Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Saunders County Gorgon Slayin' Company and General Pest Exterminatin' Service

Yeah, you just call ole Perseus, and he'll take care of yer Gorgon problem, real good. Just don't look directly at her, on account of the turnin' to stone problem, and all.

The picture barely does justice to the costume. His socks had feathers sewn on, as did his hat. The shield has a photocopy of the Medusa's head under mylar to serve as her reflection. He has a scythe hooked to the belt, but it is hard to see. Still, it was the head that understandably attracted the most attention. I'd really like to send her on a blog-tour of sorts where people can pose with her, and post the photo on the blog before sending her along to the next participant. I dunno, it could be fun-I have an extra head and snakes if anyone's interested.

Danny declared this, "The BEST Halloween ever!" I think he just appreciated the haul of candy. He also hit me for two dollars worth of quarters to swap for candy with nuts. That seems fair.

It was pretty fun. You can walk our entire town in twenty minutes, and it is a nice way to visit with your neighbours. As usual, there was a house handing out full-sized candy bars, and Danny looked at the teenaged girls like they were gods.
"Mama, I got a full-sized Starburst tube. Full-sized!"
I'm guessing once word got out, they were a pretty popular stop on the trick or treat route.

Best part? The rain stopped just as we were setting out. What more can you ask for?
Yes, there were dog treats as well.

Happy Halloween!


Admit it, every Halloween you think, "Gee I wish I had a trebuchet to hurl pumpkins across the parking lot of the Methodist church with." Well, you aren't alone!

OWH article HERE

The smaller pumpkins travel better, but the larger ones have a more satisfying smash.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Better Mousetrap

Danny invented a mousetrap, which he explained in detail. Here are some of the highlights:

"It has a little spring that snaps the mouse in place, and then it has a sponge that wipes the smile off the mouse's face, and replaces it with a frown...and then it kills it."

It wipes the smile off the mouse's face.

Sometimes, I'm a little sorry he isn't attending public school, as I'm sure parent/teacher conferences would be a real hoot.


The Wahoo Friends of the Library book sale is tomorrow, if you're a local. Wahoo has one of the best on-going sales I've ever seen (I always find something) and I encourage you to go have a look. While you're in Wahoo, stop at the Warehouse Surplus for bulk yeast, flour, and other baking items. Then, go over to the Sun Mart and tell the creepy guy who works there to stop oogling me. *shudders* Then, go see the Saunders County Museum, or the historic County building next door. Don't speed through town though-the place is a notorious speed-trap.

So I finally finished Danny's costume. It looks good, complete with Medusa head, reflective shield, scythe, winged helmet, and winged sandals. The tunic worked out pretty decent, considering I was working with an old satin pillowcase, and a scarf. If anyone had told me ten years ago that I'd be spending weeks gluing mylar to cardborad, and sewing feathers on tinfoil, I would have laughed. Actually, if you told me that I'd be living in the same county as a town called, Wahoo-I'd have bust my gut. Oh well, here we are, Mylar and the Midlands. Wahoooooo.

We're all fighting off colds at this point (or really horrible allergies-I guess we'll know after the hard frost this weekend) and I just want to get through the weekend so I can collapse. Because of Danny's allergies, I had to go out and get "safe" nut-free candy to swap him for all the stuff he's bound to get. Tootsie Rolls (and pops) are made in a nut-free facility, which is great. So are Dare crackers. Oh, I know, you're thinking, "What kid wants a box of expensive crackers for Halloween?" My kid. No really, Vinta crackers and Bretons are a million times better than Tootsie Rolls and Dots in Danny's World. Toss in some decent cheese, and that kid will have the best Halloween ever. He'd better have the best Halloween ever, because I've been making this costume for what seems like ages. Oh dear god-just let Halloween be over already, so I can start worrying about his Birthday.

Don't stare directly at the Gorgon!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Meatless Rumbledethumps

I can't believe I'm actually posting step-by-step directions for the simplest thing in the world-but here we go.

1). Look in icebox. Assess leftovers.

2). If you don't already have them, make mashed potatoes.

3). Grate some sharp cheddar cheese.

4). Finely shred some cabbage (if you don't already have leftover) and dice some onions. Cook in butter until soft.

In a large casserole dish, layer the cooked cabbage, onions, and other vegetables (I had carrots and peas). Top with a layer of mashed potatoes. Dot with butter. Top with cheddar cheese. Douse with paprika so your weirdo family will eat it (I don't know why the paprika/potato thing is so important to them, but I attribute it to some strange, Pennsylvania Dutch heritage thing in Mr. ETB's mother's family). Bake it, covered in a 350 degree F. oven for 30 minutes. remove cover, bake 10-15 minutes longer. Serve hot, (though it ain't too bad cold either).

Wheat Bread With Potato Water

I still had two cups of potato water left after making a rye starer this morning. I have a hard time throwing things like potato water out, so I baked wheat bread with it. The water adds moistness to bread, which allows for using a bit more whole wheat in a recipe that I typically would.

You Will Need:

2 cups warm potato water (the water left after you boil potatoes)
2 1/4 teaspoons regular yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3 cups whole wheat flour
2-3 cups AP flour, or strong (bread) flour (I used AP)

In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit a few minutes, then stir to dissolve. Add the salt, and wheat flour. Mix well. Add the AP flour a cup at a time until you have a dough that is no longer sticky. Knead well. Place in a buttered bowl, turn once to coat, and cover. Let rise until doubled (this took about 2 hours in my very cold house). Punch dough down, divide into 2, and place in well-buttered loaf pans. Brush tops lightly with water, and sprinkle with wheat bran, poppy seeds, sesame, or whatever you like. Cover lightly and let rise until nearly doubled. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake 20 minutes, rotate pans, and continue baking about another 10-15 minutes until loaves are deeply browned and sound hollow when rapped on bottom. I baked mine to an internal temperature of 190 degrees F. on an instant read thermometer.

Cool on racks. These breads freeze exceptionally well when wrapped tightly.

Plum Duff-Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook, 1950

It is freezing in here today (the super-high wind outside isn't helping any). Oh, I know-a rational person would give-in and start the furnace already, but I'm half Ukrainian, and we think it is the height of irrationality to start the furnace before 1 November. There can be a foot of snow on the ground, but no matter, 1 November is when the furnace is lit. After all, it is only going to get colder-might as well start acclimating now. 58 degrees inside will seem downright balmy come January. Like Jimmy Carter said during the energy crunch, "Put on a goddamned fucking sweater you dumb bastard, and quit sniveling like a two year old." Well, he would have said it if his press secretary permitted it. He probably thought it. (Bonus points if you can name Carter's press secretary without Googling it).

