Thursday, September 11, 2014

Flo's Cakes - Sour Cream Pumpkin Coffee Cake


Just yesterday I was making Flo's Lemon Raspberry Coffee Cake. This was the third time I made this recipe since I keep sharing it with others or taking it to a fellowship meal so there is barely any left for us! I was also cooking the first pumpkin of the season so had fall food on my mind. I started thinking about coffee cake infused with pumpkin and spice and wondering if Flo had a pumpkin coffee cake. 

Imagine my delight to check my email today and find this recipe from Flo. Mind reader! I can't wait to try it. I'm skipping out of my blogging vacation (I will be back to blogging! Promise. When I put away my pressure canner...)  so that you can try it too.

Thanks Flo, for delighting our taste buds again.

Sour Cream Pumpkin Coffee Cake

Cake:
½ cup butter
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup sour cream

Streusel:
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup chopped nuts

Filling:
1 ¾ cup pumpkin (solid pack)
1 slightly beaten egg
cup sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 325˚. Grease a 9x13 pan. Make streusel; set aside. Cream butter, sugar, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice. Add eggs. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder and baking soda; add to butter mixture alternately with sour cream. In another bowl, combine pumpkin, egg, sugar and pie spice. Spoon half of batter into pan and spread to edges of pan. Sprinkle half of streusel over batter. Spread pumpkin mixture over streusel. Carefully spread remaining batter over pumpkin mixture and sprinkle remaining streusel over remaining batter over pumpkin mixture and sprinkle remaining streusel over top. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. 


Florence lives in the northwoods of Michigan with her husband and three preschoolers. Her hobbies are writing and baking coffee cakes. A few  months ago she published a book titled My First Deer Hunt. This is a children’s story about the time her husband took their oldest son (then four-years-old) to the woods for his first hunting trip.  Email Flo at foxden @emypeople.net.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Meadow Tea Punch

 

I love cool summer drinks - though typically at our house we stick with just plain water.

When I was young, one of our neighbors served Meadow Tea Punch at every neighborhood gathering. No community picnic was complete without her punch.

Last summer I went back to my parent's community to attend their community summer picnic - and there is was - meadow tea punch. It is still THE summertime beverage in Welsh Run. Some things are too good to change.

Recently I had a craving for meadow tea punch and with a phone call found how simple this is to make.



There is a more detailed recipe but basically Meadow Tea Punch is a mix of equal parts of meadow tea, lemonade, and orange juice. If you want a small batch, mix a quart of each. If you are serving a crowd, mix a couple gallon of each. It couldn't be simpler.

For the lemonade you may use fresh squeezed, frozen concentrate, or the dry powder mix.

Similarly the orange juice can be frozen concentrate (diluted with water, of course) or whatever orange juice you have on hand.

But I don't know any shortcut to get meadow tea then to carry a dishpan and collect a bowl full of mint.



In our area, many farmsteads have a patch of mint growing along a shed somewhere. I was pleased when we moved here to find a patch already established by the garden shed. Mint is very invasive. Do NOT plant mint in your garden unless you want to fight it forever. The best place to plant mint is somewhere you can mow around it. Along the back of a shed is perfect.

I don't have a recipe for meadow tea. I fill my big pot with water (about a gallon and a half), bring it to boil, throw in a dishpan full of spearmint (maybe some peppermint too), remove from heat, and allow to steep for half an hour. Remove mint and strain tea. (Use a cheese cloth or an old sheet.) Sweeten with sugar or stevia as desired. Cool. Add water if it is too concentrated.

Meadow Tea is great just as like that but adding orange juice and lemonade definitely makes it special.

For me it is a taste of nostalgia. It is the taste of orange juice with an after-taste of tea. My husband says that it is super refreshing on a hot day.

If you have a patch of mint taking over your herb garden, try it.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Kitten Love

A post for our local friends...





We are loving on these kittens - but Daddy says that five kittens are too many.

Very tame. Child-friendly. Ready to leave their mother soon.



Would you like to take one home?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Voices in August



It is August.

And I'm my own worse enemy.

The time of year that the garden goes crazy. I could spend all my waking hours picking, shelling, peeling, slicing, dicing, freezing, and canning. It is preservation mania. It is craziness.

Do I think that I live in a country where the only food I will have to eat in February is what I grew and preserved with my own hands? I tried to be realistic this year and plant a smaller garden and make fewer goals. I wanted to enjoy this summer with a baby.

But it must be something about August air. The fresh colors of tomatoes, peppers, peaches, and corn make the mind whirl with possibilities. Suddenly I'm looking up new recipes for relish, chutney, jam, and salsa.

I don't need to make my own pizza sauce. But I want to. I know how. I enjoy it. We love it. I know what is in it. I don't want to buy it. I want to make it myself. And it isn't hard. Just time consuming.

And time is what August lacks.

And the almost funny thing is all the ladies who write to me who wish they could do these things. They wish they had mothers who taught them how to garden and can. Since they don't know how- they feel deprived. Maybe they should be glad for what they don't know.

I am grateful that my mother taught me to garden and preserve food. And to love it. But...

I was grocery shopping yesterday and listened to myself as I walked down the aisle. "I don't need bagels. I can make my own. I don't need tortillas. I can make my own. I should try making my own peanut butter. I have a recipe for homemade mayonnaise that I should try making sometime. I have tomatoes so I should make my own ketchup." And on and on.

It is ridiculous.


