...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.



Two bucketsful and I could have picked two more!
The fruit keeps rolling in.  I just picked up six quarts of black currants from the farmers' market.  I've been running a tab with our CSA farm this year at the farmers' market in exchange for my worker share hours typing recipes for their newsletter and putting up their personal preserves.  I love the idea of bartering like this.  I also love that I know exactly who picked my berries.  A fellow Master Preserver and domestic artist friend works at the farm on Fridays and she assured me that she picked these dark fruits with love and care (and a flock of chickens following her around the farm's orchard where this feathery crew is kept).  I will be cooking down the currants and making them into a rich juice concentrate early next week.  Today I've got cooked blueberries hanging in cheesecloth over a bowl in the kitchen.  Those will be the first into the canner as I begin to replenish my supply of juices for the season.  If local juice-making interests you, please check out the class I'm teaching on August 25 at the urbanecologycenter.org where we will process a batch of juice concentrate and sample some homemade non-alcoholic refreshers just in time to give you ideas for your late summer soirees.

I also retuned to the lakefront to harvest more wild black raspberries this week.  I was trying to top off my bucket (or pick a second bucket) so I could make a batch of simple jam.  Ben had a comp. day so I took the opportunity to do some solo picking while he watched V.  I crept out just after sunrise, hopped on my bike with Vera's toy bucket dangling from the handlebars, and bore the light rain to fill another container.  The mosquitoes were even worse than days before making me believe they'd signed a contract with the raccoons and other critters inhabiting the berry-laden slope to protect their food supply.  It was one of those instances when I pull our homebirth experience to the front of my mind and say to myself "if I can do THAT, then I can get through THIS."  I still managed to emerge from the bramble nibbled to bits with bug bites through my long pants and sweatshirt and in other unmentionable places.  But for such a great cause!  The thought crossing my mind was that there's NO PACKAGING with these fruits as there are even when I pick up at the green market--though at least those containers get reused and recycled.  As Ben graciously helped me around the house on Thursday, I was able to process my raspberry jam and even have time to go out with him that night for a birthday celebration.

Fruit fruit fruit!  It's everywhere these days.  I managed to process the rest of the peaches Ben brought home from work and put together a peach shortcake on Wednesday night.  Though it's not quite time for local peaches, one could set this recipe aside to use in the next few weeks.  I recently acquired a very well worn copy of The Settlement Cookbook, a domestic culinary classic.  No glossy photos or verbose recipe lead-ins, but scads of simple, classic recipes for the home cook.  After Vera's jammy time we three sat in the dimly lit front vestibule observing the rainy evening, and savoring each spoonful. (Vera liked the "cream" best.)

Peach Shortcake (Gluten-Free)
Serves 4

I adapted this for the gluten-free crowd.  One could also use strawberries, blueberries, apricots, raspberries, or whatever fruit is in season right now.  The main thing is to keep it simple.

1 c. all-purpose gluten-free flour
1T. + 1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. xanthan gum
1/4 t. salt
1 T. granulated xylitol or sugar
1/2 stick of cold unsalted butter (2 oz.), cut into small cubes
6 T. milk (or your choice...I used almond milk)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Mix dry ingredients, work in butter with a fork, pastry blender, or your fingers (this is my preferred method, but only if you possess "cold hands.")  Add milk quickly then toss on floured surface.  *Pat, roll, and cut with large biscuit cutter or roll to fit 2 pans and bake 12-15 min.  Cool just slightly and split biscuits in half filled with cold, sweetened fresh fruit, and fresh whipped cream (see below.)

*You can also cut them out and place is a greased muffin pan.

Fresh peaches
Granulated xylitol or sugar, to sweeten as desired
Heavy whipping cream
Powdered sugar
Vanilla extract
Fresh red currants, to garnish (optional)

Mash peaches with potato masher or fork, add sweetener and mash again.  Taste for sweetness.  With whisk, electric beaters, or electric mixer fitted with whip attachment, make sweetened whipped cream ("Chantilly Cream").  Approximately 1 1/2 c. whipping cream, 1/3 c. powdered sugar (or for your taste), and dash of vanilla.  Whip until fluffy and light.

