Musings on food and life from Beth Bader, the co-author of The Cleaner Plate Club. Ingredients: original recipes, food policy insights, parenting fun, and a dash of humor.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Some people dream about dancing sugar plums (what IS a sugar plum?), me, I get all hot and bothered when my rareseeds.com catalog arrives. Ah, seed porn.
Even if I don't grow it, I do buy it. And I buy the unusual stuff. See, by the miracle of my new catalog, I now know that the cool purple pea pods I got last summer are Moonshadow Hyacinth Beans. Sounds cool, huh? I also know that I should not buy the older beans or dry ones as they could be poisonous. Good to know.
In the interest of transparency, I need to mention that I kill every houseplant I have. Well, HAD. My small entry into container vegetable gardening managed to survive and bring forth a bit of produce. I am hardly a budding farmer, or even a bud farmer.
Somehow, though, by my own stupidity, I am now on a planning committee for a community garden and possibly a planning committee for an urban farm tour. Just hope they don't let me near their houseplants. Green houses don't count as houseplants, do they?
Tune in for posts on the pursuit of a community garden and how tos, plus my other 2009 activities. I declared 2009 the "Year of Involvement." I plan on taking the local food thing outside my own kitchen and into the community through a few projects.
I hope 2009 includes some extra days outside the standard 365. I am going to need them.
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Houseplants are very fiddly. I kill them all the time. It's not a good measure of your skills. The indoor environment is totally wrong for most plants - either too wet, or too dry, or not enough sun. Plus, the enclosed nature of houses encourages pests and disease. So don't take that as an indication of your gardening skills, my dear!!
Sugar plum is a little round sweet made of sugar,I think.
I am good with house plants, until the wintertime, when the heating goes on, it's pot luck! or dry pot luck!
Oh, I totally blitzed past the sugar plum reference. Coincidentally, one of the women on Mothertalkers posted a recipe for sugar plums, and Jess and I made a batch yesterday:
2 cups whole almonds
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp grated orange zest
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup finely chopped dried apricots
1 cup finely chopped pitted dates
1 cup confectioners' sugar
Preheat oven to 400. Arrange almonds on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast in oven for ten minutes. Set aside to cool and then finely chop. Meanwhile, combine honey, orange zest, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg in a medium mixing bowl. Add almonds, apricots, and dates and mix well. Pinch off rounded teaspoon sized pieces of the mixture and roll into balls. Roll balls in sugar and refrigerate in single layers between sheets of wax paper in airtight containers for up to one month.
Now, this being me, I did tweak the recipe slightly. First, I substituted walnuts for almonds, as Jess has a slight allergy to almonds. Tastes yummy. Second, instead of chopping finely (goodbye fingertips!), I tossed everything into the food processor and whizzed smooth. Less muss, less fuss, and a great texture. Finally, I plopped the spoonfuls of mix into plastic bags and Jess and I rolled the balls through the plastic. I mean, hello - dried fruit? Honey? Sticky factor through the roof! Worked a treat.
The sugar plums do taste really nice - sort of a rich sweet, rather than a sweet, sweet. I plan on serving them with the coffee/tea after Christmas dinner.
Ah, that would have been the perfect rescue for my unfortunate bakalava cookie experiment! Yes, many recipes do not make it to here (sigh). The filling was fantastic, but the fillo too delicate to prevent overcooking.
I will try this with my orange zest, honey and black walnut filling!
Brilliant post! Sounds like you and I are on the same page vis a vis growing things ... and I too have committed to starting a kitchen garden for 09. I just ordered my seeds yesterday - broad beans, butternut squash, lettuce, spinach and tomatoes. Let's see how little I can manage to actually get as far as harvest ; ).
Thought you might be genuinely interested in the latest blog on our side:
Love to get a comment back from you there!
it's tasty, I must say. I like your idea of recycling baklava cookie filling!
Clara - I love my kitchen garden, and you've made a good choice in seeds. Good luck!
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