Foamy Black Bug Juice

[Reposted from 2009.]

I hope you are planning your Halloween dinner menu. How about starting the evening with Foamy Black Black Bug Juice?

foamy black bug juice

Foamy Black Bug Juice photo by vsimon

Foamy Black Bug Juice

Sweet, tasty, fragrant. Spicy fragrance, not icky stinky. And just gross enough in a clear glass. Make this right before serving for maximum foam. You can spike it with ETOH (alcohol) for the adults if you like.

serves 6 metric measures
1 tablespoon honey 15 ml
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 gm
2 tablespoons dark raisins 15 gm
1 cup grape juice concentrate 240 ml
1/3 cup orange juice concentrate 80 ml
5 cups sparkling water 1.200 liters

In a small bowl, stir cinnamon into the honey. Drizzle honey mixture around the inside rim of the glass. You will have sticky fingers if it gets on the outside. And that isn’t always a bad thing.

Add a few raisins to each glass.

Carefully add juice concentrates to a tall glass pitcher. Try to be neat and not to get it on the side of the pitcher. Or be messy, it just adds to the eeewww factor.

Add the sparking water and watch it foam.

Pour into prepared glasses. Garnish with lots of foam. It will sparkle in your nose.

Stay tuned for the entree.

Dried Ground Cherries

dried-groundcherries (10)

left to right: naked ground cherries, cinnamon raisin dried ground cherries, whole ground cherries with their husks, ground cherry plant 

photo by vsimon

Last year we had 1, this year we 7 ground cherry plants. Some we paid for, some were grown from saved seeds. Some were volunteer plants from last year. This could get out of hand.

A purchase plant was labeled “pineapple ground cherry”, most were simply “ground cherry.” We taste tested each one and didn’t notice any difference in flavor, size, or color. I think the pineapple name is just a marketing ploy.

Vince has already put up 26  jars of ground cherry jam. That is probably enough, even for gift giving. We have also had ground cherry and raspberry crisp. But what to do with this continuing embarrassment of riches? Dry them!! 

We have a super duper commercial quality dehydrator, with a thermostat and a fan. We use it every year for sliced dried tomatoes. Dried until they are thin and crispy, they are easy to crumble by hand into recipes. 

Reasoning, if we didn’t dry them as long, dried ground cherries might be like raisins. They are a similar texture.

We tried drying them whole and halved. Whole took much too long, up to 24 hours. Halved, they are done overnight.

Since ground cherries are not as sweet as grapes, it follows dried ones are not as sweet as raisins.

So they could go either way, sweet or savory. We tried many seasonings. Sugar and cinnamon for sweet. Simple salt and pepper, garam masala, smoked and hot paprika for savory. You can probably think of many other combinations.

The sweets can be summery additions to your breakfast cereal or muffins this fall and winter. The savory ones make good bar snacks. Think of munching on chewy nutless seasoned nuts.

driesgroundcherries (4)

whole and halved ground cherries with sugar and cinnamon on drying racks photo by vsimon

Sugar and Cinnamon Ground Cherries

These are plenty sweet. As sweet, or sweeter than raisins.

2/3 cup sugar (we used white granulated)

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

8 cups husked ground cherries, halved (about 2.5 pounds)

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix sugar and cinnamon together.

Toss with halved ground cherries.

Place in a single layer on 5 drying racks.

Dry overnight at about 115 degrees. We put the dehydrator outside so it doesn’t heat up the house.

Store in glass containers. Or plastic, if you must. I like to put them in the freezer, they don’t take up much room. It isn’t necessary, I just like to store lots of things in the freezer.

Savory Dried Ground Cherries

Simply halve and sprinkle your choice of seasoning on them. Be careful, a little goes a long way. Start with about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon for 8 cups of ground cherries. They shrink by more than half and the flavoring gets concentrated. You can always add more after they are dry.

What seasonings would you try?

