Another Loaf: Apricot

I have not written nor baked in a while. We have been eating ordinary meals. You know, baked frozen fish, grilled chicken or burgers, frozen vegetables, scrambled eggs with onion and peppers, and open-faced grilled cheese with tomatoes. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in a pinch! Sometimes I just do not feel like cooking, so when Hubby comes home he throws something together. The open-face grilled cheese with tomatoes are one of his specialties.

At my last camping weekend I brought along the Settlement Cookbook to look through. There are some bread recipes that looked good. Simple and straightforward breads, quick and raised. My mother had given me a paperback Settlement Cookbook when I got my first apartment. I knew how to bake but not how to cook. This book was my guide to cooking meat and vegetables. I remember making biscuit dough cinnamon rolls from this book. Unfortunately like most well-used cookbooks it fell apart and eventually I could not justify saving the torn thing. 😦

At a tag sale (yard sale, garage sale, depending on what region of the country you hail from) there was this newly revised Settlement Cookbook. So I bought it for sentimental reasons. This edition was published in 1965, 1976.

I was originally looking at the banana bread since I had extra ripe bananas in the house. But I froze those so the pressure was lessened. I had some dried apricots so the apricot bread was my choice for the afternoon. I figure I have to bake while the weather allows.

Alterations to the recipe as pictured above are as follows:

  • why would one grind the dried apricots? I roughly chopped them.
  • I used 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour and 1 cup all-purpose flour; to be healthy.
  • I did not have to strain the orange juice because the juice I like does not have pulp.

The batter smelled quite orange-y. The loaf came out very nicely colored and crunchy on the outside. The inside is quite nice with the squares of apricots and nuts throughout. For the future I might add a teaspoon of ginger and/or cinnamon for added kick!

I suppose spreading it with apricot preserves might be a bit too much!

Roasted vegetables

We went camping this past weekend and I disconnected myself from the internet for two days. How freeing! But I am concerned that the world may go to hell in a hand basket while I’m not watching, and then what would I do?

Camping weekends are usually rainy and cold. That is just our luck. This one was no exception but the sun did come out for a spell on Sunday morning. We sat around reading real books, the ones where you actually turn the pages. We acted like the old people we are by hitting the sack by 9:00 each night. No time for a campfire!

We did not eat our steaks while camping so we fixed them for our Sunday supper. I roasted the vegetables that I had taken along and added Brussels sprouts. Hubby does not particularly care for Brussels sprouts but I figured roasting them would make them okay.

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This concoction is 4 red potatoes, 2 carrots, 1 onion, and 1/2 package steam-able baby Brussels sprouts. This is dressed with 1/8 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, 3 fresh sage leaves, one sprig of fresh rosemary, one sprig of fresh thyme, and a few snips of fresh parsley. I roasted this at 425 degrees F for one hour, stirring twice during that time.

Hubby grilled the bacon wrapped beef (an Aldi product that is fabulous!) and we had our dinner. Yum! A lovely dinner for the winter-ish spring day!20170507_204434264_iOS

Thoughts on muffins and quick breads

I have lately been making quick breads, the kind that bake in one loaf pan without yeast. According to Bittman in How to Cook Everything “The only real difference between muffins and other quick breads is the pan you bake them in.” Sure, this makes sense. We choose between corn bread and corn muffins, same batter. This means I cold make a loaf out of some of my favorite muffin recipes. Cool!

I have enjoyed making loaves. Recently I made the Blueberry Lemon Walnut Bread from the back of the walnut package. This had a bread-like texture and not cake-like in the chocolate walnut loaf made previously. I liked the cake-likeness; Hubby preferred the bread-likeness texture.

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So as I was looking at these recipes in a variety of books, I find that there is a range of sugar involved. Bittman’s muffins call for 1/4 cup sugar (or to taste),  whereas Betty Crocker’s muffins call for 1/3 cup but her nut breads call for 1 cup and pumpkin bread calls for 1 1/3 cup per loaf. What’s up with this?

And why are muffins in The Cookie and Biscuit Bible cookbook? This book also has my go-to popover recipe.

