Down on the Farm

After a weekend away visiting my daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter we were at home and supper time was coming. What to have?

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My daughter does not live on a farm, but the town she lives in is more rural than where I live. There was a wild turkey walking through her backyard Saturday morning. Son wondered out loud if anyone was wanting turkey for dinner? Son is home and he came along to visit his sister before heading off to The Last Frontier for his next job! Truth be told though a few years ago a wild turkey was walking up our street and at first glance I wondered what type of tall dog was that?

For the weekend we were in the presence of some farm markets. And there was a booth set up at the town park. And granddaughter LOVES the park! She swung on the swing with Grandpop while I checked out the booth. I came away with farm fresh eggs (the hen lays 5 eggs every two days so it takes three days to get a dozen) and a small jar of honey; they have bees, too.

I have not mastered the art of biscuit making.The Elusive Biscuit. I read all sorts of recipes and the best I can figure is that one needs to use self-rising flour, and to not twist the biscuit cutter when cutting the dough. Well, biscuits would be a nice way to taste the honey but I do not have self-rising flour. Son and Hubby think breakfast for dinner would be fine. We had just bought a bunch of uncooked, fresh (now frozen) breakfast sausage links and they will be easy enough to cook without hours of thawing.

I have sourdough starter. I think that this may be the answer to the biscuits if I can use unfed starter. I have old, yellowed, newspaper clippings that my Mom put together for me when I first (eons ago) wanted to bake with sourdough. If we had an idea, Mom was there! For example, I was going to make my wedding dress out of muslin with my bridesmaids naturally dying their dresses of muslin as well. Mom bought 10 (TEN!) yards of muslin for me AND I had not even met the groom yet! What a Mom!

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I gather the ingredients (I use butter even though I have lard on hand) and while putting it all together realize that I only have 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar. I ask Son who is on his computer to look up a substitute. He says to use two teaspoons vinegar. Okay. That I do.

Now while these are baking, the sausages get cooked on the cast iron griddle and the eggs are cooked by Hubby in the cast iron skillet.

Serve all this up on a plate and let us see what the taste testers say.

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The biscuits are a hit. This recipe made 8 biscuits; the sourdough gave them a nice flavor and the texture was good. All three of us noted the difference in the taste of the eggs from the regular supermarket ones, and the honey was wonderful. Definitely not the taste of the honey that comes out of a plastic bear!

 

Banana Muffins

I was reviewing the variety of foodstuffs I have blogged about and did not find any on muffins. I have a whole section in one of my recipe notebooks devoted to muffins. This is because I used to always have a batch  of muffins baked and ready to be grabbed for a quick bite to eat as family members started their day. When I was “dieting”, the recipes I would try would be low-fat, chock full of vegetables, made with applesauce, made with whole wheat flour, etc. But now that it is just Hubby and I in the mornings, I haven’t really made muffins on a regular basis. Shall I remedy that situation?

There are two cookbooks that I use for a basic muffin, my Betty Crocker Cookbook and Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. In Betty Crocker the muffin recipe is on page 199. Bittmans’ is almost the exact same recipe but giving suggestions for using melted butter or oil. The amounts of milk differ by 1/4 cup.

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On this day I have two very ripe bananas that need to be used. I have never used frozen bananas in baking, just in smoothies. These bananas will need to be used or frozen. I decide to make muffins. I use the Bittman recipe, page 832, using the variation for Banana-Nut Muffins.

  • 3 Tablespoons melted butter or neutral oil (Oh my! As I am writing this it occurs to me that I left this out COMPLETELY!)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • scant 1/4 cup cane sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 2 very ripe medium sized bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk (I did not have regular milk in the house and did not want to open the new carton of half-and-half and did not think that chocolate cashew milk would be appropriate. But now that I think about it, hmmm?)

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. I whisk these around with a whisk. Mash bananas in another bowl. Add milk to equal 1 cup. My two bananas were just about a cup as they were. I added a bit of coconut milk at that time and then a little more to the batter because it looked so dry. See note above about the melted butter to know why!

To the dry ingredients I added 1/4 cup dried cranberries, 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, and 1/4 cup chocolate chips. I like stuff in my muffins! I put the egg in the wet ingredients and mixed that up. I then added the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients all at once and stirred until incorporated. This looked dry so I added a splash more of the coconut milk.

