Thursday, October 30, 2014

Simple Sweet Hearty Scones

On our way to climb Mt. St. Helens, Mark and I stopped at the Cedar Creek Grist Mill in Woodland, WA. How did I find out about this marvelous place? From the Puyallup Fair!

Are you confused yet?

Well, let me explain. When I was enjoying looking at all the pretty photographs entered into their photography contest, I noticed there were several of the same exact old looking building. Well, this one:

I looked a little closer and noticed that they were all of the Cedar Creek Grist Mill. Thanks to Google, I found out it was in Washington. Hurray! I will be able to visit it some day! So I added it to my list of places I want to visit, and then forgot about it. 

Until we were driving to Cougar and I saw the sign for the Cedar Creek Grist Mill. Naturally, I yelled, turn here! And off we went. 

The mill was built in 1876, but has been restored and operated by a bunch of volunteers since the late 1980's. We got an awesome tour after walking along the creek, then we got to watch them mill some corn into coarse cornmeal. And of course, I had to bring some home! I also grabbed a bag of flour, at a $6 donation per bag. They had tons of recipes to try, too, so I had to take ALL of them. 

When I got home and recovered from the climb, I decided to make their simple sweet scones, my way of course. The only thing I changed was that I used soy milk instead of regular milk and I increased the amount of liquid to 1 c. from 2/3 c. Otherwise, they were perfect and hearty, especially since I used the flour from the mill. Served with some raspberry jam, they were the perfect late summer breakfast.

Cedar Creek Grist Mill's Simple Sweet Scones
makes 8 scones

1 1/2 c. AP flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick cold butter or vegan butter, cut into small pieces
1 c. soy milk or cow's milk

Preheat oven to 425 F. Mix together flours, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add butter and cut with a pastry blender or two knives until the butter is the size of small peas. Add milk and stir until a soft dough forms. (Use those arm muscles!) Form the dough into a ball, then pour onto a lightly floured board. Knead a few times until dough just holds together.

Shape into a ball, then pat or roll into a roughly 6" circle or square, depending on how you want the shape of your scones to be. Cut into 8 wedges and place on an ungreased baking sheet, leaving at least a quarter inch between them.

Bake for about 12 minutes or until lightly brown on top. Cool on a wire rack, then serve with butter and jam. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

30 Quick Easy Meals

Hello there! I've disappeared for a bit to finish up my newest cookbook, but I'm back and here to tell you all about my newest book. My book is called 30 Quick Easy Meals and it's all about cooking healthy, quick and easy meals for only one or two. 

30 Quick Easy Meals is the go-to cookbook for anyone who is busy but wants to eat delicious, healthy food at home. So many people in today's world live by themselves or with another person, be it a roommate or a significant other, yet recipes are still made for a family of 4. This cookbook changes that with nearly every recipe portioned for 2 people, and filled with great ways to use leftovers. 

Reasons you will love 30 Quick Easy Meals: 
-30 min or less prep time
-Uses common ingredients so you won't have to search at the store 
-Filled with easy comfort food recipes that won't break the bank 
-Many recipes have vegan/vegetarian options 
-Lots of cooking tips to save time and money! 

Written by someone (me!) who has needed easy and quick recipes plenty of times, this book is a great cookbook for any college student, grad student or anyone who is busy and needs to make dinner fast.

30 Quick Easy Meals is available on Amazon in print and for Kindle or iPad. Click here to see a preview and check it out!

Hope you enjoy my recipes!


Friday, October 3, 2014

Why You Should Eat Seasonally

What is seasonal eating? It's simple actually, it's eating produce when it's at its peak. Since the advent of the grocery store and the move from farms to cities, people have eaten seasonally less and less due to the fact that produce can be either grown year round in hot houses or shipped in from faraway lands. Unfortunately, this can mean eating fruits and vegetables that were picked before being ripe and then transported long miles to get to your plate.

So why should you eat seasonally if your favorite fruits and vegetables are available year round? Here's a few reasons why:

1. Saves money. Yes, eating in season saves you money. Who doesn't love that? But how does it save me money, you ask? It's simple economics. Because there will be more fruit or vegetables available during its peak season, the prices will go down and you can get more for your money. Take apples for example. This summer, my favorite apple variety, Honey crisps, were up to nearly $5 a pound! And that wasn't even organic. But as soon as September rolled around, the prices kept dropping, and are continuing to drop even more since it's now apple season. I've seen apples as low as $1 a pound. That's $4 in savings right there! Why are they so expensive in summer, even though I live in the state that is the number 1 state for apples? Because the apples in summer have been stored since being picked last fall and they definitely don't taste as good as one that was just picked from the tree.

