20 March 2016

First Come the Eggs . . .

When you have not only one but two or three bowls and baskets of this:

then it's time for this:

I remember Mom and Grammy making noodles together and drying them on racks like this.  The woodstove sure speeds things up!

After eating quite a few fresh noodles for supper and experimenting with freezing some, not too many made it to the drying rack as you can see.  But there might be another one or two meals out of the deal.  

Thanks to my sister for loaning me the pasta machine (big bonus points with the kids for getting to turn the handle and watch the "cute" noodles come out!).  Um, yes, it was a year ago that you gave it to me.  But see, it was here when I needed it!

Pasta Recipe
(approx. 16 servings--I will weigh it next time)

1 cup bread flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 cups semolina flour
1 tsp salt
6 eggs (yes!)
2 TBSP oil
water to help bind the dough 

Pile the flours and salt into a mound on your kneading surface.  Make a well in the center and break the eggs into it.  Add the oil.  Begin breaking up the yolks and stirring flour into the mixture until all is incorporated.  Add water as necessary.  Knead until the dough is smooth, 8-10 min.  Cover with plastic and let rest a half hour or more until ready to make noodles!

My dough was rather stiff since I forgot about adding water until it was a little late.  But it still worked out fine.  I divided it into five portions for rolling, but they could have been even smaller.  I flattened each piece with a rolling pin just enough to get it into the largest setting on the machine, then rolled several times through that until it was smooth.  Okay, smooth-ish.  I've got some work to do on my technique.  Then I rolled on smaller and smaller settings until I got the thickness I wanted.  I liked #4 for spaghetti noodles, but thought the wider noodles were a little too thick on that setting.  The ones I'm drying are #6.

Next up (if my sister lets me continue borrowing her machine!) I want to try fresh lasagna noodles.  Keep fairly thick (#3?) and assemble the lasagna right away to bake or freeze.  

Any advice out there?

19 March 2016

Sun Bread

Winter is making its last (well, we can hope!) stand here just two days before Spring arrives, grey-ing the sky and dumping snow over the newly green grass, bright forsythia blooms, and tender daffodil blossoms.  A great day for sun bread.

A few weeks ago a mysterious package arrived at my parents' house.  For me!  An early birthday present.  Really early.  But I'm not one to wait on opening a package that has my own name clearly printed on the front.  It turned out to be the book "Sun Bread" by Elisa Kleven.  I've only read the book once before at my brother's house.  Mere coincidence?  Or a clue as to who the sender was?  Hmmmmm . . .

We used the recipe on the back of the book (also found on Elisa's website activity page here, if you want to try it too) and divided the recipe into 4 pieces so each of us (minus baby) could shape our own small bread.  I used considerably more flour than the recipe calls for (about an additional cup which was probably too much), and wish I had added more salt.   In any case we ended up with a lovely afternoon snack that added a little warmth and brightness to our day.  And everyone loves their own signature bread!

Thanks Philip and Betsy (?) for putting a little sun in our snowy sky!

02 March 2016

Let's Eat Playdough!

My kids love their new little station in the kitchen--"It's so much fun to work on our projects in the kitchen with you, Mom!"  Mostly they've been rolling out playdough cookies and "baking" them in the old refrigerator we have in one corner of our kitchen (when it's not being used as an oven, the old fridge also makes a handy truck to bring all their things home from town in--such as the chocolate pie they had to pick up from Food Lion "on the way home" today). 

This morning, I thought it was time to make them some playdough they could actually make edible cookies out of.  I remember playing with this stuff as a kid, and of course eating most of it.  The original recipe came from Esther Shank's "Mennonite Country-Style Recipes" cookbook (which has an easy salt dough recipe on the same page--653.)  I halved and modified it as seen below. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Playdough

1/4 cup peanut butter
2 TBSP syrup (or honey)
1/4 cup instant dry milk powder
1 TBSP cocoa powder*
1 TBSP powdered sugar
water and all-purpose flour to correct texture as needed

Mix first 5 ingredients thoroughly in a bowl.  Knead and correct texture with small amounts of water and/or flour as needed to get a soft, pliable dough.  Different peanut butters will affect the texture differently.  My dough started out pretty crumbly, but got nice and soft with the addition of about a TBSP of water and a few TBSP of flour.

*The original recipe only calls for powdered sugar, but I used some cocoa powder because it's (a little) more nutritious and we like chocolate!

 See the "oven" in the background?

Making a chocolate pie (the same one that got picked up from Food Lion
later on).  Just overheard:  "Don't touch the pie to the baby's mouth 
because she's too little to have chocolate.  She's only one month old."  

Fresh from the oven.  Do not ask this girl to pose.  Trust me.

Roll, pinch, press, cut, "bake", decorate (we used raisins and nuts), and enjoy!  I gave my kids a little bowl of flour to keep the dough from sticking, and I think they had as much fun sprinkling that around as anything else!  You can see how well-floured their cookies are in the picture above.

17 December 2015

Biscuit Cinnamon Rolls

Hey Folks!

I'm still here--just not photographing that same corn chowder I've now made about 100 times.  =)  

I had a brainstorm the other day I wanted to share in case anyone else wakes up at 7:30 am and wants to make a quick delicious breakfast in half an hour so his/her spouse can enjoy it before leaving for work!  Got that?

And it worked!  My brainstorm.  Fast cinnamon rolls made with biscuit dough instead of a lengthy-process yeasted dough. 

