Tag Archives: swans island

Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}The last morning on Swan’s Island is usually a bit of a bummer. Sure, we’re still on-island for the day, but the thought of leaving on the following morning’s early ferry is looming. We’ve accepted that this will not be the year that we canoe. The only thing left on our “must” list is to hike around the lighthouse. It’s time to buy the things we’ve been eyeing at the vintage/antiques stores all week. To go say goodbye to the couple that owns the general store—after five summers, we’re on a first name basis. It’s time to take our recycling and garbage to the transfer station.*

*It’s not all fairy princess magic time, even though there is something sort of endearing about the whole process. I wish NYC waste disposal were so adorable.Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}But it’s also time for one last good breakfast. Since VJ bought herself a waffle iron a couple of years ago, waffles have been a vacation must for us. She usually takes the helm on that, veganizing a very good gluten-free mix and serving up breakfasts that I am more than happy to eat on the cove-facing patio, but she politely agreed to my request to “mess with the waffle iron” this year.Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Initially, she may have regretted this. I had it in my head that my Cornmeal Pancake batter would work just as well in a waffle iron. Truly, I was so sure of this that I was congratulating myself weeks ahead of time for being such a culinary genius and had practically already written the accompanying blog post.

I should probably mention that I had never made a waffle from scratch before.Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}You can see where this is going—the first round was akin to cornmeal styrofoam. Turns out, waffle batter generally needs to be thinner than pancake batter, lest the final product be tough, dry and heavy. We ate the waffles anyway (bad waffles are still waffles), but it took two days and neither of us was particularly jazzed about it. Needless to say, I was a little disheartened, and spent a couple of days writing and rewriting the recipe until I was ready to try again on the final morning.Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}As I began mixing together dry ingredients and measuring out aquafaba and oil, I started to worry that round two would be disastrous too, but I ladled the batter into the iron anyway. VJ and I had an unspoken agreement that we would eat the results, no matter how awful.Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}But we were pleasantly surprised. My adjustments—reducing the cornmeal and doubling the aquafaba (chickpea canning liquid/egg substitute)—had worked, producing lighter, softer waffles with crisp edges and a good corn flavor. We finished them in one sitting. No arduous styrofoam-esque breakfasts here!Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Long story short, in addition to my haul from the vintage stores, this vacation also resulted in my purchase of a waffle maker. I’ve been home for about six days now and have already gotten a good return on my investment: I’ve made this recipe four six more times. You know, just to be sure they’re worthwhile. And also because I like having a freezer full of waffles.Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}
makes about 8-10 4-inch waffles

If you do not want/need these waffles to be vegan, two large eggs may be substituted for the aquafaba.

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
~1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or other milk of choice)
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
6 tablespoons aquafaba (chickpea canning/cooking liquid)
6 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the waffle iron:
cooking spray

For serving (optional):
salted butter (traditional or vegan)
warmed maple syrup
seasonal fruit

Preheat oven to 200F. Place a cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet.

Heat waffle iron according to package directions.

Pour vinegar into a liquid measuring cup. Add just enough almond milk to reach the 1 cup mark. Stir and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together cornmeal, cornstarch, sugar, salt, and baking powder.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together aquafaba, oil, almond milk mixture and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients into dry and whisk to combine.

Grease waffle iron with cooking spray. Pour 1/3-1/2 cup (depending on the size of your waffle iron) of the waffle batter into each well of the iron and close the top. Let cook until steam dissipates and the waffles are turning golden at the edges and divots, about 6 minutes.

Transfer cooked waffles to the prepared rack-over-pan and place in the oven to keep warm. Re-grease the waffle iron and cook remaining batter.

Serve waffles with butter, warmed maple syrup, and seasonal fruit, if desired. Enjoy immediately.

Leftovers may be layered with parchment, placed in a freezer bag, and frozen for up to 3 months. Reheat in the toaster.Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Advertisements

Peachy Keen Granola

Peachy Keen Granola {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Hello from Swan’s Island, my favorite place in Maine, if not the whole world.Peachy Keen Granola {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Peachy Keen Granola {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Peachy Keen Granola {Vegan & Gluten-Free}I am only doing things that I want to do this week, which have thus far included thrifting, reading an actual book, re-seasoning our cottage’s abused cast iron, going to another island to see whale bones, and eating waffles twice because my friend/co-traveler/fellow Swan’s Island enthusiast, VJ, thought to bring her waffle iron and has been kind enough to let me mess with it.

