Centre County Plums!

“There’s something to be said for lots of summer rain for a good plum crop” said the message from Way Fruit Farm recently.  They have 4 types of plums harvested and are now selling at their store and the Boalsburg and Friday State College Farmers Markets.

Today I made a Red Plum Cake that tastes like summer:  tart, juicy plums in a sweet, chewy cake.  Just right for breakfast, dessert or anytime!  At home, at the beach, in the mountains on vacation–it’s so easy to make!

plum cake

Also, REMEMBER to make your plum sauce this summer so that you will have it to make our traditional plum bread for the holiday season!

Red Plum Cake

(adapted from Smitten Kitchen/Elegant but Easy/The Essential New York Times Cookbook—this is a popular recipe!!)

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

large pinch of salt

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter (that’s one stick/8 Tablespoons)

2 eggs

12 small purple plums, washed, halved and pitted

2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 Tablespoon sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine the flour and baking powder in a small bowl.  Set aside.

In a larger bowl, cream butter with the sugar on medium speed, then add the eggs one at a time.

Add the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until just mixed.

Spoon the batter into an ungreased 9 inch spring-form or cake pan and smooth the top.  Arrange the plums, cut side down (skin side up) on top of the batter.  Sprinkle the top with the lemon juice and as much of the cinnamon-sugar mixture as you like.

Bake for 40 – 50 minutes, until the top is brown and a toothpick comes out clean.   Cool on a rack.  This cake is best if it has time to cool and let the juices of the plums sink into the cake, so leave it out on the counter until breakfast the day after you make it for maximum plumness———if you can wait that long!

 

 

 

 

 

Apricots in Central PA

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“The spring was very cooperative” I was told by people at Way Fruit Farm’s booth at the Boalsburg Farmer Market last week.  “When the blossoms open in the spring, we often have a freeze that kills many, so our apricots are very limited–but this year was a good year.”

I don’t think that I have ever bought apricots in Central PA before.  That’s why I wanted to make the most of it and I bought 3 quarts!  I really wanted to make apricot jam, but first, I HAD to try a new recipe I saw, and realized that it would be much better with fresh apricots added!

It was a very good idea.  Run and get those apricots, whether at a farm stand or grocery store.

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Chocolate Chip Granola Bars with Fresh Apricots

(adapted from smittenkitchen.com)

1 and 1/4 cups rolled oats

1/4 cup rolled oats (just put oats in a food processor or blender and crush) or 1/4 cup oat flour

3/4 cup dried unsweetened coconut

1/3 cup uncooked millet or quinoa, wheat germ or just more oats

1/ 2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 apricots, pit removed, chopped roughly

1 cup chocolate chips

1/4 cup almond butter

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup honey

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line an 8 by 8 inch pan with parchment paper, for easy lifting of the bars (let the extra hang over the sides of the pan).

In a large bowl, combine all the oats, coconut, millet (or whatever you are using), salt, cinnamon, apricots and chocolate chips.

Whisk together the almond butter, oil and honey.  Pour over the dry ingredients.  Mix to combine.

Press the mixture into the prepared pan, spreading flat and into the corners and pressing down to flatten.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the tops are golden and the edges are light brown.  Let them cool completely.  Lift with parchment paper ends out of the pan.   They will cut easier if they are cold (you can speed this up if you put them in the fridge for awhile).  Use a sharp serrated knife to cut into 16- 2 by 2 inch squares.

 

 

 

 

Cooking with Children

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Summertime, and the Learning is Fun in the Kitchen!

I have been blogging very little lately as I have been very busy!!  I am teaching children to cook this summer. It’s been a learning experience for me too.

Each week for the past 6 weeks, groups of young, excited students have been eager to start cooking. Some have experience from home, some just love to watch cooking shows on television and want to cook themselves.

We only have 90 minutes every day for the camp so we have to prep the food, cook, eat and clean up in that short time. I planned themes for each day, to focus on two easily prepared from scratch foods that they would find interesting and tasty.

“Young Chefs” (1 – 3 grade children) have made delicious foods such as quesadillas and watermelon agua fresca, homemade granola bars and banana rice pudding, spaghetti and meatballs.

The older children (grades 4-6) have had a more integrated theme to direct the recipes: The Cooking like a Celebrity class have recipes loosely taken from the ideas of cooking shows: “Chopped (and Shredded)” featured chopping lots of fruits and veggies for salads and making salad dressings for them; “BBQ Addiction” have the children preping and cooking food on a grill pan on the stove as well as making pizza on the grill (did you know that grilled watermelon is delicious?).

Cooking Roadtrip has exposed the children to foods around the United States: Chinatown Lo Mein; NYC no-bake cheesecake; the All-American apple pie! The children did such a great job on the mini apple pies, I told them that their skills would make any adult proud! Look at that lattice-work!!

For many, cooking has become a lost art. I have enjoyed the enthusiasm that all of these children have for cooking! I feel they are aware of the benefits of cooking home cooked foods as well as the fun of it.

AND–they LOVE to wash dishes!!

Mini Apple Pies –that any kid or adult can make

(adapted from food.com)

Crust:

2 cups flour

2/3 cup chilled butter

1 teaspoon salt

4 Tablespoons water

Filling:

5  medium apples

3/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

6 Tablespoons flour

2 Tablespoons chilled butter

 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a food processor, blend the flour, salt and butter until it look like small peas.

While the food processor is running, slowly add the water through the top opening and blend until the dough is sticking to the side of the bowl.  You might need to add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon more water to get the dough to that consistency.

Take the dough out of the bowl and combine it by hand until well blended.  Form into a ball.

Cut that ball in half, then in quarters, then form 12 equal size balls of dough.

Roll each ball out, a bit bigger than 4 inches, then cut the dough with a 4 inch cookie cutter (or glass or anything that measure 4 inches in diameter).

Using a 12 cup muffin time, press each circle of dough into the muffin tin until the dough is all the way up the sides.  If your finger pokes a hole in the dough, just mend it with your fingers.

For the filling, mix together the sugar, cinnamon and flour.  Set aside.

Peel and core the apples, cut them into small pieces.  Pour the sugar mixture over the apples and mix to combine.

Fill each muffin cup with apples.

Cut up the butter into 12 small pieces, place one piece on each pie.

Using the extra dough, cut strips for a lattice top (shown) or other designs to top your pie.

Bake for 16 – 18 minutes, until crust is lightly brown and the apples are bubbling.

After cooling for about 10 minutes, loosen the pies with a knife and they will easily come out of the muffin tin.

Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

**Note–experiment with fresh berries, peaches, etc. for seasonal pies!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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