Claudia and Hans Make Stuff

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Grandma’s Plum Crisp (German Pflaumenkuchen)

Similarly to the Grandma’s Apple Crisp (German Apfelkuchen), this is another favorite family recipe. It is made essentially the same way, but the apples are replaced by Italian plums (see link below).

It is very simple to make, delicious, and surprisingly low in calories. I love making this recipe but I have only been able to make it twice so far since high school. It is pretty tricky to found the Italian plums. The season for these plums is very short and tends to be toward the end of summer. I came across them in August and made this recipe, but had not had time yet to post this recipe.

Ingredients for the dough (Makes a large baking sheet):
250 g flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
50 g sugar, white granulated sugar works best
50 g softened butter
1-2 eggs
milk, if needed

Ingredients for the topping:
2 lbs Italian plums, washed, putted, and cut (see picture below)
Streusel (crumbly topping)

Ingredients for the crumbly topping:
100-150 g butter
1 part flour
1 part sugar, white granulated sugar works best

1. Mix all of the ingredients for the dough together and knead through. Use a little bit of milk, if the dough feels dry and does not stick together. The dough should be soft and easy to handle. Roll the dough on greased baking sheet.
2. Wash, pit, and slice the plums. Arrange the plums in layers on the dough. Meanwhile heat oven to 350 degrees.
3. To make the crumbly topping: Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Once fully melted, pour in a heat-proof bowl that contains 1 part flour and one part sugar. I would start with 1 cup flour and 1 cup sugar. Mix the melted butter in with a fork. Add equal portions of flour and sugar as needed to achieve desired Streusel consistency. I prefer the Streusel to be medium-sized (rather than tiny, too much flour and sugar, or too large, too little flour and sugar).
4. Evenly spread the Streusel over the plums. Bake the plum crisp for 15-20 minutes, or until dough is no longer gooey. Dough and Streusel should look golden and slightly browned.
5. Serve with home-made whipped cream. Yum.

Note: Stores well in refrigerator for a couple of days. However, the Streusel and dough will lose their crunchiness as the apples continue to give off moisture.

Italian plums:

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Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

So…it’s been quite a while since I last posted…so many recipes to catch up on and post. Sadly, just thinking about all of those blogs makes my head spin.

I have actually made the strawberry rhubarb jam twice…since I had to refresh my memory on how I made the jam the first time around…well and now a whole month has passed and we will see how much I actually remember about making it.

Ingredients (7 4-ounce jars):
300 grams of rhubarb, washed, peeled and cut into small pieces
300 grams of organic strawberries, washed and cut into small pieces
¾ cup of sugar, less of strawberries are really ripe and sweet
1½ tablespoons pectin
¼ cup water

1. In a medium pan, combine the rhubarb, strawberries, water, and sugar. Heat at medium heat for about 2-3 minutes, until rhubarb starts to become softer.
2. Transfer jam mixture into a blender and evenly blend. Return blended mixture to pan. Add pectin and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Meanwhile, heat jamming jars in hot water bath.
3. Pour hot jam into hot jamming jars, leaving about an inch at the top. Immediately close each jar and stand upside down to completely seal the jars.
4. Enjoy jam on bread.

Strawberry Rhubbarb 04_small


Strawberry Rhubbarb Jam_8_small

Healthful benefits:
* Organic strawberries (store-bought) and rhubarb from the garden provide various healthy vitamins, including high fiber content, good source of potasium, vitamin A, C, and K, as well as folate.
* Homemade jam has lower levels of sugar and less artificial ingredients.

Recipe inspired by:

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Easy marinara sauce

So I was trying out a new recipe ” Pasta Pomodoro”. However, I did not like the consistency of the sauce to accompany the pasta. Traditional Italian “pasta pomodoro” refers to a pasta dish that is prepared with olive oil, tomatoes, basil, and other fresh ingredients. The tomatoes from the can I was using were cut into rather large chunks and I ended up just pureeing the sauce. Therefore, creating another marinara sauce recipe.

I will have to revisit “Pasta Pomodoro” some day and I will be mindful of the size of the tomato pieces.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 can organic tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
fresh oregano leaves to taste
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat the olive in small pan. Add the onion and cook over medium heat until softened. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and simmer for 5-6 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced slightly and thickened. (This is when I blended the sauce in the blender and returned it to pan after.) Add basil and oregano leaves. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Pour the sauce over pasta (we used farfalle pasta) and sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately and enjoy =)

Farfalle with marinara sauce

Farfalle with marinara sauce

Healthful notes:
* Homemade marinara sauce has fewer ingredients than most store-bought pasta sauce. It also will likely have fewer calories and will have a lower sodium content.
* You can easily use garden-fresh tomatoes in place of canned tomatoes. Our tomato plants are still fairly small and have not even started flowering yet.


