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In the Kitchen
updated: Apr 10, 2010, 9:45 AM
By Leah Etling
It's an in-between seasons time at the Farmer's Market, but there's still great inspiration there.
This week I picked up zucchini and rhubarb, neither of which was on my shopping list, and made a strawberry-rhubarb pie and
zucchini-chocolate chip muffins.
Both were inspired by a driving trip I took with my boyfriend around the Western U.S. and Canada last summer. Though we
were often disappointed with the food options along the way, there was a particular pie place outside Glacier National Park and a farm where we camped in
British Columbia, Canada that inspired these baked goods.
I watched a little bit of the movie, "Julie and Julia" last weekend, and it got me thinking about what inspires one to cook. The film
features a modern woman of about my age and, of course, Meryl Streep playing Julia Child, which she does very well.
Amy Adams' character is frustrated with her government job and so she turns to cooking all of Julia's recipes, and blogging
about it, as a therapeutic escape. (Total tangent: Does it bother you when characters are shown typing in movies? Makes me nuts. It's so boring.)
Personally, my cooking is less project-oriented and more sensory, and less an outlet than an adventure. I was so excited to see
that bunch of rhubarb (a deal at $3) and bring it home and chop it up.
My ratio of rhubarb to strawberries was 3:1. I added just a half-cup of sugar, and two tablespoons of flour to the fruit.
(Although technically I think rhubarb is vegetable, but anyway…)
I won't go into the piecrust process again, since it was covered in a previous column, which you can link to here. But I did try a few tips from the comments on that piece and they were very useful,
especially the suggestion to use icy cold water, colder than what comes out of the tap.
Served warm with a little bit of vanilla ice cream, this pie was heavenly. If you really don't want to go the piecrust route, another
good way to use rhubarb is to make sauce with it. Simply cook at a low boil on the stove with 1-cup water and ½ cup sugar until rhubarb is soft and the
consistency is like applesauce. It's great with cottage cheese.
These muffins were sold at a farm in Port Alberni, British Columbia as "mystery muffins," and I was shocked to bite into one and
find out how good they were.
I added 1 cup finely grated zucchini (just one small zucchini is plenty) and less than a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips to a basic muffin recipe
1 ¾ cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking power
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.
Maybe the zucchini somehow makes the muffins moister, but whatever the mystery is, I'm glad I tried these and was happy they turned out so well on my
first try making them at home.
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