Sunday, June 29, 2008
June has been an amazing month for gardens. It has rained nearly every day giving life an easy start to the growing season. I have only had to fill my watering can a 'bakers dozen' times this entire month. Which is helpful because I fill up the watering can in my kitchen sink!
The middle of June always means fresh STRAWBERRIES. When I was younger strawberries signaled the end of school, the beginning of long warm days, sleeping in past 9am and spending every minute outside.
Now that I am older, when my teeth plunge through a fresh Ontario strawberry, I remember those days in the strawberry patch, early, before the sun came up, eating as many strawberries as I packed into little pints with my Mom. I remember the diligent task it was to wash and remove the tops, boiling, jarring... for an entire year of fresh strawberry jam.
I bought these from a local farm, who pick their own berries every morning. I bumped into quite a few people I knew, all of us, patiently waiting in line to take our berries home. Mmmm and a little fresh maple sugar candy!
Beautiful strawberries like this and it being Sunday and all.... this means WAFFLES!
If you have noticed that waffles are a reoccurring item, its true. We eat them almost every weekend, because I can pack so much fiber into them, and they are so 'toppable'!
When mixing dry ingredients for anything you are making. You ALWAYS need to SIFT! I can't give enough praise to sifting. It is the best way to integrate the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, spices etc. It takes 8 seconds to sift, and boom! You have made a huge step towards a fluffy baked item. Sifting not only mixes the dry ingredients , it adds air and a lightness to the ingredients that can only be achieved through sifting. Even if you buy a prepackaged pancake mix, or cake mix, or anything. The ingredients have compacted while sitting on the grocery store shelf, so you need to SIFT those too!
That being said. Once you pour in your wet ingredients you want to maintain the light 'airyness' of the batter by FOLDING the ingredients with your spoon.
To fold, swoop your spoon down into the batter from one side to the other, running the spoon along the bottom, then dump the batter remaining on your spoon onto the top of the batter. Then take the spoon out, turn the bowl a bit and repeat. YES it takes longer and it seems silly to be so gentle to something you are going to bake at three hundred and fifty degrees or pour onto a scalding hot waffle iron, but DUDE it is super importanto!
With the combination of sifting and folding you will be blown away with the rise you will get out of your treats.
If you are watching your sugar intake or are a diabetic. I recommend substituting Agave Nectar for Maple syrup, or using a 50:50 ratio. Agave Nectar is a low glycemic sugar substitute that is 4 times sweeter than table sugar. You can mix it in with recipes as a great natural sweetener!
Waffle or Pancake Mix
1 cup Whole Spelt Flour
3 tbsp Flax seed, ground
1/4 cup Xylitol
1 1/2 tsp Baking powder
1/8 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Almond milk
1/3 cup Apple sauce or pured banana
3 tbsp Olive Oil
Cinnamon, to taste
- In a large bowl, SIFT the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together
- In a medium sized bowl, mix all remaining ingredients together.
- Add wet to dry and fold ingredients together until just combined.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Coltrane enjoys it too!
A few tomato, pepper and zucchini plants make up the bulk of the veggies. I also have some sweet and savory herbs to compliment my food all summer long. Scarlett runner beans are training their way up twine against the fence and a few flowers have mixed into the garden as well.
The 'Courtyard' as it is called, at our apartment, was completely forgotten by everyone before we moved in. A rickety old back deck and over grown weeds camouflaged the back area of its potential beauty. We jumped on the area and claimed it as our own. Hours of weeding and arranging and loving the space has really made it what it is today.
I feel very lucky to have this space. We just rent an apartment on the ground floor with no balcony or anything. So the fact that we have this secret little space all to ourselves is such a gift.
Squirrels + Cayenne = plants are safe
City Squirrels are limited to small patches of vegetation, so my garden was quickly a HOT SPOT! No neon sign required to advertise my fresh soil... it was dug up every afternoon without missing a beat. But! A little sprinkle of cayenne pepper over the soil and they have not touched it since. You do have to sprinkle more after it rains but its an inexpensive and natural way to keep them at bay.
When the tomato's and peppers start to arrive I will have to try a solution of hot sauce, dish soap and water in a spray bottle. Spraying this on the fruit is said to be a good way to keep the squirrels from stealing what isn't theirs.
I should say here, that Squirrles have a very good sense of smell, and do not like to experiment with spices! So if your going on a date with one stick to the produce isle and skip the shawarma hut!
I am also going to get a small bird bath, to offer the squirrels some water, because it is said that they steal tomatoes because they are thirsty.
Either way, I have my own garden. What should I name it?