Friday, November 19, 2010


Another great fall fruit is the gorgeous but often daunting pomegranate.  I admit, for years I didn't know how to open a pomegranate successfully, and I've made my fair share of red juicy messes trying to get to those delicious seeds of tasty joy. 

It wasn't until a few weeks ago as Mike and I were perusing the produce section of our local Raley's, that we noticed a little pamphlet near the box of pomegranates.  What shear excitement I felt upon opening such pamphlet to find proper cutting instructions.  My days of mopping up what looked like a deadly encounter with a knife would now be efficient and stain-free.  No longer would that pomegranate laugh heartily at me and my desperate attempts to get its seeds!

So without further ado, here is the "correct" way to open a pomegranate:

1.  Cut off the top of the pomegranate about a 1/2 inch below the crown using a sharp pairing knife
2.  Once the top is off, you'll see the pomegranate is naturally split into 4 to 6 sections.  Score the skin at each section.

Cutting off the top and scoring the sections

3.  Separate the pomegranate at each score.  Think of peeling apart the sections on an orange.
4.  Loosen the seeds (AKA arils) over a bowl of water using your fingers.

Removing the seeds without the mess

5.  Use a spoon or your fingers to scoop out any white membrane pieces that have fallen into the bowl.
6.  Pour the bowl of water through a strainer.
7.  Keep the arils in a Tupperware in the fridge and enjoy!

So what do you then do with those plump little babies?  Lots!  Here are some of my favorite ways:

  • Over salads
  • Mixed in a bowl of oatmeal or other hot cereal
  • Stirred into yogurt
  • Baked in muffins and cookies
  • Dried in the dehydrator, then added to trail mixes and homemade granola
  • Added to chutney
  • Added to whole grains ~ rice, quinoa and amaranth
  • Mixed with guacamole
  • Baked in an apple pie
  • Added to a fruit salsa
  • Stirred into melted chocolate then frozen (think chocolate covered raisins)

Pomegranates contains lots of vitamins, potassium, folic acid and iron. Plus, they’re packed with powerful antioxidants known as polyphenols.  And for those of you who choose to eat seasonally, pomegranates are available from October through January, so enjoy them while you can!

Thank you dear pomegranate for teaching me to unlock your secrets, for showing me how to open you without making a bloody mess!

Pomegranates from a local farmer

What's your favorite way to use pomegranate arils?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Persimmon Cookies

So I finally got myself some persimmons.  They've been trickling into my kitchen.  Some came from Raley's, some more came from a friend's tree and more will be arriving Tuesday from a local farmer.   For me they respresent everything that is good about the season of fall, along with my other favorite fall fruit the pomegranate.  The persimmon signals that fall is most definitely here to stay and being that I am a believer in eating seasonally as much as possible, I couldn't be happier.  I mean just look at the persimmon.  It's adorable!  With its squatty round body and bright orange flesh.  How can anybody resist!

Hachiya Persimmons

My introduction to persimmons came quite a few years ago when I was teaching 6th grade at Dolores Huerta Elementary school.  My Aunt Ruth, a retired teacher herself, just happened to come out of retirement and take on the school library as head librarian.  What fun to have my Aunt in the same school as I!  One fall day she appeared with a plate of cookies.  And not just any cookies, persimmon cookies!  Being a foodie, I was love-struck!  I had to have the recipe and since that day I've made my own batch of persimmon cookies every fall.

This year, since I've gone wheat and gluten free, I gave myself the challenge to change up Aunt Ruth's recipe and give my digestive system some cookie love without the pain.  The recipe that follows is my new version of an old recipe.

Persimmon Cookies
~ sans wheat and gluten!

  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Hachiya persimmons, ripe
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups Pamela's Ultimate Baking Mix
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar

  1. Heat oven to 350* F. 
  2. Peel the ripe persimmons and place in a food processor along with the baking soda and pulse until smooth.
  3. In a stand mixer, cream butter and egg until smooth.  Add persimmon pulp and mix throughly.
  4. Add Pamela's Mix, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla and agave nectar.  Mix on medium speed until blended well like a soft cookie dough.
  5. Place spoonfuls of dough on cookie sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. 
  6. Remove from oven and let cool on sheet for 5 minutes.  Finish cooling cookies on baking rack. 
Makes about 24 cookies.