Green curry with sweet potato and eggplant

I love eating curry but I don’t eat it very often. This is partially due to not eating out very often in Thai restaurants (maybe the Thai restaurants here aren’t so good?!) and not really knowing how to make curry.
Recently, I came across this curry recipe and I figured I had to give it a try.

Hans and I enjoyed the outcome, but I will have to work out some kinks to make this recipe better. Any input is GREATLY appreciated.

Ingredients (4 servings)
1 tablespoon olive oil (some extra oil to possibly add later)
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 tablespoons green curry paste
1 eggplant, quartered and sliced
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) coconut milk
1/2 veggie bouillon
1 cup water
(6 kaffir lime leaves, I could not find these and left them out)
1 orange sweet potato, cubed
2 teaspoons raw organic sugar (I would suggest only starting with 1 teaspoon)
2 tablespoons lime juice (I used the juice from one lime)
2 teaspoons lime rind
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat the oil in a large wok or frying pan. Add the onion and green curry paste and cook, stirring, over medium heat for approximately 3 minutes. Add the eggplant and potato and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until softened.
2. Pour in the coconut milk and vegetable stock, bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. (Simmer for 5 minutes and then add the kaffir lime leaves.) Simmer until the eggplant and sweet potato are tender.
3. Mix in the sugar, lime juice, and lime rind. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with steamed rice (we used Jasmin rice).

Green curry with sweet potato and eggplant in wok

Green curry with sweet potato and eggplant in wok

Green curry with Jasmin rice

Green curry with Jasmin rice

* Make sure that the eggplant is small and skinny. Larger eggplants tend to have lots of seeds inside. I found those seeds a bit distracting in the dish.
* Make sure to get the lime rind before squeezing the juice out of the lime.
* While the taste of this recipe was good, I somehow felt that something was missing.

Recipe adapted from “The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook” (Murdoch Books)

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Minestrone soup

Minestrone soup is among my favorite types of soups. It is so easy to make and it is offers so much flexibility. It is a great way to use up a variety of veggies that need to be used up. It also easy to change the ingredients, so you can choose your favorite ones or can skip one if you do not have it at hand. Furthermore, depending on what you add to the soup, you can change how filling it is.

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
same asparagus
3 rainbow-colored carrots, sliced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can kidney beans
1 veggie buillion cube
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
optional pasta (for example, elbow pasta)

1. Saute onions and carrots, until softened. Then add the other ingredients, except pasta and cheese (if using).
2. Continue heating the soup on low to medium heat. You do not want to cook the soup. Heat until all vegetables are desired tenderness. Meanwhile (if using pasta), prepare the pasta according to directions on pasta package.
3. Once vegetables are tender, pour soup into bowls and add pasta. Serve with shredded cheese, baguette bread, or grilled cheese.
Note: This soup stores well in air-tight container in refrigerator. If you add the pasta before storing it, the pasta will soak up all the liquid in the soup, so it may be best to store the pasta in a separate container.

Minestrone (sad this picture has glare on it)

Minestrone (sad this picture has glare on it)

Minestrone soup with elbow pasta

Minestrone soup with elbow pasta

Health benefits:
* Carrots are a great source of beta carotene, vitamin C and B, fiber, calcium, iron, and potassium.
* Kidney beans are rich in potassium and magnesium, thus they help to keep blood pressure in check. In addition, the high fiber content can help to reduce bad LDL cholesterol.. Kidney beans are also rich in iron and protein, making them a great meat substitute for vegetarians.
* Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C and E, beta carotene, magnesium, potassium, and calcium

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Minestrone soup–Dutch Oven Version

Here is another recipe that we successfully adapted for cooking in the dutch oven. The great thing about this recipe is that you can adjust its list of ingredients based on what produce is in season and better yet based on what you need to use up from your fridge or pantry.

Ingredients (Makes 2-3 servings):
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, sliced (my favorite type of carrots to use are rainbow carrots)
3 fingerling potatoes, cubed (these are small potatoes which come in different colors, I used one purple, one violet, and one yellow potato)
1 can organic kidney beans
3 Roma tomatoes, diced including the juices
1 veggie bouillon cube
Approximately 3 cups of water
salt, pepper, dried oregano, and dried basil to taste
a dash of Cajun pepper

Cooked pasta (we used bicycle-shaped pasta) and shredded cheese (optional)

