Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
I must admit, I have never tried any coffee cake other than my family's recipe and until yesterday I had never made one either. My mother however, was sick on Christmas, so I was given the sacred duty of coffee cake making. To me coffee cake is a very special dish that one only gets the chance to eat one day of the year(and considering what's in it that's a good thing for your body). This results in an overabundance of it being consumed with coffee and milk during present opening time! If you make this for your family next Christmas, be sure to schedule breaks during present opening for everyone to go and grab a second, third or fourth piece!
50s Coffee Cake
(just like grandma used to make it)
4 cups of flour
2 cups of melted butter
4 egg yolks
2/3 of a cup of milk
1 tsp. sugar
1 package of yeast
1 can of cherry pie filling
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 stick of butter
capful of vanilla extract
1) Add yeast packet to 1/4 cup of warm water and set aside.
2) Mix 4 cups of flour with the melted 2 cups of butter.
3) Add the teaspoon of sugar to the milk and scald.
4) After milk has cooled slightly, beat the four egg yolks and add to the milk.
5) Mix all ingredients from step 1-4 in a large bowl and blend with hands until well combined. The dough will be rather moist.
6) Cut the dough in half and roll each piece into your desired shape between 1/2-1/4 inch thick.
7) Spread pie filing evenly over one piece of dough leaving about an inch around the edges without filling. Place the other piece of dough on top. Crimp edges to keep the filling in.
8) Let the pastry rise in a warm place for an hour. Then cut a few slits on the top and bake for 35 minutes at 350 or until the top begins to brown and looks dry.
9) While the pastry is cooling mix together 2 cups of powdered sugar with half a stick of butter, a capful of vanilla extract and enough milk to make it all come together into a nice icing.
10) Once the pastry cools, spread the icing over the top and enjoy!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I have read several recipes for poached eggs, and I have seen many contraptions for making them, but my favorite poached egg is still my mothers poached eggs. She has made them for me since I was a child and she has always referred to them as faux poached eggs because there is nothing fancy or technically challenging about the way they are made. Perhaps after you've over indulged this holiday season you will enjoy this simple breakfast as much as I do.
Momma's Poached Eggs
1. Fill your smallest pot with about an inch and a half of water and put on high heat.
2. Break an egg (or however many your making) and put it directly into the water and cover with lid.
3. This is the fun part. You will know when the egg is done because the pot will boil over. Don't worry, it's only water so it's not as messy as it sounds. I like my white especially well done so at this point I take the lid off and leave the egg in the hot water for another minute.
4. Remove with a slotted spoon and add a pinch of salt. Do not add any other seasonings. The point of this dish is to enjoy the simple wonderful flavors of the salt and egg.
Serve the egg(s) with some buttered toast to sop up all the runny yoke!
Monday, December 21, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
My boyfriend, who is a bit more practical than me sometimes, recommended I buy some turnips and try cooking them before I fill the yard with them. This of course lead to a recipe search and when I saw the recipe I am about to share with you I fell in love. How can anything smothered in a creamy garlic and Gouda sauce be bad? It can't. I served this recipe with the roast chicken I posted about a couple of days ago and it was wonderful. I'm sure it would also make a great companion to your Thanksgiving turkey!
Potato & Turnip Au Gratin with Leeks
1 lb russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 lb turnips, peeled and thinly sliced
3 leeks, white section only, thoroughly washed, thinly sliced
1 cup whole milk
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
2 cup shredded Gouda
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 TBSP butter
Salt & pepper to taste
1) Preheat oven to 365 degrees. In saucepan combine milk, cream, garlic and salt and pepper. Do not boil. Reduce heat and simmer for another 5 minutes, then set aside. Don't be shy on the salt, it will help flavor the potatoes and turnips.
2) In a large pan melt 1 T. of the butter and add leeks. Cook for 7-8 minutes until leeks start to brown, stirring frequently, then set aside.
3) Spread remaining butter around a 9x12 baking dish, covering all sides. Assemble potatoes and turnips in dish alternating each vegetable. Season each layer with salt and pepper.
4) Add 1 cup of gruyere and cooked leeks on top of first turnip and potato layer.Pour cream mixture over the top just barely covering. Layer remaining vegetables seasoning with salt and pepper. Top last layer with remaining cheese and cover with cream mixture.
