Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Grrrrrr, I'm Frank The Angry Combine
A whole bar of expensive chocolate? Awesome!
What the heck is "trail mix" and why would you give that to kids for Halloween? Notice I'm still wearing my coat? He wasn't going to wait for me to get my coat off before checking out the candy haul. Man, being 3 1/2 has to be the best-no one will ever cater to your demands again the way they do when you're 3 1/2.
Chocolate skittles, Dots and JuJuFruits. Good thing Danny doesn't have any fillings to pull out.

Danny had a blast. Papa glued the wheels on upside down, so we had to put the corn head in the "up" position, but other than that,the costume went over pretty well. The character is Frank The Combine from the Disney movie, Cars. I was a little surprised how many of the other children recognised it right away and showed their approval.

One house we went to had their garage open and lit up and Danny spotted their old Chevy pickup from the 40's. They indulged him by turning on the lights and letting him have a look at the restoration work-that was very cool.

It is a very small town (a couple streets with a few hundred people) so we were done rather quickly with plenty of time to come home and check out the candy. Danny had his first chewy-sticky-gooey Tootsie Roll and really enjoyed it once he figured out it melts off your teeth.

It was too dak to get a photo, but one house in town had a small ornamental tree shaped into a topiary of sorts with eyes glued on to the top. It took me a second to realise it was the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Considering where we live, that was really pretty awesome. The guy was pretty nice too-let Danny ring the bell* even though he was standing outside distributing candy.
"The boy's a traditionalist."


*Half the fun is ringing the bell, but it was a warm evening and people were just sitting out on the steps, and Danny was feeling a little cheated. We don't have a doorbell at home...Because I want to win a no-bell prize.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sweet Cider Apple Butter

This was more work than I anticipated-about 4 hours start to finish, and most of it on my feet stirring. My neck and shoulder are destroyed (they already were, but now the disk is messed-up for sure) but I have five pints of the sweetest, loveliest, apple butter made from Cortland apples from the beautiful state of Wisconsin. They're almost as good as my beloved Illinois Golden Delicious-almost.

The recipe is from the Ball Blue Book, and it says the yield is four pints but I got five. It never hurts to have an extra jar in the canner waiting to go.

You Will Need:

6 pounds of apples (about 24 medium)
2 cups sweet cider
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Prepare pulp:

Wash apples. core, peel and quarter apples. Combine apples and cider in a large pot and simmer until soft. Put apples through a food mill taking care not to liquefy. Measure three quarts of pulp.

Place pulp, sugar and spices in a large pot and cook slowly until thick enough to mound up on a spoon. Be warned-this wil spit, no matter what you do so be prepared for a good clean-up job and wear long sleeves. Expect a few burns. You will pretty much need to stir the entire time-so grab a comfortable pair of shoes and a spoon with a very long handle.

Ladle hot butter into hot jars, remove bubbles and wipe clean. Process ten minutes plus altitude adjustments in a boiling water canner. Let cool five minutes in canner, then remove and let cool 12-24 hours before checking for seals.

Then go take some pain medication and collapse.

Roasted Beet Salad With Apples And Boiled Cider

I can't believe I never tried this before-it makes such a nice departure from beets with citrus. The recipe is going to be vague because it will depend quite a bit on the strength of your boiled cider and sweetness of the beets. As always, use this as a guideline more than an etched in stone recipe. I think this would be wonderful with ancho chili powder instead of the thyme-if you try it let me know, as that was actually my first thought.

You Will Need:

3 large beets-roasted and sliced
6 tablespoons boiled cider
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper
1 firm apple (I used Cortland) sliced

Wash beets and trim ends-leave skins on. Roast in a covered casserole for about an hour in a 400 degree F. Oven (start checking at 40 minutes. Remove from oven, leave covered and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Remove from dish, cool slightly and then using a paper towel, wipe off the skins.

Slice beets and let cool.

Mix everything together in a large bowl and chill well before serving.

Too Many Apples

I know that sounds impossible, but I have a large box of Cortland apples waiting to be used and there's only so much strudel we can eat. Since I have two gallons of cider waiting to be turned into boiled syrup, I might as well make Sweet Cider Apple Butter. Really, the only difference from regular apple butter is replacing the two cups of water with cider, and reducing the sugar by a cup. Still, it will help use up some of the apples and with family coming to visit in just under two weeks, it will be nice to have on hand for quick breakfasts.

I started planning the menu (we're doing our Thanksgiving on the 15th so people don't have to travel across the country on that busy weekend) and frankly, once I got past a couple of roast ducks and the usual trimmings I was stumped. We still need to feed them before the holiday ("Hey, Mom and Dad, here's ten bucks, go get yourselves a couple of Runzas" probably won't do) and I just can't think of a darned thing. I have a very large salt cod that could be made into chowder, or mini fish-pies, but that isn't terribly sophisticated, is it? I probably will resort to goat-meat tamales because it's something they probably can't get at home.

Every year when my sister-in-law visits I make some frightening jell-o based dessert. She likes jell-o. I'm thinking of making the Crown Jewels cake again because she wasn't here to enjoy it last time. You can view that little project HERE.

Anyway, I'll put up some apple butter today and try to figure out what to do with the rest. As always, I'm open to suggestions.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mincemeat With Cranberries

If I were to make this again, I'd chop the raisins and sultanas and shred the apple. The recipe had the fruit coarsely chopped and the dried fruit (except the figs) left whole. To me, it looks more like chutney than mincemeat, though it will probably be nicer in a pie-it may be a bit much for small tarts or cookies.

In the end, I went with two cups of brandy because honestly, I'm not really one for sherry, or anything like it and as far as I'm concerned you can never have too much hard liquor. If I make this again, I'd probably use more. I ended up changing the spices around as well and added citron in place of candied orange peel. The recipe I based it on is in the Ball Blue Book.

I ended up with eight pints, which is quite a bit. I left some out to bake tomorrow though I know the flavour will improve upon keeping.

An hour and a half on my feet was quite a bit, and I ended up needing to use a much larger pot than anticipated. Still, the house is no longer cold, and I have holiday fare ready made and waiting for guests. Anyone care to come over and celebrate? I've got a case of booze!