I have now made my first batch of scratch waffles, and while they were edible, they still need some work. VJ remains the undisputed Waffle Queen of our cottage.Peachy Keen Granola {Vegan & Gluten-Free}I, however, am the Granola Queen. In an effort over the last few years to create a breakfast item that we could both enjoy, I’ve created three granola recipes in anticipation of our trips to Maine. They’re all vegan and gluten-free (aka VJ-friendly) and include Tropical Cashew Granola, Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Granola, and now, Peachy Keen Granola.Peachy Keen Granola {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Peachy Keen Granola {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Peachy Keen Granola {Vegan & Gluten-Free}I will not apologize for the cutesy name, or this granola for that matter. It’s my first new variation in a year and a half, but I think you’ll agree it’s worth the wait.Peachy Keen Granola {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Made with dried peaches, almond extract and pie spices in addition to the usual oats, nuts, maple syrup and olive oil, this is the stuff my summer breakfast dreams are made of.Peachy Keen Granola {Vegan & Gluten-Free}That goes double when eaten in my own personal paradise. Peachy keen, indeed.Peachy Keen Granola {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Peachy Keen Granola
makes about six cups

2/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 cups old fashioned oats
8 ounces (~2 cups) sliced almonds
4 ounces dried peaches (about 5 halves), cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Preheat oven to 300F. Line a sheet pan with parchment. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together maple syrup, olive oil, almond extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in oats and sliced almonds. Spread mixture to cover the sheet pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to prevent burning. Let granola cool completely on the pan. Stir in dried peaches.

Store granola in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three weeks.Peachy Keen Granola {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Peachy Keen Granola {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Blackberry Shortbread Wedges

Blackberry Shortbread WedgesIt’s never fun to come home from vacation, but I think I did it right this time. Returning over the holiday weekend left me ample time to relax, grocery shop, meal prep, put up all the new things I bought in Swan’s Island and Portland, and watch all of The Good Place season 2. I’m calling it a success.Blackberry Shortbread Wedges

Getting back into the groove yesterday wasn’t too terrible, but a piece of my heart is definitely still in Maine. You know, where it’s not 95 degrees.Blackberry Shortbread Wedges

Two days before I packed up to go home, my sister and I walked a good stretch of the North Road at a snail’s pace, picking upwards of a quart of tiny wild blackberries in about two hours. It might sound dull, but I can assure you that Eliot and I were anything but bored.Blackberry Shortbread WedgesBlackberry Shortbread Wedges

The vast majority of the berries we found were the blackberries we expected, but we also spotted a blueberry patch and two teeny raspberries. All the apple trees were starting to turn, too. Maybe one day I’ll vacation a little later so I can enjoy them.Blackberry Shortbread WedgesBlackberry Shortbread Wedges

I’ve written before about how I consider baking (and cooking) to be a form of active meditation; I feel the same way about foraging for berries. It’s easy to get lost in the simple process of plucking them from bushes and interacting with nature in a very tactile way. Berry-picking is probably the only time in my life where I am able to peacefully, fearlessly coexist with bees and that I’m not mad about a few good scratches from thorns. If anything, they’re little badges of honor.Blackberry Shortbread WedgesBlackberry Shortbread WedgesBlackberry Shortbread Wedges

I’ve made pies with my foraged berries the last three years I’ve been on Swan’s Island, but decided to keep it easy this year, opting instead for these Blackberry Shortbread Wedges.Blackberry Shortbread Wedges

They’re a slight adaptation of my Sweet Cherry Shortbread Bars (and their apple counterpart), this time baked in an 8-inch round pan. The resulting wedges (or bars or whatever you want to call them) are served up almost like pie, and have a thick, buttery shortbread crust that is difficult to stop eating. You could certainly serve these at room temperature, but my fellow vacationers and I preferred them straight from the fridge. There’s just something about the combination of cold, tangy blackberry filling and rich shortbread.Blackberry Shortbread Wedges

You’ll notice in the photos that I didn’t line the pan with foil or parchment—that’s only because I didn’t have any at our house. Instead, I greased and floured the pan and then sliced and served them directly from the pan. You may follow my lead here, or line the pan with foil and lift them onto a cutting board before slicing. I’ve written instructions for both methods in the recipe.Blackberry Shortbread WedgesBlackberry Shortbread Wedges

However you choose to go about making these, I urge you to do so in these last weeks of summer. We saw pumpkins for sale as we drove out of Maine on September 1st, and while I am all for pumpkin after September 20th, I’m going to enjoy these end-of-season berries while I can.Blackberry Shortbread WedgesBlackberry Shortbread Wedges

Blackberry Shortbread Wedges
makes one 8-inch pan, 8-12 wedges

Filling:
3 cups fresh blackberries
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Shortbread:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes

Place oven racks in top and bottom positions. Preheat oven to 375F. Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan, or line with aluminum foil, leaving overhang, and grease with butter. Set aside.

