Come along with me as I journal about my latest cooking and gardening adventures. Discover what grows in my zone five garden, and see what new recipes I try from my cookbook collection each week.

As I share recipes and information from my kitchen, I invite readers to comment and share ideas along with me in this blog. I am looking to increase followers to my blog, so that I may learn more about cooking and gardening.

Since moving to Midland, Michigan, I have been reading and researching many cooking journals, cookbooks and collected recipes from the past thirty years. Organizing pictures of gardens I enjoy has also been a joy for me, as I continue to learn about garden design and horticulture.

angel food cakes

angel food cakes
this kitchen is seasoned with love

Sunday, June 6, 2010

lemon flavored marshmallows

a few weeks ago, i posted a photo on facebook of my homemade marshmallows. i received several comments about them, so i decided to make them again and blog about the recipe.

they are suprisingly easy to make and are nothing like store bought marshmallows. they are spongy and can be flavored with any extract from your baking cabinet. yesterday, i chose lemon extract for these marshmallows.

i use martha's marshmallow recipe from her first indexed cookbook, dated 1995. i decrease the recipe in half, since 1/2 of a sheet pan is plenty of marshmallows for us. they must be stored in a covered air-tight container, and should be eaten within a few days. that isn't difficult to do at all.

lightly spray a 1/2 sheet pan with pam spray. i also line the sheet pan with waxed paper and cover the bottom with powdered sugar. soften 2 envelopes of unflavored gelatin with about 3/8 cup of water in an electric mixer. it is important to not use too much water. just enough to make the gelatin soft.

then, place 1 1/2 cups of sugar, 1/2 and then 1/8 cup of light corn syrup, and 3/8 cup of water, along with 1/8 tsp of salt into a heavy saucepan. bring these ingredients just up to a boil.

then, pour this mixture into the standing mixer with the gelatin. then, add 1 tsp of flavoring (vanilla, lemon, orange, rum, coconut, etc.) beat the hot syrup slowing until stiff, at least 8-10 minutes. i use a medium fast speed on the mixer and just wait. suddenly, the mixture becomes marshmallow fluff.

quickly, remove the fluff from the bowl and place into the sheet pan. dust the top with more confectioner's sugar. cover the top with the waxed paper overlaps. allow to rest over night, at least 24 hours before cutting into squares. as i cut the marshmallows, i use the extra powdered sugar to coat the sides of the marshmallows.

the beal gardens in east lansing

yesterday, we drove to east lansing to tour the beal gardens on the campus of Michigan State University. their horticultural students maintain the gardens, labeling the plants and categories. it was a beautiful day for a garden walk, and a wedding party was just leaving the gardens when we arrived.

there are rows of plants that are each labeled by category. some of the groupings include: injurious, medicinal, indian food plants, fixed oil, flavoring, dye, honey, fiber, useful, or threatened plants. i noted that some of the plants were growing in more than one category.

weeds of north america are also growing in their own section, as are historical plants grown from seeds. the trees surrounding the gardens are beautiful as well, and many are labeled.

this garden walk is a delightful experience for anyone who likes plants and wants to learn more about them. it was quite educational to me, as i saw several plants that i didn't think i could attempt to grow outdoors in zone 5, such as this pineapple plant.

tomato and feta salad

here is a quick idea for a side salad. instead of using sliced tomatoes and the typical mozzarella cheese together, try small grape tomatoes and feta crumbles. i often splash flavored citrus olive oil over the combination and add a bit of parsley flakes.

today, i used orange flavored olive oil. it was delicious. it doesn't take much oil to add a hint of orange flavor, and the brightness from the combination is quite refreshing.

maple almond granola

i love granola. it has been my routine to eat either oatmeal, cheerios, or homemade granola every morning for many years now. the benefit of having oats in the diet has been documented by many medical practionners.

my recipe for granola comes from the book, the ski house cookbook, by tina anderson. it makes about five cups that i eat over a two week time period. serving size is 1/2 cup for breakfast.

preheat the oven to 325 degrees. in a large bowl mix together, 3 1/2 cups of old fashioned rolled oats, 3/4 cups nuts (i use almonds), 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, 1/3 cup sunflower seeds, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp salt.

in a saucepan on the stove top, melt 3 tbsp unsalted butter, 1/2 cup maple syrup, and 1 tbsp. brown sugar. when this mixture is melted in a couple of minutes, pour over the bowl of ingredients. mix well to coat the oats and other ingredients.

prepare a sheet pan with cooking spray, and place the mixture from the bowl onto the pan.

