Tag Archives: quick breads

Shopping, cooking, and singing.

This week I’ve been blessed to have several days when I was able to stay home all day. I have a big sorting-and-organizing project upstairs, figuring out how to use my new closets and cabinets, and deciding what things to throw out because I begrudge them the space. But I didn’t end up spending much time on that.

One day I was on the prosphora baking team at church…

… and since that got me out of the house in the morning, I just kept going and did a lot of grocery shopping in the afternoon, five stores. First I went to the Thai market, where it’s fun to see what exotic snacks and goodies they have in stock. Often it’s a mochi type of treat that I try out, and this time I found these, chewy with a black sesame paste filling.

I enjoyed them very much, but the ingredients label made me resolve to make my own mochi again, at home. I already have mochi flour (mochiko) that I also buy at the Thai market. My friend Elsie brought me a mochi cookbook from Hawaii one time and I have been wanting to try out some more recipes from it again.

I bought Asian yams, green onions, and several pounds of ginger root at that market. It was time to make a big batch of ginger broth.

As I drove around to the other less interesting stores I listened to music in the car. Gordon Bok was singing one of his sailor songs, and though I am not a sailor I love to hear him sing about anything, his voice is so rich; it is a feast for my ears. Here he is in a sample I found: Sailor’s Prayer by Gordon Bok

It was 90 degrees that afternoon when I brought home my bags of groceries, and it would be hotter still the next day, when I had to wait at least until the evening to cook, so that the heat could go out the windows when we open them at sundown. It was supposed to be cooler the following day. I did start my ginger broth and roast a couple of pans of onions that evening — oh, and two pans of Brussels sprouts.

The next day, which was this morning, I thought I would just bottle up the broth and put it in the freezer, and get on with my sorting project. But one thing led to another…. I needed to wash the big pots and my breakfast dishes, of course. The cooked ginger went into the food processor, because I can’t bear to throw it out, but always use it to make puddings or breads. I decided to make bread with my ginger paste right then, so I found a recipe for zucchini bread to work from, and substituted ginger for zucchini.

The roofers were working in the morning, and they finished by early afternoon. It is such a weight off my mind to have a new roof, my whole body felt lighter and ready for more work. The bread went into the oven and I washed more dishes, and Aaron came to work on my garage project. I was happy to send him home with a loaf of bread, because I’m realizing that I like cooking too much for one person. When I start cooking I just do not want to stop.

The weather really cooled off today, so I am hopeful that my sweet peas will grow longer stems again for a week or two before they expire from heat. I had to hunt down shorter vases and bottles to put them in the last few days. This one color is my favorite this year, and I was able to make a whole little bouquet of them, which will be my closing image here, as I’ve cleaned up the kitchen for the last time and am going up to bed. Good night!

Prunia Walnut Bread

gl P1030442My primary motivation for creating this loaf was to use a big bag of prunes that was taking up space in the fridge. Plus I wanted to make some kind of bread I could keep eating when (Orthodox) Lent arrives, which is soon. When I saw a recipe for a prune bread using buckwheat flour, I saw another opportunity, to incorporate some of the many kinds of flours and grains I have stored up and haven’t been using.

I took ideas from that recipe I saw online and made my own version. The name Prunia comes from joining prune with chia (seeds), another item I had on hand and that figures prominently in the bread, as do walnuts. I love walnuts, especially when they have been toasted, and their flavor may be the most dominant one here.

The picture of honey at the top puts the brightest ingredient forward, color-wise. We have many jars of honey around here lately, the most wonderful being the quart of golden sweetness from Kit’s own bees, whom she had to leave in Oregon on The Farm, when she came here. I often buy honey from the nearby monastery, or receive it as gifts from friends… it all adds up to our being a household rich in honey.

Unfortunately, the other ingredients that the beautiful honey gets mixed into are very drab. Buckwheat flour is gray, gray, gray, and chia seeds and prunes are pretty much black. Walnuts are brown… When I look at a loaf like this:

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…it makes me remember a Garrison Keillor spoof on health food in which the high-fiber cereal being put forward as so essential for regularity was called “Raw Bits.” My loaf does look rough on the outside. It is fairly high-fiber, too, as well as being gluten-free and vegan — with what I consider just the right amount of sweetness.

Prunia Nut Bread    gl P1030440

 1 ½ cups buckwheat flour
½ cup coconut flour
3 cups walnuts, divided
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cardamom
1/3 cup chia seeds soaked in 1 cup water
30 large pitted prunes, divided
¼ cup coconut oil
½ cup honey
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 ½ cups plant-based milk

First toast the walnuts, 300° for 40 minutes, stirring once.

While they are toasting, put 10 prunes in a small bowl and pour on boiling water to cover.

Mix the chia seeds with the water in a small bowl.

Chop the remaining 20 prunes, sprinkling a little of the flour over them as you do, to keep them from clumping up again.

Into a medium-large bowl sift the flours, salt, baking powder and spices together.gl P1030441

When the walnuts are toasted and cooled, chop 2 cups coarsely and set aside.

Grind  the remaining 1 cup of walnuts in a food processor. Add these to the dry ingredients – but don’t wash the processor bowl yet.

Put the prunes and water in the bowl of the processor and purée.

In a medium bowl melt the coconut oil with the honey, then add the milk, the chia seeds and the prune purée.

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Combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing in the chopped prunes and walnuts.

Put into oiled medium-sized loaf pans – or one very large – and bake for 50-60 minutes at about 350°. Cool on racks.

The bread comes out very moist and dense. I’ve made it three times in order to perfect my recipe, but each version was well worth the eating, which tells you that this recipe is still pretty tweakable. You might leave out the bit of coconut oil and I bet it wouldn’t be missed; or you could increase the amount of spice if you like more intensity. As it is it is a mellow loaf.

If I wanted to spend more time on the project, it would be to figure out how to use fewer cups and bowls in the mixing of the batter, and to do without the food processor altogether. For one thing, that little bit of prune purée is probably dispensable. But for now, for this Lent, I think I have plenty stashed in the freezer; the kitchen has been cleaned up, and I have a little more room in the fridge.

If anyone tries the recipe, let me know if you made any changes and how it worked.

Bon appétit!

gl P1030518