Hell yes, I steamed a pudding-and I'm going to give the Christmas puddings the initial steam tomorrow. I baked bread too. We're up to sixty degrees now-probably warmer in the kitchen, which is where we spend most of the day anyway.

This is Mr. ETB's very favourite dessert. Fortunately, it is simple enough to make, requiring only a large pot, and time to steam. The recipe in the book suggests it will be ready in an hour-this is an outright lie. Mine clocked in at two hours and fifteen minutes. Sure, you should check it now and then, but keep in mind that while it is difficult to over-steam a pudding, under-cooking one leaves you with an inedible blob. Err on the side of caution. I should also note, that this is a pretty dark pudding. The photograph in the cookbook shows a lovely, yellow coloured pudding with rich prunes dotted throughout. This too, is a lie. Once the brown sugar goes in, your pudding is going to be deep brown-which if I might say so, is in line with my expectations for a steamed pudding, suet or not.

I used a mould with a centre tube, which helps with that issue of a too-soft middle. You can use a Pyrex bowl, or a 1 lb. coffee tin, or whatever you like, but do allow more time for the solid moulds. You'll need to elevate the mould inside the pot, so try out everything before you begin, and make sure you can still fit a lid comfortably on top. Because I used a Dutch oven for the steaming (a canner works great too) I used a round, metal cookie cutter to sit the mould on. Tuna tins work as well.

OK, so here are a few pointers before you get started on the steamed pudding adventure (you experienced pudding makers can just go ahead and start stirring).

Do not cover the tops with waxed paper. It is flimsy, the cheaper brands melt (or stick), and you'll regret it. Parchment works well, but you need to tie the kitchen string securely, which can be difficult to do, as it slips. Me? I use either foil, or parchment. If you're lucky enough to have one of those self-enclosing pudding moulds, I hate you. Really, I do. I've been asking for one for Christmas for oh...I don't know...something like seventeen years now. Has he bought me my pudding mould? No, he has not. I did get an unabridged OED one year (or was that an anniversary?) which is nice, but you can't steam a pudding in it.

You'll need to keep an eye on your water level-so keep a pan of simmering water handy for refills.

You Will Need:

2 large eggs, beaten well
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
2 cups soaked, drained, cut-up prunes
1 cup sifted AP flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda (bicarb)

Beat eggs. Mix in brown sugar, butter, and prunes. Sift dry ingredients together, and mix well. Pour into a (very) well buttered pudding mould, and cover tightly. Place on a rack in a large pot or steamer, and surround with water leaving about 3 inches from the top). Cover pot with lid, and steam gently for at least 2 hours.

Carefully remove, and invert on a plate to serve with hard sauce, or whatever you like. Next day-fry leftover pudding slices in a pan full of butter. What? Am I the only person that does this, or am I the only one that admits it?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dorie Greenspan's Sables, and World Peace Cookies

Danny tasted one of the sables, declared them superior to all other cookies, and instructed me to stop making any others. Ever. Until he tasted the World Peace cookies.

The only change I made was using a strong arm, and a wooden spoon rather than a mixer. I get pretty good results that way, particularly when the recipe requires to you avoid beating too much air into the butter. It was 60 degrees F. inside the house today, so the butter stayed nice and firm throughout the process. These cookies really are beyond anything I've ever imagined coming out of my kitchen. Again, due to the cold, and my bloodless, arthritic hands, there wasn't any fear of overworking/softening the dough-but in warmer climes, you may want to work quickly, and chill longer. An hour in the fridge was sufficient for me.

The original recipes may be found HERE. I've made her rugelach as well, and similarly, they are fantastic.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ginger and Orange Poached Quince

This year, quinces were even more difficult to get hold of. At two dollars each, I couldn't really overindulge, or afford enough for jelly making. Instead, I bought two, and poached them to serve over a rich, vanilla pudding.

You Will Need:

2 large quince, peeled, cored and cut into 8ths
1 large orange, peeled and thickly sliced
2 tablespoons stem ginger, peeled and chopped
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup water

in a 325 degree F. Oven, place everything in a covered casserole dish and bake, about an hour, or until quince is tender, and has deepened in colour. Cool before serving over pudding, or yoghurt, or ice cream, or eaten from the dish standing over the sink at 3 AM (that really seems to be a theme with me, eh?) just be sure to get your fill of quince as the season is short.

Other stuff I've done with quince:

Tart with Cheese
Quince and Ginger Conserve

Rice, Cheese, and Carrot Casserole

This recipe comes from the Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, 1966

Keep in mind, the same series has recipes for things like, "Tuna tapioca", so there's always that possibility that any recipe from the series can be...interesting. This one (thankfully) turned out decent, and the boys really liked it.

You Will Need:

1 cup uncooked rice
1 cup cooked carrots, cut in matchsticks
1 small onion, finely minced
6 tablespoons butter, divided
3 tablespoons AP flour
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon powdered mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups whole milk
1/2 pound sharp cheddar cheese-half diced small, half sliced
3 tablespoons fine, dry breadcrumbs

Cook the rice, and let cool slightly. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large pot, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter, and over medium low heat, cook the onions for 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and seasonings. Mix well for a few minutes, then slowly whisk in the milk. Keep stirring until the mixture thickens, and comes to a boil. Remove from heat, stir in the diced cheese, and mix until melted.

In a shallow 1 1/2 quart baking dish, place half of the rice. To with the carrots, then cover with a layer of sliced cheese. Pour on half the sauce. Place the rest of the rice on next, then the remaining cheese slices, then the remaining sauce. Top with breadcrumbs, and dot with remaining butter. Bake 20-30 minutes or until bubbly, and browned on top. let stand a few minutes before cutting and serving.

1950's Chocolate Chip Cookies

The recipe for these came from a Pillsbury's Best Butter Cookie Cookbook pamphlet from the 50's. I skipped the nuts, and added some white chocolate chips-but otherwise stayed with the original recipe. As someone who isn't a chocolate chip cookie fanatic, I have to admit, I liked these. I don't think I'd crave them, but I did enjoy them. The cookies are flatter, and crispier than what we associate with chocolate chip cookies today, and they have less butter and sugar in them.

You Will Need:

2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking soda (bicarb)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, unbeaten
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate pieces
1/2 cup nuts (I omitted these)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease baking sheets.

Mix dry ingredients together, and set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter. beat in the sugars, mixing well. beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients. Stir in the chips and nuts.

Drop by teaspoonful onto pan leaving about 2 inches apart. Bake about 10 minutes, or until slightly golden on top. remove to a rack to cool. Makes about 3 1/2 dozen (that's what I got).

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Librarian Forced To Resign...

...for teaching literacy to immigrants.

