Grain free “Greens” pie and transitions

Quotations hug the word greens- just so you know it is not a green pie with an accidental s. It’s a nut crust stuffed with beet greens, green curly kale, lacinato kale, red russian kale, a fair amount of garlic, a little egg and a sprinkle of peppery goat cheese. Yes we do have a lot of kale in the garden.

greens pie @wendyellenthomas.com 2014-6

A recent three day mini yoga workshop left me high on breath and thoughts. Trying to be present while practicing produces quite a large container full of ideas to be processed either drifting off to sleep at night or on an early waking morning with time to contemplate.Which means don’t reach for your phone. Let the mind percolate.

Taught by Christine at our local studio, Orcas Mandala, we had a two hour session each morning for three days. A morning of breaking down sun salutations and solar poses, followed by a morning of moon salutation and lunar poses, ending on the third day with yin and restorative poses (almost equal in yumminess to a morning of scones and tea in bed -really-). The point of it all, was understanding the little transitions say, within the sun salutation. And the transition say, of summer to fall. How to find balance between poses and to find balance on these windy days that pull the leaves right off their limbs. It’s a time of being a little unsettled and redirecting routines. Even this post is a little scattered – but I’m going to be ok with that:)

The farm reveals blocks of time that pass. With the garden, I think in terms of cycles. Here we were in May…

early spring garden-13

The new kids in the pasture…

early spring garden-2

And now inching towards late Sept we are days short of pulling up the jungle of summer veggies and covering beds.

Sept garden-3 Sept garden-5

This is a very busy time with harvest, processing and putting things to rest for some down time (like the holidays- HA). But at least the garden gets a rest. And it’s the back to school routine. I myself have to work on staying grounded. Weekend days my kitchen looks like this.

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And this is not very grounding.

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I’m canning, drying, making kraut and kombucha; juicing, smoothies, coffee or tea for the morning- a dish to take to the neighbor’s potluck, and what shall I do with the beets? More pickled? Do I have enough spices? Should I try to harvest the cherry tomatoes this afternoon? The partying fruit flies in the pear basket shout priority. How about let’s tack on making 100 mini cookies for a friend (smiles) on and on…

greens pie @wendyellenthomas.com 2014-4

I must pat myself on the back for what I accomplish in the day vs what remains on the list. Last night after canning and drying pears and making this greens pie for the neighbor’s potluck and feeling a bit overwhelmed by the mess, I had to march myself upstairs and lie on the mat. A little back and forth over the foam roller, up and down my spine,  a couple of stretches and a few deep breaths. My mind settled in a matter of ten minutes. Remember, this advice comes from someone (me) who is no yogi guru but will attest to the benefits of my rekindled relationship with yoga. Go get em grasshopper. And then back down to the kitchen, minus the tension, to clean up before dinner. On to the pie…

This nut crust consisted of 2 cups of ground nut meal- which came from making almond milk. I finally tired of tossing organic nut meal to the chickens. The last few batches I dried in the dehydrator at about 125° for a couple hours, then whizzed it in the vitamix. And no, that pear has nothing to do with the pie.

greens pie @wendyellenthomas.com 2014-5

So 2 cups almond meal, 1/2 cup of fresh ground walnuts, 1/3 cup coconut oil, a pinch of salt, 1 egg and about 1/4 cup of water. I mixed it by hand and pressed it into the pie dish. And don’t go expecting some light, flaky quiche crust because you will be sorely disappointed. This is a healthy, nutty and for sure tasty bottom to your greens.

greens pie @wendyellenthomas.com 2014

The wads of greens came from the garden. Beet greens and chopped stems, 3 varieties of kale, 4 cloves of garlic, an overgrown green onion and a little salt. I’d call it a very big bowl full. These guys really cook down. I tossed in 4 eggs to help bind it a little. And I topped the pie with a little fresh goat cheese.

There’s no proper recipe here- that would probably delay this post another couple weeks. It’s here to perk your interest and give you something to work from.

greens pie @wendyellenthomas.com 2014-7

Here’s to feet on the ground and peaceful moments in the mind as the wind blows.

Happy Fall.

And now for your four legged smile moment. Otis taking on cardboard…

Otis takes on cardboard-3Otis takes on cardboard-2Otis takes on cardboardOtis takes on cardboard-4Otis takes on cardboard-5

And I can’t resist adding this on- the goats new play thing. Building them solid blocks this fall is also on the list instead of makeshift furniture with no purpose.