I sprayed the muffin pan with cooking spray. Preheated the oven to 375 F. Portioned the batter into the muffin pan. This made eleven, not twelve. Baked these for 20 minutes. They smelled nice and came out of the pan perfectly.

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I  serve two for Hubby and me. They are light and fluffy even with whole wheat flour. And they look nice and taste good, too.

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Conclusion: I think the banana acted as an adequate substitute/replacement for the fat in the original recipe.

Lesson to learn: Mise en Place

Super easy granola bars

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A few years ago I had seen a recipe for home made chewy granola bars made with sweetened condensed milk. I never wrote it down even though I made it several times. The last time I made it I had used a package of granola and did not like the results at all. So I am restless one afternoon. There are plenty of projects to do but nothing is striking my fancy. I really really wanted to make chocolate cupcakes but am determined not to bake any more sweets until Easter. But you all have posted some absolutely wonderful chocolate cupcakes and I am craving them! But I paw through my pantry to see what is there and decide to make granola bars. I figure these will be handy to walk out the door with in the mornings for work. And perhaps don’t really count as a sweet.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

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I start with 3 cups of oats. I add enough other ingredients to make just over 4 cups. I have a sneaky suspicion that the total amount of stuff should be closer to 5 cups. One can add seeds, nuts, dried fruits and just about anything granola-ish. To this batch I add coconut, banana chips, sliced almonds, golden raisins, dried cranberries, and just a few chocolate chips. Actually I use approximately 1/4 cup of each. Gently heat one 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk  to thin. Pour over the ingredients and mix to coat everything.

granola bars 002I line a 13 x 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper. Pour the “batter” into this pan. I pat it down evenly with another piece of parchment paper. Bake for 25 minutes. At this point I do not remember if I’m supposed to let cool before cutting or not. I lift it out of the pan and let it cool on a wire rack. When I tried to cut it warm it started falling apart.

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I let them cool a little bit and then I cut them into bars. The outer ones hold together better than the middle but they will firm up as they cool more.

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I love parchment paper. It is a wonderful invention. Growing up my mother used waxed paper or just greased the pan with Crisco. There was always a small hand sized square of waxed paper in the Crisco can for this purpose. The second greatest invention is cooking spray.

The granola bars are a hit. Hubby says “I like the taste”. They taste like honey and oats. These will be good for Hubby to grab and go in the morning when leaving for work along with a piece of fruit. That goes for me too!

Sourdough Waffles

Winter has arrived with the first major snowstorm. Hubby estimates there is about 12 inches of snow in the yard and three foot drifts where the plows cleared the roads. That was more snow than we expected. There are areas of our state that got more than that as well as less: nothing to a dusting to 4 inches to 16 inches. But living in the Northeast means snow for winter. Although we had become spoiled by the mild temperatures thus far. I’ve done as much as I can about the weather, how about you?

Knowing that the snow would continue through the night I planned that we would have a Sunday morning in while hubby cleared the walks and driveway and cars. Knowing that I have a somewhat neglected sourdough starter in the fridge that needed feeding I planned to make waffles for breakfast. Knowing that the recipe calls for buttermilk I created “sour milk” with the age old technique used by my Mom, add Tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to measuring cup for each one cup of buttermilk needed. Knowing the sourdough batters often need time to “ripen” I got out my cookbook and prepared the “sponge” the night before.

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this has some nice sourdough recipes

I am using the recipe on page 542 of the book. The batter is for pancakes but can be used to make “the lightest, tastiest waffles you’ll ever eat.” The sponge is made by combining the flour, the sugar, and tfirst snow storm 008he buttermilk and then adding the starter. Blend well and let rest for two hours or overnight.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups buttermilk, slightly warmed
  • 1 cup sourdough starter

In the morning the rest of the ingredients are added.

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

These are beaten separately until light and then blended into the sponge. “(watch the batter begin to bubble and foam)”

This makes a lot of batter! Now make the waffles using the directions for your waffle iron. I have a nice waffle maker given to me by my wonderful daughter and son-in-law.

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Breakfast is served!

These turned out crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Definitely a keeper recipe!