4) Bake for 40-45 minutes until top is golden brown and potatoes can be pierced easily with a sharp knife. If you're worried about burning you can cover with foil and leave it covered until about 10 minutes before it's done. I would also recommend placeing the dish on a cookie sheet in the oven incase it boils over a bit.
This is a VERY rich dish so a little goes a long way. This recipe serves +/- 9 adults. For a normal family size I would cut it down to an 8x8 dish unless you like lots of leftovers. Mmmm, on second though, stick with the big dish! So delicious.
I found these little popup greenhouses at Emigh Hardware several years ago that are 4 foot x 4 foot and fit perfectly over my raised beds. They have lots of zippers to allow access and ventilation and fold up into a very small round carrying case. It is a bit of a trick figuring out how to fold them but I always seem to be able to get it done. When you take them out, you just throw them onto the ground and they spring up into a neat little greenhouse. They have grommets around the edges so I put some eyescrews near the bottom of my raised beds and either tie or bungie cord the greenhouses to the eyescrews to keep them from blowing away in a winter storm.
Of course, you can’t grown summer crops in them like tomatoes or peppers without supplemental heat, but they are great for onions, radishes, lettace, spinach and other cool weather crops. It means that with very little work you can enjoy fresh salads year around.
I put these up 3 weeks ago and have green onions almost ready to eat. For some reason this year my first planting of lettace and spinach did not sprout but I replanted them and the new ones are sprouting. My seeds were a bit old the first time but I used new ones the second. Sometimes old seeds will sprout with no problem, sometimes they don’t.
These little greenhouses also make great Spring hot houses for starting seeds when the evening temps are still too cold for most seeds to sprout.
My next project will be in January when I am going to try to build a 3 foot x 4 foot raised bed with a greenhouse top made from 2 x 2 lumber and clear vinyl from the fabric store that can fold flat for summer storage. If it works, I will post the design….if it doesn’t you will never, never hear another word about it.
I wish you all happy gardening, successful preserving, creative cooking and delicious eating.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
My idea for this spring is that those of us who have gardens, big or small, and those who might be inspired to start one, could participate in a seedling swap. I for one, do not get supper excited about growing my own seedlings, but I am resigning myself to the fact that it is much cheaper to grow them from scratch then to buy them from the store. I must learn to do without, or at least less, of the pure joy I get from walking the aisles of the Longs in Oakland, discovering new things I haven't tried, admiring flowers, sniffing leaves and letting them run between my fingers as I pass by. I must learn to be more responsible with how I spend my money on this gardening obsession of mine! One way to make the tedious act of seed starting more fun would be to make it a group effort.
The way the swap will work is if you have something that you have very good luck at growing from seeds then don't just start enough for you, but start a whole slew of them. Then, anyone who wishes to participate can bring their seedlings to a centralized location , I'm assuming my mothers, on a date to be set this spring and we can all trade seedlings. Mmmm, perhaps there could even be snacks and a punch involved!
Of course this could turn out to be chaos without a little organization, so I thought this post would be a place to start where people could say what they intend to grow extra of in the comments section. If things change, or you wish to add a new plant to your list, then you can just edit your comment later on. Also, if you see something someone has posted that you definitely want, you can comment on that too so they have an idea of who is interested.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
On a side note. Did you know that chickens are attracted to the color red? This seems like a interesting quirk until they are eating your beautiful ripe tomatoes or chase you around the yard trying to peck your freshly painted toes!
For the last month my tomato production has been slowing drastically. No longer was I picking enough to can in one day. So as to not waste the ones that were more than I would eat fresh, every week I would take those that were fully ripe, peel them and cut them up over a strainer. The juice that came off was very thin but delicious and I put that in the refrigerator to drink fresh. The rest I put in baggies and froze. Today I pulled up the rest of my tomato plants so the frozen pieces that I had been saving for the last month were ready to can. I thawed them out, ran them through the juicer with some carrots, onions and garlic, boiled up the concoction and canned it. It is the consistency of V8 juice but has no salt or things I can’t pronounce in it. Ad a dash of hot sauce and it makes the most delicious Bloody Marys. I ended up with 11 pints canned and a quart in the refrigerator to use in the next few days. Thus ends my 2009 tomato canning. I now have stewed tomatoes for winter chili, homemade tomato soup to go with the toasted cheese sandwiches, salsa for my tacos and juice for my bloody marys. It’s going to be a good winter.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
About 1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) butter cut into chunks
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Garlic (fresh or powder)
Carrots (optional in summertime)
A can of Black Beans
A can of chicken stock
Your Favorite Rice
Your Favorite Pasta
It is my belief that if you keep these basic ingredients on hand at all times you will always be able to feed yourself well. You could throw together a pasta dish, dirty rice or soup in no time. If you keep a decent selection of dried herbs on hand, you can also do anything from Italian to Mexican to a good old fashion stew. The bonus is that you can also grow many of the fresh ingredients easily in your backyard or patio. If you really want to get adventuresome, you could even try your hand at mushroom growing (really wanna try this)!
