Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hamburger & Macaroni

It was supposed to be a lasagna night, but i realized to late that i did not have enough cheese, so i just threw a bunch of stuff together and called it dinner. I was so busy today, it started out with K's skating lesson at 10:30, then lunch, and then the Santa Clause Parade at 1. This is a picture of K and his friend grabbing candy canes that were thrown at them.

This afternoon, i came home and modeled my Christmas Party dress for my mom, to see if it needs to be taken in (yes, but it is manageable, so i am not going to spend the money). And then i made cookies and dinner, while listening to the Empty Stocking Fund broadcast; a local Christmas fundraiser that has been going on in Saint John since 1912. My sister, my mom and I got together and pledged 30 dollars from my nephew, Kyristan (K) and his puppy Puck. Tonight, K is coming over to visit for a couple hours while his mom and dad go out, so it has been busy all day!

So dinner tonight, after i could not make lasagna, i decided to make a mess. I cooked up a pound of hamburger and drained it. While it was cooking, i chopped about 1/4 each onion and red pepper. After the burger was all cooked, i threw in the veggies then dumped in a bottle of pasta sauce, filled about half of the bottle with water and poured that in to. Then i stirred in a sprinkle of Mrs Dash and a bit of crushed chillies for kick, as well as about a cup of macaroni.

I let this mess simmer for about 20 minutes, until the pasta was tender. And this is what it looked like. A mess.

I meant to give it a sprinkle of cheese, but i was half through the bowl when i realized i had forgotten. Oops. I served it with leftover cornbread from Thanksgiving. This meal was hearty but did not have much taste, i think if i do this again i will add some garlic and maybe some Parmesan stirred in.

It definitely made plenty of leftovers, enough for 5 servings. This is good, because the original reason why i planned for lasagna was so i could have leftovers for next weekend, when i have to work two 12 hour shifts. 

We got our first real bit if snow today to. It was supposed to rain, but at about 11 it started to snow and it came down hard for awhile! About an inch stuck, a far cry from what we got 2 years ago on this day. 

 Ho Ho Ho, hope everyone had a great Saturday! 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Mini Pies

I can't believe it is November 25th month to the big day! I am ready, tree is up, presents bought and wrapped, most baking done. I just sit back, watch the chaos, and have fun. Today i have to run out to get my Christmas party dress taken in because i lost to much weight and can't afford to buy a new dress. Yay!  But, the seamstress doesn't open until 10 and i was up at 7:30, so i decided to make some mini pies.

When we were kids, my mom would make mini pies for us to take in our lunches. Usually apple, but sometimes blueberry. By the time i was in fifth grade,  my mom had a good following for being an awesome baker, so i shared many cookies, pies and donuts that year!

Today, i decided to make two pumpkin pies, one for my beau and one for my little man K, an apple pie for my beau, and a cherry pie...mine! I LOVE cherries, gimme a can of cherry pie filling and a spoon and let me go! Yummy! No, I've actually never done this, when i was a kid my mom would have screamed, and now i usually never seem to buy enough. I get it bulk and always seem to have just enough to fill the pie.

I used the leftover pastry from our pumpkin pie from Remembrance Day (here) and made another batch of filling. What i did not use today, i stuck in a yogurt container and froze. I used a left over apple from my apple sauce, with a sprinkle of sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg; and the cherry pie was easy, open the container and dumped in the filling.

I precooked the pumpkin shells for a few minutes, and i chose to use the quick latticework topping for the others because i would not have had enough pastry to make full tops. I think i have mentioned before that i can not make pastry and always have my sister make it, so i was going with what i had.

The fruit pies cooked first, and they look delicious! I can't wait to dig in. They only took about half an hour to cook. Another ten minutes and the pumpkin pies were done to.

The pastry shrunk a lot, probably because it was a re-roll. I am sure the guys will not notice as they inhale them! 

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the US, I am off work today to have turkey with some friends visiting from Georgia. Hope everyone has a great day, and stays safe shopping Black Friday tomorrow! 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tales from a Four year old.

I really do not have a recipe to share today, but i did bake today. I re-made my cornbread tonight, for an American Thanksgiving dinner that i am going to tomorrow. I had to double the recipe since there are going to be a bunch of people dining. Instead of doubling all the ingredients in one batch, i actually made the recipe twice and dumped it all into a huge pan i have. 

