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Spiced Cranberry Ginger Kumquat Chutney

Spiced Cranberry Ginger Kumquat Chutney

Spicy Chutney with thyme sprig in a cream colored bowl

Nothing screams holidays like cranberries, citrus and spice. Mulled wine, orange pomanders (that’s fancy talk for oranges poked full of cloves), and cranberry garlands. So imagine my delight when the good people from the healthy living site Mambo Sprouts shot me a box of the finest spices to review. Squealing! I like to make edible gifts for the holidays – are you with me? We really don’t need one more thing to dust or store. But devour? Hells yeah! Last year I made cheese wafers and put them in a nice little cracker dish (okay, one more thing to store).

Cheese wafers with cardamom in a glass tray

This year I have on my radar some spice blends and chutney. What’s that you say? Chutney is weird? No, no. Ain’t so. Yes. You are right. But only if you are referring to the more traditional, pungent (read: medicinal tasting) versions that are fortified with mustard oil and strong vinegar. This Anglo spin balances its tarts with equal measure sweets (sugar, dried cranberries and candied ginger), and the acid from kumquats (unlike strong vinegar) borders on sweet. It’s practically dessert, wink wink. It can be the perfect foil to too-rich-double-crème brie or the right amount of sweetness to tangy goat cheese. One chutney can do both! Spicy (think turmeric, allspice and cinnamon), zippy (crystallized ginger), tart (kumquats and crans) and sweet (yeah, there’s some sugar – but not as much, by half, of what you would normally see.)

Kumquats, Crans & Ginger in square market baskets and wooden bowls

Palate. Passion. Purpose.

You already know I’m all about this, right? But I have met my match in partnering with Frontier Co-op. A purpose-driven company, Frontier’s theme is Cook with Purpose. Every bottle contains products with a story and the label tells that story. Frontier, as one of the earliest to advocate organics, firmly believes that social responsibility is the foundation for great products and that sustainable agriculture and ethical sourcing yield quality. Since their 1976 Iowa founding (in a river cabin!), they have worked with growers worldwide to build a safe food supply. A large part of that is education and they have created charitable funds (three to be exact) that train farmers and co-ops on how to protect themselves and the environment. The turmeric, sourced in Sri Lanka, was produced by a co-op that benefited from a Frontier grant which enabled an organic training center for the farmers. The cinnamon is Vietnamese. Frontier provided its producers with educational supplies, beds, room & board so the children in these remote communities can be educated. Worldwide, producers are blessed by the generosity of Frontier providing so many basics, ranging from clean water to roads to medical care. Frontier is on a mission – responsibility to people and planet. And btw interesting timing…our paths crossing now. I’m a month away from joining the board of CWS, a global agency with key initiatives in sustainability, hunger, development, and advocacy, among other important work. #fullcircle  Frontier had me at Purpose!

Spicing It Up!

Armed with my box of Frontier Co-op goodies, and knowing it’s the time of year when warm spices soothe the soul, I decided to dose this chutney with Vietnamese cinnamon, turmeric, and allspice. The great thing about warm spices is they can flow from sweet to savory, and in fact this chutney does a bit of both. I spent some time a few years ago in southern India and learned more about Ayurvedic cooking. (I also learned a thing or two – first hand – about Ayurvedic massage. Ever have a massage by two people with a whole lotta oil and choreographed moves? Inner-resting! But, that’s for another post.)

Frontier Coop Spices with a white bowl of ground turmeric and allspice berries with fresh cranberries and kumquats

A word…or two…about the star ingredients – the spices!

