Monthly Archives: October 2010

Cranberry conserve – bright, crunchy, stowed away for winter


Provisioning the boat always leads to a few impulse purchases, usually of treats to pull out of a locker at a later date. On one shopping trip for this sail, though, I ended up with a bag of Maine cranberries. I couldn’t resist them. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked with fresh cranberries and they marked a transition from Maine summer produce to fall and winter foods.
That bag of cranberries has been shuffling around the boat’s fridge since we left. I had a plan for it, though. I found a recipe for Cranberry Conserve in my canning cookbook that sounded like a perfect way to preserve my impulse-buy cranberries and give us something festive to enjoy around the holidays.
The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving defines conserve as “luscious combinations of fresh and dried fruit and nuts, cooked to create a thick, sweet spread with a varied texture.” Yum! I know. It sounded like a winner to me.
I halved the recipe, since I have a limited supply of jars and there weren’t quite enough cranberries to make a full batch. My half batch was a bit too much for two, 8 oz jars, maybe because I didn’t let enough water evaporate by leaving the lid off early in the cooking process. I opted for almonds as my nut.
This conserve has a gorgeous, bright cranberry color and the orange peel and almonds add festive colors to the jars. The spread is definitely sweet and tastes similar to cranberry sauce. It has a slight citrus flavor from the orange and fun crunch from the almonds. The texture is very thick – perfect for spreading – or, as Lee did this morning, plopping on top of your oatmeal.


This is my Fall Fest recipe for todays celebration of “The mad stash”. Visit A Way to Garden to find out more.



Cranberry Conserve
From the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
Makes about 4 8-ounce jars

1 orange (un-peeled), seeded and finely chopped
2 cups water
4 cups cranberries
1/2 cup raisins
1 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Prepare canner jars and lids.
Combine orange and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.
Cover partially, and boil gently until the peel is tender (5 min. or so).
Add cranberries, raisins, and sugar, stirring until sugar dissolves.
Return to a boil over medium-high heat and boil hard, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens (10-15 minutes).
Stir in nuts and cook, stirring constantly, for another 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and test gel. If the mixture gels, skim off foam.

Ladle hot conserve into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace.
Wipe rims, center lids on jars, and tighten to fingertip-tight.
Place jars in canner, covering them completely with water. Bring to a boil and process for 15 minutes.
Remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, then remove jars and leave them to cool completely.


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Crunchy Mexican egg sandwiches


        When I first started this blog I brainstormed a list of recipes I wanted to try and crazy creation ideas. I haven’t been posting many egg sandwiches because most of the time I just make Lee’s standard favorite: a fried egg on an english muffin with green Tabasco, maybe some cheese, and maybe some Canadian bacon. That’s just what I usually have on hand. I’ve been waiting for some more exciting ingredients to fall into my lap so last night I was really excited to find a tiny bit of refried beans left over from our dinner. Refried beans aren’t normally something I get excited about but combined with the broken tortilla chips at the bottom of the bag (which Lee always saves to use as toppings) they make a new egg sandwich!
        This is actually one of the ideas I came up with in my initial brainstorming session. I spread the refried beans, mixed with a little leftover salsa, on half of two wheat English muffins. Then I popped the muffins in the oven to heat up. This is my usual technique for toasting things on the boat. The oven isn’t much bigger than an over-sized toaster anyway!
        While the muffins were toasting I fried a couple eggs and dug the cream cheese (Tofutti for Lee) out of the fridge. When the eggs were done, I plopped them on the hot, bean-covered muffins, spread a generous amount of cream cheese on the other half of each muffin, and sprinkled a handful of blue corn chip bits over the eggs. These sandwiches were piled high with hot, Mexican inspired breakfast goodness when I was done!
        I made Lee wait to eat them while a snapped a couple pictures. He gave my crunchy Mexican egg sandwiches his seal of approval. They were a nutritious and delicious breakfast after our morning run. With protein from the eggs and beans and fiber from the muffins and beans they should make good fuel for the crazy day we have planned. Our cell phone tethering internet was disconnected last night (apparently it’s not allowed) so we’re going to have to find wifi onshore from now on. It’s kind of a bummer but we knew it would happen eventually when we leave the U.S. Starbucks wifi, here I come!

Crunchy Mexican Egg Sandwiches
(Makes 2 sandwiches)

2 whole wheat English muffins
2 eggs (I like cage-free organic)
1/4 cup refried beans
A splash of salsa
Cream cheese
Broken corn chips (I happened to have blue corn and they looked pretty)

Spread the beans mixed with salsa on half of each English muffin.
Toast the muffins in the oven or a toaster oven.
Cook the eggs however you like them (fried, poached, scrambled, whatever!)
Spread cream cheese on the other half of each muffin.
Place an egg (or half your scramble) on the bean-covered half of each muffin.
Sprinkle corn chips on top of the eggs and cover with the cheesy tops.

Get your napkin ready!