Sept garden Sept garden-2

Officially the end.

sticky orange and almond cakes {gf}

These little orange and almond sticky cakes and me go back.

sticky orange almond cake GF @wendyellenthomas.comWay back. Back to my time in Paris working in and out of a kitchen that I think two people could maybe stand in… if one of those people was a child at least. I’m going to have to dig out some pics of that adorable little kitchen that served me and my two kids well for two years- and quite a few others for whom I catered.

sticky orange almond cake GF @wendyellenthomas.comIn real time it was 2004. Only ten years ago. But in terms of life chapters it could have been decades for some. I have the capacity to pick up and go and completely change my life and its circumstances. This can be a blessing and a curse and all in between. And I’m sure my kids wouldn’t disagree. I will say our time in France had a profound impact on broadening our cultural awareness, language skills, and we were flung far from our comfort zones. Spending nine months in a cooking school in an “anglo” class at Ferrandi and three months working in a restaurant gave me a foundation to begin building my cooking skills and the passion to bring cooking and merchandising together. I spent hours walking the streets of Paris, taking notes and creating Chez Chloe first in my head and on paper, then opened the original retail store and cafe in 2006. The cafe, though popular, lasted only two seasons. Not cut out for the stress of food service, I opted to keep going with only the retail. I suspect you might here more of this story as time goes on.

sticky orange almond cake GF @wendyellenthomas.comBut for now – let’s get on with these sticky cakes!

  • 2 whole oranges
  • 6 eggs beaten
  • 250g (8oz) sugar
  • 250g (8oz) almond powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder

This is such a simple recipe. It was gluten free before there was ‘gluten free’. I love this orange cake because it is always a no fail recipe, it taste good and travels well. The original recipe comes from a DK book, Canapés, published in 1999 in the UK. I think I picked up this version from the old Librarie Gourmande when it was small and still located in the 6th arrondissement. Published in 2007,  Hors d’Ouervres, the US version is just as good and I always highly recommend it.

In the past, I have topped them with a little greek yogurt or a yogurt/ whipped cream blend. And they are darling with a garnish of pomegranate seeds as is suggested in the book. But for this round, simple sifted powdered sugar was my desire.

{print sticky orange and almond cakes}

You start with boiling 2 oranges till completely cooked- then set them aside to cool. This is the only reason you need to think ahead as they take about 90 minutes to cook and then another 20 minutes to cool.

boiled oranges @wendyellenthomas.comThen split them up and take out the pips

orangesPop them in the cuisinart. Or maybe a blender but honestly I’ve never tried it.

Almond Orange Cake GF-3And chew those puppies up.

Almond Orange Cake GF-4Throw in 6 eggs, 8oz of sugar, 8oz of almond meal and 1 tsp baking soda. That’s it.

Almond Orange Cake GF-5I line my 9×13 glass baking dish with parchment paper

Almond Orange Cake GF-6

and here is how the thin poured batter looks

Almond Orange Cake GF-7Bake at 350 for about 40-45 minutes. It should be firm to the touch. Pull it out and as soon as you can, gently remove the cake from the baking dish and cool on a rack (with parchment). When cooled you can pull off the paper and cut.I use to follow the book’s suggestion of a jelly roll pan so they would be a little thinner. And I’d use a 1″ round biscuit cutter to turn them into bite size pieces with piped topping and a little pretty somethin somethin.

For this batch – I cut the edges off (and ate them), I like to think for a clean edge but maybe it’s just so I could get my paws on some without actually eating the ‘good’ parts.

sticky orange almond cake GF @wendyellenthomas.com

After the edges are off, I cut it into little individual square cakes.

I brought these to the concert for the band members of Ollie’s Seattle Tentet, who had their debut concert on Orcas Island a couple weeks ago:)

Almond Orange Cake GF-9

sticky orange almond cake GF @wendyellenthomas.com

So there you have it friends. Try it you’ll like it. Makes for a nice brunch menu item as well.

Have a great weekend!

sticky orange almond cake GF @wendyellenthomas.com

cold brewed coffee with homemade vanilla almond milk

As much as we are enjoying our latest indulgence of cold brewed coffee and vanilla almond milk now… I can only imagine making this by the gallons in summer.Coffee cold pressed-25It started with ummmm, let’s see, maybe an article from one of my magazines and/or just a few blog post readings such as Food 52 and The Kitchn. These are for iced coffee. I’m saving the ice for summer and just having it cold.

Cold pressed coffee

A little fact about me- I am a magazine JUNKIE and have subscriptions to: Hobby Farm, Bee Culture, Culture Magazine (cheese), Yoga Journal (I’ve recently converted), Women’s Health, Oprah, MS Living, Elle Decor, House Beautiful, Country Living, Bon Appetit,and I’m down to the last of my German Food and Travel. The decor ones are short lived as they are usually the add for $5 special. I have stacks of saved French,UK,Australian and German issues. They are all interesting and I love to peruse them now and again.

