Making Baking Easier 

When most of your cooking / baking takes place on the weekends, which mine always do, anything you can do to make it easier goes a long way towards motivation. So this is something I learned from my mom. Ever Christmas my mom would make loaves and loaves of banana nut bread – it was like an assembly line. She was only slightly famous for her banana nut bread. Everyone wanted to be on the list. It wasn’t Christmas without her banana nut bread and I still make it every year since I finally got it right. Lord, that took a few years because the temperature has to change during the baking process, but I never had the timing or the temperature. Thanks mom. Can’t really blame her, I think this recipe was in her blood in a certain way. Once I figured it out, I would take it to Fred and he was happy. And it is just something I need at Christmas, but sometimes I make it in the summer because it has been six months since I’ve had it last. Guess that means it is time to make one this summer. DD_0206

Okay, back to making baking easier – my mom would always prep her dry ingredients ahead of time. Then all you had to do the day baking is get your butter and eggs out and it is super quick to mix everything up and boom! you are done.

So by Thursday night I like to have my plans for the weekend baking finalized and then measure out all my dry ingredients and put them in zip top bags to make the weekend baking easier. And once it is easier bake, it makes motivation happen. To be honest this also makes weeknight baking, when I’m in the mood, easier to just put something together to make me, The Boy, and the test kitchen happy.

I think my office and students would prefer to be called my test kitchen rather than my guinea pigs.  But I also want my friends to challenge me to try new things. 

So this is what I do on a Thursday night … get ready for my baking weekend. Yep.D&D_1950

It really works and makes life so much easier. Thanks mom!

Keeping Recipes …

How do you keep recipes?

I tend to print recipes 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 this week sorting through recipes (new and old) and along the way, I edited – looked at each recipe and then think, “Will I really make this?” Lots ended up in the recycle bin which makes me feel bad (dead trees) and I need to edit earlier in the process – like before printing.

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Yes, I have a binder for Crackers. No judgement.  See: Cracker Challenge.

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?

Looking at my photo, I am, obviously, not consistent in the way I make my binder labels.

My first blog, and this one too, were/are a way to keep up with things, but sometimes it gets a bit out of hand. I wander around the house 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 am supposing this is a complete first world problem, but I would like to have a set of things to pass down to the Boy and his future wife and their kids. Otherwise, why are we here? You get my genetics by default, but I would 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 is what my grandma always said anyway) 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 that chow chow on 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 dug-in-clay basement of my grandmother’s house – which also held the washing machine – clothes were dried on the line out back. There is something really nice about that and I miss it. Clean sheets dried in the wind, so fresh and comforting and a cool clay basement.  Something you do not, nor will ever have, in Florida.

+Rhodie was short for Rosebud. I think Rosebud is so much better, and to be honest, that is what my grandmother called her sister most of the time.

I am going to have to work on the recipe to take it down from gallons into something that I can handle.  This is not the time of year for green tomatoes, but I think this might be my “winter” (winter being a questionable word for us right now) project to make it into something smaller that might work for our family. I also wonder … will it taste like I remember? Lord, I hope so.

 

Sausage & Eggs

When I was young I had all kinds of allergies. Lord knows that is the truth. I had to go through food allergy testing to see what I was allergic to after my fish incident that sent me into anaphylactic shock at 5 years-old after dinner one night – lips turn blue and throat closed up. So I had to be tested to see what other things I was allergic to. 

Mostly just trees, grass, mold, dust mites, dogs, cats, air in general, but eggs seemed to be a problem too. So my mother never really feed me eggs. Nor did I get the MMR shots as a kid, nor did I get flu shots – No vaccine built in an egg. I did finally get the MMR to go to university, had to – they do not let you in otherwise, but by then I was about 25 then.

But no matter what, the only time growing up that I had eggs was this non-recipe recipe. And I guess that is why this is the only time I eat them now.

It is one of my favorite things, um, ever. 