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Pear ricotta muffins: Round 2



        Every muffin deserves a second chance. After my oven disaster last week, I had to give the poor muffins I undercooked a chance to redeem themselves. The pear ricotta combination was just too good not to try again and the ingredients were still taking up space in my tiny fridge.
        I made a few changes to the recipe I made before, reducing the buttermilk and a few other things. I kept the ricotta amount the same to preserve the richness and flavor it provides. Regrettably, canned pears were my only option this time around. The pears I bought the other day are like rocks but I have cans coming out of my ears. Most importantly, I used the celsius oven thermometer that came with the boat to make sure the oven was preheated before I put the muffins in. Lesson learned!
        We had a couple friends over for dinner on the boat last night and we all enjoyed round 2 of pear ricotta muffins for dessert. I got the boat all warmed up by running the oven all evening.
        Here is the newly revised recipe, as well as some better pictures of my cheesy, fruity creations. This time the batter comfortably fits in 12 cups. The baking time is still a little on the long side. I guess the ricotta slows things down.


Pear Ricotta Muffins
Re-adapted from Cherry Ricotta Muffins from Mollie Katzen’s Sunlight Cafe.

1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
2 eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons pumpkin puree (or butter, melted and cooled)
2 cups flour (I used about 3/4 whole wheat pastry – all I had left – and 1/4 whole wheat)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 can of pears in juice, drained and chopped very small (or 1-2 fresh pears, depending on their size)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs into the ricotta one at a time.
Add the buttermilk, pumpkin, sugar, and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and allspice.
Slowly stir dry ingredients into wet until barely mixed.
Fold in pear.
Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups with liners or greased with a little oil. The cups will be very full.
Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, or until the tops are brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

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Spicy banana bran scones (vegan!)


Just some scones, hangin out on deck.


After my oven difficulties while baking muffins the other day, I had to give baking on the boat another go as soon as possible. This morning, as we pitched and rolled at anchor in choppy Newport harbor, I searched for inspiration in my cookbooks and recipe notes.
What had I been meaning to bake before we left? Oh yeah, scones! Now where was that recipe? Hmmm, kinda boring. How could I spice these up? Some spices, perhaps? I looked to one of my favorite unusual cookie recipes for ideas. I’m sure I’ll be posting about these cookies eventually. They’re vegan oatmeal cookies that use banana and all kinds of yummy spices, making them taste a bit like indian food in oatmeal cookie form.
The recipe I wanted to spice up was for Banana Bran Scones. I love the idea of incorporating banana into a scone and oat bran is a breakfast staple in my kitchen. Without messing with those two ingredients, I played around with the recipe to make it a little more exciting! Unlike my last oven experiment, the result was not disappointing. (To be fair, the Pear Ricotta Muffins were really, really tasty after they’d firmed up a bit and I will be making them again!)
These scones are so much better than I expected them to be. I’m kind of in love with them. They’re just the right amount of sweet for a scone. They’re hearty without being dense and buttery, as scones can be. The banana is incredible. Using a really ripe banana makes the flavor so strong and sweet it almost seems artificial. I love the little flecks of un-mashed fruit here and there. Then there’s the spices! I added most of the repertoire from my favorite oatmeal cookies. I think cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger go really well with banana and raisins. which I threw in at the last minute. This was also an opportunity to give coconut oil another try. I’ve been experimenting with it and I’m really happy with how it worked in this recipe. There is a hint of coconut flavor in the baked scones and they maintain their scone texture without the butter.


Do yourself a favor and make a double batch. They go fast!

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Spicy Banana Bran Scones
Adapted from Cooking Light
Makes 8 scones

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oat bran
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon each of nutmeg, ginger, and allspice*
1 tablespoon powdered soy milk
2 tablespoons coconut oil (or butter/margarine)
3/4 cup mashed, ripe banana
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon vinegar
A handful of raisins

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (I used the oven timer this time to make sure it heated up!)

Mash banana and sugar together in a small bowl. Let stand while you prepare other ingredients.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, oat bran, baking soda, baking powder, salt, spices, and powdered soy milk.
Melt coconut oil in a saucepan over very, very low heat. You can also submerge the jar of oil in hot water to soften it or use whatever softening method you prefer.
Allow the oil to cool slightly, then pour it into the flour mixture, blending with a pastry blender, 2 knives, or a whisk (a whisk worked great for me).
Add vinegar and water to the banana.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.
Pour banana into flour mixture and stir vigorously to combine, adding the handful of raisins as you do. Dough will be more like a batter than a biscuit dough.
Place dough, in approximately 1/3 cup scoops, on an oiled or otherwise nonstick cookie sheet. You may want to flatten and shape each scoop into round, biscuit-like shapes.
Bake at 450 for 15 minutes.

*I wanted to use cardamom, since I think it’s actually the star spice in the oatmeal cookies, but I couldn’t find it. I must have hidden it away in the boat somewhere. I subbed allspice but use cardamom if you have it!


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