Really, go read the article, and pass it around to as many sources as you can. This really shouldn't be something that goes quietly down the memory hole.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The *Really Good* Pastels

Fortunately for me (and the old pocketbook) Danny doesn't know about Senallier, or Rembrandt. For now, he's thrilled with his brand-new set of 50 colour Cray-Pas. Six bucks. Actually less, today was the bonus 20% off sale.

We were examining a selection of sketchbooks on the discounted table, and Danny gave a really loud, frustrated sigh. (looking at a rectangular, then a small square book) "Can't they just make a sketchbook that isn't all fiddly, and strange?"

He's right, and that's probably why they didn't sell at full price, but it was so strange to hear him articulate a preference for a certain style of sketchbook.

When I was just a bit older than Danny, I got into a bit of trouble over pens, paper and the like. First grade, I think-maybe second. Somehow, I had managed to talk my mother into letting me buy lunch at school. That was a big deal, because it was .60 (plus .6 cents for milk). Letting a child do that five days a week added up pretty quickly. At some point however, my love of brand-new notebooks, coloured pencils, and gum erasers overtook my love of apple crumble (and god knows, I do adore apple crumble) and tepid fish fingers-I started skipping my meal and spending the whole .66 cents at the school store. Amazingly, no one figured it out until the new lunch monitor made a fuss about my not having a lunch one day, and insisted on buying mine. I think phone calls were made home, and by the time they got the truth out of me...well I was carrying a paper sack with a sandwich of fake cheese on dietetic bread to school for the rest of primary school.

Does anything smell better than a new box of crayons or a pad of newsprint? The best hours of my childhood were spent sitting on uncomfortable metal stools at too-low drawing tables in a room that smelled of tempra, and sawdust, and chalk. I ruined more shirtsleeves leaning my elbows on those ancient tables peering over some smeared-up willow charcoal mess-but I loved it. Loved it. I was never very good at it, but that didn't really matter. I want Danny to have the same opportunity to work with different mediums, get messy, spend hours focused on a project-without having to miss lunch.

I also bought him a no-name spirograph set in a lovely little metal carrying case with coloured pens. That was eight dollars. I'm going to sneak it out and play with it after he goes to sleep. Then, I'm going to go smell the crayons.

Ginger Caramel Cake With Penuche Frosting

I apologise for yet another beige food photograph. I wish I had the patience for posing, and photographing the things I cook-but I don't.

This is a very sweet cake. Very. The frosting is pretty much candy, and the cake itself is substantial. Most people will find a small slice adequate. I imagine children would really like this sort of thing...because it is a big block of candy!

You Will Need:

For The Cake:

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups AP flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon bicarb
1 1/2 cups milk (I used whole)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9x13 pan.

Cream the butter until light. Beat in the brown sugar until absorbed. Add the eggs, one at a time beating well after each. Mix in the extract.

Sift the dry ingredients together in another bowl, and add alternating with the milk. Pour into prepared pan and bake 35-40 minutes, or until it tests done. Cool 10 minutes in pan, then remove to a rack and cool completely.

Trim cake and cut into half. Prepare frosting.

For the Frosting:

1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
icing sugar

In a small pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and cook, stirring constantly for two minutes. Beat in the milk and cook until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat, and cool.

Beat in as much icing sugar as needed to reach a spreading consistency. Work quickly, as it starts to harden into fudge pretty quickly.

Keep cake chilled, then remove from fridge about ten minutes before serving. If you have extra frosting, chill it in a pan, then cut into squares to eat like candy.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lemon Caramel Custard-Gourmet Magazine, February 1972

Mine above-Gourmet Magazine's below. I like my plate better. They made tuilles. Screw tuilles. There isn't a more pointless, worthless biscuit in all the world than tuilles. Because I can't make them.

If you make this-use a metal pan. I cracked my glass pan making this, though through some miracle the cracks didn't come to the surface and ruin the custard. That's nice-the Pyrex was pretty old, but I'd have been pissed at ruining all those eggs and cream (that cost more than a new Pyrex dish).

I managed to do this without causing myself severe burns from molten sugar, but I really must caution you to work carefully with this stuff. With carmelised sugar I always feel like it would be so much better if I let it go a second or two longer, but then fear takes over, and I tip it out of the pan too soon. That said, the house smelled like burnt sugar for an hour after I made this-mind, that's a good smell, but it does make me wonder just how much deeper, and darker it could get before being actually burnt.

This will need plenty of time to set (it was still quite loose when I removed it from the oven, but over the course of eight hours it did firm-up). If you plan to serve it the same evening you make it, give it at least six hours of time in the fridge-the longer the better.

You Will Need:

For the caramel:

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
Pinch of cream of tartar

In a heavy skillet combine the sugar, water, and cream of tartar and cook over medium heat until it turns to a rich, golden caramel. Pour the caramel into a 9x5x3 loaf pan (use metal!) and set aside while you make custard.

For the Custard:

3 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
5 whole, large eggs
5 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Have a pan ready to set the baking dish in, and enough boiling water to fill it halfway up the pan (I used an old, oval roasing pan for the water bath).

In a saucepan, scald the milk and cream until steaming. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until it is light and frothy. Slowly, in a stream, whisk in the milk/cream. Stir in the lemon juice, zest, and vanilla extract. Strain through a fine sieve. Pour over caramel in pan, and then cover with a piece of heavy foil. Place in roasting pan and carefuilly surround with water halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake 1 hour. Remove to a rack to cool, remove the foil and when room temperature, transfer to the fridge to chill several hours before serving.

To unmould-carefully run a thin knife around the sides to loosen, and invert on a plate. Serve with the caramel sauce surrounding the custard.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hot Lunch Ideas

I've started involving Danny in preparing his own lunch as part of his homeschooling curriculum. Most days, he assembles what the recipe calls for, puts as much of it together as is safe, and I cook it. This is useful for teaching basic nutrition, as well as fractions (all that measuring). We have a sit-at-the-table hot lunch during the school-week, and as he eats, I read to him from whatever we're plodding through at the moment. At this very moment, we're 3/4 of the way through Huckleberry Finn. I'm not enjoying reading that aloud. I rather enjoyed Pilgrim's Progress, and Man Without A Country-but Huck Finn is killing me. I cannot wait to be done with it. All that damed exaggerated dialect.

I thought it might be helpful to list off some examples of lunches we rotate through here. Most are easy enough to prepare, reasonably healthy, and inexpensive.

Panini Sandwich-Actually, it is anything I have leftover placed between slices of bread and weighted under a heavy pot in a frying pan. Carrots, cous cous, tinned salmon-all have found their way into panini sandwiches. Gosh, isn't bread great?

The Stationmaster's Sandwich-because you know, the train yard gets busy and they don't have time for a sit-down breakfast. Toast, scrambled egg, a slice of cheese and ketchup.

A Baked potato with toppings. Hard to find complaint with that.

