Ginger Love (and a recipe for how to make sweet pickled ginger at home)

I am a ginger devotee. It is probably one of my most favorite ingredients to eat or cook with. At Japanese restaurants there is never enough pickled ginger on my plate and I am willing to endure the hollow, sour feeling in my stomach that comes free eating far too much pickled food in one seating. Oddly, I have never attempted to make my own pickled ginger. Today, however is a new day, and guess what, I made what will now most likely become a staple in my kitchen—pickled ginger! 
What brought it all to the forefront was a batch of fast pickled radishes I put together at the food truck yesterday. I was needing a little salad pizazz and had a small bin full of fresh pink radishes (I’ll actually give you all that recipe another time, once I figure out the precise proportions to use.) Either way, yesterday evening I was too tired to bother with ginger but my mind was already running with ginger thoughts and laughing at the idea I had never before even tried to make my own fast pickled ginger. Well today it was my priority. Between biscuits and omelets, pies and ice tea, I shuffled aside some time for ginger experimentation. 
The result is utterly satisfying. After eight hours of soaking, the pickles are fantastic; bright, extremely potent, sweet and with a true bite. I will bet tomorrow and even the day after, they will have come to terms with their fate and settled down to a somewhat milder delivery of their pickled ginger charm.  <!– /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:"MS 明朝"; panose-1:0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0; mso-font-charset:128; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-format:other; mso-font-pitch:fixed; mso-font-signature:1 134676480 16 0 131072 0;} @font-face {font-family:”MS 明朝”; panose-1:0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0; mso-font-charset:128; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-format:other; mso-font-pitch:fixed; mso-font-signature:1 134676480 16 0 131072 0;} @font-face {font-family:Cambria; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1073743103 0 0 415 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:””; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Cambria; msoascii-font-family:Cambria; msoascii-theme-font:minor-latin; msofareast-font-family:”MS 明朝”; msofareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; msohansi-font-family:Cambria; msohansi-theme-font:minor-latin; msobidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”; msobidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} .MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-family:Cambria; msoascii-font-family:Cambria; msoascii-theme-font:minor-latin; msofareast-font-family:”MS 明朝”; msofareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; msohansi-font-family:Cambria; msohansi-theme-font:minor-latin; msobidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”; msobidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} @page WordSection1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.WordSection1 {page:WordSection1;} –>

ginger

ginger, pickling, sweet pickled ginger, Japanese style pickled ginger
Pickled Ginger Recipe
First wash and peel your ginger then slice very thinly until you have about one cup. I used a peeler, but a cheese slicer could work as well. Be sure to follow the grain or the ginger will be rougher in texture. Also note, the ginger gets more stringy as it gets closer to the center so optimally just use the outer portion for this recipe. Place the ginger in a bowl and mix with the following ingredients and then let sit covered in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours: 
1+1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 cup water
Please enjoy and let me know how they come out!
                                                        ~Marica

Christmas Feasting…

From late-night cookie parties to Christmas Eve and Christmas day feasts, this was one of the most food laden holidays I can remember. And that’s not even including last month’s Thanksgiving extravaganza.

 

To start I made shortbread and thumbprint cookies. I think shortbread might be one of my favorite cookies of all. They always make me think of my mom because years ago she and I got on a shortbread kick buying the traditional English, quite expensive, shortbread cookies to have with tea every day. Eeks, I miss living near my mom!
 
Peppermint hot chocolate before opening presents. This was my token of compensation
to the kids for having to wait until everyone was up…
 Several decadent breakfasts…

 

 

 My first attempt at anti pasto to kick off our Italian inspired Christmas dinner…
 Stuffed onions that our friends came over and made with anise biscuits in the filling…
 Focaccia bread to appease my fifteen-year-old who will eat ANYTHING 
except risotto which was the main course of our Christmas dinner.
Ending with tiramisu, I hope to post the recipe soon…
 All in all, so much good food and good people to celebrate with.
Missing our faraway clan of family and friends!
Hope you all had a wonderful holiday!
                                                              Cheers ~
                                                                    Marica

