I hope, dear friends, that you don’t mind hearing a little more about my sorghum. You see, I am just so happy to have followed this whole process through from getting the cane mill to planting to finished product. I am already planning a much larger patch for next year so we should have a really nice bit of syrup by next fall.
A few people have asked me where I got the sorghum idea…I was reading Mother Earth News magazine and saw an article on the topic. I was intrigued and started my mill hunt. I found that sorghum is finding a new life in people reviving the art of sorghum making and I just had to be a part of that.
Finally, last night we got to really enjoy the fruit of our labor…I made sorghum cookies! Holy cow they are good! I stole the recipe from here.
Best Sorghum Cookies
1/2 cup margarine (I used unsalted butter)
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup sorghum
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream margarine (or butter), shortening, and sugar. Beat in sorghum and eggs; set mixture aside.
3. In an another large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon. Blend thoroughly with wire whisk.
4. Gradually mix flour mixture into creamed ingredients until dough is blended and smooth.
5. Roll dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. Dip tops in granulated sugar; place 2 1/2-inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 11 minutes. Do not overbake. Cool on wire rack.
Store in tightly covered container to maintain softness.
I mentioned mountain color in the last post and as much as I like green, I think purple has to be a close second. We have thousands of wild violets in our yard this time of year. They make a really nice blanket of purple in the still-alive-until-summer green grass we have. I hate cutting grass with a passion and my excuse is usually something along the lines of, “I hate to lose all of the pretty flowers that the bees need so much right now.” It has nothing to do with my being lazy of course…it’s for the bees!
Anyhow, I was perusing the interwebs the other day and a blogger I follow, Woodridge, posted a recipe for violet blossom jelly. Check out the original there but I am going to include the recipe here for my own reference too. Woodridge writes from East Virginia, the lesser cousin of West Virginia…
So, Abigail, Emily and I set about picking violet blossoms the other day. Abigail wanted to take some creative license with the recipe so she included a generous helping of green grass also. I picked it out…I have eaten both violets and grass before and only one is really suitable for my palette. Evidently I misread the recipe too as I insisted we pick twice as many blossoms as we needed. We just made a double batch. Many other recipes I found used less blossoms for a single batch but I figured if some is good, more is better which was in line with this recipe anyhow:
3 – 4 cups fresh violet blossoms
3 1/2 cups boiling water
1 package (1 3/4 ounces) powdered fruit pectin
1/2 cup lemon juice
4 cups granulated sugar
Rinse and drain fresh-picked Violet blossoms; place in a large heat-resistant glass bowl or Pyrex measuring cup.
Pour boiling water over the blossoms. Allow to steep until cool, then cover and allow to stand overnight.
Strain blossoms and reserve violet liquid. Discard blossoms.
Measure violet liquid; add enough water to measure 3 1/2 cups (liquid will be blue-green).
Pour liquid into a large stainless steel pot.
Measure 4 cups sugar (exactly 4 cups) and reserve.
Stir in lemon juice and pectin. Place pot on stove top and bring to full rolling boil on high heat.
Add 4 cups sugar all at once and stir continuously until sugar completely dissolves. The mixture will turn a reddish-violet (depending upon the color of the Violet blossoms). Continue stirring until mixture comes to a hard rolling boil. Stir exactly 1 minute (use a timer), then remove from heat.
Skim foam. Carefully ladle hot liquid into hot sterilized half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace.
Wipe jar rims, add lids and screw rings. Adjust lids, place jars in canner and make sure boiling water covers jelly jar lids by 1 inch or more.
Cover, bring canning water to a boil.
Process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes. (Adjust timing for elevations over 1,000 feet above sea level.)
Remove from boiling water bath and allow to cool (and ping!).
When cooled, check seals and refrigerate any jars that failed to seal properly.
Yield: 5 half-pints.
Anyhow, the jelly is a beautiful light purple and is some of the prettiest food I have ever seen. It has a super mild flavor and is a little earthy…maybe. I am not sure if that is the right word. Wild is more like it maybe? But that sounds bad…like eating poorly cooked ‘possum or something. Anyhow, it is a light, subtle flavor and will be a really nice addition to our breakfast toast. If you have some violets, whip up a batch and let me know how you would describe the flavor!
I got a wild hair on Sunday and decided to bake. It’s not often when I feel a deep need to bake, but it happened this weekend. I searched through stacks and stacks of newspaper clippings and cookbooks and websites…well, not really. I pretty much had a hankering for whoopee pies, an old favorite my Mom used to make. I am pretty sure Emily was taking a nap and the kids were doing…whatever it is that my kids do when their Dad is baking.
I cracked my Mom’s homemade cookbook and started adding ingredients. About half way through adding stuff into the mixing bowl, I discovered that I was actually making a peanut butter ball-whoopee pie hybrid. Being a food pacifist, I decided to press on man, you know, live and let live man…it’s all groovy man.
I just added a bunch more stuff to the bowl and pressed on through. Did you know that flour and cocoa and a Kitchen-Aid mixer can rocket clear to the ceiling? Anyhow, I got stuff all mixed up and baked and then Isaac and I shared the remains of the icing on the mixer and the bowl and the ceiling.
I was pretty so-so on them when they were warm but the next morning, yesterday morning, I ate more than one for breakfast. Now that, my friends is when they are good…and good for you too!
In case you feel a need to journey with me on my quest for health-less-ness, here’s the recipe:
1 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
2 egg yolks
1 cup sour milk plus 2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
4 cups flour
Mix together then add 1 cup of hot water. Daub big goopy spoonfuls onto a slightly greased baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes in a 400 deg oven.