Sardines on toast-Danny is pleased that he knows how to mash up sardines with some oil, onion and paprika because it is, "Bachelor food...and I'm NEVER getting married!" That's a direct quote.

Tinned beans on a sweet potato.

A bowl of Grape Nuts with raisins and cinnamon sugar, microwaved for exactly 45 seconds. He's kind of insistent about stuff like that.

French Toast.

Vegetable soup with cheese and crackers (I freeze small batches of soup when I make it, so I always have a single serving on hand).

Grilled chutney and cheddar sandwiches. Also good without the grilling.

Sauteed apples in butter on toast.

Oatmeal porridge.

Apples stuffed with curried rice and raisins, then baked (needs a bit of planning ahead, but still simple enough to manage.

Anyone have good lunch recipes they'd like to share? And what are you reading?

Apple/Cabbage/Cheese Slaw-Gourmet February 1972

This was another recipe from an old Gourmet magazine. It called for half mayo, and half sour cream. I don't keep mayonnaise on hand, and given the whole poisonous egg scare, I didn't feel like making any-so I used all sour cream, and a bit of heavy cream to mix it.

The boys really liked it. I suppose a cup of sour cream, a cup of Swiss cheese, and a bunch of apples will do wonders for raw cabbage, but I was still a little shocked they enjoyed it as much as they did.

You Will Need:

3 cups peeled, diced apples (I used Golden delicious)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cups finely shredded white cabbage
1 cup finely diced Swiss cheese
2/3 cup chopped walnuts (I omitted these)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup full-fat sour cream
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

In a large bowl, combine apples, lemon juice, cabbage, cheese, walnuts, and salt. Toss well. In a small bowl, whisk the rest together. Pour over salad, and mix well. Cover and chill at least 4 hours. It is better second day.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I Have Two Months To Come Up With A Cake

The problem with baking really impressive birthday cakes is that there's an expectation I'll keep surpassing my last effort.

I'm wondering what it would take to bake a three dimensional wooden-looking horse (graham crackers, maybe?), stick it on a platform with wheels, and make a walled city from more graham crackers, more cake, and a ton of sugar paste? Danny is still pretty insistent about wanting Chapman's Homer for his birthday, so I thought a themed party might be nice.

And you people thought I lost it when I baked the HMS Victory. Oh no, that was just practise.

The Best Apple Dumplings, Ever.

Really. Just forget any other recipes I've given you over the years for dumplings, and use this one instead. I'm not kidding, they were that good. Light, yet sturdy enough to hold together, the pastry was flaky and tender. The apples cooked to soft perfection, and the filling was sweet, but not overly so. Mr. ETB described them as bite after bite of the, "best parts of an apple pie." I have to agree. In the past, I've made apple dumplings that had a sticky coating poured over them as they bake. Those were good, but they didn't really last more than an hour or so. These re-heated well with just a few seconds in the microwave. They're still full of butter, but somehow these dumplings seemed less leaden than the typical version.

Blogger is doing some sort of photo-updating, so I can't post the pictures tonight, but I'll give you the recipe before I forget.

I served these warm, with heavy whipped cream sweetened with maple syrup.

You Will Need:

Pastry (recipe follows below)

4 large apples (I used Golden Delicious), peeled and cored
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons raisins
1/4 cup chopped dates
2 tablespoons chopped, crystalised ginger
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter
Dash of salt

Cream and sugar for glazing

Pastry recipe:

2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter, cut in tiny bits
3-4 tablespoons ice water

Combine flour and salt. Cut in butter. Add water, a tablespoon at a time until dough comes together. Divide into 4 pieces, and let rest while you make the filling.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet. Peel and core apples, Toss with lemon juice and let stand a few minutes. Meanwhile, mix the dried fruits, sugar, salt and butter together. Divide into 4 parts.

Drain apples and pat dry. Stuff each with 1/4 of the filling. Roll out dough into 4 equal squares. In the centre of each, place a filled apple-you may need to trim the bottom to get it to stand. Bring together sides, and pinch closed. Place on baking sheet. When all are completed, chill for 20 minutes as the oven heats.

Before baking, brush with heavy cream (or milk) and sprinkle with sugar. Bake about 45 minutes, or until deeply golden. Serve warm with cream, or whipped cream, or whatever you like. If you plan to serve them later, let them cool on a rack, then re-heat in a microwave for about half a minute.

Longstanding Rock-And Roll Traditions

Asphyxiation by vomit.

Yeah, I don't have anything worthwhile to post today. Apologies to anyone that reads this via a feed, and thinks I'm updating with anything worth reading.

Bonus points to anyone that can make a joke about "pot stickers."

Probiotic Claims Unproven... shit.

Probably won't save you from a cold either. Geez, corporations will lie to make money off of consumers? What is the world coming to?

Yoghurt is the devil anyway-I don't know how people can bear to eat it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Yotam Ottolenghi's Cauliflower Cake

I made substitutions all over the place, and it was still spectacular. The recipe is HERE. I suggest printing it off and keeping it in a safe place in the event it disappears from the site. You'll want to make this one more than once.

Macaroni and Cheese Nachos

Mr. ETB cooked these for dinner Sunday. Yes, that really is mac and cheese from a box atop the refried beans, and chips. It worked better than expected.


I qualify for a free discount card at the art store (Dick Blick) because I'm a teacher, or at least I'm Danny's teacher. How wonderful that they extend that to homeschoolers. I'm wondering if we can take advantage of discounts at museums, etc. I should look into that.

Danny wants canvas, and acrylic paint. I'd been reluctant to let him go at expensive materials, but with the sale coming up, plus the discount, I might be able to indulge his newly found artistic bent. I swear, the kid can blend oil pastels like a pro. Better than I ever could, anyway.

I recently found an old receipt tucked into a book where I spent something like $180.00 on materials at Johnson Paint in Boston. Yikes! The things single people spend money on. For a nice contrast, I should mention that I bought a pair of shoes on sale at Sears last weekend for seven dollars. I had to, the ten year old pair I was wearing finally fell apart in a way that even the best cobbler couldn't reconstruct. Maybe Danny can paint on them.

Anyway, heads-up if you homeschool and buy a lot of paint.

You Want Me To *What* Over The Money?

I flipped on the radio as I do every morning to catch the news as I make my first cup of coffee. I heard blathering about sending money and thought, "Oh, that's right, NPR is doing their fundraiser this week." I kept making my coffee, only halfway listening to the unfamiliar woman's voice.

"...and what we'd really like you to do, is pray over the check before you send it in."

