Tag Archives: ginger

In the fourth week of Lent…

Lithodora

…in the fourth week of Lent I was busy:

1) I cooked seedy crackers, vegan tapioca pudding, and pans and pans of roasted vegetables, including my own asparagus. I boiled a few quarts of ginger tea and tried out another vegan lemon cake recipe that I probably won’t make again. I’m done with cakes for a while. It makes sense to make cakes when one can use eggs and butter.

2) I baked communion bread at church. For a year we haven’t been using the little prosphora loaves that get sent into the altar along with our prayer requests, but we are starting that tradition again; four of us made 200 prosphora. What we call lambs, the larger loaves that we didn’t bake this week, are cut up and consecrated along with wine for Holy Communion. This photo is from the past.

3) I worked in the garden and the greenhouse. Most days now, when the sun shines, I open the door and vent of the greenhouse so that the seedlings don’t swelter. Then I close them up at night to shut out the cold marine breeze. Soon I’ll need to put a shade cloth on one side of the roof as well. The first butternut squash seed took an entire month to sprout; the next several were even later. Nothing like the pumpkins which were the first of all to emerge. I’ve moved most of the plants to larger pots so they can spread their roots in the next few weeks.

4) I shopped at a farmers market with Bella. We ate breakfast there and bought a few vegetables. How long had it been since I’d been to one of those? The sun shone and everyone was cheery. Then we went across town to her community garden plot, because she had a few potatoes that really needed to get into the dirt. I wandered around dreamily while she dug. Besides us, only a very quiet father and little daughter were working their plot, in which they had strawberries in process.

Bella sent me home with some horsetail which she told me to make tea out of, but it is still waiting in the refrigerator.

5) I went to church several times, and did a little housework, and got my taxes paid. I prepared for my church school class by reading more of The Screwtape Letters, and for the women’s book group by reading some of First Fruits of Prayer, which we discussed on ZOOM this afternoon. I ended up not enjoying that book very much. The Canon was not “itself,” plucked out of its normal context of Compline, extracted as a text to read, with explanatory notes but without the usual accompanying music, prostrations, and other tactile and sensory aspects, not to mention the fellow worshipers in the services in which we pray it, divided into four parts for the first week of Lent. This week we will do the whole Canon again, all in one morning.

6) I attended a doubly belated birthday party with my friends with whom I have celebrated for 36 years now, ever since we learned that we were born in the same week of the same year. At that time we lived on the same block of our “village.” Last spring we couldn’t manage it, so this was our 35th luncheon. We ate on the patio at S.’s house and the sun was just warm enough to make it easy to sit and chat for several hours.

7) I found these eggs that my daughter-in-law Joy knitted for me a few years ago, but which were stashed away in a box during the remodel. I posed them among the flowers but then brought them in to brighten up the living room.

This will be another full week. It’s such a blessing to have many different things to do, but — can you tell how worn out I am? It’s a great gift that God gives us rest, too. It’s the 5th Week of Lent – Pascha is coming!

What a springtime it is!

Warm days and blooming flowers are pulling me outdoors, to pick more peas or to sit and read. I should be planting something in my vegetable planter, but I can’t figure out what. It’s raining today, so I can put off those decisions a little longer.

At the same time I seem to be cooking more this month. Ginger broth has been a favorite drink for a while now; I like it hot with a little cream and honey, or mixed with pineapple juice over ice. Just this morning I discovered that after I boil pieces of fresh ginger root for three hours and strain off the strong “tea,” the leftover pieces still have a surprising amount of flavor. I made my own crystallized ginger with them!

An experience I haven’t had for ages: While I stirred the ginger in the syrup with one hand, I read this book from the other hand. I guess it is just the right size, weight and genre to fit the situation.

Likely it was one of you bloggers on whose site I read about The Daughter of Time, and I bought a used copy years ago; it went to my shelves where a hundred other books wait to be opened. And last week, suddenly, I was in the mood for Tey and the mystery of Richard III.

