Fuel Award – Best Recipe of Year One – Almond Bread

Fuel Award – Best Recipe of Year One – Almond Bread

Fuel ignites. It excites. It’s a catalyst and propellant. The Almond Bread recipe pushed me to start this website and it’s taken on a life of its own. Always a favorite, I’ve watched people eat an entire loaf straight out of the oven. I make double and triple batches, as one loaf isn’t ever enough.

Here’s the recipe from June 5, 2016.

Ingredients

  • 2 T chia seeds in 4 oz of water – chia slurry
  • 2 C almond meal
  • 3/4 C arrowroot
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 2 eggs

Process

  • Make chia slurry by soaking chia seeds in water.  Mix well to avoid clumps.
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Lightly oil pan (I use coconut or olive oil).
  • Mix, using a whisk, the almond meal, arrowroot, baking soda and salt.
  • In a separate bowl mix the eggs, apple cider vinegar and chia slurry.
  • Combine the wet and dry ingredients.  Mix until there are no lumps for about 1 minute.  The mixture is thick; no extra liquid is required.
  • Pour mix into the pan.
  • Bake for 40 minutes until the bread has a nice, firm golden top and the edges are pulling away from the pan.
  • Let bread cool in the pan and remove once totally cooled.
  • Tip = if you double the recipe, which I often do, you will need to add more baking time.  Expect to add about 10-15 more minutes.  Watching the color and firmness is beneficial as cooking times may vary.

Makes one well rounded magic pan (7.5 by 3.5) loaf.

Credit

The above recipe was inspired by a Tania Hubbard recipe.  When posting this I found the original link broken, however with more searching I discovered she also modified her original recipe and has since reposted it here.  Now the recipes are quite similar.

 

 

 

 

Happy Anniversary, Fuel and Flavor!!

Happy Anniversary, Fuel and Flavor!!

Thank you for joining me on the journey, dear readers! From website classes, to book club and to my local writer’s club, I’ve transformed into a slow and steady tortoise.

My goal was to create a clean, uncluttered website, not use a blogging platform, and generate unique content one time a week. Thus far I’ve written twenty-six book reviews and twenty-seven recipes, plus I’ve learned how to build and maintain a website. Phew! I can’t believe it.

I’ve also focused on the craft of writing. While I’ve not produced as much as I’d hoped, I’m on the path. This next year I will work more on my creative writing, so I’ll post every other week.

To celebrate F&F’s anniversary, I’ll highlight some of the best recipes and reading this week, but for today let’s just celebrate!

Flash Fiction by Women Writers

Flash Fiction by Women Writers

Up, Do: Flash Fiction by Women Writers
Edited By Patricia Flaherty Pagan
Spider Road Press, 112 pp., $7.00

Patricia Flaherty Pagan curated a masterful anthology of flash fiction in Up, Do. Ms. Pagan, an award winning author herself, distressed by the 2012 VIDA Count Report which revealed that American literary journals were publishing more written by men than by women, created a space to promote the equal treatment of women’s words. Up, Do does more than that; it is great fiction, period.

The four-part anthology is segmented by “Our Hearts,” “Our Bodies,” “Our Possible Futures,” and “Our Dreams; Our Nightmares.” Thirty-eight authors and artists are highlighted in the thirty-three stories and six images. Each piece is magnificent. Ms. Pagan located phenomenal works. Some of my favorites, and this is the narrowed down list, include: “To the Israeli Who Danced with Me on my Twenty-First Birthday” by Jessica Lynne Henkle, a tale of anonymity and wondering; “We Decided” by Kathryn Kulpa, a story of out-growing a youthful friendship due to a unique antagonist; “Perfection (‘This One’) by MaryEllen Baizley, a re-visioning of perfection; “Time Machine” by Melissa Webster, a chance to take back an unwelcome decision made on your behalf; “Orange Sky Preparation” by Marda Sikora, showcasing the demands of clairvoyant vision; and “The Dead Letters” by Diane Arrelle, a complicated situation that begets health and healing.

These are premier stories, in fact, I’ve read Up, Do twice as each is well executed and interesting. The helpful contributor section at the conclusion provides more information and often links. Ms. Pagan hit her target; she showcased talented women writers who deserved publication and I appreciate the thirty-eight introductions.