Weeknight BB Soup
5 small Roma tomatoes
5 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
handful of rough chopped onion
handful of sliced carrot
1 small jalapeno (optional if you are heat sensitive)
1 can of black beans
1 quart of chicken broth
Salt, Pepper and lots of Cumin to taste
The wonderful part of this soup is all you do is chop everything up, throw it in the pot with grace and style and let it simmer until the carrots are soft (about 20-30 minutest). I served it with a thick slice of buttered bread. The tomatoes can cause a slight film/bubbles to develop on top so you can either just scoop that off or wait until the last five minutes to add the tomatoes.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
If you don't know what I mean when I say this, then you haven't opened your windows this morning. Fall has come. As I sit here bundled up in my furry slippers sipping my second cup of hot coffee, I can't help but think about how nice it would be to curl up with a blanket and one of my favorite fall movies. It's the perfect time for movie watching. The garden is winding down to things that need less care such as greens and root crops, nature will soon take over watering duties and it is finally cool enough to pull out those fleece blankets you got for Christmas last year.
In honor of this wonderful turn in the weather, I'm compiling a list of my favorite fall films so that I don't miss any this year. There is only about a month to watch Halloween related movies and two months for fall movies in general. After that Christmas movies take over and well, that leaves little time for anything else. So I shall start my list here and feel free to add any of your favorites in the comments.
Practical Magic (this one gets multiple viewings in October. Midnight Margaritas!)
The Witches of Eastwick
The Scarlet Letter
The Adaams Family
The Harry Potter Series
The Charlie Brown Halloween & Thanksgiving Specials (I actually hate all the peanuts specials, but lots of people love it so what the heck.)
I loved all your guys' recommendations so much I've added them to the list! I'll keep updating as more come in.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Kristen’s Peach Cobbler
6 cups peeled and cored peaches
1/2 cup sugar5
tablespoons unbleached flour
1 3/4 cups unbleached flour
6 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 tablespoons butter or non-dairy butter-cold
1/2 cup milk or dairy-free milk
2 tablespoons butter or non-dairy butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cardamon
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Peel and core the peaches and put them into a cast iron frying pan(I just used a regular glass baking dish). Mix in the 1/2 cup sugar and 5 Tbsp flour. Set aside.
Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt. Add the cold butter and milk and stir until mixed. Spoon the biscuit mixture over the peaches.
Brush the melted butter over the cobbler. Mix the sugar and cardamon together and sprinkle on top of the cobbler. Put into the oven and bake until the top browns, about 45-50 minutes. Cool for about 20 minutes and serve with fresh whipping cream or ice cream.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Fall is my absolute favorite time of year. In fact, when FOX was a fledgling network they had a short lived science fiction show whose name escapes me, but on one episode one of the characters (a female Space Marine) was waxing eloquent about why she missed autumn on Earth….she said, “There is something so desperate and sexy about autumn….” I have always found that to be a perfectly fitting description. Desperate because it’s the last push to get the harvest in and the household/farmstead/den battened down and sexy because it’s when the vast majority of animals mate in order to ensure a spring birth….lots of action, activity and pheromones in the air! I myself have very fond memories of helping my father’s family with the fall harvest on their farm in Iowa . As a small child I couldn’t help much, but help I did and it was the one time of year that whole side of the family came together to work as a clan. Crisp mornings, sweatshirts, my dad’s big coyote-fur lined winter jacket that I would get to wear once he worked up a sweat, leather work gloves, the crunch and smell of dried corn, the pulsing sound of the combine, the ubiquitous snarl of a chainsaw that we and others were constantly running to try to beat the snow with firewood preparations, and the occasional crack of a hunter’s rifle echoing off the land are all indelibly burned into my brain….desperate and sexy indeed.