Reading the first couple of chapters, I began to wonder if being in the mood was enough —  maybe I should have brushed up on my Kings and Queens of England first. But I pushed on, and with the help of family tree diagrams in the front of the book I began to get my historic bearings. I love this story because the main character Detective Grant likes to read letters and other primary sources, and to look at pictures of faces, all the while using his common sense and imagination to “write” what is probably a more accurate history in his mind. It is so much fun to think along with him.

Some other things I’ve made recently are two types of grain-free cookies. One of the recipes starts with a can of garbanzo beans. It has chocolate chips, and was yummy. Today I made up a recipe that included carob powder, walnuts and cinnamon, also good. I still haven’t found the perfect cookie in this category.

Asparagus season coincides with Lent, so it wasn’t until the very end of my harvest that I could make cream of asparagus soup to eat immediately. It was quite lovely. I think I squirreled some of that away in the freezer.

So, I have let the asparagus go to fronding and photosynthesis. You can see the tall twiggy foliage (it will become more ferny) in the picture below, behind the hedge of teucrium that is getting ready to burst into its glory of purple and accompanying bees. Stay tuned for that.

Many of the images from the front garden are pretty scruffy; the California poppies that grow out there go mad for a couple of months and begin to get leggy and messy. I pulled out dozens of plants and cut the rest down to the ground. They will keep coming up and blooming for the rest of the summer. The lamb’s ears are sending up their flower stalks.

I don’t mind tearing out the poppies, even though they were still blooming their hearts out, because now the yellow helianthemum can take center stage for a while.

At the moment I can’t remember what these purple perennials above are called. [Shoreacres in the comments helped me find it: Verbena bonariensis] They are very tricky to photograph because of the airy, widely spaced arrangement of their blooms, the profile of which is seen against my car farther above. I got two of them last year to replace the two wallflowers that died an early death.

The  next two flowers are both new, but in different ways. The irises are in their fourth season, but this is the first time they have bloomed, so I’m very happy, and pleased to see “who” they are after all this time since I chose them. And the friendly yellow flower is on a yarrow [Nope! The reason it doesn’t look like a yarrow flower is that it is actually a type of marguerite, a cousin of yarrow, both of them in the tribe Anthemideae, in the Aster family. This one might be Anthemis tinctoria, or Dyer’s Chamomile. Thanks to my friend May for helping me get straight.] plant that I only planted last fall; it has grown big plant over the winter and is now brightening the walkway. Thinking it was a yarrow, I was startled at its round and sunny face.

On a warm day last week — one of them was 90 degrees! — I sat just baking a bit and noticing things happening… The tiny white flower buds on the olive tree next to my new icon stand, and below them, delicate lavender stems with swelling evidence of blooms in the making. Mostly bumblebees are in the back garden; I wonder if the honeybees are out front waiting for that teuchrium.

One evening I was having a FaceTime visit with two-year-old Raj who is in D.C., high in an apartment building where he can’t have his former daily routine of playing in the park a few blocks away. More frequently of late we have had these virtual visits that are keeping us connected in an odd way. He likes to look (on his mom’s phone) at my collection of toy trucks, and my fountain and playhouse.

On that particular day we were just about to say good-bye, because it was his bedtime, when I had the idea to look in my birdhouse while he was watching. I knew that some bird or other had been making a nest a while back, and I didn’t think it was so long ago that the fledglings would have left the nest. I stood on the bench and leaned over, and stuck my phone in as far as I could…. and we saw this:

So it was bluebirds making a home in my garden this year! What a springtime it is.

Gingerbread Experiments

gl-chips-etcOne of my favorite flavor combinations is chocolate and ginger. Years ago my friend Madalyn served a chocolate chip gingerbread that I loved, but I guess I lost the recipe at some point. I found a substitute online, and I started baking it as a bundt cake, but it’s often a problem….

No matter how thick the batter, the chocolate chips like to sink through it as the cake bakes, and they may all end up on the bottom of the cake and maybe even burn. 😦 To prevent this Madalyn used to put the batter in the 9×12 baking dish and sprinkle the chips on just before putting it in the oven.