Almond Biscotti

Almond Biscotti

Twice baked cookies are a treat with coffee and tea. This gluten free recipe doesn’t crumble in your drink and it stays true to its Italian origins. The orange peel and almonds smell and taste heavenly, but, if you are so inclined, adding a snick of chocolate further enhances both flavors.

Ingredients

  • 1 c coconut palm sugar
  • 1/2 c sliced almonds
  • finely grated orange peel from a medium-sized orange
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 3 c Pam’s Baking & Pancake Mix flour
  • 1 well beaten egg – optional

Process

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Mix the first six ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
  • Slowly add in the flour, mixing as you go. The mixture will be thick, sticky and dense. I used two hard spatulas to blend everything. The mixture is ready when it forms a sticky ball like cookie dough and all the flour has been well blended.
  • On a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, form two parallelograms. They should be about 1/2-inch thick and as wide as you prefer; this will be the length of the biscotti once it’s cut. Some prefer around 3 inches. You may need to wet your hands to shape the dough. Optional – Once the dough is shaped, brush the surface with a well beaten egg.
  • Bake for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and let cool for 5 – 10 minutes.
  • Slice each loaf, at the angle of the parallelogram, into 1/2-inch sections. (With parallelograms you don’t lose the ends, as you do when the loaf is a rectangle.)
  • Place the pieces about 1-inch apart back onto the baking sheet in the same standing up position, not on their side. Then bake another 5-10 minutes until they are toasted.
  • Remove from the oven to cool; they will get crispier as they dry.
  • Enjoy!

 

  • Fun option – melt some chocolate and paint, drizzle or dip the biscotti for an added treat!

Frittata

Frittata

It’s Sunday morning deliciousness! Simple to make and it uses whatever ingredients you’ve got on hand.  Plus they look so gorgeous, despite their easy preparation, that guests gush with delight.

Ingredients

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3-4 c veggies – spinach, peppers, onions, mushrooms, etc. (They cook down!)
  • 4 oz protein – sausage, bacon, ground beef, ground lamb, ground turkey, etc.
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 c milk, optional
  • 2 oz most any cheese, optional
  • Salt to taste, keep in mind the salt in cheese and protein
  • Pepper to taste
  • TIP = if you choose not to use milk and cheese, then the frittata is denser and less flavorful, but it will still taste and look great.

 

What I used today, as shown in the photo

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 large white onion
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 4 oz grape tomatoes
  • 2 oz chopped baby spinach
  • 4 oz smoked, shredded pork butt
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 2 oz grated parmesan and fontina cheese
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t pepper

 

Process

  • In a 9 inch oven-safe skillet, on medium heat, sauté veggies. Don’t worry if the skillet seems to full, they cook down.
  • Once the veggies are about half to a third of their original size, and they are browning, add in cooked meat to warm up. (If starting with raw meat, you’ll need to cook it before the veggies.)
  • In a bowl, beat the eggs, milk, cheese, salt, and pepper together.
  • When the veggies start to blacken a bit, think fajitas, and the meat is warmed, increase the heat to medium high and pour in the egg mixture.
  • Set the oven to broil at 500 degrees.
  • Cook on the stove top until air bubbles start to appear and you can easily run a spatular around the edges without runny egg mixture.
  • Broil for about 2-5 minutes; keep careful watch! You’re looking for a gently rounded, risen and lightly browned top. (Browning does vary per cheese; you’ll notice this one got a snicker browner than I intended.)
  • Remove from oven. Run a spatula around the edges for easy transfer to a cutting board.
  • Serve warm.
  • Enjoy!

 

Here’s a photo of the 9-inch frittata pre-slicing:

The Writer’s Roller Coaster

The Writer’s Roller Coaster

The Successful Author Mindset: A Handbook for Surviving the Writer’s Journey
By Joanna Penn
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 164 pp., $6.99

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Joanna Penn’s The Successful Author Mindset aids writers on their creative journey. Ms. Penn writes fiction, non-fiction, runs her own award winning website, TheCreativePenn.com, and considers herself an entrepreneur, as should all authors as we create value from ideas. Her prior business consulting experience makes her approach unique in the writing community.

This three-part book covers Mindset Aspects of Creativity and Writing, Mindset Aspects after Publishing, and Tips for Success on the Author Journey. Each part is comprised of short sections based upon a possible issue with her suggested antidote.

