autumn mosaic | damson cabernet stove-top preserves

Winter is an etching,

spring a watercolor,

summer an oil painting

and autumn a mosaic of them all.

– Stanley Horowitz

You’d be mad to let the luscious flavors of Autumn pass you by. Here in North Carolina we’re seeing the final surge of stone fruits at delightfully low prices. Not to worry if this leads to baskets full of fruit soon to deteriorate. Quick canning means you can enjoy what’s best now during the cooler months ahead. Read more…


the flour experimentation | double chocolate mocha coconut biscotti

It’s not every day that a new flour arrives in my kitchen. When I received coconut flour for my birthday way back in April, it was an opportunity to play with my food — in the pursuit of good health, good taste, good fun. But, being almost entirely unfamiliar with coconut flour, I had to do quite a bit of research first.

I quickly learned that it can be a finicky ingredient for newcomers. Most baking recipes are designed for wheat flour and other similar grains, therefore you can’t simply substitute coconut flour to achieve the desired, expected results. You can use coconut flour to replace 10% to 30% of wheat or other flour in a recipe; though, there are recipes created specifically for 100% coconut flour.

To tweak a recipe on your own, take note:

+ Coconut flour is highly absorbent, and requires an equal portion of water or other liquid to be added, usually in a 1:1 ratio.

+ On the other hand, because of its propensity to absorb like a dry sponge, liquids in the recipe should be kept to a minimum — using butter or oil will prevent drying out.

+ As a gluten-free (GF) flour, it doesn’t have that stabilizing power and can yield crumbling pastry — generally one egg (or egg substitute) per one ounce of flour combats this.

+ You may need to reduce overall baking time when substituting coconut flour for wheat flours, sometimes by as much as half at the temperature.

Because our pantry wasn’t yet entirely stocked for gluten-free baking when I made these, I altered Elana’s GF double chocolate mocha biscotti recipe to incorporate whole wheat pastry and coconut flours. Both nutritious, whole wheat pastry flour is high in protein and whole grains, low in gluten (not GF), and provides tender results; while coconut flour is high in fiber and protein, is gluten-free, very low in carbohydrates, and has a delicate hint of coconut.

By the time I calculated the percentages and noted all the changes to be made, the two recipes were faintly related. This meant great care and patience at each step to ensure everything came together. In the end, I patted the dough into a large log, put the pan in the oven and crossed my fingers all would go well.

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at first light | toasted muesli with mixed nuts and seeds

Everything is more beautiful from sunrise to nine in the morning. My mind is made up on the matter.

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a broken record | peach & basil barley salad with balsamic vinaigrette

July was a blur. We were away fulfilling obligations of work, family and of home-building contracts, selections and construction crisis management. We have also moved again, to a location more convenient to the bases — the last before our sparkly new home is finished.

You know, I can’t remember fully what happened last month. Some days I’m not positive it happened at all. Maybe it’s a bad thing, maybe it’s a good thing. All I know for sure is that we’re almost settled into a new rhythm. Nearly recovered from the disruption of our usual routine.

I’ve learned it’s not always easy to eat well in a distracted or stressful environment. In fact, such conditions can, and usually do, impact normal eating patterns substantially — “how to deal” is often a question that comes up. Having a great deal of both academic and practical experience, it’s a question I’m intimately acquainted with, and uniquely qualified to answer.

I suppose in some odd way I should be grateful for the many exhausting stretches in our nearly three years together. In overcoming the obstacles, I am provided with the opportunity to hone a coping method: Make sure a nutritious, delicious meal finds its way to the table. Often these meals are quickly prepared or thrown together last second, but they are always good tasting, good for us and dripping with love. Most of the time, the meals are re-purposed leftovers or riffs on a previous recipes.

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fits and starts | chocolate zucchini cakelets with salted chocolate sauce

If yours is a remarkable long-term memory, you’ll recall from previous posts our hands being full since changing not only stations, but states and time zones as well. Between time with our realtor, scouting temporary homes and new training/career adventures — him at his new base, me with the county WIC program at Camp Lejeune — we struggle to find time for much else.

Relaxation is a noun we hope to work into our vocabulary very soon.

In the meantime, I admit it’s an immense relief to once again have a job. However, the terrific news makes for even more frenzy. And after a year of unemployment, a year of being home the entire day to prepare all meals and desserts, re-acclimatization hasn’t come easily.

To the rescue, a bounty of summer zucchini and a handful of basic ingredients I always have on hand.

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quandary solved | broiled chicken with lemon, garlic and caper gremolata

As summer takes hold of the Western hemisphere, we begin to think twice about turning on the oven and filling our homes with more hot air. Instead the masses take to the outdoors, firing up grills in yards across America.

There are times, however, you might find yourself in a position where grilling isn’t an option. You don’t have all the necessary tools, you’re in an area that restricts grills, or maybe you’re all alone but can’t stop dreaming about of grilled food.

I’m holding down the fort here while he makes his way back up from Texas with the trailer, and was struck yesterday with a longing for bricked chicken Would all the hassle be worth it for just one person? Buy charcoal, find a brick to wrap in foil, pounce on the picnic area grill before the hordes of hungry vacationers, sit there by myself as it cooks. It seemed silly.

Maybe you already thought of an answer to my dilemma, but for me the lower-maintenance alternative was a last minute revelation — the broiler. (A true aha! moment.)

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regaining a sense of time, sanity | Memorial Day

It’s a bit surreal sitting in our temporary condo, close enough to the Atlantic to see and hear the waves crashing onto the white sands of North Carolina’s coast.

The initial go-ahead to relocate from Texas was a long time coming. The trip itself a bona fide comedy of errors. The first week here mostly eight and nine-hour days spent driving all over kingdom come with the realtor, ducking in homes, walking lots and staring at a computer screen. Finally now, a respite.

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