It was fruit flavored chaos.
Ten intrepid students met with me on Tuesday, June 5th to learn to make jelly. Jelly seems easy and straightforward...
- Heat juice
- Add sugar (and lemon juice if the recipe calls for it)
- Add pectin and boil hard for one minute
Who knew a simple word like ‘pectin’ could be so complex?
The group split into three teams. Each made jelly with a different brand of pectin.
The first group chose Sure-Jell, a regular pectin that requires sugar. They measured and boiled, stirred and ladled the jelly into jars. We tasted it later. The verdict? Sweet. Regular pectin requires a solution of 55% - 60% sugar to jell.
And you thought our grandmothers just really liked sugary jelly, didn’t you? I know I did!
I learned later that the Sure-Jell batch did not actually jell. Why? We’re not sure, but it could have been overcooked, undercooked or had an insufficient amount of sugar. I guess we’ll never know, unless the participants try to cook it again.
“If not, I figured it would be good on ice cream!”, says one resourceful participant.
The second group chose Ball RealFruit Low Sugar pectin. That gave them the option to reduce the sugar and they chose to leave it out altogether. Their finished product jelled nicely before I even finished cleaning up. We tasted it. The verdict? It had a good apple flavor, just like the apple cider it was made from.
The third group took on the complex task of interpreting the instructions for Pomona’s Pectin. Pomona’s assumes you know your pectin science and they don’t add anything to make it easier on the consumer. In fact, they seem to work hard to make the instructions extra complicated. The group read and re-read the directions. They made calcium water and added the pure pectin (with no dextrose to help it dissolve) to the cider. They stirred and whisked and stirred some more. Finally, they strained out the pectin lumps and boiled it up.
Their experience was a testament to the communication skills of the married couple in the group and to the civility of all three. Nary a fight broke out over this stressful recipe.
We never did taste that batch. I suspect the leftovers got placed in the sink with a hearty, “Good riddance!”.
I don’t know if it gelled either. A recipe made with Pomona’s can take up to two weeks to gel after it’s canned.
In summary, we canned twelve jars of apple-bourbon jelly (without drinking any of the bourbon to get us through the experience) and everyone took one home, along with four pages of recipes, canning information and a description of the types of pectin available.
We had a good time; lumpy pectin, chaos and all.
As the name notes, Angela’s Cupcakes and Pupcakes
also offers cupcakes, but you have to catch up with Angela to get some. Contact her to place an order.
I know what you’re thinking. People make and sell cupcakes all over town. Why would Angela’s be any different?
Trust me, they are different. For one, she makes the Official Cupcake of the Charlie Milo Trio, an intense looking chocolate cupcake topped with ganache. Catch up with the band and you can buy one of these to try. And where else can you find a hickory smoked cupcake?
Angela, a woman who has the word “CUPCAKE” tattooed on her fingers, has a flair for the unusual. She defies cupcake convention. Her buttercream frosted cakes range from a multicolored psychedelic cupcake with marshmallow frosting to the “Irish Car Bomb” cupcake. Some cupcakes arrive overflowing with filling, with the tops perched over them like hats. One cupcake has an entire cadbury egg inside!
She gave me a few to taste. (Let me take this moment to note that writing these articles is a wonderful, wonderful job). Let me tell you about them.
I tried the Peanut Butter - Chocolate cupcake first. The aroma of the cupcake was distinctly reminiscent of a peanut butter cup, possibly because one was perched in the buttercream frosting. No doubt, it had been attracted by their similarities. I took a bite. The peanut butter asserted itself, but without eclipsing the moist chocolate of the cake.
I almost didn’t bother to eat the peanut butter cup, but it adds a smooth counterpoint to this well orchestrated dessert.
Next, I got into the Chocolate Cream cheese cupcake. The creamy buttercream makes you pay attention with the subtle bite of cream cheese. The cupcake was speared with a Kit Kat bar, probably to keep the fluffy cake from drifting off.