Beautiful, Gorgeous, Awesome, Gluten-Free 100% Oat Flour Chocolate Cake

Oat Four Chocolate Cake with Cinnamon

oat flour chocolate cake with cinnamon photo by vsimon

I love oats, and now oat flour. This cake is decadent, moist, rich, not too sweet. Perfect for a special occasion, or any given Tuesday. 🙂

Be sure to buy certified gluten-free oat flour. Not all commercially available oat flour is gluten-free. Even from companies that sell other gluten-free oat products.

For example, Bob’s Red Mill sells many fine gluten-free products, including oatmeal, run on their dedicated gluten-free facility. But their oat flour is not produced in that facility, and is not tested for cross-contamination.  

 (Update:Bob’s Red Mill now does have a certified gluten-free oat flour which, according to their site, is made from oats grown in dedicated fields and processed in a gluten-free facility.  It is also tested for gluten to ensure purity. 

 http://www.bobsredmill.com/gluten-free-oat-flour.html

Thanks, Margaret)

It may be possible to grind your own oat flour from certified gluten-free oatmeal, but I have not tried it. Please let us know if you do this.

I use Cream Hill Estates certified gluten-free oat flour. Full disclosure: Cream Hill Estates supplies me with oat products for recipe development. 

Lets get back to the cake.

It is adapted from Best Ever Chocolate Cake on the Cream Hill Estates website. I reduced the sugar, switched it to dark brown sugar, baked the cake in rounds, and added the frosting.

Flavor

To my taste, perfect! Rich dark chocolate and hit of cinnamon. Cinnamon and chocolate are natural friends. Add oats and dark brown sugar (but not too much), and now we have a party.

Texture

Oat flour gives a soft, moist crumb. And this is all oat flour, 100%. No refined starches, devoid of nutrition.

Save some cake for later. Even days later, it has the same moist texture.

We can’t forget the frosting. Silky, smooth, rich.

Easy

You just measure and beat for a few minutes to mix up the cake batter. Ditto for making the frosting. No special skills required.

Frosting the cake is simple too. The cake layers bake up with smooth shiny tops. Keep the tops up. That way, the cake doesn’t crumble into the frosting when you slather on this decadence. I always hate when that happens.

It is all fool proof, so easy the kids can help.

Dreamy

Yes, I dream about this cake. Make it once, and you will too.

 Oat Flour Chocolate Cake Slice

slice of oat flour chocolate cake with cinnamon

photo by vsimon

Oat Flour Chocolate Cake with Cinnamon

Yield: one two-layer 8” cake

Cake

¾ cup oil

¾ cup dark brown sugar

¾ cup milk

6 tablespoons pure cocoa powder, not cocoa drink mix

1 ¼ cup certified gluten-free oat flour

1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

3 eggs

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Frosting

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

8 ounces butter (2 sticks), room temperature

¾ cup pure cocoa powder, not cocoa drink mix

6 tablespoons water

2 cups powdered sugar

To make the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Oil or butter two 8” round cake pans.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and beat until smooth.

Evenly divide batter into both pans.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Cool and gently remove cake from the pans. Really, it holds together well. Just use normal gentleness, no need to get nervous.

To make the frosting:

In a large bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth.

Add cocoa powder and water. Beat again until smooth.

Add powdered sugar in batches, about 1 cup at a time. It will be a cloudy mess if you try to beat all the powdered sugar in at once.

Note: if the cocoa and/or powdered sugar are clumpy, press them through a mesh strainer before beating into the butter mixture. This will ensure smooth frosting.

To frost the cake:

Put one cake layer, shiny side up on a serving plate. To keep the serving plate clean, tuck four 3” wide strips of waxed paper under the cake so the plate is covered.

Put about 1 cup of frosting on top of the bottom layer and smooth so it goes over the edge a bit.

Put the next layer, shiny side up again, and top with more frosting. Smooth it the same.

Add frosting to the sides and smooth all the way around. Carefully remove the waxed paper.

Enjoy!! I feel the need to turn on the oven. Tuesday is tomorrow.

You might enjoy other oat recipes. Cocoa Cherry Muesli and

Beef and UnBarley Soup. Or Cherry Ginger Crisp in the NFCA February Newsletter, scroll down to the Nourish column for the recipe.

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