You Will Need:
Makes 4 Quarts or Aprox. 8 pints

2 quarts diced, peeled and cored tart apples
4 cups cranberries
14 ounces sultanas or golden raisins
14 ounces dark raisins
11 ounces currants
12 ounces dried figs, chopped
1 1/3 cups ground and seeded oranges (I pulsed it in the blender and it was fine)
1 cup ground and seeded lemons
1/2 cup minced citron
1/2 cup minced lemon peel
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons allspice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon mace
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon ginger
1 quart apple cider
2 cups brandy

Combine everything and simmer for one hour stirring occasionally to keep from scorching. Remove from heat. Stir in brandy. Return to heat and cook thirty minutes longer. Ladle into hot jars and process 30 minutes in a boiling water canner for quarts-25 minutes for pints. Let cool 5 minutes in canner before removing to cool 12-24 hours.

Time To Make Mincemeat

It's sixty degrees in the house today-so I'm firing up the canner! First up-mincemeat.

I really wanted to use Jenn's recipe again this year, but getting your hands on suet around here is all but impossible. I could order it by post, but spending close to ten bucks a pound( plus postage) for what is essentially a by-product that is normally tossed-out is not something I'm willing to do. I have a suet-less recipe this year (with cranberries and cider-isn't that neat?) and a suet-less recipe for the Christmas pud (which should be made soon so it can ripen).

Looking in the pantry, I noticed that I didn't have sherry and only barely enough brandy. Well, that wouldn't do, particularly as there's a long tradition of moistening the cook with brandy along with the dried fruit. I didn't feel like driving to Omaha, so I went to the store fifteen miles from home (yeah, that's considered "close") expecting to over-pay a bit.

I might have gone a wee bit overboard, but the grocery store was clearing out their liquor department. If you live in Eastern Nebraska and can get to the No Frills in Ashland-do so. I came home with three dollar bottles of decent wine and some very cheap (but good) brandy. It was well before noon, and I admit to being a little self-conscious as I loaded all that hooch into the grocery carriage, but a deal is a deal-and that was a very good deal. Unfortunately, they didn't have any sherry. I'm going to substitute and I'm sure it will be fine-I think I have a bottle of Madeira lurking in the kitchen somewhere.

The mincemeat recipe is cooked for an hour and a half, and then put through the canner for thirty minutes-so I know what I'll be doing while Danny naps. I'm using pint jars rather than quarts, and I'm not sure if I ought to reduce the processing time to twenty minutes. With all that booze and lemon juice it is unlikely that any food borne pathogens are going to make it anyway-but I do like to follow directions. I think a call to the local extension office might be in order.

I'll post the recipe with the photographs later tonight, or tomorrow. Then, I start steaming puddings. That ought to warm up the house.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Crusty Water Rolls

I didn't name these rolls, and by today's "artisan" bread standards I don't know if they would really be considered 'crusty", but they are less squishy than bread generally was in 1972 when the book was published.

The recipe calls for two egg whites. I went ahead and used them though honestly, I don't see the point. It left me with two egg yolks which was happy news for Danny as my chocolate pudding recipe uses exactly two egg yolks.

I suppose the real test will be how they hold up overnight. Still slightly warm they are perfectly acceptable dinner rolls. Not spectacular, but decent. I'm more interested in how well they support a cheese sandwich for lunch tomorrow. I'll keep you posted.

From The Better Homes And Gardens Homemade Bread Book

You Will Need:

2 1/4 teaspoons granulated 9not instant) yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons solid shortening
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup boiling water
3-4 cups bread flour (original recipe used AP)
2 slightly beaten egg whites

Soften yeast in 1/4 cup water and let proof.

Ina large bowl, combine shortening, sugar, salt and boiling water. Stir to dissolve shortening and let cool to room temperature. Add the yeast to the bowl along with egg whites and 1 cup of flour. Mix well. Add remaining flour gradually until you have a soft, workable dough. Knead until smooth-about ten minutes.

Place in a buttered bowl and let rise until doubled-about 1 hour.

Remove from bowl, punch down and let rest, covered for ten minutes.

Shape into 15-18 rolls (I got 15) and place on a greased baking sheet. Dust tops lightly with flour and cover. Let rise until doubled-another 40 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. If you use a pan to create steam, set it in as well.

Create steam. load the bread and bake rolls 10-15 minutes or until golden and hollow sounding. Cool on racks.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Anyone Want A Cat Sandwich?

One of the great delights of being a parent is lying to your child. No really, it is.

"Don't cross your eyes like that, they'll get stuck."
"Stop that, or you'll grow hair on your palms."

You get the idea. Now, ordinarily there's a reason for telling these lies to your children, not just to amuse yourself. As I've already posted, I have my not-quite four year old convinced that our towns merchants are a collection of pirates, aliens, professional wrestlers and vampires, so it probably won't surprise anyone that I've been telling Danny that people eat cat. You know, cat-"meow, meow."

Alright, let me backtrack a bit. Danny really hates squash, and when he sees it come to the table refuses to eat it. The refusal is often dramatic, with rolling eyes, gagging and waving hands.
"I hate squash! I hate it!"

Now, I think that's fair. We all have one food we can't stand (mine is cucumbers) and I have no intention of forcing him to eat it. We've given it well over a dozen tries in various forms and he still hates it. That's OK, there are plenty of carrots and sweet potatoes in the world to keep him from beta-carotene want. Still, it's awfully fun to lie to him.

"Well Danny, if you don't want squash, how about some cat?"
"Nooooooo! I don't want to eat any cat!"
"Are you sure? We have plenty of cats running around the farm, I could just go outside and grab one (I try to reach for a large chef's knife when possible because it is more convincing).
"Well, why don't we have some squash instead?"

So we'd do this for months, though one time it backfired on me in the supermarket where a woman was handing out samples of some roll-up type food in the produce department-right next to a display of squash. Danny started screaming:
"I don't want a cat sandwich!"

Yep, that got us some confused looks. Anyway, one day he realises, pretty much out of the blue that we were making it up.

"Nobody really eats cat."

He was really proud of himself too, figuring that out. Then, I did something really awful.

Do you know the cooking blog, Anne's Food?* It's a wonderful blog, and she's such a lovely person which makes what I did all that much worse. You see, Anne breeds cats, and often has photographs of her adorable kittens on the same page as pictures of food and know where this is heading.

"Hey Danny, come here-I want you to see this blog."
"What is it?"
"It's a cooking blog from Sweden. Look what she's cooking."

And the poor boy's eyes settled first on a plate of some sort of salad and then as I scrolled down I saw the look of horror register on his face as he saw the cuddly kitten.

"Swedish people eat cat!"

Again, I should have thought that one through a little better as we live in a town founded and inhabited by Swedes. I'm waiting for the day this dawns on Danny and he runs out of the bakery screaming that he doesn't want to eat cat.

