The Cookie

Little kitchen assistant

Little kitchen assistant

This is the cookie of the year for us. On rotation, we make a fresh batch each week or as the brown bananas in our fruit bowl designate our needs for a new batch. Now that I have a kindergartener in the house, my snack game has gotten significantly stronger - Watch out, Kinder-moms!

The original recipe discovered by Heidi Swanson. Doubled on chocolate, nut-free (making it the perfect school snack) and sweetened only by bananas. I have made various versions of this recipe. Ground Hazelnuts with the chocolate has been a favorite recently. Or adding oat flour and chai spices and leaving out all the chocolate. I always add a bit of flax and lucuma to our batches as well. We have fun with this one and my 18 month old can have a place at the table helping me make them each time. 

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The Cookie (The secretly healthy cookie)

  • 2-3 large, ripe bananas, well mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla powder
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (warmed) or olive oil
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup ground hazelnuts (or almonds, or sunflower seeds)
  • 1/3 cup raw cacao powder (or oat flour)
  • 1/3 cup coconut, finely shredded & unsweetened
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon lucuma powder (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon ground flax seeds (optional)
  • 6 ounces chocolate chips or dark chocolate bar chopped (we love the Lily's brand)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/ 170 degrees C

In a medium bowl combine the bananas, vanilla, and coconut oil. Set aside. In a large bowl stir together the oats through flax seeds. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in the chocolate. The dough is a bit wetter than a standard cookie dough, don't worry about it. Drop dollops of the dough, each about 1 - 2 tablespoons in size, an inch apart, onto a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet. Bake for 13 - 15 minutes. Until golden on the bottoms and slightly dry looking on top.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

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How to Make Fire

I wrote this in April of 2016. I don't know why I never posted it.... I just can't believe how tiny my little squirt was back then. Almost two years already that we have lived in CH. Time flies, when you're building fires and fuelling up on würst regularly. Enjoy the flashback.

- Ash


Now that Spring has arrived to warm our bodies from the winter cold, we spend most of our day in the forests or lakeside in Zurich Oberland (Zurich countryside). My husband grew up in this landscape and valley and knows it well. When we booked our flights from California to Zurich I asked him what he was most excited about showing our daughter in his home country. 

"Building a fire in the forest"

Our daughter is two, mind you.... And I come from a place where building fires outdoors is really never encouraged, and ONLY allowed in serious campground enclosures, on wide beaches away from any and all tree life, and in a permitted outdoor chiminea. Too many people I love have been effected by loss from wild fires in California. The near idea of striking a match in a heavily wooded area brings on anxious discomfort for me. 

In Switzerland though, the art of foraging for sticks and building a fire under a blanket of trees in the midst of your afternoon walk is highly encouraged and practiced. 

As for teaching your budding piro-happy toddler about safe fire practices. Here's a few tips from a Swiss pro;

Begin with a walk.

Begin with a walk.

  1. Begin with a walk in the woods. It's important to build your hunger while searching for the perfect place for a fire.

Prepare your space.

Prepare your space.

2. prepare space

Stick collection

Stick collection

3. Collecting sticks

teepee

teepee

4. Create a teepee

light

light

5. Light

tend.

tend.

6. Tend the flame

stick collection matinence

stick collection matinence

7. stick collection round 2

the wurst placement

the wurst placement

8. Wust placement

cook, hovering over flame until blistered

cook, hovering over flame until blistered

9. cook and eat

walk home

walk home

10. Clean up your fire and walk home

Apricot

"Aprikosen, 7 Juni". -The sign read for over a week.

It's funny how even a word written in a language not your own can still strike a strong cord of an almost edible nostalgia. Have you ever tried a Blenheim apricot? It leaves it's mark.

Stone fruits are a pretty big deal here in Switzerland. Year round, perfectly firm, tart and ripe plums and apricots are sold in the frozen department of the general supermarket for your mid-winter kuchen (cake) cravings. And not a single block of old, over-frozen, post season fruit barely suitable for the occasional smoothie, like I once found in the states. I'm talking about ruby-skinned, perfectly cut in half at their peak, and flash frozen for ease of cake baking. But when they are ripe and ready here, people don't hold back, and they are sold in no less quantity than over 2 kilos.

I was there at apricot man's stand on the 7th of June, ready for my bunddle. 2.5 kilos for 19 francs. That afternoon, my sous chef and I went to work. 

Apricot jam is a no brainer as I think it profiles the golden globes best. Tart and not too sweet. A PB&J is almost exclusively sworn to the raspberry, and a summer pie seems to always be peach territory. I prefer my apricots in a jam for my morning toast with my tea, and in a rustic french-style gallette with ground bitter almonds (apricot kernels). Of which I am currently cracking open and drying out the lot from the leftover 2.5 kilos of fruit. More on that process later.

The apricot jam recipe I love and have put into practice for years is this one by David Lebovitz. This time I added ground cardamom to the mix, because it's great friends with the apricot.

Here is my variation on his recipe:

Apricot Jam with Cardamom

Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz. Yeild 3-4 jars

  • 2 1/4 pounds (1kg) fresh apricots
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) water
  • 3 cups (600g) sugar
  • 1/2 t fresh ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • optional: 1 teaspoon kirsch

1. Cut the apricots in half and extract the pits. If you wish, crack a few open and put a kernel in each jam jar you plan to fill. I highly recommend this as it gives the jam a slightly bitter almond flavor (think marzipan).

2. Place the apricots in a stockpot or Dutch oven, and add the water. Cover the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until the apricots are tender and cooked through.

3. Put a small plate in the freezer.

4. Add the sugar to the apricots and cook, uncovered, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. As the mixture thickens and reduces, stir frequently to make sure the jam isn’t burning on the bottom.

5. When the jam looks thick and is looks slightly-jelled, turn off the heat and put a small amount of jam on the chilled plate. Put back in the freezer for a few minutes, then do the nudge test: If the jam mounds and wrinkles, it’s done. If not, continue to cook, then re-test the jam until it reaches that consistency.

(You can use a candy thermometer if you wish. The finished jam will be about 220ºF, 104ºC.)

6. Once done, stir in the lemon juice and kirsch, if using, and ladle the jam into clean jars. Cover tightly and let cool to room temperature. Once cool, refrigerate until ready to use.

Storage: I find this jam will keep up to one year if refrigerated. If you wish to can it for long-term preservation, you can refer to the USDA Canning Guidelines for techniques.

I also made a version of my Everyday Cake with apricot, sour cream, and spelt flour. A recipe I am still developing in it's variations and will post when I am ready. Now it's just a teaser to help insist that you put apricots in every baked good from now until August. Your welcome. 

 

-Ash