How on earth do I describe these cookies? They’re basic, light, and a little ordinary looking. They’re soft on the inside (but not exactly cake-like) and crusty on the outside. When you bite into them it takes a moment to discover the tiny bits of candied ginger and lemon peel, but then the flavors pop.
Personally, I don’t like crumbs in my tea, so I don’t indulge in dunking, but if you are a “dunker”, these cookies are for you!
Blogs right now will be few and far between, I’m afraid. Gardening season is upon me and I have an enormous vegetable garden, so even though I won’t quit baking, the posts will probably be brief and pithy. (Don’t you just love that word? Pithy, pithy, pithy.) I’m sure you will survive a few months without my rambling!
This recipe calls for sour cream. Since we live in the hills and I can’t just run to the store when I’m missing a key ingredient, I’ve learned to adapt. If you find yourself in the same position, a cup of evaporated milk (straight from the can) with a tablespoon of vinegar and a tablespoon of lemon juice stirred in and left to sit for 15 minutes worked perfectly. Your call!
2 tablespoons grated lemon peel (about 3 large lemons)
2 tablespoons crystallized ginger (chopped into small bits)
4¾ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup sour cream
½ cup sugar in a small bowl for coating balls of dough.
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
milk (or water) – enough to thin to drizzling consistency
Heat oven to 375 F.
Lightly grease (or use parchment) baking sheets.
Cream together the butter and sugar.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well between each.
Add lemon juice, vanilla, lemon peel, and ginger. Beat well.
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ginger.
Beginning with the flour and ending with the sour cream, add alternately, approximately one third of each mixture at a time.
If you prefer to roll the cookie dough out and cut it with a round cookie cutter, refrigerate for an hour, then roll ¼” thick and sprinkle with sugar. Otherwise:
Drop dough by rounded teaspoons (or a small scoop) into sugar. Turn to coat, then – using your hands – roll into a ball. Put on the cookie sheet and press with the bottom of a glass to flatten a bit. Repeat, leaving 2 inches between cookies.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until just showing a little golden brown around the bottom edge.
Cool cookies on a rack until cool, and drizzle with icing if desired.
My love affair with maple just got wilder and more obsessive. Torrid, even! It knows no bounds, respects no limits, takes no prisoners. There…every cliché I could come up with at the moment. (Sorry, Mr. Bass. You tried to teach me better.) I truly have no self-control when it comes to maple.
Here is a tempting loaf of white bread with sweet swirls of maple and toasted pecans. Toasting the pecans is what really takes the flavor over the top, and is such an easy thing to do. You can use your oven, but I just put them in a skillet on the stove at medium low for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fragrance drives me crazy. They’re done at that point, but you might need to test them to be absolutely sure. Actually, you might need to test them a few times!
toasting the pecans in a ceramic skillet.
Although this bread is delightful just as it is, I recommend trying it toasted. Yum! It also makes scrumptious French Toast. Making a spiral bread is easy, and very attractive, but I wanted to try a layered bread because I envisioned stripes of maple pecan instead of a spiral. I don’t know why…sometimes I just have to do what the little voices in my head tell me to do.
Maple Pecan Bread – the layered version.
Here’s the recipe in all its glory. I would like to mention that the filling calls for one tablespoon of Mapleine (a maple flavoring.) If you have plebian controllable maple cravings, this is the perfect amount to give your bread a pleasant maple flavor. Frankly, that’s like adding a precise jigger of vodka to a Bloody Mary. Adequate, but a little more is always better! I usually add a bit more (to both mixtures!)
¼ cup butter, softened (you may use oil if you prefer)
5½ – 6 cups all purpose white flour
1½ cup toasted pecans, finely chopped (please don’t skip the toasting step!)
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon Mapleine
Test the yeast by adding it to ¼ cup warm (not hot) water and a pinch of sugar in a small bowl. (Note: this water and sugar is in addition to the amounts listed above.) Stir lightly and set aside for 10 minutes. If it doesn’t bubble and rise up, try again with another package of yeast.
In a large bowl (a stand mixer is best) combine the hot water, sugar, salt, and butter. Stir well.
Add 3 cups of the flour and stir.