But nobody really eats cat...except Swedes.

*I'm hoping she has a sense of humour.

Mama's Diner Blueberry Pancakes

"Can we have "fakin' bacon" for dinner?" Danny wanted to know.
"Sure, I can make that."
"And pancakes?"
"Uh, sure. Why not? We'll have fakin' bacon and pancakes for dinner."
"With blueberries." He was rather insistent about that-good thing I have a freezer full of summer fruit.
"OK, fakin' bacon and blueberry pancakes."

I was about to walk out of the room when I heard behind me:

"And a shirred egg."

Yes, sometimes it does feel like I'm running a diner. Like most diners, the meal is on the table quickly (and no, I didn't make shirred eggs-we had over easy) without much fussing. I'm by no means a pancake expert, but this recipe really is about as "foolproof" as they get.

From The Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook, 1950

You Will need:

1 egg
1 1/4 cups buttermilk (I used solids and water)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons soft shortening (I used store-brand vegetable shortening)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup blueberries

In a bowl, beat an egg with a mixer. Add to the egg the buttermilk and baking soda. Then, mix in everything except the blueberries. Mix well until smooth. Fold in the blueberries.

Cook on a very hot griddle until they are puffed and full of bubbles. Turn, and cook other side.

Keep in mind that the first one or two pancakes invariably flop-this seems to be a law of nature so don't worry too much if your first try isn't quite perfect.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

American Gothic

All this picture lacks is a pitchfork.

Here's my skirt from the clearance sale at Sears. $2.99. Sure, it is kind of bright and it adds a good fifteen pounds to my hips but eh, it was $2.99. I bought one in an equally bright pink as well. At least no one can accuse me of having good taste.

We finally got Danny to smile by promising to let him go home! You'd think after a week stuck at home he'd be eager to get out, but he was cranky and whiny all day.

I Love My Cheap-O Blender and Hummus Without Tahini

I bought this blender five years ago for fifteen bucks at Walgreens. It has survived dozens of batches of pesto, hot carrot soup, and multiple batches of beans. Today, it churned out a lovely batch of hummus. I really didn't expect it would last six months, but it just keeps chugging along putting up with the abuse I toss at it. I really do love this blender.

I wanted to try making hummus without tahini and I'm really pleased with the results of today's batch. I don't think the olive oil saved me any calories, but it sure did taste delicious. I also went very heavy on the lemon juice-the juice of two whole lemons. I roasted my garlic first because we just can't take raw garlic, but otherwise it was a very plain version focusing on the flavour of chick peas. It was also much thinner than what is available in supermarkets.

I served the hummus with leftover olive bread with lettuce and tomatoes, and some cauliflower roasted with olive oil and paprika. It was a very nice, light dinner after a somewhat long day out.

You Will Need:

4 cups chickpeas (if using a food mill leave skins on, otherwise pull of as many as you can stand to do).
1/4 cup + olive oil
Juice of 2 large lemons
Half a bulb of roasted garlic

Blend together the chickpeas, garlic, 1/4 cup olive oil and lemon juice. Whirl in a blender and add water (or bean cooking liquid) to thin. You may need more olive oil-you'll need to taste. Add salt at this point and adjust liquids accordingly. keep in mind it will thicken quite a bit in the fridge and can be thinned further with water. You can also drizzle a bit of oil on top of the bowl before serving.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Petit Fours

The decorations were more difficult than I anticipated which is why the last row is topped with mellowcreme pumpkins-I just couldn't deal with smashing and rolling any more Starbursts. If you do decide to try it, warm them up for a few minutes in the microwave before rolling it out.

This would have been easier with a lighter tint as any uncovered spots wouldn't be quite so glaring. I ended up taking a few passes with the glaze to get adequate coverage, but overall it worked well. I thought about using fondant but I just don't like the taste of the pre-made stuff and making your own needs a couple days to ripen.

The recipe comes from The Wenham Teahouse Cookbook. If you ever find yourself in Wenham, Mass it is a lovely tea house, though somewhat Spartan in style. I like that you serve yourself tea from an urn at the sideboard and the place isn't overly frilly-at least it wasn't last time I was there.

The recipe requires quite a bit of time between steps and is best done when you have an entire day to devote to baking-or make the cake ahead and freeze it.

You Will Need:

1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
3/4cup sugar
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup shortening
2/3 cup milk
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8x11 pan

Sift the first four ingredients into a large bowl. Cut in the shortening and add the milk. beat at low speed 30 seconds and at medium speed for two minutes. Add egg yolks and vanilla. beat one minute longer. Pour into prepared pan and bake 20-30 minutes or until middle springs back when touched lightly. Cool 10 minutes in pan, then cool completely on a rack.

Wrap cake in foil and freeze until firm. Remove from freezer and trim crusty edges. Cut into squares. Place squares on a rack over a baking sheet and pour over glaze. Let stand 1 hour. Spoon frosting over cake squares. Let stand until dry. Decorate as desired.

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
3/4 cup apricot preserves

Cook sugar and water in a medium pot on low heat until sugar dissolves. then boil for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Bring preserves to a simmer and strain through a sieve into a bowl. Slowly add the cooled syrup and mix well. Pour over squares. Let stand 1 hour.


1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Salt to taste
4-6 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon flavoured extract
A few drops of food colouring

Combine sugar, water, cream of tartar and salt in a pan. Cook over low heat to dissolve. Cook over medium heat without stirring until it reaches 220 degrees F. Pour into a double boiler and let cool to 110 degrees F. Begin beating in the powdered sugar. It should be thick enough to coat a wooden spoon but thin enough to pour. Add any flavourings and colourings at this point. Pour over squares and let harden before decorating.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lazy Casserole

I wouldn't call it lasagna, though it shares many of the components. I made an abundance of tomato sauce yesterday, and still had quite a bit left to use. Since it was thick with carrots, onions and celery I thought it would work well as a casserole sauce. I also had cottage cheese that needed to be used, so in it went. Small odds and ends of cheese? In they go! You get the idea. A couple eggs and some cooked noodles and you have a nice one-dish dinner for a cold autumn day (and man, is it ever cold here. It snowed in the western part of the state last night and we got 3 inches of cold, wet rain locally. The drive is a mile long stretch of mud. I know that sounds like fun, but really it's not. I need to drive the trash up to the pit and at least for the moment, I can't. Not without getting stuck anyway. Mr. Eat The Blog is going to try and walk it up there tonight and hopefully won't end up losing a boot in it like the last time he went up there after a heavy rain. Sometimes I really miss city living and trash collection. Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, casserole.