You see, I live in Nebraska. It may not seem like the bible-belt, but it is an awfully conservative place. While it seemed a bit strange to hear a request to pray over the donation before sending it in, it didn't sound impossible. Then, the unfamiliar voice gave the station ID and I realised I was listening to KLOV, not KIOS. Well that was a relief. The stations are right next to each other on the dial, and the radio must have been accidentally nudged. It just happens both stations are fundraising this week. Of course, if you want to resort to contagious magic and chant incantations over your pledge, I think they'd still take it, particularly if you could do something really new-age-y.

Maybe they could capitalise on this, and threaten to get rid of their jazz library, and play nothing but praise music unless they raise five grand in the next half hour.

Friday, October 15, 2010

We're Gonna Need More Snakes

I thought a bag of 48 toy snakes would do it, but Medusa is looking a bit sparse on the sides of her head. I still need LED lights for her eyes.

I made Danny's winged hat, and started the tunic, but I have no clue what I'm going to do for the shield. It needs some sort of flexible mirror material I can affix to it. I guess I'm headed to the hardware store.

Don't look directly at her!

Candied Apricots

I completely caved, and made the candied apricots. I'll probably put them through another coating of syrup tomorrow, but they really are just fine, as-is.

I did cherries, dates, and orange peel today as well. Grapefruit peel and some pineapple will probably do it for this year. I guess I'm ready to bake something, and soak it in booze.

Orange Celebration Cake-Sort Of

I changed the filling and frosting from the original recipe (Better Homes and Gardens Pies and Cakes, 1966) but used the cake recipe. I did use all butter rather than half shortening, which I think was a good decision. Danny's not wild about citrus, but combined with bittersweet chocolate, he's a bit more receptive to it. Besides, I needed the peels of two oranges to candy. Oh the suffering I make that child endure with fancy cakes and such.

The centre filling is just a simple cream cheese frosting-perfect as I was running low on butter, and had half a packet of cream cheese already open.

The ganache recipe makes quite a bit-the extra can be removed from the pan, and chilled to make truffles (or eaten by the spoonful standing over the sink at 3AM-I won't rat you out).

For The Cake:

2/3 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2 teaspoons grated orange peel (I used a tablespoon)
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup orange juice

Grease and lightly flour 2 9 inch pans. Set aside. preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and orange peel. Slowly add the sugar, and beat until well incorporated and light. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

Sift the dry ingredients together in a small bowl. Add, alternating with the orange juice. Do not over-mix.

Pour into prepared pans, and bake 25-30 minutes (more or less) or until cakes test done. Cool ten minutes in pan on rack, then remove to a rack to cool completely.

For The Cream Cheese Filling:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 cups sifted confectioner's/icing sugar

Beat together the butter and cream cheese until light. Add vanilla, mix well. Beat in the sugar slowly until you reach a spreading consistency. If it gets too thick, extra whipping on high speed with a hand mixer usually solves the problem, but you can also add a few drops of milk, or more extract.

For The Ganache:

Fill the cake with centre layer and chill well before coating in ganache.

In a large, heat resistant bowl combine 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped. Set aside. In a saucepan, heat 1 cup heavy cream, 2 tablespoons light corn syrup. When steaming, pour over chocolate and let sit 1 minute, then whisk until smooth. Add any extracts, oils, brandy, flavourings, you like at this point. Set the chilled cake on a rack over a rimmed pan. Pour and spread, working quickly and carefully to make sure the sides get coated. I use a butter knife, but an offset spatula is nice if you have one. When it stops dripping, remove it to the fridge, pan and all until set. Scrape off excess from pan and roll into balls for truffles. Coat as you like (cocoa, sanding sugar, etc.)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Yeah, Well You Talk Funny Too

The Speech Accent Archive.

Via Poor Mojo's Newswire.

Apple Turnovers

These apple turnovers are really quick to put together, and bake. They taste terrific as well.

You Will Need:

For the crust:

2/3 cup cold butter, cut in tiny pieces
2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon salt
5-6 teaspoons (+/-) ice water

Toss flour and salt together. Cut in butter until fine crumbed. Toss on ice water a tablespoon at a time until dough comes together. Gather into a ball. Do not over handle.

For The filling:

4 firm, tart apples (I used Granny smith, Golden Delicious, Cortland)
1/4 cup raisins
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup cinnamon sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Brush before baking with:
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Glaze after baking with 2 cups confectioner's/icing sugar
Enough water to make a pourable glaze

Peel and slice the apples 1/4 inch thick. Toss with lemon juice and raisins. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine cinnamon sugar and cornstarch. Add butter to the apple mixture. Gently mix in the sugar/cornstarch mixture.

Divide dough into 8 pieces. Roll out into 6 or 7 inch squares (it will be thin). Mound some filling in the centre of each and carefully fold over. Crimp with a fork, and with a sharp knife, cut a vent in the top. Place on a well-buttered baking sheet. When all are completed, chill 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Brush with cream, and set in the oven on the centre rack. Bake about 30 minutes, or until nicely browned. They will probably leak a bit, but hot water will scour your pans clean (it is mostly sugar). Remove to a rack over a baking sheet and glaze generously. Makes 8 large turnovers.

Crystalised Ginger

As we near, "Stir-up Sunday", I'm getting my pudding, and Christmas cake ingredients in order. I have candied confit of clementines already, but I should do lemons, cherries and pineapple if time permits. Last year, I glaceed apricots, which were delicious but kind of extravagant. Maybe a batch for the kid's Birthday, or something.

I swear, this year, I am gonna build that damn nougat frame from the 1971 Gourmet Christmas issue. Every year I say I will, then find some reason not to. This year, I'm doing it. The nougat will be nut-free, of course. My dentist is reading this and thinking, "yes! Build the nougat frame-I'll help."

Yesterday, I candied a pound of ginger. It sounds like quite a bit, but it goes fast as certain people can't seem to keep their hands off it. The ginger was very fresh, and this might be the best batch I've ever made. I can assure you, it cost well under the $15.00 dollars a pound this stuff fetches at the store.

Crysaltised ginger is just swell as is, but dipped in some dark chocolate it becomes...more caloric. OK, see, I warned you. It also won't help nausea if you're using it for that (believe me, if chocolate cured nausea I'd be bloody Willy Wonka). Personally, I don't get much nausea relief from ginger, or ginger tea, but I do find salt helpful. Mr. ETB finds it odd that I sit here licking the salt off pretzels, then discarding the pretzel, but it is easy to judge when you aren't spending half your life trying not to throw-up.

When you're through making the ginger, save the syrup in the pot to flavour soda water, or tea, or drizzle over pancakes. Hell, stick a straw in the glass and drink it straight for all I care, but under no circumstances should you discard it-it is that good. Likewise, the sugar that falls off as your ginger dries on the rack can be gathered up and used as it is now infused with a strong ginger flavour. Waste not, want not, kids.

