Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Does George make Paninni?

Somewhere between 6 and 8 years ago, my mother in law bought us a George Foreman grill for Christmas. I often make toast from my homemade bread in the George (as we affectionately call it), since my bread is usually either too thickly sliced or too small dimensionally for the toaster. Trust me, since it comes pre-buttered, it's wonderful with eggs.

Of late, I've been seeing lots of people making paninni (or is it pannini? I'm confused by that spelling). When I study the pictures, I realize that's just a fancy name for grilled sandwiches. I love grilled cheese with tomato, grilled ham and cheese, whatever. So, for lunch yesterday, I made these for us.

Slices of turkey and ham with cheddar cheese and spinach, assembled on cute little pieces of sour cream bread, and grilled. I guess it qualifies as paninni. I served them with a boatload of sweet pickle chips, another thing I just adore, and everyone was happy. And when I told my dearly beloved that these now have a fancy name, he gave me a very (un)enthusiastic, "So?"

And since it was a cold, rainy day, a hot sandwich makes the world a friendlier place.

From this lazy girl's kitchen to you, Happy Tuesday. Enjoy a paninni, made in the George Foreman grill like mine, or in a real paninni maker if you're fancy.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sweet and Sour Beef

Ryan was really intrigued by the "12 Inch Everyday Pan" included with my new set. I think specifically he liked the high domed cover, thinking of the covers on room service trays in movies. (He should get over that. Room service won't be happening in this little corner of the world.) So, I decided to take a meal that I'd normally make under the broiler, and, since we only have 4 people around this week, try it on the stovetop, in the "entertaining" Everyday Pan. I'm not sure which was easier, although I'm quite certain that for more than 4 people, stovetop cooking won't be making a comeback around here any time soon.

Both Ryan and his father dubbed this meal outstanding, and Mark grun
ted that it was "OK", which is as close as that little weasel ever comes to complimenting food. Yeah, he's the kid who would get all of his nutritional and caloric requirements from a little pellet, if such a thing existed.


2 pounds steak, cut in strips
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, cut in 1/2" chunks

2 tomatoes, cut in 1/2" chunks
2 cups pineapple chunks, with juice
2 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 tbsp instant chicken bouillon powder
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water

Heat the vegetable oil in a big pan or skillet until it's quite hot. Add the onion and beef, and brown for a very short time. Add the tomato and pineapple chunks, then stir in the sugar, vinegar, chicken bouillon powder and soy sauce. Cook for a minute. Whisk the cornstarch with 1/4 cup cold water, then stir into the beef mixture. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Serve over white rice immediately. Warning: this cooks very fast, and the beef will be overcooked if you're not careful. However, if you're looking for a good meal in under 30 minutes, with time to sit and enjoy a lovely beverage for all but the last 6 to 7 minutes, this is it!

Note: I didn't serve the plates before calling the boys to dinner; I merely put the rice on their plates and let them uncover the everyday pot to discover their dinner. They were indeed entertained. Of course, the pan was safely on my passthrough, where it couldn't be spilled on anyone.

And, Paula, this meal is little girl friendly!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

New Pans!

If the government is waiting for people to get out there and spend money they don't have to jump start the economy, they'll be waiting a long time for me to participate. However, this week, I did have to spend. And my dearly beloved told me I was an idiot.

Last weekend, he stumbled into the kitchen, looking for, as Pooh would say, "a small smackerel", and found me with a screwdriver, jar of screws, and this:

"What do you think you're doing?"
"The handle fell off this pan. If I can find a new screw, I can fix it."
"You idiot! How long have you had these pans?"
"Since October of 1989." (Yes, I'm always specific like that.)
"Then buy new ones. If that handle lets go again, you'll hurt yourself."

Well, he didn't like it when I told him that the set I wanted was $200. But he
liked it even less when I told him I could probably get a screw and nut assembly for a dollar at the local lumberyard, and then I wouldn't have to get new pans. After all, I liked these pans! So, when the box arrived Friday, the little boys jumped at the opportunity to unpackage them, and line them up for me.
See how pleased my little guy was at finding a present for his mom?