I'll give a recipe of sorts but really, use what you have in the fridge. There's no sense to specifying a certain type of cheese or amount of sauce. Like many of the things I post here, think of it as a sort of template.

You Will Need:

1 large package of broad noodles, cooked and drained
1 large container of cottage cheese (I used 4% but anything will do) drained
2 eggs
4 cups rich spaghetti sauce (mine was vegetarian, but use what you have)
1/2 cup grated hard cheese (I had Romano)
2 cups grated soft cheese (I had Provolone)

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

Combine everything well and pour into pan. Bake about 1 hour or until liquid is absorbed and top is nicely browned.

Green Olive And Pimento Bread

Danny really likes olives with pimentos which even I think is gross, and I love olives. A small child can only eat so many, and the jar was getting old so I drained them and dumped them into bread dough. I adjusted the salt for the olives and added some olive oil to give it depth. Overall, I think it is pretty good without being terribly expensive (I think it was a .50 cent jar of store brand olives).

Guess we're having grilled cheese sandwiches tomorrow.

You Will Need:

4 cups bread flour
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 tablespoon salt
Water-enough to wet the flour without making it soupy.

Mix together and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature 12 hours (or overnight is fine).

Next Day:

To the preferment add:
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sliced olives
1 tablespoon sugar
3-4 cups bread flour

Mix everything but flour together. Add the flour a cup at a time until you have a workable dough that is not sticky. Knead until elastic. If you use a mixer, leave the olives out and mix them in by hand at the end or they will be too broken up by the dough hook.

Place in an oiled bowl and let rise slowly until doubled-about 2 hours. Deflate and divide in two.Let rest ten minutes. Shape and place on a cornmeal dusted pan (I actually used semolina today) and sprinkle with a bit of flour. Cover and let rise until doubled-another hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Create steam using whatever method works well for you and slash the loaves. Load into the oven and bake 20 minutes. Rotate pan and bake another 20-30 minutes or until loaves are dark and have an internal temperature of around 200 degrees F.

Cool on racks.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pumpkin Cookies

I just can't stop baking cookies. I thought these turned out pretty well.

Cranberry Applesauce

I had just under a cup of fresh cranberries to use and I was making applesauce anyway. I tossed them in and added a bit more sugar to the recipe. The result is wonderful, and the colour is pretty magnificent if I don't say so myself.

You Will Need:

1 quart sliced apples
About 1 cup fresh cranberries
1 teaspoon lemon juice
About 1 cup sugar
About 1 cup water

Place cranberries and apples in a pot. Add the lemon juice.Start with 1 cup of water-you may need more, but it is easy enough to add. Simmer until apples are soft and cranberries have popped. Add the sugar starting with 1/2 cup and adjust to your tastes. Give it all a good mashing with a potato masher leave in some chunks of apple. Cook a few more minutes until thickened. It will get thicker upon sitting so don't cook it to death or you'll have jelly.

Cool, and then chill several hours before serving.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Veggie Cutlet Sandwiches

Here's what I did with the rolls from the previous post. I cooked a thinly sliced onion and a few sliced carrots in olive oil until quite soft. I cooked the "chicken" patties and at the last minute topped with some thinly sliced Swiss cheese. In another pan I cooked the "fakin' bacon." For a dressing I mixed mayonnaise with mustard.

Of course this is junk food. Perhaps not as bad as actual chicken and bacon, but there really isn't any way to honestly call this a "healthy alternative." It's full of preservatives as well.

I rarely buy this sort of thing because it is so expensive and the preservatives can cause Danny to reek in maple. I know from experience now that certain foods will do that and I don't freak out, but generally speaking, we stay away from things that will make Danny manifest symptoms and subsequently cause mama to freak out. Besides, he hates when I keep sniffing him-it is kind of weird looking, having your mother sniffing you. So yeah, we don't buy a lot of these. So far so good-he just smells like a kid that needs a bath.

A tomato and some lettuce would have been nice but my beautiful tomato I was saving was icky inside, and I don't buy lettuce too often. They both enjoyed dinner anyway.

I skipped the cutlets and condiments and ate half a roll instead and I must say-they turned out very nicely. I'm curious to see how they hold up overnight.

Look At Mama's Big Buns

Heh. That ought to bring some interesting web searches here.

I didn't really feel up to kneading bread with my shoulder and neck still messed up-but this was really easy dough to work with. In fact, I'd give it a few kneads, let it rest, do a couple more and after about ten minutes I had the dough ready for the first rise.

I had veggie burgers planned for tonight, which I rarely make. I thought some interesting buns might make them more palatable. I should point out that everyone else likes them, so I must be the lone weirdo that thinks they taste like preservatives and seasoned breadcrumbs.

You Will Need:"

4 1/2 teaspoons dry granulated yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup solid shortening
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons salt
3 eggs
4-5 cups bread flour

For the topping:"

3 tablespoons dried onions
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 tablespoon paprika
(Rehydrate onions in a small bowl. When plump, add poppy seeds and paprika and spread generously on rolls before second rise).

Proof the yeast in the warm water in a small bowl. In a saucepan, melt the shortening in the milk, sugar and salt. Transfer to a bowl and let cool until lukewarm. Combine yeast with milk mixture and add eggs. Add the four a cup at a time beating well with a wooden spoon after each addition. Keep adding until you have a workable dough. Knead until smooth-about five minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turn once to coat and cover. Let rise until doubled in bulk-about 2 hours. Punch down and let dough rest ten minutes.

Divide dough into 10-12 pieces. Shape and place on a buttered baking sheet. Top buns with poppyseed/onion mixture and cover lightly with a clean towel. Let rise until doubled-about 30-45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Bake 10 minutes, then rotate pan and bake another 10-15 watching carefully so they do not burn. Cool on racks.

Cupcake Delivery Service there a kid with chicken pox around here needing a cupcake?

As you can see, he really looked surprised. Those are two things Danny adores-cupcakes and combines.

Only another ten days or so trapped in the house...

Lima Beans Again

I still had a couple cups of cooked lima beans leftover so I used them with pasta. That might sound like quite a bit of starch, but it really isn't. Quite a bit of starch happened when I added cooked new potatoes and a tin of chick peas. That's too much starch, but everyone enjoyed it anyway.