Last night and for the first half of today I had/have a mini-staycation.  Ben and Vera headed down to Chicago to visit Gram-E and Gramps and some other relatives.  I will be joining them by dinnertime after I finish preparing for my Herbal Ice Cream and Baking with Herbs class this coming Monday.  So with no one to depend on me after work yesterday, what do you suppose I did?  At this point, I never quite know what to do first when I don't have a youngin' to attend to.  Directly from work, I went to the annual used book sale at the Cudahy Family Library where I took a small stash of birthday money and lots of time to browse the tables of gently used reading material.  I was very inspired by one of my fellow crafty mamas to look for books that not only have great stories, but are beautiful illustrations.  Vera doesn't need many books for her current interest level, but I found some great stories that we can read together when she's a bit older.  I also found some cool science-based books that I'm hoping she'll like down the road.  It made me wonder how many kids will be interested in picking up these types of books when they have the internet at hand.  One of my goals is to cultivate Vera's love for the hands-on experience of books.  I know "electronic book-reading devices" are great and easy, especially for traveling--as I was just discussing with my close friend at our playdate on Wednesday--but I can't resist touching, feeling, and being surrounded by books and books and books.  I hope Vera will savor them just the same.  Here are some of my favorite finds yesterday.

Beautiful illustrations!
I love the geometry of these graphics--from one of our favorites Don Crews
Will be fun to read this one after a Cape whale watch
Who doesn't love a good European fairy tale?
Ant Queens and Snow Queens
A little science and a little mystery (one of mommy's adolescent favorites--Trixie Belden!)

First Dilly Beans of 2011--Yellow Wax
Last night's break from childcare brought out the best of my geeky side.  Though it was completely tempting to eat bon bons and lie on the couch all night, I opted to make my first batch of dilly beans for the season, clean the fridge (therapy!), fold laundry, and shelve my new books.  Add a cold glass of white wine and it was a night in heaven.  (Doesn't take much to please a busy mama these days.)  But I can't wait to see my two sweeties later today.  Checked in last night and it sounded like they were having fun in swimsuits with G and G's backyard hose.  It was heart-warming to hear my little Bippy's tiny voice on the other end of the phone saying "Hi Mommy, I love you"...and knowing I'll have some fresh pickles to present to her when she returns.


High Time

Fresh cut flowers and seed pods from the garden
You may have noticed that I've been posting a lot more lately than the once per week I strived to maintain over the winter.  I don't necessarily have a posting schedule for myself, but I try to write at least once a week or whenever I have enough material (and time) to compose something that seems worthwhile.  Due to the nature of the season--creeping into the abundance of summer, high preserving time, and more opportunities to craft (how'd that happen?)--I've been on a roll.  It's time to purge my idea list once again because the canning kettle's been at it for a couple of days and my recipe file has been picked through over and over.

I think I left off on Sunday as I was putting a pork roast in the Sun Oven.  It cooked all day with Ben's help to rotate the oven so it would follow the sun.  In the evening I pulled it apart and slathered it with homemade barbecue sauce.  I'm teaching some urban homesteading classes this year that include lessons in "Using Your Preserves Creatively," so that you can find new ways to incorporate your beautiful jars of local fruits and vegetables into meals beyond just jellying your toast and dipping your tortilla chips.  I dug deep into my file folder labeled "Pork" to find a recipe for Strawberry BBQ Sauce, which I adapted here to use my preserves.

Strawberry BBQ Sauce for Pulled Pork
Makes 2 c.

I'm going to leave the pork cooking to you--whatever is your favorite method be it slow cooker, low oven temp., or solar oven--but I suggest searing it on the stovetop ahead of time.  Season roast with salt and pepper, heat grapeseed oil over high heat in a large skillet, then brown on all sides before transferring to a roasting pan.  This recipe was born as I still try to use up strawberry jam from 2010.

Grass-fed Pork Shoulder Roast ready for the Sun Oven
4 c. strawberry jam or canned strawberries (you could also substitute cherry jam, etc.)
1/2 c. ketchup (homemade if you have it)
1/4 c. cider vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. dried rosemary, crushed
Couple dashes (homemade) hot sauce (optional)
Pan juices from the pork roast
Salt, to taste

In medium saucepan, mix all ingredients.  Bring to boil, reduce heat to very low, and simmer until reduced to 2 c. (could take up to an hour, but watch the pot carefully!)  Toss with your favorite pulled pork adding pan juices for desired consistency.  Season to taste and serve on buns with your favorite coleslaw (on the sandwich or beside it).

As I continue to rotate last year's stock, the garden keeps right on growing, especially my herbs.  If you've ever grown mint you know how prolific it can be.  Feel free to add twice as much mint to this recipe; the outcome will be twice as good.