You Will Need:

1 lb. stem ginger, peeled and sliced as thinly as possible. Really, paper thin.
Water to cover

1/2 reserved boiling water
1 cup granulated sugar

2-3 cups sugar for coating

Place the ginger in a heavy pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low simmer and cover. Cook until tender-about 30 minutes with frequent checking. Reserve 1/2 cup of the liquid and drain. Return liquid to pot and whisk in the sugar. Bring to a boil (not a full rolling boil, as you don't want it to start hardening). Drop in half the ginger, and move it around a bit with a spoon to keep it from sticking. When it is clear looking, and candied in appearance, remove it a few pieces at a time with tongs, let the excess liquid drop back into the pot and roll in sugar. Transfer to a drying rack set over a baking sheet. Repeat until done. Do second half of ginger in same manner.

Then, let it dry several hours, or overnight in a cool place. I have ceiling fans which help, but in some climates it might be to your benefit to plug in a dehumidifier if you have one (I have one, but didn't need it this time). When completely dry, pack it into an airtight jar and try to keep people from devouring it before you get a chance to begin holiday baking.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Memory Lane

-just because it amuses me.

The little punks grow up so fast. Next thing you know, they're begging you for expensive cheese, and strange Elizabethan translations of Homer.

Really Fantastic Bran Muffins

I know, I'd be sceptical too-but really, they were fantastic. Purely by accident as well. I didn't have buttermilk so I stirred some creme fresh into whole milk to sour it, and proceeded as usual. The result was a light, delicious bran muffin (again, I recognise the absurdity in that, but you'll have to take my word for it until you try them and become converted) that I'd eat even if I hadn't been plugged-up tighter than a previously gushing oil well in the Gulf. What? You didn't think I'd go there on a post about bran muffins? You people really don't get this blog, do you? At least I didn't go all Burroughs on you, and start talking about apple corers.

Er, moving (heh heh) along to the recipe...

You Will Need:

3 cups bran cereal (I used All Bran)
1 cup boiling water
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/2 cups whole milk plus 1/2 cup creme fresh or 2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup flavourless oil (I used soybean)
1 cup raisins (or any other dried fruit you like, cut-up if large)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups AP flour

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. This will make 24 regular sized muffins. I made 12 large, and 12 small instead. If you make large ones, grease the tops of your muffin tins so the tops won't stick. I lined mine with paper wrappers, but you can simply grease them if you prefer.

Pour the boiling water over the bran in a large, heatproof bowl. Let stand until lukewarm. beat in with a wooden spoon (don't use a mixer) the eggs, milk, oil, and fruit. Mix well. Toss dry ingredients together, and add to the bowl. Mix well, but do not over-mix.

Pour into cups (2/3 full for small muffins, to the top for larger) and bake about 20 minutes (for small) to 30 minutes (for large) checking often. Cool on racks. When cool, wrapped tightly in sandwich bags (use the cheap ones, and knot shut. They freeze really well, and can be thawed (in the plastic so they don't dry out) at room temperature, or microwaved (remove the plastic) for about 30 seconds. Either way, a handy breakfast to keep on hand.


Yesterday, I made the Concord grape jelly. Eight half pint jars-more than enough to last until next year, but Danny always thinks we should make more. Tonight, I'll deal with the ground cherries (husk tomatoes, cape gooseberries, or whatever they call them in your part of the world) but I doubt I'll have enough for anything substantial (damn critters eating my under-ripe ground cherries). I did find a recipe for ground cherry marmalade in my old Farm Journal Preserving cookbook that calls for pears, pineapple and lemons-I might give that a try. The description calls it a, "Cheerful" marmalade, so what the hell-I can always use more cheerful around here. That, and it only needs three cups of fruit.

I hate to bring this up (as I've been going on at length about it for so long now) but the still insists on giving me green tomatoes. This time last year, we had half a foot of snow. This year, I'm drowning in produce. I'll try a batch of green tomato mincemeat, but I know I'll never use it, and it will remain in the larder until I toss it out. Apparently, this is a common problem as I'm forever getting search hits for, "what to do with mincemeat." As Bill Clinton famously said, "I feel your pain."

The peas, radicchio, and leeks are all still thriving, and although I'm pleased with how well everything did this year, I really am ready for it to be over. I have a few bell peppers hanging in as well.

As I type, I'm eying a packet of cutting lettuce and wondering if it would grow in a large pot in a sunny window. You see, I've really lost my mind after all. Pay no attention to my whining about produce. At this rate, I'll be growing turnips in the storm cellar.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Connecticut Cider Pie, Gourmet Magazine, October 1973

Something spectacular to make while the cider is still around. If you're worried about fat, this pie has no dairy in the filling, and no eggs either-it is thickened with sugar, cider, and cornstarch. Pie crust is till bad for you though, sorry.

You need a one-crust, blind baked shell for this. I used my regular, old pie crust recipe. You can get fancy with it, or buy a frozen one (I won't tell). It does help to chill the entire pie plate and dough for a bit before baking, as they tend to shrink a bit. I'd also make a point of building the sides up high, in case you need to go crazy with whipped cream (hey, if you need to, then who the hell am I to judge, eh?) Crushed apple chips would also be nice atop this, but the recipe called for crushed walnuts.

Blind bake a pie shell. Cool on a rack (I like to slip mine out of the pan to cool-it keeps it from getting soggy, but if your crust is fragile, skip it). Make the filling.

For the filling:

10 tablespoons cornstarch (not a typo)
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
5 cups apple cider

Combine all dry ingredients in a heavy pot and whisk in the cider in a stream. Over medium heat, whisk until dissolved. Increase heat, bring to a boil and switch to a wooden spoon. Cook until mixture is clear, and thick stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Pour filling into a bowl, cover with a piece of buttered wax paper and cool until lukewarm. Return crust to pie plate, fill with filling and chill until firm. Top with sweetened whipped cream.

Two Recipes From Bali, Gourmet, October 1973

I also made a dessert from the same issue, which I'll post later.

I had to adapt the one recipe for vegetarians, so I exchanged fried tofu for the pork. I also used fresh mushrooms, but treated them like rehydrated dried ones. The biggest issue really was trying to locate the spices. While fish sauce is a bit more common these days, Ketjap Manis is not. I consulted Google, and put together a pretty decent version myself.

I knew the eggplant recipe was good from watching Danny tuck in. I'm sure the coconut cream didn't hurt any (yeah, that will bring most eggplant haters around) but he generally likes eggplant, and curries, so this was familiar territory. Mr. ETB ate his, though he didn't seem quite as enthusiastic as Danny.

The same page in the magazine had a recipe for cabbage cooked in coconut milk with cumin seeds. I really wanted to make it, but I'd already prepared more food than the boys can consume in a couple nights, so I'll save that one for next time. I still have half a tin of coconut milk left, so I guess coconut caramels are on tomorrow's list.