Print recipe: {cold brewed coffee and vanilla almond milk}

Cold brewed coffee is quite a simple process of soaking medium ground coffee beans overnight for 12-15 hours

Coffee cold pressed-2You’ll find different ratios for coffee to water but my ratio has been 1 cup ground coffee for about 4 cups of water. I think you just need to play with it a little. I switch it up between our local french roasted coffee from Local Goods (higher oil content) or Herkimer drip blend (a drier bean) from Seattle. And from here- some will used it as a concentrate with the original four cups giving 6-8 cups of coffee. I find I like my ratio virtually straight up. I’ll add up to a 1/2 cup of the vanilla almond milk to 8-12oz cold coffee.Coffee cold pressed-3

AND with the idea of cold pressed coffee being less acidic and thus better for a little elbow joint pain I’ve been trying to keep at bay, we’ve been drinking this pretty regularly now. Check out this informative NYTimes article on cold brewing coffee as well as tea where they will also mention less caffeine and a smoother flavor.

Coffee cold pressed-4

I use a plain old strainer and the butter muslin I bought from New England Cheese Supply for making chèvre. Or you can find something similar on Amazon.

Coffee cold pressed-6Strain brewed coffee
Coffee cold pressed-5And keep in a sealed container in the fridge. I’m making enough for a couple days about every 2-3 days. I’ve read you can keep cold brewed coffee up to a week but in my opinion the flavor starts turning a little bitter.Coffee cold pressed-8The vanilla almond milk also starts the night before with one cup organic almonds soaking in cold, preferably filtered water for 12 hours. I have also read that a minimum of 2-4 hours can suffice.

Vanilla almond milk homemadeStrain out the soaking water Vanilla almond milk homemade-3Place soaked almonds in a blender with 2-3 cups of water. Now I know that is an annoyingly large variable with the water. I’ve seen anywhere from 2-3.5 cups of water used. The first batch I did with 2 cups water and it was lovely and rich. The second batch with 3 cups water, and it was a little thin at first but came together ok the second day… I’ve settled on 2.5 cups for 1 cup almonds.

I used a whole vanilla bean the first batch then moved to 1 teaspoon of Beanilla’s 2 fold madagascar extract.

Applesauce cake-9I add 2 T coconut sugar for sweetener. This you can also adjust to taste. Add a wee pinch of salt.

Vanilla almond milk homemade-6

Puree this for 2-3 minutes till almonds are completely pulverized. Then pull out the butter muslin once more to strain the nut matter from the liquid.
Vanilla almond milk homemade-8Next job is re-cycling the almond refuse. We could pretend it’s ice cream.

Vanilla almond milk homemade-11

The first batch I also used 2 cups of almonds and it was too much to use in just a couple days. Ollie still uses milk on his Meusli… – print recipe here– yes- the link is spelled wrong. I NEVER can remember the u comes first.. even after three years in Germany!

Vanilla almond milk homemade-10

Pouring and shooting

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One of my favorite kitchen gadgets is the aerolatte frother– for a quick foam and sometimes even to whip one or two tablespoons of cream.

cold pressed coffee wendyellenthomas.comIt’s really not a lot of work once you get in the rythym every 2-3 days or 4 if you want to stretch it out. I’ve tried heating it up but I just don’t think it’s as yummy. I’ll still have a hot latte in town now and again but use this recipe (for now at least) for the daily consumption. Again, I flavor about 8-12oz of cold brewed coffee with 1/2 cup vanilla almond milk, 1 tsp maple syrup and a dash more vanilla.

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Here’s to a smooth, non dairy, low acid morning…or afternoon:)

EAT PANCAKES! Or Crepes…

Pancakes aka Crepes-10

Did you remember today is Pancake Day? Or Shrove Tuesday- the day after Rosen Montag and the day before  lent (for you Catholics out there- I’m a non-practicing one myself). I did not remember until I got to my email this morning and saw THIS great post from Things We Make. Of course she posted it yesterday which would give you a little more time to prepare. But what we really need for pancakes or crepes is usually sitting under our noses. So for those of you who just needed a little reminder… maybe it’s not too late. This was my first event this morning since Chloe made it to the bus on time. THANK YOU teen guardian angles.