Mediterranean Meatballs (or Burgers)
Makes 12 meatballs or 4-6 burgers

These will be nice and juicy whether you prepare them as meatballs or burgers.  I like to bake my meatballs because it's easier to cook them without having a fall-apart mess as you try to turn them.

2 T. minced fresh mint
3 T. white wine vinegar
1 1/2 T. water
1 T. olive oil
1/2 t. xylitol (or granulated sugar)
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 T. regular oats
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 T. milk (nut, soy, cow's, etc.)
1/2 t. ground coriander
1/2 t. ground pepper
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. ground cinnamon
8 large mushrooms, cleaned
1 lb. lean ground beef (I prefer grass-fed)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Combine all ingredients but beef in food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped and combined--you can chop the onions and mushrooms separately if you want them to be even more coarse.  Place mixture in large mixing bowl with ground beef and combine by hand.  Use a scoop to make even portions and place on lined baking sheet.  Bake for 20 min. or until done inside.  Serve with pasta and sauce (I suggest a Moroccan Spiced Squash Sauce in lieu of tomato). Add grated cheese if desired.  If using as burgers, portion and flatten, grill, bake or pan-fry, adding cheese at the end if you wish.

...And the canning kettle continues.  I finally used my stash of mulberries from the tree in the park.  I had frozen them on a baking sheet until I found just the right way to use them.  In the past, I've been so picky about how to preserve mulberries because gathering enough is such a precious thing.  When I froze them last year to use in winter desserts, I was not happy with their quality once thawed (mostly the flavor of "freezer burn.")  I got my hands on some Michigan blueberries recently and finally decided to complement my tree fruits with these tart little blue orbs.

Mulberry-Blueberry Basil Jam
Makes 4 half-pints

Three kinds of basil from our garden
Adapted from Put 'Em Up by Sherri Brooks Vinton.  When I teach food preservation classes I can never stress enough how important it is to stick to a tested recipe.  That being said, I adapted this one to use mulberries as the majority where it called for blueberries because I know that simply changing the fruit to another tart, acidic berry won't be unsafe.  There is plenty of sweetener and additional acid to make a safe product.  You could use ALL blueberries or half and half mulberries, blueberries.

6 c. mulberries, washed (no need to remove tender stems)
2 c. blueberries, washed
2 c. granulated xylitol or sugar
1/4 c. bottled lemon juice
1/2 c. fresh basil, chiffonade

Combine berries with splash of water in medium nonreactive saucepan.  Bring to boil, stirring and crushing berries to release their juice.  Add xylitol/sugar and stir to dissolve.  Stir in lemon juice.  Continue to cook at steady boil, stirring frequently, until jam reaches desired gel.  Add basil and stir to combine.  Remove from heat and let jam rest for 5 min., stirring occasionally to release air bubbles and prevent fruit float.  Skim any foam from top of jam.  Use hot water bath canning method: Pour into clean, hot half-pint canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace.  Release trapped air.  Wipe rims clean; center treated lids on jars and screw on bands.  Process for 10 min.  Turn off heat, remove canner lid, and let jars rest in water for 5 min.  Remove jars and set aside to cool and completely seal.  Check seals, label and date, store in cool, dark place.
Frozen mulberries, fresh blueberries

Cooked down
Desired gel stage

Though I advocate preserving local foods, I can't pass it up when bulk amounts of "outside" fruit fall into my lap.  I hate to see food go to waste.  This week my husband brought home a case of perfectly ripe mangoes from work as well as a case of ripe freestone peaches.  Neither of these wanted to live more than another day without processing in some way, shape, or form so I had to act quickly.  This morning in lieu of a playdate at the zoo with a close friend and her son, we all spent the rainy day inside watching the kiddos play as we nibbled freshly baked Blueberry Sunflower Muffins, sipped hot coffee, and processed a batch of Mango Chili Butter (recipe from Tart and Sweet by Geary and Knadler).  I always wish to have friends over to can with me and have found myself making numerous promises to do so.  This morning's downpour forced me to put that plan into action.  I had most of the project underway when our friends arrived, but casually filled the jars and placed them in the canning as my friend and I caught up and the two-year-olds raced screaming around the living room (don't worry--we really were supervising!)  

Love this color so much I once painted an apt. bathroom this hue.

