Friday, August 28, 2015

Pumpkin French Toast

Are you ready for pumpkin everything?  I sure am. We've had a teaser of Fall weather the last few days so I made my family pumpkin French toast for breakfast.
 Mix 3/4 cup of milk with 1/2 cup of pumpkin, 4 eggs, 2 T. light brown sugar and 1 tsp. of vanilla extract.

 Add 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ginger and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg.

 Beat until blended and dip slices of slightly stale bread in it.

 Cook them in a nonstick pan coated with butter.

Sprinkle with some cinnamon sugar and top with some good maple syrup.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Chex Mix Season

I make so much of this that I have to mix it in a garbage bag.  I dump all of the ingredients in and gently roll it to coat everything completely. I use wheat, corn and rice chex, cashews, potato sticks, fritos, bugels, fried onions, wheat thins, pretzel sticks and mini triscuits.
Spread it out on cookies sheets and bake it at 275 degrees for 1-1/2 to 2 hours turning it over half way through.
Let it cool and pack it in bags and give it to your friends.  They will be happy.  I put 2 large bowls outside for my workers yesterday and it was funny to see them eating it all day long. There weren't even crumbs left!

 Look at the new Fall Twizzlers I found!  Caramel apple.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Pork Carnitas

This is such a good recipe and very simple to make.  Buy a 4-5 pound pork shoulder roast and cut it into 2 inch cubes.  Trim off the excess fat, leaving  some on for flavor.  Put the pork in a heavy dutch oven and add, 1-1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper, 1 tsp. cumin,1 onion peeled and cut in half, 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp. dried oregano, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 2 cups of water and the juice of 2 oranges.  Throw the orange rinds in too.  Cover this and place it in a 300 degree oven to cook for 2 hours.
After 2 hours separate the meat from the pot, pick out the solids and discard and pour the juice into a small pot.

Place the cubes of meat on a cookie sheet and break them into 2 or 3 pieces.  Cook the sauce down to about 1 cup.  This will take about 8 minutes.  Pour it over the cubes of meat and place the meat under your broiler and broil until it becomes crisp. Turn the meat over and broil again until the tops ore crisp.

Make a quick slaw by slicing some cabbage and sprinkling it with the juice of a couple limes, 2 tsp. of honey and some salt and pepper.  Add some fresh cilantro too.

Lightly brown some flour tortillas. I do this in a dry cast iron pan.

Place the tortilla on a dish.

Top with some of the meat.

Add some slaw.  You can add any toppings you like. Jalapenos and pico de gallo would be good too.

Roll and eat. Mmmmmm!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Old Fashioned Chili Sauce

What do you put on your hot dogs?  I made these for everyone yesterday on the buns I had just baked and we put this chili sauce on them and it was outstanding.  I got the recipe from my friend Laurie at:

It's been in her family a long time.
Dice 6 onions (I used candy onions), 3 green peppers (I used my poblanos), and 18-20 tomatoes.  I made half this recipe for 4 pints of sauce.  Add 1-1/2 C. of brown sugar, 2-1/2 C. of cider vinegar, 2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. each of cinnamon, mace, nutmeg and allspice.  And a pinch of cloves. 

Cook it for about 3 hours at a simmer, stirring occasionally. Mine looked a bit watery so I added 1/2 cup of the tomato paste I made the other day.

Towards the end of cooking, I pureed it a bit with the stick blender.  I didn't make it totally smooth, just enough to break up any big chunks.

I continued cooking until it started to thicken and bubble.

I put it in sterilized jars in a water bath for about 8 minutes.

This actually tastes like a very good artisanal ketchup.  Good stuff and a great way to use up your harvest.  Thanks Laurie!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Almond Sugar Cookies and Hot Dog Buns

Today is the first days of school for kids in our area.  I always made cookies for my kids to eat when they came home on the first day and these were always a favorite.

Almond Flavored Sugar Cookies

1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup butter
2 teaspoons of almond extract
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 can or roll of almond paste
2 cups of flour.

Combine wet ingredients until creamy then add dry ingredients. I use a 2 tablespoon ice cream scoop and place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet. When it is as hot as it is here, I place them in the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes before baking. I like them to stay mounded and not flatten out and chilling them does the trick.

Bake them at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. You don't really want them to brown. They should just be set. Allow them to rest on the cookie sheets for about 5 minutes then transfer them to a wire rack to cool.

While they are cooling make this simple icing:

4 cups confectioner sugar
1/2 stick of butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of milk

I dip the tops in decorating sugar.

I also made some hot dog buns.  My family loves hot dogs.  We don't eat them very often so when we do, I like to have good buns.  This recipe makes the best buns.

2 T. sugar
2 T. rapid rise yeast
2 C. milk
2 T. oil
2 tsp. salt
6 C. flour

Mix everything together and knead until you have a smooth ball of dough.  Cover it and let it rise until doubled.  Dump it on the counter and divide it into three pieces.

Then divide them into three's.

Roll and shape them into hot dog shaped rolls. Cover them and let them rise for about 30 minutes.

I made some for hamburgers too.  Brush with a beaten egg white and sprinkle with whichever topping you like.  I used 'everything' bagel topping.

Bake them at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes until they turn golden.  These freeze very well.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

I Live in a Work Zone

 If you ever thought you wanted to redo your house, you might want to reconsider. Because as bad as you might think it would be, I am here to tell you it is worse.  I try to keep a discreet eye on the process and I really hate hovering over the workers but I think hovering is called for now. You notice the window is not there? These windows have been out of the frame for the better part of days while the workers try to fit them.  This house is over 140 years old and nothing is plumb. Each window is a different size and they have to be filed down to fit perfectly.

It seems that frustrated workers sanded the windows in place and now I have a coating of fine redwood dust on EVERYTHING including this massive crystal chandelier. They did not take the time to cover a single thing. I don't even begin to know how I will clean everything. This dust is stuck like a magnet and when I try to clean, it just sort of gets pushed around.
 I have boxes and equipment piled in every room.

 And windows taped in plastic.  Can someone tell me why they bother to tape the windows off yet remove it when they actually work on the window? I think the answer is that it makes their job easier? I am being sarcastic here.

The entire perimeter of my house is covered in scaffolding and ladders and all sorts of tools and equipment.
 My garage and porch have become staging centers for the project and I am looking at two more months of this.  Arghhhhhhh!!!!!

When it really gets to me, I pick something out that is finished, like my lanterns.  I stand and gaze at them, trying to appreciate how wonderful it will be when it is all done.  We have a loooong way to go.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Black and Blue Pie

 I was invited to a party last night.  Of course I could not go.  When you get up at 2:30 am each day, your social life is zip. I did send some food though.  The party was a sendoff for two French girl who were heading home after a summer spent here.  I thought I would send them home with their bellies full of American food.  I made a blackberry and blueberry pie with local berries.  Always bake your pies on a cookie sheet, especially berry pies!

 I made them boxes of giant chocolate chip cookies.

 I packed a basket with yesterday's hot pepper relish....

 ...and a jar of my refrigerator pickles.

 Packed up and ready to go.

I baked lots of rolls.

 And I made some maple baked beans with the syrup that The Blog Tech and I got during sugaring off last spring.

 I made cole slaw....

....and potato salad.....
 and a basket full of bags of homemade marshmallows.  I hope it was all enjoyed.  I won't know until later since they were all going to bed at about the time I was getting up.  I'll wait until those fleeting few hours I share being awake with the normal people.

On the plus side, I have one month of "the project" under my belt.  There is a long way to go but at least I have a few small things to show for it. I haven't killed anyone yet either.  In general, a good month.