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Recipe | New World Seeds & Tubers

Tom Kleffman of Darwin’s Lair, 3 Daughter’s Farm fame really enjoys his food. Whenever he calls me to tell me what he made for supper, my reaction is always the same:

We should have met 25 years ago and opened up a bed and breakfast. Back when there was still money to be made.

Come to think of it, Tom Kleffman’s parents DO happen to run a B&B. But for Tom and I maybe a hunting lodge would be a better match–circa late 19th century, aristocratic patrons–because Tom’s specialty is using wild game, not to mention produce fresh out of his multiple gardens.

Whereas Rob still uses store-bought ingredients, but wishes he didn’t. Some day some of the fancier ingredients I use won’t be available in the future.

This recipe isn’t too bad, aside from sugar and vanilla. Vanilla has the interesting effect of complementing a wide variety of other flavors. I only use real vanilla, because I figure the orchids need the work.

I use fresh or frozen (uh oh, another unsustainable practice) black currants from my back yard. Black currants are tolerably easy to grow, especially in my climate where a lot of other fruits are hard to grow, but if you don’t happen to have any of your own, you can use store-bought dried black currants. I would dry my own currants for use when fresh is not available–most of the time–if I had a food drier (climate here does not lend itself to natural sun drying) and if I were not so spoiled by modern luxuries.

In some parts of the world, many people refer to Zante raisins as “black currants”. They’re not the same thing; Zante raisins are dried Black Corinth grapes; black currants are the fruit of Ribes nigrum. Black currants have a strong, unusual, distinctive flavor (except for the ones bred not to, which seems to defeat the purpose). They’re rare in the USA except as a home-grown fruit. More common in Canada, Scotland, Central Europe, and Scandinavia. People usually love them or hate them.

I should probably work out if there are any differences if using whole wheat pastry flour. I’ll have a supply of home-grown wholegrain pastry flour from our own cereal-producing ventures by next year. If you’re growing your own wheat, leave it whole and mill it on demand as needed; that will help prevent rancidity. If you THINK you don’t like whole wheat, you might be surprised to discover that fresh soft white whole wheat has a rather pleasant flavor; what most people don’t like about “whole wheat” is the slightly bitter (but to some tastes, not unpleasantly so) tannin in the bran of whole red wheat, and, much worse, the rancidity of whole wheat flour that has been sitting too long unprotected from oxygen.

Shopping list follows the recipe. I write recipes so that ingredients are organized in groups according to what you do with them.


Black Current Muffins

Makes 6. Double for a dozen.

1. Preheat oven to 400F / 200C

2. Stir together with a fork or small whisk:

  • 3/4 cup unbleached pastry flour
  • 1 TBSP soy powder (defatted soy flour)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 TBSP raw sugar
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

3. Mix together with a whisk:

  • Contents of one 4-oz serving of unflavored, unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup cold-pressed canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

4. Pour wet ingredients from step 3 into dry ingredients from step 2, and barely mix with a spoon.

5. Add 1/4 cup black currents, and stir until just mixed.

6. Evenly fill the cells of a 6 muffin stainless steel muffin-tin, that has been sprayed with non-stick spray, with the batter.

7. Sprinkle a bit of granulated WHITE sugar on top of the muffins, approximately 2 tsp total (NOT each).

8. Shake the muffin tin just a bit to even out the batter.

9. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven.

Serve with dried-blackberry-leaf tisane flavored with a drop of vanilla. This morning I fried some nitrate-free bacon for my kids. Sometimes I serve with some yoghurt:

Shopping list:

I did my best to find sources for everything you’ll need, if you don’t already have it. I’m not familiar with the brand of pastry flour, but one reviewer liked it. Seems I should have been able to find more choices; to me pastry flour is an everyday ingredient.

Click here to be taken to the complete shopping list (minus eggs) on Amazon.com. Look for the category “Black current muffin recipe shopping list”

Here are the separate items:

Unbleached white pastry flour

Soy powder (not the same brand or type that I use; this one is toasted and contains the soy oil–use it promptly to prevent rancidity)

Aluminum-free baking powder

Baking soda

Organic evaporated cane sugar

Fine grind natural sea salt

Natural applesauce in 3.9 oz individual containers Applesauce contains pectin, which is a useful ingredient for baking. I use it all the time and buy it in 4 oz packs which are typically about the amount you would use in a recipe.