Persimmon Cookies

If you're feeling adventurous add some crushed walnuts to the dough or maybe even some chocolate chips!

So here's to Aunt Ruth and her persimmon cookie recipe, because of her I have a delicious cookie and a family tradition to pass down to my girls.  Though persimmons only come once a year and for such a brief window of time, that makes me appreciate them all the more.

What traditions do you celebrate with your family during the fall?

Want to know the facts about persimmons?  Click here to go to my Kitchen Witch Coaching FB Page
Learn about:
The two different types of persimmons
Nutrition facts
More ideas for using persimmons in your daily diet.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Curing Olives

Often I try to escape the kitchen.  I'm in there ALL the time.  I tell myself that I'm crazy to spend so much time in there and why don't I go find something else to do.  Go learn a new skill!  Knit a scarf!  Run a marathon!  Do something besides COOK!

So last Sunday I made a trip to my friend Caroyln's house for a scrapbook sale leaving my spatula behind but taking Mike with me for the outing.  My poor scrapbook has been patiently waiting for me to finish it for the last six years.  Yes, six years ago my daughter and I went to England.  I came home with high expectations and grand visions of a scrapbook to immortalize our memories from that most fantastic journey.  And my outing to Carolyn's sale was inspiration to finally get it finished.

Well I've never been to Carolyn's house and upon arrival I immediately noticed a large olive tree in the front yard beckoning to me.  The tree was magnificent and covered with gorgeous shiny green and purple little olives.  I reluctantly pulled myself away from the tree and entered the party.  Being that I actually do get a thrill from crafty supplies and decorative papers, I made my scrapbooking purchases and Mike, knowing me so well, asked about the olive tree.  Carolyn was more than happy to show us the tree and the many others on her land and was very willing to let us pick them!  I was THRILLED to say the least!  I've never cured olives before, but I could feel the excitement spinning up through my belly at the thought of trying something new in my kitchen.

Two days later Mike and I returned to Carolyn's house with a big bucket ready to be filled.  For an hour we picked those pretty babies off two of the trees.  I could have picked all day, such was the joy I felt in harvesting food.  Local food, grown in my neck of the woods on a tree just waiting to share her bounty and become tasty little morsels to eat!

Mike and I picking olives

I just can't get enough!

Hmm now how to cure those olive?  Thank the heavens for internet!  After searching many websites, we found a recipe that seemed easy enough.  So how exactly did we do it?  First, we rinsed the olives in the sink to remove any debris.  Second, we punctured the skin of the olive with a knife, making a small slit in the skin without slicing into the pit.  Third, we filled glass jars to the top with the olives.  And fourth, we poured a salt water mixture over the olives up to the very brim so all of the olives were covered.  (1/4 cup of salt to 4 cups water)  To keep the olives from floating up to the top and peeking out of the water, we placed drinking glasses in the jars.  It's working pretty well so far!

Our loot in the sink ready to be washed

Adding a cut to the skin

And now we wait!

So how long does this olive curing process take?  Well according to my internet sources, six weeks.  Each week the water must be changed and new salt water added.  This coming Tuesday will be the first water change.  And just a hint, place a cookie sheet under your jars.  As the olives are curing water is slowly dripping over the top and making a gooey mess!  I'm excited to have another experiment on my counter.  It's most definitely not the first and certainly won't be the last!

So my attempt to leave the kitchen and find other ways of creating and doing actually led me BACK into the kitchen!  What!?  I guess I can't escape.  I went for scrapbooking supplies and ended up curing olives!  Somehow or another I always find myself back in the kitchen making some kind of tasty temptation or crazy concotion.  Perhaps it is just my destiny to be the Kitchen Witch.

And by the way, I did actually finish that scrapbook.