2. Saves time. By buying produce in season, you can save yourself time by cooking recipes that require little to no cooking because the flavor is already awesome. See point #3 for more on awesome flavor!

3. Flavor is better. I'm sure you have heard of the bland tomato in winter (or maybe even tasted one!) They are not delicious and most of the time they need to be cooked or be from a can to get any flavor from them. The same goes for any fruit or vegetable. The flavor is going to be better when the produce is at its peak simply because the fruit will be picked closer to optimum ripeness and will give you that amazing flavor you long for.

4. Support local farmers. If you buy in season, you can buy from local farmers at farmers markets because they are only going to be able to have things that grow in season and they won't have them shipped in from across the globe. Plus, farmers markets will save you money too by buying directly from the farmers and cutting out the middlemen. Bonus!

5. Variety. Instead of eating the same oranges, bananas and apples day in a day out all year long, you can try many other fruits and vegetables. In spring and summer, you can enjoy lots of berries, then transition to stone fruits in later summer before finally chowing down on juicy apples and pears in the fall and winter. Variety is definitely the spice of life!

6. More in tune with the seasons. Our bodies are naturally regulated by the seasons. Ever notice how in winter you seem to need more sleep because it's darker out more? Enjoy the different seasons of the year by eating different fruits and vegetables throughout the year and feel yourself being more in tune with nature. Ahhhhh feel more relaxed now?

7. Better nutrients. By buying produce when it's at its peak, you are getting more nutrients for your buck. As soon as its picked, the produce begins to lose its nutritional value and those vitamins and minerals degrade over time. Why not get the ear of corn that was picked early that morning rather than earlier in the week?

8. Better for the environment. Have you ever thought about how much pollution is caused by transporting food halfway across the country? I understand that some places simply do not have the bounty that say, California, has, and some places, like Washington, simply don't have the climate for certain fruits and vegetables, like oranges and lemons. But why not enjoy what your area has to offer? If your state grows amazing cherries, enjoy those amazing cherries. I'm not saying to not ever enjoy an orange, but rather to focus on locally grown produce over stuff grown a long ways away.

Now that's I've convinced you to eat more seasonally, where to start? Here are some great resources to find out what is available at certain times of the year for where you live:

Eat the Seasons
Seasonal Food Guide
State by State Guide

Start by going to farmers markets to see whats available. You can also invest in a CSA box that will do the work for you and provide you with locally grown, farm fresh produce. My favorite is Full Circle Farms.

But what about recipes? That's what Google is for! Here are some search suggestions. Just fill in the blank with either a season, fruit or vegetable. Plenty of deliciousness will appear!

____ Soups
____ Recipes
____ Meals
____ Dishes
____ Desserts
____ Salads

Want some seasonal cookbooks? Here I have made an Amazon list of my favorites. Click here to read more.

If you have any other questions about seasonal eating, please don't hesitate to contact me via my contact page. I'd love to answer them!


Pacific Northwest Seasonality Guide
4 Great Benefits of Seasonal Eating

Benefits of Eating What's in Season

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Cinnamon Spiced Apple Cider

When apples become really cheap at the stores again, I love baking with them, cooking with them, and eating them raw. Apples are definitely my favorite fall fruit. 

I also love spiced apple ciders in fall. They are the perfect chilly night drink, don't you think? My store carries a locally pressed cider that is so sweet and delicious on its own, but I love it when a little spice is added to it. Unfortunately, most syrups in the stores contain HFCS, caramel coloring and/or dairy by-products, so I prefer to make my own. It's so simple, too!

I made mine to be similar to a Cinnamon Dolce syrup, except I used regular sugar instead of the brown sugar that would give it the "dolce" flavoring. If you like that extra silky, molasses-y flavor, use dark brown sugar in place of the regular sugar. It will give the syrup a darker color and it will taste a lot like the store bought version, but healthier!

Cinnamon Spice Syrup
makes about 1 1/2 c. syrup

1 c. water
1 c. cane sugar or dark brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks plus 1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 star anise
1 cardamom pod
2 cloves

In a medium saucepan, combine water and sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for a few minutes, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add spices. Let stand for 10 minutes, then remove star anise, cardamom and cloves. Continue steeping the cinnamon for another 10 minutes, then remove the sticks. The spices can be reused, but will need to steep just a few minutes longer for each extra use. Pour syrup in a bottle or mason jar to store. The syrup will keep for a few days to room temperature, but will keep much longer in the fridge. 

To make a spiced apple cider, combine 1-3 tbsp of syrup per 8 oz of heated cider or apple juice. I like to use my milk frother to really mix it well and to add a little foam on top. Top with whipped cream, if desired. 

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