Weyer Works

DSC_6078When we moved to Pensacola in 2003, we had no idea how many festivals take place throughout the year. Because of the climate, we have festivals basically year round. One that we first went to was the Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival which takes place annually in early November, usually the first weekend. There are all kinds of very beautiful things (read: expensive), from jewelry, pottery, wood turning, paintings, photographs, just as you would expect in an art show. In addition to this the GGAF has a space for what it calls Heritage Arts and this tends to be my favorite part of the festival, well, that and the liquid refreshments. Guys serving champs in tuxedos –  cool.
It was at the 2003 Arts Fest that I first met Mr. Weyer. He and his wife are from Iowa and I can understand why they would want to be in Pensacola in November instead of in Iowa. Totally get it. He was hand crafting spoons and other kitchen items out of Iowa hardwood that  has been air-dried for at least seven years.  It was fascinating to watch him make spoons on site, and the spoons were beautiful to hold and seem to fit perfectly for me. So I bought a couple.
I use them all the time, especially when making pasta sauce or working on a chutney recipe. They just feel right when you use them. It is hard to explain if you have never had a hand-made spoon like this. They are balanced, but sturdy.
So it became a thing – go to the GGAF, look at all the art (?) and then buy a couple of spoons from Mr. Weyer and his wife. All of the spoons have the year on the back and Mr. Weyer’s initials on them so for many years I would pick up one or two. The only year we did not was the year of Ivan (2004) because there was no Arts Festival that I remember.
My collection is pretty complete now, but I do stop by and look each year just to see if there is something new that I must have to add to the bunch.

This particular spoon was damaged (chipped and put in the dishwasher – thanks to the Boy) and I took it to Mr. Weyer and said, can you fix it. And of course the answer was, duh, yes. And he did.

 

Recipe Keeping – sometimes this is a pain (PITA)

How do you keep recipes? Just wondering. No pictures today, but just wondering what other people think. If you would be so inclined to respond.

I tend to print recipes (and write all over them) and keep them in several binders, then I also have a drive with folders and some are on Evernote and some on my old blog. Some I just know by heart and need nothing to make them – there are many of those. I just spent two evenings last week sorting through recipes (new and old) and along the way, I edited – looked at each recipe and think “Will I ever really make this?” Lots ended up in the recycle bin which makes me feel bad and I need to edit earlier in the process – like before printing in particular. And killing more trees. Ugh.

I wish I could develop a system that truly works for me, but using cookbooks, family recipes that I know by heart, a few magazines, recipe “ideas” (with no step by step instructions), and things found on the recipe sites I trust, and of course, other blogs. How are you supposed to keep it all straight?

My first blog and this one were a way to keep up with things, but sometimes it gets a bit out of hand. I wander around with a stack of recipes I want to try – just printed, pulled from binders, etc. Trying to make them fit into the right time of year makes it even more difficult. Ugh. I’m supposing this is a complete first world problem, but I’d like to have a set of things to pass down to the Boy and his future wife (hope I like her) and their kids. Otherwise, why are we here? You get my genetics by default, but I’d love for you to know the recipes that come from different people in our family.

Such as my spinster (yep, they used the word) Aunt Rhodie’s chow chow recipe. She was really my great aunt, my grandmother’s sister and was partially deaf (seems mostly like when she wanted to be – that’s what my grandma always said) and never married but lived with my grandmother and grandfather, but she could totally rock the chow chow.  Now the recipe makes gallons so I’ll have to down size it to make it manageable, but is it worth the effort? I believe it is. Especially when you put it on some black-eyed peas – my favorite way to eat it. Otherwise black-eyed peas – kind of meh. Interesting the only reason I have the recipe is because my mom asked for it. This was my father’s aunt, but my mom appreciated it – probably because it could get me to eat black-eyed peas if for no other reason. I don’t remember my mom ever making it. Can’t blame her. Why do that when Aunt Rhodie would do it for us? Just get a few jars from the basement of the house – which also held the washing machine – clothes were dried on the line.