Looking through all these cookbooks to see the differing amounts of sugar tempts me with more and more things to bake. I’ll never lose weight this way!

Here are some thoughts, not all about bread and muffins:

  • What does it mean when an onion starts looking pithy between layers? Is this like celery meaning that it is a bit old? Can one still cook with it? Am I a bad cook if I dice it up anyway and saute it in a dish? Don’t tell anyone.
  • Why did I put the dog food dish under the butcher block table I use for chopping vegetables and rolling out pie dough? Or, why does the dog choose that time to chow down? This is rhetorical because we know the dog can’t talk.
  • I have to decide not to be obsessive over composting when I go camping on weekends. I am sure Hubby won’t want us to come home with a bowl full of food scraps stinking up the truck!
  • Syrian casseroles are what I need to look for so I can provide meals for a family in need. And there are children. What sweet treat would be wholesome for them?
  • Do other’s of you sneak spinach into sauces and casseroles so the family doesn’t know what they are eating? Is this dishonest? I confess if asked.
  • I am planting herbs. What is the difference between German thyme and English thyme? And what to do with lemon balm?

I could go on and on but that is enough for today. Thanks for reading!

 

 

Lemon Pudding Cake

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This dessert recipe I found many years ago on allrecipes.com. In fact it was 2010 when I printed it out so maybe that is not so many years ago. The recipe is still posted here. I did not make too many adjustments so as not to mangle the results.

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (I juiced one lemon and topped it up with jarred lemon juice to make 1/3 cup.)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (this was 1/2 the zest from the aforementioned lemon; I froze the remainder for future use.)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour (I did not sift. I figure if I whisk the flour in the container and then spoon it into the measuring cup lightly without packing, that is close enough.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I did not have cow’s milk except for half-and-half. So I used 1/2 cup half-and-half, 1/2 cup almond milk which emptied the carton, so I topped it up with 1/2 cup cashew milk. I thought it was necessary to use the half-and-half for the fat content.)

Beat together egg yolks, lemon juice, lemon zest, and butter until thick and lemon colored. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add this alternating with additions of the milk.

Beat egg whites until stiff. Blend egg whites into the batter on low speed of electric mixer. I am so glad I have two bowls for my KitchenAid mixer. I used one bowl with the paddle attachment for the batter and the other bowl with the whisk attachment for the egg whites.

Pour this into an -inch square pan. Heat oven to 350 F. This bakes in a bain marie: place a 9 x 13 inch pan in the oven with hot water. Put the square pan in it and bake for 45 minutes.

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We ate this warm from the oven. The sauce/pudding formed under the sponge thickens up as it cools so it is good warm or cool. The birthday girl had a second helping and declared it good! 🙂

Chocolate Chip Walnut Loaf with Craisins, and some thoughts

Here are some thoughts…

  • Sometimes I think that there are no more unique recipes or ways to prepare ordinary food. And then I read food blogs…
  • I have too many cookbooks so I get stymied in my search for cooking and baking. Too many choices.
  • I was standing over the compost bucket disassembling a k-cup having images of my mother putting all the food scraps in a coffee tin to throw into the garden. She did not have the luxury of a compost service like I have. But there I was “channeling Mom”.
  • How does one simplify the kitchen supplies without giving away something I will need later?
  • Sometimes I don’t feel like cooking even though I am home from work a full hour or more before Hubby. I would like to take a weeknight or weekend afternoon to cook for the week. But I am concerned that I would then not want to eat what has been prepared! And camping season is arriving so my weekends should be spent camping.
  • I need to get three years of pictures off my phone and computer. And organize them in some way. I can’t always remember how to get to the “cloud”.
  • I want to get back to writing my memoirs and organizing them so that my kids can have my thoughts for posterity someday in the future, a long way into the future, when I am gone.
  • Writing is a creative outlet that I need to discipline myself to fit into my daily or weekly schedule. And regular exercise, and meditation, and prayer, and reading, and sewing, and all sorts of things I want in my life…!
  • I also am thrilled that there are those of you out there who read what I write!

