Sunday, December 15, 2013

Final Carrot Harvest

First of all, I would like to apologize for my lack of posting lately!  With the Holiday's fast approaching, I have found myself with too much to do and not enough time on my hands. 

As I was going through my unpublished posts, I found this one I had started last fall of a basket of carrots I harvested.  I planted a mix of carrots and was happily surprised at the results!  It is interesting to note that I actually thought the purple carrots were sweeter than the orange carrots.  Has anyone done a taste test?  Any thoughts or experiences to share?




Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Crispy Double Chocolate Cookies

The other day, Charlie was in the mood for some really chocolatey cookies.  And, after he mentioned it, I decided I was too!

I decided to combine some recipes to make these Crispy Double Chocolate Cookies.  They are a snap to whip up. 




The dough looks very dry and crumbly - this is ok.



The dough is rolled into logs and chilled.  As you can see, my cookie dough log is a bit messy.  It will be okay.



Then, each log is sliced into 1/2 inch-ish thick slices and baked.  The finished cookies are crisp and chocolatey.  




These cookies are perfect with a glass of ice cold milk.


What is your favorite way to eat chocolate cookies?


Double Chocolate Cookies

  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 heaping tablespoons Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate, chopped roughly
Cream butter until soft and creamy.  Mix in brown sugar, white sugar, salt and vanilla extract until well blended.  Combine flour, cocoa and baking soda together in another bowl.  Stir flour mixture into butter/sugar mixture by hand and fold just until combined.  It is very important not to overwork this mixture.  As you can see from the picture, it should look really crumbly. 

Scrape half the mixture onto saran wrap and gather into a log shape.  Repeat with the other half.  Wrap the logs up really well with the saran wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and as long as 3 days.  

When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Using a thin bladed knife, slice the chilled dough into 1/2 inch slices.  If they break, just squeeze them back together.  Place cookies on parchment paper lined baking sheets or use a silpat.  

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.  Even though the cookies won't look done, remove the cookies from the oven and let stand on the baking sheet for about 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Enjoy with a glass of ice-cold milk!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Moroccan Lemons and Linguine

Earlier this year, Charlie decided to try making Preserved Moroccan Lemons.  Though I will be posting about it soon, basically all you do is pack fresh, quartered lemons with salt and let them sit for a long time.

So now, we have a half-gallon mason jar of preserved lemons sitting in our refrigerator.  What to do with them?   The first thing I decided to make was a pasta dish.



I added in artichoke hearts....




And chopped up one of the preserved lemons - yes, peels and all.




I added a few other things, and came up with this delicious, lemony chicken pasta.




Moroccan Lemons and Linguine 

  • 1 pound linguine, cooked
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound raw chicken, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 can artichoke hearts (not marinated; I used the quartered ones)
  • 1 preserved lemon, finely diced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • juice from one fresh lemon
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • salt & pepper to taste 

Melt butter in a large saucepan, add onions and chicken and cook until onions until are soft and chicken is cooked.  Add drained artichokes hearts.  Add preserved lemon, white wine, lemon juice, Old Bay, celery salt and salt and pepper to taste. Stir and cook until sauce thickens slightly.  Place pasta in pan with the artichoke mixture and toss to coat, heating at the same time. If it is too dry, add a little of the pasta water, more wine, chicken stock or water.  Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.  Serve warm, with a sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fried Green Tomatoes

Ever since I was young, I can remember my Grandma Lois making fried green tomatoes.  When I was quite young, I was told teasingly, "fried green tomatoes for grown-ups!"  Of course, this only made me want to eat them more!  Whenever I did get to eat fried green tomatoes, I loved them.  Now, I get to make them for my husband. 


The star of the show - the green tomato.




I use my mandolin to get nice, even, and thin slices of the green tomato.  I know some people slice their tomatoes thicker, but I tend to like thinner slices of tomato.  If you want them thicker, feel free!




Dip each slice in flour, eggs and cracker crumbs, and fry in butter until golden brown.




Fried and ready to eat!




Delicious!



  • 1 or 2 green tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 cup crushed saltine crackers
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • sprinkle of salt and pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4-1/2 cup butter
In a small bowl, stir together the flour, salt and pepper.  Place the crushed saltine crackers in another bowl, and the beaten eggs mixed with the milk in a third bowl.  Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Dip each tomato slice in the egg to coat, then in the flour mixture.  Dip the floured tomato slice back into the egg, and then into the cracker crumbs. Place the coated tomato slices in the hot skillet, and fry until golden brown on each side, about 3 to 5 minutes per side.  Add more butter to the pan, if necessary.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Flower Bouquets...

Good afternoon!  I was just looking over some pictures from the summer, and thought you might enjoy seeing some of the flour bouquets I made. 