So to me, family recipes are important. I honor my mom by wanting to make things that she appreciated. I honor my great-aunt Rhodie by loving (and hopefully next summer), making her recipe. And I hope one day, I will teach the Boy how to make home made mac and cheese (he’s never had the boxed stuff – thank you very much), baked beans, sloppy joes, chili, squash pickles, and maybe even hot pepper jelly – and I could just go on and on … family recipes. I still have so much to do and I hope above hope to have plenty of time to do it.

Carrot Cake Cookies

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Carrot Cake Cookies

I think, based on the photocopy, that this is a Mrs. Fields cookie recipe – which is funny since my mom was a real Mrs. Fields. She (the cookies person) also happens to be the person that makes my favorite carrot cake, so this recipe makes some degree of sense. The original makes only 20 or so sandwich cookies, and that seems a lot of work for not much reward, so I’ve been doubling this recipe since almost the beginning and it works really well. Below is the doubled version.

Let me say, though, that these cookies do not have to be sandwich cookies.They can just be cookies, and they are pretty much excellent that way especially with my additions which I think are, kind of, required for carrot cake anything – raisins and walnuts. I do think the addition of oats in this recipe is a totally good call. Yes, you can call this a breakfast cookie and feel morally superior about it. That’s always a good thing. Although when you add the cream cheese filling, you probably can’t get away with the morally superior part.

1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
splash of vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
2 cups old fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups grated carrots (about 3 carrots)
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Filling:
4 ozs cream cheese, room temperature (1/2 block)
4 ozs unsalted butter, room temperature (1 stick)
1/2 cup powdered sugar, or more as necessary
1 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
pinch of salt

Make the cream cheese filling/frosting. Cream together butter and cream cheese, add lemon juice and salt and then add powered sugar until the right consistency. Keep in mind that the filling/frosting will thicken in the fridge by the time you need it.

Sift together over a sheet of waxed paper the flour, ginger, cinnamon and salt. In a small bowl, mix together oats, carrot, raisins and walnuts. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars, then add egg yolks and that splash of vanilla.

Add the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated, then add the oats, carrots, raisins and walnuts. Mix until just incorporated.

Drop onto parchment-lined baking sheet in tablespoon size and flatten a bit – about 2 inches apart. These don’t really spread, so that’s not a problem, but you do need to flatten them especially if you want to make sandwich cookies out of them. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes, turning the pan half way through. Cool for a minute then transfer to a wire rack.

If making sandwich cookies, put a little of the cream cheese mixture on the bottom of a cookie and then match it to another one. Or frost the cookies, or leave them alone and be morally superior and have breakfast cookies.

November 2004 – Thanksgiving
14 November 2015 – went over well at the office, and Tim (Shaggy’s) said these were his favorites. Not everyone likes carrot cake or carrot cake cookies, but I do think the oats make a differernce.

Cheddar Pecan Crisps

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Cheddar Pecan Crisps

Cheddar crackers are some of my favorite things in the world. I make them year round, eat the for breakfast (yep totally), lunch, snack, or dinner. There are several things though, that I require of my cheddar crackers. First, nuts of some kind, then heat, typically cayenne because the heat comes a little late so you get to taste the cheese/nuts first. After that, I have things I enjoy, such as some herbal components, particularly rosemary, sometimes a little dried fruit – it makes sense on a cheese board it should make sense in a cracker.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
8 ozs cheddar, grated, big holes on the box grater
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup pecans, finely chopped

Sift together salt, cayenne, and all-purpose flour over a sheet of waxed paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat together butter and cheddar in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth, then add in the dry ingredients. Add in the pecans.

Roll into rounded teaspoons of dough and arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet inches apart. Flatten into 1 1/2″ disk with the bottom of a glass or the back of a spoon and bake until golden, 15 – 18 minutes.

