Chocolate Surprise

life_in_maine_chocolat_surpriseThis is a recipe for black bean fudge. It has a soft and smooth texture and a light flavor. It is gluten free and really healthy. The original recipe came from the BlendTec site, but Naomi modified it into something a little healthier and with a little more spice:

3 cups of cooked black beans
4 tsp vanilla extract
3 dried pitted dates
3 dried figs
2/3 cup coconut oil
1 cup of unsweetened cocoa
2/3 cup of honey
1/4 to 1/5 tsp of chili powder

Nuts are an optional ingredient. Mixed all the ingredients in a blender. Pour the mixture into a 8 x 8 inch baking pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Cut into one inch cubes. You can freeze what you can’t eat. Click on the image for a bigger bite.

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Thanksgiving Dinner

life_in_maine_thanksgiving_dinnerNaomi and I don’t eat meat. For Thanksgivings we made a stuffed kabocha. Kabocha is a well known squash in Japan. You can eat the cooked flesh by itself or stuff the entire fruit. For the stuffing, we used ingredients from our garden: plantain, spiderwort, day lilies, goutweed, and bush beans. We added some vegetarian sausage, mushrooms, croutons, and cheese. (This would be good for other holidays, feasts, or an everyday meal.) Click on the image for a larger view.

Self-Heal Tea

life_in_maine_self_heal_teaPrunella vulgaris, commonly known as Self Heal or Heal All, is known in many cultures to have healing properties. The entire plant is edible and can be uses in soups, salads, and stews. Like with our Goldenrod, we make tea from the plant. Unlike the bitterness of Goldenrod, this tea has a mild flavor. Click on the image for a larger view

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Goldenrod Tea

life_in_maine_goldenrod_teaGoldenrod tea is said to have medicinal properties and to be good for colds. The tea is bitter and we usually mix it with chamomile and add a splash of honey. We simply throw goldenrod blossoms and leaves into a masion jar and pour in boiling water. We let it steep for 30 minutes to a day. If you love the bitterness of Japanese green tea, goldenrod can can be a great non-caffeine alternative. Click on the image for a larger view.

Dandelion Roots and Coffee

edible_weeds_dandelion_3The roots of the dandelion can be used in soup or stir fried with vegetables. We like to roast the root as a coffee substitute. Click on the image for a larger view.

For coffee, we harvest dandelions older than three years for the size of the roots. We do this in the spring as we can also use the leaves for cooking. You can also harvest the roots in the fall, but the leaves will be bitter.

  1. Wash the roots and chop them finely.
  2. Dry them in a oven at 250°F for two hours. Stir them occasionally to prevent burning.
  3. Finish roasting the roots at 350°F. You will need to check them frequently so they do not burn. (You can also roast them in a frying pan over low to medium heat as well.)
  4. Grind just before use. One and a half tablespoons of grounds are good for one cup of coffee. We usually simmer the ground root in water for ten minutes.

Evening Primrose Seed Bread

life_in_maine_breadThis week, Naomi baked one of our favorite breads with the seeds of the Evening Primrose, Oenothera biennis. These seeds make a great substitute for poppy seeds. If you roast them in the oven for 15–20 minutes, they can be used as a substitute for pepper. We collect the seed pods in the fall: these are also a favorite of the Goldfinch, an aggressive  competitor that peels back a pod like a banana. We hang the pods to dry before we hull them. Click on the image for a larger view.

About our Hard Cider

life_in_maine_hard_cider_raisinsWe have been asked for a little bit more information about how we make our hard cider. We follow the recipe for New England Barrel Cider, which we found in the wonderful book Cider: Making, Using & Enjoying Sweet and Hard Cider by Anne Proulx and Lew Nichols, an excellent reference for any cidermaker.

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