Hashing it Out: Veggie Hash

“You seem to like to take the easy way….”

Folks who have been following this blog know that every once and a while I branch out of baking to post “how-to’s” about food other than baked goods. Usually that is because someone asks me a question which I think others might like to know the answer to as well. This week someone read a couple of posts of mine and asked an interesting question about hash.

If you are not familiar with hash (or know it only as the shorten form of hashish, a stronger form of marijuana), hash is a dish that began as a way of stretching meat during times of scarcity. You take leftover meat, dice it up, and add diced potatoes (because potatoes were filling and cheap) and anything else you can dice to make the dish more satisfying. Almost every country has its version of hash, which comes from a French word meaning “to chop”.

Over the centuries, the versions of hash recipes which exist has exponentially grown with every type of meat or poultry and potatoes variations being explored. In more recent years, folks started adding vegetables and tofu and legumes to make the hash more “healthy” and edible by non-meat eaters. This week, someone asked me, though, “The recipes for hash seemed to require so much work! All that cutting and chopping. You seem to like to take the easy way. How would you make hash quick and easy?”

I just had to laugh. Someone who knows how lazy a cook I am! School nights are always a rush at dinner time because of the children’s activities or my and my husband’s meetings, so yes, I do find ways to make meals quick and easy. Folks who have read other posts know that I love my crock pots, and many days of the week, meals are crock pot dinners which were assembled in the morning and ready to eat at dinner time. When that is not possible, though, then something like hash for dinner is perfect as long as you have ready-made items on hand.

For quick and easy hash, I keep diced potatoes in the fridge. Simply Potatoes is the brand I usually purchase at the store because it stores well in the fridge. Because we usually make a vegetarian version, I also stock the freezer with frozen, chopped kale or swiss chard or collard greens or spinach, and I keep cans of no salt and no sugar added petite diced tomatoes in the pantry. In the spice cabinet I have freeze-dried fresh herbs, onion powder and pepper, and in the fridge, I keep diced garlic. All this is all one needs to make a quick and easy vegetable hash. Should you want a meat version, then make the hash on a night when you have leftover meat or poultry from another meal which you can just add near the end of the cooking time. When I make hash, I can have dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes.

Vegetable Hash

Ingredients:

Olive oil

two 20 oz packages of Simply Potatoes with Onions (or another brand)

one 20 oz package frozen, chopped kale, collard greens, swiss chard or spinach

one 29 oz can of no salt, no sugar added petite diced tomatoes

Freeze dried or fresh Herbs (oregano, basil, thyme, dill, rosemary, marjoram, etc…; if you use dried herbs, you should add them with the potatoes so that the flavors have time to meld)

Black pepper

Onion powder

minced garlic

Optional: add leftover chopped meat or poultry or rinsed, canned beans or tofu

Optional (which is how we eat it): Serve the hash with a cooked egg atop of it

Cooking Instructions:

  1. In a large, shallow pan, on the stove top, put just enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Add the diced potatoes and cook the potatoes until they are browned on all sides. To brown potatoes well, you need to let them just sit and cook. They will stick to the pan, but that’s what you want. That is how the crispy coating is formed. Just use your spatula to unstick the potatoes and turn them. Any browned crusty pieces which stick to the bottom of the pan will come up later when you add the greens and tomatoes.
  2. After the potatoes have browned, add the frozen chopped greens and cook through, stirring frequently, until the  greens have thawed.
  3. Drain the canned tomatoes and add the tomatoes without the juice to the pan, along with herbs of choice, black pepper, onion powder and minced garlic, all to your taste liking. (I don’t add salt because the store bought potatoes have more than enough salt in them for the entire dish, but if you like things saltier, that’s your call.) Mix well and let the hash simmer, stirring every once and a while, for about five minutes until the browned crusty pieces have come off the bottom of the pan and mixed in with the hash.
  4. If adding the meat, do so now and cook just until everything is thoroughly warm.
  5. If eating as a vegetarian dish, serve as is. If eating it as we do, fry eggs hard or over-medium and place one on top of each serving of hash.
  6. Enjoy!

 

 

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Recipe Revamping: Lemon Bundt

“The world as best as I remember it….”

A musician named, Rich Mullins, released an album years ago titled, “The World As Best As I Remember It.” The songs in the album challenged folks to think about what they thought they knew, to consider how our current perceptions can affect memories and views of “history,” to understand that much is simply “as best as we remember it.”

