough wrapped in the parchment set it in the freezer. Make sure it is on a flat surface. Then continue with the chocolate coating.
You can melt the chocolate and 1 tsp. coconut oil in the microwave, start with 60 seconds and then check every 20 second or a bain marie. After chocolate is melted spread a little less than half over the bottom of the pan. Then pull out your almond filling, unwrap and set onto of chocolate. If you have a large gaps, gently push dough to fill in but as I said earlier, it does not have to be perfect. Lastly pour the rest of the melted chocolate over the dough and spread as evenly as possible. Set pan uncovered back in freezer, on a flat service for 2 hours. After the candy has firmed up, pull it out of the pan and cut it into squares. If it seems to firm to cut, set the whole thing in the fridge for 1/2 hour and then cuts. You can store the candy in a tight fitted container in the fridge. Or if you want to to last longer than a week, I would store it the freezer!
A calm life! It is something I have had to work hard for (my youth was not calm). I like calm, it is a happy place!
David needed to run to Portland, so we decided to make it a little last minute date. It was the best discition we ever made. We stayed over-night at Edgefield and what an amazing place! They have a brewery, winery and distillery (I even found a whiskey I liked) all on-site. So my home-brew hubby was very happy. With several pubs and restaurants, live music, a pool and theater, one never even needs to leave the place. It was a sunny day!! We stayed it the Stevie Wonder room (the rooms are inexpensive but you have to use a bathroom down the hall. It was not that bad). Stevie Wonder had performed at Edgefield in 2007 and then were quotes from him on the wall. I have seem him perform in person as a girl, so I was thrilled to stay in this room. Honestly I thought I took way more pictures than I did. But we are going to make this a yearly treat, so I will have more pictures down the road. Here is a peak at what we saw!
I do this every year. I make a loaf of soda bread for Saint Paddy’s day, love it and scold myself for not making it more often. I mean their is easy to make, keeps well unbaked in the freezer and is delish. I am determined to keep mini loaves in the freezer. I tried a grain-free version and even my family loved it, so I thought I would share with you. It is a bit different then the other GF recipes floating around. I know there is a long list of tips but please read through them. Fist off, I feel like if a cook can explain their recipe to you, if they understand it, then one can trust the recipe more. Second, if you are new to grain free baking some of the tips might help you!
Soda Bread, grain-free
Makes 4 individual soda breads or 12 small biscuits
2 cups almond flour
¼ cup coconut flour
1 tsp. xanthan gum
2 tsp. sweetener, I use coconut sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
4 TBL. cold butter, cut into small cubes
⅟₈ cup dried currents
Zest of one large lemon peel or 5 drops of food grade lemon oil, I use Young Living
1 large egg
½ cup buttermilk
Put all dry ingredients in a food processor (or can be done by hand with a bowl). Pulse all dry ingredients together. Add cubed butter and pulse butter until it is pea size. Rule on the size of the butter being too big, you can fix those big pieces in the next step.
Dump flour/butter mixture in a large bowl. Feel around for pieces of butter that feels bigger than a pea. Smear them into the flour with your fingers. Add currents and toss, so they do not stick together.
In a separate small bowl whisk together buttermilk, egg and lemon zest or oil and add to flour.
Cover a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Divide dough into four balls. Using wet hands shape each ball into a flatten disk and cut a cross into the dough.
You need your butter to harden before baking, so I pop the cookie sheet into the freezer for ½ hour while the oven pre-heats. You can completely freeze these (I keep bags of them in the freezer) and you can bake them off frozen.
Pre-heat oven 300◦F Bake 20-30 minutes. If they are fully frozen, they make take a few minutes longer. Plus depending on how your oven runs. Just start checking them about 20 hour minutes. Let cool before eating.
1. The reason why these are not all almond flour is by adding a bit of coconut flour, it gives these a more stable biscuit. They do not crumble quite as much, which is a problem with grain-free baking.
2. Also the xanthan gum give a bread feel to the biscuit and gives more of a texture of regular soda bread. But a little gum goes a long way, so do not think if some is good, more is great.
3. Feel free to leave out the sweetener, I just personally like it that way.
4. Flavors, I like lemon peel and currants is what I like but you could add any spice or dried fruit you like. They are also good plain! Also I do not know why by the lemon flavor seems to get lost, so do use more zest than you normally would.
5. Do not have buttermilk on hand? Soured whole milk is what I use.
6. This comes together as wet dough, using wet hands to scoop up a 1/4 of the dough and shape the loaves work best.
7. Remember that coconut flour absorbs 3 times it weight. So in a minute or two the dough will firm up a bit.
8. It is important to keep the loves not too big and bake on a lower temp. They are basically ground almonds and nuts can burn. By keeping them smaller, they will bake quicker.
9. Do not move them off the cookie sheet until they have cooled. Like I mentioned before, grain-free baked items tend to be crumbly. Letting them cool before moving them helps.