- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 sticks of butter, room temperature
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup yogurt
- 2 cups shredded zucchini
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 4×10 inch loaf pans and set them aside.
- In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until well mixed. Add the eggs, mix well. Next add the vanilla and mix well.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder and whisk together.
- Add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on medium-low speed. When the dry ingredients begin to incorporate, add another 1/3 and mix again (you don’t need to wait until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated to add more). Repeat one more time.
- Next mix the yogurt into the batter, then the zucchini. The zucchini should moisten up the batter significantly. Finally, add the chocolate chips and mix until they are well incorporated.
- Divide the batter between the two prepared pans and bake for 50-60 minutes. (Check after 40 minutes, since ovens can vary widely. This cake usually bakes for 55 minutes in my oven, but the original recipe calls for 40-45 minutes of baking).
At the recommendation from a chef friend of mine, I used this recipe from Food and Wine. She suggested I decrease the fat a smidge and add a bit of sugar. So I altered the recipe a teensy bit and used 1/4 cup less butter, and added about a tablespoon of sugar. The result was a flaky and delicious pie crust. I’ll definitely use this recipe again when I make American-style pies. I will say, I don’t think that using lard lends itself well to French tarts. Those are better when made with 100% butter. The lard makes the crust significantly flakier, which is great for American pie, and not so great with tarts. One of these days, I want to try making Chinese egg custard tartlets using an even higher percentage of leaf lard in the crust. Since making this pie, I’ve decided the lard must be the secret to the deliciously flaky and fatty crust in those.
As far as what went into the pie filling itself- some combination of plums, sugar, tapioca and cinnamon. These plums were very juicy, so I had to use quite a bit of tapioca to absorb the juices and make sure the pie didn’t turn into a runny mess. I thought I had used enough sugar, but it ended up being pretty tart and I wished I’d used more. I never really follow a recipe when making American-style pies. I just go with what the particular fruit I’m using needs. Apparently, I should probably add more sugar than I think I need, especially when using fruit with tart skin like plums. I’m always learning!
|See those bushes to the left of the barn? Those are blackberry bushes.|
|Nose of the boat, pointing us in the right direction.
When we arrived at Buck Bay Shellfish Farm, we asked some questions, found out that they farmed the shellfish and had fresh caught salmon. They also had some zucchini, berries and fresh eggs for sale, because this isn’t just a shellfish farm. There’s actually quite a large area for growing produce plus a big coop with about 30 chickens. They were so friendly and we asked if we could go visit their chickens. We’re a little obsessed right now with less than 2 months until we acquire feathered friends of our own. Little man enjoyed looking at the chickens, and then we left, telling them that we’d surely be back before the weekend was over.
We confirmed with our friends, who were also attending the wedding, that they were available to come for dinner on Sunday night. So Sunday morning, we went blackberry picking to get enough fruit for a crumble. Little man absolutely loved it and probably ate half the berries we picked. We could barely keep up with all of his requests for “more” (signing, not asking with words quite yet), as soon as he had shoved a blackberry in his mouth.
Later that afternoon, we headed back to Buck Bay Shellfish Farm to buy some salmon and zucchini. When we got there, though, I realized that I was going to be short about $6 in the cash I needed to pay for the food. Here is the ridiculous interaction that ensued:
Me: Oh I only have X amount of money. Can I get 2 lbs of salmon instead of 3?
BBSF employee: Oh it’s okay, I’ll just write you an IOU.
Me: (kind of in shock) Wow, umm, that’s really nice but we’re leaving really early tomorrow morning and wont have time to get to an ATM and bring you the cash before we go.
BBSF employee: You can just send us a check when you get home.
Me: (more shock) Are you sure? I mean, that’s so kind, but really?
BBSF employee: Yea, we do it all the time. We’ve never had a problem.
Me: Okay then. Thank you! Here is the money I do have.
BBSF employee: You can just keep the cash and I’ll write you an IOU for the full amount.
Me: (flabbergasted) You’re really sure about this?
BBSF employee: Yup, everyone has always sent the money they owe us. It’s really no problem.
Wow…can you believe such a thing? We had heard rumors that Orcas Island was a very friendly place, but now it was confirmed. It was later confirmed a third time, when our host offered up anything in her kitchen we might need to make dinner (while she was not going to be home). I’m telling you- friendly friendly people on Orcas!