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Macrina’s and my GF morning glory

Morning Glory Muffins Gluten free-10

The morning began at 5.30am when first I realized I had slept seven hours straight. Is my puppy still breathing? Was my first thought. He slept all by his independent self (not on the couch because we’d never allow that). We have gone like few others without a crate. Usually, he stretches his newly elongated body across the bottom of our bed. But this lovely morning, I awoke like sleeping beauty after a kiss from her prince… except maybe with a few more well earned laugh lines and sun damage. And I was happy to feel so rested because…

Morning Glory Muffins Gluten free

This morning I was anxious to check my mail as we were awaiting an update on O’s visa. The last document, a police certificate from the Netherlands has indeed arrived and the final interview will be scheduled shortly. I refrain from immediately responding with, “can you please define shortly”. I can only imagine the angst produced before the convenience of email. Early on I was politely told that email inquiries might actually delay the process. Note to self. From then on I tried to cleverly disguise my inquiries with valid questions. We have experienced only pleasant helpful responses.

I just want to say right now we are putting the music on for the happy dance. And I want to say thanks especially to TH at UCSIS for encouraging me last November to hand deliver in Frankfurt the first large packet of life defining materials in order to hasten this process.  O and I have lived differently these first forty something years. His consistency, drive and stability have combined well with my, how can I say this in a positive way, my spontaneity, tenacity, and creativity. Phew. That’s hard on both parts to sum up in three adjectives so it is certainly not the full description of who we each are. BUT…. when you fill out these papers with where you have lived, your divorces (or lack thereof), your employment etc… one might see a trend.

Morning Glory Muffins Gluten free-8

Here we are though, a dozen affidavits later from friends and family who claimed our love is true, moments away from a certificate pasted in a passport that will bring us greencard glory. I would also like to thank MS in Frankfurt for his updates and help this past month. And now I’m wondering if after this is all said and done and O’s two feet are firmly planted on US soil, would I actually send them a link to my blog and show them my thanks! If I could I would send them some Morning Glory muffins.

Morning Glory Muffins Gluten free-6

So to celebrate, instead of the miso soup with shitakes, cabbage and glass noodles I was going to post. I’m making outrageous early morning muffins. Just in Seattle this past weekend, we enjoyed a savory brunch at Macrina Bakery and Cafe and took home a couple treats including the Morning Glory muffin. I’ve owned a signed copy of Leslie Mackie’s Macrina Bakery & Cafe Cookbook since about when she wrote it in 2003. I’ll be damned if my copy has this recipe in it but several sites online sourced it from this book. Maybe it’s the updated version with a new chapter. I have retrieved the recipe from the once Seattle local Cake Spy . I have adapted it using GF flours and a few other things.

Such as currants, brown sugar, flax seeds and olive oil…

Morning Glory Muffins Gluten free-2

Actually, it’s quite adapted and I almost wonder if Ms. Mackie would be rather pissed that I even referred to her gorgeous muffins.  And don’t get me started on GF. My fashion trending sucks, but I’m often being dragged through the street clinging white knuckled to the back of the food bandwagon.  So these are made with Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Flour,  Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal, and Bob’s Red Mill Quinoa Flour  and their GF oats. Sometimes I think it is just me liking a challenge. No details on these flours yet because I can’t be bothered with to much info in one post and I’m pushing the envelope here already!

Morning Glory Muffins Gluten free-3

{Print GF Morning Glory Muffin Recipe}

And now I suppose you are waiting to hear how they actually taste. Well they don’t taste like Macrina’s but if you really did need to be GF – you’d like them. Maybe a lot. I like them especially when you actually wait the requested twenty minutes for them to cool and like a chicken the moisture soaks into the meat of it…And a little spread of butter works very well.  But I don’t require GF and I will be buying myself another pineapple tomorrow. I want another taste of the “real” thing.

And very last thing to say… this isn’t the first time these muffins have been posted and won’t be the last (well maybe this version). I’m all about the food but let’s face it, this virtual community thing is powerful and we are inspired to share. It is our human need as social beings. I want to share because I feel heard. Thank you.

Morning Glory Muffins Gluten free-11

Hope you all have a glorious day and week xx

UPDATE: Teen daughter gives thumbs up!

Tschüß,

One year ago:  Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes

PS – Otis totally slept on the couch. And sometimes he sleeps on the little bed when I work:

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Gluten free gingery starry starry nights & a girl crush

almond cookies gluten freeI found these almond based chocolate cookies in a book I enjoyed very much this summer. Gesine Bullock -Prado’s My Life from Scratch. Formerly known as Confessions of a Closet Master Baker, I wondered if the mass public just couldn’t take this woman’s fabulous sense of humor. It went from the first title in 2009 to the second in 2010. Maybe the title just needed to be shorter. Hmmmm… It’s her story of going from the stress of LA limelight to rural Vermont. It will be most appreciated by those who love to bake.

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