FOOD! apple skillet cake

It’s Sunday, which means I’m being a lazy-bones.  It started last night, with a Fellini film I’ve had on loan from the Hennepin County Library for the better part of the past 4 months.  The extended borrowing period wasn’t intentional; rather, it was an item I “lost” while packing, and which has recently resurfaced.  [Side note: I just have to say, for the record, I don’t resonate with Fellini films.  This particular oeuvre, 8-1/2, is hailed as one of the greatest films of all time.  Interesting, perhaps, but life would have been just as well had I not seen it.]  I slept on the couch, which always feels like a slumber party to me.  I awoke at 6, then fell back asleep at 7 until approximately 8:30 (ok, 9).

This caught my eye whilst checking my social media sites, and, though I initially poo-poo’d the idea of making it, I changed my mind once I realized all the ingredients* were in my kitchen.  The recipe is pretty forgiving, so improvise as needed!

Apple Skillet Cake:

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup soy milk, or your preferred type of milk
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup Domata Gluten Free Recipe Ready Flour
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons high-heat oil
  • 3 sweet apples cored, and sliced (sweet or tart, depending on your taste)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 teaspoons sugar (brown, if preferred)
  • thumb-sized knob of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Whisk warm water and flour together, ensuring few to no lumps.  Add eggs, milk, and salt, and set aside. In a cast iron skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add ginger and apples; stirring occasionally, and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over the top of apples, cooking until caramelized, 5 minutes.
  2. Pour in batter, distributing evenly throughout skillet.  Transfer to oven and bake until cake puffs and knife inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle top with 2 teaspoons sugar and return to oven until brown on top, 5 minutes. Or, place under high-heat broiler for 1-2 minutes (watching closely!) until brown. Let cool slightly before serving.

Serves 8 (Calories: 187 / Carbs: 29g / Fat: 7g / Protein: 3 g)

*Before you go telling me how awesome this is, and what a great cook I am, I have to give credit where it’s due.  This recipe was adapted from a little something I spied in my FB feed this morning, from Whole Living.  I adapted it to exclude dairy and wheat, but if these things are of no concern to you, just follow that recipe instead!

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downtime.

I am foraying into the world of self-employ.  While I’ve been freelancing for almost a year, I am now at the point where the work I’m doing is enough to cut back my office-work schedule to 3 days/week, and I have more than enough work to do the remaining 4 days/week for my main client.  I’ve fantasized for years about working for myself; it’s quite a different story when confronted with the reality of the thing, am I right?  I don’t say this as a negative, it’s simply an adjustment in both daily habits and practices, and in mentality/perception. I’m loving it so far, and getting more disciplined about my work habits, primarily because I can see how easy it is to simply work all the time. Although, this isn’t really anything new for me, I’m fond of being a busy-busy-bee! I can also see the necessity of getting out and spending time with people, ie volunteering, and participating in a writing group (of which, incidentally, I found a really great one last week! through the Hennepin County Library system.  Have I ever mentioned how much I looooove the library? Home away from home for this word nerd!).

What I love about working from home, more than anything, is that I get to decide my schedule.  I do not enjoy the necessity of being at an office for a prescribed number of hours during a set time frame. This has always made me a little cray-cray, though I’ve spent years trying to convince myself that it’s what I need to adjust to to make a living in this world.  I’m soooo happy to be finding out that there are other options- and they’re even viable options!  What I love about freelance writing is, well, writing.  Because the more you do of something you love, the more you do of something you love! Or, something to the effect of, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” While some may debunk this as bad career advice, I say it’s completely true!

At the moment, I’m taking a break from writing about various types of cancer for clients (just a little light writing for a Monday, thank you very much!).  These are the ways I like to give my mind a rest:

