Thing of the Month – J K Adams – America’s Roll Pin

I am pretty sure that I found about this amazing rolling pin through America’s Test Kitchen. It is made in D&D-9184America, which has become important to me in the last couple of years. I have lovely ideas of Vermont in the fall because we (nw fla) don’t really have a fall. Sigh. And not much of a winter either.

I purchased this to replace my older rolling pin that was heavy and a bit cumbersome. It has big handles and they are fine except when they are in the way. This new French-style rolling pin is lighter, but still can get the work accomplished and it’s not awkward or cumbersome at all.

It’s from the Dorset Vermont company J K Adams. To steal their description from their website: “American manufacturer of cutting board, rolling pins, and other serving items. All hand made in Vermont using sustainable harvested North American hardwood. Modern heirlooms that are functional and also beautiful in their simplicity.”

Part of their mission statement really got me:
“We will continually work to prove that well run companies with committed and customer focused employees (who) can grow and prosper by producing high quality products in an environmentally and socially responsible manner in the United States.”

That’s a damn cool idea, somehow I think more American companies should try this approach. I know many people purchase at the lowest cost no matter what, but I would rather buy a quality American-made product even if I had to pay a little more. But in this case you really don’t have to pay that much more..

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French Rolling Pin

2014 is now 70 years. How cool is that.

Lemon Sugar Cookies

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Lemon Sugar Cookies

These may be the most perfect cookies ever. And that is not hyperbole. They are lemon, of course. I mean that’s my thing… but they were easy and the bake time was perfect if you adjust for my oven temperature. Your 375 degrees is my 365 degrees. I have no idea, once again, where this recipe comes from. But a Google search for lemon sugar cookies turns up almost everything. So I won’t bother.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 Tbs lemon zest
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 Tbs sugar, for rolling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. (I just do this on waxed paper.)
In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and lemon zest until mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla. Gradually mix in flour at low speed, scraping down the sides of bowl as necessary. It will be necessary.
Shape 1 inch balls of dough, roll in the sugar and place on prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 9 – 11 minutes, until set but not browned (or only lightly on the bottom). Edges should be slightly firm.
Cool cookies on the pan for a minute, the transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 4 dozen

28 February 2015 – I have a habit of making dough and stalling on making cookies, but not this time. These cookies are amazing. And everyone at work (my lovely people who eat things that I have never made before) really liked them.

And the February Butter Count is, for this recipe,is 16 Tbs. I think it’s butter that makes things so much better.

Duke & Bering

Bering & Duke

 

I know people think you have a forever dog. I think I have had two (so far). Bering (yes, named for the Bering Sea – great idea from the Boy), our Siberian Husky – wow – he pretty much didn’t do anything you ever told him to do, but that’s kind of, well, him. It’s a Husky thing. He was so beautiful. Perfect – not too light or too dark and with the bluest eyes you’ve ever seen. It is one of those things you have to get used to, a dog with blue eyes.  The best part – he didn’t like kids. He was a rescue, so we don’t know the whole story, but he was not your “Snow Dog.” I do miss him. I would have loved to have had more time with him and so often I think of him. The husky chortle (woo woo woo) when I came home from work was one of the best things ever and the occasional howl – just like a wild dog – in the backyard – slightly unnerving. Now one thing I never understood: why people, when they saw him, would ask “Is that a wolf?” Really? Who has a wolf as a pet – um, no one. He was a barrel of a dog and so missed by me, esp. that chortle. A Husky is a talker, that’s for sure. Oh, and he had a snow nose – look it up.

Duke is the best dog in the world. He was my first dog in every sense of the word. The Boy was so young, but he had a dog at 10 – the type of dog he wanted – a German Shepherd Dog. Probably a good age if you think about it and Duke thinks he and the Boy are brothers – it’s so cool. But there is just no denying that the GSD was linked, beyond belief, to the Man of the House. Duke puked on him on the way back from Homa, LA. It was funny, but I would never say that. The breeder was a lovely man, but Duke’s mom didn’t like kids or people really and when she was on her hind legs, she was as tall as me – just like Duke is – though he can’t do that anymore. And thankfully he has always had the best temperament.  I remember so many times having him out and about and little kids petting him and a couple of toddlers pinching his nose and practically sitting on him. So laid back  – he puts up with just about anything  – the best tempered dog ever. We will never be so lucky again.

fin

 

 

National Margarita Day – 22 February

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Margarita Day @ Shaggy’s Pensacola Beach 2014

The Man of the House and I kind of fell into Margarita Day last year. We were at our local (beach local) and had no idea such that a thing existed. And I have to say that February is totally the wrong time for a Margarita. Jeez – no one drinks a Margarita in the winter, and yes, February, is our idea of winter. I know it’s Florida, but it does get slightly seriously cold in the northern part of Florida – at least this year. Although there are times when we do wear open toe sandals in February – it’s just a perk.