Of course, things in pan-world have changed since October, 1989. I didn't get a frying pan. I got two skillets and a saute pan. There were enough changes to make me want to contemplate, much like medieval monks, the great mysteries of life, including:

"What is the meaning of life?"
"If one has an everyday pan, must one necessarily use it every day?"
"Exactly what is a saucier anyway?"
"How much kitchen crap is too much?"
And, of course, the eternal biggie, "What's for dinner?"

Happy weekend, everyone!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Chocolate Sauce

Last year, the little guy next door was in a school play, taught Mark his song, and the two little guys ran around our houses and yards singing something to the effect of "Is it fresh, is it new, blah, blah, blah, or is it full of stuff you can't pronounce?" Well, even our junk indulgences don't have to be full of stuff we can't pronounce, do they?

I found a recipe for chocolate syrup which promised to taste just like the "name brand" syrup now appearing at your local supermarket, and my little boys assure me it lives up to that promise and then some. Best of all, there's no "stuff you can't pronounce" in it.
So feel good about feeding your children or your inner child chocolate milk and sundaes! And, best of all, do it using only the microwave and the jar in which you plan to store your chocolate syrup - no dirty dishes (except for the whisk or spoon).

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1 cup hot water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Put the sugar, cocoa and salt in a jar, put the lid on, and shake to combine. Add the hot water and stir well, so there are no dry pockets in the jar. Microwave for a minute, until the sugar is dissolved, stir, and microwave for about 2 minutes more, until the mixture boils. Let it cool slightly, and add the vanilla extract. Serve hot over ice cream, or chill for use in chocolate milk.

And you can see that this really dresses up James Beard's Praline Ice Cream, at least in the opinion of the boys, although I ate mine straight, without topping.

Sinfully delicious, and as healthy as chocolate can get. Who could ask for more?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Happy Thorsday!

Thor had a wonderful week last week, with four of his big friends home, and is somewhat depressed without Jeff to talk to him and toss him pupcorn Fortunately, the weather moderated somewhat on Wednesday, and Thor and the little boys went out to romp; the rest of the week promises to be 50 degrees as well, and I expect to pack picnic lunches! Meanwhile, as the boys take Test 120, Thor offers support and guidance, and wishes to be fed.

Since many of you are doubtless confused about why Thor and everyone else is banned from the kitchen, let me explain. Remember the beautiful brunette from last week's pictures? Well, I used to have an island in the middle of my kitchen. I'd stage the pans and plates on it to serve dinner. Everyone was forbidden from the kitchen during cooking time. But, one night, when she was 7, aforementioned brunette ran through the kitchen, between the stove and island, as I was turning around to move a pan of spaghetti sauce to the island. She ran under my elbow, jostled it, and spilled some sauce down her back. I slammed the pan down, grabbed her, hauled her 2 steps to the sink, turned on cold water and hosed her. Very fortunately, she has always had long hair (I won't let the girls cut their hair as long as I pay for their support), and the hair took most of the sauce, fortunately landing below her head. Well, you know the floor was flooded, but she had only the smallest of red spots on one shoulder. Silvadeen cream, which I had since I've been known to burn myself, cleaned it up in a day.

The following week, I had the island ripped out. I kept a yardstick in the kitchen for years, threatening to use it on anyone who came in there for any reason. And you all wonder why my giant sons are afraid of their mother!

And, here's a picture of Thor and his smallest friend, since we can never see too much of Thor!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Danish Style Fish

My 12 year old found my copy of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. It was printed in 1947, and has a leather spine and corners. It belonged to my grandfather, the lawyer from Texas, who died in 1973. This is the only book of his which I have.

In paging through it, demonstrating for the kids and my dearly beloved how the book works, I happened upon this quote from Alphonso The Learned (1221-1284):

"Had I been present at the Creation, I would have given some useful hints for the better ordering of the universe."

Boy! Talk about arrogant! And I thought I could be a know-it-all!

Anyway...that's not why we're here today.

For my Catholic friends, it's still Lent. And Friday is coming. I adapted this from a recipe I saw in a cookbook published by Bon Appetit (do they still exist?) way back around 1980. My husband ate this, and declared, "Make this kind of fish every single time you cook it, until I tire of it!" So, here's a suggestion for all of you for Friday night's dinner, with a strong recommendation by my Dearly Beloved.


