Apple Spice Cake with an Adventure in Apple Flour

So I have not blogged anything in a really long time. I have a surface pro tablet and broke my keyboard and have not been blogging since. But since breaking my keyboard I have become more fluent with my on screen keyboard typing..its very awkward and odd but I am trying to get used to it. I am trying to stay ergonomic with it, and not finger type, but its still really slow and not effective.

But I am going to blog for the sake of blogging anyways. Just to be fresh, just to let you know what my favorite holiday recipe is so far. Because its so versatile and yummy. I have so far tried it with a few variables and yesterday even gluten free, and it still worked out fine.

The original recipe is a food network sponsored ‘giada’ recipe, here is the link for it.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/spiced-apple-walnut-cake-with-cream-cheese-icing-recipe.html

I was sitting at home bored one day, and turned the food network on and it was Giada’s holiday special for thanksgiving; I had to watch it for the cake she showed in the previews, looked and sounded divine.

Apple spice walnut cake, I mean just the first 2 adjectives got me. I love spicing my apples and I always seem to have a ungodly amount of them so, I knew upon hearing its title, that I had to see it made and see how easy it was to execute.

I had to wait a minute for the cake part of the show, but finally she was making the cake. She was chopping some apples from the transition from commercial and had a good bowl full of them, when she added the wet ingredients one by one. Maple syrup, eggs, oil, wait I have all these things, like all the time too. It was getting me excited. She put the ‘wet’ bowl aside and made a ‘dry’ bowl of flour, baking soda, baking powder and a nice splash of my favorite spices; cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. The pure simpleness of this recipe and the fact that it did not use butter, got me hooked.

Then she grabbed the wet bowl and ‘Gradually’ added the dry mix into it. If there is two things you really learn the definition of while baking its “gradually” and “patience.” If you add your dry too fast you can get lumps. I have learned the term gradually whilst baking many things; meringue, you cannot add the sugar too fast or you can deflate the peaks of the egg whites.

Anyways seeing her create the cake so easily, in only 2 bowls with just a wooden spoon to mix, well that made me try making it later that day.

I made that cake so fast and so easy, even subbing a few things; like not having a bundt pan for one, but for 2, I only had generic maple not organic. I mean maple flavored corn syrup, so instead of the called for 1 ½ cups I used less than a cup of maple syrup, just for the flavor. I also did not have walnuts, so my recipe was without them. Also I almost forgot, I subbed some applesauce for oil, I hate using a lot of oil.

The first time that I made the cake I used all fuji apples. Everyone loved the cake so much that I was more then impressed. I prematurely cut into one cake and iced each slice with swirls and then iced the other one with one large swirl.

Here is a picture of the first attempt. It made two rounds which I iced with buttercream icing homemade.

my creations
my creations
glamour shot by my husband
glamour shot by my husband

Upon trying this loverly creation of mines, I realized that apples were not the only fruit that melded well with this spice mix, so the next attempt at this recipe for cake I used zuchinni and raisins instead of apples and walnuts. That one, was an even better hit I believe and I had way more taste testers who all loved it a lot.

Here is the best picture of the zuchinni version of this cake.

zuchinni version
zuchinni version

Also yesterday, I made the most inventive version of this cake recipe that I have tried thus far, and the picture will not do it justice, so I must indulge. I made this cake recipe gluten free. I had some oatmeal on hand from the food bank and some dehydrated granny smith apples.

Don’t ask me how but my first and foremost thought getting dehydrated apples is making them into apple flour. I know I am a little crazy. But I have been researching flavoring baked goods with fruit powder and finally I had the opportunity to make some. I have been looking for some cheap freeze dried fruit to do this with food stamps, but running into this bag of dried apple chips at the food bank was the next best thing.