Make blackberry filling. In a medium mixing bowl, combine blackberries, lime juice, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and cornstarch. Set aside while you make the shortbread.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold butter. Use your fingertips to rub butter into flour until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. It will be powdery, but should hold together when pinched. Set aside 1 cup of the mixture for topping.

Pour remaining shortbread mixture into prepared pan. Spread it around to cover the bottom of the pan before using your hand to pack it down into an even layer. Prick several times with a fork. Pour blackberry filling over the top, leaving behind any excess liquid. Spread berries into an even layer.

For the topping, use your fingers to pinch together small portions of the reserved shortbread mixture. Scatter them over the top of the blackberry layer.

If your pan is on the shallow side, place it on a rimmed baking sheet to collect any light overflow. Bake on the bottom rack of the oven for 20 minutes. Move bars to the top rack and bake for an additional 10-12 minutes, until barely golden. Tent with foil if anything begins to brown too quickly. Let cool in the pan on a rack until they reach room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 90 minutes, or until cold.

If pan was buttered and floured, slice and serve wedges directly from the pan. If it was lined with foil, use overhang to remove to a cutting board. Peel off foil before slicing and serving.

Leftover Blackberry Shortbread Wedges will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. They will soften over time.

Blackberry Shortbread Wedges

Blackberry Pie

Blackberry PieI hope you have a place like Swans Island.

Blackberry PieI don’t necessarily mean an island off the coast of Maine with one store and a population of 300 (but I highly recommend it). I mean a place that you find endlessly enchanting. For my parents, it’s Santa Fe. For my older sister, it’s Isla Mujeres, Mexico. For me, it’s this little island four miles out to sea. I just can’t get enough.

Blackberry PieThe appeal of this place isn’t the broad spectrum of activities–in fact, it’s the opposite that keeps me counting the days between trips. Whereas in New York I am constantly bombarded with people and noise and tasks that must be dealt with right-this-second, on Swans Island, a car passes the house once every ten minutes, the only consistent sound is that of a bell on a lobster boat floating a mile away, and there is literally nothing I have to do. As Swans Island has limited phone and internet access too, this is a place where it really is possible to get away from it all.

Blackberry PieBlackberry PieFaced with a lack of activities, each of my friends and I have found ways to pass the time. Almost all of the things we do together (hiking, beaching, cooking, etc.) take place in the afternoons, so we each have to find a way to while away the mornings. Adam has been tearing through a book, VJ has put together 2.5 puzzles, and I have been wandering the sides of the road with a saucepan in hand, foraging for berries.

Blackberry PieThe last time I was here, I found mostly blueberries and raspberries–Blue-Razz Pie was the result. This time, the vast majority of the berries have been blackberries, so Blackberry Pie it is.

Blackberry PieBlackberry PieBlackberry PieThis pie, y’all. It’s made with my Whole Wheat Pie Dough and a super simple blackberry filling. Just fold some sugar, cinnamon, lime, and cornstarch into a few cups of fresh blackberries and it’s good to go. Now you can concentrate on the top crust.

Blackberry PieWhile you may top your pie however you like, may I suggest a lattice? They’re very easy and I love all the pockets of blackberry filling that peek through. Start by laying a few strips of dough parallel across the top of the filling. I cut my strips in different widths because I think it’s cute.

Blackberry PiePeel back a couple of the strips of dough and lay one perpendicularly across the filling. Then place all the strips back in their original positions.

Blackberry PiePull up the strips you didn’t move the first time and lay another strip across. Keep doing this until you don’t have any room left.

Blackberry PieBlackberry PieBlackberry PieCrimp the crust, brush it with egg wash, and give it a good sprinkle of sugar.Blackberry PieBlackberry Pie

Bake until beautiful and serve a la mode.Blackberry PieBlackberry Pie

Share with friends and definitely go back for seconds. It’s vacation, after all.Blackberry PieBlackberry Pie

Blackberry Pie
makes one 9-inch standard pie

1 recipe Whole Wheat Pie Dough or other good crust
4 cups fresh blackberries
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3-4 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
juice of 1/2 lime

Egg Wash:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water
sugar, for sprinkling

On a floured surface, roll out one disc of pie dough to a 12-inch diameter and fit it in the pan. Trim the edges to 1/2-inch of overhang. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

In a large mixing bowl, combine blackberries, sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, salt, and lime. Fold with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until everything is evenly coated. Transfer filling to prepared crust, discarding any excess liquid. Refrigerate.