1 pound fish fillets

1/2 cup water
1 chicken bouillon cube or 1 tsp chicken bouillon powder
1/4 cup lemon juice
additional water
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tsp dill
1/4 cup water

1-1/2 tbsp cornstarch
2 green onions, chopped

In an ovenproof/microwavable dish, place the fish fillets, and pepper both sides to taste. Heat 1/2 cup water and dissolve the chicken bouillon in it. Add the lemon juice, and pour over the fish. Bake at 400 degrees until the fish flakes evenly. Transfer the fish to a plate for a few minutes. Pour the liquid in which the fish was cooked back into the measuring cup, and add water sufficient to return the amount to 1 cup. Return this liquid to the fish cooking dish. Whisk in the sour cream and dill. Whisk the cornstarch into the last 1/4 cup water, and whisk this mixture into the sour cream mix. Microwave for a minute or two, whisking every 30 seconds, until the sauce thickens. Return the fish to the cooking dish, sprinkle the top with the green onions, and spoon some of the sauce over the top. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes or so to heat the fish through, and serve over a bed of rice, boiled potatoes, or pasta.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Applesauce Raisin Muffins

Muffins are one of the greatest inventions ever. They work as dessert, they work for breakfast, they're a great midday snack. Best of all, once you have found a basic muffin recipe, the variations are endless. Last night, I decided that muffins would suit me well for dessert; I had a very small amount of applesauce left in the fridge, and my inspiration began


1-3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup applesauce

1/4 cup raisins
1/8 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the wet ingredients, including the applesauce, all at once, and stir until just combined. Stir in the raisins and nuts, and spoon into greased muffin pans. Bake at 400F for 12 to 15 minutes for mini muffins, or 18 to 20 minutes for large muffins. Let them cool slightly, and top with a glaze of 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1 to 2 tbsp milk or cream, and a shake or 2 of cinnamon, if desired. Of course, I made mini muffins, since I can eat more of them, and this recipe made 24 generous muffins.
My guys agreed with me that muffins were just the right thing for last night's dessert, and they continued to agree with me as they devoured the remainder late this morning.

The new picture on my header is what my yard looked like on Friday, the first day of Spring. As you can see, I'm waiting for some green to arrive. The blue spruce tree right in the center foreground of the picture was a gift to my dearly beloved from our oldest son in 1998. It was under 3 feet tall, and it makes me smile to see how it's grown. This is the first time in my life I've lived anywhere for more than 5 years, and I love knowing every little thing about my big old house and yard.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Charlotte Russe

Has anyone ever shopped at that store? Heck, I didn't even know there was a store called Charlotte Russe until my daughters found it last year. They buy lots of shoes there, as well as clothes. Anyway, while reading my Fanny Farmer cookbook a little while back, I found a dessert by the same name as a favored store, and knew I had to make this for the girls. This didn't have either a custard or a gelatine texture, but everyone seemed to enjoy it.


1/2 cup sugar
1 envelope gelatine
1/2 cup milk
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whipping cream, beaten stiff

In a 2 cup measure, combine the milk, sugar and gelatine. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, until the sugar and gelatine dissolve. Stir in the vanilla extract, and cool until it's partially set. Beat this mixture until it's fluffy, then beat half of the whipped cream into it. Fold in the other half, and scoop into a mold or into sherbet glasses. You can see the texture of the Charlotte Russe here.
Serve with fruit sauce, or with lady fingers and cut fresh fruit (such as strawberries or blueberries). I served it with strawberries pureed with sugar.

Bread Making Follow-up

Melanie, who originally asked for advice on using her new bread machine, asked another question: What kind of flour do I use?

The answer is simple: All purpose flour is the only kind that crosses my doorway. I know I'm "supposed" to use cake flour fo
r cakes, bread flour for bread, bleached or unbleached because someone says that's what it needs, but I do too much baking. I simply can't manage that kind of inventory. So I keep it simple. The one thing that I do is to be certain that before I make each loaf of bread, I stick a long wooden spoon handle into my flour canister and stir it up well. This beats out any lumps which may be in it, and fluffs the flour up. Some people also buy gluten at the store, which is sold somewhere around the flour, but I skip it.

