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Jam is so easy to make, and endlessly more delicious than store-bought, you should definitely try it! I wait until fruit is in season, and on sale at my local produce store, Stanley’s Fruits & Vegetables. I bought six 16oz containers of blueberries for $6!

I used this recipe as a guide, mainly referring to it for the fruit-sugar ratio, while adjusting the flavors and omitting the pectin. Pectin is traditionally added to make the jam gelatenous and more solid. However, fruit naturally has its own pectin, and I find that if I let the fruit simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, it acquires a nice consistency that’s thick yet easy to spread.

I used my homemade vanilla extract in this! I’ve had 6 whole vanilla beans (sliced lengthwise) marinating in 200ml (about 6.7 oz) of vodka for 3-4 months now; it’s developed a rich flavor. I always squeeze some lemon into jam, as the tart juice compliments the sweet berries. This jam also has a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg which makes it taste even more amazing! I wouldn’t have thought of that without this recipe.

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There is a problem common to most wine lovers.  It happens almost every time I have people over to my home. Whether it’s a Friday night gabbing with my girlfriends, or an elegant dinner with neighbors, there’s one thing I dread waking up to in the morning: leftover wine.

What do you do with leftover wine?

The next morning, wine has already started to turn, becoming sharper and more acidic by the hour. If you hate wasting the precious nectar that is wine as much as I do, you’ll love this recipe for sangria spritzers!

Ingredients:

  • leftover wine
  • fruit, fresh or frozen
  • sparkling water
  • fresh mint (optional)

Before you go to bed, put your wine in an airtight container (or just cork it) and stash it in the fridge. If you have fresh fruit, put it in the freezer the night before, too.

Prepare the wine in a jar or pitcher with a big handful of frozen fruit, and several leaves of mint. Let marinate for 1-4 hours before serving.

Serve the fruity wine in chilled wine glasses with a splash of sparkling water, and garnish with mint! Enjoy!

 

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I whipped up my favourite pancake recipe this morning, and poured the whole thing in a 8″ cast iron skillet, and baked it in the oven.

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The result was a soft, slightly dense pancake, with a delightfully crispy crust.

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This is a case of dessert for breakfast. Topped with homemade caramel sauce….

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Or cinnamon syrup with freshly whipped cream…

20140426_085256Or blueberry jam…
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20140302_120308I didn’t like pie until my 3rd grade math teacher brought an apple pie to class for Pi Day. I immediately fell in love with it, to the woe of my mother who wished it was her pie I fell for (don’t worry, we’ve since made up.) So pi day has always been very special to me, and it was fun to celebrate this delicious baked good on the anniversary of my love for it.

I have only made a handful of pie crusts, and I can promise that anyone is capable of doing it as long as they’re willing to put in the proper time. Dough can be tricky, but it’s helpful to think of it like playdoh: mistakes are an inevitable and fun part of the process, but easy to fix. This crust is a bit trickier than most because without gluten, it’s not as “sticky,” and can crack or fall apart much more easily. Never be defeated though, because you can always fix it! I got very skeptical and nervous as I worked on this crust, and lo and behold it turned out beautiful. I highly recommend a pastry blender to help you mix the crust ingredients together. They can often be found for pennies at your local Goodwill.

When I first thought about a dairy-free, gluten-free pie crust, I immediately thought that coconut oil would be the right consistency to replace the butter, and maybe the rice flour sitting in my pantry would work well. A little bit of research reinforced these ideas, and also brought me this recipe, which I based my work off of. Here’s what I ended up with:

20140302_120424Crust Ingredients:

  • 2-1/4 cups of white rice flour
  • ½ cup of organic coconut oil, chilled in the fridge and solid
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2/3 + cup ice water

 Instructions:

  1. Mix the flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Add your solid coconut oil and work it into the flour mixture using a pastry blender. It will be very crumbly and dry at this point. Pour in 2/3 cup of water as you mix, and the dough will start to come together. Add more water a little at a time if needed to help the crust stick to itself. The dough won’t be smooth, and shouldn’t be – those little crumbs are what make the crust flaky.
  2. Shape the dough into two balls, one for the top of the pie and one for the bottom. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 10-30 minutes. Take this opportunity to get your pie filling ready. If you’re making the crust for future use, you can place these dough balls in a freezer bag and freeze.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 450°.
  4. Once chilled, place each dough ball onto a piece of wax or parchment paper that has been dusted with rice flour. Use a rolling pin (or an empty wine bottle) to shape each dough ball into a flat disk. This is the hard part. The dough will likely be brittle and crack as you roll it, but just sprinkle some cold water to help it come together again and keep working. In general, if dough is dry and brittle, add a little cold water; and if dough is too sticky to work with, add a little flour. Roll it out until it’s about ¼” thick. Cut some slots (or a design!) in the top crust to allow the steam to vent properly.
  5. Press the bottom crust carefully into the baking dish. Use your fingers and sprinkles of water/rice flour to mend any tears while fitting the dough to the dish. Add your choice of filling, and then place the top crust over it. Press the edges of the crust to seal the top and bottom crusts together. Tip: press a fork along the edge to get a pretty pattern.
  6. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until the crust is GBT (golden brown and tasty)!

Will it still be flaky without butter and traditional flour? Yes! The flaky texture is created by the structure of the fat and flour. Remember the crumbly texture from step 1 above? Those crumbs are little bits of solid coconut oil which melt as the crust is baked, creating pockets of air and a light, flaky crust. Using cold coconut oil and cold water prevents the coconut oil from dissolving smoothly into the flour (the same way it’s hard to dissolve sugar into iced coffee). If the dough gets too warm as it’s formed, the coconut oil will melt into the flour and the flaky texture is lost. This is why ice water and cold coconut oil are important, and also why using bare hands on dough is discouraged (hands are warm, and coconut oil melts at 75°).

20140302_111120Mango Pie Filling:

  • 3 mangoes, peeled, pitted and cubed
  • 10-15 fresh mint leaves
  • 4 tbsp of turbinado sugar or coconut nectar
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Sprinkle of sea salt
  • 1 tbsp of coconut oil, melted

The mango filling paired perfectly with the slight coconut flavor of the crust, and the fresh mint added a touch of je ne sais quoi. Simply mix all of the ingredients together. I sprinkled some crushed almonds and turbinado sugar on the crust for fun!

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Making pancakes from scratch takes about 3 minutes when you know the recipe by heart, and your pantry is stocked and organized.

A closer look at that pantry: repurposed jars for storage, with gold leaf painted lids and matching printed labels.

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Turkish coffee, courtesy of T’s sister. Belgian waffle made with 1/2 buckwheat flour and some ground flax, topped with peanut butter and locally harvested honey.

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Oh goodness, you wouldn’t believe how much I missed cooking and eating healthy fresh foods! Last week was my first week of work with a long tiresome commute, and my last week at my old apartment. New job + long commute + preparing to move = no time to cook, and barely time to sleep. Glad to be moved into my new apartment, commuting 20 minutes by bicycle, and with plenty of time to eat well!

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My seeds have sprouted! Also, today is the first day this year that I ate breakfast on my mini porch :)

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Yes… I baked these for breakfast at 8:30am!2012_02 pot pie

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