Finally, I got to my favorite. The Vanilla Malt cupcake is vanilla, but not plain. Angela tops them with chocolate ganache, giving the vanilla cake a supporting role to play, and finally with malted milk balls. I had to open my mouth wide to bite into this tall confection and was rewarded for my hard work with the flavor of a chocolate malt!
Angela got started making cupcakes as a teenager, with her mother. Her mother catered and ran a ceramic shop to support the family. “She made the dishes and served the food!”, says Angela. Angela worked with her, learning the baking, and later took classes on decorating.
We think of cupcakes and even of art as an indulgence, but they have hidden power to brighten our lives and bind us as a community. When her mother could no longer leave her room, a lonely time in a person’s life, Angela would show up every week with decorated cupcakes. Residents would come to see her latest creation, bringing company and life into her mother’s shrinking world.
Angela never stopped using her sweet artistry to honor the woman who was her parent and mentor. She and her children built a memorial garden in their backyard the year her mother died. The roses flourished, big and remarkable, bringing visitors and conversation, one more time.Written by Bonnie Simon of Hungry Chicken Homestead
Did I taste one? Of course I tasted one!
I tasted several Pupcakes, actually. Angela Buchanan of Angela's Cupcakes and Pupcakes
notes that Pupcakes are one of the few treats you can freely share with your dog.
One for you, two for me... It’s important to carefully manage your dog’s diet, right?
Dogs, wondering what happened to all the Pupcakes.
The Pupcakes, which include only veterinary approved ingredients, come in flavors palatable to canine and human alike. They are made with brown rice flour instead of wheat flour, to protect sensitive canine stomachs. I indulged in several blueberry-sweet potato cakes, when the dogs weren't looking. The flavors, including the carob topping, meld nicely, resulting in a mildly sweet cake that takes about two bites to eat (unless you’re a dog, in which case it disappears like magic).
Angela recently intoduced a new Apple-Bacon flavor to the Pupcake line. I would tell you what they taste like, except the dogs got to them before I could. A larger version called Celebration Cakes, perfect for a party with four legged guests, come in 6” rounds, which translates to 20 - 50 servings.
Celebration Cakes are another opportunity to remember the dog should never sit up late at night, scarfing down an entire cake while watching a movie. Angela gently reminds her customers that Pupcakes are a treat and should be rationed.
Incidentally, Angela tells me Pupcakes make great pill pockets! Just push the pill into the thawed cake, call the dog and the task “Give the dog a pill” is crossed off your list.
I asked if she makes a version for cats. She said she’s thought about it, but the task of inventing a fishy Kittycake that wouldn’t repel the human buyer would be difficult. That’s one of the few products I might not taste, but I'm sure my cat would not mind if I don't ask him to share.
Stop in at the Market with your dog for a sample of a Pupcake! Your dog will love them and you can take home a dozen for $5.50.Written by Bonnie Simon of Hungry Chicken Homestead Writing.
Note: Watch the Tabor Mountain Bakehouse class schedule to learn when Kristi's next class for gluten free bakers & cooks is scheduled! Many of her classes are held right here at the Market!
I interviewed Kristi Hayes, of Tabor Mountain Bakehouse
, last week. Before we got started, she brought out a tray of little bags full of what looked like ordinary Rice Krispie treats, except for the addition of chocolate chips. She explained that she mixes in a little almond butter and sweetens them with brown rice syrup.
“Take as many as you like,” she said.
“Oh, thanks, but I’ll just taste one for the article,” I replied.
I began the interview, reaching for a crispy treat. “So, I understand you specialize in gluten free baking. How did you get started with gluten free cooking?”
“My kids are allergic to everything,” Kristi replied, and explained how her family’s allergies changed her approach to cooking. Eliminating gluten, dairy, eggs and 24 other ingredients had drastically improved her children’s health, her health and that of her husband. A nurse by training, she explained how the immune system focuses on the gut and if it is preoccupied with food allergies, limited resources remain to protect the rest of the body. Eliminating the troubling foods frees the immune system to fight other threats.
