homemade ketchup? yes, please.

I hate to admit this, but my seven-year-old has recently entered the stage of all foods must be dipped in ketchup in order for me to eat this.

DIY ketchup | sagebrousseau.com

I pick my battles, so I go with it, the only problem was when we ran out of ketchup… this was an emergency situation! I did a quick Google search and learned that making my own ketchup was relatively fast and easy and I had all the ingredients on hand. Ketchup-crisis averted.

At first, I was skeptical. Would it taste as good as the brand I’ve always bought? Would it pass muster with the picky eater? To my surprise, homemade tastes far better than store-bought ketchup, and my child-tester LOVED it! Score! I haven’t bought any ketchup since.

DIY ketchup | sagebrousseau.com

Here’s my recipe for the best ketchup you’ll ever try (bonus: no high-fructose corn syrup):

DIY Ketchup

  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • ½ teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cups water

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan over low heat. Simmer, stirring frequently to avoid spattering, for 20 to 30 minutes or until desired consistency. Adjust the flavors as necessary, you can add up to another tablespoon of sugar or a little more worcestershire sauce to get the taste you desire. Serve and enjoy!

P.S.: Happy New Year, I hope your 2015 is happy and healthy so far! I’ve been down and out with a massive cold, but now I’m back.

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christmas bonus: bourbon pecan fruitcake bites

Like many folks, I have never been a fan of the traditional fruitcake.  Ridiculed for its brick-like appearance and studded with unnatural glossy green and red “fruits,” it never really tasted any better than it looked.

mini fruitcakes | sagebrousseau.com

Why does fruitcake have such a bum rap? Generally speaking, fruitcake is just a mixture of brandied fruits and nuts with a spiced batter to hold them together… sounds delicious, where did this holiday treat go awry? Since I enjoy reveling in Christmastime traditions, and fruitcake being among the most time-honored, I am determined to make a more palatable recipe!

Despite the fact that this is a dessert composed mainly of nuts and fruits, it is not technically a health-food. However, I did shop my favorite local natural-foods store for the necessary ingredients: dried fruits and nuts. I had all the other tasty ingredients already in my kitchen: butter, eggs, sugar… and bourbon, of course.

Bourbon Pecan Fruit Cake Bites bourbon pecan fruit cake bites | sagebrousseau.com

Yield 24

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups diced mixed dried fruits (I used dates, cranberries, and crystallized ginger– you could also try apples, apricots or golden raisins)
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • ¾ cup bourbon
  • ¼ cup butter, room temperature
  • 6 Tbls. brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ to 1 cup flour
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon

Soak nuts and an dried fruits (omit crystallized ginger, if using) in bourbon for 8 hours. Preheat oven to 325º Cream butter and sugar with an electric beater until light and fluffy, add egg and beat. In another bowl, whisk flour, salt and cinnamon. Reduce speed on mixer and add flour mixture. Batter should be thick. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fruits (including ginger) and nuts to the batter, fold into batter with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. If batter appears dry you may add some of the left over bourbon a teaspoon at a time.

Line mini-muffin pan with paper liners, use a measured scoop to fill each with a rounded teaspoon of batter. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out cleanly and the cakes are a light golden brown.

bourbon fruitcake bites | sagebrousseau.com

Because of the alcohol content, fruitcake may be stored (covered in the refrigerator) for up to one month, but these are so tasty, I don’t think that will be a problem! Happy Holidays.

irish soda bread: a slice of ireland

It’s almost Boston’s favorite holiday: St. Patrick’s Day! And I am 100% not Irish.

irish soda breadHowever, I have kissed the Blarney Stone and therefore I consider myself “Irish by association” at this time of year. I really don’t have big plans for St. Patty’s day, despite my proximity to South Boston and a plethora of Irish and non-Irish revelers.

