Monday, September 12, 2011

Everything's Rosy.

About a year ago I read somewhere about a woman who said that she likes to wake up at least a half hour before her household. Thirty minutes hardly seems like enough time to accomplish anything, but recently I have successfully implemented this myself - even if it requires me to be ripped from my sleep and dreams, and even if it makes me feel blurry eyed for several minutes before actually getting out of bed.

For the past 5 years, I have not really set an alarm. We got up when we woke up, I got up actually when the Kiddo woke up since I am rather night-owlish. But getting up at the crack of dawn isn't really so bad. This morning, I had already thrown in the first load of laundry and prepped some beets to roast before my son was even poked gently awake. My entire morning seemed rather pink after dropping him off at school. I walked in the door, (washed my hands), and took the roasted beets out of the oven. It's our last hot day, and I had the oven on early so I could welcome Fall tomorrow with beety fresh baked goods.

When they were cooling, I ran the Watermelon Jellies down to the basement shelves. I made two batches over the weekend using Marisa's recipe, one plain and one with fresh cayenne peppers. I have never made watermelon jelly before, but I have to say that it has grown on me. Especially the cayenne version. I am most excited to make some crackers, get some good sheep's milk feta, and enjoy this warming sweet melon flavored jelly to it's full capacity. I tried the skimmed off foam on frozen scones, and was appropriately amazed. Watermelon Jelly is completely worthwhile and deserves a place on the jam shelf, and don't let anyone try and convince you otherwise!

I also strained out the elderberry vinegar. It had been sitting for several days (I've lost count), but tasted well rounded and earthy so I figured it was time. Using the workhorse nut milk bag, I let it hang for about a half hour before squeezing the pulp nearly dry. My hands briefly stained light purple, I measured the finished vinegar at 4 cups. Using the same method as the Cherry Vinegar (which was adapted from Pam Corbin's Raspberry Vinegar), I added 1 c. of sugar for each cup of vinegar and warmed it just enough to completely dissolve the sugar so that my cider vinegar remained raw. It is lovely. I have the jars bottled, labeled, and transferred to the basement shelves. I just drank a couple of tablespoons over ice, diluted with seltzer water, and it is fantastic. But since elderberry seems to be more in the medicinal family than the gustatory one, I'll be sure to curb my consumption. However, drinking 2 T. a day throughout cold and flu season seems like it could be very easy to do.

I peeled the beets, and pureed a couple of them. When looking up the link for the Ground Cherry Hot Sauce I made last week, I ran into a beet doughnut recipe that Sarah Nett posted. They were baked doughnuts, and I have not made dessert over here in what seems like forever (in reality, it has only been a week or two). In the back of my mind I thought perhaps I could make these camouflaged enough that my boys would both eat and love them, but after trying them, I'm not completely certain they would be fooled.

I love the flavor and color, but the texture needs some work. Had I baked them in a doughnut pan (I don't have one), I think they may have worked better actually, since the texture did remind me of doughnuts. Making them as muffins instead left the bottoms slightly gummy - and I suspect I should have added a bit more flour or leavener.

If you are a baker, will you take a look at my recipe in progress and give me a couple of suggestions? I have a feeling these could be fantastic with a tweak or two...

WORK IN PROGRESS Beet Muffins (adapted from My Culinary Sanctuary)
  • 1 c. AP flour
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/2 c. pureed beets
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. yogurt
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 T. vegetable oil (I eyeballed)
Preheat oven to 350. Line a muffin tin with papers, or grease them well.

Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

In a medium sized bowl, beat eggs with brown sugar for several minutes, until the sugar is partially dissolved. Mix in yogurt, vanilla and oil, and beat well.

Scrape the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mix well by hand, but do not overmix. Portion into the waiting muffin tin.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until a tester comes out clean.

slightly gummy.

I am not about to give up on these beet muffins. On looks alone, they have captured my Autumn-ready heart. I glazed them using a quick doughnut glaze that I remembered loving from the Daring Baker Donut Challenge a while back. I eyeballed small amounts into a little bowl and stirred it with a spoon. After dunking the photographic one, I just spooned a little over each. (I am frustrated with my favorite muffin papers. They used to be amazing and non-stick and now the only thing they have going for them is that they are compostable...)

So I feel productive and maybe a little less lonely on this second Monday of the school year. I'm saving my yard work for tomorrow when our weather will quickly turn to more Fall-like temperatures. My morning went fast, which I know is how these school years will go.

Please remember if you have an idea for these muffins to let me know. Could it be that they need a stick of butter? When I'm so tired tonight from getting up so early, I'm sure I'll be wide awake thinking about how to fix them.


  1. What gorgeous colours! Beet muffins? You could be onto a good thing! I was wondering how you vinegar was going along - sounds like it's working for you.

  2. my suggestion - replace the whole wheat with 1/2 cup of uncooked oatmeal. They are VERY pretty.


Communication is a good thing, most of the time...