Freelance Food & Drinks Writer

Tag Archives: Baking

In season: wild gooseberries

So, were the wild gooseberries worth fighting prickles, poison ivy, ticks and locust thorns for? Absolutely.

Hard-won wild gooseberries.

The season, like everything this year, came on early. Suddenly gooseberries were everywhere. We picked as many as we could stand picking, grateful that Ribes missouriense is a friendlier berry than the Sierra gooseberries Hank Shaw describes as “nasty, spiky, prickly things.” And that’s the actual berry, not just the branch.

Still, even these smooth gooseberries need to be trimmed of stems and beards, a painstaking process, but well-worth it in the end. A few were fully ripe, soft and brownish-purple with a dull, winey sweetness. But most are tart and green, perfect for desserts, although Wild Edibles of Missouri also recommends using them in jelly and picking leaves for salads or tea.

I immediately made a pie, because that’s what my mother-in-law has always done with them. It’s easy enough: just cook 4 cups of unripe gooseberries with 1 cup of granulated sugar and 2 tablespooons of corn starch until it’s a gooey, sweet mess, then fill a double-crust pie and bake. Continue Reading

Quote: local soul

“Think global, support local. That’s where the soul is,” says Craig Adcock, owner of Jude’s Kansas City Rum Cake and Belly Up Bar-B-Que, a gourmet barbecue and grilling catering company. You should certainly think about supporting his rum cake (read more about it in today’s Kansas City Star). Adcock’s rum cake is a humble thing… Continue Reading

Drinking your cookies

Every kid has a favorite cookie. Mine were Mom’s coco-mint sandwiches, thin chocolate wafers layered with green, minty frosting that tasted better than any Oreo. The recipe calls for peppermint oil and green food color in the filling, but a teaspoon of crème de menthe works just as well. Why substitute alcohol for the more… Continue Reading

Haitian rum transformed

I like rum, especially agricole-style rums distilled from freshly-pressed sugar cane juice like Rhum Barbancourt’s Reserve Special 8-year-old. It’s weighty and rich, sweetened by its time in oak barrels and a bargain at $20 a bottle. I’m gradually making my way through a bottle, but recently found someone who’s an even bigger fan—Craig Adcock. He… Continue Reading

Quote: a couple of shots

“You just can’t take a recipe and throw a couple shots of alcohol in there, because it’s not going to work,” says Krystina Castella, who co-authored Booze Cakes: Confections Spiked with Spirits, Wine and Beer with Terry Lee Stone. She should know. I interviewed Castella today for an upcoming piece about baking with spirits. I’ve… Continue Reading

Kolaches for all

If you’re from the Czech Republic or a neighboring country, or your family is, or your friends are, you probably know what kolaches are. But I’m not, they aren’t, and I didn’t. At least, not until we drove to Austin, Texas, last spring. I wondered what all those signs were for along I-35, south of… Continue Reading

Early morning kolaches

It’s just 3 a.m., but Barbara Vratanina’s already up and headed to Barb’s Kolache Bakery in Shawnee. By 4 a.m., she’s pulling trays of dough from the fridge and sliding them into the proofer. At 5 a.m., the first kolaches go into the oven, along with a batch of cinnamon rolls and meat-and-cheese pastries. Not… Continue Reading