You do know, visitors, that we can recognize you by the drinks you order. We do love our snow birds. I mean, they live here part time and that’s pretty cool. But when a  tourist visitor orders a Margarita in February, the same thing for you visitors ordering Bushwackers, and we just know.  You are a tourist. Sorry, we will be nice to you since you keep our taxes low-ish, but we know who you are. The rest of us are drinking beer or maybe a bloody mary or a mimosa on Sunday until we start drinking beer again. It’s just a thing.

I really think that Margarita Day needs to be moved to August. It’s when locals drink them mostly. Or a CoronaRita – hello beer and tequila. And it does work that time of year. Because while you all come here in the spring, we live here even through the dreadful months (August & September – the worst of the season) and the humidity. Again – just a thing we do.

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$1 margaritas 2014

We are going to our local on Sunday (22 Feb) just to see how this all  plays out this year. I will wait until they run out of well tequila and when they shift into the good stuff, I may just have one.  Even though it is February.

I have, pretty much, had it.

This is a total rant – and I do realize that. I am so done with it. I have HAD it with the rolled up refrigerator pie dough. It is always a hassle, but there must be a better way than this. It doesn’t want to unroll and that’s just the beginning of the problems. It’s supposed to be a convenience, but it never really is. It’s always a pain, and it totally shrinks when it’s blind baked. There must be a better way

Doesn’t matter if you follow directions, which I do (mostly).  It splits and is too thin in places. I spend more time fixing it – I might as well make it myself. It is just not convenient – which is what it is supposed to be.

What I would like to find is a press-in-the-pan pie crust that would be sturdy enough for quiche. I refuse to do this again.

New quest  – decent quiche crust. Somewhere in the back of my head, I’ve seen a press-in-the-pan crust on America’s Test Kitchen or Cook’s Country, but I might be delusional.  Or what the hell, maybe forgo the crust all together and bake it without one – like a frittata. It just might work – sounds like project food (food that is a project) to me.

Salted Butterscotch Pecan Cookies

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Salted Butterscotch Pecan Cookies

16 February 2015 for our Mardi Gras pot luck at the office. You know that Mardi Gras is a thing here and has been for quite some time. So where did it start? New Orleans, um, nope, but Mobile, Alabama – who knew? Those of who live in here do. And we are so lucky to live here – it’s kind of dorky special.

And the cookies were a huge success.  I think one of the best things for someone who bakes cookies on a regular basis, is a cookie dough scoop;  kind of like an ice cream scoop, but pretty much smaller. I really think that having equal sized bits of dough that bake at the same time make a world of difference. Only heated the oven to 365 degrees, and 12 minutes with a turn half way between worked perfectly.

And I’m totally in the mood to make more cookies.

1 3/4 cups all purpose all-purpose
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (pref. dark brown)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 1/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
coarse salt, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. I mostly do this over some wax paper and it works really well.
In a large bowl (of a stand mixer), cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, blend in the flour mixture. Stir in butterscotch chips and chopped pecans.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on baking sheet, leaving about 2-inches of room between each cookie. Sprinkle each dough ball with coarse salt.
Bake for 9-11 minutes, until cookies are golden brown around the edge. Centers will be light; allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 3-4 minutes to allow cookies to set. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 3 dozen.

Source: Baking Bites

 

2015 Butter Usage (by month – January)

7 January 2015
3 Tbs – Cheeseburger Pasta

8 January 2015
1 Tbs – Vanilla Taffy

15 January 2015
8 Tbs – Fig Cocktail Cookies

19 January 2015
1 Tbs – Vanilla Taffy

20 January 2015
8 Tbs – Lemon Cream Scones

21 January 2015
2 Tbs – Pasta with Artichoke Heart and Parmesan Cream

26 January 2015
6 Tbs – Lemonade Layer Cake
1 Tbs – Vanilla Taffy

31 January 2015
2 Tbs – Lemonade Frosting
8 Tbs – Rosemary Cheddar Crackers
4 Tbs – Ham & Swiss Sliders

44 Tbs = 5.5 sticks = 1.38 pounds

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Vanilla Taffy

Red Velvet Cookies

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Red Velvet Cookies

I took these photos with my phone. And I am, by no means,  a photographer. I leave that to the Man of the House – he is  slightly amazing. But I have to say I am not embarrassed by these, but that just means I’m lucky.

