Monday, May 24, 2010
Anyway, this week we're talking carob. A lot of people turn their noses up at carob; they think of it like decaffeinated coffee, i.e. a poor substitute for the real thing (i.e. chocolate). In fact, I think you should get to know it on its own terms. Carob is carob.
The fleshy pods need to be dried out in a slow oven and ground in a 'coffee' grinder! Finely grind powder for a drink. If you use as much as you might cocoa and add the same amount of sugar as you would to make a chocolate drink, I think that you will find it overpoweringly earthy and sweets. You need to experiment. I use around two-thirds the quantity that I would normally use of cocoa and half the amount of sugar. I find it tastes best with brown sugar or honey and with soy rather than cow's milk.
You can make a sweetmeat out of it: place 2 cups of sugar, 3/4 cup of carob powder, 1/4 cup butter and 1/2 cup milk in a saucepan. Stir together while bringing to the boil and continue stirring to thicken. Once it has reached soft ball stage remove, add a teaspoon of vanilla essence and beat well. Once it is thick pour into a buttered pan and cut into cubes once cold.
If you must compare it with cocoa (and many cooks do because it can used for similar recipes) think in terms of fewer calories (60% less than the same weight of cocoa because cocoa has a much higher fat content) and its higher nutritional value. Carob has more natural sugars (carbohydrate) and is higher in iron and potassium.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Beat three eggs with a spare cup of castor sugar. You can use less and/or brown sugar but it takes longer to become foamy.
Add two tablespoons of virgin olive oil (or another vegetable oil, if you prefer).
Add the grated zest from 1 or two oranges or a couple of lemons.
Add three cups of self-raising flour, cup by cup, carefully and quickly folding in.
Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of orange/lemon juice and some orange pulp with one to two cups of drained stewed or preserved fruit. Our local quinces, pears, apples or stone fruit are ideal. Keep the juice/syrup aside for another dish or incorporate some instead of the orange juice. If you used wholemeal flour you will need to add more liquid anyway. The resulting dough should be relatively stiff, more like a bread than a sponge cake mixture.
If I don't have fresh local oranges or lemons I have used dried citrus peel instead of rind, and orange blossom water and water in place of the juice. If I am using plums I prefer to use plum juice instead of citrus ingredients and like to add a spice such as cinnamon. Once you've made it once and are happy with the result you can experiment.
I usually use a square 20 cm pan or a deep round cake dish but you can place the mixture in two sponge pans, cook for less time, and serve with jam between the two.
It takes around 50 minutes to bake. You usually need to cover it after twenty minutes, i.e. once it browns enough. I look at it after 40–45 mins and see if it springs back to the touch in the middle and remove once it is done.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
At our next workshop 5 June, in Katoomba, we will talk more about the significance of Indigenous vegetation at a home which features the unique vegetation and ecology known as Blue Mountains Hanging Swamp. Find out more about that vegetation at the Blue Mountains Conservation Society website. The Bureau of Meteorology has climate statistics to inform a site analysis for the development, redevelopment or extension of your fruit and nut orchard at home too.
Monday, May 3, 2010
BLUE MOUNTAINS FRUIT CALENDAR
We can harvest a wide range of fruits and nuts locally each season.
Local fruit and/or nut gardeners are invited to make additions or suggest modifications to the following work-in-progress compiled by Lizzie Connor.
Across the mountains: loquat, mulberry, rhubarb, strawberry and (in late spring) raspberry
Best in the lower mountains: avocado, jaboticaba, lemonade
Across the mountains: apricot, blueberry, boysenberry, cherry, currant (red, black, white), gooseberry, kumquat, loganberry, loquat, mulberry,nectarine, peach, plum, raspberry, rhubarb, strawberry and (in late summer) almond, apple, fig, hazelnut, passionfruit, pear (incl. nashi), pomegranate, youngberry
Best in lower mountains:lemon (Eureka), lemonade, lime, mandarin, orange, persimmon (non-astringent) and (in late summer) avocado, babaco, macadamia, rockmelon, wampee, watermelon
Best in upper mountains: jostaberry, lemon (Meyer), persimmon (astringent)
Across the mountains: almond, apple, chestnut, feijoa, fig, grape, hazel, kiwi fruit, kumquat, medlar, olive, passionfruit, pear (incl. nashi), plum, quince, raspberry (some), rhubarb, strawberry, strawberry guava, walnut
Best in lower mountains: avocado, babaco, cherimoya, grapefruit, lemon (Eureka), macademia, monstera deliciosa, orange, pine nut, pistachio, rockmelon, tamarillo, walnut, watermelon, white sapote
Best in upper mountains: lemon (Meyer), mandarin (Satsuma)
Across the mountains: apple, hazelnut, kiwi fruit, kumquat, pear (incl. nashi)
Best in lower mountains: grapefruit, lemon (Eureka), orange, tangelo
Best in upper mountains: avocado (Bacon), lemon (Meyer)
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