Who is Sally Lunn?

Food:

It was a weekend and I wanted to bake. Bread should be better than cake when counting calories, don’t you think? I looked through several cookbooks and finally settled on one from my handy-dandy Fleischmann’s Yeast Booklet from long ago. I have wanted to bake this particular bread for a long time but have never done so. It looks like a cake and is in the “no-knead” chapter. One of my other cookbooks explained that the origin is probably French and is popular in the South here in America. The Smithsonian magazine site relates that she may be a French pastry chef who sought refuge in England or a different woman, or even from Sun and Moon as descriptive of appearance. Others say it was one of George Washington’s favorites. Read all about it here: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/colonial-recipes-sally-lunn-cake-82438919/

Whatever its origin it sounds of interest to me and I set out to bake. No knead breads are batter breads. This recipe made one large loaf baked in a tube pan, the kind used for Angel Food Cake.

  • ½ cup warm water (105-115 degrees F); I got to use my new instant read thermometer which was not very “instant”; hmmm?
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 cup warm milk (I used unsweetened oat milk)
  • ½ cup softened butter; okay, I nuked it for 20-30 seconds ( this apparently is a no-no but works for me in a pinch)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 eggs, well-beaten at room temperature; I put the eggs in a bowl of warmish water to take the chill off
  • 5 ½ to 6 cups all-purpose flour

Put the warm water in the big bowl of the stand mixer (KitchenAid fitted with the dough hook) and sprinkle the yeast and stir to dissolve. Add milk, butter, sugar, salt and eggs and beat until well blended about one minute. Stir in enough flour to make soft dough. Cover, let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled, about one hour. So my kitchen is not a warm place. Hubby suggested I bring the bowl into the living room near the fireplace but I was afraid it would rise too fast. So I went off to the library and let it rise almost 1 ½ hours.

Grease well the tube pan. This needs to be a 10-inch pan and not a smaller decorative one. Stir the batter down, it basically needed to be gently pounded by the wooden spoon for this. My batter was all in one piece so I “poured” it into the tube pan and stretched it around to fit the circle. Cover and let rise until doubled, about one hour. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 30 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

Very yummy!

Thoughts: Also about food

I am hungry! I continue to count calories but find that I go over the weight loss amount regularly now. And it is not from the empty calories from drink. I’m not even eating a lot of sweets. How can I enjoy food and cooking this way? I don’t want to not pay attention to what I eat because I tend to put on weight that way. So far, I am not gaining but not losing either. Here is a typical work day’s food intake:

  • coffee, black
  • egg and cheese on English Muffin
  • leftover chili or vegetable curry, one cup
  • orange
  • 17 whole almonds
  • homemade sausage, peppers, and onions, one cup, if that
  • hamburger bun for sandwiching the sausage and peppers
  • handful of potato chips
  • dates for a sweet treat after dinner
  • glass of red wine at bar for Trivia night

Okay, so the potato chips were not the best choice. The dates add up as well but they are very nutritious. But this is not a lot of food. And this put me over the “limit” by at least 300 calories! Some mornings Hubby fixes oatmeal for me and sometimes I have yogurt for lunch. But I am still hungry.

One night we had grilled steak (4-6 ounces), sauteed squash, and Caesar salad with red wine and sat around the table having a nice conversation. The calorie count was over 50% of the allotted amount. And we only added a piece of fruit for dessert.

How can I keep this up? Yet I don’t want to give up. We’ll see at the end of the month what the scale says. Stay tuned.

Super Bowl “junk food” and Weight Loss

Part A: food

So I wandered around the library again and checked out 6 books; four of them were on food and cooking. So I made chili. I made this recipe because it has cocoa as an ingredient and I thought that was interesting. I read the recipe, jumped up from the sofa and went into the kitchen to cook. I had all the ingredients in the pantry. I rarely make chili the same way twice. I vary up the beans, or meat, and who ever heard of measuring spices!

  • Meat, one pound ground beef, browned in a skillet
  • One onion, chopped, sauté in large skillet with some oil
  • Add 3 cloves garlic, minced, along with the following
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and stir for about 30 seconds
  • Now add 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes with the juice
  • 2 cups pinto beans, drained
  • 2 ½ cups broth
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder

Cover the pot, simmer over low heat for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.  This is adapted from the book Easy Soups from Scratch with Quick Breads to Match by Ivy Manning (2017).

This freezes well and we also served this for our Super Bowl Junk Food Meal as a dip for tortilla chips. There it is in the bowl in the middle. We also made two kind of wings, a yogurt dip and veggie sticks.