As such I am a sucker for anything “harvest” whether a theme (how about a harvest wedding…sans chainsaws, of course!), decoration, movie or recipe. I received a recipe recently called “Harvest Muffins” from one of my Yahoo user groups. The ingredients sounded like a slam dunk, but the first batch left a lot to be desired….they made the house smell wonderful, however the spices called for were just enough for aromatics and not taste. In addition, the cook temps and times called for resulted in a very dry muffin that resulted in the last two remaining being thrown out. Plus the quantity of raisins called for completely overwhelmed the recipe.
I did a second batch and the only thing that resembles the original is the ingredients list. All spices and the raisins have been significantly adjusted and the baking temperature reduced while the time was increased. This resulted in a muffin that not only smells GREAT while baking, but tastes wonderful and remains very moist inside. Bear in mind that even once the toothpick comes out clean these muffins retain a lot of moisture around the apple shreds and may appear underdone if you eat one right after baking. Give them some time to sit and the moisture disperses evenly through the whole muffin. I store them in a plastic tub with a light dishtowel draped on top to keep them moist but prevent molding. Also keep in mind that these are more like a zucchini or banana bread than a true muffin and as such don’t rise terribly high.
I hope you relish them as much as I do—they are utterly perfect for a desperate, sexy fall morning (or even a mundane, frumpy one!). Serve with hot coffee or plain black tea and enjoy!!
2 c all purpose flour
1/3 c sugar
1 TBS baking powder
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 c apple juice/cider
1/3 c vegetable oil
¼ real maple syrup
1 large egg beaten
2 tsp vanilla
1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and shredded
3 oz chopped walnuts (1/2 of a big package)
½ c golden raisins
Blend dry ingredients in one bowl. Blend wet ingredients in another bowl. Combine the two until just mixed and fold in the last three ingredients.
Divide batter into muffin pan (the cups will be pretty full)
Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. The apple should still be really moist inside.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
If you enjoy food and the warm feeling of love filling your heart, then the movie Julie & Julia is for you. Its a wonderfully crafted hilarious story, and while it's not as full of completed dishes as one would expect, it is full of yummy looking food preparation. I was inspired by one of the meals that Julie makes, and if you ask anyone whose seen the film, they remember it too.
It's a simple meal of pan fried bread topped with lots of fresh chopped tomatoes and herbs. The best part was hearing the crunch as Julie and her husband ripped into this dish animal style. I was feeling a bit carnivorous when I tried to make it, so I added some Italian sausage. Hope you enjoy my interpretation. Oh and a little warning, this recipe is very bad for you!
Open Faced Italian Tomato Sandwiches
2 Thick Sliced Sourdough bread
2 Roma Tomatoes
2 Small Yellow Tomatoes (Golden Jubilee)
2 Tbsp. Chopped Yellow Onion
3 Tbsp. Fresh Chopped Parsley
2 Tbsp. Ribbon Cut Basil
1 Tbsp. Fresh Thyme
2 Garlic Cloves minced
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinaigrette
Tiny Dollop of honey
Salt and Pepper
1)Mix sausage and thyme and cook the sausage through. While the sausage is cooking, chop the tomatoes and all the herbs. Once the sausage is done, drain it on paper towels.
2) Mix together the olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette & honey. Toss in tomatoes and onions and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3) Cover both sides of bread with butter. Press the chopped parsley and garlic onto one side of the bread. If you plan ahead, you can also mix the butter, parsley and garlic together then spread that on the butter.
4) Fry both sides of bread in a pan until golden brown. Immediately layer with sausage then tomato mixture. Sprinkle on top with basil.
You'll want to eat this IMMEDIATELY! Within five minutes it will be soggy so have the table set and the beers pours before you put it together. It would go great with a glass of cold Hef or a Pale Ale.
So go see Julie & Julia. Then come home and make this tasty late summer meal.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
-1 empty 32 oz. spray bottle
-3/4 c. Distilled White Vinegar
-1 c. Hydrogen Peroxide
-1 1/2 tsp. Castille Soap (Such as Dr. Bronner )
-30 drops Tea Tree Oil
-30 drops Essential Oil of choice (some of my favorite choices include lavender, lemongrass, rosemary, lemon verbena, spearmint, clove, cinnamon, anise, sage, grapefruit, lemon, and lime; experiment with one or a combo and see what scent makes you want to get lean and clean!)
