Friday, May 09, 2014

Cooky, and Crafty Too

Let's start with the shrub. No, not an small ornamental bush, but a drink from the Colonial days. Lemons were hard to come by, but everyone had cider vinegar. This recipe makes a concentrate that will last a very long time in the fridge. You need to add water (add more than you think you need) and ice. Any berry will work (I used raspberries). You can dilute it with alcohol if you like, or add ginger ale for the dilution. Soda water, iced tea, really anything that goes well with fruit will go well with the shrub concentrate-just use it sparingly and adjust to your taste-it can be strong. Some people pour it over ice cream, but you'd have to be pretty tough for that.

You Will Need:

2 pints (more or less) of washed and dried raspberries
Cider vinegar to cover
Granulated sugar

Day one: place berries in a glass or ceramic bowl (no metal) and cover with the cider vinegar (just barely cover). Cover bowl with cling film and let stand 24 hours.
Day two: Strain through cheesecloth into a bowl and then squeeze the cheesecloth to extract the last bits of juice. Measure. For each cup of juice, add 1 cup granulated sugar. Place in a large, heavy pot and add sugar, stirring to dissolve. Over medium heat, bring to a boil, and ten cook 20 minutes until reduced. Skim obvious foam. Strain through a clean layer of cheesecloth. Cool, then bottle and store in the fridge. Dilute 2 to 1 or to taste.

This is blackberry buckle. Depending where you are in the United States, it can be called a slump, or a grunt. I have no idea what Canadians call it. It seems like every Western culture has a version of this (kuchen?) that can be made with whatever fruit is to hand. Whatever you call it, the recipe is easy to manage, and it re-heats perfectly in the microwave. A slice of this with some good, thick sour cream would make a special Sunday breakfast treat. Everyone will think you got up early to bake. Don't worry, I won't tell. The recipe is in my archives here:

You can't live on shrub and buckle alone. No, if you're going to survive you need some cabbage and mushrooms, so I made vareneki. There's no point making one batch, so set aside a dumpling making day, do a hundred or so, and freeze them in batches for quick future meals. Trust me on this, there will be nights you'll be glad to have frozen dumplings. The recipe is in the archives here:  be sure to serve it with extra onions, mushrooms, and sour cream.

Now that you've had enough to eat and drink, let's do a bit of sewing. We received a birth announcement yesterday (several months after the arrival) so I hauled out the fabric stash to see what I could put together. I had some cute fabric in blue, but it is a baby girl. Personally, that wouldn't make much difference to me, but some people might think it inappropriate. I went ahead and used it because the design has both boys and girls. I will finish quilting it this weekend, but I have the basic blanket done. Here's a peek:
The back is a blue and white gingham with the name and birth date embroidered on. It is a very small quilt as arthritis has ended my ability to do large, complicated projects. I still like to stitch by hand, but I tend to keep it simple these days.

Finally, I'll leave you with a challah recipe I improvised this morning. I rarely pay attention to what I do with bread, but this one turned out so nicely, I thought it worth noting.

You Will Need:

3 teaspoons granulated yeast
2 cups lukewarm water
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon coarse salt
4 tablespoons corn oil
3 eggs graded large
a few strands of saffron
2 cups strong flour
2-3 cups plain flour

Egg wash of 2 egg yolks and 1 tablespoon water
Poppy seeds

In  a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water. When foamy, add the honey, salt, oil, eggs, saffron, and strong flour. Beat well with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add the plain flour a cup at a time until you have a dough you can handle without too much sticking. Set aside while you wash the bowl. By this time, the bread should be less sticky, add as much flour as you need to handle it remembering that wetter is better with bread. Give it a few folds and then place in a covered bowl to rise for 20 minutes. Come back, give it a few more folds dusting your hands with flour if needed. Let rise until doubled-about 1 hour.

Punch down, let rise 30 minutes.

Grease a large baking sheet. Braid the bread, and place on sheet (or do it right on the sheet if that's easier). Cover lightly with a towel and let rise until doubled-about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 475 degrees F.

Before baking, brush generously with the egg wash and sprinkle with seeds. If you are not using seeds, save some of the wash to brush the loaf again halfway through baking-this will give it a beautiful lacquered finish.

Bake 20 minutes, then rotate the pan (brush again with wash if omitting seeds). Bake another 15-20 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when rapped or reads an internal temperature of around 190 degrees F. Cool on rack. For a softer crust, cover with a tea towel as it cools.

This bread makes excellent eggy bread (French toast), pudding, or just about anything you'd use brioche for. It also freezes well. I make 1 large (massive) loaf, but you can make smaller ones, or even rolls. Adjust your time accordingly.

Tomorrow is a puppet show Saturday at the library. The librarian (Miss Aura) has been working on a special show for some time now, so we're bringing the cheering squad along. I love that they have all the shows, and workshops. Last week Danny came home with some really cute puppets. He also has quite a collection that Janice sent (Thanks, Janice!) and a theatre we built from tri-part cardboard presentation boards.

Hope everyone has a lovely weekend.

1 comment:

pastcaring said...

Shrub? Slump? Buckle? Grunt? I am intrigued and amused by those names! But hey, whatever you call it, the refreshments are all sounding great, dumplings and bread too.
That fabric is beautiful, what a lovely print, and I am in awe of your casual statement about embroidering and quilting. I wouldn't have a clue.
Enjoy the puppets! xxx