It looks like a cake ready for icing. I also made a mini one, my beau can't come to dinner, so i scooped a bit of the batter into a mini pan and he can have some this weekend, since he liked it so much the last time i made it (recipe here). The picture is almost actual size!

But i am not just reposting a recipe...i have a story to tell. A series of cute stories really. Last night my nephew came over to spend the night, while Mommy and Daddy showed their friends from Georgia, USA, around town. Since we had nothing to do, my little man K and I decorated the Christmas tree. I know, it is super early, but we were bored and both he and i have busy schedules, so there may not be time for us to get together between now and Christmas to do it. Here is the first ornament going on.

He is getting awesome at posing while putting the first ornament on, since we had him do it several times last year. It took us an hour to get them all on, and we only broke one! Thankfully, it was a brand new one, not one of the ones that is older than the two of us together. I have some decorations that were on our tree when i was K's age, and some others that were from my Grandmother's from when my Mom was K's age. 

And here is our tree. A little crooked, and no tinsel. I hate that stuff. In fact i am still pulling pieces off of it from two years ago when i lent my tree to my sister, she loves the stuff as much as i despise it.  The tree does light up as well, but i found they were to bright for the photos and the decorations did not show. This morning, i rearranged a few decorations and added 4 glass angels, that are much to delicate for preschooler's hands. 

But that is just how we kept ourselves entertained last night; after the decorations i got some lessons in 4 year old knowledge. Before bed, we had a snack of a slice of toast and a glass of water each. Since K was sleeping on the sofa, i asked him if he thought he should drink water, or if he might have an accident (he is a very wise 4 year old). I asked him if he thought i should put something down under the sheet, and that i did not want him to pee on my couch. K told me he would be OK, but if he peed, my couch would not get wet, his PJs would...oh...well, silly me, i did not know that :-)

I left him to watch his movie and went to read in my room. When i came back a half hour later to check on him, K told me i had to take Pluto (Mickey Mouse's dog) to bed with me, because he wanted to sleep with Yoshi (Mario's dinosaur) instead. Up until now, Pluto had been sitting on the coffee table, guess he was lonely. So, off Pluto and i went to bed. :-)

This morning, i discovered that apparently 4 year olds need less sleep than 29 year olds. I admit i was already awake when he came into my room, anyway (no thanks to my older sister, texting me at 7:30 AM). After i jumped when i heard the bathroom vent come on; i had forgotten i was not alone in the apartment; K came in and asked me to re-zip his PJs because the zipper stuck. Away he went back to bed. Since his Mommy tells me he never sleeps in, i thought i was lucky and was just getting comfy for an extra snooze when who should come back...K ran to the window, threw back the curtain that he could reach and said "Look Tasha, it's Sunny!". Well, no, it's actually overcast, but ya, it's morning, and the alarm has not gone off yet. I knew he would not let me try to sleep, since it was sunny, so we got up and watched a movie together until Mommy showed up with a yummy breakfast from Tim Horton's. 

And by one i was sitting at work, ready for a nap, betcha he didn't need a nap today. Lucky kid with super energy!

I had a lot of fun with my nephew, and he loves coming over. It has been a long time since he has stayed the night at my place, usually we go to my Mom's when i have him all night. But i just wanted to share a bit of 4 year old theology, since it is so darn funny!  I have a hard time not laughing at most things K says. And the last time he caught me laughing at what he said, he asked me what i was laughing at. I told him "You, kiddo." he looked at me deadpan and said..."But I'm not funny". :-) 

Poor little K, you'll get it someday.  Bye for now, and Happy Thanksgiving to all the Americans!! 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Homemade Apple Sauce.

I found some leftover apples in my fridge, and i had a couple leftover mason jars from my dill pickle adventure, so i decided to make some apple sauce. I didn't just come up with a brain wave for apple sauce, rather i was trying to re-create something i got at a craft sale a couple weeks ago. It is a little bottle called Apple Pie in a jar, it is basically thick apple sauce with dried cranberries in it, and i have been eating a teaspoonful stirred into my yogurt each morning. But, the jar is getting low, so i decided to go on my own apple trials.

I started out with an internet search. Most of the recipes had a lot in common. Cinnamon, sugar, water, lemon juice, and of course, apples. So from there i mixed my own concoction. 

