Not All Honey Is Created Equal

Opening our 4 gallon bucket of raw, local apple blossom honey is an event each September. We all stand around the bucket, waiting for the first whiffs of flowery sweetness. It’s creamy. I spoon it into jars to avoid using a pickaxe later after it hardens.

This year we bought 2 four gallon buckets, and we are nearing the end.

I had read about honey being diluted with corn syrup, so I did a little searching. Looks like that’s not the worst of it; much commercial, highly filtered honey may be imported illegally to the US from China or India and carry chemicals and heavy metals.

Read this link to see the importance of leaving the pollen in the honey; it can be tracked as true honey.

http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/11/tests-show-most-store-honey-isnt-honey/

I will continue to purchase local raw honey in 4 gallon buckets, and supplement with Mesquite honey from Trader Joes. And no more using honey packets at restaurants.

Spiced Pear Tart

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My son requested “apple pie” for his birthday cake this week. I felt that I could fake a single crust pie better than a two crust pie while using almond flour rather than real flour.

So it was going to be an apple tart, until the kids ate up all the apples the day before the birthday. So then it became a pear tart. We did have one half of an apple remaining, which took center stage, literally, in the center of the tart.

At this morphed stage of the birthday pie, I was thinking fondly of a spiced pear tart recipe from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which is where my inspiration came from to make it upside down in a cast iron skillet.

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Preheat oven to 350.

In a large, clean (no savory flavors left over…if unsure, scramble eggs in butter and remove…there shouldn’t be flavors left after that) cast iron skillet, melt and stir:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/8 tsp. cardamom
1 tsp. orange zest (I didn’t have this, but I’m adding it here because I think it’d be great) πŸ™‚

Stir this syrup while it bubbles, about 5 minutes. I had my 8 year old daughter stir this while I cored, pealed and sliced:
2 pears (about 12 slices for large pears)

Lay the pear slices in the syrup, in a circular fashion, starting in the center.

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Let the pears cook in the spiced syrup for about 7 minutes, until soft, while you make the crust in the food processor:

2 cups almond flour
3 dashes cinnamon
2 Tb soft butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp soda
Blend, then add:
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1/3 cup honey
Blend just until smooth. Turn out onto greased parchment paper. Cover with seran and roll to a round the size of your iron skillet (just guesstimate the size), about 1/2 inch thick. Remove seran, turn off stovetop, and invert onto top of pears/syrup. Press down slightly until dough is touching pears all around.

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It was at this point I wished I had greased the parchment before rolling out the dough. If you do, it may come off neatly at this point. Of course, it may also slip off while inverting it. Anyway, I baked it in the oven with the paper on top. After 15 minutes I pulled it from the oven and removed the paper. Only a little stuck, so not much harm done.

Allow it to cool on your stovetop or a cooling rack before inverting it onto a display plate.

This is quite sweet; we enjoyed it with dollops of smooth and tangy Creme Fraiche.

Almond Caramel/Brittle

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My kids raced their Awana Derby Cars tonight at the annual Grand Prix. Lots of fun! When my husband turned to me afterward and suggested celebratory ice cream, I was glad I had almond caramel bars waiting at home instead.

I haven’t been doing so well at staying perfectly on SCD. It always seems to be some “special occasion” where I indulge…but special occasions seem to come so often. I never eat gluten, but those grains, like corn chips, are so tempting to me, and I notice that I can feel it in my gut for a few days afterward. I must not be totally healed, and I know I need to focus on being grain free, as well as a concerted effort on sugar and lactose free, for the time being.

Anyway, we came home and enjoyed these:

Almond Caramel
1 stick butter
1/3 cup honey
1 cup sliced almonds
Put it in a saucepan, melt over medium heat, simmer for 7 minutes while stirring, pour into a greased 5×8 glass pan, cool in fridge. Cut and serve when firm.

How easy is that? About as easy as making jello, right? That’s why this is my new favorite treat.

Today I used unsalted butter, so I added about 1/4 salt.

Brittle
I made this once, forgot to set the timer, so I kept stirring and watching it, and then I saw it change color to brown. I took it off the heat ASAP, but it had changed from caramel to brittle. Still super yummy, but if you plan it as brittle, I would recommend pouring it onto a piece of parchment paper, as it’s a little hard to chip out of the pan.

