Shortcake – dairy and gluten free – just add strawberries…

It’s strawberry season in Maine.

Finn and I have been strawberry picking for the past five years together. We started in 2012 when Finn was two.

It’s now something look forward to every July…and this year was no exception. The past three years we’ve been visiting a farm in Whitefield Maine – Sheepscot General – it’s the only organic u-pick strawberry field in Maine – and they are worth the drive.

We ate pints of fresh strawberries for days, gave a few pints away, froze a few pounds and then I got into making stuff with all those scrumptious strawberries… strawberry sorbet (twice), infused some vodka and tequila (so tasty and dangerous), tried my hand at a GF/DF shortcake for strawberry shortcake (see recipe below), and finally a strawberry/blueberry cobbler.

Sadly though, we are now out of freshly picked strawberries…

But, on the plus side, we’ve eaten our way through almost 14 pounds of amazing strawberries and are already looking forward to next years strawberry season…

One can never eat too many strawberries, right?

So here’s the recipe for dairy free/gluten free shortcake (adapted from the Minimalist Baker). It’s amazing and well worth the time.

Ingredients;

Coconut buttermilk.

Here’s how to make coconut buttermilk;

Mix:

3/4 coconut full-fat coconut milk (stirred/shaken – no clumps)

1 Tbls. lemon juice

Stir to combine.

Set aside.

 

Then gather;

1 cup gluten free flour

1 scant cup almond flour

2 Tbsp non-GMO cornstarch

3 Tbsp. organic can sugar

1/2 tsp. sea salt

2 tsp. baking powder

3 Tbsp coconut oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease baking sheet.

And…then.

Combine GF flour, almond flour, cornstarch, cane sugar, sea salt, baking powder and whisk to combine. Add the coconut oil and use a whisk, fork or pastry cutter to ‘cut’ into the flour, until small bits remain…just like you would with wheat flour…

Add almost the entire batch of coconut buttermilk to the dry mix and stir with spoon to combine…you may need to add a bit more, you may not…you’re trying for a semi-sticky dough…try not to overwork it…

Transfer the dough onto a well floured (gluten free of course) surface – I used a cookie sheet…

Form the batch into a round disk, about 1″ thick – mine was more oblong than disk-like, but it’s more about thickness anyway…

Then flour the opening of a small drinking glass, circular cookie cutter or biscuit maker and push into dough, making small circular disks.

Place on a greased cookie sheet – side by side. Touching. No space between – not squished, just touching…

Then – brush the biscuits with either coconut milk or melted coconut oil. Coconut milk will keep the shortcake more moist, while the oil will make the tops more crispy…we tried both and liked both for their differing characteristics…

If more texture/sweetness is wanted, sprinkle raw cane sugar on top of each before baking.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven – or until the tops are beginning to brown and become crispy. Then turn up the heat to 450 F and bake another 3-6 minutes – CAREFUL – don’t burn them – that would be a bummer…

Now, while that amazing shortcake is baking – wash, hull and slice 1 lb. of (preferably, organic) strawberries.

Top them with a pinch of cane sugar.

O.M.G. – freshly picked strawberries, sliced with a pinch of sugar added…so delicious!

O.K., now let them sit until time to serve…

Once the shortcake has undergone its transformation, remove from oven and let rest about five minutes or so. Then separate each biscuit from the other and let cool…

Best served at room temp…

Now, when the time comes to serve these beauties up – slice each biscuit in half, pile on strawberries and a bit of ‘juice’, then top if off with the top!

So. Good. As is.

No. Cream. Needed.

Seriously.

Enjoy!!

What’s your favorite strawberry recipe? Share here…

Be well.

Eat well.

Enjoy.

 

In the garden…

It blows my mind. How things change…

It was only five months ago that my garden looked like this.

Yes.

Five months ago – February 2017. Snow to the tops of the fence posts – more than thigh high snow…

And while that was going on outside – I had these beauties going on inside…

and these lovelies waiting to pop up…

(garlic).

Though before any of these seedlings could be put into the ground, the snow needed to melt, the earth needed to warm and the ground needed to prepped…

Here was April.

I turned the soil, added peat moss, seaweed (collected locally), wood ash and love… then covered with a landscape fabric to help prevent weed growth, while also warming the soil…

The mosquitos are INSANE here and harvesting is challenging enough once July comes around, let alone weeding – so to minimize being maddened with buzzing while working in the garden, I try to keep my weeding needs to a minimum.

I cover the majority of the garden with breathable fabric and then fill in with hay. Each  allows water and sunshine through, while keeping weeds at bay…

In the pic above you can see black instead of the earth – that’s the fabric covering warming the earth while suppressing weed growth.

I cut openings for each row of veggies/flowers. I simply cut a line for a specified length and then pin down each side with landscape pins and wooden row ‘tags’ on each end. I then cover seeds with hay (to help with heat and moisture retention), and water – then once seedlings/plants begin to grow and become larger, I place hay between each individual plant. Like with the garlic greens seen above, (behind the wheelbarrow full of seedlings waiting to go in)…

Amazing to think that only a few months later the same garden would look like this.