We paused a moment while I finished chewing. I asked another question, hoping she wouldn’t notice I was reaching for another crispy treat.
“Tell me about your products. What ingredients do you use?”
“One thing I would like people to know is I use a lot of nuts,” Kristi told me. Her family can eat nuts and since they add flavor and texture, she uses them in many of her baked goods, despite their reputation as a common allergen. Customers sometimes assume her products are nut free, but that is not the case.
She showed me her menu and talked about the different items. She makes a variety of products, including ...
- Gluten Free/Vegan Cookies, in flavors such as chocolate chip and pumpkin,
- Gluten Free/Vegan/Refined Sugar Free Coffee Cakes,
- Gluten Free/Grain Free/Vegan/Refined Sugar Free Muffins,
- Gluten Free/Grain Free/Vegan Cupcakes,
- Gluten Free/Vegan/Refined Sugar Free Granola
- Gluten Free/Vegan/Refined Sugar Free Biscotti Bites
- Gluten Free/Vegan Calzones and Pizza Crusts
She paused and the room went silent.
“Did you get that?”, she asked.
“Um ... yes,” I replied, distracted, longingly eyeing the plate of crispy treats again.
Everything Kristi makes is available by special order and many products can be picked up at the Market, to enjoy at home or over coffee with a friend. Contact her at 719-464-8183 or visit her website for more information or to order. Tabor Mountain Bakehouse goods will soon be available at a variety of shops. Watch her website and Facebook page to keep up with the news!Written by Bonnie Simon of Hungry Chicken Homestead Business and Personal Writing Services
The Local Foods Working Group visited the Market last Tuesday to interview some vendors for the Food section of the Gazette. Watch for articles highlighting local products! We sampled Pockitz, Lavender Mountain Bakery's baked goods, Monse's pupusas and curtido, Tabor Mountain Bakery's gluten free products, Gotta Love Garlic Butter and Angela's Cupcakes & Pupcakes. And yes, I did eat a pupcake. It was delicious.
Gluten Free empanadas from Tabor Mountain Bakery
Grandma Frutosa's hot sauce and green chile salsa
Lemon scones, blueberry cream cheese coffeecake and muffins from Lavender Mountain Bakery
Angela's blueberry & sweet potato pupcakes!
I interview someone for these blog posts every week and every week the same question comes up.
“Where should we meet?”
Usually, it was best to meet at a coffee shop near the Market, but things have changed. Now we can meet right AT the market for coffee, thanks to Chick’s Espresso & Boba Tea
I asked Susan, the owner of Chick’s, why she bought the business. She had been in the restaurant business for 17 years when she bought Chick’s and its barnyard themed menu. “I’m obsessed with coffee,” she replied.
The original shop in Security only offered coffee when Susan bought it. It comes from a family owned roastery in Oregon called Cascade Estates. The first Chick’s opened in Oregon and as much as she would like to switch to locally roasted coffee, she knows her customers want the Cascade Estates brand. “You don’t change what people like!”, she said.
People also like the many new products she’s added, including frozen hot chocolate and more flavors of bubble tea than I can count. I feel like a kid at the ice cream truck when I look at her menu. The flavors and textures range from ordinary coffee to frozen, blended milk drinks for kids. She offers 59 different syrup flavors and 125 different drink combinations!
The bubble tea, also known as boba tea, comes in many flavors, including a lavender or rose milk tea. I asked her to put a milk tea in my thermal cup. Until she gave it back, I didn’t realize it’s an iced tea or that it came with a giant straw!
I could taste the lavender in the sweetened milk tea. Every so often a big, chewy tapioca bubble came up the straw, much to my delight! Tapioca bubbles have a consistency similar to chewing gum, except they come apart like normal food when you chew them. I have to describe them as entertaining. The flavor doesn’t compete with the tea and the texture adds fun, like the gum in bubble gum ice cream.