So I did what any good mom would do and saved 4 snack bags of apple chips for the boy…then I pulsed the rest. I made about a cup of very fine and sour tasting pure granny smith apple flour, I was very pleased with myself. Then I figured I would stay gluten free and pulse some oats for some oat flour as a base and bake with the apple flour as a flavor and a binder. I added the usual apple cake ingredients but used the gluten free apple and oat flour and even chopped up a whole bunch of mini golden delicious apples from the food bank as well. Actually I added too much apple this time, and I cut the oil by using ½ a cup of applesauce. The cake still comes out very moist.

Here is a picture of that attempt. Very moist, very interesting medley of flavors, you can taste the spice blend, you can taste the granny smith, you can taste a hint of maple, and certainly you get a mouthful of apple chunks.

apple flour cake
apple flour cake

Conclusion is I love this apple cake recipe and I will be making fruit powder aka dried fruit flour again asap!!

8/7/15 Food Bank Bounty

Yesterday I went to the food bank. I got lots of pantry items and a whole lot of produce. I go to the Fort Bragg food bank, because I am a low income mother and my son is always hungry as is my husband and our vegan dog. I go to the food bank once a week and it saves my little family from starving when we run out of food stamps. Yesterday was no exception, we do not get our food stamps until Monday and going to the food bank yesterday, Friday, is saving our whole weekend.

I did manage to take a few pics while I was there to show you the food bank.

Here are some pictures of the food bank and the line for food, I mostly show the pantry item section and there is another large selection of produce at the end that you cannot really see in the pictures. That is where I stock up the most, in the produce. I did however get a few neat and yummy items for pantry food.

inside of food bank pantry side
inside of food bank pantry side
stacks of canned goods inside the food bank
stacks of canned goods inside the food bank

Here are some of the great things I received from them; quiona crackers, sourdough bread and rolls, organic berry crunch cereal, pancake mix, lemon mousse, golden raisins, regular raisins, yougert, pudding, milk, a dozen eggs, even some local made cookies.

Here is a picture of the organic cereal, we are all excited to try and have. It tastes like organic captain crunch berry flavor and everyone loves it. I will update with a picture when it uploads.

The big score yesterday has got to be in the produce. I got so much I am so happy. Here are some of the great things I scored; yellow wax beans, purple green beans, fresh bag of basil, fresh bag of cilantro, fresh bag of spinach, potatoes, rainbow carrots, fresh ears of corn, fresh beets, fresh onions with greens, fresh celery greens, fresh kale greens, a lotus root, fresh salad mix, fresh picked still dirty fennel root and greens, ¼ of a Napa cabbage, fresh grown zucchini, fresh grown squash, and some oranges.

I am in fresh foodie heaven. I must start playing music and cleaning up the kitchen so I have a great clean space to work with it all. I am planning on making some more pesto with the basil maybe and also making a potato Au gratin with more veggies for dinner tonight. Last night we had baked potatoes with leftover rib meat and some cheese and sour cream, and the white corn from the food bank.

Here are some pictures of last nights dinner. I had overloaded baked potato with my rib meat on top and the boys had their rib meat on the side.

boy's plate
boy’s plate
my loaded potato
my loaded potato

7/27/15 Kitchen Essentials

Yesterday I did not cook much. I ended up making leftovers and fried pork chops for dinner that were very ordinary and average and I did not even have time to snap a picture of them. Since I made a commitment to blog each day for 90 days, and I did not cook much, I have been trying to figure out what to post about since yesterday. I tried to think of other recipes to share for the day, but I think that actually deviates from the point of having a blog a day challenge. My blog a day challenge was to prove to myself that I always had something to blog about each day, and of course now I have come across a day where I have to be very creative with what I choose to write about, because I did not cook much. I could skip a day, but that would also defeat the point of having and doing a blog a day challenge.

After much thinking and a few Facebook news feed inspirations I have decided to write about my kitchen inventory of food and where I am at on the 27th of the month. It may be the end of the month, but technically we have 14 more days till we get our food stamps again, so I call it the end of the second week of food. We will have our 3rd week which gets hard in the beginning of the month, then our really hard week that leads up to the 10th. Usually we cave a bit and spend our hard earned money on food by that week, and can’t bare to just not have the essentials.