Tomatoes, basil, leeks, red onions, broccoli, cauliflower, summer squash, cucumber, beets, lettuce, green beans, peas, swiss chard, kale, potatoes, brussel sprouts and self seeded cilantro. Phew.

Most started from seed.

Months ago.

In my house.

On window sills during the day…

And at night – moved beside our woodstove…

Or sown directly into the ground as soon as the garden was ready. In the case of garlic (below), it was planted last fall…while others waited until spring or early summer.

 

Either way, much love, planning and work has gone into each plant with the hopes that each will feed us…

Planning and growing are one thing – though there’s also the watering and the harvesting…

the picking, gathering, cutting, pruning, then it’s the washing, cleaning and storing…

A lot goes into growing food – yet it’s all necessary and SO worth it!

My kitchen sink doubles as the wash station and each veggie goes into it’s own separate bag and stored in the fridge – if necessary. Some veggies, like tomatoes (which aren’t ready for a few more weeks/months) are stored best on the counter. Each vegetable has it’s own needs…

Flowers are not be forgotten in a garden either…not only are they beautiful and useful (think cutting flowers), but helpful for pollinators. (:

So plant, plant, plant, plant. And love it – even when it’s 100 degrees outside, with 100% humidity and mosquitos are swarming you! (: It’s worth it.

Hopefully you can try it someday – even if it’s simply one pot of tomatoes or cucumbers on your fire escape.

Everything tastes better with love…

Be well.

Eat well.

Enjoy.

What’s you favorite vegetable?

 

 

 

end of summer bbq

Fall is here and the leaves are changing, but we had one last hurrah before the cooler temps settled in…

Ahhhh, summer barbecuing, bonfires and good friends…a great way to end an absolutely beautiful Maine summer.

grape kabobs

Let the kids help! Grape kabobs are a great first ‘skewering’ job…

Then, let them move onto the veggies.

veggie kabobs

Even though it was a casual BBQ, I decided it was a great time to utilize a few of my ‘free finds’ – fun dishes, glassware and mason jars I used for holding all the silverware. Paper can be easier, but I prefer real plates, real silverware and cloth napkins – plus, it’s less wasteful.

setting-up

I made a few salads (in addition to the kabobs) as well as cupcakes for dessert.

cupcakes

The beets were picked from my garden and roasted, then topped with goat cheese, fresh basil and an olive oil drizzle. White bean provencal salad utilized dry beans (less than canned) which I prepared a few days in advance. Potato salad was assembled on the day of the party, though the dressing, potatoes and green beans (from my garden) were prepared two days in advance. Parties are fun if you prepare as much as possible in advance…and keep it ‘outdoors.’

salads

setting up

We thought the barn would be the perfect spot to eat. The table was set with a linen tablecloth that I picked up at Brimfield a few years ago for only $12.  The white tablecloths (under the floral one), candle stick holders, vase and a few  of the chairs were all found for free from my favorite shopping stop – the dump. The fun wooden folding chairs were picked up for $2 each, the other ‘t-back’ chairs were picked up for $5 each at a local yard sale. I love a bargain!

around the table

I also served a skillet cornbread and a fabulous cocktail – again, utilizing what I had on hand…

cucumber cape codder

Entertaining doesn’t have to cost a lot.

Invite good people. Ask everyone to bring something to share. Provide inexpensive (but lovely) salads, prepare as much as possible without buying a lot of pre-made foods, utilize what you have on hand and don’t forget the flowers. It’s the little things that make a difference…

And if you can, why not end the night with a bonfire under the stars…complete with blankets, pillows and marshmallows…

around the fire

Enjoy.

cucumber in a glass

This is my first post about a cocktail.

Anyone who knows me, knows I enjoy them, so I’m surprised that it’s taken me so long to write about one.

Perhaps it’s because I usually keep things simple;

Martini.

Bloody Mary.

Gin and tonic.

Margarita.

Vodka and homemade lemonade.

You get the picture.

Not much to write about…

Though, a few weeks ago I decided to have a little dinner party/BBQ and thought, why not serve a fun cocktail? One that can be pre-made and utilize what I have…

So I did a little research (with cucumbers in mind) – I had a lot of cucumbers (they are prolific this year!!) and came across this recipe (see below).

cucumber cape codder

I’m not fond of its’ given name…so I’ll just call it – Summer – for now…

It’s cucumber simple syrup, unsweetened cranberry juice, lime juice, vodka and I added a little bubbly with a splash of seltzer..

It’s not difficult and only requires a few hours – of which most time is the ‘steeping’ of the shredded/grated cucumber (in the simple syrup); this requires nothing of you except patience…

First you need to make the simple syrup.

There’s a reason it’s called ‘simple’ – it is.

Mix one cup water with one cup organic sugar (or whatever sugar you have on hand) in a small pot, bring to boil. Reduce heat, simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Now, the original recipe calls for one English cucumber, but I didn’t have an English cucumber…so I improvised.

