simple squash with canellini, porcini and sage filling

sugarloaf squash

It’s best to jump right in here; if I attempt a “catch-up” or explanation, I’ll never go anywhere! So here I am.

I didn’t even take pictures of the meal. I hadn’t planned to blog about this, I hadn’t had any inkling that I would want to start writing about my meal. I don’t even have measured ingredients to share. But it was an easy meal, and pictures of components can be quite lovely enough in their own right, and, finally, the ingredients are simple enough, and few enough, that measurements shouldn’t be necessary.

Start with a squash. I stocked up on organic winter squash last weekend when they were on sale, and noticed that one of the “Sugarloaf” beauties I’d picked out had a blemish that had escaped my eye (any smaller squash would do). So he got sliced in half, relieved of his seeds, rubbed down with olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt & pepper, and went into the oven.
sage

While he cooked, I brought some water to a boil, and poured it over a handful of dried porcini mushrooms, letting them rehydrate. I thinly sliced a medium sized onion, and sauteed it until golden. A bit of dried sage, from our garden this summer, got chopped up, and I opened a jar of cannolini beans that we’d canned (I used a qt jar, so if you’re using pints, or cans of store beans, you could use two…. or just use one and don’t have as much leftover!). When the squash was finished, I mixed the porcinis, cannolinis and sage into the onions, stirred gently, seasoned with salt & pepper, and heated through.

The final step is very simple and expected: place half of the squash on your plate, and spoon in as much filling as you like. Sit down, and enjoy. :-) Joe’s gone right now, leaving me to eat alone, so this made two meals – it was just as good the second time as the first night! I still have a couple cups filling left, so I think I’ll add some broth and thin it down to a soup to have for lunch tomorrow. Good leftovers are a wonderful thing!
sunset

Posted in beans, dairy-free, entrees, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, vegan, vegetables, vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

sourdough banana bread

It’s proving to be a little difficult to get back into a routine of blogging.  I had the same struggle during the summer last year, and it’s been enough to make me consider not even trying to keep Ragamuffin Diaries going throughout the summer work season.  However, that just seems to drastic, and I’ve concluded that I’d rather post sporadically than not at all!

One of the reasons it’s been difficult is just the lack of internet access.  The one spot I can get online is the office at Kennicott Wilderness Guides, where I work, and which is a 7 mile bike ride (mostly uphill) from where I’m living this year.  Of course, I’m here often enough for work (I start my office shift in 30 minutes, so must finish typing before then!), but often find that I don’t want to stick around any longer than I need to after work’s over.

The other reason is the fact that it’s harder to cook out here.  I did a big grocery shopping trip back at the beginning of May, and that’s all the ingredients I have to work with until another big shopping trip in July (besides a few fresh items brought out by friends!).  So, options are limited.  Also, with the more busy, scattered schedule, I find myself regularly going back to stand-by recipes instead of trying out new ones.

But, the one really exciting thing about this summer, is that, for the first time in my five years of working out here, I’m living in a place that actually has an oven!  If you’ve ever lived 4 1/2 months with only a 2 burner propane stove as your cooking device, you’ll understand how thrilling this is.  So, when I had a day off last week, and looked at three browning bananas on the counter, I decided it was a good day to get the oven going.

This bread was a complete success.  I made it with sourdough just for some of the health benefits of fermenting, but you could just as easily make it without (I’d increase the flour by 2/3 cup and add 2/3 cup of some kinda milk).  Since I only let the sponge sit for about 5 hours, the sour flavor didn’t come through very strongly in the bread, which was perfect for this.

As I looked at a few different banana bread recipes, I was shocked by how much sugar they all called for.  Comeon folks, this is bread, not cake!  Of course, maybe I’m not one to talk, since I did throw chocolate chips in there, but hey, most of these recipes called for at least three times as much as sugar as I used, AND the chocolate chips!  So I cut back the sugar drastically, and used honey instead of a refined option.  Turned out perfect!  If you have a sweeter tooth, you could increase the honey to 1/2 cup, but really, it’s not needed.

Now I better get to work. :-)  Today I’m stayin’ in the office instead of going out on the glacier, which is just fine since the rain is pouring down outside.  Feels like a great day to be inside drinking tea!