I managed to save a few of the bubbles in my drink, intending to take a picture to show you what they look like. In keeping with Chick’s barnyard theme, here is a picture of my chickens stealing the bubbles when I took the bowl outside for better light. The slippery bubbles sprang out of their beaks when they tried to eat them and ricocheted off the deck like a chewy hailstorm.
Chances are, you won’t be caught in a tapioca weather event, but stop by the Market and try Chick’s array of products for yourself!
Written by Bonnie Simon
Much to my dismay, I missed out on making the pineapple curry because I had to go home and lock up the chickens for the night.
When I came back, the class had finished preparing the recipe. Somehow, there is some irony there, especially since the curry had ... chicken.
We made this curry, along with spring rolls, on Tuesday night at Maun’s class. You’ll remember Maun from another post about her and her wonderful cuisine of Indochina. On Tuesday, she taught a group how to make a couple of those dishes.
Everything Maun makes uses fresh ingredients. She explained that some are only available at Asian stores, like the Asia Pacific Market in east Colorado Springs. We used red curry paste, rice spring roll wrappers and one ingredient that no one could write down because it was only labeled in Chinese. She also brought a variety of fresh herbs, sprouts and rice noodles for the spring rolls.
I can’t wait to get to the store and try making them at home. Homemade spring rolls are my new favorite food.
We chopped, cooked, ate and laughed. Everyone went home with new knowledge and full stomachs. Maun plans to offer another class in the next few months. Keep an eye on the website if you’d like to join us.
Written by Bonnie Simon of Community Writing Services, LLC
Go get your dog. He’ll be interested in this story.
I’ve mentioned Roxie of Bone of Contentment before. She bakes dog biscuits at the Kitchen and even though I am not a dog, the smell of the baking biscuits tempted me more than I expected!
In fact, I thought of this again one day when I tried making dog biscuits at home. That time, I did eat one and it actually tasted pretty good! I’m not sure what that says about me, but I blame Roxie.
No doubt, after hearing that story, your dog is asking you for some of these delectable biscuits and you’re wondering where you can get them. Roxie is building the foundation of her business deliberately, “setting down cobblestones”, she says. Currently, the best place to get her products is at the Old Colorado City farmers’ market in the summer. But keep an eye out for a planned website at www.BoneOfContentment.com
and a Facebook page where she will announce new ways to delight your canine friends.
Those canines are waiting on the edge of their seats. Sometimes, Roxie even has to make emergency deliveries to a family with a noisy and impatient Lhasa Apso.
I know your dog has not expressed any concerns about his health or the quality of Roxie’s products, but you may find some peace of mind in knowing her biscuits are gluten free and made with organic ingredients. She uses organic brown rice flour and oat flour, organic peanut butter, honey from the local Schmidt Apiary and locally produced eggs. She uses recyclable packaging as well.
Roxie loves animals and got into this business because her own dog has allergies and can’t tolerate gluten. She made treats for him and after leaving a bank job, decided to make the treats available for others. “That’s truly what my passion is,” she says. And it’s paid off for pets. She tells the story of a client who bought a package of her biscuits and a package from another vendor and set them down for his dog to choose.
The dog chose Roxie’s. And I bet yours will too.Written by Bonnie Simon of Community Writing Services, LLC
I had to take pictures of it first. After waiting 45 minutes for the tamal to steam, it wasn’t easy to put it off any longer.
I took a bite and closed my eyes with surprise. Like all wrapped foods, my first taste was of the wrapper of this El Salvadoran tamal, made with masa and chicken broth instead of masa and fat. The combination had a savory and substantial taste. Another bite. I had followed Monse & Karen’s instructions to top it with their curtido and now I understand why. The vinegar of the curtido brings out the savory chicken flavor and adds some crunch, a contrast to the softness of the masa. A few more bites. The pork at the center chimed in, adding its meaty texture and rounding out the symphony of balanced flavors.