Vegan Banana Muffins Recipe

I have a real soft spot for banana muffins. These particular muffins are yummy and yet still a tiny bit healthy. I often make a batch at the pie truck and then bring them home at the end of the day for my kiddos—They love when I bring treats. These days it’s hard to keep my fifteen-year-old from eating us out of house and home. Seriously! As an added piece—so you can get in the mind of a crazy pie-maker/mother/obsesser-of-story-books—I have an old love affair with the Betsy Tacy and Tib books. I read each and every one multiple times as a child, and to be truthful, I even read some of her later books not so very long ago. Either way, in the stories the house keeper/cook always makes the family muffins on their first day back to school. I found this tradition so romantic. Every time I make my children muffins I think of Betsy and her family and the simple tradition that somehow has made a lasting impression on me. Silly as it sounds, I feel like these are the things that matter. These bits and pieces are what keeps us inspired, warm and decent people in a very complicated world.
vegan, baking, recipes, muffins, banana, healthy

VEGAN BANANA MUFFINS
In a large bowl mix:
3 ripe bananas 
1 cup orange juice 
1/2 cup grape seed oil
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup ground walnuts
In a separate bowl sift together:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix both sets of ingredients together. Pour into an oiled muffin pan and bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes and then rotate the the pan and bake for another 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

                                                                    Cheers ~
                                                                                Marica

Bits of these days…

May happened so fast, is it true we almost have made it through half this year already? It surely doesn’t feel possible. May has brought many hot days. I feel like I should embrace them, but instead I still detest too much sun. 
Our little neighborhood here hosts an annul parade. Exactly one year ago Sunday, the pie-truck opened during the festivities of this yearly event.
This year we’re far more experienced and no longer the newbies on the block. The pie-truck has had a good year. Winter was harsh, so harsh I often began to think we were nutty dimwits for opening the whole pie deal, but as weather warms and rain becomes an occasional treat, the pie patrons are returning. As well as the resurgence of orders for salad… 

Lazy afternoon naps are something I cherish as often as possible, especially since 
my schedule has returned to morning til night; it’s all pie, all the live long day. 
Fittingly I must sing; in the tune of I’ve been working on the rail road:
I’ve been working in a pie truck
All the live long day

I’ve been working in a pie truck
Just to pass the time away ay-ay-ay

Can’t your hear the timer blaring
Biscuits out to cool

Now the customers awaiting
There’s still more dough to roll

Paiku won’t you roll
Paiku won’t you roll
Paiku won’t you roll the dough ho-ho-ho
Paiku won’t you roll
Paiku won’t you roll
Paiku won’t you roll the dough

Someone’s in the kitchen at Paiku
Someone’s in the kitchen I know oh-oh-oh
Someones in the kitchen at Paiku
Rollin’ out the ol’ pie dough

And singing

Fee-fi-roll out the dough
Fee-fi-filly-i-roll that dough-ho
Fee-fi-filly-i-oh
Rollin’ out the old pie dough
Other bits of non pie life:

                                                   I hope everyone had a tremendous Mother’s Day!
      
                                                                          All my best and many cheers ~
                                                                                                Marica

A Holiday Tea Party… and savory butter recipe

A few weeks ago I asked my eleven-year-old if she wanted to have a tea party with her friends and their moms. I love tea parties, especially preparing them. It made me miss my friends from far away back home, because it reminded me of so many an afternoon we had spent together. There was a lot of cleaning to do, the kids are just getting over colds and the house always needs a good scrub come Monday. Luckily I had spent some time Sunday evening reorganizing bits of my house, and the swoop to get tea-party-worthy-clean wasn’t too bad…
We did the classic gingerbread cookie bit…
 We did all the cookies beforehand…
making gingerbread cookies cookies, gingerbread dough, christmas
 So as not to have a crazy kitchen…
making gingerbread cookies cookies, gingerbread dough, christmas
 “Too many cooks in the kitchen can spoil the…
 FLOOR!”
making gingerbread cookies cookies, gingerbread dough, christmas
 But cookies are christmasy and fun to decorate…
 On Sunday while I was at the truck, I baked our desserts…
Apple Custard Pie with a gingerbread crust…
  (This link is to a different recipe, I thought it was the same one, but I guess I have two) 
I brought home leftover biscuits and made the most tantalizing savory butter to spread on them…
The very rough recipe is:
Rough Savory Butter
Please use your tongue as your guide, if at some point I get an exact recipe I will update this.
In a bowl combine:
1 stick butter room temperature
1/2 or more teaspoon summer savory
1/2 or more teaspoon tarragon
1/2 or more teaspoon onion powder
1/2 or more teaspoon sage
1/2 or more teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon toasted ground cumin
1 pinch nutmeg
zest from one lemon
Whisk until evenly distributed. Taste and adjust. 
We set out oranges and cloves to make hanging orbs of heavenly aroma. 
I remember doing this with my mom when I was very little…
 The cloves always hurt so much to push in…
 All in all it was lovely and very sweet. A very nice bunch of girls and their mamas…savory butter
                                                       All my best ~
                                                                    Marica

