Saturday, November 19, 2011

Freshly Baked...

I started receiving a weekly box of veggies and fruit from a delicious, organic farm in Capay Valley, CA, Farm Fresh To You.  They deliver once a week, or once every two weeks, and so on; you can choose the size of box you want, if you'd like mostly fruit, mostly veggies, a mix, you name it, they have an array of choices.  It's 100% certified organic, you get news about the farm, recipes, a list of produce you've received, and you can also, of course, "friend" them on Facebook, and get lots of recipe ideas.  Oh, and the best idea in terms of customer satisfaction, you get a free box for every friend you refer.  (Insert "Leslie Burns" as your friend here.)  It's genius.  Please support them.

No big deal, just an amazing box of produce on your doorstep
I've been doing it for about a month now, and first of all, I love that I'm able to be a part of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), something I've wanted to get involved in for a while; it allows my family to not only eat organically, but ensures that I'm buying local, seasonal food, directly from a farmer.  I like to think I own shares in a farm, and those shares are delivered directly to me every week.  I'm a farmer!  Okay, I'm a farmer's assistant!  ALRIGHT!  I'm an urban-dwelling mom who doesn't often visit a farm, doesn't know how to operate a hoe, but does enjoy practicing being one!!!  (does own a pair of overalls....)

The most enjoyable part for me, though, "hoe-ing" aside, is getting produce I would never buy and figuring out what to make with it.  Turns out persimmons are lovely in a quinoa/spinach salad, (thanks to Sophia for showing me when they're ripe, much tastier), spaghetti squash does indeed replace actual pasta quite well, a delectable substitute, and aaaaaaaaaah, the ultimate tasteless vegetable, zucchini.  I had six of them, and I didn't know what to do with 'em.  Sure, I could fry 'em up, nothing tastes bad fried, but that's not the healthiest option, we don't fry in this house, and sure they're okay in the summer, grilled on the bbq, but to be honest, they're not my favorite veggie.  Until.....

Gluten-Free Zucchini Bread from the gluten-free goddess!

NOT the gluten-free goddess
This was so damn good, I made two back-to-back.  The family couldn't keep their hands off of 'em, they only lasted a day or so.  They're great gifts, in fact, now I understand why bakers are always bringing their stuff over, it's so fun to give this shit away.  People really enjoy it.
Now, I've never baked a thing in my life.  Hell, I just started occupying a kitchen, (no wall street pun intended), 7 years ago, but I've been missing out, this stuff rules, it's fun to make, easy, and there's NO CHOPPING!

The Bread:

You can make this with or without eggs, and it's dairy-free.  Also, I substituted organic agave instead of brown sugar.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees (I set mine at 325 degrees because, once again, Sophia saved my ass and informed me that when using agave, you decrease your oven temp by 25 degrees, and increase your baking time by about 10 minutes, because agave can burn.)  Google THAT!
Line the bottom of your 9 or 10" loaf pan with parchment paper and lightly oil it.  (Didn't do this the first time, DID do it the second.  I recommend it, made life a little easier, I didn't have to shake it and bang it...I'm learning people.)


1 cup peeled, and grated zukes (I used a little more the second time, and it was better)
1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca startch
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup agave (or 1 cup brown sugar)
1/3 cup light olive oil or coconut oil (I used coconut)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon or lime juice
2 free-range organic egg whites, beaten, or egg replacer (1/4 cup liquid)
1/4 cup coconut milk

Option: (which I happily took, the walnut route)

1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (I even went with a little more than 1/3 cup, but I'm nutty!  These are the jokes, people.)

Press the zucchini in between paper towel to soak up as much moisture as you can, then fluff with a fork.
In a large mixing bowl, mix up the sorghum flour, tapioca starch, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, sea salt, and cinnamon.  Add in the agave (or brown sugar).

Add the oil, lemon juice, egg whites, and the coconut milk.  Beat on medium-high until smooth, about 2 minutes.
Add in almost all of the zucchini, leaving out some shreds to bake on top for decoration.  Stir by hand to combine.  If you're adding nuts, stir them in now.
Scoop, pour, scrape, get it all into that prepared loaf pan and even out the top.
Add shreds of zucchini on top.


Bake in the center of your preheated oven until the top is golden brown and firm, yet gives a bit when lightly touched.  It should feel springy.  Could take anywhere from 50 to 60 minutes, mine took 65 with the agave.  Test with a thin knife, it should emerge with no crumbs or batter on it.

*A good tip about gluten-free baking:  You want your batter to be room temperature, not cold from the fridge.

And there it is.  Toast that stuff up in the morning, throw a little butter or jam on it, and fuhgeddaboudit!  Do that again in the afternoon, repeat before bed, and you'll see very quickly how fast this zucchini bread disappears.  Scrumptious.

I'm a baker now!