I read an article yesterday on my news feed, about what essentials you worry about always having in the house, and it inspired me to make a inventory-kitchen essentials post for yesterday.

Some of our basic essentials that I worry about every month is the following:

  • Fresh Bread and or Bread Flour: I have just recently figured out how to make our own loafs of bread by scratch with some awesome bread flour. I have been trying to budget more than 5 pounds of it into the month, but this month we only had a 5 pound bag and I just ran out of it a few days ago. Don’t you know those gluten exo-toxins are addictive. I did however recently make sure with my sons doctor, to see if gluten is OK, and she said its fine.
  • Eggs: I buy a 60 count of eggs each month, a double flat, and my price is climbing at our local Safeway. If we had a house, or friends that had chickens or I could afford 6$ or more a dozen for organic at the farmers market I would certainly do it. But I do get on occasion food bank eggs that are donated locally from our local farmers, in fact right now I am going through a local multicolored dozen from the food bank. I have been debating for months on buying 120 eggs instead of 60, but I never seem to save enough food stamps or room in the fridge for 4 flats instead of 2.
  • Dairy: I do not buy a whole lot of milk, but I do buy it on occasion for my husband’s cereal bowls. I tend to purchase a ½ gallon at the beginning of the month, and unless we have an abundance of cereal I do not buy much more after that. My ex-landlord lives by a Hopper Dairy facility and also drops off milk products that they cannot deliver, and they put out for people to take for free. Yesterday I just got a drop off of half and half, for coffee, and I few weeks ago she delivered some milk, butter and homemade butter that she makes from the heavy cream that she gets for free. At the beginning of this month, we had 3 pounds of regular salted butter, and 5 pounds of homemade sweet cream butter in the fridge. Now I am down to a pound and a half of salted and 2 pounds of homemade. We also get a whole lot of dairy free milk from the food bank, last time I went I got oat milk, rice drink and even some more almond milk. I really like having dairy free stuff to cook with in the house, so I can save the milk for my husband.
  • Pantry Carbs and Pantry Protein: Another thing that I have less anxiety when I have more of it in the house is pantry essentials, mainly carbs and Protein when I need it. Essentially our family rotates carbs all the time between jasmine rice, potatoes any way, angel hair pasta, and pizza dough. I make my pizza dough from scratch now, but the rest of these carbs I need to have stocked in the pantry to feel better. I get the rice on food stamps, pasta on food stamps and potatoes from the food bank. I also like to have a supply of pantry proteins, like canned and dry beans, and lentils. I rely on these when I run out of fresh proteins from the fridge or freezer. Most of the time, I do not have to use these proteins except for foodie emergencies, like running out of my bulk freezer meat.
  • Meat: My family needs meat. I not sure if I were all alone, if I still would have meat every night like I do with my family, but I spoil them. I stock my freezer up with fresh butchered meat from our local store here called “Purity”. I buy about 75-100$ worth of bulk meat on food stamps every month. Sometimes we run out before we get our food stamps, but then I rely on my pantry proteins from the last section.
  • Fresh and Frozen Veggies and Fruit: My 5 year old son loves snacking on fresh fruit. I do not ever buy any, I get it fresh from the food bank each week. I am extremely lucky to get enough fruit and veggies fresh each week that I do not have to spend food stamps on them at all. They can get really expensive when they are not in season. Getting produce from the food bank, actually keeps us with the local seasonal fruit and its completely free. I get so much that listing the abundance would take up too many words, again I am blessed. I also try and stock up through my monthly Schwans frozen food delivery on frozen veggies and fruit. We just ran out of the veggie medley that I buy each month and we still have frozen strawberries and cherries from my last delivery.
  • COFFEE: I do not get the best sleep ever, I am trying to find a holistic remedy to treat my insomnia but I have not found one yet. All I know is no matter what kind of night I had before having my 4 pound bulk supply of “Double French Roast”, gets me through each and every morning of the month.

