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We woke up this morning to snow, a decent amount of it about 8 inches on the ground and more falling still from the sky. So, as someone recently said perhaps this is going to be the theme of the holidays this year, snow on the eve of each. Suits me just fine. We had snow the evening before Halloween and then snow on the Eve of Thanksgiving, round it out with some snow on Christmas Eve and I’ll be one very happy little camper.
It of course didn’t help that one of the boys decided it was time to make some cinnamon buns and in order to do that we needed Christmas music playing in the background. In addition to the cinnamon buns we took a stab at homemade jelly doughnuts.
Proofing by the woodstove.
The finished product……..
Lately, when I am searching for a recipe, either for some new ingredient I want to use or simply to find a different way to make the same old ingredients, I find myself clicking on the “Images” link in Google instead of sifting through the recipes themselves. I mean, we all essentially eat with our eyes, don’t we? If something is visually appealing to us, it is more a recipe that we might give a whirl. I don’t know about any of you, but personally a cookbook without pictures (with the exception of my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook) is a waste of good money. I want to see what the finished dish is supposed to look like before I attempt to cook it. I do not understand why cookbooks don’t have lots and lots of pictures. It would seem to me cookbooks sporting mouthwatering photos are more likely to sell than those that require you to imagine what the finished recipe is supposed to look like.
For example, don’t these just make you want to eat these?
Our first connection with our food, is usually its visual appeal. This is one of the reasons that presentation of food is all so important in restaurants. If it looks visually appealing and makes a nice presentation, we are eager to dig in and taste it, so we can confirm with our taste buds what our eyes are telling us.
Are you hungry yet?
What’s one to do with all the apples that we have literally lying around here? We’re not big applesauce fans so little sense to take the time and effort to can them into applesauce. While pie is a definite, I just haven’t really had the time to make pie and really not many have been around to eat it.
I have been trying a few different apple cake recipes to find the one, in the words of Little Bear, that is “just right”. Here are pictures of the latest incarnation.
Neither of these have anything to do with the other really except that the French Onion soup that we ate for dinner tonight was cooking off and on for most of the day yesterday. It was an on-again, off-again cooking session. I sliced the onions, poached them as I was supposed to do and then turned down the flame to let them slow cook and caramelize. Except that we had to run out and I had to turn them off. Then we were home and on they went again. Then our friend next door returned home from her errands and it was time for our KitchenAid Repair Party at her house. My totally awesome husband ordered the parts to fix my mixer and our friend’s mixer which both stopped working. It was a fun hour or so of mixer repair and reassembly. We both have working mixers again! But, the poor soup, it was put into stasis once again while we were doing that and then back on the flame went. At about 8 o’clock last night I finished making the soup, which really didn’t take long except for our interrupted onion cooking.
We reheated it and had it with homemade baguette croutons and melted mozzarella cheese from the farmer’s markets. It was well worth the wait.
There are still a plethora of tomatoes in the garden. I have roasted a lot of them. Now I am making crushed tomatoes with them that I am freezing to use later in tomato sauce, stews, soups and the like.
It’s a fairly simple process (which would be a lot simpler if I didn’t have to peel the tomatoes first)
1. Cut an x shaped slit into the bottom of each tomato with a sharp knife.
2. Drop the tomatoes into a pot of boiling water for 1-2 minutes.
3. Remove from water and the skins should peel off with little effort.
You now have a naked tomato.
4. Then quarter the skinned tomatoes and place into food processor.
5. Blend to desired consistency. At this point you can place it in a pot to make sauce as you would with canned crushed tomatoes
Or put in a container to freeze.
you were at my house for breakfast this morning?
See, when I can’t sleep for whatever reason, I usually get up. No sense staring at the ceiling for hours. Then, when I’m up, I usually bake. Someone should benefit from my insomnia, don’t you think?
This morning I baked cinnamon buns from a recipe I got from WhatsCookingAmerica.net. They are some of the best cinnamon buns that I have made or tasted. I have adapted the recipe for my own taste.