The Ketjap recipe makes about a quart. It keeps well (for months, I'm told) so bottle it up and try using it in place of soy sauce in recipes. I'm interested to try making baked tofu with it.

For The Ketjap Manis:

1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup water

1 cup soy sauce
7 tablespoons blackstrap molasses (or the darkest you can find of the unsulphured stuff)
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In a sauce pan, combine the brown sugar and water. Cook, stirring over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high, and cook to 200 degrees F. It goes quick, so watch it. Reduce heat to simmer, add the remaining ingredients and simmer about five minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to a sterilised jar, and keep in the fridge.

For The Vegetarian Bahmie Goreng:

1 pint mushrooms (fresh) trimmed and chopped
1 block extra firm tofu, pressed dry, and cut into 1 inch cubes
Oil for frying
1 tablespoon ketjap (see above)
1 tablespoon brown sugar (the recipe called for palm sugar, not available here)
1 pound noodles (I used Spaghetti)
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped cabbage
1/4 cup celery
A handful of snow peas, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (the recipe called for dicing chillies, but I just don't go there. The rooster sauce would work here too)
1/8 cup soy sauce+ 1/8 cup water (the recipe called for 1/4, but this was PLENTY)
5 tablespoons oil (the recipe suggest peanut, I used soybean)
1/2 cup chopped scallions
Fish sauce

In a small suacepan, cook the mushrooms until they give off water (about 5 minutes over medium heat), and strain into a bowl. When cooled, squeeze dry in a dishcloth. Place in a large casserole dish. Prepare the tofu by frying in a small bit of oil until golden on all sides. Add to the dish with the mushrooms. Combine the ketjap and brown sugar. Mix with tofu and mushrooms. Set aside, or chill until needed.

Meanwhile, cook the noodles with 1 tablespoon oil in the water (yeah, I thought that too, but I did it anyway, and they came out fine). Drain. While noodles are cooking, heat 5 tablespoons oil in a wok over medium heat and cook the onion, cabbage, celery, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes until softened. Add the drained noodles, and the tofu/mushroom mixture. Add the soy sauce and and 1/2 teaspoon (more or less to taste) fish sauce. Mix well, and cook a few minutes to re-heat. Serve topped with chopped scallions.

For The Eggplant in Coconut Cream:

I used coconut milk, not cream. I did skim most of what I used from the top of the tin where the fattiest part tends to collect. I don't use coconut cream, and I couldn't see buying it for one recipe. I also omitted the fresh chilies in favour of dried, and completely skipped the 1/8 teaspoon shrimp paste.

2 medium eggplants
Oil for cooking
2 medium onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
1/2 cup coconut milk

Peel and cut 2 medium eggplants into rounds 1 inch thick. Place in a colander, sprinkle with coarse salt and layer. Weight with a plate and a jar filled with water (or whatever you have) and let sit 1 hour. Rinse, dry well with towels, and cut them into 1 inch dice.

In a wok, heat 1/4 cup oil and fry the eggplant until browned and soft. Add the onions, garlic, chili and fry until onions are soft. Add coconut milks, and cook until thickened and warmed through. Serve hot over rice.

At Least His Last Bite Was...

...halfway decent cheese. I can't bait the traps with peanut butter anymore, so the mice get the cheese we eat.

Must be October. I haven't kept count this year, but it seems like less. This fellow was in my bedroom closet (possibly the culprit that likes to nibble the leather off the toes of my shoes).

How To Remove Unwanted Property

-rural edition. Click to enlarge.

There was a vacant house where the flames are, but rather than tear it down, they set it alight. Note the water being sprayed on the (very close) house next door. I guess that's considerate, or maybe they own that property as well. The excavator is there to help knock the structure down as it burns. It stunk something horrible, I really feel for the people living across the street. They chose a somewhat windy day to carry out this burn, but I guess if you're renting an expensive piece of excavating equipment, current weather conditions be damned-that house is-a-comin' down!

This was taken on the way out of, Nebraska.

I should also note, not 500 yards from this flaming house resides someone that named their boat, "Excalibur." Except they spelled it "Exclaiber." I should have clicked a picture of that. Maybe next time.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Friday, October 08, 2010

Make That, A Family Of Woodchucks... in our shed.

Danny was the one who spotted a large woodchuck running underneath the structure. Pretty soon, the rest of the family came out to forage the few remaining ground cherries in the yard (who knew they eat berries? Who knew they lived in sheds for that matter). Obviously, they're too good for a burrow in the ground like other woodchucks? Leave it to us to have our tool shed taken over by woodchucks with middle-class aspirations.

Green Tomato Chutney

The recipe comes from one of my very favourite blogs, The Cottage Smallholder. If you're not already over there reading, all I have to say is, "why not?"

Recipe HERE.

My end-of the season green tomatoes were still looking for a use. I've made green tomato chutney before, and it was OK, but this recipe is really something special. As I have a child that refuses to eat a cheese sandwich unless it has chutney on it, I suspect this will be used-up rather quickly. I put it through the canner anyway, because if you fail to steam up the kitchen on an unseasonably warm (91 degrees F) day in October, then you're not really a Midwesterner.

This was the first time Danny actively helped with the preparation, and canning. He's really a careful, and responsible child, so after reminding him of some very basic safety precautions ("DON'T TOUCH THAT, YOU'LL BE HORRIBLY BURNED, AND DISFIGURED!") we set about making the chutney. No one was harmed in the making of this chutney, I'm pleased to report, and there's a five and a half year old strutting about, really proud of his work.

One thing I did learn today, regarding green tomatoes is that they can be frozen. They need to be sliced, then layered in an airtight container with freezer paper between the layers. I might go ahead and do a few, to surprise everyone with fried tomatoes at Christmas or some unexpected time. I really am so very sick of tomatoes, green or otherwise. I have enough tomato sauce to last well into next summer.

Other Stuff I've Done With Green Tomatoes:

Earlier Chutney
Green Tomato Bread
Green Tomato Pie
Pickled Green Tomatoes

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Roquefort Biscuits, Gourmet Magazine, February 1972

I love blue veined cheeses. They make me sick, each and every time I have them, but I insist on eating them anyway. I consider it well worth the itchy mouth, and these biscuits are no exception. Well, OK that isn't exactly true because I only managed a bite-but I would have consumed a quantity, were I able.

Mr. ETB walked in the house, and declared the kitchen smelled like Cheeze-It crackers. He ate something like four of these. Danny had a couple as well.

The recipe calls for making mini-biscuits-the batch totaling 36 pieces. Yeah, I don't bother with that sort of thing. I made 12 regular sized biscuits and baked them a few minutes longer. I'll post the original recipe and directions, but be assured, these work just as well with a 2 inch cutter. I also didn't roll them out-I just patted them thin with my hand.