The dahlia's were wonderful!  We've picked so many of these 'dinner plate' white dahlias.



We've also had a pretty good year with sunflowers.




Some more dahlias, with a few sheaves of wheat for contrast.  




This is a one gallon ball jar, so you can tell this is a pretty big bouquet!  I took a picture of it with a box of sure jell in front so you could have a size comparison.



A close up view of the same bouquet.  So bright and cheerful!




Another large bouquet, with pink pompom dahlias, pink stargazer lilies, pink love-lies bleeding, white dahlias and gladiolus and a yellow sunflower.  This was one of my favorite bouquets of the summer!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Peanut Butter Molasses Sandwich

For lunch today, I was really in the mood for molasses.  Strange?  I thought so too.  So I ended up creating this sandwich: slightly toasted bread, a layer of crunchy peanut butter, a 1/4 slice of bacon, and about a tablespoon of molasses drizzled over the whole thing.  The molasses was so sweet and the bacon and peanut butter just a little bit salty, with a satisfying crunch from the crunchy peanut butter.  It was so delicious - and easy to make!

Do you like to eat molasses? 

                      


Friday, October 25, 2013

Earthquake Cake

Have you ever eaten an Earthquake Cake?  The first one I had was at a church potluck when I was a teenager.  As soon as I tried it, I knew I had to have the recipe!  Thankfully the other lady was willing to share! 

Earthquake Cake is not pretty.  It is lumpy, bumpy and has caverns and crevasses.  But it is also chocolately, nutty, coconut-ty chewy, nutty and a little bit creamy. 


The recipe starts out with layers of coconut and pecans in the bottom of a 9x13 pan. 




Then, chocolate cake batter.




The cake batter is sprinkled with blobs of a cream cheese mixture, marshmallows, toffee bits and chocolate chips.   




Then it is baked, and the crevasses are formed.




Leaving you with ooey-gooey-chocolatey-goodness.



Earthquake Cake

  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1-2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, toasted
  • 1 box chocolate cake mix
  • eggs, oil and water for cake mix
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and bubbly
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 small package cheesecake instant pudding
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
Grease 9x13 pan.  Sprinkle pecans and coconut over bottom of pan.  Prepare cake batter per box instructions and spread over nuts and coconut.  Mix melted butter and cream cheese with electric mixer until smooth.  Add powdered sugar and pudding mix and beat on low until smooth and creamy.  Dollop heaping tablespoons of cream cheese mixture over chocolate cake batter.  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until cake is set (cream cheese spots will be soft and gooey).  Let cool and enjoy!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fresh Peach Pie

I bought one "lug" of peaches this year, and one of the things I decided to do with them was to make a fresh peach pie.  I love fresh peach pie because, well, the peaches are so fresh! 


We start with a pre-baked pie crust. 





Of course, the star ingredient: fresh, juicy, perfectly ripened peaches.





Next we make a glaze.





And peel and slice the peaches.  Since the glaze has lemon juice in it, you don't have to worry about treating the peaches.  If you'd like, though, you could certainly hit them with some fruit fresh or some other agent to prevent darkening!





Next, gently fold the sliced peaches into the glaze mixture.





And gently pour the peach mixture into the pie shell.  Refrigerate for about four hours before serving.  Note: I let this sit overnight in the fridge and that was a bad idea - the peaches turned a little dark and the glaze "broke" a little - I would definitely recommend eating this the same day you make it! 




Fresh Peach Pie


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3cup corn starch (heaping)
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • pinch salt
  • yellow food coloring, optional
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 5 or 6 peaches, peeled and sliced
  • 1 precooked 9 inch pie shell
  • whipped cream if desired
Combine sugar, water, cornstarch, food coloring, lemon juice and salt in a medium saucepan.  Whisk until combined.  Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until thick (and hard to stir.)  Remove from heat and add butter, stir until melted and combined.  Add peaches and gently fold to coat.  Pour into precooked pie shell.   Refrigerate for about four hours to set.  It is best to eat this pie as soon as possible after the four hours.  Top with whipped cream if desired and serve.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Canned Corn

Part Three of the Corn Saga: Canned Corn.  Charlie and I prefer canned corn over frozen corn, so, I decided to can the rest of the corn from Grandma and Grandpa.


Start with a bunch of fresh-as-possible corn-on-the-cob.





Shuck the corn.  Remove husks and silks from corn cobs.  Try to get as many of the silks off of the corn as possible.  For cutting the cobs, if it helps, you can leave the bottom of the stalk attached so you have something to hold onto when cutting the kernels off.  I tend to cut off half a cob at a time, then flip it over and hold onto the other end while cutting off the remaining kernels.




Since we are canning whole kernel corn, all we have to do is to cut the kernels off the cob.  Cut corn from cob, making sure to not scrape the cob.  Transfer rinsed corn to a large bowl.