Having these basic essentials gets me through each month, of course I buy a few specialty items on food stamps, like raw sugar for coffee and waffle mix for our waffle maker. But the essentials of my ‘Kitchen mommy anxiety’ lies with the bulk items above. I will try and find the article I based this off of and I will share it if I can find it. * could not find it* Most of the above items are on it, I just expanded it to fit my needs in my kitchen. Again I will remind ya’ll that I survive on only 350$ of food stamps per month, and manage to shop and budget all in the same day that I receive them to eliminate monthly shopping. I do not plan meals every night, that would be a nightmare.

I may not plan meals for every night but I do plan for the month. I get meat to fit the month of the year, like seasonal things. In the winter you can find me buying more stew meats and making soups and such. In the summer like now I bought more larger cuts of meat to make, like more short rib stacks to BBQ. I essentially plan meat for the month, and just as easy as 1,2,3; I pair a carb and a veggie with the meat that I choose for the day. Sometimes I even ask the boys for help, mostly on the first week of food will I ask them what they want first.

This month we have already gone through all my Schwans supply of meat, just from making them out of convenience. And we already made one of the short ribs BBQ in the oven. We still have an alright supply of meat right now, but I wish I would have bought more chicken from Schwans. I changed up my cut this month, and it ended up being less portion size so we went through it faster. Its so easy to defrost and make their frozen breasts or fillets into anything, from baked chicken, enchiladas, and even chicken pot pie. So I am disappointed to be stuck with pork and beef for the rest of the month. We do have a variety of pork and beef, but I like to have all three meats in the freezer.

So there ya go, another food stamp post, and food bank fabulous essay. Thanks for reading and I hope this may help you budget your kitchen essentials better.

7/22/15 Food Bank haul

7/22/15

Food bank day

Today I went to the food bank. It was a beautiful day which actually means the worst for me when I go walking out, I have fibromalgia and weird conditions that cause me to have hot flashes on hot days, so today was no exception. I decided to not be over dressed and only go to the food bank in a -shirt and jeans, to try and avoid a hot flash. Trying to prevent it never works, and its always the days that I try and make things easier that thing end up being the hardest.

I brought ample bags for stuff at the food bank and boy did I fill them all. I had a freezer bag full of canned goods and a gallon of juice with 2 ½ gallons of dairy free milk in one bag. A bag with a new to me purse in one with some new to me clothes and new to me books for the whole family. I cannot resist some books, and today I found some for everyone, even my husband.

I had a bag of produce and a bag of bread items. I was thoroughly weighed down. I walked the 7 blocks home with a bag lady syndrome so bad, that I was praying that some one nice would offer me a ride home. It wasn’t but 7 blocks but with 60 lbs or more of food on bad shoulders, it gets to be a whole lot to deal with. I took 2 short breaks on the two benches that I have conveniently on the way home. One next to the train tracks and the other next to city hall. I enjoy looking around by the tracks and seeing the path that the train takes and meditating on it for a bit, while I catch my breath and open a seltzer water from the food bank. I set my bags down and again hope and wish for a ride. Most days, it never happens. Sometimes some one will see me getting too much to carry while I am loading my bags at the food bank, or other times I will run into the only people I know in this county and they will help me out.

Today no such help came. I know I saw a few drivers, alone, in their cars looking at the young lady with bags in a funny way, but no offers to go home. One time I had a police officer in his squad car stop and ask me how far I was walking, and when I told him just a few more blocks, he drove off. Living here is crazy sometimes, I do not know hardly anyone. And I barely ever am riding in a car here. I am always walking, or riding the bus. I would take the bus home from the food bank but the stop is 3 blocks from the house, so its really not as convenient as just walking home. I think I shall invest in a cart soon to hold all the food. I am so darn blessed to get so much donated and free from the local food bank.

Today I got so much food, and fresh produce I was so darn happy. I got purple green beans and fresh basil. I got some carrots and potatoes. I got some fresh salad and some lemon cucumbers. I got some fresh strawberries about 3 cartons worth. I got some artichokes, apples, pears and oranges. I got some yogurt and oat milk and rice milk, and even some cranberry juice. I got so much bread and even some cantaloupe. I am happy to have so much for this week to choose from. I got home to scars on my shoulders from carrying all the food.