When your yeast mixture is bubbly, pour it into the flour mixture and mix well.
Gradually beat in the remaining flour until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl.
Knead until smooth (about 8 minutes by hand, 5 minutes if using a dough hook.)
Place dough in a large oiled bowl. Cover and set aside in a warm spot to rise just until doubled – about 1 hour.
While the dough is rising, Make the maple filling by combining the toasted pecans, brown sugar, white sugar, flour, and Mapleine in a small bowl. (To make sure it’s well mixed, use your hands!) Set aside.
Grease or spray (I like Baker’s Joy) two bread pans.
Punch down the dough and let it stand for 5 minutes. Divide into 2 equal parts and, working with one at a time, roll out to a rectangle, approximately 12″x7″, with a short edge towards you.
Lightly brush (or spray) the dough with water. (This will help keep it from developing air pockets.)
Cover generously with maple mixture and pat down firmly. Beginning with the short end, roll away from yourself. Don’t worry if a little filling comes out the sides. Turn the seam to the bottom and pinch both sides to close. Set the dough seam down in prepared bread pan. Repeat with the other piece of dough. If you have leftover filling, put it in an airtight container – it’s wonderful on hot cereal or as a streusel topping for muffins.
Cover loaves with a dishtowel and let them rise until almost doubled – approximately 1 hour.
Heat oven to 375F.
Bake loaves for 40-45 minutes, until they’re a rich golden brown. Let cool slightly, then turn out onto a rack to finish cooling. I like to butter the crust a little while the loaf is still warm.
To make layered bread, follow the recipe until step #10. After you divide your dough into two parts, roll each part into a 8″x16″ rectangle. Cut four pieces, each 8″x4″. Put one piece into the prepared pan, Lightly brush (or spray) with water, cover it with a layer of maple filling, and repeat, twice, with the fourth piece of dough on the top. Tuck the sides down gently, and allow to rise as usual. After baking, turn them out right away onto a rack. If you let them cool in the pans, the gooey sides will stick. Be gently, and let them rest on their sides to cool completely.
Cutting strips of dough for a layered effect.
Dough, filling, dough, filling…etc.
I’ll admit it’s not the most attractive bread I’ve ever seen (maybe we can just call it “rustic”, ok?) but the slices themselves are very pretty!
Funny looking from the side!
Now I’m imagining the maple filling in cinnamon rolls, with a maple frosting. Oh oh…I barely get the kitchen clean from one baking spree and another is already building. Stand back – I’m going in there!
Are you interested in seeing what other people do at home when they think no one is watching? Every month a group of bloggers give you a glimpse on “Fly on the Wall”. Here’s mine – hope you’ll read through to the bottom, where you’ll get the links for the other 11 blogs!
Cookies, cookies, cookies. Every surface was covered with cookies in different stages, because I somehow decided that hitting 1,000 “likes” on my Rowdy Baker Facebook page meant I should make 1,000 cookies. I thought I’d have plenty of time, but a sweet blogger pimped me out a bit and the last 50 “likes” happened very quickly.
Do I need to tell you I didn’t make 1,000 cookies? Not even close. I think I hit 250, which was still pretty impressive, since they were large rolled cookies (what was I thinking?) and I added icing and put names on some of them before I pooped out. If you don’t see your name it’s because it’s off to the side and I cropped the photo. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Keep your fuzzy little fly butt off my cookies!!!
I was doing the happy dance when I hit 1,000 but The Man was less impressed. I believe he just grunted “yeah?” (such a charmer) so I didn’t share my bottle of champagne with him. I was a little sorry about that the next morning. I will say he perked up a bit and showed some enthusiasm when he realized the photos were done and the cookies were fair game.
Baking in a Tornado posted a comment on her Facebook page about ironing, which immediately took me back to my childhood. I spent a lot of time ironing since Mom worked and it seemed like everything in our house was pressed. When I was younger and less skilled I ironed handkerchiefs, dishtowels, sheets, and pillowcases. As I grew older I was trusted with actual clothing, including nightgowns. Yes, nightgowns. I can tell you right now that you should NOT use a hot iron on a sheer gown. Nope.