Mangoes, Cayenne Pepper, Xylitol, and Lemon Juice

This afternoon I continued my canning quest by putting up several freezer bags of sliced peaches as well as a batch of Brandied Peaches (recipe from Put 'Em Up by Sherri Brooks Vinton), a consolation prize for Ben since I didn't have the energy to pit and can Brandied Cherries last week.  We love warm brandied fruit over simple vanilla ice cream in the winter.  Actually, I think you could brandy my shoe, nuke it, and I'd enjoy it with a frozen treat just as well (gotta love the family's favorite J. Bavet!)

Two-year old meets raspberry picking...
Next on the list is some homemade fruit juice as well as raspberry and blackberry preserves.  The critters may have finally conquered the hardware cloth protecting my gooseberries (dagnabbit!), but the blackberries--the universe willing--will be plentiful.  (I'm thinking of placing a surveillance camera out front that I can monitor from my bedside at night.)  V and I went wild black raspberry picking yesterday afternoon.  As we approached the lakefront park where I find my annual stash, I saw a woman walking across the street with her leashed dog in one hand and a colander and bowl of something in the other.  From what I could see it appeared to be some kind of berry and for an instant I panicked!  She did take some raspberries from the hilltop brambles, but I thought "surely she doesn't have the time or energy to fight through the prickers, ticks, and mosquitoes to take a huge amount."  I found half a bucketful along the high road and gradually topped it off down below.  I always forget that at the end of the road there's the absolute motherload of berries.  There were a couple of other folks picking as I came upon the site and again I went into survival mode (they've found my secret!!!)  Terrible, I know because these berries belong to EVERYONE if not the animals, but I thought for a moment that I wouldn't be able to pick enough before someone snatched them.  Turns out there is an embarrassing amount of berries down there and I picked what I could for now.  I'm hoping to return tomorrow early morning without my hungry sidekick so reap more of this free (for ALL) fruit.  


Cheerleaders and Cherries

Yellow Wax and Romano Beans pouring out of the garden
First harvest of Sunburst Pattypan Squash
I have to send a shout out to the ladies (hopefully you know who you are) who occasionally cheer me on via my blog.  One told me lately she thought I was "wildly productive" and another said "you are on fire!" I can't tell you how much I appreciate your cheerleading!  Afterall, one reason I started blogging--besides to keep a regular "journal" of my cooking and gardening efforts--was to keep myself motivated and keep from procrastinating, knowing I have an audience that's potentially waiting to see what trick I'll perform next.  I don't feel like I'm super productive or on fire most weeks--maybe because I see all of my homesteading projects as regular steps through my days and life--but it's sure nice to know that I'm perceived as such.  Thanks ladies and keep up your own amazing work!  You inspire me and keep me going in huge ways.

Door County sweet cherries
19 quarts
On that note, I was up before the proverbial chickens so I could can the 30 lbs. (minus the handfuls Vera ate on the way home) of sweet Door County cherries I wheeled home from the farmers' market yesterday.  I knew it was going to be another sticky one out there today and didn't want to heat the place up beyond mid-morning.  Cherries are actually simple to can--compared to the cases of peaches I processed a couple of weekends ago that required blanching, peeling, and soaking in lemon water before even making it to the quart jars.  I do a cold pack with my cherries and I do not pit them, which can be more than half the battle.  I pack the washed fruit into hot sterilized jars, add the hot very very light syrup (1/4 c. sugar/xylitol to 4 c. water), release the air bubbles, wipe the rims, put on the sterilized lids and rings, and process for 25 min. for quarts.  Et voila!  It allows for plenty of time in between to do other things--read, check e-mail, or--as I did this morning--mix a batch of gluten-free pancake batter, cook some bacon, and sear a pork roast for the solar oven all before 9:30 AM.  Okay, so maybe some days I am on fire, but I don't get enough oxygen to keep it burning for long periods of time.  I will say that I'm glad I got those things done this morning because today feels much more free now.
How many cherries are in that cheek?
She's finally met her match.