**Confession time – I’ve read Part I only, because she begins Part II with a warning, “Don’t read this chapter if you haven’t published yet!” Based on what I’d already read, I believed her and obeyed. I’ll resume once I’m published.

The seventeen sections in Part I cover familiar topics, like self doubt, fear of failure, your inner critic, perfectionism, writer’s block, failure to be original, lack of time to write, creativity issues, etc., but Ms. Penn adds new insights and consideration points. The bibliography runs three pages and includes many well-known and referenced books on writing, but it goes beyond the writing genre as well as includes podcasts.

The common writing challenges are re-presented and then tackled with atypical antidotes. Rather than just be yourself, writers write, relax, journaling solves all, and other unhelpful mantras, she offers concrete suggestions and reasons for each challenge that address the deeper cause and not a surface level symptom. Often at least two apropos quotes drive home her topic. Two examples: “The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress” Philip Roth, “Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill your enemies” Nelson Mandela.

The Successful Author Mindset: A Handbook for Surviving the Writer’s Journey offers concrete suggestions for dealing with the emotional rollercoaster of writing. I look forward to Parts II and III.

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake

This show-stopping cake everyone loves, and it’s gluten free with little sugar! The berries bring the majority of the sweetness. You may substitute other berries, see additional photo below, but it’s best appreciated with strawberries. It’s a light and refreshing treat perfect for a dessert course or as a midday teatime break. Often I hear, “I’d eat gluten free more often, if it all tasted this good.”

Ingredients – Cake

  • 3/4 c unsalted butter – softened
  • 1/2 c coconut palm sugar (this recipe doesn’t work as well with xylitol)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 c almond flour
  • 1/2 c coconut flour
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt

Process – Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Lightly oil 3, 8-inch round* pans (I use coconut or olive oil) and then flour the pans with almond flour.
  • Cream together butter and sugar until smooth.
  • Add in eggs, one at a time, and beat until fully blended.
  • Add milk and vanilla. Mix until combined
  • In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients
  • Combine the dry and wet mixtures. Mix until well blended; it will be dense like a cookie dough mixture, don’t worry!
  • Evenly spread into the 3 pans. If needed, wet your hands and gently level the batter.
  • Bake for 25 minutes or until the cakes are pulling away from the edges.    
  • Let cakes cool in the pans and remove once totally cooled.

* Disposable aluminum tins work fine and I like the scalloped edges.

 

Ingredients – Filling

  • 2 c heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 c coconut palm sugar or other sweetener
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 1/2 16 oz. packages of strawberries

Process – Filling

  • Whip cream, sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form. Be careful not to over-whip. Refrigerate until ready to assemble.
  • Wash, hull and quarter the strawberries. Refrigerate until ready to assemble.

 

Process – Assembling the Cake!

  • Place first cake on serving tray.
  • Top with approximately 1/3 of the strawberries.
  • Cover the strawberries with approximately 1/3 of the whipped cream.
  • Place second cake on whipped cream covering the first layer.
  • Top with approximately 1/3 of the strawberries.
  • Cover the strawberries with approximately 1/3 of the whipped cream.
  • Place the last layer on the whipped cream covering the second layer.
  • This last layer switches the order. First, cover the top cake with the remaining whipped cream.
  • Then top the cake with the remaining strawberries.
  • Serve immediately.

 

Fun Optional Toppings when served (both are shown in the lead photo)

  • Grated chocolate
  • Shaved chocolate

 

Credit

The above recipe is a variation of a Bob’s Red Mill recipe and a Driscoll’s recipe.


Here’s an example with other berries: raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.

Millennial Power Ballad – World Book Day April 23, 2017

Millennial Power Ballad – World Book Day April 23, 2017

Good-Bye Def Leppard: I’ll Miss Those Jeans
By Stef Kramer
CreateSpace, 312 pp., $12.49

Stef Kramer’s debut novel, Good-Bye Def Leppard: I’ll Miss Those Jeans, is more than a coming of age flashback drama directed at Gen Xers. It’s a smart, thoughtful story about life decisions.