  • More writing, ovbi.  Though it’s nice to be able to vent the randomness in my brain
  • Trail running.  Today @ Lebanon Hills Regional Park, which is a bit of a jaunt, but definitely worth it.  It was grey and dreary, which made the leaves still clinging to the branches scream their vibrant colors.  I f’ing love autumn in Minnesota!
  • Regular running, too.
  • Or walking along the mighty Mississipp’, which is nearby.
  • Doing headstands, a la B.K.S. Iyengar. Like this:   Ha!  No, more like this:Except sh!ttier, with a lot of confused adjusting happening throughout.
  • Playing Words with Friends with a guy I used to date.  I suppose he would be considered some sort of ex, though he wasn’t technically a boyfriend (of course, this is my attitude about our relationship now. Had you asked while we were dating, he probably was considered a boyfriend.  Still, there needs to be some sort of nomenclature pertaining to people you formerly dated.  Ex… datees? No. Come up with something and leave it in the comments, if you would!).  Anyhoo, it’s weird because we don’t talk, but I soooooo want to beat him, so we keep playing.
  • Eat food.  Make food.  Think about going to get food or ordering food.  Looking at food in the cupboards. Making more coffee to drink for when my break is over.
  • Facebooking, tweeting, et cetera.  Truly, an addiction.  (Feel free to friend ‘n’ follow, btw.)
  • Daydreaming about getting a French Bulldog.
  • Perusing adopt-a-dog sites, searching for vicarious puppy-love
  • Many, many other interesting things.

What do you do on your breaks, peeps who work from home and otherwise?  I’m always fascinated by how people spend their downtime… or procrastinate-time.

FOOD! refrigerator pickles

I made these today.

I don’t love pickles, not really.  Something about dill pickles just doesn’t suit my palate.  Dill itself I think is quite divine, but dill pickles don’t interest me at all.  Bread and butter pickles (I think this is the type, the sweet ones?), on the other hand, I do like these.  Which are basically the same as refrigerator pickles.

All summer long I’ve been splitting a CSA share with a friend.  Every week we’d get something different – lemon cukes, edamame, kale, thyme, what-have-you.  More than anything else though, we got BEANS.  Every damn week, BEANS.  Green beans, wax beans, I don’t know the exact nomenclature, but there were OODLES of them.  And I loved to eat them, but I wasn’t creative enough, and got bored, and a lot of beans went to waste, unfortunately.  The whole time though, I was thinking how great it would be to pickle them! But it seemed too daunting, and so I didn’t.  I think I’m a little scared of canning because of something I read in a book once about botulism, maybe in East of Eden, or similar.

But, I digress. Refrigerator pickles, on the other hand, so easy!  I found a few recipes, like this one, and just adapted it, because some of the recipes I found seemed like they wanted to be fancy and I just wanted the most basic one I could find.  No fanciness of ingredient for me, just a plain old McDonald’s burger, thankyouverymuch. Also, I had this big old jar, so I adapted for the size of the thing.

Easy Refrigerator Pickles

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 cups cucumbers (pickling cukes are great, but no need to discriminate), thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 cups vinegar (I used 4 cups white, 2 cups apple cider to cut the tartness)
  • 3 cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoon celery seeds

Prep:

Place cukes and onion in a gallon jar.  Combine remaining ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Carefully pour liquid into gallon jar and refrigerate.  Let chill 3-4 days.  Pickles can be kept for up to 6 weeks.

Voila! I tried mine after they’d been in the fridge for about 12 hours.  The cukes were still very raw and crunchy, but the flavor of the wash tastes about right, so I’m excited to test them again in a few days!

Are you a pickler, or a canner?  Leave your tips in the comments below!

kombucha experi-fermentation, every now-and-then

Happy Friday!  I’ve been been mildly absorbed in my new fermentation adventures (NEW and IMPROVED!  Now with KEFIR grains!), and the butch hasn’t been doing a whole lot this week.  In part, I realized round about Wednesday, because there wasn’t any food in the larder, the cupboards were bare.  I courageously took a sip yesterday morning and confirmed that it was leaning more toward vinegar than is desirable.  I brewed up a fresh batch of sweet tea and added it into the mix.

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Sorry for the mash-up, still working on a system to get things from the phone to the computer, whilst maintaining date/time info.  And… yes, I was too lazy to walk upstairs to get the USB cord this morning.

kombucha experi-fermentation, douze(y) du jour

It’s definitely happening now, it wasn’t just a fluke yesterday.  The mushroom is definitely both gromandizing and aggrandizing (sorry, sleepy and in need of a little alliteration).  True to my word, I checked it just as many times today as usual.  And changed the location.  But it seems to be a resilient bugger and keeps on keepin’ on.

