500 Year Vision

Take pleasure from walking lightly on this Earth

Flourless chocolate cake…so easy

October3

As cooked by Rachel

INGREDIENTS

* 4 (1 ounce) squares semisweet chocolate, chopped (I USE ¾ BAG OF TRADER JOE’S CHOC. CHIPS… WITHOUT MEASURING…. DOESN’T SEEM TO MATTER MUCH. 😉
* 1/2 cup butter
* 3/4 cup white sugar (less is more. not too sweet, brings out choc.)
* 1/2 cup cocoa powder (plus a little bit more to coat the pan with)
* 3 eggs, beaten (by hand)
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch round cake pan, and dust with cocoa powder. (JUST SPRINKLE COCOA POWDER OVER A GREASED CAKE PAN WITH A SPOON. THEN TILT IT BACK AND FORTH SHAKING IT AROUND, TILL THE COCOA COVERS BOTTOM AND SIDES WELL.)

2. In the top of a double boiler over lightly simmering water, melt chocolate and butter. Remove from heat, and vigorously stir in sugar, cocoa powder, eggs, and vanilla. Pour into prepared pan.

3. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. Slices can also be reheated for 20 to 30 seconds in the microwave before serving.

IMPOSSIBLE TO GO WRONG. NOTHING MUCH IN IT. NOTHING MUCH TO IT. EXCEPT, OF COURSE, HOW FABULOUS IT TASTES.

Cherry Jam – the vital ingredient.

June1

During a recent wet weekend I decided to make jam. I sat with a friend at the kitchen table and we spent the morning hooking pits out of cherries with  hairpins (the wide sort). These jobs are always so much better in company. I used sugar with added pectin, and put in the zest of a couple of lemons for good measure. Miraculously, it set and I was able to give jars away to friends and neighbours in town.

The end of May is a little early for cherries in this area, so my neighbours were impressed to see jam already…  the magic, extra flavoursome twist to our jam was that the cherries had been steeped in vodka for 11 months! It worked out well. Last year we didn’t have water at Novy Mlyn, so making jam would have been a nightmare, instead I packed the cherries into large jars and topped them up with vodka. I was really surprised that the process actually added a good flavour to the jam.

This year I am going to try to sun dry the cherries. I plan to make square frames out of willow switches & the net curtains (which I removed from every window in the house (washed, of course)). I also plan to sun dry some apples because we didn’t use the crop last year and I have rather enjoyed dried apple made by my students.

Now I have rather a lot of cherry vodka around the place – I wonder if there is a magic solution to that particular glut.

Chamomile Tea

February9

Home grown Chamomile tea with local honey… what a lovely reminder of the summer during the long, dark months. I’m enjoying the cold, sharp days… the snow is beautiful and the ice & snow great fun for skating and sliding, but Chamomile tastes of summer.

Chamomile grows like a weed in the fields and on the roadsides during the summer. The flowers are like large daises but with feathery leaves (which look rather like dill). You need to be careful not to pick May Weed by mistake – which has very similar flowers but very different leaves.  The Chamomile flowers are ready to pick when the flowers turn ‘bug-eyed’ – with the petals turned downwards and the yellow centre rounded.

Once gathered it needs to go somewhere in the sun – for example sprinkled on paper and covered with muslin. When it’s completely dried out it will be crumbly and can be kept in an airtight jar.

Chamomile flowers at the same time as the cornflowers and poppies. This year I will also gather poppy seeds so that we can have wild poppies on the roadside by the house.  I didn’t gather any seed heads last year because of a reluctance to pick from the wild… however the roadside mowers taught me that it’s fair to take seeds from the wild a metre from the road. I guess it’s more important to have safe roads than beautiful verges…

Deliciously Moorish Vodka Cherry Chocolates

January30

What to do with the vast quantities of cherries sitting around the place in vodka… well, as you’d expect, I’ve been experimenting… and perfecting the technique has involved eating rather a lot of cherries dipped in chocolate.

After experimenting with several types of chocolate, I prefer to use a 35% cocoa chocolate from a Papua New Guinea plantation (bought in Lidl) because there was no sugar on the cherries and they really need the sweetness of the chocolate to balance the flavour.

If you plan to post the cherries, it’s best to remove the stems because these will cause the chocolate to crack in transit. Otherwise, just remove the pit using a hooked bit of wire or a (new) hair pin with the plastic stripped off.

You can prepare these vodka cherry chocolates a couple of days in advance of a dinner party and serve them with coffee after the meal.

To make vodka cherry chocolates you will need:

  • 80 pitted cherries which have been pickled without sugar in neat vodka
  • 125 grams of good quality chocolate
  • some cocktail sticks
  • A metal bowl
  • Grease proof paper

Float the metal bowl in a saucepan of boiling water which has been removed from the heat.

Break the chocolate into the bowl and stir until it has melted.

Add 10 cherries at a time and stir them into the melted chocolate.

Remove one cherry at a time and place on the grease proof paper to dry using the cocktail sticks.

Repeat until all of the cherries are used up. You can use a little of the left over cherry vodka to make a chocolate sauce by using it to ‘clean’ the metal bowl.

Leave the cherries in a cool place overnight to set. These will keep as the cherries are preserved by the vodka, but it’s unlikely that they will get the chance as they are rather delicious.

Eat Local: Tábor Apple Bomb* recipe (traditional custard cooked in an apple)

September18

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An easy & speedy dessert recipe which can be made for one person. The inspiration for this recipe is the English custard tarts I love and have not yet found in the Czech Republic. Using the apple itself for the casing means less cleaning, and incidentally produces a gluten free pudding.

*Mum used to make us apple bombs as children. It’s not the name she gave them, just the result of the occasional apple explosion. Read the rest of this entry »

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