Food memories are often “as best as we remember it” because the emotions around them can cloud or enhance what we remember. For example, when I was pregnant with my second child, I simply could not eat iceberg lettuce. It made me so sick that to this day I cannot eat it. What’s interesting is that when I think about iceberg lettuce now, I don’t seem to have memories of eating it ever, though my parents will tell you that I most definitely did, and for a time, wouldn’t eat any other type of lettuce as a child.

Another example is a friend whose mother always made cake from a box for his birthday which was the only time his mother ever baked, so in his memory, his mother made the best cakes ever. As a grown up, after eating one of my homemade cakes, his mother made him a cake from a box, and he couldn’t believe the difference in taste because he was sure his mother’s cake would win the “best ever” taste test over my homemade cake, which he had to admit, it didn’t.

This week I received an email from someone whose grandmother used to make a lemon bundt cake that held fond memories for her. She wanted to be make the cake for her granddaughter but realized that with all her granddaughter’s food allergies she couldn’t. So, she asked if I might help her find a way to recreate the cake so that it tasted and looked just like her own grandmother’s recipe.

Her grandmother’s recipe called for 3 cups of all purpose flour, 1 cup of butter, 2 1/2 cups of sugar, 6 eggs, and 1 cup of sour cream in addition to the salt, baking soda and lemon juice. When I read the recipe, I realized that in addition to the allergy substitutions, the cake needed a health-makeover as well!

Substituting and recreating the lemon bundt cake:

The Flour: Since the granddaughter needed to be gluten free I opted to use King Arthur’s gluten free blend, but to make the cake a bit healthier, I chose the whole grain blend instead of the straight rice flour blend and reduced the flour to 2 1/2 cups.

The butter: The granddaughter’s dairy allergy meant substituting the butter with something else, but to make it healthier as well, I decided to use olive oil which has good fats and to reduce the amount to 2/3 of a cup. Because I didn’t want a heavy olive oil flavor, I used the extra light version.

The sugar: 2 1/2 cups of sugar is a lot! My friend didn’t ask me to do anything about the sugar, but I couldn’t help myself. I opted to use a combination of agave and truvia. To create the exact same sweetness as the original cake, I used 2/3 cup agave with 1/2 cup truvia. To make the came so I’d like it, which meant it being much less sweet, I reduced both amounts by half. So, folks can choose what they’d prefer.

The eggs: Six eggs is a lot! I reduced the amount by half and added some water to help fill out the liquid ingredients. Since I was using the agave which is a liquid, between the agave and the added water, the reduction in eggs was fine.

The sour cream: Since the granddaughter had a dairy allergy, I couldn’t use the sour cream, so I opted to make a buttermilk from soy milk and lemon juice but I reduced the amount to 1/2 since it was a liquid as opposed to the solid sour cream, which reduced the amount of fat in the cake.

The flavoring and leavening: I added baking powder to the baking soda since it was a gluten free cake and I used fresh lemons to achieve the most lemony taste by grating the peel and then squeezing the juice.

The cake came out amazing! When I served it to company, which included my friend, she said it tasted just like her grandmother’s. So, now she had her grandmother’s cake to serve only allergy friendly and as a much healthier version!

Lemon Bundt Cake

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups Gluten Free Flour blend (I used King Arthur’s whole grain blend)

2 tsp gluten free baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp freshly grated lemon peel (from fresh lemons is the best way to go)

2/3 cup extra light olive oil

1/3 to 2/3 cup Agave (use higher amount if you like a sweet cake)

1/4 to ½ cup Truvia (use higher amount if you like a sweet cake)

½ cup “buttermilk” (I used soy milk mixed with 1/2 tbsp lemon juice)

3 large eggs

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (depending on size of lemons, you will need anywhere from 4 to 6 lemons)

1/4 cup plain water

Baking Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a bundt pan for use.  (I coated the pan with vegan butter, and then I sprinkled the pan with ground flaxseed.)

2.  Mix the flour with baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add the lemon peel and mix well. Set aside.

3.  Mix oil, Agave, Truvia, buttermilk, eggs, lemon juice and water.

4.  Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Combine well until the dry ingredients are completely moistened.  Batter will be thick.

5.  Evenly spread batter into bundt pan and bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

6.  Cool on wire rack for at least 15 minutes before removing from the pan and cooling completely.

Creative Cooking: Dried Plum Muffins

“It’s the bacon song….”