-Place all ingredients into the spray bottle using a funnel or measuring cup with a spout.
-Add water until contents reach top of bottle.
-Shake vigorously and use with abandon!
Jeff made three baguettes for the evening to go with the brushetta I had made the day before. In our first attempt to make this bread, we learned the very important lesson (or relearned in my case) that you shouldn't bake bread on dark cookie sheets. The bottoms WILL burn. Our first go at this bread was a horrible failure. They all burned, and although Jeff tried to save my terrible bread by lovingly scraping off the black part and saying it wasn't that bad, I knew the truth. I was particularly disheartened because the bread rises for four and a half hours, so it's not like we could just mix up another batch at 10 pm.
The next day Jeff gave it a second try and his attempt turned out far better than my first. Here is the recipe we used, slightly modified from it's original source.
French Baguette a la Jeffry
4 cups Flour
1 tbsp. Dry Active Yeast
1-2 tsp. Salt
1 3/4 cups Warm Water
1-2 Tbsp. sugar
Oil for bowl
How to make it:
1. In a bowl, mix together the flour and the salt.
2. In another bowl, combine yeast, warm water, sugar and half of the flour/salt mixture. Using your hands, mix until it forms a dough. Then, cover with a dish cloth and let sit at room temperature for 3 hours. It should triple in size.
3. Gently incorporate the rest of the flour/salt, using your hands.
4. Place on a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes. It should be supple and elastic when you stop kneading.
5. Lightly oil a bowl. Place dough in bowl. Cover with a dish towel. Let sit for 1 hour. It should double in size.
6. Preheat oven to 450°F. Knead again. Then cut dough into 3 parts and form each part into a long baguette. Place on a baking sheet. Let sit for at least 20 minutes.
7. Place a bowl of water in the oven. Bake baguettes for about 25 minutes (maybe less, check often towards the end). Remove the bowl of water after 15 minutes of baking and spritz the baguettes.
The other bread we made went off without a hitch. It was an herby pull apart bread which utilized lots of fresh herbs from the garden. The original recipe can be found here.
Herby Pull Apart Bread
6 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2½ tablespoons active dry yeast
2½ cups warm (120 to 130F) water
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbsp. each finely chopped sage, rosemary and thyme
1 tablespoon melted butter
How to make it:
1. Grease two 9-x-5-inch loaf pans.
2. Combine 4 cups flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and 2½ cups warm water in a large bowl. Add herbs and stir until well blended. Stir in remaining flour until smooth. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
3.Stir dough for 25 strokes.
4.Separate dough into 16 balls of equal size. Place 8 balls in each loaf pan in two rows. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.
5. Bake loaves 30 minutes at 375F. Reduce heat to 350F and bake 15 minutes longer, or until bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cover loosely with foil during the last 10 minutes of baking time to prevent over-browning.
6.Remove from pans immediately and brush with melted butter. Cool on a wire rack.
The balls will pull apart to dinner roll sized portions. I served it with butter that had just a bit of honey in it. The sweetness really complimented the herbs.
Monday, September 14, 2009
savory herb bread
Fried squash blossoms
chips and homemade peach salsa
Mashed purple potatoes with herb butter
Brushetta on baguette
1) Trim zucchini blossoms. This means cutting off the little "spines" that are at the base of the flower and cutting out the pistol from inside. Be careful not to rip the flowers doing this. You can still use them if you do, it's just a bit messy.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
1) Place the chicken breast with the bone down on your cutting board.
1) Peel a bunch of tomatoes and cut them into pieces into a regular strainer so the juice will go into a bowl (fresh tomato juice is one of the delightful byproducts of the soup).
You will need 15 cups of tomato pulp to make 8 pints of soup. Depending on the type of tomatoes you use, this should give you over 2 quarts of pure tomato juice for your enjoyment.
A note on the garlic…..since the French use lots of garlic and don’t peel it, I didn’t peel mine either…just popped them into cloves and cut off the root end. They don’t even need to be cut up (neither do the carrots) because you are going to liquefy them in the blender.
6)To serve just add some cream or milk to taste and heat. Goes absolutely great with a toasted cheese sandwich.
After you have cleaned up, sit back and enjoy a big glass of fresh tomato juice (additional ingredients are up to you) and think about how good that Tomato Basil soup is going to taste on a cold rainy day this winter, and how good you feel knowing that you can pronounce every ingredient in it.