In other words, it was delicious. Delicious enough that I wished I had another one.
Monse and Karen, sisters and business partners, of Monse’s Tastes of El Salvador
had given me the tamal (what we think of as a tamale) when I’d visited Monse’s home to interview them. It’s a product still in development. I’m sorry to say you can’t get one yet, unless you know the right people. You’ll have to settle for someone else’s tamales or get some pupusas from Whole Foods.
What you can buy and enjoy is curtido
, a pickled salad made from cabbage and jalapeno. Whole Foods was so excited about the curtido that they offered Monse and Karen a contract 45 minutes after they dropped of a sample, cutting short a process that normally can take weeks.
Selling curtido was Monse’s idea. She noted that Whole Foods sells pupusas, an El Salvadoran stuffed flatbread, which are traditionally served with curtido. The packaging even suggested getting some curtido to eat with it. She looked around town and found no one sold it! A business idea was born!
Their small business gives these military wives the flexible schedule needed to raise the three children they have between them while their husbands are away. Both Monse and Karen married American military men. Monse’s husband is deployed and the military is educating Karen’s husband in another state. The sisters are grateful to live so close to each other.
They have always been close, wherever their travels took them. Monse left her home in El Salvador to study in Germany in 2004, where she met her husband, and Karen visited, leading to a story worthy of Valentine’s day. During one four-week visit, they threw a birthday party where Karen met another American military man. A week or two later, he asked her to marry him! They tried to wait long enough that he could travel to El Salvador to meet her parents, but romance beckoned and on her next trip they went to Denmark to marry.
Stop by the Market to pick up some of their healthy, delicious curtido with the Colorado Proud certification! You can buy 13 oz for $3.50.Written by Bonnie Simon of Community Writing Services, LLC
Have you ever eaten a lavender cookie? Laura Kindseth, the owner of Lavender Mountain Bakery, a new business working out of the kitchen, makes them. The flavor of her lavender shortbread blooms into a savory perfume from the buttery shortbread when you take a bite. She also offers a lavender scone and has a lavender mocha muffin in development.
She generously brought me a whole bag of scones to try at our interview! The scones had a lot of flavor, thanks to her restraint with the sugar. I could taste little bursts of sweetness from the sugar topping and the bold fillings clearly came through the delicate dough. I tried the chocolate, blueberry, cinnamon and cranberry scones. Yum!
Lavender Mountain Bakery isn’t the first bakery Laura has owned. She ran Gourmet Granny Bakery in Mineral Point, WI, the oldest town in Wisconsin, some years ago. After working for an architecture nonprofit in Baltimore and Las Cruces in the past few years, she had planned to move to the Springs and retire. I asked her why she had decided to start another bakery.
She told me it was because the Gotta Love It! kitchen made it easy. Rather than having to find a commercial kitchen she could use full time, Gotta Love It! made it possible to start a part time bakery.
Besides, the whole family loves to cook and experiment with food. Recently, her young granddaughter, Hannah, declared that Laura and the child’s mother, Elizabeth, would have a contest. The girl would pick out two secret ingredients and the women would prepare an appetizer, main course and dessert using those ingredients. After dinner, the young judge would declare a winner.
What were the ingredients? Carrots and gouda cheese.
Elizabeth won the appetizer competition with a ginger carrot soup, but Laura was disqualified because she used scallops, which Hannah doesn’t like. Laura won the main course competition with a salad with fried cheese balls. Dessert ended up in the refrigerator because they were all so full after two appetizers and two main courses!
Lavender Mountain Bakery products are available at the Market and at Jives Coffee Lounge. Stop in for a bag of two small scones (one for you and one to give to a friend) for $2.50 or for a muffin. She also makes focaccia breads with a variety of toppings.
Who knows? You may even be able to get one with carrots and gouda cheese.
Written by Bonnie Simon of Community Writing Services, LLC