Archive for October, 2010

Pear Spice Cake

I woke up this morning thinking about what to bake with the last of my pears, (I say last even though there are still several on my counter.) I opened my email and saw a recipe for a spiced applesauce cake, it looked so good that I decided to do a spin-off using pears. I made a quick batch of pearsauce, I didn’t mill them this time, I just mashed them up a bit.

I also cut the sugar back and adjusted the spicing slightly. I used fresh ginger instead of powdered and added a bit of lemon zest to the batter.

There was a bit or pearsauce leftover so I served the cake with a spoonful of that as well as some whipped cream.

For the cake:

Cream together…

1 stick butter

1 scant cup brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp fresh grated ginger

zest of 1/2 lemon


2 farm fresh eggs, one at a time.

Beat in…

1 3/4 cups pearsauce (or unsweetened applesauce)

Mix together in a separate bowl…

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 – 3/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground clove

Slowly add dry ingredients to the applesauce mixture. Pour batter into a well-greased cake pan or square baking dish. Bake at 350* for about 35 minutes, until golden brown. Serve with pearsauce and whipped cream.

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This morning I took a quick break from some serious knitting and made myself some pancakes. When I went into the cupboard to get a batter bowl I saw a pig cookie cutter and thought it would be fun to make pig shaped pancakes. I put some milk and an egg in the bowl and whisked them together. I added some flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder and mixed it again. I melted some butter in a little saucepan and added that to the batter.

I peeled and sliced several small pears and tossed them into the still slightly buttery saucepan and let them stew in their juices while I cooked the pancakes. After several attempts at using the cookie cutter I ended up with one recognizably pig shaped pancake. I came to the conclusion that I need to try it again with a larger cutter. When the pears were tender and I had used almost all of the batter, I added some fresh cranberries to the pears and cooked the fruit until all of the cranberries had popped. I added a big pinch of sugar and poured them on top of my stack of pancakes, topped it with a little whipped cream.


1 cup milk

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup flour

1 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

2 Tbsp sugar

2-3 Tbsp butter, melted

* lemon zest

Mix together the wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients and mix again. (It’s okay to have a few small lumps in the batter, you don’t want to over mix it.) * Lemon zest is a great addition if you have it on hand, you can also use orange zest.

I always use my cast iron griddle pan to make pancakes. My stove is pretty hot and the pan holds the heat really well so I have found that I can set the burner quite low (3) and the pancakes come out very well.


5 medium-sized pears, peeled, cored, sliced

1/2 – 1 cup fresh cranberries

small pat of butter

sugar to taste

Melt the butter in a pan and add the pears. Let them cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until they are tender. Add the cranberries and continue cooking until they all pop. Add sugar to taste. Let sugar dissolve, stirring frequently. Serve.

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A couple of weeks ago I went to my friends land south of town. He is developing a very beautiful orchard, King Edward’s. This spring he planted about 50 fruit trees! Lucky for us, he already has a giant pear tree that is loaded with fruit.

I like to let my pears ripen off the tree quite a bit, so they get really sweet and juicy. The other day my friend and I canned  some pearsauce and lemon-ginger pears. The pears were so sweet that we didn’t have to add any sugar to the pearsauce and cut the sugar in half from what I used last year for the lemon-ginger pears. We also dehydrated a few to make pear chips.

Still having tons of pears left, I decided to make a couple of pies. I made the crust last night so I would have plenty of time to chill, resulting in a flakier crust. I also added a little bit of lemon zest in with the flour, butter, and water for the crust, I think this will be especially nice with the pears. This morning, I peeled and sliced a whole bunch of pears, tossed them with some sugar, flour and a touch of freshly grated ginger. I filled the bottom shells with the pears and dotted it with butter. A while ago, a friend made a pear galette with chocolate, this inspired me to shave on a little chocolate before I put on the top and sealed it up.

The pies are now cooling and I am having a hard time not slicing into the pies while it is still hot because they smell so good!

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Forgive me for being so behind on my posts lately. I have been quite busy. Recently, we had another great cooking class at The Store! Kathy Dubois and Steve Boss (hosts of Great Taste on KRUUFM) taught us how to make risotto and farrotto! Farro is prepared very much in the same way as risotto with the exception of using farro in place of rice. Farro is an ancient Italian grain, great for soups, stews, and salads. It is a bit chewy in texture and has a very nice nutty/earthy flavor. We also made a couple of starters and an apple cake!

We started with some slow roasted beets drizzled with Traditional Balsamic Vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Next we had a fresh brussel sprout salad. It was very simple, shredded brussel sprouts, pecorino toscano cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper.

Kathy and Steve roasted some garden tomatoes ahead of time and made a nice big pot of veggie broth for the risotto and farrotto. Both dishes were prepared in a similar fashion. We began by sauteing some leeks, carrots, and celery. Then adding the rice/farro followed by a splash of wine. Once the wine has evaporated off, you can begin adding broth one ladle at a time stirring often. As the liquid cooks off, add some more. I always find that the longer the risotto has been cooking the more I need to stir it. Once the rice/farro was sufficiently cooked, still a little toothy, we turned off the heat and added some butter and parmigiano reggiano. We finished the risotto with a roasted red pepper sauce that Kathy made, and the farrotto with the roasted garden tomatoes.

For dessert, Kathy had prepared a delicious apple cake with a crumb topping and, of course, whipped cream!

Click here for the risotto and farrotto recipe.

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My sister and I think that Francis Thicke is the perfect candidate for Secretary of Agriculture in Iowa. I guess that is why we are spending Saturday night baking pies. Made with fresh local pumpkin and fresh local milk!

We wanted to do something to raise money for the Thicke Campaign, and decided to bake a whole lot of pumpkin pies to sell at the John Lennon Tribute Concert Reprise: to benefit the Francis Thicke Campaign. It should be a great concert, so stop on by! What a great excuse to support an awesome campaign!

Torrey and I started with fresh pumpkins. We roasted them in the oven, and then scooped out the meat, mixed it with Radiance Dairy whole milk and cream, sour cream, sugar and spices. The recipe is from our grandmother!

We will have slices available for a donation, so if you are in the mood for some good music and a slice of pumpkin pie, stop by tomorrow (Sunday) night at 7:30 pm to Cafe Paradiso!

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