After you've gotten the hang of the bread machine, try English Muffin Bread on the delayed timer. It will (almost) make you want to get out of bed and have breakfast! In that same post, you'll find recipes for peach jam and lemon curd, both of which are very much worth the tiny amount of effort it takes to make them.

And for Duckie, who asked about chicken fried steak under the broiler, yes, you can do it. Put a very small amount of vegetable oil in the bottom of your broiler pan (don't use the grate which goes on top), coat your steak (and you can use wheat flour for Ben), put it into the oil for a couple of seconds, and flip it. This will moisten the top of the steak so it browns nicely. I use a similar technique for turkey with walnut parmesan sauce, and it works wonderfully!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Bread Making

I've had a couple of bread making questions recently. The easiest one is first.

I had a question regarding using a bread machine from someone whose message I can't find right now (I'm so sorry!). She had just gotten one and wanted recommendations for bread recipes and a cookbook for the bread machine. For a beginning cookbook, Donna Rathmell German's is just outstanding, because she gives only the most basic of instruction.

I've had mine for 10 years. You can see that it's been used a little bit.
I also scribble recipes that I create in it, so I can replicate them again. Where else would I go to find bread recipes, after all?

Here's a very flavorful, light bread to start out with.


1-1/2 cups water
4 cups flour

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3 tsp or 6 tsp yeast

Put the ingredients in the pan, turn on the machine, and let it do its thing.
Note that there is a reason I give 2 amounts of yeast. The lesser amount is if you have time to let the bread machine run through its entire cycle, the greater amount is for the "Express" or 1 hour cycle.

Also note that I use yeast purchased from a restaurant supply house. I asked at a bakery to find out what yeast they used. Given that it is so much less expensive than the individual envelopes sold at the store, I'd advise everyone to do this.

If you're making your bread right away, and not putting it on the delayed cycle, sprinkle your yeast on top of the water, so it starts to soften right away. Your bread will be better. Also, use water that's about as warm as your hand. Too cold, and it won't rise. Too hot, and you'll kill the yeast. If you're using the bread machine, any butter can just be cut in small chunks and added to the mix. If not, it should be melted, and added after the flour, so it won't mix with the water before the actual mixing starts.

Finally, if you're at altitudes over 5000 feet, say, in Denver, reduce your yeast by 1/3. And if you're in a dry climate, increase your liquids by 10%. (I learned this by doing research for a friend who lived in Denver. I've never lived at high elevation or in a dry climate.)

After you've used your machine for a while, you will be comfortable enough to take the dough out of the machine, and shape it into loaves, which is what I do. All of my recipes make a 2 pound loaf in the bread machine, or two small loaves (8"x4" pan), or two long (17") bagu
ette style loaves. When everyone's home, it all gets devoured in one night, and when they're not, I get two days and nights - one per loaf. I also don't buy store bread for sandwiches any longer, because these recipes have so much more flavor.


If you have a stand mixer, bread mixing doesn't get a lot easier. Simply pour warm water in the bowl, sprinkle the yeast on top of it, using 6 tsp if you want it to be done
quickly, and 3 tsp if you have more time, then add the flour and other ingredients. Using the dough hook, turn the mixer on to the lowest speed only to mix your bread. It will take about 10 minutes, after which you can let the bread rise, punch it down, knead a bit more, form into loaves and let it rise again before baking.

If you have a hand mixer, pour the warm water into your mixing bowl, sprinkle on the yeast, and wait a few minutes for the yeast to soften up and sink in the water. Put half the flour, and the other ingredients, into the bowl, and blend with a hand mixer at the lowest setting. Add the balance of the yeast in 1/2 cup increments, until the mixer begins to strain. Then stir in the balance of the flour with a wooden spoon, or knead it in with your hands (remove rings first, or the dough left between the stones will be just nasty!), depending upon how stiff the dough is.

To knead dough:

Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of flour on your counter or cutting board, leaving a pile to the side with which to dust your hands and work into the dough if needed. Turn the dough out of the bowl onto the counter, cover it with the inverted bowl and let it sit for about 10 minutes, which will make the kneading easier. To knead, push the heels of both hands into the ball of dough at the point closest to you, fold the resulting lump on the far side over, so it's doubled over, rotate the dough 90 degrees, and repeat until the dough is smooth, usually about 5 minutes. Return the dough to its bowl, cover it with a warm towel, and let it rise until doubled in bulk, 30 to 90 minutes, depending upon the amount of yeast used. When it's risen properly, if you poke your finger into the dough, it will leave a dent. At that point, punch the dough down (yes, you can punch it with your fist), shape into loaves and place in well greased pans, and let it rise again. The second rise usually takes less time than the first.