If you want to try this cake you can also find a recipe online. I will tell you some things I have learned from mgl-gingery many experiments:

1. Don’t use silicone bakeware. I was given a set of this once, and the silicone bundt pan was the worst for burning on the bottom, which becomes the top when you turn the cake out, and has to be sliced off before glazing or frosting.

2. The recipe online doesn’t have enough ginger for me. I tripled the powdered ginger and added some fresh grated ginger as well.

3. I thought a little more butter would be better – of course! – so I used a whole cup, instead of 3/4 cup. I don’t see the purpose of whipping the room-temperature butter with the sugar, etc. if you are going to melt it all by adding hot water shortly, so I might combine some steps. To get a thicker batter I should use less hot water.

4. The recipe has more sugar than is optimal. I used one cup and that made a cake that was plenty sweet.

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5. If you want a black cake such as I made this time, use the Fair Trade Black Cocoa Powder sold by Frontier. I think it has a very odd flavor, not like chocolate at all and more like chili powder, but I had it on hand, and its flavor goes okay with all the spices that are in this recipe. I regret buying it, however!

6. My next experiment will be to make this recipe as cupcakes; I will try to make a thick batter so that the chocolate chips I sprinkle on at the last minute might not sink all the way to the bottom. If I could find some small and extra-dark chocolate chips it would be helpful; the Ghirardelli 60% cacao are very big and that no doubt causes them to sink through the batter faster.

7. If I perfect the recipe I will post my Best Version. And if any of my readers already bake a similar cake, I’d love to hear about it.

My cake was rather mangled by the time I got it out of the bundt pan where so many of the chips were burnt and encrusted on the bottom. But it didn’t fall apart. I was able to slice it and put a large dollop of whipped cream on top of each serving, and everyone thought it was a gastronomic success.

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Pear Pie of the Year?

“Pie of the Week” was the inspiring category of postings at Gigi’s Firefly Cottage blog…

I wish I could bake a pie once a week. I also wish I could have a whole day of prayer and contemplation every week, and a day of gardening, and a loaf of bread baked every seven days or so. But at the rate I’m going, I should set my sights lower– perhaps one pie every six months or so? (If wishes were horses, beggars would ride, and eat more pie.)

My latest pie is Pear. It’s the first pear pie I’ve ever eaten or baked. The thought of eating this subtle fruit any way besides fresh or dried never appealed, until I read a recipe on one of my favorite blogs recently, a recipe that made me think pear pie would be worth a try. I was prepared in mind, then, for the display of pale green Bartletts at a fruit stand where I stopped for a snack on Monday.

The price was right, but you had to buy a big bag of them, more than Mr. Glad and I could possibly eat. I thought, “This is my chance to bake a pear pie,” and I brought them home, and there was my deadline in front of me: within two days they would be pale yellow, and the pie would have to be baked.

Here is my new white pie dish waiting for its pears. The hearts on the cloth that is under the clear vinyl were my solution to shoe polish stains about 15 year ago.

But where was the recipe? Nowhere to be found. Had I imagined it, or just lost it? The pie had to be baked, so I researched ideas on Epicurious.com for quite a while, settling on a this recipe that featured lemon, maple, and ginger to add complexity.

 

 

I made a couple of changes: doubled the ginger and forgot to put in the sugar. I’m so glad about that last omission, because the maple syrup made the pie just sweet enough for my taste. All the various flavors blended nicely and nothing overpowered the pears. I found it to be quite lovely. It was hard to know just what the added flavors were.

 

This pie was thickened with instant tapioca granules. I discovered I didn’t have instant, so I ground some small pearls in the blender and then sifted out the bigger pieces. The finished product was a bit soupy, maybe only because it was still warm.

But my husband often doesn’t like new taste sensations, especially the first time. After having a slice of this one, he said it had nothing that made him want to keep eating it. I should have that feeling; after eating more than necessary, I quickly wrapped the rest of the pie, dish and all, in heavy foil and stuck it in the freezer.

 

Maybe my pear pie will be the Pie of the Century!