Whipped Coconut Cream

Whipped Coconut Cream on top of my homemade Pumpkin Bread Pudding (a future recipe post)

My friend Diane asked that I post this recipe after I served it on pumpkin bread at a gathering of gardening friends last week. I first made this recipe last Thanksgiving, to go on top of a peanut-chocolate pie (recipe in a future post) I was bringing to our hosts. We had a 3-hour drive and I knew "real" whipped cream would not be a good option... I couldn't whip it fresh on-site at a house I'd never been to (filled with loads of people I'd never met!), and if I made it ahead it would have lost its volume in transit. So I decided to try a variation of a coconut whipped topping recipe I had copied off the internet. I got many compliments, no complaints, and didn't find any reason to reveal its unconventional ingredients. I dubbed it a winner!

I love this non-dairy alternative to traditional Whipped Cream for several reasons:
  • I always have the ingredients on hand
  • It's very fast and easy to make
  • Doesn't separate even if mixed days ahead
  • Travels well
  • Can be made with simple hand-mixing; a mixer is not essential
  • It's thick and rich, so you don't need to use much for each serving
  • Cholesterol-free
  • I can control what goes in it (ReadyWhip and other creams have ingredients I don't like)
  • All-natural ingredients (unlike other non-dairy whipped toppings)
  • Sweetening with stevia creates a sugar-free topping
  • This is delicious!
 Whipped Coconut Cream
(makes about 10-12 servings)
(items in red type are detailed on the Ingredients page) 

1 can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated (I use Thai Kitchen brand)
vanilla stevia* to taste

Optional Ingredients: Other flavored extracts (like almond or peppermint), cocoa or carob powder, citrus peel, cinnamon or other spices

I keep one unopened can of coconut milk in the refrigerator all the time, UPSIDE-DOWN so it will be cold whenever I am ready to make this. Cooling helps make the thick creamy part separate from the watery liquid. Open the can at the top and scoop the thick white cream into a small bowl. To catch all the thick cream, you can scoop the last of it with a spatula, pouring the watery liquid through a strainer to catch any remaining thick cream. Save the watery liquid to use in smoothes or other recipes.

Use a hand whisk to mix in the vanilla stevia. If you don't want to use vanilla stevia, add 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1 T of honey or maple syrup or agave nectar. Alternately, you can beat the cream with a hand- or standup-mixer to make it more airy and light. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

This mixes up so firm and thick that you can pipe it for a more decorative look, decorating a cake top with it in place of frosting. Or just plop it by the spoonful on top of a slice of pie, sweet bread, pudding, fresh fruit, or whatever suits your fancy. If left in the refrigerator, it might thicken, but just stir it up again when ready to use. Keeps for up to a week in the fridge, if it lasts that long at your house! Let me know how you use this recipe.

* I make my own vanilla stevia. I harvest organic stevia leaves and flowers from my summer garden and pack them in a jar, covered with vodka of the highest proof I can find affordably. After 4-6 weeks, I strain the plant materials out and discard them in my compost, and put the extract into a jar. I add several pieces of vanilla bean, (some I have already used to make vanilla extract!) and leave them in the jar with the stevia extract indefinitely. You can purchase vanilla stevia liquid extract also. Since there is no consistency to the sweetness of stevia extracts, taste as you add very small amounts - it is powerful.


Introducing the Recipe Guide

Now you can quickly find recipes on my blog. There's still a list of labels in the right column, but the food posts are sometimes hard to find among all the gardening info. Now I've made locating recipes even easier by linking to all my recipe posts in a special new Favorite Recipes index.

Once on the blog, just click on "Favorite Recipes" at the very top of the home page. My recipes are categorized to make it easy to browse. There are Appetizers, Breakfast Foods, Salads & Dressings, Entrees, Vegetable Dishes, Desserts, and seven other sections. Many recipes are naturally gluten-free, but those with specific gluten-free ingredients are listed also, in the last category.

Have fun!


Spinach Salad with Fruit

I adapted this salad and its dressing from one served by my friend LoLo:
  • 5 oz fresh spinach, washed and dried
  • 1 orange, peeled and cut in small pieces
  • 1 c fresh raspberries or sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 c chopped nuts
  • 1/2 c crumbled feta cheese
  • Judy's Raspberry Vinaigrette dressing
Layer in bowl: spinach, fruit, nuts & feta. When ready to serve, add desired amount of dressing, toss, and serve.

Winter Protection

Winter in Tennessee… yesterday was sunny, calm, and a comfortable high of 45 degrees. But the temperature has been dropping steadily since then, with a forecast of 1°F by midnight tonight, with possible flurries. BRRRRR.

In the fall, I dug up and potted some of my favorite and most tender perennials to ensure I'd have them for my garden when the weather warms again. In my south facing basement window are aloe vera, chocolate mint, lemon grass, bay leaf, and stevia. I have a small winter vegetable plot going at the front of my recently re-fortified vegetable garden, with patches of collards, spinach, leaf lettuce, onions, arugula, and some little seedlings of corn mache. The cold frame is planted with more spinach, and a bunch of swiss chard plants seeded next to the cold frame last year and have given me small harvests continuously.

All of these garden vegetables are described as "cold hardy," but single digit temperatures will be damaging or fatal even for these plants. To keep the low temperatures from ending my winter harvest, I went outdoors in yesterday afternoon's sunshine to protect the garden. First, I picked big bags of collards, spinach, and chard. I picked the tender young tips of pea pod plants which I know won't survive the cold - pea leaves are edible, delicate, and delicious. I rounded out my harvest of greens with big handfuls of wild chickweed, which seeds itself and grows profusely in winter, especially in the rich soil around my compost bin. Chickweed can be eaten in salads or cooked gently. It has a mild flavor which reminds me of corn on the cob. If you raise chickens, find some for them... I hear they love it.

Wild chickweed grows well all winter and it's delicious.
I wanted to insulate my veggies with layers, so I raked wheelbarrow loads of fallen leaves from the driveway drainage ditches (doubling the value of my labor) and packed them gently around the stems and over the tops of the plants. Our winter thus far has been mild and wet - proven by the 3 flowering daisies and 2" shoots of early spring daffodils which I spotted while raking. On top of the piles of leaves I spread big bedsheets (retired for garden use) and canvas tarps, anchored with rocks around all edges so the wind won't disturb the coverings. Not enough protection to keep Maggie Mae from disturbing it however; I had to go out and recover the patch of spinach today after she dragged the covering off and up the front stairs. Never a dull moment with an overgrown puppy! A fitted sheet was the perfect cover for the cold frame, which is buttoned down tightly.

We enjoyed a delicious dinner of sauteed greens with spaghetti, mixed with homemade basil pesto from the freezer, toasted sunflower seeds (my substitute for pinenuts, which I can't find a source for in the US) and parmesan. Tonight I'll be making collard leaves stuffed with mixed grains and veggies, topped with tomato sauce and cheddar. Hopefully, I'll uncover the garden after the cold snap to find happy greenery continuing to feed us fresh garden produce through spring.