Note that you do not want to knead bread dough on a granite countertop. Since granite is cold, it will chill your dough, and greatly slow the rising of your dough. My notes about using less yeast and more liquids at high altitudes and in dry climates are still applicable, however.

Bread is baked at 400 degrees for a metal pan, or 350 for a glass one. Loaves m
ade in my 8"x4" pans usually take 25 to 30 minutes, and baguettes take 17 to 23 minutes. To test for doneness, tap the bottom of the pan lightly. It should sound hollow, because the bread will have pulled away from the sides and bottom of the pan slightly. Remove from the pans immediately, and lay them on their sides on a rack to cool, covered with a towel, or, as I do, put in a basket lined with a towel or cloth to cool. If left in the pans, the loaves will collect condensate on the bottom, and become soggy.


Here are three of my favorite whole wheat bread recipes. Follow the directions above. I promise Ben and the pups will enjoy them.


1-1/2 cups water

1/4 cup butter
2 cups wheat flour
2 cups white flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tsp or 6 tsp yeast

This bread makes great peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and toast, according to my two youngest bread consumers. It has a somewhat sweet flavor.


1-1/2 cups water
2 cups white flour
2 cups wheat flour
2 tbsp honey
1-1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
3 tsp or 6 tsp yeast

This bread is shaped into baguettes. It's great with beef or ham, and makes a w
onderful grinder, po' boy or hoagie (depending on where you live).


1-1/2 cups water
3 cups white flour
1 cup wheat flour
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar

2 tsp salt
3 tsp or 6 tsp yeast

This is a lighter wheat bread, since it contains less whole wheat flour. It's baked in regular loaf pans, and is great with chicken. It also makes good toast and sandwiches.

Hope this helps someone out there!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thor's sisters' Samoas

Because Paula and Melanie asked, the rest of you will be the lucky recipients of the recipe the girls came up with for Samoas. These were really good; even with only 4 people in the house who like coconut, they were gone in a day.


Shortbread base:

3/4 cup softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
chocolate chips

Cream the butter and sugar, beat in the egg and vanilla, then the flour and salt. Spread in a 13x9 pan, press chocolate chips to suit your preference into the top of the shortbread, and bake at 350F for 20 to 25 minutes, until light golden. Let the shortbread cool completely while preparing the topping.

7 ounce package coconut
12 ounces caramels
1/4 tsp salt

1 tbsp milk

Cover a baking sheet with waxed or parchment paper. Spread the coconut out on it, and toast at 300F for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring every 5 minutes. When it's done, spray a glass bowl with baking spray, or grease with oil. Put the caramels, salt and milk in it, and microwave until completely melted, stirring every minute or so. Stir the coconut into the caramel mixture, and spread it on the shortbread quickly, before it hardens. Melt semi sweet chocolate or dark chocolate and drizzle over the top, or just press more chocolate chips into the top of the cookie bars. Let them cool and harden, then cut into strips and serve.

If you can save any overnight, my daughter testifies that they make a great breakfast with coffee.

Thor and the Samoas

On Saturday, two of my daughters trekked to the supermarket to buy coconut and replicate Samoas, one of their favorite girl scout cookies.
So, you ask, what has this to do with Thor, since dogs can't have chocolate?

Look closer.

There he is, patiently waiting. As soon as Mom enters the kitchen, he knows he'd better leave. The kitchen banishment rule applies to all beings, biped and quadruped, who are not actively cooking, and it's the fault of the brunette in these photos.

Happy Thorsday!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cake, Coffee and Chocolate on One Plate!

Well, it wasn't that big a deal for me, since I don't drink coffee and don't like chocolate flavored foods. But for some people, life doesn't get much better than this.

This is another creation brought to you with the compliments of Fannie Farmer. I found these recipes, put them together, and everyone loved it. There was no cake left over for people to snack on this morning. Of course, given the number of people in my household, no one is surprised by that!