  • Quality cinnamon is different from supermarket cinnamon (generally cassia) due to its super high oil content, a result of specific harvesting techniques. This Vietnamese (fka Saigon) cinnamon has at least a 5% oil content, which makes it more than double the regular stuff. That results in an abundance of flavor, but especially the pungent, sweet and spicy notes. It also means a little bit goes a long way. The difference in color compared with supermarket brands is remarkable.
  • You may remember that Buddha Bowl post with fresh turmeric from the winter. While it’s lovely to source fresh ingredients, chances are that rhizome has been on the road a while. If you want real flavor, reach for a quality dried spice. Often called Indian saffron, turmeric – a member of the ginger family – not only gives curry its bright golden color, but it also adds a pepperiness that makes it a regular in Asian cuisine.
  • And our old friend allspice – I just used it in that yummy pumpkin chia pudding recipe.  While it seemingly combines cinnamon + clove + nutmeg and has a very big name, it’s just a single spice and it hails from Jamaica. No doubt you have seen it as an essential ingredient in jerk chicken. It is in fact the unripe berry of a small evergreen. How very Christmasy!

Let’s get to it!

Spiced Cranberry Chutney in a cranberry glass pedestal dish with fall hydrangea
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Spiced Cranberry Chutney in a cranberry glass pedestal dish with fall hydrangea

Spiced Cranberry Ginger Kumquat Chutney

  • Author: Katy Keck
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 3 cups 1x


Spiced Cranberry Ginger Kumquat Chutney adds just the sass your Thanksgiving or other wintery meal needs. Jewel-like in color, this chutney not only delivers a sweet-tart-spicy contrast to turkey and mashed potatoes, but it also saves a very beige meal from being oh-so-brown.



12-ounce bag fresh cranberries (about 3 cups)

2 cups kumquats, sliced (1 dry pint)

1 cup sugar

4 ounces unsweetened applesauce

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger

1 teaspoon Frontier Co-op organic vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon Frontier Co-op organic Vietnamese cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon Frontier Co-op ground Jamaican allspice

1/2 teaspoon Frontier Co-op organic ground turmeric root

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon Frontier Co-op coarse grind black pepper


In a medium non-reactive saucepan, combine the cranberries, kumquats, sugar, applesauce, and lemon juice. Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring often, until the cranberries begin to pop, about 5 minutes.


Add the dried cranberries, crystallized ginger, vanilla extract, cinnamon, allspice, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Continue simmering until the fruit is softened and the chutney is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes more.


Remove from heat and let cool completely. Refrigerate, covered, and serve at room temperature.


Serving Suggestions:  This is great with roast meats, slathered on a sammie, or served alongside or atop cheeses. If you warm it up,  it will thin a bit and it makes the best glaze for your Christmas ham.

Substitutions:  For kumquats: use the zest of one medium orange and chop the flesh coarsely, pith removed. For applesauce: chop one apple, any variety.

This post contains affiliate links.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: condiments
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: cranberry chutney, ginger

Chutney & Cheese

Serving and Giving Notes

The chutney can be made up to 1 week in advance, and stored, covered, in the refrigerator. It will easily last several weeks, but I’m just not going to tell you to prepare it weeks ahead.  Scraping the last bit out of the bottom of the jar 3 weeks in? Well, that’s a different story. By all means!

If you are making this to give as a gift, make sure to sterilize the jars (glass only, please), and let your giftee know this has not been canned, needs to be refrigerated, and is for current consumption.

Cran Chutney on Goat Cheese with pear slices and nuts

© Copyright: KatyKeck.com 2016. All rights reserved.

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Food Waste – an update

Food Waste – an update

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Some of you are still taking the food waste quiz (how YOU doin?) and some are asking for more recipes and tips on how to keep from wasting food (duly noted).  But even bigger and better, late Monday GrubStreet reported that Shark Tank  investor Robert Herjavec put $100,000 into Hungry Harvest, a delivery start up rescuing deformed produce. #loveuglyfood   I feel better already!

Show Ugly Produce Some Love - misshapen lemon, peppers, potato and eggplant - they taste the same as their pretty friends

Since this Shark Tank exposure, 1,000 people have signed up for this delivery service –  in just 5 days.   Each delivery, on average, reduces 10 pounds of produce from going to waste, and they also donate 1.5 pounds of produce to the needy, per week. Multiply that by 1,000 – and they’ll recover 10,000 pounds and donate 1,500 pounds of produce per week.  Not to be too computational and all, but that’s 43,000 pounds recovered and 6,450 pounds donated per month. And 520,000 pounds recovered and 78,000 pounds donated per year.