Basically, you cook a pound of sausage in a skillet and then scramble up a few (4 or 5) eggs and then cook them in the grease left by the sausage. This, to me, is pretty much heaven on earth. My mom made this for us for dinner – not breakfast. I don’t think she used hot sausage, but I always use hot sausage for any recipe that calls for breakfast sausage. In my head there is no other kind. Don’t get me started on sage sausage (blech) or lord help us, maple sausage (I love maple syrup w/sausage, but maple flavor in sausage – that is just too strange to be believed).dd_2016-12-25-14-13-50

I am pretty sure I just told you how to make this. It is quick, easy, and amazingly good. My mom had good handle – a very good handle –  on what was good. And this is good in spades.

It is a favorite Christmas breakfast (not dinner) for us – or maybe just me. Well – sometimes you just want what you want and everyone else has to go along with plan. I am pretty sure no one complained.

2015 – Parmesan Shortbread – Nigella
2015 – Fusilli with Artichoke Hearts and Parmesan Cream

Vanilla Taffy

I have never posted this recipe. It is a family recipe that is so special to me. It may mean nothing to anyone else – probably will not. But this is one of those handed-down recipes for something not many people make at all … and there is a story to it.

My mom made this every winter, not every Christmas because this recipe depends on the weather. There has to be low humidity and in the South that usually will only happen sometime between late December and late February. So this did grace the Christmas Eve party on occasion -yes, but there was no guarantee. It is North Florida after all. We oftentimes wore shorts on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

This was a recipe from my mom’s mom, Daisy, and my mom would describe how Daisy made it in the winter* and then to get the taffy hard they would toss it in the snow. We never were able to do anything like that, but it is kind of cool to understand where a recipe really comes from.

To be honest, I have never seen a recipe like this. Most people, when they think of taffy, think of salt water taffy which is soft,  but this is not. We (me and the Boy) have taken to calling it crack because when you pull it right and put enough air in it, it gets opaque and, well, looks like crack – at least the kind I have seen on Cops  (read: have no practical experience in the real stuff, but from TV, I can totally see it).DD_9068

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 Tbs butter
1 tsp vanilla

Necessary – candy thermometer – not kidding. Necessary.

Place sugar, water, corn syrup, and cream of tartar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Then cook without stirring until candy thermometer reaches 266 degrees.

Remove from heat and add vanilla and butter and stir until dissolved. Pour onto sil-pat lined baking sheet. When still hot, but cool-ish enough to pull, pull small bits in cords until opaque – you will burn at least your thumbs, but probably a couple of other fingers in the process. Twist into ribbons and lay on wax paper-lined baking sheet. When hard, break into pieces (just drop on baking sheet and see what happens) and wrap in cut waxed paper, or if you want to be fancy, wrap in pieces of parchment. We used waxed paper growing up, but I have taken a liking to parchment in the last few years.  

*They also butchered a pig each winter. Something I completely understand, but an not likely to be involved in.

2016 – Tomato Soup with Spinach and Mozzarella

Sausage Balls – Cook’s Country

It just would not be Christmas morning without the ubiquitous sausage balls. I love these and eat them from Christmas through January. And then I’m done. I feel like if I made them any other time of year they just would not be special. That may be stupid, but it is how I feel.

My mom made the bisquick version and I did the same for a long time. But honestly, that was the only time I used bisquick and I would end up throwing it out at a certain point between the holidays. Seemed wasteful so when I came upon this Cook’s Country recipe, I knew I had what I needed. This is no more complicated than the bisquick version either. Dead simple.

So once again, one of my favorite Christmas treats, for breakfast, of course. With grape jelly, that goes without saying. Fred always liked mustard with his, but I eat sausage balls like I eat sausage biscuits with grape jelly. I find that I am not the only person to do that and that makes me less like a strange one. I get that mustard works, but I love the sweet with the hot sausage. Then again, I also like maple syrup with hot sausage and that does not make a lot of sense, unless you are me.dd_1705

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne
2 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
8 ozs hot breakfast sausage
4 ozs sharp cheddar, shredded on the large holes of a box grater
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the food processor, pulse the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper an cayenne until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal about 12 pulses. Add sausage and cheddar and pulse until combined, about 8 more times. Place mixture in a nice sized bowl and stir in buttermilk until just combined.