I know there is a difference between homegrown pickling cucumbers (the type I had on hand) and English cucumbers – but since I didn’t have English cucumbers, I used what I had – makes sense, right? In this case it worked.

I figured the expense of the sugar, my time, and my cucumbers would be less than driving 40 miles to buy an English cucumber…and it worked out just fine.

Granted I’ve never tasted this cocktail with English Cucumbers, but I do know it tasted damn delicious with my homegrown ones…so try a batch of each and let me know what you think.

Back to the recipe;

I used two peeled medium sized homegrown pickling cucumbers, instead of one English cucumber.

Size does matter here. The bigger the cuc, the fewer you will need. Use an average sized English cucumber (in your mind of course if you don’t actually have one) for comparison…

Grate them, don’t worry about the seeds being mixed in.

Measure two cups worth of this cucumber mix and add to simple syrup.

Pour carefully into a wide mouthed jar and let cool.

cucumber in syrup

Let rest, overnight, in the fridge.

top view - cucumber in syrup

Strain and collect simple syrup – discard solids.

strained syrup

You should end up with about two cups cucumber simple syrup.

Mix this (cucumber simple syrup), with the rest of the ingredients below and serve over ice with a cucumber wheel on the lip.

cucumber cape codder

enjoy!

  • 9 ounces vodka, chilled
  • 12 ounces cranberry juice (no sugar added)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from about 4 limes)
  • Ice, for serving
  • Splash of seltzer

What do you think this drink should be named?

Do you prefer English cucumbers?

If you enjoy cocktails, do try this one. It’s refreshing, light and packs a punch. It’s also the epitome of summer…

Enjoy.

in the garden

This summer has not been my summer to be in the garden…at least not as much as I’d like…

But today, time and circumstance allowed and I was able to get out there!

Phew.

1.garden gate

I pulled weeds, cut back tomato plants, and harvested a few goodies…

in the garden

garlic

from the garden

swiss chard

corn

buttercup squash

pepper

peas

cucumber and kale

aug

I was amazed by what was growing – despite the neglect and lack of water.

Thank you plants.

SO much green!

What have you been growing…?

Enjoy.

xo

easy maine crab salad

This must be the most simple Crab Salad Recipe – ever!

crab salad prepared

It will also work for lobster…

I’ve not bought Maine crab meat since last summer and it’s been on my mind a lot lately…so, on a whim, I stopped by a local fish market just a few miles down the road (open only during the summer months – one must take advantage of the few places open this time of year!!) and picked up an 8 oz. package of local crab meat.

Drove straight home and began dicing.

ingredients

A few minutes later I was in heaven.

crab salad on bed of greens

Fresh crab salad on a bed of crisp local greens – my lettuce never did make it…yet, that is…once cooler weather approaches, I will plant again…fingers crossed.

Anyway, if you like crab meat, have the ability to buy it – fresh – then do try this recipe.

Crab Salad

8 oz. Crab meat

One Celery Stalk

Quarter of a Shallot

Mayo.

Juice from one lemon

Salt

Pepper

Love

That’s it.

Find yourself some super fresh crab meat. Not in a tin.

8 ounces is just fine.

Flake into a medium sized bowl.

Finely dice celery stalk and shallot.

Add to crab meat.

Add pinch of corse salt,

and a couple of turns on a pepper grinder…

Add juice from half a lemon.

Then add one small spoonful of mayonnaise and mix.

Taste,

and adjust to liking – perhaps more lemon juice, salt or pepper?

Maybe it’s just perfect…

Serve between two slices of soft bread and fresh lettuce leaves or on a bed of greens with crackers served on the side…or enjoy by the spoonful…

No matter what – just enjoy!

Let me know what you think?

What would you do differently?

Enjoy.

xo

the last two weeks…

These last two weeks have been busy – and that’s a good thing – summertime in Maine is the busy season…

S-u-m-m-e-r-t-i-m-e….and the livin’s e-a-s-y…fish are j-u-m-p-i-n’…and the c-o-t-t-o-n is high…(click on the link and listen while viewing)…

Time for being outdoors…and taking things a little more s-l-o-w-l-y…

Gardening, playing, swimming, enjoying windows being open, going to the beach, being barefoot, balmy breezes, fresh strawberries, kale, peas, corn…boating without jackets (warmth jackets – not life jackets), blue skies, picnics, fans blowing humid air, fresh cut grass, seaweed in the air…lobsters, fresh Maine crab meat, time on the dock, feeling hot, being sun-kissed, sleeping with just a light cotton sheet…enjoying long light filled days with starry warm nights…

summertime…

fresh food. warm nights. open windows.

bliss…

pea tendrils

peas

Peas in the garden

marigolds

kale

garlic scapes curling

garlic scape facing downward

more scape curls

loosely tiedfamily maiden voyage - July 2015in the harbor

lovely boat in harbor

strawberry picking

strawberries

strawberries ready to eat

freezing strawberries

crab salad beginnings

seaweed

the beach

all done

Love it. Summer.

enjoy!

xo