You don't need a recipe-just cook some onions and carrots in oil and toss it with whatever beans you still have in the fridge. Add more oil if needed and whatever spices you like. Serve hot over pasta. I shredded a bit of Provolone cheese over the top.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I Was Going To Read Him Peter Pan, But It Seemed So Dull

-So I started making things up instead.

It began as most things do-a small lie meant to amuse a child. Really, every parent tells their children fantastic stories about the people in their town that aren't exactly rooted in truth. They don't? Um.

I never imagined there might be harm when I whispered to Danny that he mustn’t touch things at the drugstore because the owner is a pirate. From there, the lie grew a bit out of control. Why shouldn't the manager of the grocery store be a professional wrestler? What harm is there in telling a small child that the owner of the movie rental store is a spaceman? Who could have imagined that Danny would believe the people running the ice cream parlour are vampires? I mean, really if he thought about it he'd have realised the undead don't eat ice cream. But no, trusting child that he is, Danny takes everything I tell him at face value (though he's figured out that people don't really eat cat sandwiches).

I live in fear that one day Danny will innocently ask the bank teller whether she ever found her real family again after the alien abduction.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Pumpkin Challah

Isn't the colour beautiful?

The recipe may be found HERE (is that the best blog name, or what?). I made a few changes to suit our tastes:

Pumpkin was increased to 1 cup. I adjusted with more flour as well. I also added a handful of raisins and a few pieces of crystalised ginger, finely chopped.

Were I to make this again (which I probably will) I'd try using bread flour and I'd make 1 large loaf rather than two smaller ones.

I can't wait to turn the leftovers into French toast in the morning.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Lima Beans And Chicken Pox

Guess who caught chicken pox? No-I already had it in 1972. Anyway, Danny had the first part of the vaccine so the Dr. thinks it will be a milder case. He's itchy, but seems otherwise fine. Still, he's stuck in the house for the next couple weeks (great opportunity to teach him about quarantines-maybe I should draw a sign and stick it on our front door) and there's only so many comic books a kid will be entertained by. Actually, I never got tired of them, but we had a newsstand two blocks away and they only cost twelve cents.

So what was I talking about? Oh yeah, Danny has the chicken pox.

I won't bore you with the story of my bout with chicken pox except to say it involved being in a play, having greasepaint smeared over my face and subsequently rubbed off with ten-o-six lotion before anyone realised I was sick. Can you say "really disfiguring scars? Yeah. Ain't child neglect grand?

Danny really likes lima beans and I figured being sick he ought to be fed a good nourishing meal he actually I stopped on the way home from the doctor and bought him a chocolate malt. I did. Then, I brought him home, tucked him into my bed and let him watch cartoons while I made lima bean casserole. I already had the cooked beans on hand, but you can make this with tinned or frozen. I didn't bother with a photo as big white lima beans on rice doesn't make for great photographs, but it still tasted wonderful and was easy to do.

You Will Need:

7-10 comic books preferably of the superhero variety

Cooked rice for serving (you can serve it without, but for a main course rice or noodles make the meal complete)

2 cups cooked lima beans
1/4 cup chopped sweet red pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons ketchup (really)
3 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 3/4 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 cup buttered soft breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Grease a 2 quart casserole.

Combine the beans, red pepper, onions, cheese and ketchup in the casserole. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and stir in the flour. Cook for a minute or so until foamy. Slowly add the milk and cook, whisking constantly until it comes to a boil. Continue cooking about a minute more or until thickened into sauce. Remove from heat, add seasonings and allspice and pour over casserole. Using a spatula, turn and combine everything in casserole dish until well blended. Top with breadcrumbs and bake about 40 minutes or until nicely browned on top. Serve over rice or noodles.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dressing Up The Leftovers-Updated More Photos

*Updated-I did end up taking it out of the pan.

Terrible photo, eh? It is a gloomy, rainy day here.

Operating on the belief that everything tastes better in pastry, I used the cup of leftover corn chowder from last night and added a few carrots, potatoes and turnips to get this delightful pot pie. I don't plan to take it out of the springform pan, but it was too large for my pie plate, so I improvised.

This really was simplicity-I even threw in half a bag of frozen green beans. I probably could have added a couple tablespoons of flour to thicken up the sauce, but that's OK-we actually prefer our pot pies less gloppy. My feeling about pot pies is that they really are dumping grounds for whatever I have in the crisper bins and I wouldn't ever go out and buy ingredients specifically to make one. That's how I do it, but then I always have some carrots, onions and potatoes lying around. I'm not going to post a recipe for it because really, how would you? Think of it more as a dinner idea.

Again, this is a meatless dish, but I don't think anyone will be leaving the table hungry. Hopefully, this will last for a couple days worth of lunches and dinners.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Pickled Treats For Harrisburg Hubby

My husband loves this stuff and suggested I prepare it when my mother-in-law comes to visit next month. I'm not so sure about that, she might think I was mocking her (if I made pretzel soup as he suggested, she'd really think I was teasing). We enjoy pickled items where I'm from as well (particularly onions), but the egg thing is really something I had to get used to.

The recipe for cooking the beets will leave you with plenty of extra beet juice in the pot to make another batch of brine for the eggs and onions. I would do them in separate jars. As these are not canned, keep them in the fridge and eat within a week.

You Will Need:

For the pickled beets:

1 large bunch of beets, stems and greens removed (but don't toss them, greens are wonderful)
water for cooking
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
2 1/2 cups beet juice
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
10 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon mixed pickling spice

Scrub beets, remove tops and boil in enough water to cover until tender. Reserve liquid. Peel beets and chop into chunks.

Combine vinegar, hot juice, and spices. Stir until sugar dissolves. Add beet chunks and pack into large jar. Cool in fridge completely before sealing. Use within a week.

Make another batch of juice/vinegar combination and in each jar place 2 cinnamon sticks. In one jar add a very thinly sliced onion, tightly packed. Add liquid to cover. In second jar, add peeled, hard boiled eggs and add liquid to cover. Close tightly when cooled. The eggs will be better if permitted to sit a day and absorb the flavourings and colours.

Cream Puffs

It has been a while since I last made cream puffs (recipe and cute old photo of Danny HERE) so I thought it was high time to make some. I served them with the cranberry curd from the last post.

As you can see from the photo, Danny still likes them.