These cookies are beautiful* and that has, pretty much, nothing to do with me.

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 Tbs red food coloring
Sprinkles for decoration

8 ozs cream cheese, softened
1/4 pound unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 pound confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment cream together butter, shortening, and sugar until fluffy. Add egg, sour cream and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Sift together flour, soda, cream of tartar, salt and cocoa. With mixer on slow speed add to wet ingredients until just combined. Add red food coloring and beat in medium speed until uniform red color is achieved. It should be a deep red color.

Drop dough by tablespoons on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until cookies spring back when lightly touched. Allow to cool 5 minutes on baking rack, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

D&D_1648For the frosting, mix cream cheese, butter, lemon zest, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer until just combined. Add sugar and mix until smooth. Frost completely cooled cookies.

4 December 2010

16 January 2011

Source: SugarPies Food.

* I may be the queen of cocktail napkins. Even though, I don’t use them for actual cocktails.

 

Spinach & Mushroom Quiche

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Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

This recipe is so old and so altered, but it is from a tiny little tea room I worked at when I was young and dumb. I like because it does not have, in my opinion, too many eggs. I like a denser quiche. But the flavors of this are truly worth the work, not that there is much work involved really.

You can substitute frozen spinach that is thawed or frozen broccoli that is thawed – both have to be well drained.

This is great with a side salad and some homemade buttermilk ranch dressing. I happen to like a little ranch on the quiche as a counter point. I will be posting my version of buttermilk ranch soon. Making it at home is just beyond belief, but I’m not expecting really great photos — I mean, buttermilk, mayo and herbs. Sigh, more blah colors. Can’t wait for spring to truly kick in and get some colorful veggies on the plate.

Makes 2 quiches (is that the plural?)

2 5 ozs. bags of fresh spinach
16 ozs mushrooms, white or cremini, sliced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 Tbs. Balsamic vinegar
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 14 oz can evaporated milk
16 ozs mozzarella cheese, grated
crust for 2 nine inch pie pans*

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sauté onion in a couple Tbs. of olive oil until soft. Add sliced mushrooms and cook until most of the liquid evaporates. Add Balsamic and let it reduce too. Top with washed and mostly dried spinach. Turn into pan to wilt down. And again let most liquid evaporate. It’s important to get this as dry as possible. Let cool in pan to room temperature.

In a large-ish bowl, mix together beaten eggs, evaporated milk and mozzarella. Add cooled spinach and mushroom mixture and combine well.

Blind bake pie crusts* I prefer glass pie plates with pie weights – for 12 or so minutes and return to oven without weights for about 3 more minutes. When the crusts are slightly cooler, divide the spinach mixture between them.

Bake quiche for 30 – 35 minutes or until lightly brown on top.

* rant forthcoming

Just a little defeated …

My fridge and freezer stopped working (or to put it a little more vulgarly – puked) this weekend. It is painful to throw so much away, but it has to be done. I’ve done this once before after Hurricane Ivan and that was pretty awful too.

I was able to save some things I store in the freezer just for longer term storage, i.e. – they didn’t technically need to be there and could deal with a few days outside the cold, but good lord, the things I had to get rid of. It’s pretty much terrible.

So, I saved all my nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds), my chips (semi-sweet, butterscotch, white) and some banana nut bread, and about four pounds of butter (again, stored in freezer for convenience). But lost pasta sauce, quiche (which was an experiment to see if it would handle being frozen and reheated), frozen spinach, lemonade concentrate, hot dogs, heavy cream, buttermilk, eggs, cranberries, chopped peppers for pepper jelly, squash pickles, cottage cheese, schmaltz, bacon drippings, etc. Just feel defeated. I know this is nothing of epic proportion, but it does take the wind out of your sails a bit.

Need to restock – a little at a time. But I guess the silver lining is that the freezer and fridge are cleaned out and that’s kind of nice in it’s own way. And they are both working again – after only two visits from the repairman.

Tomorrow we have a Mardi Gras potluck and the plan was for a Pecan Cream Cake with cream cheese frosting, but with no guarantee of a fridge, that wasn’t an option, so I went for cookies instead. Salted Butterscotch Pecan Cookies to be exact. But I will still have that Pecan Cream Cake in my future.