Lottie's Birthday Box
We are recovering from a mess of birthday parties this weekend.  Actually, we only attended half of those for which we received invites.  I can now empathize with my brother who is allegedly buried weekend after weekend with my 8-year-old niece's friends' birthday party schedule--he says 10 each weekend in the summer though he's been known to exaggerate.  Fortunately we only had to pop over a couple of blocks for the 2-year-old celebration yesterday.  It was a gorgeous day to sit in the backyard, watch the kids play with the sand and water table, and enjoy an ice cream sundae bar.  Knowing how toys can pile up around one's home and how little Vera is interested in some of them, I decided to go a different route with our gift to her little friend.  Actually, I brought the same thing last year and the whole family enjoyed it.  I have lots of veggies available in my backyard and what kid doesn't need more vegetables (HUGE difference between need and want in this case!) so I packed up a gift box sampler from our homestead: yellow wax beans, romano beans, garlic scapes, green garlic, swiss chard, kohlrabi leaves, baby pattypan squash, mint, sage, cherries/blueberries/red currants from the market, some homemade pickles, and one of my cherry-almond muffins.  Vera and I made a homemade card that we attached to the preserves, which were covered with a fabric swatch from one of Vera's old dresses that she'd outgrown but wasn't fit to donate.  Don't know if the birthday girl gave the package a second glance, but I know her little mama and pops will enjoy it.  I'm sure she won't miss an extra toy.

Muffins and Preserves for the b-day girl

Local Fruits for Lottie

We made it home last night in time to grill outside though it was still very humid in the evening.  Black bean burgers on the grill, garden green salad with nasturtiums and homemade garlic herb dressing, and white beans with lamb's quarters was our menu.  And yes, Ben pointed out that it was beans with a side of beans.  Someone would have noticed somehow regardless.  But I was really excited to finally prepare lamb's quarters, a common weed similar in flavor to spinach, which I first learned about during my chef-internship several years ago.  It's in the same botanical family (Chenopodium) as spinach, beets, amaranth, and quinoa and is packed with easy-to-assimilate calcium, iron, phosphorus, and vitamins A, B2, and niacin.  One can directly substitute lamb's quarters for spinach.  I found a very simple recipe for white beans and lamb's quarters.  Hot food on a hot day is not ideal, but it was good nonetheless.

Freshly washed Lamb's Quarters

Lamb's Quarters and Navy Beans
Serves 3-4

I Eat Weeds and Beans
To prepare lamb's quarters for cooking, just remove from the thick stem, wash, and shake or spin dry. 

2 t. grapeseed oil
3 c. navy beans cooked (canned or dried/soaked/cooked)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 c. raw lamb's quarters (chopped if desired, but usually the leaves are fairly small)
Salt and Pepper

Heat a saute pan over high heat.  Add oil and heat.  Turn down to medium-high and add the garlic, saute quickly and avoid browning.  Add the lamb's quarters and toss until wilted.  Add beans and combine; cook until heated through and lamb's quarters are well-cooked, about 7-8 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.  

I'm still on a quest to rotate my freezer contents for the incoming harvest.  Last week I found a gallon bag of apple butter about three shelves down.  Between the seconds of apples I bought from a local orchard, the apples our friends gave us from their lone tree, the wild apples I harvested in a city park, and the wild apples I brought home from a camping trip, last year I preserved tons of apples in the form of dried, sauce (which I froze) and apple butter (which I partially canned and partially froze once I lost steam.)  I've been incorporating the butter into baked goods, but this bag was more than I could imagine using in a dessert anytime soon.  I recently got the idea to dry it into fruit leather, which Vera loves to eat.  It took a couple of days (on and off) to dry completely, but ended with a nice tacky though safely dry texture.  And it was nice and spicy to boot!  I carefully peeled it off the dehydrator fruit leather trays--which I forgot to "grease,"  I cut it into quarters, rolled them up on some individual parchment rounds (separator sheets I'd saved from a package of GF tortillas that I'd intended to use for lining round cake pans), then stored them in a large 2-quart Mason jar.  I will definitely make more fruit butter leather this fall--pears, pumpkin, apples.  Can't wait!

Homemade Fruit Rolls
Stored in an airtight container
I stopped at a conventional grocery store after work on Friday and as I was waiting at the check-out I was bombarded with the requisite tabloids plastering the lane.  Though my eye is usually caught by the latest volume of Real Simple or Martha Stewart Living, this time I zoned in on a celebrity quote.  "I'm terrified of being poor,"--or something to that extent--said a glamorous, highly manicured, dark-maned diva who I definitely didn't recognize.  I realized this probably referred to anything even slightly below the upper upper crust .  Awww, I felt no sympathy, but instead thought "maybe it's because you've never learned to do anything for yourself."  Catty, I know, but it made me realize how fortunate I am to have the life skills to be independent even if I'm not independently wealthy.  Now that would be an interesting reality show--oh wait, I think they already did that with Paris Hilton and Nicole Richey.  Anyway, I'll keep on truckin' through my own simple life where I will sometimes be on fire, but hopefully never burn out.