Cranberry Curd

We're kind of split on this curd. The boys liked it, I was less impressed. The recipe may be found HERE, but it is quite a bit different than most curds I've made. If I did it again, I'd just use the yolks (They have you strain it which removes the whites anyway). A food mill is not really necessary. The butter is added at the beginning rather than cut in at the end. I don't know, there isn't really anything wrong with it, it just isn't mind-bogglingly great either. Maybe what I had in mind was closer to cranberry butter-I'll have to experiment a bit. Meanwhile, I have quite a bit of this stuff, so it's a good thing the boys liked it. Time to make some crumpets, I guess.

Corn Chowdah Foah Dinnah

Contrary to my husband's assertion that "Soup is just watered down food", this is quite filling as a main course.

Part of what makes this chowder so great is that it can be thrown together quickly at very little cost. The original recipe called for bacon, which I omitted. The only other change I made was the addition of a half teaspoon of dried thyme, and some of the proportions (I used more onion). Like so many of my favourite recipes, it is adapted from the one in From Amish And Mennonite Kitchens.

You Will Need:

1/2 a large onion, chopped
2 medium potatoes, diced
2 cups corn (I used frozen)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 teaspoon salt (I used less as my stock had salt)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk

In a large pot, cook the onion in the oil until soft but not browned. Add the potatoes, corn, celery and seasonings. Add 1 1/2 cups of the stock reserving the rest, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until soft-about 30 minutes.

Blend flour with reserved stock and add to soup. Cook until slightly thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat.

Add milk and re-warm but do not boil. Serve warm.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Chickpea Salad With Sage And Red Pepper

I've made a million variations of this salad and it is always a winner. I had a few cups of leftover chickpeas from the curry I made Friday, so this seemed like a perfect recipe. Served over rice with warm homemade pita bread, it was a lovely meal for a warm evening.

I spent the afternoon making pickled beets, pickled onions, and pickled hard-boiled eggs. I'll photograph them tomorrow when they've had a chance to absorb more of the beet juice.

I made caramels on Friday and that was a bad idea. Normally, Mr. Eat The Blog would take half the batch to work for sharing, but seeing how it was Friday, I spent the weekend stuffing my face with chocolate covered caramels. I'll be glad when he takes what's left with him tomorrow-assuming there are any left to take.

As I was complaining how I'd gain ten pounds from eating all those candies (as I reached for yet another) Mr. Eat The Blog replied:

"Well, that's OK-you need to gain the weight."

Which I most certainly do not, but I love him for saying it.

You Will Need:

3-4 cups cooked chickpeas, as many skins removed as possible
About ten small-medium sized sage leaves
2 cloves minced garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
Roasted red pepper-optional
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon lemon juice

In a large frying pan heat the oil, garlic and sage over medium heat until fragrant-about three minutes. Add the spices, salt and pepper and mix well. Add the chickpeas and red pepper and cook another minute to coat. Remove to bowl. Sprinkle with lemon juice and serve warm or at room temperature.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Everyone Loves Cheese Doodles

Danny found a caterpillar and he was kind of hungry...actually he was a very hungry caterpillar, so we fed him cheese doodles. He liked them too (the caterpillar).

So, did you do anything interesting today?

Best Blog I've Seen Today

Really. This is the sort of thing the internet exists for.

(With apologies to the long-time reader at Lehman-we're laughing with you not at you).

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Culinary Inheritance

THIS is an interesting article at the Guardian about what we've learned about food from our mothers. The comment section is filled with wonderful things I'd long forgotten (suppressed?). My mother was a horrible, horrible cook. Horrible. I don't think she would have denied it either. Courgettes stewed in V-8 juice? Skinless chicken breasts stewed in V-8 juice? V-8 juice? Somehow she'd gotten it into her head that it was good for you, even if it did contain a week's worth of sodium in a glass.

It is only now, as a mother myself that I realise how lucky I was to have a hot lunch most days as a child. My sister still considers the sardines on toast and tomato soup a form of child abuse, but really, I could enjoy that most days. I'm not sure I could stomach it today, but another typical lunch consisted of a slice of toast with tinned tuna, tinned mushroom soup, and tinned peas. Horrible, I know-but strangely wonderful. Again, how any of us survived the 60's and 70's without hypertension from all the sodium in prepared soups and vegetables is a miracle.

I did however learn to make perfect scrambled eggs from my mother, the key trick being to remove them from the heat before they are finished as the eggs will continue to cook a bit on the plate. So simple, yet so commonly ruined.

Anyway, a fun piece to read and have a trip down memory lane.

Financial Advisor Dan's Tips For Recession-Proofing Your Housing Budget

Stuffed monkey doll optional, but it does add insulation to the basic model cardboard box.

Meltaway Cookies-Lemon And Chocolate Orange

As soon as I saw the beautiful photograph at Chocolate Shavings, I knew I had to make these cookies. That happens quite a bit when I go over there, now that I think of it-usually when I need a special occasion recipe (the Birthday pots de creme, the Father's Day crepes, the anniversary chocolate dipped orange slices) that I can count on working perfectly. These cookies were no exception and I even messed with the flavourings (to great effect, mind you). I decided to add a new tag of "Chocolate Shavings Saved Me Arse Again", because it's true.

I wanted to make the lime cookies for breaking the Jewish High Holiday fast. Traditionally people make sweets, but a noodle pudding or cream cheese pastry seemed a bit too heavy after a 24 hour fast-these were more what I had in mind. Unfortunately, my limes were all shriveled up in the fridge and while still OK for juice, the zest was useless. I sort of feel obligated to make a joke about when life hands you dried up limes make lemon cookies, but I can't quite get it right. Guess I'd better keep my day job.

While I love anything lemon, Danny isn't too much of a citrus fan. I can get him to eat orange as long as I call it "tangerine", but lemon, lime and grapefruit are out of the question. I decided to operate from the position that chocolate is always a winner with small children and sure enough, the orange/chocolate combination went over very well.

You can read the original recipe HERE. My changes are as follows:

For the lemon cookies:

Substitute zest of 1 lemon and 2 tablespoons juice.

For the chocolate cookies:

melt 1 square of semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz) and let cool. Use zest of 1 orange and 2 tablespoons juice. After dough is made, quickly knead-in the melted chocolate.
Toss 1/4 cup cocoa powder with powdered sugar for dusting.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Braised New Potatoes

This is based on a recipe based on an Alice Water's recipe in the current issue of Gourmet. They made some changes, as did I. Instead of fingerling potatoes (which would be impossible to find around here anyway) I used some lovely waxy, new potatoes freshly dug out of the Nebraskan soil. Maine's got nothin' on these taters.