Now onto the food:
|Exhibit 1: Zucchini from Buck Bay Shellfish farm. Less than a mile away.|
|Exhibit 2: Blackberries picked on the way to BBSF (i.e. even closer).|
|I went with a simple preparation. Cubed up the zucchini, cooked it in butter with salt and pepper. Fresh ingredients don’t need much to be delicious.|
|The beginnings of a crumble. I added some plums, also picked on the way to BBSF. A little sugar to counter the tartness of the fruit. I probably could have added a bit more, but oh well.|
So that’s my epic tale of locavoring it up on Orcas Island. Thank you to all the friendly people on the island who made it such a memorable trip. We will definitely be back! And if you go, be sure to visit Buck Bay Shellfish Farm. The salmon was AMAZING and next time we’ll surely be trying some crab, clams and oysters.
Today was our first CSA pick-up of the season. It included potatoes, baby kale braising mix, carrots, beets, butternut squash, leeks and green cabbage. I won the jackpot though…someone put leeks in the trade box. So I got an extra bunch of leeks in exchange for my cabbage! (Not that there is anything wrong with cabbage, but as long as I’m nursing Quentin, I will avoid it. I was traumatized by an ultra gassy night early on).
I’ve already made baby food with the butternut squash, and Quentin had some cubed steamed carrots tonight for the first time. He loved them and did so well picking them up and chewing them up.
I will probably make him some leek puree with one of the bunches, and a soup for Trevor and I with the other bunch. You might think leeks for a baby is kind of weird, but I made him some last week and he absolutely loved them. In fact, he pitched a fit when they were gone.
I haven’t decided how I’ll use the other veggies yet, but I’m definitely excited about having our CSA back! We’ve had very busy weekends for the last month or so, and because of that have been slacking on going to the farmer’s market. The CSA greatly simplifies this problem for us. If you’re local to the SF Bay Area and are looking for a great CSA, High Ground Organics has always provided us with a nice variety of very fresh and beautiful organic produce. We have really loved them. Check them out!
I realize that the picture above does not look like much. Don’t let the image fool you, though. This chicken recipe is flavorful with chicken falling of the bone. You will want to go back for seconds. The only downside to this recipe is that it requires that you first make (or somehow procure) “preserved lemons,” which takes a month. It’s really easy, though and it will be worth it. Believe me.
- 6 lemons (preferably organic…you will be cooking with the whole lemon once these are ready). I like to use Meyer lemons, but any variety will do.
- Several cups of sea salt
- 1 Tbsp whole coriander seeds
- You will also need a large, gallon-sized mason jar.
1. Wash and dry the lemons.
2. Cut the lemons into quarters length-wise, but leave one end of the lemon intact.
3. Using a paring knife, remove as many seeds as you can easily access. Don’t worry, though, if you miss some seeds. You can get them out later.
4. Sprinkle about 1/2 c of salt in the bottom of the jar and about half of the coriander seeds.
5. Stuff as much salt as possible into the just-about-quartered lemons. Then stuff the lemons into the jar. After each lemon you add to the jar, sprinkle some salt on top. You certainly don’t need to fill up the jar with salt, just make sure there’s plenty in there. About halfway up, add the rest of the coriander seeds. Don’t worry about smushing the lemons. It’s ok, they’re going to soften a lot anyway.
6. Wait 2 days. The salt should extract the lemon juice and the lemons will start to be submerged in their own juices. If after 2 days, they are not submerged, add enough boiling water to cover the lemons. Put the jar in the fridge and wait at least 1 month. After a month, they are ready to use. I’m not really sure how long they’re good for. One recipe I have says they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. I have personally used them after a longer time than that, but of course, if you do, it would be at your own risk.
Now, you can finally make the preserved lemon chicken, or as I prefer to call it “Poulet au Citrons Confits.” That sounds much better.
Poulet au Citrons Confits:
- 1 large yellow onion. Peeled and cut into rings.
- Olive oil
- 6-8 chicken drumsticks.
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed.