Sourdough Banana Bread
makes 2 shorter loaves, or 1 big one

1/3 cup coconut oil (or butter), melted
1 cup sourdough starter
about 1 1/3 cup mashed banana (I used 3)
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 eggs
1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup chocolate chips (I used mini)
1/2 cup coconut, plus some for sprinklin’

Reserving 2 Tbsp of flour, mix together the coconut oil, sourdough starter, banana and flour.  Cover with a damp cloth and let sit in a warm place for 4-8 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Toss the chocolate chips with the reserved flour (I’m not totally sure if it works, but this is supposed to keep them from sinking in the bread…. mine didn’t sink, so I figure I’ll keep doing it!).  Add all the remaining ingredients to the sponge and mix until incorporated.  I decided this was enough batter for two loaves, but if you wanted one taller one, you could just go for it.  Divide batter between two oiled & floured loaf pans, and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool in pans for 10 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Enjoy!!!! :-)

Posted in breads, breakfast & brunch, chocolate, dairy-free, fruit, refined sugar-free, vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

vegan chocolate peanut butter spread

Hello friends!

Mmm, it feels so good to be back writing a new post.  I can’t wait to catch up on all the new recipes everyone’s posted while I’ve been gone!  Has it really been over a month?  It’s gone by quickly.  Summer is finally starting to act convincing up here in Alaska.  Spring was very late this year, with the last snowfall coming on May 15th!  Thankfully there have been a few sunny days since there and in the last week the trees have all leafed out.  Now it’s finally green & gorgeous outside!  Today the sun is shining, and I’ll be guiding a full day glacier hike.  I couldn’t ask for a more beautiful day!

Joe & I have stayed busy since being out in McCarthy/Kennicott.  It took a while to get moved into the little 10×12 cabin we’re living in, plus we had lots of garden work to do, then my sister came out and visited for about 5 days, and then Joe’s parents were out for about a week.  It’s been great, but I didn’t feel ready to start blogging again (plus there wasn’t much internet access!) until now.

I’ve gotta keep this brief, since I do have a glacier hike to get ready for, but this is a recipe I discovered while at my Mom’s last month.  I was canning chickpeas, and had some extras that I’d cooked but didn’t fit in my jars.  Of course, I love chickpeas, and especially when they’re combined with chocolate, and so I did some brainstorming and recipe searching, finally coming across the perfect idea over at BitterSweet’s gorgeous blog.

I changed a few things in the recipe, mainly using maple syrup instead of refined sugar, and really upping the peanut butter flavor.  This was a total hit!  I was able to share it with my two sisters, plus a couple cousins and friends, and everyone gave it great reviews.  (Oh, and Joe was pretty excited too!)  Soooo, if you’ve got some chickpeas, here’s an awesome way to use them up!  It’s delicious on bread, crackers, apples, and I’m sure there’s a bunch of other options I haven’t gotten to yet… :-)

Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Spread
(inspired by this)
makes about 3 cups

2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (I used crunchy because it’s what I had…. Smooth would be just as wonderful!)
2-3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
4-6 TBSP water

This is pretty easy: Combine all ingredients (start with about 3 TBSP of water) in a food processor or blender, and mix until smooth!  Scrape down the sides as necessary to make sure that everything is mixed in, and add more water until it reaches the right consistency.  Spread on whatever you like!

Enjoy!!! :-)

Posted in beans, chocolate, dairy-free, desserts, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, vegan, vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

transition

I was going to post a recipe tonight, but now that I’m here, I think it’s just gonna be a few pictures instead.  In my last post, I mentioned that it’s again moving time for me & Joe.  We both work seasonally out in Wrangell-St.Elias National Park and Preserve, and so that means moving each spring & each fall.  It gets a bit exhausting, but at least we’re almost through with this go around…. :-)

We left Fairbanks on Sunday, and drove the 7ish hours down to my parent’s house.  Since then, we’ve gone through a few boxes of clothes and gear that have been stored away, done some car work, eaten some delicious food, and relaxed a bit.  We were also lucky enough to watch a lynx stroll across the hayfield outside the front window yesterday, and later walked out to one of the river bluffs to find the first crocus’ peeking out: one of my favorite events of the year!

