Thursday, June 9, 2011

Blueberry & Yellow Squash Bread

My husband and I were recently talking about how some meals can never be un-eaten. Once you have been traumatized by a food, you never look at it quite the same again, and the memories can remain remarkably vivid. This set me to thinking about the emotions of food. Eating can be a very positive experience, enough so that most of us have a ‘comfort food' that we bring out on Jonah days, those days when you feel like you have spent three days in the belly of the whale (I also call these azure days). As much as food can bring comfort, there is no denying the power of negative dining room memories. It is perhaps ironic that I enjoy eating food, not to mention cooking and writing about it, as much as I do, but it was not always so. I wont get into details, but suffice to say that long before additive sensitivities made food my focus, I used to dread lunch and try to hide from dinner.

I recently faced down a ghost of meals gone by, it showed its teeth and rattled its chains. I had gotten yellow summer squash in my co-op box, and I was grating it for my Pear & Yellow Summer Squash Spice Bread. I was also shaking, sweating, in tears, and my stomach was tied in knots that might have left a Boy Scout green with envy; I, on the other hand, was just plain green. I came close to chucking the whole thing into the compost, but I felt ridiculous enough. In the end, something sweet came from my efforts, and when I decided to make this Blueberry & Yellow Squash Bread, it wasn't as traumatic. I don't suppose straight yellow squash will ever be a comfort food for me, but I have faced it down and found that I can enjoy it in stealth mode. I don't know if other people have such strong reactions to food, but judging by the comments that some of my posts garner, I suspect that I may not be alone.

Blueberry & Yellow Squash Bread

All the emotions aside, I can honestly say that I really enjoy this Tea bread. It has just a hint of lemon, the blueberries show off nicely, and the bread is moist and mildly sweet. If you like a sweeter bread, you could add sugar or a glaze, but even with my sweet tooth (Who am I kidding? I must have several sweet teeth, LOL), I really would make this just the same next time around. As always, I use as many organic ingredients as possible.

½ cup butter
1 cup lemon zest sugar, you can substitute cane sugar & add the zest of one lemon
2 cups flour (I used 1½ all-purpose flour & ½ cup whole wheat flour)
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 yellow summer squash finely grated
1½ cups blueberries (toss gently with an additional Tbsp or so of flour)

Preheat oven to 350° F (app. 175°C*)- if using stoneware, check the recommendations of your manufacturer regarding oven temperature.
Prepare a loaf pan (butter, and if needed, line with parchment paper).
Cream butter & sugar, add eggs one at a time.
Whisk salt, baking powder & baking soda into the flour.
Alternate adding the flour mixture and the grated squash, mixing only until all ingredients are incorporated.
Gently fold the blueberries into the batter and spoon it into the prepared loaf pan.
Bake app 60 mins. or until a tester, inserted in the middle, comes out clean.
I allowed the loaf to cool for a few minutes in the pan before turning the loaf out, but that was mostly so that I could photograph the bread.
Enjoy with a cup (or pot) of tea.

*I use an online conversion chart and round up or down, as seems appropriate. Please adjust according to your judgement, and send me a message if you find an error. Thank you.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Orange Chai Butter

As you may have figured out by now, I have really been enjoying playing with spices. Recently I ordered some coriander seed powder, and I have absolutely fallen in love with it, as well as Chai blends featuring coriander, along with other spicy lovelies. If you use the ‘Search This Blog" feature to hunt for ‘coriander seed powder', you will find several recipes, and here is another to add to the list (you had to see this coming a mile away, LOL). This spiced butter would be great for breakfast, Tea, or even on a dinner roll. I would suggest filling a ramekin (immediate use) or canning jar (allows you to store and use) with this butter while it is soft. For a dinner party you could fill individual condiment cups for each place setting, or if you want to really dress this up, you could use a butter mold.

1 stick of organic butter
zest of one orange
1/8 tsp cardamom
¼ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp white pepper
½ tsp coriander seed powder
1/8 tsp ginger
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
2 Tbsp cane sugar (or to taste)

Allow the butter to soften (but do not fully melt it).
Add the orange zest, spices and sugar and beat it until well blended. (I did this by hand, since I still have not replaced my food processor).
Pack the butter into the container that you intend to use, and refrigerate.
Take out of the refrigerator to soften as you would any butter before a meal. 
Enjoy this on rolls, bread, pancakes, etc.