The quick introduction commences in the present, when “trying to be happy with life” Amy Gaer, wife, mother of three, and professional woman returns home from another day at the office. After getting the children in gear and putting on an old pair of acid-washed-ripped jeans to show her daughter fashion doesn’t always change, the reluctant tiger mom listens to her piano practicing teenage daughter. The music, tight jeans that she never wears, and memories sweep across the scene causing her to reflect.

The majority of the novel occurs in the summer of 1992. Young Amy decides the trajectory of her life starting with her May Graduation day, kind of, meaning she’s achieved her Bachelor of Arts in English, but plans to return in the fall to work on a business degree or maybe to wrap up a music minor. She heads home to rural Iowa for the summer, picks up a internship at a bank, runs into an old boyfriend, lives with the parents and then meets a married man, in the process of a divorce, with whom she’s, well, truth be told, she’s not sure what to think or feel about Nick.

Ms. Kramer delivers a well-written and well-crafted story with music, humor and character development. Music floats throughout; in fact most of the chapter titles are popular lyrics or song titles from the 70s through the early 90s. For example “Material Girl” is the chapter title of Amy’s interview at the bank, immediately calling to mind Madonna’s song (and video!) as the reader watches Amy, the English major, explain why she’d be a perfect fit for a summer teller position which the bank might transition to a management trainee program. Def Leppard, James Taylor, Guns & Roses, Whitney Houston, the Cheers Theme Song, Bryan Adams, Eric Clapton, Aerosmith, U2, OMD, Abba and more set the stage for each scene. Ms. Kramer also adds good doses of humor; Amy plays the Dead Game with her dad, poorly wears her mom’s clothes to work, owns several three-legged pig good luck pieces, drinks memorable shots like “slippery nipples”, and despite growing up in a farming community, knows little about farming. Lastly, Nick’s journals added a layer of complexity to his character and their relationship. Without them, Nick would have been a weaker character. Gordon and Dave, both of whom have physical and mental handicaps, also add a natural and needed dose of reality into Amy’s self-centered focus. Amy’s experience of gender roles, in the banking industry, aids her character’s growth too, despite her youth.

There is one minor challenge stemming from pace, appropriate for a movie or video but harder to process when read. At times the book is slow, perhaps to mimic the hot days of summer where every movement requires effort, or due to an over focus on Amy’s interior thought processes. Each chapter is tightly woven, none should be cut and they’re well edited, but some came off as interludes, when the reader is ready for more.

Good-Bye Def Leppard: I’ll Miss Those Jeans is a fun, unique story, best read with others. A book club could create play lists, the drinks, and reminisce about those first few big decisions made when you finally enter the world as an adult.

 

Exciting Feedback

Exciting Feedback

I just received a personalized and positive rejection letter!

I’m over the moon as previous feedback, from a different editor, stated, “we felt that your over-use of dialogue decreased the tension.” They were correct. Their insight pushed and encouraged me to undertake major revisions before shopping the piece again.

Today’s feedback, “there was much to admire in it as it presented to us a narrative landscape stunningly wrought with haunting imagery and beautifully crafted language

I’m making progress!

 

Quinoa Bread

Quinoa Bread

Quinoa bread has a unique, hearty flavor, but it’s a seed, so it’s perfect for those with nut allergies. I suggest slicing and toasting pieces to serve as a side with breakfast. It’s a great way to add more protein to your first meal of the day!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 c quinoa flakes
  • 1 c quinoa flour
  • 1/2 c flax meal
  • 2 1/2 t psyllium husk whole
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 c apple sauce
  • 1/2 c water
  • 3 eggs

 

Process 

  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • Lightly oil pan (I use coconut or olive oil).
  • Mix, using a whisk, the dry ingredients.
  • Add wet ingredients (there isn’t a need to premix them).  Mix together well.  The batter will be similar to cookie dough batter.
  • Pour entire mixture into the pan. Round the top, as the bread won’t rise.
  • Bake for approximately 35 minutes until the bread has a nice, firm golden brown top and the edges are pulling away from the pan. About 15 minutes in to the baking cycle, if the top seems too brown (or you’d prefer a less crusty top) loosely cover with aluminum foil. This will stop the browning while still cooking the center.
  • When cooked test with a toothpick and if it comes out clean, then let the bread cool in the pan. Remove from the pan once completely cooled.

 

Makes one well rounded magic pan (7.5 by 3.5) loaf.