Tomorrow we drive the remaining three hours (mostly down a gravel road) out to our “summer home” in McCarthy.  McCarthy & Kennicott are two very special towns out in Wrangell-St. Elias.  Kennicott was a copper mine in the early 1900s, and is now one of the older historic sites in Alaska, in an incredible setting.  McCarthy is three miles from Kennicott, and most folks out there during the summer live in McCarthy.  Joe works for the Wrangell Mountain Center, an educational non-profit, and I work for Kennicott Wilderness Guides, leading glacier and backcountry trips.

We also spend a fair bit of our time gardening!  We’re both pretty excited about getting our hands in the soil once we get out to McCarthy.  Between the two of us, we’ll be taking care of three different gardens, so it should keep us busy!

I’m definitely looking forward to growing lots of wonderful, fresh food this summer.  I also can’t wait to get out on the glacier and see how it’s changed!  (That can wait a lil’ while though, as I’m sure there’s still a fair bit of snow on it.)    Each summer out in McCarthy/Kennicott is different and unique in its own way, and I’m excited to see what happens this year.

Once I get out to McCarthy tomorrow, I won’t have internet access for a while, so posts will be sporadic at best.  Honestly, if I’m lucky there will probably be 1-2 posts in the next 3-4 weeks….  That makes me sad!  :-(  But I will have plenty of things to keep me busy: plenty of seeds to plant and garden beds to care for…..  I’ll miss all of you and look forward to catching up once I’ve got steady internet again!  In the meantime, enjoy spring!!!

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vegan beet-brownie cupcakes

We move tomorrow!  It’s a little crazy that our winter in Fairbanks is already over and it’s time to move back to the Wrangells for summer, but we both feel ready for it.  More on where we’re going & doing in a couple days, but for now I’m taking a quick break from packing and cleaning to post a lovely little treat.

My dad came up to Fairbanks for a work meeting a couple weeks ago, and so was able to come by our cabin for dinner.  For dessert, I made my vegan and gluten-free chocolate beet cake with a couple changes.  I wanted to try using black beans instead of chickpeas, and found that it definitely gives a bit of a denser result.  My first bite also made me think that I could taste the beans a little bit, but I didn’t notice it after that, and neither Joe or my dad noticed any “beany” flavor.  So, black beans can be used, but I think the chickpeas work a bit better.

The second change was to make them in cupcake form!  I’ve never really caught on to the cupcake craze, but it’s true that cupcakes are just fun every once in a while.  At first I was distraught, because these puffed up, creating a rim around the outside of the muffin cup, and then the denser middle sank, creating a little “cake cup” as Joe called it.  After my initial distress, however, I realized this was perfect, because all I had to do was scoop a spoonfull of whatever filling I wanted into the cupcakes, and it looked like I was totally going for that effect!

We first ate them with some homemade raspberry rhubarb sauce, canned last fall, and then enjoyed the leftovers another night with a peanut butter honey filling, sprinkled with cocoa nibs.  The possibilities are pretty endless, really!  Anything that goes with chocolate, would be absolutely divine in these little “cake cups”.

Instead of typing out the cake recipe, I’m just giving you the link, and then getting back to packing.  Lots still to do today!

For cupcakes: fill muffin tins very full with cake batter.  Bake at 325 degrees for 35-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out almost clean.  Cool completely before removing from muffin tins.  Fill cups with anything you like!!!

Enjoy!!! :-)

Posted in beans, brownies, cakes, chocolate, dairy-free, desserts, fruit, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, vegan, vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

radicchio & orange salad

Here’s another treat from our Easter meal (I know, I know, that was a while ago at this point!).  I wanted a salad that was something a little special, but have no access to lovely things like arugula, mizuna, or pea shoots like so many spring salad recipes call for!  After browsing a few cookbooks, I landed on an intriguing combination in Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions.

It seems that in the U.S., radicchio is pretty much relegated to a few representative slivers in bagged salad mixes.  You don’t see it getting many starring roles!  Joe didn’t know what it was, and neither did the check-out lady when I bought it at the grocery.  It’s a great little vegetable though.  Besides it’s nice red color which provides a nice change of pace from generally green salads, it’s also high in calcium, and a good source of vitamin C and carotenes.