What my mother taught me – and I think of this every time I iron anything – was to go slowly and spend more time smoothing than ironing. It takes less time to do it right than to go back and try to remove a crease in the wrong spot.
Heads up! This is more than a tip about ironing; it’s very wise, and applies to so many circumstances. I need to remember to smooth things over so I don’t say the wrong thing. I need to learn to think before I speak because it’s a lot harder (or impossible) to backpedal and take back wrong or hurtful words. Sometimes you just can’t iron out those creases.
Smooth, smooth, smooth!
I have messes everywhere. Little bits of paper cover the dining room table and floor as I wrap the stems of almost 100 paper flowers for my Homemaker’s Club spring tea. A small group of us made the flowers, but ran out of oompf before the stems were wrapped, and we wanted some daisies too, so…I volunteered. I don’t mind – it’s actually kind of fun, but with my short attention span I just do a few and then get bored and walk away. That’s okay; we like eating in our recliners. I should just give up and call it a craft table.
Making messes…it’s what I do.
Leftover oatmeal usually goes to the chickens. Somehow I always make way too much! (They love it, and I love to indulge them a bit.) But today I looked at that oatmeal and then looked at the bag of dark chocolate-covered raisins, and experimented. Though my method of adding and mixing defied the rules, and the dough seemed heavy and sticky, it made really nice, puffy, cake-like cookies with slightly chewy bottoms and plump chocolate raisins peeking out.
I should have added the whole bag, but a lot some of them spilled out…into my mouth.
Leftover Oatmeal Cookies with chocolate covered raisins!
Add the chocolate covered raisins. Oh, go ahead…dump in the whole bag!
Our young rooster has finally found a home. I take him to town tomorrow to rendezvous with his new owner. She has a brand new chicken coop and has even rounded up a few hot babes for my randy roo. He should be in heaven. He’s been bullied by our old rooster for months, and now will be cock of the walk. Here he is, running from Big Red!
Run, Rooster, run!!!
While you’ve been rubbing your legs together on my wall, I’ve been out working with The Man to get our greenhouse ready. New dirt, compost, and straw to (hopefully) keep the weeds at bay…it’s a thing of beauty. And we didn’t kill each other. This is a big plus, because we DO NOT WORK WELL TOGETHER. We have a lower garden and an upper garden, and I try to always be in the one where he isn’t. Today I wasn’t raking out the dirt “correctly” so I gave up and screened compost instead. He wasn’t pulling off the flakes of straw neatly and butting them up against each other…grrr…so he gave up and went to cut cardboard. See? We’ve got it all worked out. Separate corners.
Yep…you just stay there, and no one will get hurt!
Proud Mama alert! My daughter Brenna just started her own blog, and I expect nothing but amazing posts in the future. She’s a wonderful writer, cook, mother, and photographer, and has a wicked humor to boot. I’m setting your bar high, Honey! Go give her some love, my friends. Click on the picture of my (ahem) beautiful grandbabies to see her introduction. Nut Without a Shell
Here is a list of links to eleven wonderful bloggers who played along this month. Please buzz over to their house and visit!
I adore a good Boston Cream Pie. I make a lot of cakes that are lavishly iced, but the cake itself is actually my favorite part. A Boston Cream Pie is really a cake (I know – go figure!) with layers of custard filling, and chocolate ganache only on the top of the cake. Now that’s the perfect cake!
For fun I made individual sized cakes which, for once, turned out just as I imagined them. Whew! The gals in my book club were my guinea pigs, and seemed to really like them, so these are crowd-tested for you. I did one thing that probably wasn’t necessary, and added a chocolate-hazelnut crust on the bottom. It tasted good, but added a little bit of crumb/mess factor that I could have done without. A layer of chocolate cake in the middle would have been lovely though. Maybe next time!
I liked the tall, stately look with three layers, but you could also spread the batter in a larger pan, cut the circles out and then cut them in half for a shorter version with two layers of cake and just one layer of custard. They’d be easier to cut, serve, and eat, but not quite as impressive. And you know that food bloggers don’t bake just to produce delicious goodies…we’re always trying to WOW people! Either way, you will find them tasty and beautiful. And did I mention tempting?
The yellow cake recipe is something you’ll use often, so I wanted to keep it simple. If you choose to add the chocolate crust, here’s how you do it:
2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs. (I love “Famous Chocolate Wafers” by Nabisco)
1/2 cup hazelnuts, ground
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Combine well and press firmly on the parchment in the bottom of the pan before pouring in the cake batter. When the cake is baked, it’s easiest to cut your shapes directly from the pan instead of turning the cake out onto a rack. Hint: a food processor makes it simple to grind up the cookies and the hazelnuts!
Pouring cake batter over the chocolate crust.
I used a 12″x2″ round cake pan, which was just barely big enough. A 13″x9″x2 rectangular pan would hold the same amount of batter. You could also use two 9″x2″ round pans.
Grease the bottom of a 12″x2″ round pan, or two 9″x2″ round pans, or one 13″x9″x2″ rectangular pan. Line with parchment and spray the parchment with a flour based cooking spray (like Baker’s Joy).
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until it is light and fluffy.
Add the vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each egg.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Sift it once more.
Add the flour mixture and milk alternately to the butter mixture, beginning with the flour and ending with the milk. Beat well after each addition, being careful to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Beat for two minutes.
Pour into pan(s) and bake until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of the cake. If you are using a 12″ round pan, it may take 45-50 minutes. If you are using two 9″x2″ round pans, check after 30 minutes.
Cool on a rack for 10-15 minutes and then turn the pans over to remove the cakes. Allow them to cool before decorating.
While the cake is baking, make your custard filling. This way it will have a chance to chill before you use it.
VANILLA CUSTARD FILLING
2 1/4 cups milk
1 vanilla bean, split and cut into 1 inch sections
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, room temperature)
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
In a large saucepan on medium heat, bring the milk and vanilla bean almost to a boil. It should be bubbling slightly. Reduce the heat to low for 10 minutes. The milk should be hot so the vanilla will flavor it, but not boiling.
In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt.
Using a large mixing bowl, mix the eggs until they get foamy looking and turn a lighter color.
On low speed, mix in the sugar mixture.
With a slotted spoon, remove the pieces of vanilla bean from the milk and discard.
Pour approximately one-fourth of the hot milk into the egg mixture and beat on low briefly, until combined. Immediately pour it back into the pan with the rest of the milk and start stirring!
Turn the heat up to medium and stir constantly (or use a whisk) until thick and is bubbling.
Remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla.
Pour the mixture into a bowl and stir occasionally for 10-15 minutes. Cover the surface with waxed paper and put it in the refrigerator to chill.
Whip those eggs!
Vanilla filling…thick and bubbly.
While your cake cools and your filling chills, make the chocolate ganache for the topping.
I usually make my ganache by the traditional method of chopping the chocolate and adding the hot cream to it little by little. This time I tried melting the chocolate first, and it turned out just as good and saved me from having to clean a knife and cutting board. Hey – every little bit helps when you hate to do dishes!
EASY CHOCOLATE GANACHE
5 ounces dark chocolate (don’t use chips…quality counts!)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Melt the chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave, using 15 second intervals and stirring each time.
In a small pan on medium heat, heat the cream just until it starts to boil.
Pour half of the cream into the chocolate and stir gently. A whisk or a rubber spatula work well.
Pour the other half of the hot cream into the bowl and stir gently until it is smooth and well combined. Set aside.
Because I used the chocolate crust, I left the cake in the pan while I cut the circles using a tube fashioned out of plastic from my (out of control) craft room. You could also use a sturdy cardboard tube cut from a roll of gift wrap. You may have to get inventive. I know you can do it! Anything tubular that is open at the top so you can push the cake back out if necessary. I had to give a few stubborn cakes a nudge with the end of a wooden spoon.
Cut out all of the little cakes you can (I got about 20) and save the scraps. I’ll show you why later.
Cutting the cake towers out with a plastic tube.
Thinly slice the brown top off of each cake and put it in your scrap pile. Cut the remaining cake into thirds. Place the bottom piece in a cupcake wrapper or on a plate and put a blob of vanilla cream filling on it. You want enough to squish out the sides just a little when you press the next layer on. So…cake, filling, cake, filling, cake. Pour a small spoonful of ganache on the top and spread carefully to the edges. If it drips down the side a little, that’s just fine. It’s artistic, not sloppy!
Little cut-out cakes before trimming and slicing.
And a layer of ganache. Yep, this is messy business!
Repeat until you’re out of little cakes. Aren’t they pretty?
Now you have cake scraps, leftover custard, and hopefully a little ganache. Layer them all with some whipped cream and maybe a sliced banana, and TA DA! Trifle.
So to recap…you have three things to do. Bake a cake, make a custard, and create a ganache. (Or if you like the chocolate crust idea, make that four things.) Assembling these puppies is the easiest part. For those of you who are tight for time, you could definitely use a yellow cake mix and a box of vanilla pudding mix (make it with cream, not milk, for a richer filling) and it will be just fine. You’ll miss a little bit of homemade flavor, but people will still scarf it up.
Have fun with these! Just think of the possibilities. You could: bake the cake in jelly roll pans and then cut out fun shaped layers with cookie cutters, put a layer of chocolate cake in the middle, or go all out and make them neapolitan with chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla cake layers, spread a little raspberry or strawberry jam between the layers, or…whatever else you come up with.
I don’t always bake. Sometimes I like to make big messes that don’t involve flour!
A truffle is basically glorified ganache, enhanced with lots of butter. That’s what makes it melt on your tongue, with the satisfying taste of rich chocolate.
I made truffles last night and tried dipping them, molding them, and piping them. By far the easiest method was piping. You can pipe them, let them set, and then roll them in powdered sugar or cocoa for an easy and impressive treat, but I added a bit of peppermint extract to a third of the mixture and then piped it into mini cupcake liners. After chilling in the refrigerator, they popped right out of the liners and into my mouth – a perfect Frango mint.
Dipping them was messy easy. I chilled the truffle mixture and used my smallest cookie scoop for a domed appearance, dipped them in melted chocolate, and drizzled the tops. Then, because I wanted them to look elegant, I painted the drizzle with gold dust. (Yes, it’s edible!)
Dipping the truffle in melted chocolate.
A touch of gold…
Elegant – until you have to lick the chocolate off your fingers…
I wanted to make a truffle-filled chocolate egg for Easter. It would have been fine if I’d used a plastic chocolate mold, but I was too lazy to go dig through the Easter decorations (and no, for the first time in 40 years I didn’t decorate the house this Easter. I promise it will never happen again) so I tried to get away with a metal mold. Huh uh…don’t do it!
Fill the molds ALMOST full – then top with melted chocolate. Chill.
It should have been simple: paint the mold with melted chocolate, chill, fill the centers with truffle mixture, cover with more chocolate, and chill again. When the molds are turned over, the eggs plop out on the counter, ready to be decorated. Mine didn’t plop. Here’s ONE that turned out nicely.
A truffle filled Easter Egg.
It takes a lot of chocolate and two sticks of butter for this recipe, but you won’t regret making these!
Everyone has their favorite carrot cake recipe, and this is mine! That is – it’s my favorite, but I didn’t create this recipe. It was given to me years ago by a co-worker, who got it from a friend in Alaska, who…well…you get the picture.
It’s filled with goodies, giving it a delightful texture, and is very simple to make. It won best of class at the state Grange baking competition a few years ago, even though I (GASP) substituted a buttercream icing for the traditional cream cheese version. It works equally well as a layer cake, a sheet cake, or cupcakes. You just can’t fail if you follow this recipe!
6 oz. cream cheese
3 tablespoons milk or cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound powdered sugar
1/2 cup coconut (optional)
3/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Combine cream cheese, milk and vanilla. Beat for 2-3 minutes. Add salt and powdered sugar. Beat well. Stir in coconut and chopped pecans. Spread on cooled cake. Store any remainder in the refrigerator.
I’m keeping this blog short and sweet, because I have another idea just waiting to be tested and blogged…maybe tomorrow!
If you haven’t checked it out yet, and you’re not a teetotaler, please visit my Easter Beer Hunt blog. Easter Beer Hunt!
Chocolate Walnut Drops – waiting while I pour a cup of coffee.
Grandma Elsie specialized in cookies. I never knew her to bake anything that used yeast, but BOY could she bake cookies. To this day, my six favorite cookie recipes came from Grandma. The only trick was, you had to grab one or two right away before Grandpa lit up a cigar. No one ate day old cookies at their place – at least, not twice! That cigar smoke could permeate anything, and had no trouble getting through plastic wrap or foil.
That was actually a shame in this instance, since the cookies I’m going to show you today actually get softer and moistermore moist moister with age.
After fifty or sixty years of baking you’d think she’d have her recipes memorized (she could play complicated piano pieces from memory, for crying out loud) but no – she’d get out her little metal recipe box and follow it step by step, measuring carefully with all of her ingredients organized and ready to go before she started. Obviously, baking techniques are not genetic.
Mmm mmm, love these babies!
I just baked her Chocolate Walnut Drop Cookies last night for a baking competition at the grange, along with some Perfect Dinner Rolls. See my last baking blog for the roll recipe. The rolls won best of class (that’s better than blue…it’s the coveted purple ribbon) so they’re going on to state competition. The cookies, however, were “too dry, and the frosting overwhelmed them. Not enough flavor.” Seriously? Of course they’re dry; they’re cookies, not brownies or cake! Biting through the frosting to get to the cookie is the best part. Pffft.
That’s okay – you win some, you lose some. They’re still one of my favorites. See what you think!
Here we go again! Every month a group of bloggers gets together to give you little snippets of what life is really like in their house when no one’s watching. (Except for you – because you’re actually a little fly on the wall…out of reach of the flyswatter, hopefully!)
Here’s your chance to see what went on in two households, as I spend three weeks visiting my daughter in California and get to meet my new grandson for the first time. When you are through with this blog, please check out the links below for more dirt!
Even if you’ve been doing your calisthenics, a fly can only travel about six miles in a day, so you probably just hung out at my house while I was in California. If so, this is what you would have seen:
The whole Deadwood series.
The whole Lonesome Dove series.
The whole Streets of Laredo series.
The whole Dead Man’s Walk series.
You also probably got to listen to a lot of fascinating phone conversations, because The Man talks on the phone more than most adolescent girls. You now know more about hunting than you ever, ever wanted to know. And conspiracy theories.
In the meantime, however, your relatives in California were chilling on the wall at my daughter Brenna’s house, where it is much more entertaining.
March 1st finds us scurrying out the door on our way to the Dr. Seuss breakfast at the girls’ elementary school. Taunee is in jammies (because it’s also pajama day) but Sophie is rocking a new outfit, complete with a furry vest. Yes indeed, we hit the mall yesterday – a big treat for me, since I live up in the hills, far from any decent shopping.
You won’t have long to wait. We’ll be back soon to load the “Better than Crack Brownies (though to be politically correct, at school Sophie calls them Better than Crackle Brownies) and jugs of milk into the car for Sophie’s class, to celebrate her birthday. Those 4th graders will go through two pans of brownies and almost two gallons of milk!
The house is decorated for tonight’s slumber party. Sophie and I made lots of hot pink and black paper roses to go with her pink and black zebra theme.
Just a few of MANY flowers we made.
I hope you brought your little fly ear protection. Five girls can make a LOT of noise during a slumber party. Here’s a link to my blog, if you’re dying to know how to make a zebra cake! Sophie’s Zebra Party
“Eema” (that would be me) and Taunee. Wonder where she gets her goofiness from…
You may have noticed that Taunee is a source of constant entertainment. Here are a few of the things you’ve heard already:
Brenna: “Taunee, what’s that blue stuff in your hair?”
Taunee: “I don’t know – what’s it taste like?”
Taunee is in her nightgown. The dog is sniffing her butt and she’s giggling.
Brenna: “Taun, don’t let the dog do that!”
Taunee: “Whaaaat? I LIKE it.”
Baby, screaming loudly
Taunee: “He sounds like a fire drill!”
And in the “Things You Don’t Expect to Hear” category:
Taunee: “Did you put an apple in my lunch?”
Brenna: “No. They were too big and you wouldn’t have time to eat anything else.”
Brenna: “But I did pack you grapes and a Cutie”
Brenna: “And I didn’t pack you any chocolate today”
Taunee: “THANK you!”
In explanation, she OD’d on chocolate recently and learned that it was better going down than it was coming up. For now, she’s a no-chocolate girl. So I’m guessing that she’ll eat all the jelly beans this Easter and her big sister, Sophie, will get to eat all the Cadbury Mini Eggs. Score, Soph!!!
I’m annoyed that I live in an area of the country that doesn’t have a food specialty. You know…a thing. In the Redding area, olives are big. Instead of wine, you can go to an olive tasting. If they had martini tastings to go with the olives, I’d be one happy woman.
Here’s the best part, though. Friday is always tri-tip day. It seems like every business has their own barbecues set up outside, slow roasting beef all day. This produces a little chunk of heaven that is wrapped in foil and (for a price) sent home with you. It’s oh, so good. Brenna made some twice-baked potatoes and I made a salad, and we were all in a food coma by 8pm.
I know I look a little crazed. But if you were on a “plant based diet” that you blew off while on vacation, you’d be excited about all this beef too!
Sophie taught herself the “Cup Song” from Pitch Perfect in one night. Oh, to have that kind of memory and retention again. The song is stuck in my head – probably forever. She also amazed and delighted the admiring crowd (us) by performing the tripod and singing the Star Spangled Banner at the same time. Repeatedly.
Bet you can’t do it!
And as for baby Mack?
He was not amused! Brenna, however, sports the orange mustache without a whimper.
Brenna’s voice called down the hall: “Chris?” My mother instincts were immediately on alert by the tone – especially since the second and third calls were higher pitched and louder. Chris went running. A few moments later, Brenna came into the kitchen, looking a wee bit shaken. A little SNAKE had just been slithering around in her bathroom sink. What the… I don’t want to know how that could happen, but I was grateful that there was only a day left before I flew back home, and I waited to take a shower until I was safely back in my own bathroom. I’m not afraid of snakes, but in the sink? Huh-uh. No way.
Ugh. They say THIS is the worst part. Somehow I doubt that.
And now, I’m home again. See all the stuff on the tray? Can you guess what I get to do tomorrow? Ugh. I had a very casual doctor, and put off this whole colonoscopy business for years without getting lectured. But now I have a new doctor, and somehow I find myself bustled into this clinic and that, having all the tests I’ve been avoiding forever.
I have my fears about this. I’m terrified of anesthesia – not just that I might not wake back up, but that if I do there’s no telling what I might say. I’ve thought of so many inappropriate things I could spill my guts about that now I’ve practically guaranteed it’ll happen, and the medical staff will probably be laughing with friends over drinks tomorrow night, saying “You’ll never guess what this woman said today…”
Thinking happy thoughts. Thinking of my happy place. Puppies. Babies. Recipes.
Whew. That lovely procedure is over. I’m home – a little shaky, violated, but glad to have that behind (heh heh) me. Lovely nurses, a hysterically funny anesthesiologist, warm blankets, and a delicious lunch afterwards. Not to mention a sweet power nap! Yes, I could do that again.
And on this cheery note, I’ll pass on the recipe for Sophie’s favorite cookie. We made them while I was visiting, and the whole batch disappeared almost immediately. I’m sure you’ve all had these, but if you think about it, they look like something a fly would LOVE.
Sometimes, no matter how hard I fight it, life just gets in the way of blogging. I’ve loved my time with family, but missed my kitchen.
I’m back home and ready to get some dough under my nails again! Green dough, to be exact – since today is St. Patrick’s Day. I’ll give you my basic recipe for dinner rolls, and then instructions below for making the green clovers. I know it’s too late to wow your friends and family with them this year, but you can always practice making the dough, and then next year you can crank out the shamrocks!
Or…turn the dough into cute little bunnies and chicks for Easter. Here’s a link to my column in Yummy Northwest last year with clear instructions: Fun rolls for Easter
Fair warning, I’m hitting the green wine, starting….NOW! I’ll try to get the recipe ingredients entered before I lose my focus, and the photos snapped while I’m still only seeing one of everything. (Disclaimer: In case you’re wondering about my wine glass, this was a gift from my daughter, who understands my obsession for blue ribbons. She’s not saying I’m a really top-notch whore…just that I will do nearly anything to add to my ribbon collection.)
Powdered creamer is something I never use in coffee. Ghastly stuff. But I’ve tried this recipe without it, and the rolls just don’t turn out as fluffy. Apparently it acts as a dough conditioner. Bite the bullet and use it – you’ll love these versatile rolls!
So. As so often happens, the actual results of my shamrock experiment didn’t exactly match the picture in my imagination. It’s late and I’ve had my share of green wine now, so I’m NOT trying again. Here’s what they looked like – not exactly something that will go viral on Pinterest.
Plan “B” was to make cloverleaf rolls, using jumbo cupcake pans. They rose beautifully and were a perfect, delicate green; not gopher guts green – a very edible spring green shade. To make these, add green food coloring to the mixture in your bowl before you add the flour. So simple.
Roll dough into balls
Spray the pan with a little “Bakers Joy” and put 3 balls of dough in each cavity.
May the Good Lord take a liking to you… but not too soon!
In a rousing change-up from my normal routine, I flew to California to visit my daughter Brenna’s family and get cuddle time with new baby Mack, and found myself in a flurry of preparations for Sophie’s 9th birthday. Birthday parties are my idea of great fun, especially since Brenna and I go by the same principle: more is better.
The theme was black, white, and hot pink zebra designs. There were three girls coming – plus Sophie – for pizza, a slumber party, and bowling the next morning. It was obvious I hadn’t thrown a slumber party in a long time, because I thought that just four girls (and little sister, Taunee) couldn’t eat that much and wouldn’t make very much noise.
Stop laughing. I can’t hear you anyway, because my ears are still ringing. This may be permanent.
The girls may not have eaten much at a time, but the foraging was constant. Picture locusts working their way through a wheat field. Luckily, Brenna was far more realistic and prepared for this situation. Pizza, bread sticks, potato chips. bowls of color coordinated candy (Good and Plenty candy provided the perfect color), drinks with festive paper straws…no one starved. And for the Pièce de résistance, she made this awesome zebra cake:
Zebra cake with hot pink icing!
Start with two batches of cake (boxed mix or scratch – your choice) one white cake and one chocolate. She added a little black food coloring to the chocolate batter. In two cake pans layer dark and white batters, pouring about 1/3 cup (or 1/2 for wider stripes) at a time in the center. Don’t spread the batter. Don’t even tap the pan! Just pour.and bake.
Pour layers of batter right in the middle of the pan. Don’t spread it!
Keep those layers of batter coming! The weight of each layer spreads the ones below it.
Cakes ready for the oven.
Baked and ready to level and frost.
Frosting the cake.
Sophie’s Zebra Cake
Brenna cut shapes out of Wilton sugar sheets (they come in beautiful designs), and placed them on the hot pink sugar covered icing, piping around each shape. If you’re not into hot pink frosting, a simple white cake with the sugar sheet design around the sides would be lovely. Just pipe around the top edge of the sheet and decorate the top however you wish.
Each shape was placed on the frosting, then Brenna piped around each shape.
I probably don’t need to tell you that the cake was a big hit!
I got up early the next morning and started the dough for homemade doughnuts. Here is a link to my recipe and instructions. Doughnut Recipe
I used butter instead of shortening this time, and they turned out great. This pleases me because I really don’t like to use shortening unless I absolutely have to. Also (and this was a wonderful discovery) if you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can put a kernel of popcorn in the oil when you start to heat it, and when it pops the oils should be between 350 and 365 degrees – which is just right for frying doughnuts.
The zebra doughnuts were an adult-pleaser, but the girls had more fun with doughnut holes, dipping them in bowls of sugar, cinnamon sugar, and maple, vanilla, and chocolate icing. With sprinkles, of course!
Zebra doughnut. Get in mah belly!!!
Messy fun! Dipping doughnut holes. (The only rule was…no double dipping!)
We had a blast decorating, baking, and listening to the giggles and shrieks. Cleaning up wasn’t quite as festive, but then – it never is!