Last night we discovered that our fridge is not working as it ought. Specifically, the refrigerator part (but not the freezer) is not staying as cold as it needs to be to keep meat from being spoiled, and when I went to start dinner, I learned that the ground turkey I had bought had gone bad. Since it was close to dinner time, I opted to do what I usually do in a crunch… we had breakfast for dinner.

The children love when we have breakfast for dinner. Pancakes, waffles, sausages, bacon, eggs… these are some of their favorite foods. Given what we had in the pantry and the freezer, last night ended up being pumpkin pancakes and turkey bacon with salad as our veggies. This, of course, meant there were pancakes and bacon available for the children to eat again this morning for breakfast.

When our son went to get bacon to eat, he began to sing. It turned out it was the “bacon song” he was making up and singing. When we laughed, he switched to the “apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” and reminded my husband and me that we do strange things all the time!

In fact, I was just accused of oddness last week when I made dried plum muffins. Someone thought it weird that I would even use dried plums. Another wondered why I did not call them prunes. I explained that dried plums have a lot of fiber, potassium, good vitamins like K, A and B, and are naturally sweet so you don’t need to add sugar. The reason I call them dried plums is because that is what prunes are, and I find people react oddly when you say you’ve made something with prunes. Of course, I discovered that dried plum muffins received the same reaction, so it may not be the name!

The fact, though, is that the muffins I made are healthier muffins with rolled oats and flax seed and garbanzo bean flour, so in addition to having no sugar, they are higher in fiber and protein. The version below have mini chocolate chips because I was making them for a children’s party, but you can omit the chocolate chips and then serve them as a breakfast muffin!

Dried Plum Muffins

Ingredients:

7 ounces of pitted, chopped dried plums (prunes)

1 cup gluten free rolled whole oats

1 1/2 cup boiling water

2 tbsp ground golden flaxseed

6 tbsp water

1 cup gluten free oat flour

1 cup garbanzo bean flour

1/3 cup potato starch

2/3 cup arrowroot starch

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips

1 cup mashed, ripe bananas

1/2 cup safflower oil

1/2 cup water

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Baking Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 24 muffin cups with cupcake liners or grease them so the muffins won’t stick to your pan.

2. Mix the chopped dried plums with the oats in a bowl, and pour the boiling water over them, pushing the dried plums and oats down into the water so they are covered. Let sit.

4. Whisk together the ground flaxseed with the water, and set aside.

5. Whisk together the oat flour, garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, arrowroot starch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Stir in the chocolate chips and set aside.

6. Mash the bananas and mix with the oil and the dried plums and oatmeal mixture and the flaxseed mixture.

7. Make a hole in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients along with the apple cider vinegar. Mix up quickly just until the dry ingredients are moist.

8. Evenly scoop the muffin batter among the 24 muffin cups and bake for 15 minutes or until the cupcakes are golden and puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

9. Remove the muffins to a wire rack and cool completely.  These keep well in a tightly covered tupper ware container.

Autumn Appetites: Pumpkin Bundt Cake

“But I really don’t have anything to complain about, though….”

I ran into a friend today who asked how I and the family were doing. Because he was a friend, I felt comfortable telling him about the emotional roller coaster the family has been on since May with two children being in car accidents, my husband’s father dying, trying to figure out what caused a seizure for my middle child, our oldest in angst about what to do next year after her senior year of college, our youngest camping in our bedroom since May, suddenly not wanting to sleep alone, health issues I have been having, a cousin’s wife struggling with a recurrence of cancer, and the transition to another full school year of responsibilities for both my husband and myself.

After briefing him on all that, he asked how in the world we were holding up, and I told him that we were actually doing okay because we continually and daily reminded ourselves about the many things we have to be grateful for in comparison to other things happening in the world. We aren’t living in any of the places which have been devastated by the recent onslaught of hurricanes. All our children are alive and well physically. We have jobs, a home, provisions. Our friends and family are numerous and great supports to us. My husband’s mom is not alone as she copes with the death of my father-in-law. My own parents are holding their own despite setbacks here and there.

Our gratitude list can go on and on, and some days we just sit and speak that list as a way of thanksgiving for all we do have, even in the midst of these more emotionally taxing times. For us, it really is the only way to live when life gets tougher than we’d like.