- Juice of 1 fresh lemon
- 4 preserved lemons
- 1 Tbsp coriander seed
- Pinch of saffron
1. Rinse the chicken and pat it dry with a paper towel. Douse it with fresh lemon juice and a little salt. Set aside.
2. Rinse your preserved lemons and cut them the rest of the way, so that they are now fully quartered. Remove any seeds that you see and can easily access.
5. Put the chicken on top of the onions and preserved lemons. Add enough water to just submerge the chicken. Add the pinch of saffron.
6. Bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for about an hour, or until the chicken is cooked through and very tender. Serve with rice to help soak up the extra juices.
Here is our dwarf Meyer Lemon tree. It is currently weighed down with delicious Meyer lemons. It’s a small tree, though, so “weighed down” for this little guy probably equals about 30 lemons. The thing is, this isn’t our only lemon tree. When we bought our house last year, there was a big Eureka Lemon tree in the back yard. Now THAT tree is a big producer.
In the fall, Trevor pruned it because there were branches touching our roof. He pruned it quite heavily, but there were still plenty of lemons left on it. We couldn’t let all those great lemons go to waste, so we picked them off of the pruned branches. When all was said and done, we had 70 pounds of lemons. What did we do? Make limoncello, of course! Here is a funny picture for you: It’s 10:30 am. Quentin is 10 weeks old, and I’m pushing him in the stroller. We stroll into BevMo in search of Everclear to make limoncello. This BevMo is new to me, so I have to ask where the Everclear is. With my 10 week old. Seeing as I have 70 pounds of lemons, I’m forced to make plenty of limoncello, so I buy 4 bottles of Everclear and a handle of Vodka. With my 10 week old. I swear I’m a fit mother.
Anyway, tangent over. This time when I went out to the backyard and noticed the Eureka lemon tree heavy with lemons, I decided to make lemon curd. You know, for a more “proper” use of my lemons. And what lemon curd would be complete with scones and tea (only on this occasion we actually had espresso…Her Majesty the Queen would surely disapprove).
Trevor and my good friend C has close family ties to the UK and his mother and aunt were kind enough to share their lemon curd recipes with me. I checked with him to make sure it would be okay to share the recipe here and he gave me the go ahead. So here it is!
4 large lemons
5 large eggs
1/4 lb butter
1 lb sugar
1. Wash and dry lemons. Grate the rind and squeeze the juice of all 4 lemons.
2. Beat the eggs in a medium saucepan.
3. Add the rind, lemon juice, butter and sugar to the eggs.
4. Stir over low/medium heat until all ingredients are combined.
5. Continue stirring until the mixture thickens. Do NOT allow to boil. This may take 10+ minutes.
6. Once thickened, pour the lemon curd into warm jars and cover the top of each with a circle of wax paper.
7. Seal tightly and refrigerate. Keep for 1 week in the refrigerator or 2 months in the freezer.
For a printable recipe, click here.
Unfortunately, I used a different recipe than I normally do for the scones and they weren’t quite up to par in my book. So I’ll have to share my usually recipe another day. I’m sure the problem was that there wasn’t enough butter in the scones. A mistake I will not soon repeat.
I have a feeling the little one will be waking up from his nap any minute now, but I’ve been wanting to do a recap of our lovely Valentine’s Day, courtesy of Trevor, and I’m already 4 days late. In the interest of time, I’ll do a picture recap.
First, Quentin and I had a little fun with finger paints. We needed to make daddy a Valentine, so we got to work.
Trevor said he would make a Valentine’s Day dinner. A few years ago, he made this delicious Crab Salad with Pears and Hazelnuts from Simply Recipes. We loved it and decided we wanted to have it again. Maybe it will be a Valentine’s day tradition.
I think I pretty much gave the recipe away in the title of this post. Pretty basic pizza, but don’t let that boring word “basic” fool you. Sometimes the simplest meals are the best. You really can’t go wrong when you choose ingredients at the peak of seasonality, make your dough from scratch… oh and the pepperoni was from an artisan “charcutier” at the San Pedro Square Farmer’s Market in San Jose. I have to say, it was pretty delicious. For more specific “sub-recipes”…the dough recipe can be found here, and my pesto recipe is here. And the rest is pretty independently obvious. Have fun coming up with your own pizza creations!
And since this was such a short post, you get another pizza picture! Enjoy!