Radicchio was cultivated in Italy, and is still widely used there, where it is often grilled or roasted.  It’s a member of the chicory family, and so has a somewhat spicy, bitter flavor, which I’ve read is mellowed out by roasting.  In this salad, the orange flavor provides a really delicious complement to the radicchio.  I’d definitely love to try it cooked some different ways though!

I was intrigued to find out that the plant is a perennial, which is exciting because there aren’t that many perennial veggies I know about.  Although I would be surprised if it could over-winter in Alaska, it’s definitely a vegetable I’d be interested in trying to grow.

This salad was a delicious, and beautiful, change of pace.  It was very easy to prepare, and like I mentioned, the radicchio and orange flavors complement each other very nicely.  The addition of the roasted red onion really completes it.  If you haven’t really gotten to know radicchio yet, this is a good way to start!

Radicchio & Orange Salad
serves 2

1 large head radicchio, finely shredded
1 orange, peeled and sectioned (with membranes removed if you’re an over-achiever…. ;-) it’s of course delicious either way! )
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
olive oil, for brushing

Dressing:
1 tsp grated orange rind (from an organic orange; pesticides collect in the peels, so anytime you plan to use the peel, go organic!)
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
about 4 Tbsp olive oil

Place onions on an oiled baking sheet and  brush with olive oil.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until dry and browned.

Combine all ingredients for dressing and toss with the radicchio.  Divide between two plates.  Top with orange wedges and grilled onion slices.

Enjoy!!! :-)

Posted in dairy-free, garden, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, salads, sides, vegan, vegetables, vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

gravlox (cured salmon)

Many months ago, I’d seen a recipe for gravlox, or cured salmon, on a blog somewhere, and have kept the idea in the back of my mind ever since.  I’m fortunate enough to live near the Copper River during the summer, which is one of the best places to get sockeye salmon (also called Copper River Reds).  So, every year, as long as I’m fortunate enough to have some luck while dipnetting, or have a friend with surplus fish, I’m able to can & freeze enough salmon to enjoy year round.

Joe & I often make sushi throughout the winter, which is always a wonderful treat, but I was definitely intrigued by this new way of eating raw salmon.  Raw meat is a food that has been enjoyed by most cultures around the world, in different forms for hundreds and thousands of years – steak tartare in France, kibbeh from Middle East, carpaccio from Italy, and various other marinated fish dishes.  Being raw, it’s much easier for the body to digest, not being damaged by the cooking process.  Of course, if you’re gonna eat any meat or fish raw, know your source!  I only eat wild game and wild salmon, both of which are, naturally, organic, and so when I eat them raw, I don’t have to worry about what may be lurking inside them.  It’s also important to make sure the meat has been frozen for at least 14 days to kill any parasites; for fish, marinating in an acidic solution does the same trick.

I’m so glad I finally got around to making gravlox!  It was a delicious treat, and so simple to make.  We enjoyed it for Easter along with the teff pancakes and cashew cream I wrote about last post – the combination was mind blowing.  Really wonderful.

Gravlox (cured salmon)
adapted from Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon
serves 4-6

about 1 pound salmon fillet, fresh or frozen, with skin on
2 Tbsp sea salt
2 Tbsp evaporated cane sugar, or Rapadura
2 Tbsp whey (or use an additional 2 Tbsp salt)
1 bunch of fresh dill, snipped

Using pliers, remove any small bones in the fish.  Rinse well, and pat dry.  Mix together the salt and sweetener, and rub thoroughly into the flesh side of the salmon.  Place in a ziploc bag, sprinkle with whey and top with dill.  Close the bag, squeezing out as much as air as possible, and refrigerate for at least 2 days, or up to 6 (I only went for 2).  Weigh some heavy objects on the salmon (books, or a brick) to help with the absorption of the marinade.

To serve, remove from bag and rinse gently to remove salt and sugar.  Pat dry with a paper towel.  Slice thinly, scraping the skin clean (you could also skin the whole fillet, but I have a hard time doing that without losing some of the fatty layer right next to the skin).  Serve with Teff Pancakes & Cashew Cream, or with sourdough bread, or individually with some lemon juice.

Enjoy!!! :-)

Posted in dairy-free, entrees, fish & seafood, gluten-free, Nourishing Principles, refined sugar-free, sides | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments