Monday, February 6, 2012

February's record snow storm

This post is for our families and out of state friends who have been (appreciatively) concerned about this past snowfall.  Colorado has had much bigger snow storms than the one we had on the 2nd of February, it really wasn't a big deal.  The deal is...there hasn't been this much snowfall in FEBRUARY for the past 100 years, and that's what makes the headlines.  February is statistically our 6th snowiest month, with March being our first.  I am so glad that I cleaned up 75% of the garden beds last weekendWith the mid 50 temperatures we were occasionally reaching, I was concerned that the trees would start budding early.  Then the sky dropped about 18" in the Denver Metro area.
Patio pictures are so fun.  It's totally the opposite of what you expect to see.  This is our dining table for 6 months of the year.
The Grill Pit:  a smoker..a gas grill and a bench to linger..all out of commission for the moment.
This Blue Spruce is a beautiful backdrop for the fish pond.
Then you've just got to make the most of what you're dealt.. so relax and kick back.
Actually, here I am on "the beach" at A-Basin a few years ago.  Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Pear, Pecan & Double Ginger Muffins

I am a big fan of muffins, especially when you can incorporate seasonal fruit.  With new research enlightening us everyday to the benefits of whole grain flours,  we now have many more 'good for us' options than the old standby - all purpose flour.  When I discovered two large and very ripe pears in the refrigerator yesterday, I started wondering what tasty tidbit I could produce. 
Nigella's recipe for Pear Ginger Muffins inspired me, but it needed some changes and additions for my liking.  First my book..nuts belong in everything.  I changed the oil and nixed the extra brown sugar sprinkled on top.  Doubled the ginger, by adding crystallized ginger, (we are also hearing more about the health benefits of ginger.) Then there is the flour, I replaced nearly half of the all purpose with quinoa flour.  And lastly, the sour cream.  I have been substituting Yochee for sour cream for the past several years. 

Yochee is yogurt cheese and can be used as a substitute for cream cheese, mayonnaise or sour cream and is lower in fat.  My yochee maker is Donvier by Cuisipro.  I can fit nearly all of a 32 ounce container of plain yogurt into the metal strainer that sits inside this plastic container.  I snap the lid on and leave it in the refrigerator for 24 hours.  As the whey is drained off in the strainer, the remaining curds become a thick cheese-like spread. It reduces down to about 2 cups.  Pour out the liquid and place the spread in tupperware for up to two weeks.

Pear, Pecan & Double Ginger Muffins
1 C all purpose flour
3/4 C quinoa flour
3/4 C granulated sugar
1/2 C light brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1 Tbl ground crystallized ginger 
2/3 C yochee or sour cream
1/2 C canola oil
1 Tbl honey
2 large eggs
2 C peeled and chopped pear - 1/4" dice
1 C toasted  chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 400 and line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper muffin cups.
Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Whisk the yochee, honey, oil and eggs in a small bowl and then fold this in to the dry ingredients.  
Lastly, mix in the pear and pecans, then evenly divide batter among muffin cups.
Bake 20 minutes and remove muffins to a cooling rack.  
 They are best slightly warm.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Fresh Horseradish

Woah, stand back!!  When you dig into a horseradish root you can smell it long before you see it. This weekend I decided to dig up the horseradish that I planted last year.  I read that it can grow out of control, similar to mint, so first a 20 gallon bucket was submerged into the ground, filled with soil, and then the horseradish was planted.
As the shovel hit the roots of the horseradish the aroma rose from the ground.  I purchase fresh horseradish root from the store quite often, that's why I thought it might be worth the effort to grow it. 
Let me tell you, this is much more pungent than anything you can buy in the store, but that's a good thing.  After washing it, I cut off some pieces and replanted four sections with roots.  Of course I made one of my favorites for dinner that night: horseradish crusted tuna (recipe in earlier blog 12/28/2010.)
The next night I made Creamy Horseradish Dressing from the Sunflower Market December 2011 issue.  

In a medium bowl whisk together 1/2 cup whole or lowfat yogurt, 1 teaspoon rice vinegar, and 1-2 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish.
It was great on a simple salad of mixed greens, chick peas, thinly sliced red onion, kalamata olives and pumpkin seeds.  You don't need much of this because it really has a kick.

Happy Ground Hog Day!