To celebrate having the strawberries and artichoke I processed them right away, and even made the purple beans tonight. We had strawberry cupcakes and strawberry frosting with them, and I steamed the artichokes for their hearts in a jar with some olive oil. And we made the purple beans with dinner.

Tonight we had the rest of the ribs with some food bank rice and the purple beans. I am so happy to have the food bank. Here is a picture of dinner tonight.

dinner last night
dinner last night

After you cook the purple beans they turn green. Here also is a picture of the beans before I cooked them.

purple green beans
purple green beans

We also went to the farmers market tonight, I saved the last 15$ of my food stamps so we could purchase some local fish, and just so happened we went tonight and their was no fish to buy. The market stall fish person was not there. So we bought some fort bragg bakery chocolate fudge cookies instead and a small sourdough “torpedo” loaf from them. We all love fresh bread, and were talking about just buying fish and bread their, so at least we got some bread. We are going to save the rest of the food stamps for next weeks market, maybe then we can find some fresh fish. Or crab. I now love crab.

7/17/15 Calzone meltdown and Food Bank bounty

Yesterday I went to the food bank. I also tried to make Calzones for dinner. Dinner wasn’t that good but the bounty from the food bank is calling to me. I got so much awesome free food and even some stuff I have never had the pleasure of trying before.

I got some WeGo brand banana flour; actual flour from dehydrated green banana’s. I even got a arrowhead mills organic bag of pastry flour, whole wheat. Now my flour selection at home is huge, not only do I have basic white flour, I also have coconut flour, banana flour, bread flour and now whole wheat, I am really set for baking now.

garlic strands
garlic strands

I also got a whole bunch of produce from the food bank, I got some dried stalks of garlic cloves a whole big bunch of them, they look so rustic, I hung them up in the kitchen. I got some large zucchini and some Armenian cucumber that I thought was more zucchini. I got a large spaghetti squash, a nice and big one. I got some fresh kale, some Roma tomatoes, some carrots both fresh and from the food bank supply. I got some apples and some pantry stuff. I got a bag of already made local pizza dough, and a whole bunch of potatoes, which I really needed.

I asked my husband what kind of “yeast bread” he wanted tonight, as I was itching to make some yeast dough. After some thought he declared he wanted me to try making calzones.

I was a little intimated because I wasn’t feeling well, and kinda just wanted to make something that I had experience with. But the only way to gain experience is by trying, so I went for it. I made my pizza dough, and set the bag of already made dough from the food bank aside.

I wasn’t sure how this experience would work out, but I asked my husband if he wanted calzones from my dough, or the food bank dough, and or bread sticks with the food bank dough. He said he wanted to try calzones with both doughs, to see which one works better.

The biggest thing I was excited to make for this meal was the pizza sauce. I prayed for finding fresh tomatoes to make some at the the food bank and my wish was granted. I put 3-4 large Roma tomatoes into the blender with a whole 4-5 cloves of my new garlic into the blender. It was a way watery mess, I knew that was only the first step.

I had already defrosted some of my frozen mushrooms for the meal so I sauteed them with quarter of a white onion diced and a handful of chard diced. I sauteed until they were thoroughly heated and toasty, and then spooned them hot into the blender with the tomatoes and pureed for about a min.

I poured the contents of the blender back into my sauce pan and tasted it, seasoned it and added a tablespoon or two of canned tomato sauce and then steamed all the water out and reduced it into a sauce. The results were amazing. A yummy reduced pizza sauce with little tiny bits of mushroom, onion and chard in every bite. I was able to save a jar of it after using some on the calzones and I cannot wait to open that jar again.