1-1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup milk

Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside. Beat the butter until creamy, add the vanilla, then gradually add the sugar and beaten egg. Beat half the flour mixture into the butter, add the milk, and then beat in the rest of the flour mixture. Pour into a greased 8"x8" square pan, band bake at 350F for 25 minutes. Top with....


1/4 cup boiling water
1 tsp butter
1 tsp instant coffee
1 pound confectioners sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder

Dissolve the coffee in the hot water, and add the butter. Beat 1 cup of sugar into this mixture, then add the cocoa powder. Beat in the remaining sugar. If necessary, thin with milk to spreading consistency. While my frosting was the right consistency, my cake was too warm, since people were very impatient to get their hands on their desserts.
See? Cake, coffee and chocolate all on the same plate. If it lasts until breakfast, you're all set!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

French Market Pie

I think this recipe came from Katherine's blog, but I simply scribbled it on a piece of paper and stuffed it in a pile of other ideas. If it's not Katherine's, apologies to whoever originated it, and sorry I'm such a dumbbunny that I didn't write down origin, date, or anything!

That being said, this was Pi Day's dessert Pie. The confession having been made many times, I know no one here's surprised at the origin of my crust (recipe: hunt in your supermarket's cooler case).

There was not one scrap left over from this pie. (Note to self: Make 2 or 3 of these if more than 5 people are home. Suggestion to everyone else: see above note to self.) My husband opined that this was similar in flavor to pecan pie, but without nuts; everyone else simply mourned the fact that it was already gone.


1/3 cup melted butter
1-1/2 cups light brown sugar
3 eggs
1/3 cup whipping cream

1/2 tsp vanilla extract
9" pie shell

Beat the butter and brown sugar together until combined, then add the eggs one at a time, blending completely. Beat in the cream and vanilla, and pour into the pie crust. Bake at 350F for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve with whipped cream. Cry when it's all gone.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Pizza for Pi Day

Saturday was 3.14, which, as we math fans know, is Pi. Hence, Pi Day. What better way to celebrate than Pizza Pie? The kids love it, I don't, which is irrelevant, and the girls made it, which is even better.

I tried a new crust recipe, and my dearly beloved informed me that this was the best pizza he'd had since leaving New Haven 40 years ago. I guess you might say he sorta liked it? For the record, I used pizza sauce from cans. I don't feel the need to take hours to make the sauce for something I think of as "fast food".


1-1/2 cups water
3 tsp yeast
2 cups flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
2/3 tsp salt

2/3 tsp sugar
2 tbsp olive oil

Soften the yeast in the water, stir in the rest of the ingredients. For one batch, you can mix this in a bread machine. For the record, if you're tripling this recipe, be careful mixing it in a Kitchenaid mixer. Mine overheated, and shut itself down for half an hour. I was less than pleased. The triple batch made 2 large baking trays plus 4 small baking trays. There were leftovers.

But everyone else was pleased with the results. What more can one ask on a Saturday night? Tomorrow, I'll show you our dessert for Pi Day.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Quick Sally Lunn Bread

Last night, a while herd of spring breakers arrived home. My daughter was flying in from Denver, and arriving right around midnight, so my son and other daughters, who could have left West Virginia around 4PM, delayed their departure until 6PM, so they'd be passing the airport when their sister arrived, saving Mom an hour's trip. Their joke was that, since they were driving my Suburban, they could fling a door open, heave out a tow rope, and sister could stand on her wheeled suitcase, grab the rope, and tow herself in. It would appear, however, that they did stop my truck to let her in. Trust me, however, they were all ready for the beef stew which was waiting when they walked in the door at 12:30AM. It was a darn good thing I made 2 gallons of stew, because it was all gone! Poor Jeffrey had no stew for breakfast.

Because they were coming in late, and I didn't want to be fussing with baking powder biscuits at midnight, I made Quick Sally Lunn bread instead. This is a baking powder version of the classic very rich bread. I made two loaves, and there were a couple of crusts left for Thor. Poor baby! He was so excited that so many of his people were home, I'm not sure he cared too much.