Hungry Harvest currently delivers to the Maryland/DC/Northern Virginia area, but Philly and NYC are coming soon.

Stay tuned for more tips from me on how you can cut waste by re-purposing produce into delicious recipes………..coming soon.  And give an ugly eggplant a hug, will ya?

© Copyright: KatyKeck.com 2016. All rights reserved.

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Food (waste) for Thought

Food (waste) for Thought

Well hello there!! You’re back. Fantastic to see you again. Hope you enjoyed all seasonal festivities!  This time of year most everyone is thinking about healthy eating for the New Year and making lots of resolutions. Being a bit of a rebel – always – I want to take a sec to talk about what you are NOT eating. The folks at Sustainable America have made this frightening infographic about food waste. 40? I knew there was a lot but this is pretty damn shocking. 40% of all food in America gets discarded. Adding insult to injury, not only does it not go to hungry mouths – 49 million Americans each night are going to bed hungry – this discarded food ends up rotting in landfills and further adds to greenhouse gasses. Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, has 26 times the heat-trapping capacity of carbon dioxide. Global warming, HELLOOOOO!!!!

America Wastes 40% of its Food infographic

It’s a complicated problem and heavily impacts other parts of our survival. 32% of freshwater used in the US goes to produce food that is never eaten. Americans throw away more than 1.5 pounds of food per person daily. And it’s not just limited to the USA.  Wasted worldwide annually?? 1.3 BILLION pounds of food! Damn, Skippy!!

It sounds like a really big problem – IT IS – so how can one person or one family make a difference. You’re busy, right? Wrong!!! Well, you probably are busy, but not TOO busy.

Show Ugly Produce Some Love - misshapen lemon, peppers, potato and eggplant - they taste the same as their pretty friends

Look at this simple list that will truly make a difference:

  • Inventory your fridge before shopping
  • Plan better/throw away less
  • Store food optimally (don’t put potatoes and onions together)
  • Show some love to ugly produce #loveuglyfood
  • Turn food ripening too quickly into freezer staples: breads, soups, purees (remember that pesto?), oven-dried fruits and vegs, frozen smoothie mise, ice cube trays filled with juiced fruits and vegs
  • Eat your leftovers!!
  • Compost
  • Support restaurants that are involved in food recovery

Take the quiz to see where you rank as a food waster! And for more tips on storage and cutting waste, check out the IValueFood website.

What’s your NEW new year’s resolution? How will you help?  It’s not just good for the planet; your wallet will thank you, too! Let me know what change you plan to make.  I’m starting off by putting that flabby zucchini to good use. Yumsters!

Using old zucchinis; zucchini bread wrapped with twineBaking for the freezer: making zucchini last!

Source: Sustainable America

© Copyright: KatyKeck.com 2016. All rights reserved.

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Giving Thanks and Giving Back: Cupcakes for a Cause

Giving Thanks and Giving Back: Cupcakes for a Cause

It’s been a couple of a weeks and I’m still not sure which was cuter – the cupcakes or the girls making them. I had the rare opportunity to visit the monthly meeting of the minds of Team ChloElla J, a band of merry thirteen year-olds (Juliette is now 14) who gather together for their scheduled session to pay it forward. Palate, Passion, AND Purpose are alive and well in this latest generation. I caught them during fall break and a day off from school. But sometimes they bake on the weekends, and sometimes until very late at night…..and once in while, ”too late” at night. Based on all the energy and effort that goes into this, you would expect a feast at the end. And while there is no doubt a feast somewhere, the feast is not theirs. They don’t bake for themselves.