I couldn't see wasting all that (homemade) butter, potato starch and lovely calories left in the pan liquid, so I reduced it over high heat and poured it over the potatoes before serving. Curiously, it was one of the few things I've been able to stomach in quite some time (maybe I should just get a funnel and drink melted butter) so I'll take the position that it was actually medicinal. Danny hated them, but he really dislikes potatoes, even chips. Weirdo. Oh well, more for me! Mr. Eat The Blog thought they were wonderful.

I'm out of here until tomorrow.

You Will Need:

2 lbs. potatoes cut into rounds 1/8 inch thick
2 cups water
3/4 stick unsalted butter cut into bits
3/4 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
Parsley for garnish

Cut a round of parchment paper to just fit inside a large frying pan. Butter one side. Slice potatoes and arrange in pan. Cover with water, salt and pepper and dot with butter. Cover with parchment butter side down. Simmer briskly until tender-about thirty minutes (mine took closer to forty-five). Remove potatoes to a serving platter. Turn up the heat under pan liquid and stirring with a whisk, cook until reduced by half. Pour over potatoes. Serve topped with parsley.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Fiber One Pop Tarts

Child, that ain't a Pop Tart, that's a Poop Tart.

I can't believe no one else thought of it. They probably did but had the good taste not to go there. Eh, whatever.

Concord Grape And Apricot Focaccia

The most difficult part of making this was seeding all those grapes which while tedious, wasn't all that hard. Like yesterday's rolls, this recipe uses a preferment but one with a much higher moisture content.

You Will Need:

For the preferment:

4 cups bread flour
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
Enough water to make a very wet, almost soupy dough.

Mix preferment and cover. Let sit at room temperature overnight.

Next day:

Add to the preferment:

1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
Enough flour (about 3 cups) to make an elastic, but not sticky dough.

Let dough rise until doubled in bulk. While it rises, prepare the topping:

2 large sprigs rosemary, pulled from stems
1/2 cup dried apricots, halved and soaked in hot water until plump-then drained
1 cup Concord Grapes, seeds removed

After first rise, fold dough and let rest ten minutes. Oil a baking sheet and roll out dough, placing on sheet. You may need another sheet atop it with a weight to keep it stretched. After about ten minutes you should be able to remove it without trouble. The dough will shrink back a bit, but that's fine. Top with fruit and let rise again until nearly doubled. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Upon placing bread in oven, reduce heat to 400 degrees F. Set timer for ten minutes. Rotate pan and bake another ten. At this point, you'll need to keep an eye on it-mine went another six minutes, but it can burn quickly if you don't watch it.

Cool on rack.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Roasted Fennel With Apples And Apricots

This was such a treat as we can't usually afford fresh fennel. I found it on the discounted produce rack even though it was still quite solid in the bulb. The fronds were starting to wilt, but the stems still looked great. Of course, I clutched it in my fat little hands and rushed it home. I do love fennel (as does Danny).

If there is any leftover, it would make an excellent lunch with some cheese on one of those hard rolls from the last post.

You Will Need:

1 large bulb fennel, sliced
peeled and chopped fennel stalks
About a tablespoon fennel fronds
2 large Green Apples
A Handful of dried apricots
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
A generous grinding of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Toss everything in a bowl making sure to coat the vegetables well. Pour out onto a baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes, stir with a spatula and continue baking another 10-15 minutes or until apples are soft. Serve warm, or at room temperature.

Hard Rolls

In Chicago, we called these "Hard Rolls", but I've never run across the term anywhere else. The idea is that they are sturdy enough to withstand a hot roast beef sandwich with the liquid gravy. I think in some places that is called a "French Dip." Anyway, this is a roll that will stand up to any dressing you throw at it.

Once a week, I bake rolls for my husband to take his lunch to work. He's pretty easy to please and likes tomato and Swiss cheese sandwiches with mustard and mayo. These are the perfect rolls. They also freeze wonderfully if wrapped in wax paper and then tightly in cling wrap. The night before, I pull one out of the freezer and make his sandwich in the morning.

The recipe calls for a preferment so plan on making it the night before the day you plan to bake.

You Will Need:

For the preferment:

4 cups bread flour
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 tablespoon salt

Mix dry ingredients and add enough water to make a wet, but not liquid dough. Stir well, cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature overnight or up to 18 hours.

Next Day:

To the preferment, stir in:
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar

Then add:
3-4 cups flour (more or less possible)

You'll really need to knead ("need to knead", oh gosh-someone get me an editor) the flour into the preferment as it will be very elastic and rubbery. It helps to take breaks after a few minutes of kneading and let it rest before kneading more. You don't want the dough dry, so add what you can, but don't obsess over it if you can only get in another two cups of flour. Bread flours very quite a bit in ash content anyway, so depending on what you use, the results will differ. I use Dakota Maid, by the way.

Once dough is kneaded, place in an ungreased bowl (that's a change, but it won't stick) and cover. Let rise slowly in a cool spot 2-4 hours or until doubled in bulk.

Divide dough into six balls and let rest ten minutes. Shape into rolls and place on a cornmeal dusted baking pan. Dust lightly with flour, and cover with a cotton (not terry) kitchen towel. Let rise until almost doubled-about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. I create steam by keeping an old pan in the lowest rack into which I toss water. Use whatever method you prefer but for heaven's sake-make sure to remove your oven lightbulb and check the owner's manual just to be on the safe side-I cannot be responsible for you ruining your oven. Consider yourself warned. If you're too timid to steam, spray the loaves with a bit of water before baking (skip the dusting with flour step if using that method).

Bake 10 minutes, then rotate and bake 10-15 more or until an internal temperature reaches 200 degrees F. Rolls should be dark brown and sound hollow. Cool on racks completely before freezing.

Long Island Pumpkin Pie

The variety of pumpkin is a Long Island and it is somewhat of a cross between sugar pumpkin and butternut squash-just perfect for pie or soup.

The pumpkin yielded quite a bit of roasted, mashed pulp. After draining it (to get rid of excess water from the pan) I was able to freeze about a dozen cups in baggies. That's quite a bit. It was a bit of work, but I'll be happy to have the roasted mash in February.

A word of caution-the pumpkin was very fresh, and produced a ton of sap when I cut it. I'm sensitive to it and know that handling fresh squash or pumpkin will result in stiff, weirdly slimy hands for an hour or so. On the positive side, it leaves your hands lovely and soft after the stiff sensation wears off and it is like having a chemical peel done. But seriously folks, if you're highly allergic, get someone else to scoop out the pulp, or wear gloves.