spread evenly. bake for 20 minutes until brown. allow to cool, and then mix in any dried fruit. i use raisins or dried cranberries most often.

store in an air tight container. i love this granola and the crunch is often what i need to start my day. any variety of nuts or fruit could be added: pecans, walnuts, dried apricots, dried cherries are other choices i have tried over the years. any combination seems to be just as tasty as the last.

roasted red pepper and portabella mushroom panini

some weeknights need to be centered around a meal that can be made in minutes. either our schedules require a change in dinner time, or we decide that it would be best to complete garden tasks prior to a meal break.

for those nights, i sometimes choose panini sandwiches for the main dish. using a great deli bread is the essence of a good sandwich. ciabatta, crusty italian or even a french loaf is often a great choice. for the portabella mushroom sandwiches, i clean the mushrooms first, and then grill them in the panini maker. this allows the mushroom to thoroughly cook prior to grilling them for the sandwich.

for these sandwiches, i used a sliced ciabatta bread, portabellas, sweet red roasted peppers, and grilled onions. i pre-heated and grilled the peppers and onions in a skillet and then added them to the sandwich. therefore, all ingredients were warm before making the panini.

these sandwiches are delicious, and only a small slice of bread is required as the flavor of the ingredients makes the sandwich. served along side a small salad, this is a wonderful weeknight meal.

i find ideas for panini sandwich combinations in the book panini express by daniel leader.

broccoli salad

everyone has their favorite recipe for a fresh broccoli salad and mine comes from a traverse city michigan cookbook named edible offerings. i have found several recipes in this book that have become favorites over the past three years.

after chopping the heads off of one bunch of brocolli, i mix one small finely chopped red onion, some chopped pre-cooked bacon, sunflower seeds and either raisins or dried cherries together in a mixing bowl. this recipe can be adapted to the number of people that are being served for the meal.

for the dressing, i mix approximately 1/2 cup of low fat mayo with 1/3 cup of sugar and 2 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar. as with any salad dressing, these ingredients can be adapted to taste. add the dressing to the mixture and refrigerate for several hours for the best flavor. i add the dressing slowly to the salad, so as not to make the dressing too heavy for the mixture. i enjoy have a hint of the dressing, and the freshness of the salad take the lead. this is an excellent summer salad with a great taste.

lemon pasta

using susan branch's recipe for lemon pasta, i made this lemon fettucini one day this week. after the pasta boiled, i combined olive oil, zest from several lemons, juice from 3 lemons, chopped green onion, chopped fresh parsley from my garden, with a dash of salt and pepper. tossing the pasta with this mixture in the heated pan helped to incorporate the ingredients.

when plating the dish, i sprinked pine nuts and grated parmasean cheese on top. the pasta tasted fresh and bright with the lemon zest and it certainly felt like a lighter summer dish. next time, i will add grilled shrimp, asparagus spears or even grilled chicken to make a more filling dish. served with a sliced tomato salad, this was a nice addition to my summer recipes.

my favorite popcorn popper

 about one year ago, i decided to try my old fashioned popcorn popper. we have owned this whirley pop for at least twenty years. with my health conscious focus, i decided against any microwave popcorn for snack times. instead, i found this old popcorn popper and have revived it for popping. it is an amazing popper, using only a tablespoon or a bit more of canola oil, and traditional popcorn kernals.

within a couple of minutes on the stove, a whole tin of popcorn is popped. free from unwanted vegetable oils, butter, or other additives, this popcorn tastes fresh and healthy. the popper makes more than two people can snack on for a movie, so there is always leftovers for another day.
recently, i have seen the popper in stores, and i would highly recommend one.

Whirley-Pop Stovetop Popcorn Popper

tea and rain

for several days this week and overnight, it has rained. all my plants are looking very well watered, however; it is way too wet to be out in the garden. i see weeds that need to be pulled, columbine that need to be staked and oregano that needs to be harvested.

so, as i think about what needs to be done, i have found a cozy place and am having a cup of tea. my favorite tea is Stash fusion green and white. it is not only very healthy to be drinking green or white tea daily, but it has a wonderful mild tea flavor. once my tea kettle has heated, i transfer the water to my tea pot. i pour hot water over the tea bag, and in and out the bag comes from the cup. i prefer my tea very mild, so as to have the least amount of caffeine. i reuse my tea bag several times with the tea pot.

these are some of my favorite tea books, with tracy stern's tea party providing not only a primer on tea rituals, but more than twenty ideas for tea parties for friends. menu ideas, party invitations, decor, music and even ideas for party favors are included. it is a wonderful read for a rainy day.