Several months ago a dear friend of mine sent me this recipe. It’s adapted from Alice Medrich’s Pure Desserts. The recipe is true to its name; it is absolutely perfect! This cake is very rich so you only need small slices. I served it with Ginger Ice Cream and my company asked for seconds! That good! It would also be delicious with fresh fruit. Tightly wrapped the cake keeps for several days.
Absolutely Perfect Almond Cake
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (4 ounces) unblanched or blanched almonds
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
3 large eggs
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into several chunks and slightly softened
1 tablespoon kirsch (optional)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
For crunchy almond crust:
1 tablespoon softened butter
6 tablespoons sliced almonds
1 tablespoon sugar
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Smear the sides and bottom of the pan generously with about 1 tablespoon softened butter. Scatter 6 tablespoons sliced almonds over the bottom of the pan and press some of them about 1 inch up the sides; distribute any extra nuts evenly over the bottom. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of sugar over the bottom and sides of the pan.
Place the almonds, sugar, salt, and almond extract in the bowl of a food processor and process until the nuts are finely pulverized. Add the eggs, butter, and kirsch, if using, and pulse to blend thoroughly. Add the flour and baking powder and pulse just until blended.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly.
Bake until the cake is golden brown on top and a toothpick plunged into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Do not overcook.
Cool the cake on a rack for 10 minutes before unmolding. To unmold, slide a slim knife or spatula carefully around the inside of the pan, pressing against the pan to release the cake without cracking the crust. Cover the pan with a plate, and invert both. Remove the pan and leave the cake crust side up to serve.
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To me Beach Plum Jelly conjures up memories of summer, the beach, the ocean and Nantucket. I first went to Nantucket when I was in third grade and my family visited friends for a week. It seemed like such a magical place, beautiful beaches, sandy dirt roads, just the perfect place to spend a week as a child. It was years before I would visit again. In high school I went out to visit my boyfriend and his family. Little did I know that we would eventually marry and spend every summer visiting the island and his extended family.
During our visits I would often enjoy Beach Plum Jelly but I never saw anyone make it. My husband’s grandmother shared her recipe with me but was kind of vague about where you could actually find the elusive beach plums.
I found out that beach plums grow among the sand dunes, along the edges of roads, in any sandy location.
They mature slowly and love to grow among the poison ivy. They bloom in the spring and will be covered with tiny white blossoms. People actually locate the blooming bushes and write down their locations! You can never ask anyone where he or she finds their plums, as they just won’t tell you! I am now part of the group that knows where to find them! We recently spent a week in a quaint little cottage on Nantucket and the path to the beach was covered with beach plums. Every morning we would venture out to pick the plums that were now ripe! We tried to find plums that had reddish blush, as they would release the most pectin and make the best tasting jam. I’m sure I was the only one on the ferry ride home with a secret stash of beach plums.
After consulting Gram’s recipe I proceeded to make my very first batch of Beach Plum Jelly. The color is beautiful, a rich purple. This will be one jelly that will have a special spot in my pantry.
The recipe is very simple only three ingredients, beach plums, sugar and water.
Beach Plum Jelly
Wash plums, remove the stems and put the fruit in a stainless pot.
Cover with water, bring to a boil, drain and discard water.
This makes all the plums split their skins.
Return the plums to the pot, ad enough boiling water to barely cover, and cook until the fruit is soft, mashing with a wooden spoon once or twice.
Turn the fruit and juice into a jelly bag made with several layers of cheesecloth. Allow it to drain until no more juice drips thought, overnight. The temptation is to squeeze the bag but you don’t want to do that or the jelly will be cloudy.
For each cup of juice add 1 cup of sugar.
Boil on medium high heat until the juice “sheets”, that is, it will not run from a spoon but will drip in two drops that run together and fall from the spoon in a sheet.
Stop cooking immediately. Skim jelly. Pour into sterile jelly jars and process in your water bath for 5 minutes. Store in a cool dark place.
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How many of you remember that I planted my potatoes in buckets this year?
The great potato experiment! This past weekend I harvested my potatoes.
Was it a success? I did not have the five-pound yield per bucket that some folks claimed I might get but I did get about a pound of potatoes per bucket. There was a total of 15 buckets and I got just under 15 pounds of potatoes.
Not enough to feed us thought the winter but definitely worth trying again. When I’ve planted potatoes in the garden I usually have four or five rows of potatoes and end up with a wheelbarrow full! Enough to feed us all winter and then have some to re-plant in the spring.
The potatoes stayed free of bugs and were so much easier to harvest. I just picked up the bucket and dumped it in the wheelbarrow!
It’s also an easy way to plant different varieties. I had Idaho gold potatoes in the majority of the buckets but I planted fingerlings in three of the buckets. We ate a handful that night for dinner. They were so delicious!