Now for cake. This is a recipe that I found in one of my UK published cook books. I made it once before and it broke apart coming out of the pan. The recipe instructed to grease the loaf pan and sprinkle with sugar. Just so you know this does not work well with a stoneware loaf pan. This time I greased the pan, floured it, and put a rectangle of parchment paper in just to be on the safe side. I am pleased to say that the loaf came out of the pan in one piece. Yay!

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The recipe:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • grated rind of one lemon (I used a 1/2 teaspoon of lemon extract because I did not have a lemon on hand. I did use the zest in the first loaf I made.0
  • 2 Tablespoons currents or raisins (I used Craisins.)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 Tablespoons chocolate chips

Sift the dry ingredients together. Cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time beating after each one. To this I added the vanilla and lemon extracts. Add the dry ingredients in three batches. Do not over mix. Then fold in the goodies. I used a combination of the three to an equal of one cup, so a little more than what is listed.

Spread in prepared loaf pan, 9 x 5 inch. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before turning out of the pan onto a wire rack.

I never let something like this cool before cutting and eating. It is quite tasty and not too sweet.

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Lemon Tea Bread

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I came home from work one day this past week and wanted to make something in a loaf pan. I took a handful of cookbooks outdoors and sat at the patio table looking through them to find something to make. I know that a traditional pound cake is a loaf cake but I wanted something else. This recipe is from my KitchenAid cookbook published in 1992. It is the larger cookbook, spiral bound, and not the one that comes with the mixer. I have that one as well but my sister said this larger one does not have all of the recipes from the smaller one, so I kept them both.

I have two lemons that need to be used. I have buttermilk but this recipe did not call for that. After deciding on this recipe I find a similar recipe using buttermilk on the back of the walnut package. Oh well, maybe next time.

I actually did a mise en place. Even chopping the walnuts and zesting the lemon before starting to make the batter. Highly unusual for me with baking in that I always assume that I have everything I need.

This is a tasty and moist bread. It is very nice to have with morning coffee. It would be nice with afternoon tea.

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup milk; I used vanilla almond milk.
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon peel; I zested one medium sized lemon and juiced it for the lemon glaze (see below).

Put butter, sugar, and eggs in the mixer bowl and beat for one minute at speed 6. I was amazed at how this higher speed creamed everything together so much nicer that using the lower speeds. Combine dry ingredients and add alternating with the milk, ending with the flour. Stir in the zest and the nuts.

Pour batter into greased loaf pan and bake at 325 F for 55-65 minutes. Brush with Lemon Glaze and cool in pan for 15 minutes; remove and cool on wire rack.

Lemon Glaze: 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice and 3 tablespoons sugar. The recipe says to bring to a boil over medium heat and stir until slightly thickened. Well, I put the juice and sugar in a small microwave safe bowl and nuked it for about 90 seconds in 30 second intervals. I poured this over the warm bread.

I had just read that breads and cakes made with citrus zest supposedly taste better the next day after the flavors permeate. I sent a piece to work with Hubby the next day and he reported that this is so.

So I made Barbecue Chicken Pizza!

As I had mentioned previously I was thinking of making a pizza in my cast iron skillet. Well, I made the pizza but not in the cast iron. And I got to use my handy-dandy pie circle gadget that I just bought. Silly item: a bag to roll out pie crust into a perfect circle.

I used my favorite pizza crust recipe. I found this years ago on allrecipes.com.  It is a yeast dough but there is no rising time. It is ready to go as soon as it comes together.

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 pkg active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F)

Combine the dry ingredients. Mix in the oil and water. When dough forms spread it on a large pizza pan. Top as desired. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes.

I had Hubby take the meat off of 4 chicken thighs that had already been barbecued. He also sliced an onion. We made a bit more sauce with ketchup (1/4 cup), sriracha (1/8 cup), and Worcestershire sauce (1/8 cup). I had seen that combination somewhere on line, most likely one of those Facebook food videos. You can use more or less sriracha depending on how hot you like your sauce. I have also substituted apple cider vinegar for the Worcestershire sauce.

Spread the sauce on the dough, scatter the onion and the chicken pieces, top with cheese of your choice. This is one of those Monterrey jack and cheddar blends.

It was a very tasty pizza.