Baking Sucess: Date Nut Bread

Mmm . . . my family’s traditional holiday bread, in a gluten free, cane sugar free version. It’s just as yummy as the original.

Date Nut Bread

1 and 1/2 cups dates (pieces rolled in oat flour)
2 and 1/4 cups boiling water
1 TBS soda
Cover dates and soda with boiling water; set 30 minutes.

1 and 1/2 cups tapioca flour
1 and 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1 and 1/2 cups sorgum flour
1 TBS xanthan gum
Whisk flours and xanthan together with a wire whisk.

3/4 cup honey
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup xylitol (if you don’t have xylitol, you can substitute another 1/4 cup maple syrup)
3 TBS butter
2 pastured eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp fine sea salt
Cream sweeteners, butter, eggs, vanilla and salt. Add part of date mixture, then alternate between flour and date mixture until it is all incorporated.

Then add:
1 cup chopped walnuts, preferably soaked and dried

Pour into well greased loaf pans. Bake at 300 degrees. For smaller pans (mini) bake about 1 hour, and larger (normal loaf size) pans about 1 hour 20 minutes. After removing pans from oven, allow to set about 5 minutes before turning onto a baking rack to cool. When cool, wrap in food wrap, and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. It is delicious served with either cream cheese or butter.

This batch was my remake. Want to read about my first batch, and see what happens if you bake the larger pans for only an hour? See Baking Failure: Holiday Bread. It’s not pretty. πŸ™‚

Raspberry Jam

My Raspberry Freezer Jam

Today I made raspberry freezer jam with some local fresh picked raspberries. My first batch was the “yummy” batch because my husband asked me to make sure that it turned out really good. πŸ™‚ My second batch is made with honey rather than sugar, gelatin rather than pectin (because I ran out of pectin, and I wanted to experiment with gelatin), and without lemon juice because my daughter is allergic to citrus. Here are my recipes:

Raspberry Jam
4 pts. fresh raspberries, rinsed and mashed with potato masher (yield 3.25 cups)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, stirred into raspberries
1 package pectin, slowly added and thoroughly stirred into raspberry mixture
4.25 cups organic sugar, added slowly to raspberry mixture, then stirred until completely dissolved (it takes awhile)

Pour into freshly washed glass pint jars, leaving 1 inch at top for expansion. Leave on counter for 1 day to set, then freeze. Thaw in refrigerator and use within a few weeks. Yielded 5 jars, and tastes delicious (of course, with all that sugar!).

Raspberry Jam with Honey
4 pts. fresh raspberries, rinsed and mashed with potato masher (yield 3.25 cups)
1.25 cups honey
4 envelopes gelatin, stirred into 1/2 cup water in saucepan (my jam turned out a little too firm, so I’ll try 3 envelopes next time)

Add about 1/3 of the mashed raspberries and all of the honey to saucepan, and stir over medium heat until it begins to simmer. Add back to the rest of raspberries. Pour into freshly washed glass pint jars, lid, and place directly in freezer (one recipe I was adapting stated that if left covered at room temperature the gelatin would liquefy). It did set up, even more firmly than the pectin jam. Yielded 3.5 jars jam, and tastes nice, although not as bright of a flavor as if I had added lemon juice.

Read Pectin Vs. Gelatin for Making Jam a review on the health and price comparisons of these two products.

I am linking to a linky party on Inspiration at theinspiredroom.

Sweet Treats: Unrefined Sweeteners

It’s holiday time again, and if you’re like me, you’re thinking about making some sweet treats for family and friends.

Surprisingly, there are a bunch of great recipes which can be successfully made (and enjoyed!) with honey and maple syrup (and other whole food options) as the sweeteners, rather than white sugar. I have several which are my favorites . . . I’ll have to share them in time. For now, I’m excited to tell you about a blog my friend Krista writes: http://thenourishingapron.blogspot.com/ .

Every recipe on her blog is made without cane sugar, and she does a beautiful job of presenting her methods, always with a picture to get your mouth watering!

I just made her Protein Bars yesterday. They were super easy, no bake, and gluten free. Were they good? Well, they’re GONE! (Answer: Yes.)

Happy treat making!