I will try this again next year, either in taller buckets or in wire cages. Did you grow potatoes this year? How was your harvest?
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always live frugally! I have paid full price for some special article of clothing and I’ve even enjoyed a Starbucks fancy coffee now and then. Overall I do consider myself a pretty frugal person. How do you start living more frugally?
Understand it doesn’t happen overnight. You have to pace yourself and make little steps over time. Think about one area you want to take control of, for example your food spending. Start making more meals from scratch.
Cook extra and put some in your freezer so you’ll have meals on hand for those nights you just don’t feel like cooking.
Have a goal. What do you want to save for? Paying off your mortgage? Going on a vacation? Sit down with your spouse and come up with some simple goals and talk about how you will achieve those goals. Together decided on your common goal and what sacrifices are necessary to reach that goal.
Simple changes can go along way toward becoming more frugal. Reduce or eliminate some of your daily luxuries. Are you eating lunch out everyday? Bring a brown bag lunch to work.
Bring coffee from home rather than stopping for a take out coffee. Think about the regular daily expenditures you can easily cut down without a major impact on your life.
Do you drive to work or drive your children to school each day? Instead see if you can carpool. You will be saving on gas and helping the environment. I have to drive quite a distance just to do our grocery shopping; occasionally I’ve done the shopping with a friend. Not only is it more fun but also we save on gas. As the price of gas rises I will try to do this more often.
Take car of your automobile. By changing the oil and rotating your tires on a regular basis you will have a car that runs better, uses less gas and you can prevent costly car breakdowns.
These are just a few ideas to help you get started. I will continue to share ideas to help you save money and live frugally. There are dozens of inventive and useful ways to save, spend, reuse and live better for less.
“Being frugal does not mean being cheap!
It means being economical and avoiding waste.”
Several weeks ago I harvested the scapes from my garlic plants.
You want the plant to send all of it’s energy into bulbs not into a flower producing seeds. So you cut the scapes off. They can be used in many ways, you can cut them up and use them in a stir fry or you can use them to make pesto.
We tried some in a stir-fry with excellent results; they were tender and had just a slight garlic taste. The rest I decided to turn into pesto.
After searching around on the internet I found the following recipe on A Garden For The House.
Garlic Scape Pesto
Ingredients for about two cups:
9-10 garlic scapes, knobby seed-pods removed and discarded
1/2 cup (2.5 oz bag) slivered almonds
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
Special Equipment – A food processor; a rubber spatula
Preparing the scapes - Rinse scapes in cold water, then roughly chop into half-inch pieces.
Processing — Pour scapes and slivered almonds into the bowl of your food processor. Blend for 30 seconds, or until a fairly smooth texture is achieved. Scrape down sides of bowl with your rubber spatula.
With the machine running, slowly add olive oil, and process until thoroughly incorporated, about 15 seconds. Then add the Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper, and blend for another 5 seconds. Taste carefully — you might like to add more salt and pepper.
Although this pesto is good freshly made, it is even better when refrigerated for several hours or overnight. Before chilling, place the pesto in a glass bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.
This pesto can be frozen in an air tight container for up to three months.
This pesto is delicious on noodles.
Put a dollop on and mix it up.
Good to the last bite.
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Recently I was lucky enough to combine a trip to visit family in Connecticut with peach picking.
Connecticut has very good peaches and I love when I can pick a few baskets. Last week I posted the amazing Peach Lavender Jam recipe. This week I will share the Peach Pie Filling that I made. This wonderful filling doesn’t only need to be used in pies; I’ve also used it in cobblers and crisps as well. I’m sure you can think of other ways to use it as well. I love preserving peaches, as the bright yellow color looks so cheery on your pantry shelves.
Both this recipe and the Peach Lavender Jam recipe came out of the book Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.
Peach Pie Filling
1 cinnamon stick (3” long) broken into pieces
2 tsp whole cloves
12 cups sliced, pitted peeled peaches, treated to prevent browning – drained
2 cups finely chopped cored peeled apples, treated to prevent browning – drained
2 2/3 cup sugar
1 cup golden raisins
2 Tbsp grated lemon zest
½ cup lemon juice
¼ cup white vinegar
½ tsp ground nutmeg
Tie the cinnamon stick pieces and cloves in a square of cheesecloth, creating a spice bag.
To remove the skins easily from the peaches drop them in boiling water for 30 seconds and immediately place in cold water.
In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine peaches, apples, sugar, raisins, lemon zest and juice, vinegar, nutmeg and spice bag. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat, cover and boil gently, stirring occasionally, until thickened.
Meanwhile, prepare canner, jars and lids.
Ladle hot pie filling into hot jars, leaving 1-inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles and adjust headspace if necessary. Center lid on jar and screw band down to finger tight.
Place jars in canner; make sure they are covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 15 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.
Makes about 4-6 pints
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