2 eggs

3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar

Beat the eggs until light, and add the milk and oil. Sift together the dry ingredients, and mix into the wet. Turn into a loaf pan, and bake at 375 for about an hour. It's crumbly when sliced, as you can see in this picture, but it's worth every bit of chasing the crumbs.
And, as a Saturday bonus, here's Thor, preventing two of his friends from going to bed after dinner. He was certain they'd leave him again, and a happier boy was never seen that Thor this morning when they descended from the second floor in search of coffee and food! And, yes, Jeff was behaving like a total goof, but it was 2AM, after all!

Monday, we'll report on Pi Day. Hope you all have as nice a weekend as Thor's having!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Oranges, Inspired by Betty

Quite some time ago, we were friendly with a Chinese lawyer, whose wife, Betty, was the best cook on the planet. Well, maybe his mother was best, but Betty was a close second. Betty and her mother in law would host a Christmas party every year, invite about 100 of their closest friends, and do all of the cooking. Chinese food, of course. It was beyond wonderful. We went to Betty's house a number of times for dinner, too, and the food was beyond wonderful. When I grow up, I want to cook like Betty.

One of the things I remember Betty serving was a simple dessert consisting of sliced oranges in a dressed up syrup; I asked her about it, and never made it. I think that was 1991, but it could have been 1990, too. Well, I was staring at a bag of oranges which were not really sweet enough to be a wonderful snack, but we really can't throw away oranges, now can we? Suddenly, I remembered Betty's oranges from approaching 20 years ago, and was inspired! So, sifting through my memory banks, and thinking carefully, I present you with....


3 oranges
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp Cointreau

Peel and zest the oranges, being sure to remove all the w
hite pith from the oranges. Slice thinly across the width of the oranges, so you have pretty little sections. You really might want to remove the seeds, although I didn't, and everyone lived through it. In the a 2 cup measuring pitcher, mix the sugar, water, Cointreau and orange zest. Microwave for 2 to 3 minutes, until the syrup thickens, stirring every 30 to 45 seconds. Put the oranges in a large serving dish, or individual bowls, pour the syrup over them, and chill at least an hour. Serves 4.
If you're not a fan of Cointreau, you can replace that with more water. Since it's cooked, there's no alcohol in it to prohibit small children from eating it, although you might not want to admit that to them. And, Paula, this one's safe for your smallest child, and it seems like it's Lent-friendly, too.

Tomorrow is Pi Day, 3.14. I hope everyone's planning pizza pie, dessert pie, and any other pie your heart desires! Beat your vague memories of Geometry into submission! Tell them you know what Pi really means: tasty stuff! Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Rainy Thorsday

What's a dog to do when it's been raining for three days?


And bring a lobster to school.
Mom spends a lot of time wiping up muddy footprints. Happy Thorsday, everyone! It's supposed to be sunny later today!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pierre Franey's Poached Chicken

Chicken's a nice, forgiving meat. If it's overcooked a little bit, it doesn't really harm it, whereas if beef is overcooked, kiss your delicious dinner goodbye. There are also countless ways to cook chicken, and because it's mild flavored, it can become just about anything. Really. So, yesterday I forgot to hunt up a meat idea in the freezer. So I turned to chicken pieces, which I thawed just a bit for 5 minutes in the microwave. While the original recipe called for a whole chicken, cut into pieces, this still came out great. True to my children's traditions, this has now been dubbed "Shreddy Chicken". Their names are nothing if not exactly descriptive - not poetic, but descriptive. So, without further ado, here's my adaptation of Pierre Franey's


3 pounds chicken pieces, with or without bones
6 cups water
2 carrots, cut into chunks
1 onion, cut in eighths
2 ribs celery, cut into chunks

6 peppercorns
4 cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp salt

1-1/2 cups rice

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup lemon juice

Put everything except the rice in a stockpot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is done. Put the rice in another pot, and strain 3 cups of the chicken broth out of the chicken pot. Add it to the chick
en with 1 tsp salt, and cook, covered, 20 minutes, until done. 5 minutes before the rice is done, add some chopped chives, if desired. As the rice is cooking, whisk the cream with the cornstarch, and stir into the chicken and broth in the first pot. If necessary, rinse the mixing cup with a tiny bit of water and add it to the chicken broth, to get all of the cream and cornstarch mixed together. Continue to simmer until the rice is done, by which time the sauce will have thickened. 5 minutes before the rice is done, add the lemon juice to the chicken broth, and serve over the rice.