1. Use a little bit of butter and coat the bottom and sides of the Dutch oven (8 inch).
2. Add all the ingredients, except the pasta and cheese. Add some water to the dutch oven. I rinsed the can of beans and the flexible cutting board with some water that I added into the Dutch oven–it’s the whole leave-no-trace thing. (It is advised especially in areas where there are bears to not dump any water that may contain food particles on the ground. Therefore, I used the rinse water for the soup and brought pasta that I had cooked at home. If you cook pasta in “bear-country” without outhouses or restrooms, you are advised to drink the pasta water…yuck!!!)
3. Place Dutch oven on hot coals and cook for approximately 20-30 minutes. The length may vary depending on heat of fire, size of the veggies, and the desired done-ness). Check periodically and stir to prevent anything from sticking to the bottom or the sides of the Dutch oven.
4. Once heated, serve in bowls with pasta and shredded cheese. Enjoy =)

Minestrone soup in Dutch  Oven

Minestrone soup in Dutch Oven

Minestrone soup served with bicycle pasta

Minestrone soup served with bicycle pasta

Health benefits:
* Carrots are a great source of beta carotene, vitamin C and B, fiber, calcium, iron, and potassium.
* Kidney beans are rich in potassium and magnesium, thus they help to keep blood pressure in check. In addition, the high fiber content can help to reduce bad LDL cholesterol.. Kidney beans are also rich in iron and protein, making them a great meat substitute for vegetarians.
* Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C and E, beta carotene, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.

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Rhubarb almond cake

We have a giant rhubarb plant in our garden, so it was just a matter of time that I needed to try out a new recipe using rhubarb from the garden. Growing up, my mom often made rhubarb compote and baked rhubarb cake.  My memory of the cake is a bit cloudy, but I found a recipe that I modified a bit to bake rhubarb cake which is simply delicious.

300 g rhubarb, cleaned and diced
150 g butter
3 eggs
175 g organic sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
200 g organic flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
50 g almonds, finely chopped
100 g quark (see note below)
powdered sugar and sliced almonds for decoration

1. Clean the rhubarb and peel the tough skin. Cut the rhubarb stalks into cubes (approximately 2-3 cm in length).
2. Combine the butter, sugar, and eggs. Add the vanilla extract and add the salt as well as backing powder. Add the flour. Add the quark and the chopped almonds. Lastly, add the rhubarb pieces.
3. Pour the batter in a greased spring form. Bake in preheated oven at 360 degrees for 25-30 minutes (or until wooden stick inserted comes out clean). Once the cake is fully cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar and sliced almonds.

Note: Quark is a dairy product that you may be able to find at Whole Foods. Alternatively, you can try to substitute quark with plain organic yogurt.

Birthday cake does not need to have frosting =)

Birthday cake does not need to have frosting =)

Rhubarb cake_1_small Rhubarb cake_2_small Rhubarb cake_3_small





Health benefits:
* Rhubarb stalks are naturally low in calories, while providing a lot of dietary fiber and anti-oxidants.
* The stalks are also rich in several B-complex vitamins such as folates, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, and pantothenic acid.
* Rhubarb stalks also provide good amounts of vitamin K. Vitamin K promotes bone formation and strengthening. Adequate vitamin K levels help limit neuronal damage in the brain.
* While I sometimes replace eggs with ground flax seed or egg substitute in recipes, eggs actually have great health benefits. They are rich in iron, vitamins B, A, and E, selenium, and zinc. In addition, they are a good source of protein. Therefore, eggs provide antiaxidant wualities that may help to protect against some forms of cancer. Futhermore, it is one of a few sources of vitamin B12, an essential vitamin for the nervous system, for vegetarians.

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Homemade strawberry ice cream

Strawberries are ready to be picked out of the garden! And while I enjoy stuffing my face with hot, sun baked strawberries right off the plant; they are pretty good in ice cream too!

Easy recipe!
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 pint milk (I use vitamin D)
1/2 cup sugar (I like turbinado or organic sugar)
1 egg white (can skip this if you really want)
2 cups sliced or puréed or more strawberries from your garden

Add everything but strawberries to a pot and simmer on low on the stove. This will make a custard. Cook it until it coats the back of a spoon and then remove from heat. Lay plastic wrap on the surface of the custard to keep a skin from forming and place in fridge.

Once cooled, pull the plastic off and pour in a traditional ice cream machine/freezer. Add strawberries to the machine in whatever form you chose and follow the traditional instructions for use.

After it has mixed in the machine, transfer to a freezable container and it can harden overnight. Or if you can’t wait, eat it right away! Fresh ice cream out of the machine is very close to Italian ice cream! (So I heard, I haven’t been yet…)


Health benefits:
* While this may not the healthiest of recipes, it is healthier and yummier than store-bought strawberry ice cream. Most store-bought ice creams will contain corn syrup, molasses, and likely other ingredients such as xanthan gum.
* Another benefit are the organic strawberries. Strawberries are rich in vitamin C, which helps the body absorb iron and maintains healthy skin, teeth, and bones. Vitamin C also serves as antioxidant that strengthens the immune systme and helps fight infection.