As I said before, this large bowl holds 42 cups of corn!



COMMERCIAL CANNING BREAK: This would be a good time to:
1) add water to your pressure canner, add a 1/4-ish cup of vinegar (I like to do this to keep the water clean and helps keep the inside of the canner clean) and start the heat on the canner. 
2) put a pot of water on to boil. This will be the water you pour over the corn after it’s in the jar.
3) Put your lids and rings into a small saucepan of water on low heat. These don’t need to boil, but they must get warm so the rubber softens.
COMMERCIAL CANNING BREAK OVER.


Ok, back to the corn!  Using canning funnel, spoon the corn into hot, sterilized jars - the jars have either been warming in a 170 degrees F oven or have just went through a wash cycle and are drying in the dishwasher or are simmering in the boiling water canner.  Following the raw pack method in the Ball Canning Book, I simply ladle the corn into the jars (I use pint jars, but feel free to use quarts).  Don’t pack the corn in the jar, just loosely fill up to the bottom of the neck of the jar.




Add 1/2 salt to each pint and 1 teaspoon salt to each quart.




Pour boiling water over corn, and use spatula or tool to make sure all the air bubbles are removed from each jar.  Leave an inch of headspace.  Wipe around the tops of all the jars with a clean towel, and add the lids and rings.  Transfer all the jars to the canner that has been heating up on the stove.



Since all pressure canners are different, make sure to read your manufacturers directions for your exact canner.  For my canner, I place the lid on the canner, and make sure to lock it in place.  Let the canner continue heating.  You will hear a lot of boiling going inside the canner, but that is just the sounds of the pressure building and is normal.  Don’t start counting your “processing” time until the pressure is at 10 lbs.  Once the 10 minutes is up, I turn the heat off and let the canner sit. You have to let the pressure inside the canner release which, for my canner, can take 30 minutes to an hour.  On my canner, the pressure gauge will slowly drop back down to zero.  At this time the lid can be removed - be very careful - there will be hot steam coming out of the canner!


Remove the jars from the canner and set them on a towel on the counter top with space in between them. Allow them to cool completely – they are very hot when they come out of the canner.



As the jars cool, you’ll hear lovely popping sound that says the jar has sealed. What happens if I am not around to hear the pop?  The lids have a slight circle indention (made that way) so you can visually see if the jar sealed.  If after cooling you are able to push the middle of lid up and down the jar has not sealed and should be used very soon.

Enjoy your canned corn this winter!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fermented Dill Pickles

For years, I have been on the quest to make the perfect crispy, fermented dill pickle.  I've made bunches of batches, and they have ranged from salty enough to melt the ice from the sidewalks, to vinegary enough to wash the windows.  And pretty much all the time, they have been a soggy, limp, nasty consistency. 

But this is a new year!  With new research and new ideas!  So without further ado, I will share the (hopefully) Improved 2013 Fermented Dill Pickles recipe. 


First important ingredient: fresh cucumbers.  It is important to get fresh-picked-today small pickling cucumbers (not the slicing variety) because if you start out with soft cucumbers, the softness will only get worse with the pickling.




Next important step: take a tiny slice off the end that had the blossom.  Since it was sometimes hard to figure out which end to cut, I decided to slice off both ends.  This also created a more uniform look.
 



But why cut off the ends one at a time?  Let's do a bunch at once.  




Next, the fresh ingredients.  The first one of note is the fresh grape leaves.  This is a new technique for me this year, one I am trying based on my research.  I found out that adding fresh grape leaves to a crock of fermenting cucumbers adds tannin, which helps keep the pickles more crisp.  And also, I added fresh dill and (not pictured) garlic and onions. 




Next: the crock.  The crock needs to be cleaned, and totally free of contaminates and any fats or oils which can make for soft pickles.  Before filling, I wash my crock thoroughly, then run boiling water down the sides.  Then you can start filling by adding the fresh grape leaves, garlic, onions, and spices.
   



And ..... here they are!  Fermented dill pickles, packed into jars.  I let the crock sit for about a month, and the pickles ended up a little soft - but the flavor was good!  So I would recommend letting these sit for one to two weeks, then put them in jars and refrigerate them.



Fermented Dill Pickles


Brine
  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tsp alum
In Crock:

  • 1 cup pickling spice
  • 4 fresh grape leaves
  • 1 bulb garlic, peeled
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 or 3 dill weed heads
  • 1 garlic scape
  • 5-6 pounds baby cucumbers, scrubbed and blossom end trimmed

Lay "in crock" items in the bottom of your cleaned crock, and place the cucumbers on top.  In another large bowl, mix together brine ingredients and stir until the salt is dissolved.  Pour over cucumbers.

Let sit for one to two weeks, then pack into jars and refrigerate. 

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