Sometimes, food allergies and health issues can be taxing and make us weary, too. We wish we didn’t have to eat a certain way. We miss and crave foods we used to be able to eat. We are frustrated by the time and energy and costs it takes to eat non-traditionally. We don’t like being the odd people out. We want to complain. We want to shake our fists at the universe.

I felt this the other day when the only options for food at a church gathering were ones I couldn’t eat, despite the number of times I have tried to make the church aware of just how many people with food allergies attend the church.

In these situations, though, I once again find myself thinking about the ways I am blessed. For those of us with food issues, we live currently in a time when options for alternative foods exist. Many of us also live in countries where we have access to nontraditional ingredients and food. More and more restaurants are offering options to meet dietary needs. Blogs and cookbooks are focusing on our health issues. Schools and hospitals are enacting changes to better help care for folks with allergies. Stores like BJs and Costco are selling nontraditional ingredients for cheaper. Those of us with food issues provide an opportunity for others to learn and to show compassion and understanding. Those of us with food issues have an opportunity to practice compassion and understanding when folks don’t learn and show compassion.

Again, the list of things to be grateful for about food issues can go on and on, if we truly consider them.

The other day, I was grateful for pumpkin. Pureed pumpkin is awesome for food issues because it is a healthy, vitamin-filled vegetable which can be used as a substitute for eggs as well as fats. Plus its orange hue makes food pretty, and it tastes yummy.

So, I decided I would make three pumpkin bundt cakes for some upcoming weekend events. For one, we ate the cake topped with an apple compote I made in the crockpot as a snack. For the other, folks put vanilla ice cream on top for a dessert. For the third, people just ate it as is for breakfast.

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup mashed ripe bananas

2 cups cooked, pureed pumpkin

3 eggs

3/4 cup extra light olive oil

1 tbsp minced ginger paste

1 cup agave

3 cups gluten free flour blend (I used King Arthur’s whole grain blend)

2 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt pan with vegan butter and coat with golden ground flaxseed.
  2. Blend together the bananas, pumpkin, eggs, oil ginger paste and agave. Set aside.
  3. Mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, along with the apple cider vinegar, and mix quickly just until the dry ingredients are moistened and incorporated.
  5. Evenly spread the batter into the prepare bundt pan.
  6. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until the cake is puffed, golden and a toothpick inserted comes out with only a few crumbs sticking to it.
  7. Cool in the bundt pan on a wiring cooling rack for at 15 to 25 minutes. Turn the cake upside down onto the wire cooling rack, removing the pan, and allowing the cake to cool completely.

Creative Cooking: Gingerbread Cupcakes

“It’s about coming together as a community….”

Some friends of mine decided recently that we should put all the walking we have been doing to good use, specifically, I walked my first 5K last weekend, and we did another this weekend.  The first supported community living in general and raised funds for a local community initiative; the second was to help raise awareness and aid for cancer research and care for children.

Not having done a 5K before, I did not know what to expect, and I was surprised by the diversity that one finds at such events. Race, politics, religion, lifestyles, level of health, even reasons for doing each of these particular 5K races varied from person to person. Something about participating in a 5K transcends everything other than the fact that everyone is there, which seems to make you automatically a part of a special group.

I was also marked by the optimism and positive vibes which steep such events. People cheer you on from the get-go and continue to encourage you the entire way, and even if you are last, you receive the same accolades as the person who was first, sometimes even more so! Whether you run, walk or are in a wheelchair, you are accepted and permitted to do the race at your own pace in the manner which works best for you. Best of all, though, is that you become a part of a community as opposed to being alone.

People I did not know felt comfortable chatting with me before, during and at the end of the races because of that common bond, which was that we were all participating in the 5K. We were all part of “the group”.

I thought about this yesterday as a mom told me about her worries for her middle child who just started her first year of college. The daughter has a lot of food issues but has difficulty watching what she eats because she does not want to be different from her friends; she does not want to miss out on the foods they are eating… pizza, pasta, desserts. She just wants to “be a part of the group,” as she tells her mother quite frequently.

We all want to be a part of something bigger than just ourselves. Being a part of a community that runs and walks and wheels together for the good of community and humanity is a good thing to be a part of. Being a part of a close-knit group of friends is also a good thing. Sometimes, however, that community we are choosing to join needs some education, and sometimes we have to remember that we can be a part of community life and still be different, and more than that, our differences are what most of the time make for a more vibrant community life. As with the 5K, we should be able to be accepted and permitted to do the same thing differently.

