1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (I used whole-wheat flour, cuz that’s what I had)
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon (I used 2 tsp., cuz I like cinnamon)
1 egg (farm-fresh from Buckhorn gardens, of course)
1 cup mashed bananas (apparently that’s 3 medium bananas, but it worked with the two I scavenged from Gerb)
¾ cup sugar (I used a combination of molasses and honey, I think that’s why my loaf was so dark)
¼ cup cooking oil
1 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel ("optional"…cool, cuz I didn’t have any lemons) ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (I used ground up walnuts and raw sunflower seeds to make the ½ cup, cuz that’s what I had)
Also added: ¾ cup of cranberries chopped up in a coffee grinder, ¼ cup hulled hemp seed, ¼ cup rolled oats, ¼ cup brown flax seed. Maybe more, maybe less; I don’t remember.
Directions- 1. Grease the bottom and ½” up the sides of an 8x4x2” loaf pan; set aside. In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp. salt. Make a well in the center of dry mixture; set aside.
2. In another bowl combine the egg (just beat it), bananas, cranberries, sugar, cooking oil, and, if desired, lemon peel. Add egg mixture all at once to dry mixture (see photo 1, pg. 119). Stir just till moistened (batter should be lumpy, see photo 2, pg. 119 [see what I mean, you need the book…you won’t know how to combine the egg and dry mixtures or how lumpy batter should look]). Fold in nuts, seeds, herbs, Gerbs, etc...Whatever, Jak
3. Spoon batter into the prepared pan. Bake in oven at 350F for 50-55 min. or till a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean (I use a knife). Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10min. Remove from pan; cool on rack. Wrap and store overnight before slicing (if you can resist that long…I couldn’t). I’ve never heard of a loaf of banana bread that lasts longer than a couple of days--our's was gone by the second morning.
Aside from working long and profitable days in the gardens here at Buckhorn Mountain, we interns occupy our days off doing various activities. Two of the more obvious and most common activities we practice are cooking and baking skills. Knowledge of these skills is a necessary complement to all the gardening techniques we glean from our friends and proprietors, Horton & Genevieve and the bountiful fresh-off-the-farm harvests we enjoy. Along with gardening skills we learn from H&G, we exchange plenty of recipes, cooking tips, and juicy gastronomic secrets. Many of our conversations during work fall back to, “so, what are you making for dinner tonight” or “what crazy leftovers did you bring us for lunch”? Even though eating fresh, raw vegetables is known to be the most nutritious way of gaining all the necessary vitamins, enzymes, minerals, and nutrients from your produce, daily chowing down on raw greens, carrots, nuts, seeds, onions, and garlic can get downright boring after too long. Plus, who eats onions and garlic raw anyways? ...Whatever, Jak.
English MuffinsLet’s begin with baking, just because having freshly baked breads, muffins, and biscuits consistently on hand is a delightful down-home comfort. Taking a couple of hours sometime during the week to bake fresh breads will provide you substantial grainy carbs to pair with other meals for the rest of the week (if you follow that whole food pyramid thing). Baking a batch of a dozen or two hearty English muffins is usually how I begin my days off the farm. Why English muffins? In my opinion, they’re the perfect size for morning fried eggs (over-easy please, with fresh greens, melted pepper-jak cheese, and Horton’s herbed dressing), great for toasting and melting parmesan cheese on top to pair with stews and soups (particularly excellent with French onion soup), and can be a nice snack toasted along with a spread of jam or butter (sprinkle cracked pepper or herbs on top for that added zing!). Shoo’ sometimes in the morning I dollop yogurt and granola with cinnamon on top of my English muffins—yeah, I just did that: grains on top of grains! …Whatever, Jak.
Alright, enough foolin’ around satiating, let’s get baked! I found this recipe for English muffins on MotherEarthNews.com (.org or w/e):
—Yields 12 muffins—
1 cup warm milk
1 cup warm water
2 tbsp sugar or honey
1/4 cup (4tbsp) melted butter or shortening
6 cups flour total (all-purpose flour for a lighter muffin, whole wheat flour for a denser muffin)
1 packet (.25oz/ 2.5tsp) active dry yeast***
1 tsp salt
Warm the milk, butter/shortening, and honey/sugar and stir until butter melts. Separately proof the yeast in warm water for a couple of minutes, then add the yeast mixture, salt, and three cups of flour to the milk, honey, and melted butter mixture. Continue adding the rest of the flour until a soft dough ball is formed**. Cover and allow the dough to rest in a lightly oiled/greased bowl until the dough doubles in size (apx. 1hr.). Punch down risen dough ball, roll out to ½” thickness, and cut into 12 rounds (I’ve been able to get 20 rounds out of this recipe using a pint glass to cut my rounds, so I think it depends on how wide your round is and how thin you roll the dough). Place the rounds on wax paper or baking sheet(s), leaving some space between rounds. Slightly flatten the rounds and dust tops with cornmeal. Cover and let rise another 30min. Preheat the oven to 350F and heat a lightly greased griddle/skillet to medium heat. Place muffin rounds on the griddle/skillet until dark golden brown (apx. 6min. on each side). Place rounds on a baking sheet and bake for another 5min. until edges feel firm. Cool muffins on wire racks.
*[Cooking at altitudes allows yeast to work faster, causing doughs to rise to faster and larger. Reduce yeast measurements by 1/4tsp and/or allow dough to rise outdoors in cool weather or in an area where temperature is between 35-50F]
**//Making dough is a balance between the liquid and dry components, ideally yielding a pliable and slightly tacky dough ball.//
Variations I’ve tried include: using molasses in place of honey, adding herbs (thyme, lavender fresh or dried) into the dry mix, adding seeds and grains (hulled hemp, flax, sunflower, rolled oats) into the dry mix, and using other flours (rye flour, barley, flax, and sunflower seeds can be ground up in a coffee grinder).
Lamb MeatballsI got this recipe from "Nourishing Traditions," by Sally Fallon, one of my new favorites. My sister Beth and her husband Robbie came to visit this past weekend to see the farm for the first time. We had a wonderful time, and of course the weekend was filled with laughter and cooking. We tried Lamb Meatballs for the first time and it was just amazing. So here is how you do it...
2 pounds ground lamb
1 medium onion, diced
2 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP dried rosemay or thyme (I used fresh of both)
2 cups whole grain bread crumbs (I used Jak's (intern) french loaf he gave me for my birthday)
1 cup cream
pinch of salt and pepper
1 1/2 cup red wine (I used a dry marsala)
2-3 cups beef or lamb stock (I used beef)
3-4 ripe tomatoes (I used 1/2 cup canned tomatoes bc tomatoes are not in season)
2 cups spinach, chard, kale, or beet greens (I used Kale)
Saute the onions and rosemary/thyme in the olive oil until you see that the onions are soft. Soak the bread crumbs in the cream. I used milk bc I did not have cream on hand. It worked just fine. Mix the onion mixture with the eggs, bread crumbs, sea salt and peppers with the ground lamb. Form balls out of the mix, just like a meatball. Cover the balls with a bit of flour and saute in a little olive oil until brown. Take the balls out and pour out the leftover oil. Pour the wine into the pan and scrape all the yummy tidbits off the bottom of the pan. Add the stock and tomatoes and let cook for a few minutes. Add your meatballs and greens. Let the dish simmer until the meatballs are cooked. We served this with a wonderful quinoa dish that Aaron and Jak brought over. John supplied Colorado Boy beer. Wonderful...just wonderful!