Large eggs. You’d better buy those fresh and local.

Expeller Pressed Canola Oil (GMO Free)

Vanilla extract

I don’t like non-stick muffin “tins”; the non-stick coating is not durable. Not only does it come off (presumably in our food!), but the muffins stick all the worse once it is so much as scratched!

Lacking rigidity, silicone bake-ware is a hazard for spills. Also, it is hard to clean 100%, and a grimy buildup causes its non-stick properties to backfire badly.

The smart way to make muffin tins would be to mould a non-stick texture on the surface. Certain textures have the odd property of resisting sticking–like the bumpy-textured rice paddles do in Japan. Since such a thing seemingly does not exist for muffin tins, I suggest using stainless steel baking tins, with non-stick cooking spray.

These are the only stainless steel muffin tins I’ve ever been able to find:

Fox Run 6 cell Stainless Steel Muffin Pan

Fox Run 12-cell Stainless Steel Muffin Pan

You might think they’re a little more expensive than other tins–actually, they’re a screaming bargain, because their longevity is so much greater than either aluminum or non-stick. Before I bought these I was wasting time and money constantly replacing poor-quality pans. They’re a tad thin, and they’re the cheaper grade of stainless steel (a magnet will stick to them), but even so they seem surprisingly resistant to warping (steel is just a lot stronger than aluminum), and if treated respectfully they don’t scratch particularly easily.

Non-stick spray

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Chocolate-chip cookies made out of sorghum flour
I’ve received requests to post the recipe for chocolate-chip cookies made with sorghum flour. Here it is, adapted from a similar recipe using brown rice flour and rice milk found in Flying Apron’s Gluten-Free & Vegan Baking book:

1. Preheat oven to 350F/175C

2. Sift together:
2 3/4 cups white sorghum flour
1 1/2 cup + 1TBSP chickpea flour
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4tsp sea salt

3. Mix:
1 cup canola oil
1 cup organic whole-cane sugar
1tsp vanilla extract

4. Turn mixer on low speed. While mixer is mixing, alternate adding dry ingredients and…

1 cup rice or soy milk

a little at a time until smooth.

5. Stir in
1 cup chocolate chips (use dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate if you want to make the cookies vegan)

6. Using a cookie scoop if you have one, or a teaspoon if you don’t, scoop cookie dough onto a baking sheet lined with a silicone liner, or use an insulated baking sheet and parchment or nonstick spray.

7. Gently flatten the cookies somewhat; otherwise they don’t flatten out all that well in the oven, lacking any saturated fat to melt into shape.

8. Bake 17 minutes until light golden brown.

9. Gently remove and cool on a wire rack.

Please check each ingredient you buy to make sure that it is truly wheat and gluten-free, if you have a severe wheat-related allergy or sensitivity.

These are almost good-for-you, lacking any “bad” ingredients like shortening. 1 cup of sugar is about the extent of the over-indulgence.

I make these for my kids from time to time. My kids are not gluten-sensitive, but I like the fact that these are fairly wholesome, and the combination of cereal + legume flours makes a complementary protein pair.

The original recipe calls for brown rice flour, which you could also use, but beware that brown rice is hard to grind fine. As a result, the original recipe results in cookies with a slightly sandy texture, unless you find finely-ground brown rice flour, which is hard to find. Sorghum flour gives them a finer texture.

A lot of gluten-free recipes have unpleasant tastes or textures, but rice or sorghum flours are fairly bland, while the chickpea flour adds a nice bit of character. Other than the slight grittiness of some brown rice flours (avoidable if you find an extra-fine grind), these have a pleasant taste, and a texture close enough to cookies made from wheat pastry flour, that most people would not notice the difference unless they try to dunk them in milk or hot tea, at which point they fall apart, lacking any gluten or binder.

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