Recipe – Ingredients (Buns)
1 cup milk (heat 1 minute in microwave)
1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
5 cups bread flour
3 teaspoons yeast
1. Mix together all ingredients in order given in stand mixer until well blended. Knead for approximately 3 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Remove from mixing bowl, place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled. About 1 hour.
2. After dough has risen, roll out into a rectangle about 13 x 9.
3. Use butter from filling recipe to spread across entire surface of dough.
4. Spread filling over butter.
5. Roll dough up into a log.
6. Cut into 14 pieces.
7. Place 7 pieces into one round 9 inch cake pan. Place the other 7 pieces into the other cake pan. Make sure that they are not touching.
8. Cover and let rise again, about one hour until they have doubled and are touching each other.
9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
10. Cook buns in oven for approximately 20 minutes until golden brown.
11. Remove and frost with glaze (recipe below).
Ingredients – Filling
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
5 T. cinnamon
Mix together the cinnamon and sugar to form a cinnamon sugar. You will sprinkle this over your dough after you spread with the butter.
Ingredients – Frosting
1/4 c. softened butter
2 t. vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners sugar
2-3 T. milk
mix all ingredients together until a glaze forms. Add more milk if necessary to make a nice smooth glaze, but only add a little at a time or it will be too watery. Pour the glaze on top of the cinnamon buns and spread evenly. (I don’t use cream cheese as in the original recipe just because I don’t really care for the taste of it in my cinnamon bun)
I did something today that I have never, ever done before. I canned peaches. Okay, so it’s not like I cured cancer or something, but for me, this was pretty big. I have ventured into the jam and preserves, but only with berries, not with any other fruit. My friend was kind enough to let me in on a deal for cases of peaches which we picked up the day before we were leaving for vacation. We took a huge bag of them with us and devoured them since they were delicious. When I returned I had an entire shelf of the refrigerator filled with the remainder of the case of peaches – which by the way is quite a lot of peaches.
I am always intrigued by the fact that so many of my friends and neighbors “put up” so many things that somehow I just never gave much thought to doing myself. Peaches for instance. I would tend to avoid canned peaches during the off season and just gouge on the fresh peaches when they are fresh. But this…well, these are quite good and still have the taste of fresh on them. I am going to use some more of the peaches (oh yes, I still have peaches left over) to make peach preserves which I will use to mix in my yogurt for my very own peach flavored yogurt in the mornings. Yum.
Getting back to the canned peaches — the first step is to peel them which is easily accomplished by cutting an “x” into the bottom of the peaches and quickly dipping them in boiling water and then plunging them into a bowl of cold water with some ice. The skin comes off extremely easily, leaving you with a perfectly naked peach.
Cut the peaches into your choice of size, slices, quarters or halves. I did decent sized slices for mine.
I then did a “cold or raw” pack. This means that you place the fruit into the sterilized quart jars and then pour a simply syrup over it.
Here are the finished products.
- Peaches, taste of summer (graceandlife.wordpress.com)
It was a weekend full of jam. We picked raspberries, picked blueberries and grabbed strawberries at the farmer’s market. I made raspberry jam and mixed berry jam and blueberry jam.
Raspberries were picked at the bottom of the hill at Cole’s….that’s pretty much as close as we can get beside our own yard (and yes, we’re working on that).
This was how it looked crushed in the pot with low sugar pectin added….. I then added 4 cups of sugar (yes, that is the low sugar recipe) and brought it up to a boil. Jars were sterilized, filled, water bathed and then……
here is the finished product —yum. It’s amazing how your perspective changes when you start to can for yourself. Store bought just doesn’t cut it — no matter how expensive or fancy it purports to be. There is nothing that beats local and handmade.
The mixed berry jam was a first since it is not often that you can find local fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries all at the same time. It was definitely a hit…..delicious. I’ll be scouring around looking for more local strawberries in order to take advantage of the berry season.
Here’s the ingredients for our stir fry dinner tonight.
Chicken breasts chopped into bite size pieces
Baby bok choy and sliced red bell pepper