Yield: 50 crackers sort of…. well, not really.

No idea where this recipe came from, and it is pretty much altered from the original recipe.

I think you can substitute walnuts for pecans in this recipe. This isn’t always the case, but in this instance, it would work. Pecans are a little sweeter and they are local and so fresh, so that’s what I go with. I don’t typically substitute red pepper flakes for cayenne. But I might try Aleppo pepper next time.

10 Nov 2002
10 May 2009 – Mom’s Day
14 Nov 2015 – cheese crackers for me and there it is.

Thanksgiving

My biggest food memory of Thanksgiving is waking up to the smell of onions and celery sautéing for cornbread dressing. My mom always made two pans of cornbread a couple of days before, usually while I was in school, but the dressing wasn’t made until Thanksgiving day. That’s what I’ll be doing tomorrow – and it will be awesome, at least in my mind. I made my cornbread tonight, pretty boring stuff that I wouldn’t eat on its own because I have the best cornbread recipe from one of my very good friends, Dawn. It is such a good recipe that I toast a piece with salted butter for breakfast. Yep, it stands on its own.*

Many years ago, I started making my own cranberry relish – that I also shared half of it with my friend Dawn, so now another Thanksgiving food memory is the smell of orange juice, cranberries, and then the addition of horseradish. I made my second batch tonight – gave away the first batch because so many people like it. It really hit me, making it tonight, how much that is part of my memory. I don’t think it would be Thanksgiving without it – no, I’m sure it would not be.

I think I’ve read the memories of smells are most evocative and I really believe it. Celery and onions are my perfect example, but so is, totally unrelated, diesel fumes in cold weather – to me that will always be London. It happens every time, unbidden, but it always makes me smile. And miss England, again

plain cornbread drying for dressing

Drying Cornbread – for Cornbread Dressing

So here is the cornbread recipe for tonight – just for dressing. The one I plan to leave out overnight to get a bit stale – you need to do that to make the cornbread dressing work. It does make some degree of sense.

Cornbread

1 1/3 cup cornmeal
1 1/3 all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 large eggs
6 Tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/3 cup buttermilk

Mix together the cornmeal, all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. I whisked with a fork. Melt butter and let cool a bit.  Mix into the dry ingredients the buttermilk, and then the three eggs and finally the cooled butter.

Pour into a baking sprayed 8 x 8 pan and bake for 30 minutes, rotating half way through until the edges pull away from the baking dish and the top and bottom seem brown-ish.

Keep in mind this is only for dressing. I don’t think you want to eat this otherwise. Just tried it, and the answer is  – ugh, no.

*See related post that I have yet to write, but since it might (?) be getting close to chili weather, it could happen.

Cheesecake Cupcakes

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I really love this plate. just saying.

Cheesecake can be a contentious thing. People love it or hate it, and even if you love it you can take multiple sides in the debate: French, New York, topped with all manner of things from fruits to caramel sauce. Etc.

Sometimes the best way to try something is to pick the simplest version, because to my mind, doing simple well is a real skill. It’s kind of the way I test out the kitchen in a restaurant that is new to me, order something simple. I did just that with a new Italian restaurant, ordered Fettuccine Alfredo. It was sublime which tells me to trust the kitchen because if they can do that well then I can only imagine that they can do the other things on the menu just as well. Happiness.

This is a simple cheesecake recipe, but also sublime. Thank you Martha Stewart – you always steer me in the right direction. Merci.

This is the full recipe, but I just made half.