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I think I’m getting very close to being able to brew a batch of the coveted kombucha!

kombucha experi-fermentation dia diez

I was gone a few days at the cabin, so I took advantage of my absence to set the temp a bit higher in the room wherein resides the nascent scoby.  I’ve been gone since Friday morning, so you can imagine how excited I was to have a look this afternoon when I came home!  This is what I found:

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When I first looked, the mushroom was floating nicely at the top, but drooped because I moved it.  Kind of amazing though, that it grew that much just over 48 hours!  I should probably leave it alone rather than constantly checking on it… yeah right, that’s gonna happen 😉

kombucha experi-fermentation, days 1, 2 und 3.

Immediately after posting my desire for the home-brewed bucha, a friend let me know that he happened to have a little SCOBY on hand (this stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, I believe, but I’m too tired to go look it up.  So we’ll go with that, shall we?) that he would be happy to share.  Since I wasn’t able to pick it up that exact moment in time, I picked up another bottle of tea after work on Thursday so I could get the tinkering started that night.  Getting some of friend Tom’s SCOBY would be easier, but you know, it’s just so much more fun to have grown one, or at least to have tried!  It’s the small things that excite me.  Such as, and I don’t know if I mentioned, but last summer I scored an amazing 70’s sun-tea jar, complete with etched-on sunflowers and a green molded-plastic spigot and screw-on lid with built-in handle (see below).

The first bottle of kombucha I had this week was the classic GT’s, and it sounds like tons of people use this to start their own mother.  On Thurs, however, I happened by the Wedge, where I found the only plain brand on the shelf was NessAlla, which I’m excited about because it’s much closer to home (ok, I don’t actually know where GT’s is brewed, but it can’t be closer than Madison, WI). I tried as best I could not to drink any of the bottle, but I failed, so there was only an inch or so to start, which I’ve let it sit for a few days.  Here’s the progression: I checked again that afternoon:Then again this morning: I was thinking about it a bit today, and a vague little tickle in the back of my mind told me I was missing something.  I just haven’t read enough about this process, basically.  I had it in my mind that you can toss it in a jar and just let it grow!  But it is ONE BILLION living organisms, and the little buggers need food.  I did a bit more reading, specifically on starting a SCOBY this way (on this awesome site), and got learned.  In consequence, brewed up some sweet tea, and added it to the mix.  I also moved the jar into the furnace room, where it tends to be warmer (which whole living suggests is better) than other spots in the house, and also more remote, lest my roomies come upon it.

FOOD! (ok- drink, actually) Kombucha

I’m thinking of starting an experiment:

batch of kombucha, mature.

I was at Whole Foods last night, stocking up on vites, as ya do, and wanted to get a little treat, also as ya do, since it was dinner time, and a beautiful day, and I simply wanted something fun to consume.  I grabbed for a bottle of kombucha, of which I don’t think I have ever, not once, drank more than a thimbleful another time I was at Whole Foods and a sampler was schlepping his fermented-tea wares.  Original flavor, GT’s Organic Raw Kombucha.  I was hesitant upon first sip, but it was quite delicious and I drank the whole bottle whilst (finally!) watching the Season 2 Finale of Downton Abbey.  Sixteen ounces may have been a bit much for one sitting, but I do feel pretty damn good today for no apparent reason, so I’ll attribute it to the tea.

It’s funny, once you start looking into it, everyone absolutely raves about this tea; it’s a cure-all from everything to arthritis to lactose intolerance.  In any case, it’s a tinkerly-type thing, so I can’t resist.  It’s a little like brewing your own wine (which I convinced mummy-kins to do), or concocting limoncello (pops and stepmum still do this on occasion, on my suggestion), or tapping the maple trees for syrup (next year- right, dad?).  I can’t take all the credit since my parents were, and still are, the ultimate source of my tinkerlyhood: mom with the giant garden in the summers and her devotion to sourdough bread; dad with the vast and sweeping building projects throughout my lifetime, including building a cabin, and swapping out vehicle engines.

The experiment will begin as soon as I can make my way to a store that carries kombucha, so I’ll have fodder to grow the scoby, or mushroom.  I already have a fantastic old-school sun-tea container that will work perfectly.  Can’t wait!  More to come.

In the meanwhile, what are your favorite tinkerly-type projects and hobbies?