Sunday, February 20, 2011

buckwheat and cranberries

Nora will use this blog to tell stories of her childhood on the farm and her urban adventures in preparation for the Farm to Fair project.

I love this time of year - I still have a few bags of cranberries tucked in the freezer and I'm ready to cook.  I have an unnatural affection for cranberries. I've been to cranberry country several times and I'm intrigued by the idea of flooding the fields for harvest -- that must save a lot of weather-related angst for cranberry farmers!

My go-to dish for parties is Grandma Leona's cranberry salad. I imagine the great nutritional value of the cranberries is smothered by the sugar, tapioca, marshmallows and pecans. Over the years I've reduced the sugar and marshmallows and added more celery - it's still delicious.  

My cousin LouAnn grew and milled organic buckwheat flour and I wanted to make something special with it. Buckwheat pancakes and seemed like a great way to use some of the precious flour and cranberry syrup would top them off beautifully. 

The only hitch is that I've never made pancakes. Or syrup. How is that possible? I researched recipes and found one that was within my abilities. 

Buckwheat Pancakes
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons buckwheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and melted butter.
  2. In another bowl, mix together white flour, buckwheat flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. Pour the dry ingredients into the egg-mixture. Stir until the two mixtures are just incorporated.
  3. Heat a griddle or large frying pan to medium-hot, and place 1 tablespoon of butter, margarine or oil into it. Let the butter melt before spooning the batter into the frying pan, form 4 inch pancakes out of the batter. Once bubbles form on the top of the pancakes, flip them over, and cook them on the other side for about 3 minutes. Continue with this process until all of the batter has been made into pancakes.
learned some valuable pancake making lessons:  Multi-tasking is not possible. The smoke alarm is sensitive. Rubber spatulas melt. Skillet handles are hot. I have an exceptional talent for swearing

Cranberry Syrup

  • 1  cup  fresh cranberries
  • 1/3  cup  maple syrup
  • 1/4  cup  sugar
  • 1/4  cup  water
  • 1/8  teaspoon  salt
  • 1  tablespoon  lemon juice
Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer eight minutes or until cranberries pop, stirring occasionally. Stir in lemon juice.
I reduced the amount of maple syrup that was called for in the original recipe - I wanted the taste of the cranberries to pop. Speaking of popping - a lid on your saucepan is a good idea. 

I still have some buckwheat left. I'm thinking I'll try my hand at pretzels next. Do you have a favorite buckwheat recipe? 

Friday, February 11, 2011

ice and potatoes

Nora will use this blog to tell stories of her childhood on the farm and her urban adventures in preparation for the Farm to Fair project. 

Indianapolis was slammed with an epic ice storm this week; basically shutting down the city. I found Uncle Cletus's potato fork to be the best tool for chipping away at the ice.

It's hard to think of gardens and summer when you can't move two feet without falling down on the ice. I was thankful that I wasn't trying to keep livestock alive or worried about crops freezing.

I am unnaturally nostalgic about farm tools. I am always sure to buy a handled tool at family farm auctions, typically choosing the most worn and clearly repaired rake or shovel, often earning an eye-roll from the auctioneer. 

I love the clear and immediate connection of my hands wrapped around the same wooden handle that one of my relatives used. What did Great-Uncle Herman use the shovel for? Did Grandma Nora use it too? Did she ever imagine that she would have a namesake granddaughter using the same shovel in her backyard in Indianapolis. 

I know that ice removal was not the intended use of the potato fork, but the frigid task was made warmer with thoughts of my uncle and cousins using the tool in the summer heat. 

Do you have a favorite implement?