This week, I had a workshop with a very large group of much older folks who had never considered trying to eat healthier or allergy friendly… ever. They wondered, as they rightly should have, whether it was even possible to make the foods they loved in the manner which I promised them they could. As such, I had my work cut out for me to create desserts which fit their expectations. To that end, one of the items I made was gingerbread cupcakes.

The folks had indicated that they loved gingerbread, and how could I possibly make gingerbread without using at least two cups each of molasses and sugar and without white flour and butter. It simply would not be the same! Well, I am happy to say that they loved the gingerbread cupcakes so much that they took all my leftovers home, leaving nothing for me to share with the family after! Fortunately, the family had been able to taste test a couple before!

So, below is a recipe for gingerbread cupcakes which is dairy, gluten, soy, and egg free. I did opt to use coconut sugar to get the texture that I needed for the gingerbread but any folks with a coconut allergy can feel free to use the traditional brown sugar or substitute agave, using half the amount you would for the coconut sugar. The coconut milk can also be changed to any type of milk that best suits one’s food needs. I also used date molasses instead of regular molasses which is made entirely from dates but if you cannot find that, you can use regular molasses.

Gingerbread Cupcakes

Ingredients:

3 cups gluten free flour blend (I used King Arthur’s Whole Grain version)

1 cup coconut sugar

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp ginger

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cloves

1 cup date molasses

1 cup coconut milk

1 cup safflower oil

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 24 muffin tins with cupcake liners
  2. Mix together the flour, coconut sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg and cloves. Set aside.
  3. Blend together the date molasses, coconut milk, and oil.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet with the apple cider vinegar. Blend quickly just until the dry ingredients are moistened.
  5. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins.
  6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the cupcakes are puffed and dark golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Allow the cupcakes to sit for five minutes and then remove them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  8. These cupcakes are extremely flavorful and need no frosting at all. If you would like to frost them, though, as I did for the workshop, the frosting I used is below.

“Cream Cheese” Frosting

Ingredients:

1/4 to 1/2 cup vegan butter (how much you choose to use depends on how buttery tasting you want your frosting versus cream cheese tasting)

agave (I suggest starting with one tablespoon and tasting to see if you need more sweetness)

4 oz to 8 oz tofu cream cheese (how much depends on how much butter you used, how much of a cream cheese taste you want and how thick you want the frosting; if you don’t have a dairy allergy and want to use real cream cheese instead of the tofu version, you may)

cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and/or cloves (add to your tastes, starting with 1/4 tsp of your choice or choices.

Frosting Instructions:

  1. In a mixer, mix the butter until smooth.
  2. Slowly drizzle in the agave with the mixer on low to blend the agave in with the butter until creamy. Taste to see if you need to add any more agave.
  3. Add the tofu cream cheese and blend well until the frosting is to the desired thickness for easy spreading.
  4. Add the spices to your liking. I use all four for a nice spice frosting.
  5. If the frosting is too thick, you can thin it with milk of your choice. If it is too runny, thicken it with a little powdered sugar, using only 1 tsp at at time.

Savoring Summer: Summer Squash Bread

“I’m only one person….”

Since we were away for most of August, we had asked someone to pick our garden for us, not wanting the vegetables to go to waste. Unfortunately for our friend, her singleness prevented an ability to keep up with the glut of summer squash and zucchini that our garden tends to yield this time of year. When I am home, I pick these vegetables while they are still small and tender and use them in salads or sautes. When I want to make stuffed zucchini or squash, I allow them to grow to a larger size for adequate stuffing. When one returns home from over three weeks away and finds summer squash the size of a baseball bat, well, there’s really only two things one can do… make soup and bake!

So, I chopped up much of the summer squash and zucchini and made a delicious soup in my largest crockpot of summer squash, zucchini, kale and tomatoes, but I still had enough summer squash left to create 4 grated cups worth, so I went to work creating a recipe around the four cups of summer squash.

I wanted something that would go with the soup so I opted to make a cornbread type dish, only a summer squash bread. I didn’t want it to be sweet like a cake but I also didn’t want it to be too dry. Like a cornbread, I wanted it to be something we could lather some vegan butter on and have with the soup as something a bit more filling, since the soup would be all vegetables, but I also wanted it to be something that could be eaten on its own, since I presumed there would be leftovers.