Chloe, Ellary and Juliette have been friends since childhood, and, earlier this year, the girls saw an opportunity at church fundraisers (that’s right – fundraisers, plural – they go to three different churches) to auction off Cupcakes of the Month for charity. They sold the year-long 6 seasonally-themed cupcake package an amazing five times between them. Each church had different goals and the monies raised support mission work, a youth mission trip and “general churchy stuff”. She had me at “churchy stuff”. Adorable, indeed!

While the leadership is clearly shared, with hosting and shopping scheduled on a rotating basis, I had my eye on Ella. Ella is not new to paying it forward. A whole two plus years ago, at the tender age of 11, she raised $5,000 for her Let’s SHAKE Parkinson’s campaign by running a 5k. At that age, I was just trying to figure out how to pass the President’s Fitness test, never mind run 5k. Sit-ups were my strong suit. Running and the softball throw, not so much.

Let\'s SHAKE Parkinson\'s - Ella\'s fundraiser

And while I was likely still dabbling in all things Easy Bake Oven at 13 (Okay, probably not at 13, but it was the 60s and things moved a whole lot more slowly), these girls each have full professional toolkits. One has adapted a manicurist’s tackle box, replacing nail color with icing tints. Another has a Cricut Explore Air, an electronic cutting machine that precisely cuts – with embedded bluetooth for wireless cutting, of course – labels for the packaging. And the pastry tip collection between the three is unparalleled. Wowza! Impressive.

Getting the right gear - all the pastry tips and molds to make cupcakesThe girls FaceTime each month to get a theme. Pinterest, magazines, and baking websites provide inspiration.  I connected as Thanksgiving was being designed and created. They finally settled on turkey legs, mashed potatoes with gravy and two pies – one latticed-topped fruit and one pumpkin. Each customer gets six – so two legs, two mash, two pies.

For this holiday, the cupcakes were made from scratch – a delicious apple cinnamon batter. When I arrived, they were already cooling, and the girls were making the icing – one base, tinted as needed for the berry pie, pumpkin pie, or au natural for the turkey and mashed potatoes. And the music was jamming. Much like a professional kitchen, there was little chatter. Each girl was focused on her task at hand and looked up only to ask an opinion or show off a masterpiece.

Chloe, Ellary, and Juliette - the cupcake championsJuliette was working on mashed potatoes with a caramel gravy. Much like the real thing, the “potatoes” were piled high, a well was made, and “gravy” poured. Unlike the real thing, there was some tricky timing to get the caramel hot enough to pour well, but not so hot as to melt the “potatoes”. She poured with a deft hand.

Mashed Taters, cupcake style - creamy frosting with a pool of caramel for the gravy

Ella was busy creating the turkey drumsticks. She had already made a white chocolate “bone” to extend from the meaty part of the leg, and she created roast turkey “skin” by sprinkling with graham cracker crumbs.
Turkey Drumstick Cupcakes with a white chocolate leg bone

That left Chloe to tackle the pies.  She needed fondant for the lattice crust and the pumpkin pie trim. And of course, she makes her own – stretching and rolling a marshmallow fondant to keep the sugar pliable, yielding a dough-like consistency.

Rolling, Stretching, Trimming - making thanksgiving cupcakesOnce the fondant is rolled, Chloe cuts it in thin strips and weaves it together just like a lattice topped pie. But no further baking required – she has used her marshmallow fondant.  For the pumpkin pie, she uses two cutters – the larger one fluted and one slightly smaller that is not. It was impressive to see that each girl had her own technique to fulfill her vision. Crumbs, fondant, caramel: each used in a unique way.

Plenty of Pies: Thanksgiving cupcakes that look like pumpkin pies and lattice top cherry piesIt’s clear they enjoy what they are doing. And they have learned a lot. They have gone from basic to “pretty cool”. I’ll add a “very cool” of my own. Watching the camaraderie and flashes of pure joy was inspiring. Knowing that they are supporting their community is heart-melting. You can’t help but know for sure that despite their small town experience, they have a global perspective. They expand their own horizons every time they turn on the oven.

And when they are done, they dance.

Wishing these girls, their families, and you a joyous and food-filled Thanksgiving.