I tried to make a giant calzone with my dough, and my dough was too sticky. I rolled it out to a pretty good size filled with a layer of sauce, then Italian meatballs from Schwans that I already baked thoroughly and cut in half and then a layer of cheese, I actually successfully rolled it over and tucked it over and made a large moon shape calzone, but when I went to take it off the wax paper it stuck, and gave me a hell of a time trying to get to the cookie sheet to bake. I got it halfway onto the cookie sheet, holy, quite a holy mess, like someone shot meatballs through it…mess and half of the wax paper was still hanging off of it.

I just about had a mental calzone breakdown. I had to walk away from my monstrosity and actually take a break. My husband said while I was freaking out, that he had extracted all the wax paper on it and it was on the cookie sheet. He asked me through my crying, if I could pinch the holes up.

“Once the sauce is on, and the dough is filled and all the handmade dough is used, no you can’t pinch the holes up. In fact the best thing that you can do, is through it into a casserole dish and say its a pizza bread casserole, cause all the filling is coming out.”

And that’s just what I did. I turned that cookie sheet of a mess of meatballs and dough upside down unto a glass pyrex dish and turned the oven on 350, and stuck it in and tried to forget about my very first handmade calzone disaster.. for some reason I think its going to stick with me forever.. get it stick with me.

Anyways, I had more luck with the food bank pizza dough, although I still made some mistakes.

I stretched it out and cut it in half, and filled one with the calzone fillings. I actually had a semi ok calzone to put into the oven, then I did the next one and foolishly forgot cheese. Well at least I had a semi- ok calzone to put into the oven and its dairy free counterpart. Lol

Results are the correct food bank dough one with cheese was good. All the doughs rose like crazy so they were more like sandwiches then pizza doughs. I don’t understand why the food bank dough rose so much, I think because I didn’t stretch it out too thin, like I normally do.

Here is the only picture that survived the calzone night of hell. I am not sure if I will try that again soon. I hope your cooking for yesterday was better then mine. I am going to try and have a much better cooking weekend.

calzone
calzone

6/26/15 Food Bank Day!

June 26th, 2015

I went to the food bank today. I got lots of local produce, fresh washed and diverse. I got a whole bunch of broccoli rabe, red bell pepper, white corn on the cob, cucumber, apples, onions, fresh beets with greens, leeks and fresh carrots. I got radishes yesterday and found some zucchini in the back of the health food store this morning. I was pretty excited to get so much produce.

I processed the broccoli rabe first and steamed it in the rice cooker, I saved it in a freezer bag and put it into the freezer for future use. Next I separated the beets, and washed them with the carrots and radishes. I took an awesome picture of them here.

beets carrots and radish
beets carrots and radish

I am thinking about making a yummy carrot-beet cake with them. I will probably make a steamed radish salad with the red radish.

I also cut all the corn off the cob, my husband loves it, but it still getting dental work done, so he cant eat it on the cob. I diced all the zucchini, and one of the red bell peppers. I mixed it all together in a casserole pan and topped with some foil and baked until all was hot and steamed. It turned out really yummy, for a side to dinner.

I also made a homemade version of sloppy joes, this time with ground beef and some diced bacon. I made this last week and my husband was really happy with it. I used Schwan’s meatballs for it, this time without meatballs, we shall see if he likes it, he’s not home yet. I seasoned it with paprika and salt and pepper and a little dash of marjoram. Reducing some tomato paste and ketchup with it, it turned out ok at least for me and the boy.

sloppy joes and corn mix
sloppy joes and corn mix

But since I also had some leftover carnitas that no one wants to eat but me, I heated them up in the oven. I made a carnitas bowl with an avocado and some of my corn casserole, and salsa and sour cream , for myself and it was really yummy.

carnitas bowl
carnitas bowl

I also made peach pie out of the gluten free pie crust I made yesterday and some drained canned peaches. I cannot wait to cut into that, maybe make some homemade whipped cream.

peach pie
peach pie

This morning I made scrambled eggs in the cast iron with some of the half and half. It was really yummy also. I mixed it up with the cream in a cup before cooking it, it was an Alton brown trick I saw on the egg files.

So that’s another day in the house of Boho mom. I hope you enjoy my blog a day challenge as much as I am starting to.