They were really delicious.  All I did was add a little sugar to a regular biscuit recipe, then rolled the dough out, spread a little oil on, sprinkled cinnamon and sugar, cut and baked.  In my toaster oven!  I love my toaster oven!  I'd say the whole process took about 20 minutes start to finish.

Then methinks to mineself: "hmmmm. . . this would be yummy as a savory roll too with scrambled eggs and cheese or ham and cheese!"  That's when I noticed this getting shared all over facebook.  Crazy, right?  

Well, I made my own biscuit dough from scratch, so there!  =)

Enjoy the not-so-original-brainstorm idea anyway!

20 February 2015

Chocolate Snow Cream

I remember eating snow cream as a kid. We used a big mixing bowl to gather clean (hopefully) snow that Mom would add pudding mix to. For some reason, I especially remember pistachio snow cream, though it seems likely that we had other flavors too. 

So far this year, we haven't gotten enough snow for me to feel we could gather enough of it that seemed clean. Having free-range chickens means that most parts of the yard are suspect if you accidentally scrape snow too close to the grass. But I thought a recent five-inch snowfall was thick enough to finally make snow cream for my kids. 

I don't usually have pudding mix on hand, but I had recently made chocolate pudding and figured the same ingredients could be stirred into snow. Cocoa powder, powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and a little salt have produced a delicious snow cream that the kids and I have devoured until our tongues are tingly cold. YUM! 

I'll write out my "recipe" below though I didn't really measure anything at the time. These are guesses at amounts, but I'm sure a little variation won't make too much of a difference in the final product. There are other recipes floating around out there on the interwebs too, if you want to compare.   Anyone else tried other variations?  I thought it would be easy to do vanilla by just leaving out the cocoa powder and upping the vanilla.  Or add maple flavoring.  Coconut milk could be yummy too.  Or crushed fruit.  We need more snow so I can try some of these out!  

But for now, it's chocolate.

Chocolate Snow Cream 
 Yield: 4 generous servings

2 quarts clean snow (fluffy snow is good!)
2 TBSP cocoa powder
2 TBSP powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup milk (or evaporated milk or cream)
dash salt

Instructions:  Sift cocoa and powdered sugar over snow in a large bowl (sifting helps avoid powder lumps).  Stir in, then add vanilla, milk, and salt to taste and stir until incorporated.   Eat immediately!  This does not re-freeze well as it just gets hard.  I tried it.  Today we ate the whole bowl instead of saving some for Papa.  Sorry, David!

30 November 2014

My Mushroom Gravy

The first deer of the season.  It's tradition: fresh deer steaks for supper.  And it seems I'm always wondering how to cook it and trying something new.  The mushroom gravy I made this year turned out so yummy that this might just have to become part of the tradition too.  =)  I seared the steaks on both sides, then removed them from the skillet, made the gravy recipe below, and returned the steaks to the gravy to simmer.  Wish I'd had them in all day.

My Mushroom Gravy 
yield: about 3 cups gravy

2 cups sliced mushrooms (I had button mushrooms)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
2 TBSP butter
2 TBSP flour
2 cups broth (I had vegetable bouillon)
splash of wine or balsamic vinegar
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup yogurt (or sour cream if you like)
salt & pepper to taste

Instructions:  Melt the butter in a pan and saute mushrooms, garlic, and onions over medium to low heat until soft, stirring occasionally.  In the meantime make broth or warm it up if you have canned broth.  Add a splash of wine or vinegar (about 1 TBSP) to the broth for extra flavor.  Set aside.  When the mushroom/onion mixture is soft, sprinkle flour all over and stir in.  Cook a minute or so.  Over medium heat, add the warm broth, stirring to reduce clumps.  If the broth is warm, this will thicken up right away.  Add bay leaf and simmer a while.  Stir in yogurt and add salt and pepper to taste before serving.  Remove bay leaf.

We thought this would be good with ground meat added in, served over biscuits, or in any other way you like to eat gravy.  We had it with mashed potatoes on the side, which was delicious too.

27 October 2014

Curried Lentils and Raita

A simple recipe for curried lentils.  I don't think I ever make them quite the same way twice, but here's one incarnation that we enjoyed the other night with company.  All measurements are approximate--going by my visual memory.

The raita recipe is what I usually make to go along with curried lentils.  If you don't feel like it, plain yogurt is always good on top too.  But add in the garlic, herbs, and cucumber . . . ahhhhh!  Adds a new dimension to the pile.  Oh, and if you've got any chutney on hand, throw that on there too!

We almost always eat brown rice at our house, so this is pretty filling.

Curried Lentils

1 TBSP oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed or minced
1 bay leaf
1 3"-cinnamon stick
1 tsp ea. cumin and turmeric
1/2 tsp ea. ground mustard, ginger, and coriander
2 cups lentils
6 cups water
salt/lemon juice to taste

 Saute the onion and garlic in oil over medium heat until soft.  Add  spices and stir a few minutes until fragrant.  Stir in lentils and water.  Bring to a boil, then simmer until lentils are tender (about an hour--if in a hurry, I cook them in the microwave in water first for 10 minutes or so), stirring occasionally.  Add more water as necessary.  When lentils are tender add salt to taste (1 tsp.?) and a splash of lemon juice.

Raita (Cucumber Yogurt Salad)

2 cups yogurt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced
small bunch of cilantro and/or mint chopped 

Stir everything together and refrigerate until ready to use.  How simple was that?!?  This is my basic "recipe"--like I said, all measurements are approximate and subject to change.  I use what herbs I have on hand, though if at all possible have both cilantro and mint.  In the summer I like to add a little chopped fresh tomato, and a little minced onion or chopped green onions never hurts.