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!

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!

Jacques’ Mama’s Apple Tart

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That’s my handiwork on the home sewn place-mat!

I love Jacques Pepin. I am reading his autobiography as recommended by my sister. The few recipes offered are fabulous. They are rarely fussy and sound delicious. So…on page 132-133 we have this recipe: Maman’s Apple Tart.

With no offense toward Maman or Jacques I made it my way! Heat your oven to 400 degrees F.

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 large egg, beaten with a fork in a bowl
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons shortening such as Crisco. Those of you who know me know that I do not ever have shortening in the house. So I use Coconut oil. It’s solid in my pantry at this winter temperature.
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons hot milk; all I have is almond milk so that is what I heat in small pyrex bowl to nuke

Make the dough by putting all ingredients but the hot milk in a bowl and stirring all together. Then add the hot milk. Do not overwork the dough; it will be soft. Press the dough into the 9 inch pie tin with floured fingers so the dough covers the bottom and reaches up the sides.

  • 4 large Golden Delicious apples (about 2 pounds); I use three Empire apples because that is what is in my produce drawer
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut up in bits

While making the dough I add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. In afterthought I could have used cinnamon sugar in the topping.

Peel, core, and slice the apples into 1/1/2 inch wedges. Oops! I cut mine into tiny slices about 1/8-1/4 inch thick! My bad! Arrange the wedges on the dough like the spokes of a wheel. Sprinkle with the sugar and top with the butter.

Bake approximately one hour until the crust is golden. Well…my crust is a bit on the brown side! I think I used the 8 inch pan as well. It’s my kitchen; I do it my way!

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The crust is crisp. The apples are soft and flavorful. Very nice and easy to make. This is a keeper. Yum!

Exotic vegetables!

Just for fun: meet Leo. Hubby and I completely lost our minds after the Thanksgiving holiday and brought home this 80 pound dog from the Humane Society. He’s eleven years old and we decided we could be his forever family for the last few years of his life. He’s old and grey like us!

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In my never ending yet inconsistent quest to eat healthier I picked up some new cookbooks at my local library, one of which was Meat on the Side by Nikki Dinki (2016, St Martin’s Press). I do not know this author; I did not buy the books; this is just me experimenting with recipes in my kitchen.

The recipe I made first was Roasted Grape, Arugula + Goat Cheese Baked Potatoes. Doesn’t that sound intriguing? I had grapes sitting in my fridge that needed using and they were just past good eating but had not turned into raisins.I had a large bag of potatoes and had just bought goat cheese and mixed greens (includes arugula) at my field trip to Whole Foods the other day. I do not usually shop at Whole Foods as it is a bit out of my price range for regular groceries.

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I could not find the recipe as an on-line link. So here is what you need:

  • 4 Idaho potatoes, scrubbed and dried
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups red seedless grapes
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups lightly packed, coarsely chopped arugula
  • 4 ounces soft garlic and herb goat cheese log
  • 1/4 cup honey

Rub the potatoes with oil, salt with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, prick with fork and bake in 400 degree F oven for 45 minutes, or until done.

Toss the grapes with the other tablespoon of oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Place on a brimmed baking sheet. 25 minutes into the baking of the potatoes put the grapes in the oven to roast.

When the potatoes are done, slit the top and smush open. Fluff with a fork and mix in the arugula. Then divide the cheese and grapes among the 4 potatoes. Drizzle with honey. At each of those steps the recipe instructs to add more of the salt. Serve immediately.

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My end product does not look as nice and neat as the picture in the cookbook. But it is quite tasty. This was our supper so we each ate two stuffed potatoes. The warm grapes were quite pleasant.

I did not add the entire amount of salt that she called for in the recipe. I used only 1/2 teaspoon: on the outside of the potatoes and then on the grapes. I used plain goat cheese and not flavored. I used mixed greens and not just arugula. I used both red and black seedless grapes.

Most of the recipes in this cookbook are odd/different combinations of vegetables. I like the idea that she developed her recipes with the vegetable as the star and the meat as the condiment. I might try her Pumpkin Pancakes and Beet Hummus. But truly, these recipes are a bit more unusual for my ordinary home cooking. Interesting to read and think about though.

“Eat your vegetables, or no dessert!”

I don’t feel like cooking!

This is real life. I come home from work. I think about food. I go to grocery store for a few items. Come home with more than a few items. I went for half and half and cans of pumpkin for pie. I come home with grapes, bananas, apples, cheese, chips, half and half and cans of pumpkin. Oh, and green peppers.

I already made a big pot of spaghetti earlier in the week. Hubby made spaghetti pie which we ate yesterday and there is one in the freezer. We had frozen fish filet sandwiches already this week. There is salad in the fridge but who’s in the mood?

Hubby comes home and eats cheese and chips. We sit on the sofa and play with our iPhones or computer. I peruse many interesting recipes on blogs and other places on the internet. The cat is curled up on the chair awaiting an opening of a new can of catfood. There is still some in their dishes!

I have too many ideas of baked goods to make. I still plan to “bake through” the King Arthur 200th Anniversary Cookbook. I have made several recipes so far and will be using the sour dough bread recipe this weekend as well as the Cheddar Apple Coffee Cake. But what to do this evening?

I am reading a new book that women wrote about learning to cook and how food is important in their family. This is Three Many Cooks by Anderson, Keet, and Damelio. Is it the eating of food or the cooking of food that I love? I think it is the process of producing the food, cooking, baking, preparing. I also love to feed people. I like food, good food, but the social aspect of the meal is something I still strive for. My sister could write a book like that but she is not particularly a writer. Hey, here’s an idea: I could be her ghost writer! I do not remember being taught how to cook. I remember learning that homemade was better, and cheaper, which made it better. Mom gave me a cookbook when I got my first apartment so I could know how to cook vegetables and meats. I remember reading “women’s magazines” and trying out recipes. I learned that cakes were made from scratch and there were all kinds of cookies to make at Christmas. Mom  would make Divinity. My sister can make Divinity. Me, I make fudge!

So here I sit typing away getting hungrier and hungrier. I am most likely going to chop onions and peppers and put them in scrambled eggs. Should I use ham or bacon or pepperoni as well?

That will be my secret!