Wet your hands and roll dough into 1 1/4 inch ball (about 1 Tbs each). Space evenly on baking sheet and bake until golden brown between 20 – 22 minutes, rotating baking pan halfway through. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm. With grape jelly. Yum.

You can make these ahead and bake, cool, and then freeze and just reheat in the oven at 200 degree for 15 or so minutes. Just test one and see if it where you want it to be for reheating.

24 December 2014

24 December 2016 – for Christmas Day brunch/lunch

 

 

 

Chex Mix or something like it – round 1

My mom, (here we go again), always made chex mix for Christmas Eve. No idea why really. Actually that is kind of strange – Christmas was always banana nut bread, magic bars, M&M cookies, vanilla taffy, and chex mix, oh, and then the very strange cheese ball that I always made. Once again I mention that. Strange.

Take away story: yes, do let your eleven year-old run Christmas Eve. It makes for some great stories. But not necessarily great cheese balls. Just saying.

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This is so not my mom’s recipe, but mine since I decided to make it for Christmas Eve this year. That said, this is an experiment and I want to see what I like and what I want to change. I think my “part 2” will be for the Super Bowl. Yep.

4 cups Crispix Cereal
8 ozs lightly salted cashews
1 cup pretzels twists
1 cups of bagel chips and/or pita chips
8 Tbs unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, bruised – not too mashed
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
4 sprigs thyme
1/4 tsp ground garlic
1/2 tsp Herbs de Provence
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
good pinch kosher salt

In a heavy bottomed pot over low heat, melt butter with garlic, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, ground garlic, Herbs de Provence. Let simmer super low while preheating oven to 250 degrees.

Remove thyme and garlic clove. Add Crispix, cashews, pretzels, and bagel chips to a heavy-duty foil lined baking pan. Pour butter mixture over cereal mixture and mix well to combine and let soak in just a bit, 2 – 3 minutes. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes and if you are like me adding just a bit more Worcestershire sauce each time. Spread on paper towels to cool and then store in an zip top bag. I plan to make it dinner several times this week. I mean it is cereal for dinner, right?

Modified from : www.halfbakedharvest.com/moms-secret-Christmas-eve-Chex-mix

Guess I’m not the only person who had a mom that made this for Christmas Eve. Cool.

 

Cranberry Relish 

I have been making this relish for a very long time and you either like it or you do not – it is either a horseradish thing, or more likely, a cloves thing. I really do not think there is a middle ground here. I am forever in debt to my lovely mother in law – who is now my only mom for the great gift of lots of serving bowls*. I know I use this one year after year, but it is really beautiful. Indeed. dd_1651

I started making this just after the Boy and I came back from England. And I shared it with a really good friend the first time. Now I share with lots of friends – and that makes me really happy. I am 90% sure this is a recipe from Southern Living Magazine.

2 packages (6 cups) fresh cranberries
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice
1/3 cup prepared horseradish, just drain it a bit
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Rinse cranberries, removing any that seem suspect. Combine sugar and orange juice in a large saucepan. Heat until sugar is dissolved on medium heat. Add cranberries and mix until the cranberries start to burst. Simmer for a bit. Let cool completely. Mix in the horseradish and the cloves. Refrigerate.  This will keep for months. And that is an excellent thing. Because you never know when you are going to need it.

For friends this year:

Traci 
Sandy
Joyce
Elaine
Josh
Tony
Ham

I am on my second batch and I am sure there will be a third batch. I just tell people when your canning jar is empty, let me know and I will fill it up again with cranberry relish. Because this is the time for fresh cranberries.

That being said, frozen cranberries (fresh cranberries that you shuffle off into the freezer), work for this too. No, really, they do. And I do freeze fresh cranberries, because you never know when you want cranberries with horseradish, especially in the summer. Yes, for a summer turkey sandwich with bleu cheese dressing and cranberry relish. That is good stuff.  And Tony says make the sandwich on Hawaiian rolls – I cannot believe I did not think of that before – duh.

* Need to get pictures of all the serving bowls she gave me – they are pretty much amazing.