Saturday, July 17, 2010

Stout Black Chocolate Cake

Now playing: Deborah Friou - Currant
via FoxyTunes

More fun with currants! The currant bushes in my garden are Yellow Flowering currants. Recently, it was pointed out to me that one can use the flowers in cuisine, it is said that they smell of cloves. You can be sure I will check this out next spring. There are other names for this particular variety -Ribes aureum- spicebush, clove currant and golden currant (even though the berries are black.) These bushes are valued in landscapes for the flowers in spring and the leaves turn red in the fall. Native Americans used the flowers and berries to flavour and help preserve pemmican. Currants in general are high in vitamin C, manganese, iron and potassium, so why not add this to a nice drink, scone, fruit salad, or dessert?

I don't have anything against Guinness, in fact it is great stuff (I have been told that the Guinness in Ireland is much better than what the rest of us get, one day I will find out if it is true.) This time however, I used a local stout here in Fort Collins. When in the UK, I frequently have a drink called Guinness Black- currant syrup drizzled on the top of the head of the stout. YUM! So, I thought, why can't I make a sweet running with this idea. I have had Guinness Chocolate Cake, so why not currant icing?
There are many stout chocolate cake recipes online. The icing is made with a lb. of softened butter whipped, slowly alternate adding 4 c. icing sugar and 1 c. of currant syrup.

Just in case there wasn't enough stouty flavour,I made some stout frozen custard to go with.

Garden and harvest views:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Currantly Vodka Sorbet

Now playing: Sonata Arctica - "Vodka Song"
via FoxyTunes

Currently our Golden Flowering Currant bushes are producing lovely, plump berries. I have several things planned for them as they keep ripening. Sean and I picked the best berries yesterday for some sorbet. We picked about a quart.

Puree the currants and strain, add a squirt of lemon juice and a small spoon of corn syrup (small crystals for a creamier sorbet). To make the sorbet, add simple syrup until an egg floating in the mixture only revels a nickel sized portion of itself above the liquid. This will measure the brix units (amount of dissolved sugar in a solution) without buying an expensive meter. This will make a nicer sorbet with smaller crystals! It will also insure that there isn't too much, or too little sugar thus making freezing easier, or harder, as the case my be. I lived dangerously and added 2 shots of vodka (It will take longer to freeze, or if there is too much it won't freeze at all- mine did). You can just splash some vodka in the mixture to be safe. After you have the right amount of sugar in your mix, taste and adjust the lemon juice. I usually use a Donvier ice cream maker, there are other makers out there.

I am including a link to another method for making sorbet that I hope to try soon:

What will I make with the currants next? Check back soon! I will also add more information about the particular currants I am growing.

Cait here are some images of your green zinnias, the green marigolds haven't opened yet.

I've been seeing many creatures around the garden.

More views of Lucie's garden! She grows more than pink and purple petunias. :-)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bubble, Bubble - No Toil, or Trouble

Now playing: Connie Francis - Tiny Bubbles
via FoxyTunes

We visited my favourite Asian import store in Fort Collins again. A goody we focused on this time is tapioca. Tapioca is made from a root called by many different names- cassava, boba and Yuca are just a few of the names it goes by. Tapioca can come in different forms, such as the pearl form used in today's blog. Later, we will make a traditional Chinese cookie from tapioca starch. I already have my goldfish mould! I also have a bag of yellow pearls to make a mango pudding....Stay tuned for those treats.

Anyway, we made the usual Bubble tea with green tea tapioca pearls. That was a refreshing and a chewy treat, but below you will see the same green tea and green tea "bubbles" in the form of a jelly (gelatin).

We just added gelatin sheets to lightly sweetened green tea and added the cooked pearls. Let it set and garnish with powdered sugar and Matcha. I thought the arugula flowers were a pretty addition too.

More garden views to enjoy.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Give Me Some Sugar

Now playing: Lenny Kravitz - Sugar
via FoxyTunes

Linden sugar that is....Another idea and way to use the fragrant flowers.

I was out early to gather the flowers from the trees. My weird neighbour thought that I was even weirder than her, for a bit. What was I doing gathering flowers off a tree? If she only knew. After she decided to stop giving me a strange stare and went back to her over abundance of worthless, purple petunias, I set back to work with the bees.
The Linden flowers release a stronger scent in the morning. I want every bit of the floral essence they can afford to give me! The flowers are done blooming within a week, here in Fort Collins, Colorado it seems to be early July that they are at the peak.

I shook the flowers to dislodge any stray bugs or cruft, look through the flowers to remove in anomalies. Layer the flowers into jars with granulated sugar. Close the lid and let the magic happen. About a week later the sugar can be used for drinks, sprinkle on cookies, etc., just run through a sieve to remove the flowers.

This same sort of idea can be used with Epsom salt in place of sugar. Put this in bath water to relax after a long day.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Minty Fresh, Syrupy Sweet

Now playing: Hot Snakes - U.S. Mint
via FoxyTunes

Using the mint in the backyard is long overdue. We make mojitos with the spearmint and tea with the peppermint, but this time they were made into syrups, three different ones, that can last for enhancing tea, lemonade, or desserts. The lemon balm was very good, in particular! I also like how the different mints make different colours of syrup.

Wash the leaves (about the amount you see in the each bouquet above), break them up and add to equal parts sugar and water (in this case 2 cups of each), in a large pot. Heat this slowly to just boiling, stir to help dissolve the sugar. Let this mixture steep for approximately an hour. Strain. Then, either refrigerate, or process in a hot water bath in jars. This made 3- 8 oz. jars for each recipe.

I bought some green fabrics to decorate the jars. Some of the fabrics inspired a few other projects coming up soon.

A few views from the garden.