Part B: thoughts on Weight Loss Journey Month One

I made a lot of changes to my routine in January. So the 2 pounds lost cannot be attributed to just one factor. I’m hoping month two will keep the momentum going. At times I had lost 2 ½ pounds but one cannot trust the ½ pound. It was not consistent.

Two pounds in a month’s time seems like paltry results to me. It is not enough to be a natural motivator. If it had been five…maybe. February adds the addition of more mental effort to keep going. I must remind myself it is not just weight loss but health I seek. Here are the things added/deleted last month that are all factors in the two pound loss:

  • Circuit training twice a week: 20-30 minutes
  • One vegetarian/vegan main dish for dinner each week
  • 45-60 minute hikes each weekend outdoors with Hubby
  • Counting calories daily
  • Taking an Apple Cider Vinegar capsule and a Turmeric capsule daily
  • Weighing self-several times per week, if not daily
  • Dry January eliminating all alcohol

Going forward into February what might change? Depending on the weather hikes may not always be feasible. I will add back a drink or two occasionally. I’m not ready to give up yet, but would like not to feel so restricted in what I plan for meals and snacks. Baking seems entirely out of the question. There is a birthday in February. though; I might bake a cake!

May blessings to all of you.

On Food and Drink and not-Drinking

In sticking with my commitment to Dry January my new mock-tail is the Not So Dark and Stormy. I like the taste of Ginger Beer. My sister does not. Ginger ale is okay but can be sweet tasting, even the diet version.  Ginger Beer tastes more grown-up. So my drink is really not a Not So Dark and Stormy from the internet recipes. I had to look that up so I would know whether I made this up. I probably made my mock-tail but apparently not the name.

I found a six-pack of diet Ginger Beer at my local Walmart and after a few seconds of deliberation put it in the grocery cart. When I make the boozy cocktail I use spiced dark rum. I think to myself, “Self, why not spiced tea?” I have been enjoying chai type spiced tea from various brands but I prefer the non-caffeinated types. So I brew a strong cup of tea and let it sit until room temperature. Basically leave the tea bag in this whole time. Put ice in a tall glass, pour to half full with the tea and top off with Ginger Beer. Nice and refreshing! A lime twist would be the finishing touch but I did not have any.

The above is not a dish one should have on a weight loss eating plan. Pie crust is fat and flour and how can that be diet friendly? But I have only the top crust on this pot pie which is mostly vegetables anyway. I was debating between a quiche and a pot pie. I tried to roast the veg but they just cooked in the oven. I had one small and thin frozen chicken breast and diced this up to sauté with half an onion. And it worked well in the cast iron skillet; goes from stove top to oven in seconds!

  • ½ very large bag Asian stir-fry vegetables ( discard or save sauce packet for later), roasted
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 chicken breast, or more if you prefer, diced
  • Olive oil for the skillet
  • ¾ cup evaporated milk + ½ cup vegetable broth
  • 1-2 tablespoons flour
  • Seasoning of choice, I used a salt-free combination from a craft booth at the RV show similar to Mrs. Dash
  • One ready-made pie crust

Roast vegetables. Sauté onion and chicken in skillet with oil. Sprinkle with flour and add liquid and seasonings. Simmer slightly. Stir in the roasted vegetables. Make lattice with pie crust and put on top. I sprayed the crust with butter flavored cooking spray and sprinkled more seasoning on top. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-45 minutes. Hubby said he wasn’t particularly hungry but he ate his portion happily.

Thoughts from my kitchen table:

What have I been thinking about these past weeks: Results of Dry January.

Dry January is supposed to have health benefits including improved sleep, improved mood, saving money, brighter skin, stronger immune system, more energy, and weight loss and better liver function. I can’t measure the liver function but let’s evaluate the rest.