On a floured surface, roll out the other disc of pie dough to a 12-inch diameter. If you’d like a lattice crust, slice the rolled dough into strips (see photos above for instructions). If you want a full top crust, lay the rolled-out dough on top of the filling and cut a few vents. Trim the edges to 1/2-inch of overhang, and crimp the top and bottom crust edges together. Refrigerate.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Make the egg wash. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together egg and water. Use a pastry brush to brush the entire exposed crust with egg wash. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 45-50 minutes, tenting with foil if anything begins to brown too quickly.

Let pie cool completely on a rack. Slice and serve with ice cream, if desired.

Pie will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Blackberry Pie

Blue-Razz Pie

 If, hypothetically speaking, I ever wanted to leave New York City for good, I know exactly where I would go. I’d pack my life into a moving truck, drive ten hours north, hop a ferry, and set up camp on Swans Island, Maine. There would be an initial shock, leaving a city of 8 million people and taking residence in a town of 300, but I’m sure I’d adjust quickly. 

As I doubt I have any talent for lobstering (the primary profession among citizens of Swans Island), I think I’d build a little pie shop next door to the general store and live out my days wearing cute aprons, rolling dough, and serving warm slices of local berry pie a la mode. Oh yes, that’s the dream. Or at least it is today.

I’m currently vacationing on Swans Island with my dear friends VJ, Shira, and Liz. As there are two Lizzes here, I have been dubbed Betsy for the purposes of this trip. There’s not much to do here–there’s one store, no restaurants, no TV. Wi-Fi is available only from the porch of the public library and the vestibule in the post office. We’re completely out of our normal routines, instead filling our days with reading, relaxing, building fires, and making meals together. It’s absolutely glorious, and I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we are not terribly thrilled that we’ll have to drive back to Brooklyn on Saturday. 

Liz and I have spent several hours walking down the side of the main road foraging for berries. When I was here last year, I found tons and tons of wild blackberries, but they’re not quite ripe yet. Instead, we’ve done some light trespassing in the name of blueberries and worried about ticks while picking raspberries in a ditch. We have not been arrested or had any ticks, thank goodness, but we have managed to collect just enough berries for pie.

When Liz and I met a year ago, we bonded over our mutual love of pie. She is a filling person, while I prefer the crust–a perfect balance, if you ask me. We have made at least fifteen pies since, including one November evening where we baked three apple pies before virtually passing out during the final game of the World Series. Every single one has been an enjoyable (and delicious) collaboration, but I think the Blue-Razz Pie we made today is my very favorite. 

  And how couldn’t it be? We worked as a team, scouring every bit of woods up and down North Road in an effort to make this happen. On our first visit to the WiFi porch at the public library, we each rushed through checking our email and social media so that we could squat in a ditch and pick blueberries. Yesterday, we took a six hour sojourn to the mainland for provisions and even though we were exhausted when we got back to the island, we put on long pants and went out to gather raspberries near the Back Cove. Our foraging was cut short by rain, but when we got home, Liz cut together a batch of Cream Cheese Pie Dough and we planned to get up the next morning and make pie first thing. 

   She stirred together the filling while I rolled and cut dough. We cut out hearts with an ancient cookie cutter we found in the back of a cabinet full of mismatched pots and pans. Everything got a brush of egg wash and a sprinkling of sugar before being popped into the oven. And forty-five minutes later, we pulled out the most beautifully browned pie, full of bits of wild raspberries and blueberries and smelling like magic. 

 There’s something really amazing about biting into something you made with someone you adore. This pie captures what I love about my friendship with Liz: the teamwork, the creativity, and the sweetness. I can’t wait to make another one. 

 Blue-Razz Pie
makes one standard 9-inch pie

1 recipe Cream Cheese Pie Dough
3 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
juice of 1/2 lime

Egg Wash
1 egg
1 teaspoon water

On a floured surface, roll out one disc of pie dough to a 12-inch diameter and fit it in the pan. Trim the edges to 1/2-inch of overhang. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

In a large mixing bowl, combine blueberries, raspberries, 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt, and lime. Fold with a wooden spoon until everything is evenly coated. Transfer filling to prepared crust. Refrigerate.

On a floured surface, roll out the other disc of pie dough to a 12-inch diameter. You may use a cookie cutter to cut shapes in the dough before laying it over the top of the filling. If you want a full top crust, lay the rolled-out dough on top of the filling and cut a few vents. Trim the edges to 1/2-inch of overhang, and crimp the top and bottom crust edges together. Refrigerate.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Make the egg wash. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together egg and water. Use a pastry brush to brush the entire exposed crust with egg wash. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 45-55 minutes, tenting with foil at the 20 minute mark.

Let pie cool completely on a rack. Slice and serve with ice cream, if desired.

Pie will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to five days.