But! I have a fondness for the Emerald Isle and nostalgia for my brief adventures through its glorious landscape. And! I do love a good corned beef and cabbage dinner. Ah, but nothing is better than a nice warm slice of irish soda bread with a little butter and a cup of tea in the morning. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

slice me some soda bread

let's eat

green smoothies 101

I’m totally on the green smoothie/juice bandwagon. But there’s a secret to making a great green smoothie.

green smoothie

Green smoothies are super tasty if you know the secret. Actually, it isn’t really a secret at all– it’s all about ratios and adding plenty of fruit. Just green veggies in your blender will taste something like salad soup, so you need to add something sweet or citrusy to balance it.

Here’s the basic equation: 1 green + 2 fruits + yogurt, juice, almond milk, or water = yummy green smoothie

Spinach, Kale, Romaine or Boston lettuce are good greens to start with. Almost any fruits or berries can be added next. If you’re feeling brave add veggies like cucumbers, carrots, or celery. I usually prefer orange juice to dairy for the last ingredient, I’ve also seen cold green tea as an alternative.

Here are a few of my fave combinations:

2 cups spinach + 1 kiwi (peeled) + 1 banana + 1 cup orange juice = sweet and tropical

2 cups spinach + 1/2 cucumber + 2 celery stalks + 1/2 an apple (peeled) + 1 cup orange juice = sweet with grassy notes

1 banana + 1/2 an avocado + 1 cup plain yogurt + 1/2 cup OJ + honey to taste = sweet and creamy

Pro tip: It helps to cut up the fruits or veggies before adding them to the blender, blend on high for about a minute. Adding a few ice cubes at the end makes it nice and cold and I think it helps grind up any leftover leafy bits. If it’s still not sweet enough for your taste, add a little honey or agave nectar.

all around the mulberry bush

mulberries

Until a few days ago, I was unsure of what these berries, that turn from a dazzling red to a deep purple this time of year, were called. I could remember spying them up in the branches and nibbling on one or two, as kid. What a giddy kind of thrill it was for the city-kid I was (and still am)–food growing wild from cracks and crevices in my own local park!? Back when “urban foraging” wasn’t a thing yet, my mother would take me raspberry picking at the deserted edges of a park path, and a few years ago in a neighborhood I no longer live in, I discovered a blackberry patch behind a school that no one but me (and the birds) seemed to know about!

mulberry_tree02

Recently, I spied those jewel-like red/purple berries again, this time in the parking lot of my local library. As I approached the tree an older gentleman passed by, and I asked him if he knew what kind of tree it was while I plucked a leaf and a few berries… he did not. A few minutes of internet-sleuthing later I learned that it was, in fact, a mulberry tree. Huzzah! I later went back and picked a whole pint of berries– take that over-priced supermarket berries! Their taste is subtly sweet, not unlike the blackberry that they resemble. I think tomorrow I’ll combine them with some blueberries in a pie for the perfect summer dessert!

More about mulberries here.

on letting go

I’m not exactly one to hold a grudge, but I’m not great at letting things “go” either, things affect me… deeply. I really don’t think it’s a bad thing, but it doesn’t make life easy. About six years ago, I interviewed for job at an art museum. I couldn’t believe I had gotten an interview in the first place, this was amazing! But, alas, I didn’t get it and at the time, it was pretty crushing. I had just left a job – willingly – because it didn’t feel right for me (I was younger and could afford such a luxury then), so for this perfect job that appeared at the perfect time to reject me was quite a blow.

Yesterday I visited the museum for the first time since that interview. It was still the gorgeous building that I remembered, but as I walked through the galleries and grounds I realized I really wouldn’t have been happy working there. After all these years of lamenting over lost opportunity I could now see with clarity that losing the job was the true opportunity, and I’m really no worse for the wear, in fact–I might even be better off.

streamline

I decided that the best way to start thinking like an artist again would be to start acting like an artist again. Kinda seems like a no-brainer, but it took me a while to realize that and make it happen! So I enrolled in a “one-hour painting” class. The class is actually about three hours in length, and oh-my-god, I’m actually learning the correct way to paint for the first time.