  • I have not noticed any improvement in my sleep. Sometimes I sleep well, sometimes I don’t. This has not changed.
  • Improved mood: not particularly. But maybe. I don’t feel like going to work some days but that is because Hubby is home and I would like to be retired. I may have been feeling a little down at the first part of the month but that may have been post-holiday blues. My December was full of activities including a trip to Jamaica to see my son get married. And that was a fun time. My sister and her husband came out and we sat in the pool chatting, swam in the ocean, ate really good food and just relaxed. Flights got cancelled and trip home was two days instead of one. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s we had visits with all 4 children (all grown) and two grandchildren and Christmas Eve and morning in New Hampshire with the grandchildren. So the beginning of January was the start of quiet; all the activity was over. And then there is the news, of course, and that will dampen anyone’s mood!
  • Saving money: definitely. An O’Douls at the bar on Trivia night is $4 instead of $7 for a Guinness. The bottle of wine that was opened after Christmas still sits on the counter. I don’t think we’ve gone to the liquor store at all this month.
  • Brighter skin: I have no idea. I’m an older woman who has a few wrinkles as it is. I have few if any blemishes either. This one is probably a wash. Actually I only wash my face with water. I do not wear makeup so water is good, no drying soaps, and no goopy creams.
  • Stronger immune system: I had a nasty cold virus for 3-4 weeks but by the time I went to the doctor she said I was on the mend. She recommended the time honored use of turmeric, ginger, and honey from the wisdom of grandmothers. This depends on who is your grandmother. Mine would have recommended chicken soup and hot tea with lemon and honey, not to mention Vicks Vaporub!
  • More energy: maybe. I have started sewing again. I believe I have had fewer days of coming home from work and just collapsing on the sofa. Bedtime remains at 9-9:30 PM. I have also spent more time reading in the evening and a little bit less vegging out in front of the TV. But there may be more to this than the giving up of alcohol.
  • Weight loss: 2 to 2 ½ pounds. There are a lot of factors besides giving up the drink that contribute to this. But I won’t argue with this result. More on this weight loss journey and these other factors in another post.

What I did enjoy about Dry January was the “not feeling impaired” sensation after having a drink. Not that I get drunk or even tipsy, but I can feel the alcohol after even one drink sometimes, especially a mixed drink. This is probably the buzz that people seek and enjoy. The recommended about of alcohol for women is one drink per day and no more than 7 drinks per week. It is easy for me to have two glasses of wine in an evening and even if not every night this still can add up to more than 7 glasses a week. I also enjoyed the search for non-alcoholic drinks. I plan to seek out non-alcoholic beers to enjoy as well as drinking more Ginger Beer (diet, no need for empty calories). I’m sure my liver and brain will thank me.

Oh and I broke my fast on January 31st (as planned) with a glass of a nice red wine blend. at a gathering with friends over salad, pizza, and a fabulous dessert.

Now that my commitment is over I can have a drink whenever I choose to. But do I really want to? I am hoping that how much and how often changes.

Cake and Books

On this MLK, Jr. Day let us take a moment to remember all those who have lost their lives due to racial inequality. Let us also pause to remember those past and present who have worked and are working to eliminate racial inequality in our world.

Part A

So I broke down and baked a cake! It was a choice between a chocolate Coca-Cola cake or a cream cheese pound cake. Hubby likes pound cake and I did give him the choice. This particular recipe calls for clementine zest. I have not thought of zesting clementines. I zest oranges and lemons and limes. Now that I think of it I waste a lot of zest left on un-zested pieces of fruit. Think of all that zest one could stash in the freezer for later use. I wonder what use there would be for grapefruit zest.

I have a cream cheese pound cake recipe somewhere in my magazine clippings. This particular recipe is from a cookbook I got from the library. This is one published by a southern bakery apparently: Back in the Day Bakery, Made with Love by Cheryl Day and Griffith Day.

  • 1 ½ cups cake flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon grated clementine zest (2-3 pieces of fruit)
  • 12 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 5 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

I was able to let the various ingredients come to room temperature because my daughter called and we got busy planning a camping weekend this summer. They plan to get a large tent. We will be going to a campground where I used to take her and her brother “back in the day”.

Directions for the cake: sift the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. Mix the zest with the sugar in a small bowl and set aside. In the stand mixer cream the butter and cream cheese on medium speed for 2-3 minutes. Gradually add the sugar mixture and beat until very light and fluffy for 4-5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Add the vanilla and mix to combine. On low speed add the flour mixture in thirds just until incorporated. Finish this by hand.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Oh yeah, a 9 x 5 loaf pan sprayed with cooking spray and lined with parchment paper. And the oven is to be 350 degrees F. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Mine took only 50 minutes. Cool in pan for 20 minutes then remove from pan and parchment paper and cool on rack until completely cool.

Frost with a chocolate ganache or glaze as you would like. The honey chocolate glaze from the cookbook is very rich. I changed it somewhat so here is what I made.

  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ¾ cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Bring the milk to gentle boil in small sauce pan. Put the honey in a small bowl. Pour hot milk onto honey and add chocolate. Stir until melted. Add vanilla. Let cool to thicken slightly. Pour over cake.

Cake has no place in an eating for health and weight loss plan, but needs must! Cake has zeroed out any beginnings of weight loss this week. But at least I did not gain anything! Yay. And truth be told I started out this year 3 pounds less than the beginning of last year.