Holidays… Pie Days…

It’s happening fast. December has nearly doubled its speed. 
Make way for Christmas, make way for New Years, hold onto your hat! Here we go…
  
 
                                                                     Cheers ~ 
                                                                                   Marica

Pie Truck Post

I feel like I have very little time to take pictures right now. My days are soooo busy and filled to the brim with children, pies, house cleaning, and all the other little tidbits of things that have to be done. Gone are the days of toddlers and the four meals that happened before the sun even reached it’s peak in the sky. I miss that slower pace. I miss it a lot. At the same time my current adventures are exciting. I am serving the world up pie. Real, handmade, scratch-made, flour-all-over-me-made pies, every week. There is surely monotony, but there is also that burst of life that can happen when I make a connection with a customer. There are the mornings where all that takes me through is, strong brewed chai, a dabble of music and the revelation that I AM MAKING PIE for complete strangers. This is my art, in the form of the word meaning expression, and I better make use of it while I choose to indulge in such indulgences. 
Like with anything, working out of a truck has its ups and downs. It is a very personal, very connected feeling situation. I see the weather—the windshield and other windows of the truck gift me the sensation of being part of each day as its shifts in and out of clouds, sun, rain, or the rare snowflake that will certainly make me giddy as a child. I am in conversation with each and every customer. They see me wash my hands and attend to their meal, from start to finish. Not so much the cooking, I’m in the truck, and they usually wander off to sit down, but as in the way you are a friend to a barista; they remember your drink and make it themselves. I am my own boss. I hesitate to use that word, it is so ugly and unbecoming of what the meaning of that is. I have the weight of making sure I cross my Ts and put tails on my Qs. I often am ready to turn off the propane-powered ovens, lock the door and leave the mess for another day. But I don’t. But I do dream of it, sometimes. 

 I taste food, constantly. I actually realized something the other day—I recommend you give it a whirl—I realized that if you stop to taste food it tastes more. I am often beside myself with how amazing and unbelievably out of this world a simple thing like a mushroom sauteed in butter can be. What I noticed was, even if you eat something less than incredible, if you stop and let your tongue fully communicate to your brain before you swallow it down, it is remarkably more tasty. I tend to be a scarfer. I can eat a burrito faster than my stomach will enjoy, only near the end when I am already quite full do I slow down enough to truly taste. I am planning to adjust my tendencies. 

And I like how magical people find pie. I like touching the piece of a person that goes straight to their, for lack of a better word, “inner child”—the part of us that gets excited by windstorms and soft about Christmas lights. So often pie sounds good, but when it is delivered, it’s a lukewarm, over-sweet, rancid butter lingering disappointment. I love knowing that what I set before these people is the right amount sweet, freshly baked with real butter, and the kind of care I would want someone else to put into my food. Even our sweet pecan pie, though sweet, makes the mark, at least in my opinion. 
 
I wanted a place to serve food from. The goal was good, real food—kind you read about in storybooks—at a price where it isn’t only available to the aloof, fortunate eaters. That would make my stomach turn. It is an almost impossible balance, but so far we are hanging on. 
 
Well, long winded and pie oriented, I better get to bed. Tomorrow is Monday, lovely, lovely Monday. 


                                              Hope you all have a good night!

                                                                                         Marica