Sewing up a Storm (My Own Kind of "Raindance")

"Peasant Dress" for Vera

I'm remaining positive about the intense heat in our area this week.  Though I'm sure our monthly electric bill will be higher than ever, I'm focusing on what I predict will be an outstanding, delicious tomato crop as well as lots of cucumbers.  This is also great weather for completely drying our laundry outside, which may ever ever so slightly offset the higher A/C bill.  Though I have to get up at the crack of dawn to start the washing machine so I don't have to drip sweat all over my clean clothes as I pin them up.

This week's weather has been perfect for hiding out in the basement in my craft corner.  The sewing machine has been busy since Monday.  I started and finished a 3T dress for Vera in just a couple of days--it's a "peasant style" dress made of calico samples from my fabric cabinet.  The bodice/sleeve pieces were from a thrift store, the orange middle ruffle is a former pillowcase, and the bottom ruffle is a bold calico I picked up at the antique flea market last year.  I bought the pattern on sale last year and used a coupon to purchase the elastic for sleeves and neckline for next to nothing.  So once again, it's sewing cute stuff on the cheap.

I love this crazy calico from the antique flea market
The second dress was one of my few attempts to upcycle--or rather deconstruct/reconstruct.  I was 

inspired by my friend at At the End of This Row who reworked a women's skirt into a youngster's skirt.  Since then my thrifting/rummaging eyes have a new perspective.  On one of my first rummaging jaunts this summer I bought this women's blouse because I liked the fabric and thought I could turn it into a dress for Vera.  After completing the other dress in the morning, our afternoon basement time gave way to approaching my mending pile, which has sort of drifted into my pile of items to upcycle or reuse.  This sundress took me only about an hour mostly because I tried to use the original garment's finished edges so I wouldn't have to make facings or do much hemming.  The bottom of the dress is the original hem of the blouse, the upper back band is from the neckband of the blouse (and still has the H&M tag--so if Vera wants to think she's name brand...), the crossover piece in the front was reworked from the crossover on the front of the blouse, and the straps are the finished edge from the end of the sleeves.  I basically cut the skirty part off the top, regathered it, and made the aforementioned pieces from the back and crossover into the band atop the empire waist, then added the straps.  It's a tad big on Vera, but will likely fit her next year.  The fabric is very stretchy and bouncy so it should be both fun and comfortable for her to wear.
New crossover and straps
Straps are cut from the old finished edges of the sleeves
Back band was the original back of the blouse
These photos are the only ones I could snap of V wearing the dress...she's in constant motion!

The last of my 2010 canned sweet cherries
Though it's hotter than an oven outside, I decided to turn on the oven inside for just a bit this morning.  My in-laws are babysitting tomorrow so I usually try to have some muffins or other breakfast bread ready for them in the morning.  Vera wanted to bake (read: stand on her tower and eat the raw ingredients while I mix and scoop.)  I used some cherries from my last jar of canned Door County cherries (just in time for more this weekend at the farmers' market.)  I'm on a roll with adapting recipes to be gluten-free so this was another success.  The basic guidelines I found about how to convert--use a gluten-free flour blend (I like Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour), double the amount of baking powder in the recipe, and add 1/4 t. xanthan gum per cup of flour--have worked well.

Cherry Almond Muffins
Makes 1 dozen

Adapted from Smart Muffins by Jane Kinderlehrer.

1/2 c. chopped canned cherries (could also use fresh, but should soak them in 1/4 c. juice or liqueur)
2 eggs (or 1 T. egg replacer diluted with 1/4 c. water)
2 T. olive oil
3 T. pure maple syrup
1/4 c. almond extract
3/4 c. apple juice (or other fruit juice)
2 T. brandy or amaretto (or sub. more juice)
1 1/2 c. all-purpose gluten-free flour
1/4 c. oat bran
2 T. lecithin granules
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. xanthan gum
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. chopped almonds

Texture turned out great!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Prepare a muffin pan with liners (paper or silicone) or grease/spray.  Chop canned cherries and set aside (if using fresh cherries, soak and set aside.) In a mixing bowl blend the eggs, oil, maple syrup, almond extract, juice, and brandy or amaretto.  Stir in the cherries/cherry mixture.  In another bowl, sift the flour, oat bran, lecithin granules, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt.  Add dry ingredients to the cherry mixture and blend just enough to moisten the flour mixture.  Stir in the chopped almonds.  Spoon the mixture into the muffin cups and bake for 20 min.  Let cool then enjoy with your favorite compound butter or homemade jam.