Part B

Library books! I went to the library after many months of not. I usually download library books onto my Kindle from my library using my computer. No need to step foot into our wonderful town library. But my library card had expired. Ahhh! Luckily the library was still open so off I go. It takes probably 10-15 minutes to get there but I always think of it as 5 minutes away.

There are books everywhere. Next to camping the library may be my second happy place. Well, being outdoors near the river or in the woods might take second place. It is the closest we have here in Connecticut as “the wilderness”.

Back to the library. They have reorganized the lobby so I wander around looking at titles of books, reading book jackets, and breathing in the atmosphere of paper and ink. I pick a few of the offerings in the lobby and head to the stacks. I’m in search of books about food and cooking. I just can’t stay away. I find a book on bread and a bakery cookbook which is the one mentioned in Part A.

I am on my way down the steps of the stacks and think “What about a book on sewing?” I have recently had my sewing machine repaired after gumming it up sewing an applique quilt with my daughter’s childhood through college t-shirts.

The quilt was far from perfect. My daughter had started it years ago with my advice on using heat and bond to attach the cut out designs to a large sheet. Then it languished at her house for years and years. Then I took it from her to fix and complete. It languished in my house for years and years and I finished it for her this Christmas. So now I need some sewing projects. I find a book on improvisational sewing and making simple patterns using a t-shirt. Interesting.

I come home with a tote bag full of books, real books!  I have one biography, one memoir, one mystery, one on sewing, and two on baking. I love books!

2019 plans: also Coleslaw, Pumpkin Pie, and Hoppin’ John

Happy New Year to all. I hope to write more, play Solitaire less, Facebook even less, and maintain Faith, Hope, and Love for all.

My sister had an idea a few years ago to cook through a cookbook in a year. I never could choose which of my 50+ books to use, but this year I will use Betty Crocker as my go-to book. This does not mean I will cook each and every recipe, nor each recipe exactly, but will use this standard American Cookbook as the first source of inspiration. For example, if I want to make to make pork chops I will peruse this book’s recipes to determine how to fix them. So I did make a breaded pork chop and Betty instructed to bake them on a rack in the baking pan in the oven.  I did and they turned out nicely. I failed to take a picture so you must take my word for it.

Hubby was grilling ribs. Cole slaw is a nice side dish. I bought a package of broccoli slaw to use. I made a combination of Betty’s Coleslaw and her Old-Fashioned Cabbage Salad from page 138, plus ingredients from a variation.

  • 1/2 package broccoli slaw
  • 1 apple cored and diced
  • 1/4 shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • pinch of celery salt
  • a few grinds of black peppercorns

My go-to pumpkin pie is Betty’s. I have made it before https://mykitchenmythoughts.com/2017/03/14/pi-day/. The problem I had this time is that the crust did not seem to bake through on the bottom. The edges were beautiful. What did I do wrong? I have never pre-baked the crust for pumpkin pie.

Hoppin’ John is on page 226. I did not use this recipe because this traditional New Year’s Day meal is made of rice, black-eyed peas, and pork in many different proportions and variations. I used bacon and added onion and spinach. The sprinkling of red pepper flakes was the only real thing I took from Betty.

The Feast: the savory and the sweet

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

IMG_0642
the savory

  • green salad (every item green) dressed with lime juice and olive oil
  • grilled steak
  • baked sweet potatoes
  • homemade rolls
  • mashed potatoes
  • autumn mixed-grains bake with butternut squash and cranberries
  • quinoa salad with dried apricots
  • sauteed mushrooms and onions in butter and red wine

IMG_0657
the sweet

  • rainbows sprinkles birthday cake from a box mix for the 4 year old and the 34 year old
  • vanilla ice cream with real ingredients anyone would recognize
  • tofu chocolate pudding for the dairy-free
  • pumpkin pie (the Betty Crocker standard)
  • apple pie with an oatmeal crumb topping
  • whipped cream freshly whipped from a carton of whipping cream (the bowl and whisk kept in the freezer beforehand)

I am thankful that we have enough food, actually more than enough. I am humbled that through my church I can take part in feeding hungry people a spaghetti dinner every week. I am thankful that my son and daughter were home to join us for the pre-Thanksgiving Wednesday feast this year. I am thankful for a loving Hubby, our home and our neighbors, our jobs, and our pets Leo and Squeaky.

I am thankful for all you who read my blog. I am thankful to get to know a little bit of each of you by reading yours.

And there are many more blessings I am thankful for. I will try to be grateful each day.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

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.

IMG_5629

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!