I served this with asparagus sauteed in butter and fresh ground pepper. No one left anything for poor Thor, so I had to mix bread with a little bit of gravy. Our furry children must have human food, too, or they feel they've not been fed. Remind me to tell you some time about our cat named Graceful who loved spaghetti and green beans....

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Floating Islands

A while back, Prudence Pennywise and others made Floating Islands for Tuesdays with Dorrie. I don't participate, because I've never been much good at taking directions, but I did tuck the idea into the back of my head. Since my dearly beloved greatly enjoys meringue, I thought I'd give this a whirl. With recipes and guidelines from Fannie Farmer, I came up with this lovely offering! And, remember, this is pretty easy; made ahead and assembled at dessert time, it was a hit in my little corner of the world.


"Ocean" (Creme Anglaise)

3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla extract


2 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk

To make the ocean, first prepare the Creme Anglaise (also known as Sauce Anglaise). Scald 2 cups milk in the microwave. Beat 3 eggs in the top of a double boiler with the sugar. Slowly add the hot milk, while stirring, and then sprinkle in the salt. Cook for about 7 to 8 minutes, until the sauce thickens so it coats the back of the spoon (it will never be as thick as custard). Stir in the vanilla extract (or sherry or brandy, if you so desire), place plastic wrap on the surface of the Creme, and chill for a couple of hours (or overnight).

To make the islands, whip the egg whites, sugar and vanilla until very stiff. Heat the milk to a low boil in a small saucepan. Scoop large spoonsful of the meringue out of the mixing bowl (about the size of a whole egg, or larger), and cook by poaching in the simmering milk for about 3 minutes, turning once. You'll only be able to cook one piece at a time. Place on a plate, and cool to room temperature; the islands will deflate very quickly.

For my dessert sauce, I simply put about 1/2 cup thawed strawberries (left from last summer's expedition) in the blender with 2 tbsp of sugar, whirled vigorously until it liquified, and chilled it until ready to use.
To serve, spoon Creme Anglaise into a serving bowl, and float an island in it. Drizzle a dessert sauce over the island, and serve. It was a perfect anniversary dessert, and would be great after a nice meal for adults, or holiday dinner. And, Paula, your little one can eat it, too!

Monday, March 9, 2009

My Dress Was Too Big

I needed a size 1. I found a size 5. I had one day to find the right dress, so I took the 5.

We'd been dating 7 weeks.

I thought he was perfect. He was 31, tall, nice looking, talkative, extremely self-confident, self employed and successful. What did he want with a cynical, cantankerous, quiet 18 year old like me?

No one was invited. The picture was taken by the minister. That was 30 years ago yesterday. He is the best thing that ever happened to me.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Bacon Meatloaf

Bacon Meatloaf! Words to warm the cockles of a man's heart.

My 12 year old really loves meatloaf. It's right up there at the top of the best things in life, in his book. My husband has never been able to understand why meatloaf doesn't taste like meat (bread fillers, of course). So, I came up with this recipe, and there were no leftovers for Ryan's lunch today. Poor Thor didn't even get much in the way of scrap.

3 pounds ground beef
1/3 pound white cheddar cheese
1/2 onion
1 egg
1 tsp salt
6 to 8 strips raw bacon

In the food processor, chop the onion and cheese (add the egg to make the process faster). Mix this mess with the beef and salt, and form into a loaf. Cover the top of the meatloaf in strips of bacon, and cook at 350F for about an hour.

I served this with green beans and heart attack potatoes. This dinner gave new meaning to my daughter's phrase "heart attack goodness on a plate!"

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Grammar Day Pretzels

I know this is a late day post, but I couldn't ignore Thorsday, now, could I?

Yesterday, the boys made pretzels, using our Calvert School recipe, shaped like punctuation marks. Maybe it's not that original, but I'm not certain how else to illustrate grammar.

Anyway, the boys had fun (notice Thor sitting on the floor behind them, thinking I was out of the room and so wouldn't notice him in the kitchen).
Rolling out pretzels is such a clean procedure.

But weren't they beautiful!