Ridiculous that I think these thoughts. Ridiculous that I (sometimes) listen.

No wonder I don't like shopping. It is not just finding the best deal and corralling children. It is silencing the voice that would like to attempt to turn me into Wonder Woman. Or threaten guilt.

It is August.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Zucchini Pickles



I'm still looking for ways to use our abundant zucchini harvest. Someone suggested pickles.

Our family does not eat a lot of pickles. Only one of my children will touch a pickle so I don't usually plant cucumbers. But I do enjoy pickle relish on hamburgers. I thought I'd give zucchini pickles a try.



After looking up several recipes online, I tried one (with some variations). They were so simple to make and my one pickle-loving child kept diving back into the jar for another taste. I think this recipe will go into the keeper file.



Want to try some?

And if you don't have zucchinis...you know where to come.


Zucchini Pickles
Makes 8 pints


4 lb zucchini
2 onions
4 heaping tablespoons salt
4 cups ice cubes
3 cups apple cider vinegar
3 cups white vinegar
4 cups sugar (or a sweetener substitute such as stevia)
2 tsp whole mustard seed
2 tsp whole peppercorns
1/2 tsp ground tumeric

Slice zucchini 1/8 inch thick. (You may use a knife but a mandolin makes quick work. My mother-in-law gave me this mandolin recently that I'm having fun with.) Slice onions thinly. Mix zucchini and onion in large bowl. Toss with salt and ice cubes. Refrigerate for 3 hours.

Drain zucchini and onion. Rinse with cold water and drain again. Divide zucchini and onion into eight pint jars.

In pan, bring all other ingredients to boil. Pour the liquid into the jars over the zucchini and onion. Allow 1/2 inch head space. Place lids and rings onto jars and process in hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Then grill some burgers and layer in the pickle!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

August Garden

It is amazing what six weeks can do in a garden. In July, our garden was barely beginning. Now we are well into the harvest.



I feel so rich when I look at these photos. No, our garden is far from perfect. There are weeds and insects and blight. But we have been so blessed this year with lovely rains and pleasant summer weather. It has been such a joy to work in the garden when everything is so lush and green. Even the flowers seem to have more vibrant colors this year. I feel so blessed.

Check out the photos here to see our garden six weeks ago and compare them to our mid-August garden.


In our lower garden the strawberry patch was succumbing to weeds and blight. So we tilled it all under and planted some late corn in its place. Beside the corn is some new brocolli and cabbage plants (amongst the weeds), green beans, and some huge zucchini plants.

 

In the other garden, broccoli still hides under cover - and amazingly is still producing side shoots. I have never had spring broccoli last until August! I'm guessing the rain and cooler summer is keeping it productive. I pulled all the garlic, onions, and spring crops in this area and plan to plant some more fall veggies soon.

 

To the left is the carrots. I haven't pulled any yet but the tops look lovely despite a ground hog who has enjoyed an occasional snack.  We don't seem to be having quite as many critter problems this year. Could it be that they have enough vegetation in the pasture because of the wet weather to avoid the garden? The peppers are doing well but the eggplant is being devoured by flea beetles. The beetles are bothering none of the other plants. Any suggestions? And my tomatoes are slowly succumbing to blight. No surprise with all this damp weather. Hopefully the tomatoes will still ripen.

 

Ed was right about me crowding the garden. Remind me never to plant pumpkins in our garden. It is just not big enough for the sprawling plant. Every day I stamp down any tendrils that are trying to climb up the tomato cages. It is choking out the watermelon and wandering over the potatoes which have died down and are ready to dig. Hope the monster gives a nice amount of pumpkin to pay for its bother. This is the brown-neck pumpkin that I love to use in pies. Are there any pumpkins that have better manners?

 

This photo is taken from the far end of the garden. The strawberry patch has been mowed down and mulched but still needs some attention for all the weeds. The sweet corn has never looked better. I should have taken this photo with some of the children so you could see its height. And each stalk has two nice ears. A critter, probably a raccoon, helped himself to some of it the other night. I hope he doesn't return for second helpings.



The red raspberries have never looked better.This row is two years old and I'm hoping for buckets full. So far there is only a berry or two but it is loaded with blossoms and immature berries.



How does your garden grow?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Cheesy Zucchini Bites

Anyone want zucchini? We are eating zucchini daily but I cannot keep up. I pick at least a half a dozen every single day.

Today I cleaned out the fridge and gave a dishpan full of zukes to the children to make boats. I hate to waste food but unless a disaster strikes, I'll have another dishpan full by the end of the week. We have had abundant rain and no bug problems at all this year.

Some of our favorite ways to enjoy zucchini squash is Calico Squash and Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread. Remember the ugly pumpkin cookies last fall? My sister said she substituted the pumpkin for zucchini. I tried it and found a new favorite.



But the latest favorite zucchini recipe is these cheesy zucchini bites. So easy to make. And the first pan of these were eaten in minutes.

Give them a try - and if you need zucchini - you know where to come.

 

Cheesy Zucchini Bites

1/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups shredded zucchini
2 eggs, slightly beaten

In bowl  mix onion, cheese, bread crumbs, and seasonings. Squeeze as much liquid from zucchini as possible. Toss in bowl with onion/cheese mixture. Toss eggs with remaining ingredients. Spoon onto baking sheet, pressing into flattened balls. Bake at 400 degrees for about 12-15 minutes or until slightly browned. Serve immediately.

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