3 1/2 pounds (seven 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, room temperature
2 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
5 large eggs, room temperature*

2 16-ounce containers sour cream
1 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
raw sugar for the top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line four 12-cup cupcake tins with heavyweight aluminum liners, and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides as needed.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and flour. With mixer on low speed, gradually add sugar mixture to cream cheese; mix until smooth. Add sour cream and vanilla; mix until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined; do not overmix.
Divide batter evenly among cupcake liners, 4 ounces per cupcake. Bake for 15 minutes.
Cool slightly until cupcakes become concave. In a medium bowl, stir together sour cream, sugar, and vanilla to make the sour cream topping. Place a heaping tablespoon of topping in the center of each cupcake, and spread gently to edges of liner. Top with a bit of raw sugar and return to oven for 10 minutes.
Cool to room temperature on a wire rack and chill in the refrigerator until cold, at least two hours.

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That’s Turbinado sugar on the top and it is excellent but not in the original recipe – but do it. And again, the plate is really cool.

*When I half a recipe that has an odd number of eggs, I always go one up – so in this case, I used three.

Pre – Thanksgiving – Sweet Potato Biscuits

I always seem to make too many sweet potatoes for my most requested Sunday Sweet DD_0184Potatoes  – I just never know how many potatoes makes how many cups. Or how many sweet potatoes make a pound or whatever. I suppose one day I will have to figure that out. Ugh – math. Oh, and in November / December sweet potatoes are really inexpensive. Like .49 cents per pound – hello, just buy lots. If I remember correctly, they are also a local crop for us. Cool.

Our dogs love mashed sweet potatoes. Yes, they do. The Big Dog was a huge fan. They also keep for a good while so you can surprise the pups with them through January and February. I always did almost anything to make the Big Dog happy.

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Duke – The Big Dog – Best GSD. Ever.

Another thing is to make sweet potato biscuits. Sublime things, that are stupidly simple.

I was living in Chapel Hill, NC the first time I had sweet potato biscuits and they were served just like this – with salty ham and horseradish cream. Heavenly. The caterer for my job (love you JW) was the one that introduced me to it. I cannot believe, being a kind-of* Southern girl, that I had never had them. My mom made biscuits often, although if you asked me to re-create them, I would not be able to, but she’d never made sweet potato biscuits of any kind, even though she was from NC. Not sure where the “lost in translation” bit happened. I will just be grateful I found these when I did.

 

 

Sweet Potato Biscuits

5 cups self-rising flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup cold butter, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup cooked mashed sweet potato
2 Tbsp. salted European butter, melted – spend the little bit extra.

Preheat oven to 425°. Stir together first 3 ingredients in a large bowl. Cut butter cubes and shortening into flour mixture with pastry blender or fork just until mixture resembles coarse meal. Cover and chill 10 minutes.

Whisk together buttermilk and sweet potato in a large measuring cup. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Don’t over work this – I think it will affect the rise.

Turn dough out onto a well floured surface, and knead lightly 3 or 4 times. Pat or roll dough to 3/4-inch thickness; cut with a 2-inch round cutter, reshaping scraps once (Do not twist cutter – this is way more important than you may think, but biscuits are a bit fussy about things like this – just don’t do it. The won’t rise well if you twist.). Place rounds on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Bake at 425° for 18 to 20 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown. Remove from oven, and brush tops of biscuits with melted  (salted) butter – do this.. Serve immediately.

Makes 3 dozen.

Source: Foster’s Market – Foster’s is on the 15-501 between Chapel Hill and Durham, NC. It is a fanciful place that does so many things well. I miss it greatly, but I loved going there. Sara Foster is gifted in a way not many people are and it was a great joy to be able to frequent the shop/restaurant/coffee shop/whatever. The Foster’s Market Cookbook is the ONLY signed cookbook I have. Ms. Foster is charming, engaging, and lovely.

Made a half recipe this time, but they were excellent.

Had been using Emeril’s recipe for sweet potato biscuits for years – a dozen or so, but I think the Foster’s Market version rose a bit better. I do like the use of ground pecans in Emeril’s recipe. Need to figure out how to combine the two. Both recipes are now in my Thanksgiving binder, so that means something

*You have to put the “kind-of” in front of Southern if you are raised in Jacksonville. Sigh. Even if your parents are really Southern.