To Roast Pumpkin (or squash)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place pumpkin, cut side down in a large roasting pan with a generous amount of water (about halfway up the pan). Bake until a knife inserted in the flesh comes out cleanly. Cool, scrape out pulp and mash with a potato masher. Cool completely before freezing.

For The Pie:

(This recipe is adapted from my favourite pie cookbook-From Amish And Mennonite Kitchens by, Phyllis Pellman Good and Rachel Thomas Pellman. If you don't own this cookbook-get it! These women are honorary members of our family as we've made just about every recipe in the book).

You Will Need:

1 1/2 cups mashed pumpkin or squash
1 egg
1/2 cup milk, heated
1/2 cup cream, heated
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon molasses
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
1 tablespoon browned butter
Pinch of salt
1 9 inch unbaked pie shell

Combine all ingredients. Pour into pie crust and bake in a preheated 450 degree F. oven for fifteen minutes. Then reduce heat to 350 for another 45 or until set.

Serve with whipped cream and if you're feeling really decadent, mini-cinnamon chips

Sunday, October 05, 2008

From The Archives

After the pesto adventure and other assorted stuff, I was dead on my feet today. Papa and Danny ate burritos for both lunch and dinner (with scrambled egg) that my wonderful husband prepared. I pretty much laid in bed clutching my head and groaning. I'm coming out of it now, but good heavens my sinuses are going to burst. We're due for heavy rain and severe storms tonight which ought to make all the exposed hay smell deeeelicious. It's funny, the smell reminds me of something familiar (no, not mould, silly) like corn nuts and whiskey. I don't know, I can't quite place it but darn if it doesn't grab at the sinuses. I'm sure if I lived in the city I'd be complaining of smog-you take the good and bad, you know?

Looking through the archives I found a number of seasonal favourites that I thought deserved a re-posting. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

First Up: Caramel Corn
Oh, this stuff was good. Too good. What are you waiting for, go make a batch-it is easy.

While we're talking caramel-how about some Chocolate Covered Caramel Candy? You really do need cooler weather though, so don't try this if your weather is still humid.

What would Fall be without Clove Flavoured Candy Apples? Bright red, and so fun to make.

Savoury Pumpkin Fritters Anyone?

Trying to stretch the food budget? Try this Cabbage And Celery Casserole.
-and yes, you can use less expensive cheese.

The Best Homemade Noodles ever.

Tarte au Sucre-So sweet it will make your teeth ache.

What would Fall be without some Doughnuts? Be sure to serve with some cider.

Barmbracks-You might want to insert the charms after baking when you read about my mishap. Still, the recipe itself is quite delicious.

Pumpkin Cake With Fig Filling And Cream Cheese Frosting-break out your "fat pants", You're going to need them.

After all that cake, how about a cocktail? An Old Fashioned would be nice garnished with some of these Orange Slices In Bourbon.

And finally, as Summer seems farther and farther away, how about some lovely ice cream sandwiches between Rosewater Cookies? They smell like a July afternoon.

I hope you enjoy these recipes.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

I Like Trains*

We took Danny to his home away from home (the Union Pacific Museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa) to drive the simulator and look at the artifacts. We do this quite a bit. Anyway, what we didn't realise was there was a rather famous train in town today so of course we headed over to see it.

The Challenger No. 3985 was built in 1943 by the American locomotive Company. It last ran in 1957 and was restored by former employees to running condition.

It was a bit of a shock just how much heat those engines generate. We climbed up to look in the engine and it really threw off some heat. It must have been miserable for the engineers on a hot summer day.

They had a slightly more high-tech train simulator for the kids to try and Danny did pretty well at ringing the bell and tooting the horn. I think the guy running it was somewhat shocked when Danny pointed and showed him where the air brake was. Have I mentioned Danny is kind of into railroads? Kind of.

So tomorrow is "Train Day" at our house. Essentially, every Sunday Danny gets another car from my dad and uncle's collection. There were a lot of cars between them. There's a Lionel Set from the late forties and a Marx set from the thirties. A few odds and ends that we can't identify either (some German made streetcar that we're guessing was pre-war because it didn't say "West Germany", and other various items). There are crossing gates, and signals and miles upon miles of track. I figured if he got one train each week through the year we'd have them all set up by Christmas to run around in the living room. We're going to just make it, with a couple trains left over.

I know I'll bolt awake at five in the morning to someone jumping up and down singing "Train day! Train Day! I want to see the trains!" That's OK, it's good to see a child excited as so many kids today seem sullen and angry. I mean really, even when they're having fun these kids act like it will kill them to crack a smile or show some excitement. I haven't gone upstairs yet to dig out tomorrow's train, but I think I have another engine for him-engines are pretty cool.

If you haven't been to the Union Pacific museum in Council Bluffs and have the opportunity, do so. It is housed in a magnificent old Carnegie library that still has the original Edison light bulbs up in the ceiling (not working, of course). The museum is staffed by retired railroad employees who can answer questions and will happily spend time explaining to a three year old how to take apart a brake system. Danny's made friends with a retired machinist, which is kind of cool. When I was a kid the only interesting adults around were people from my mother's art school which if you can imagine what art school was like in the sixties probably won't require further explanation. They did however, cough up nice gifts-but still. Schlepped to an art fair every summer weekend-woo-hoo, so much fun. Railroad people are so much more interesting-and they know so darn much.

We live in one of the better parts of the country for this sort of thing, and I expect as Danny gets older we'll be making trips out to North Platte and Cheyenne. I figure, a child could have worse interests and I'd much rather he be interested in real trains than those wretched Thomas The Tank Engine things.

Now, to go find an engine for train day!

* I Like Trains (All Kinds Of Trains) is one of Danny's favourite books and he sleeps with it beside his pillow each night.

A Gazillion Batches Of Pesto

-or a dozen dinner-sized freezer bags ready to last through winter. Every week I've been returning from the farmer's market with a dozen bunches of basil-large, generous bunches. This week, because the season is ending, I bought two dozen. Three and a half hours later, I had my twelve freezer bags filled.

They do almost look like drugs, eh? Well, if you've ever had really good pesto it is kind of a euphoria inducing experience, but I don't think it's so good they'll have to make it illegal. I also found a use for those half-sized baggies I bought by mistake. Filling one makes just enough sauce for a family-sized meal. Perfect.

Less perfect is what stripping the leaves off two dozen bunches of basil will do to your hands. It will probably fade just in time to do it again for the last time next week.