From the ChloElla J portfolio – now taking orders!

On theGrilll, Halloween, and at the beach cupcakesAugust: Teddies at the Beach;  Burgers on the Grill for “Uncle Dan’s” birthday; October: Six Spooky Designs

Back to School, Minions, and s\'mores on a campfire cupcakesSeptember: Back to School Apple for the Teacher; Custom order: Minions; and my personal favorite for a youth group outing: S’mores with tootsie roll logs and hard candy flames.

© Copyright: KatyKeck.com 2015. All rights reserved.

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I grew up with a school lunch lady – Florence Krietenstein – who is about to turn 110 years young. She knew – and knows – how to cook and how to translate ideas into healthy school meals. Everything (mostly) was made from scratch. It was real food, at a minimum. The average lunch lady today looks nothing like Florence.

Did you know?

For the first time in two generations, America’s children have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Currently, one in three of our nation’s children are overweight or obese. According to USDA, only 2% of children in the U.S. eat enough fruits and vegetables, and nearly a third are on track to contract Type II diabetes.


Chef Ann Cooper and Jamie Oliver for #realschoolfood

About five years ago, I was mesmerized by a primetime series featuring Britain’s Jamie Oliver, fka the Naked Chef. He was on a jag to bring healthy food to school children and he targeted the “most unhealthy city in America”, Huntington, West Virginia. If you can find the series, please watch it. If you want the TED talk version, it’s available. Even this short version highlights the Edwards family with a freezer full of empty calories – the total of a family’s weekly consumption – pizza, corndogs, pancakes, and worse – all stacked high on the kitchen table and counters. We are now in the third generation that has not learned to cook at home and resorts to nutritionally zero’d frozen food. And the school feeding program just exacerbates the problem. Many of these meals are processed, heat-and-serve items. The fast food industry makes matters worse by spending more than $5 million every day marketing unhealthy foods to children. 98% of food advertisements viewed by children are for processed products that are high in fat, sugar or sodium.

So what to do??? According to Jamie Oliver, “Over 30 million kids in the US eat school lunch every day – and they’re at school for more than ten years of their formative lives. That’s a massive opportunity to have a really positive impact on their wellbeing, setting them up for healthier, happier lives…” My friend Ann Cooper – aka The Renegade Lunch Lady – reached out recently to let me know she has joined forces with Jamie and launched a campaign through her foundation to turn the tide on this dire situation. Chef Ann has been a constant champion of school food reform as an important avenue through which to improve childhood nutrition. Chef Ann aims to raise both awareness and funds for this national epidemic.  Imagine the impact if schools served real food that was cooked with healthy, nourishing ingredients?


Al Roker and Alice Waters for #Realschoolfood

#RealSchoolFood is a social media campaign to raise awareness for the need for real, scratch-cooked food at school.  According to Chef Ann, “I envision a time, soon, when being a chef working to feed children fresh, delicious, and nourishing food will no longer be considered renegade.”

How To Be Part of #RealSchoolFood

Thanks to Mamma Chia, every time you post using ‘#realschoolfood’, $1 will be donated towards developing healthy school food recipes.

Mary Sue Milliken, Lake Bell and Jesse L. Martin for #realschoolfood

All you have to do is take a photo of yourself holding up a sign that says “#realschoolfood” and post it publicly to your social media timelines (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) with a caption like this:

It’s time schools stopped serving highly processed, heat and serve food. I support #realschoolfood and you can too. Show your support by posting a selfie like mine. realschoolfood.org (If you’d like to use a different caption, just remember to include the #realschoolfood hashtag.)


Friends join the campaign for #RealSchoolFood

Show your support for #realschoolfood by posting a selfie like I did, and Mamma Chia will donate $1 towards developing healthy school food recipes!

Happy Birthday, Florence! Thank you for all those hundreds of thousands of healthy meals.


Katy Keck for #RealSchoolFood

What are you waiting for – hold up that sign and tweet it today!! This not only raises awareness but critically needed funds as well!!!

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