As I worked on the recipe, I needed to keep in mind that I had four cups of the summer squash to use, so I decided it would need an 11 by 15 pan, which I lined with parchment paper. Then I opted to use a combination of a gluten free flour blend with another gluten free flour to combine the lightness of a rice flour blend with the hardiness of a straight gluten free flour. For the liquid, I used eggs and safflower oil but I also added unsweetened orange juice to react with the orange juice for rising and also to add some additional flavor. For the sweetener I used Agave because I could use a lot less than sugar, and I added some spice for the final touch.

The result was a bread that the family enjoyed with the soup and which friends enjoyed the next day on its own.

Summer Squash Bread

Ingredients:

2 cups gluten free flour blend

1 cup sorghum or millet flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp sea salt

2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or you can use any combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice)

4 cups shredded, loosely packed summer squash

1/2 cup beaten eggs (usually two large eggs; can also just use egg whites)

3/4 cup safflower oil

3/4 cup unsweetened orange juice

3/4 cup agave

Baking Instructions:

  1. Line a 9 x 15 pan with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix the gluten free flour blend with the sorghum OR millet flour, the baking powder, the baking soda, the salt and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.
  3. Mix the grated squash with the beaten eggs, oil, unsweetened orange juice, and agave.
  4. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet and blend well.
  5. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the bread has puffed and is golden, pulling away from the edges and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

 

 

Fancy Fruits: Upside Down Peach Cake

“I don’t want it to end…”

Every summer for the past decade our family has spent a couple of weeks in the Adirondack mountains, helping with my husband’s family forest. This year, because of the timing of two additional events, our time in the mountains was sandwiched by a mini-vacation as an immediate family and then a 50th anniversary celebration with extended family. The result was that almost the entire month of August was time away from home, being with people we loved, doing many fun things, in addition to working in the forest.

When all this special time was coming to an end yesterday, I found my youngest crying on the second floor of the lodge my mother-in-law had rented. I asked what was wrong, and he said, “I don’t want it to end. I want it to be like this forever.”

I understood how he felt because I feel the same way every year as summer closes and the new school year begins. Summertime, with less hustle and bustle and relaxed rules, is a happy time for me with the children, simply being a family. So, as the days draw near for school to resume, I find myself saying the same thing my son did, “I don’t want it to end. I want it to be like this forever.”

Life and time don’t stand still, though, and we leave summer days behind in favor of autumnal comings. For me, I always know that summer is ending when the farm stand up the road from us starts slowing down on the peaches they are able to pick and sell. It is always around now, and I am glad each year that I arrive home from the mountains with just enough time for one more batch of fresh peach shopping.

Because we had company coming over tonight, I used some of the peaches to make an upside down peach cake, and I thought I would share the recipe with folks since it has been a few weeks since my last post (for the reasons cited above!). Since fresh peaches aren’t always available, I included the amount I use for when I make the cake with frozen peaches.

Upside Down Peach Cake

Ingredients:

two cups sliced fresh peaches or one 16 oz bag frozen peaches, no sugar added

2 tbsp dairy free butter

2 tbsp Agave

2 cups gluten free brown rice flour blend

1 cup sorghum flour (can also substitute oat or millet flour)

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup Tofutti sour cream (you can also substitute mayonnaise or dairy free yogurt)

2/3 cup safflower oil

2 eggs

2/3 cup Agave

1 tbsp vinegar

Instructions:

In a shallow, large pan, melt the 2 tbsp “butter” (I use Earth Balance soy-free, vegan butter) with the 2 tbsp of Agave. Add the frozen peaches and cook for about 4-5 minutes, flipping them after about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Remove the peach slices, putting them onto the bottom of a well greased or parchment paper lined 9 x 13 pan. Cook the butter mixture another minute until it’s thickened, and then evenly pour it over the peach slices.

Mix the gluten free flour blend with the sorghum flour, the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

Mix the Toffuti sour cream with the safflower oil, eggs, and Agave.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, along with the vinegar, and quickly mix them together just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Carefully spread the batter over the peaches.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 25 to 30 minutes. The cake will be golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean. When you take the cake out of the oven, you should cool it on a wire cooling rack for at least ten minutes and then flip it onto a platter which you can then put onto the cooling rack so the cake and cool completely. Be sure to flip it onto a pretty platter which has a rim for catching any of the syrup. If a peach is stuck on the bottom of the pan, just pull it off and insert it back into its missing space.

When you serve the cake, you can serve it with whipped cream or ice cream (or their substitute counterparts) or plain.