14 June 2012

Pickled Parsnips, Carrots & Onions

Parsnip season is over, but the carrots and onions are perfect and I knew you NEEDED the ultimate refrigerator carrot pickle recipe! 

I've talked about my love of fermented foods, but pickles are kinda "meh" in my book.  At some point, how many can a person eat?  Pickled carrots are a bit different though.  You get a really lovely sweetness to counteract the small amount of vinegar and with only a bit of cooking time, they are crunchy and fresh tasting. 

I originally made this in early April, so I used some parsnips that had been lurking in the fridge and a sweet onion, but as I refilled the brine this week, I used whole small carrots and green onions that I left some of the greens still attached.  I'm going to try some small beets as soon as they are in season!


3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 teaspoons pickling spice
1 teaspoon mustard seed (yellow or black, I used 1/2 and 1/2)
1 tsp. ground ginger(you could also use a slice of fresh ginger)
Kosher salt
2 medium parsnips, peeled, cored, and cut into sticks 3 inches long and 1/4 inch thick
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into sticks 3 inches long and 1/4 inch thick
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 cups water

In a saucepan, combine 3 cups water with the sugar, vinegar, pickling spice, mustard seed, ginger, and 4 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the parsnips, carrots, and onion and cook for about 5 minutes—the vegetables will still be quite firm. Remove the vegetables from the hot brine and cool. When the brine and vegetables are cool, fill a clean 1-quart glass jar with the vegetables and pour the brine over to cover.  Refrigerate up to 6 weeks, refilling with vegetables of choice, both fresh (cucumbers) and blanched.  I think zucchini might be nice in this too!  (ways to use that dang zucchini is always happy)

12 June 2012

Maraschino Cherry Cake with Sander's Whipped Frosting

My husband John loves sweets and requests a cherry chip cake for his birthday every year.  It's a cake his grandmother used to make and the whole family loves it!

What really makes the cake unusual is the frosting.  The frosting recipe came from a Detroit landmark bakery named Sander's.  You can read more about it here if you're interested.

The frosting itself is odd, it reminds me of whipped cream and buttercream frosting combined.  It never hardens up, even after a day in the fridge or dissolves, it has amazing stability.  It can be refrigerated and piped into decorative swirls, but is too soft to be too fancy.  I've never flavored the frosting, but I think it would really be great with some minced fresh strawberries, a pinch of lemon zest or a touch of almond extract.   

John's grandmother changed the original recipe instructions (if you checked out the link you'll see the difference in technique) to make it quicker to prepare and still just as delicious.


1 cup milk (heated, but not scalded or boiled)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup CRISCO shortening (the brand name really does work the best in this recipe)
1/2 cup butter, barely softened
1-2 teaspoons vanilla or 1 vanilla bean, sliced and scraped

In a mixing bowl, combine sugar, shortening and butter.  Fit electric mixer with flat beater and blend until combined and fluffy.  Switch to wire whip attachment and on medium speed, blending constantly, add hot milk a tablespoon at a time until thoroughly combined and super fluffy.  Blend in vanilla.  Use immediately on a COOLED cake (it will melt if the cake is warm) or place in fridge until ready to use.


1/3 cup shortening (part butter)
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups sifted cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cherry juice (from jar)
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped nuts
16 maraschino cherries, cut into small pieces
5 egg whites, stiffly beaten but not dry

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat egg whites and set aside.
Cream shortening and sugar together until fluffy.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt together; sift again. Alternately add the flour mixture, milk and cherry juice to the creamed mixture. Stir until smooth.
Stir in nuts and cherries. Fold in beaten egg whites.
Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans or a 9-by-13-inch pan. Bake about 30 minutes or until tested done.
Cool cakes on rack 5-10 minutes before removing from pans.

 John always swears Duncan Hines Cherry Chip Cake mix is delicious, so if you're not up for a process, cheat a little, no one will ever know!!  :)

09 June 2012

Our Graduate & Summer Snapshots

Our girl Jamie graduated from high school last week.  The baby.  It was fabulous and exciting and we love experiencing the woman she is becoming!

Our neighbors have a new member of the family.  A tiny pig named Lily.  Pierre was mystified.

John and I celebrated our 23rd wedding Anniversary.  It was a special day of enjoying each others company and our family.  We also enjoyed a splash of his gift from me :)

The Main Street Farmers market in a neighboring town is my very favorite!  Turkey eggs, great food, honey, cool plants, you name it!  The best part of this week's market was introducing our college intern, Mara, at The Boulevard Market, to the pleasures of a local Farmers Market!  

I've had a collection of copper pans for years and never used them for cooking.  Why?  Because I'm an idiot!  Drug them out, cleaned them up....using them and enjoying every minute (even just to boil eggs)!!

Only 7 days until our graduation party...I am officially over the edge.  However, the place is looking good, I've got a new bottle of motrin, and we are starting a whole new chapter in our family!

Recipes?  Ummm....here's what we've been eating for supper these days.  Delicious but not too exciting.

New York Pumpernickel bagels with cream cheese and tomatoes.

05 June 2012

Elderflower Cordial

Elderflower Cordial
This week has Elderflowers to my front garden!  Beautiful lacy umbrellas of the tiniest blossoms, full of fragrance and flavor!  The time was “ripe” to make an elderflower liqueur to enjoy for the summer months to follow!  (If you have not tried the commercial elderflower liqueur, St Germain, I would encourage you to do so immediately.)  Apparently the elderflowers are edible and fabulous battered and deep fried as well, but when I broached the subject to the family, I was met with suspicion and pish-shaws…..they would eat it if I made a sauce to go with, I just know it!!

I chose my flowers and cut them first thing in the morning, which according to all the old recipes I found for this elixir, was the best time for the blossoms.  I gently shook each cluster over some newspaper to dislodge any no-see-ums, and cut the majority of the stems from the blossoms.  My elderflower plant is of an ornamental nature as well as edible, the variety is “Black Lace Elderberry” by Monrovia.  The blossoms have a distinct pink tint to them, thus a pink tinted cordial versus the traditional green tint from the wild elderberry shrub.

I didn’t want to make a huge quantity (thank goodness elderberry has a long bloom time!) so I placed the flowers into a ¾ quart glass jar and covered it with 80 proof vodka.  I placed the jar in the basement for about 3 weeks to allow full flavor to develop.  When finished steeping, I strained the infused vodka with cheesecloth until it was perfectly clear and tinted a lovely pink.  (If you are using traditional elderflowers, yours will be tinted green.)

Make a simple syrup by boiling 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water together for about 3 minutes until sugar has completely dissolved.  This quantity was perfect for the amount of vodka I used, so you may need to add additional simple syrup to adjust to the level of sweetness you desire.

My favorite cocktail to make with the elderflower cordial thus far has been:
2 cups dry sparkling wine (I used Prosecco)
2 cups sparkling water
1 cup elderflower cordial
Everything should be ice cold, stir gently and enjoy!