The deal with making good biscuits (or scones, or pastry for that matter) is to handle the dough as little as possible. Work quickly, and you'll be rewarded with light, fluffy biscuits without a hint of greasiness.

You Will Need:

2 cups AP flour
4 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter (cold)
1/2 cup crumbled Roquefort
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter and cheese until finely crumbed. Add milk slowly (you may need more or less) tossing with your hand until you have a soft dough. Mix gently and pat out to 1/2 inch thickness on a work surface.

Cut with a 1 1/2 inch cutter, and place on baking sheet. Combine melted butter with milk, and brush the tops. Bake until puffed, and golden-about 12-15 minutes. Serve hot.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Spots, Or Further Adventures In Allergic Living

I don't know about you, but my idea of mid-week excitement isn't watching the kid break out in hives, and racing him into town to the doctor. By, "town", I mean Omaha (ok, make a damn joke if you can't control yourself...I'll wait). We still have no clue what caused them (no new foods, detergents, anything really) but he's loaded up with antihistamines and hydro-cortisone cream. The paediatrician said these kinds of hives are called something like "script hives", because in the Middle Ages they would connect the dots, and spell out "Satan" and decide if the person was possessed by demons. He said this with only the slightest hint of a smirk, and without laughing. Clearly, our paediatrician is fucking awesome, because you know what kind of a reaction that would get with some people around here...and he said it anyway. I bought Danny a box of brand-name popsicles because when you have hives (or demon possession), you get the real Bomb Pops, not that no-name sugar water shit in a plastic tube.

So we're paying for our cortisone cream at the pharmacy, and the old woman at the check-out looks at Danny's name and says, "That sounds like a cartoon character." Which I dunno, maybe it was, in 1920 or something. Danny wasn't amused, but then I told him how when we sent out the birth announcements Raymond thought his name sounded like a good name for a serial killer. Strangely enough, Danny was pleased with that. Little boys are funny, huh?

Personally, I think he needs a Mob moniker, like Danny "Boom Boom Spots" Eat The Blog. That would be really badass.

Anyway, don't think I'll be getting anything fancy on the table for dinner tonight-good thing my freezer is stocked with burritos.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Leftover Chickpea Salad

I had about 1 cup of cooked chickpeas, and a few leaves of radicchio from my garden. This is what I made from them.

1 cup cooked chick peas
A few large radicchio leaves, chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon preserved lemon peel, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

In a small pan, heat a glug of olive oil, and the garlic until the garlic is fragrant. Add the radicchio, parsley, lemon peel and spices. Cook until; greens are very soft. Add chick peas and cook a few minutes longer to combine. Serve warm, or at room temperature.

Apple ( Abomination) Delight "Salad"

As promised, here's the Midwestern horror of a "salad". What I hate to admit, (really) is that it actually tastes good. I mean, for a few tablespoons-you can't really eat more than that. I keep thinking I ought to add some really dreadful artificial food colouring to it, or a packet of Jell-O. There's something missing...something from the dark place in my memory called, "Illinois, 1974." Maybe I just need a Schlitz to fully appreciate the picnic aspect of it. I think we all know, if this were really authentic, it would have half a jar of Miracle Whip in it. Mind if I ask you a question? Do these knit Gauchos make me look fat? Yeah, I was kind of afraid they might. I was gonna get the matching vest, but I thought it might be overkill, and I needed my money for a new bottle of Aqua Net.

I'm pretty sure you won't want to make this (though if you're a local reader, and you want some, I have plenty to share) but here's the recipe, adapted from an old Amish cookbook:

You Will Need:

2 large apples, pared, cored and diced
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup raisins
1 cup pineapple tidbits, drained
About 10 chopped maraschino cherries
1 cup mini marshmallows (a true Midwesterner would have known to get the multi- coloured ones)


1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup water
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cream
1 teaspoon vanilla


2 cups heavy cream, whipped

Combine fruits etc. in a bowl and set aside. In a saucepan, combine everything in the sauce except vanilla. Cook over medium heat, whisking until it comes to a boil. Cook until slightly thickened (about 1 minute). Remove from heat, whisk in vanilla and cool. When cool, mix into salad. Whip cream, and fold into salad, and dressing mixture. Serve well-chilled with a can of Schlitz, or tater-tot casserole.

Caramel Apples-Nut Free

If you plan on making caramel apples for an allergic child, you can forget about using the pre-made caramels you simply melt. You probably won't be buying ready-made caramel apples either, as the facilities are full of peanuts. I used the following caramel recipe from my 1950 Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook, with a few minor changes, I will note. In place of crushed peanuts, we crumbled up Hob Nobs, and jimmies instead. It worked great.

A few notes about making caramel apples:

1). Make sure your apples are completely dry, and warm-room temperature at least. I know some people suggest chilling the apples first-those are the people who have the caramel slide off their apples. I had no problem getting the caramel to stick.

2). Make your own brown sugar. The flavour is deeper, better, and you can save a ton of money making your own. Pour some granulated sugar in a bowl. Pour full flavour molasses over it, mixing with your hand as you add (it will be sticky, but it comes off as the sugar absorbs it). Keep adding until you get the deepness of flavour you want. Store in a tightly closed plastic bag. That's it.

3). You will have extra caramel-have a small buttered pan ready to hold the extra. When it cools, cut it into squares.

4). Coarse salt makes a really great caramel apple coating. Crushed pretzels do as well.

5). If making these for a youngster, be sure to have extra tooth fairy money on hand as these have a way of extracting already loose teeth.

6). Conversely, if you're over 40, your money will be going to the dentist if you try biting into one of these. I suggest cutting the apple in slices.

OK-let's make caramel apples. This recipe is for 8 medium sized apples.

You Will Need:

Butter a sheet of waxed paper and place on a baking sheet.

skewers (I used wooden sticks from the art store used for scratch pads, but popsicle sticks, or even chopsticks will work too)
8 Medium apples, washed and dried and at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup white corn syrup (I've never tried golden syrup, but I'll bet it would work fine)
2/3 cup butter (I used unsalted)
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine everything except vanilla in a large, heavy pot (it will really foam up as it cooks). Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a long handled wooden spoon (to avoid splatters) until it reaches 246 degrees F. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and immediately transfer to a heat proof bowl. Stir to help it cool. As it thickens and cools, keep stirring. When it will coat a spoon pretty well (about five minutes), dip your apples. If coating with anything (cookies, jimmies, etc.) dip it quickly in a bowl of the coating, then transfer to a baking sheet to dry. Depending on the temperature and humidity where you are, they may need to set in the fridge. Mine did not.

When cool, wrap tightly in cling film.