Into my pot, i chopped and peeled about a bag of apples. I used what i had left over and half of another bag. I put in 1/8 of a cup of each brown and white sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1 cup water, the juice from a whole lemon, and a sprinkle of nutmeg; just for kicks. I boiled this mixture for about half an hour, stirring every 5 minutes or so. I figured if it ended up needing extra sugar at the end, i could add it then. 

Meanwhile, i washed 4 mason jars and their screw top rings. I put the oven on to 200 F, when it was heated it off and stuck my jars in to sterilize. 

After half an hour of cooking, i got this lumpy apple concoction. I let it cool about 5 minutes, and then gave my immersion blender a whirl through it. While it cooled, i put a bit of water on to boil. When it was just starting to boil, i poured some over my four pop caps in a bowl, to soften the rubber so i can get a good seal.

There does not seem to be much difference in the before and after photos of the blender process, but there was a major difference. After blending, i used a soup ladle to pour it into jars. I only ended up with 2, but they  look delicious!

Before blending, i tested it for sweetness, and the sugar i had added turned out out be the perfect amount. Hopefully they seal tight, and i will have some yummy applesauce in the upcoming weeks! 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Orange Bread

Normally i would not make two posts in one day, but this morning's had been meant for last night, so it does not count :-)

I made this because i had an orange left after needing the zest for the fudge i made last night (got more chocolate, made another batch, turned out much better!). I used my lemon bread recipe for this one. At Thanksgiving, an aunt had told me how she had once used an orange instead of lemon for a bread, so i decided to give it a whirl.

Lemon / Orange Bread

1 cup sugar
6 Tbsp melted butter (or room temp margarine)
2 beaten eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 + 1/2 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt  
grated rind of 1 lemon or orange

Put in greased pan and let rise for 20 minutes. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes. Mix juice of 1/2 lemon (or orange) with 3 Tbsp sugar and spread over top when removing from oven.

Since it is still to warm to slice, and i want to keep it for Christmas, i took a pinch from the edge that the paper had torn off, it is yummy! A light orange taste, not to strong. There was a lot more juice in an orange than a lemon, so as soon as i got the juice on the top, it soaked through the waxed paper. I had a hard time getting it out of the pan! As soon as i grabbed the edges of the paper it tore, thus the mess in the picture. 

 Tonight was the Saint John Santa Clause parade, so while my bread cooled, i froze on the back deck!! I am lucky i did not have to stand on the street and freeze. 20 minutes into the parade, i came in. I am officially a is cold tonight!! But, i was able to watch the rest from the window. I could not get many good pictures because i was so far away (about a block up from the street it was on) . In fact, this is the best and it was an accident!! 


So, Happy early Christmas. Santa is in town now, i'd best be good! Time to start decorating!! 

White Fudge

I got this recipe from a link in my new Christmas What's cooking magazine, so it is another Kraft recipe. They seem to have a lot of nice ones.

I was going to write about this last night, but the fudge did not set. And even this morning, it is not as set as i would like it to be. I have a feeling as to why it did not turn out, I don't think there was enough chocolate.

When i bought the chocolate at the Bulk Barn, a little alarm went off in my head that the squares are smaller than the regular chocolate ones. I have never bought white chocolate squares before, so i thought maybe white chocolate comes smaller, and i went with them. For regular chocolate, the Bulk Barn sells Baker's squares, the white chocolate was a different maybe the other brand makes them smaller, because i know Baker's squares are 1 ounce each and the recipe calls for 12 Baker's squares. Either way, i don't think i had enough chocolate and i will try again, because this looks so yummy.

White Fudge

12 squares Baker's white chocolate.
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk.
1 cup coarsely chopped toasted almonds.
12 cup dried cranberries.
1 Tbsp orange zest.

Microwave chocolate and milk in large bowl on medium for 2 to 3 minutes until almost melted. Stir until completely melted.
Stir in nuts, cranberries and zest. Spread into 8 inch lined pan, refrigerate 2 hours. Cut into 24 bars.

I did make one small change, which was i did not use as many almonds. The picture below is one cup, it is a lot for this small amount. Maybe this is where i screwed up, maybe the almonds hold it together. 

I only stuck about half of these into the mix. They did not toast very well, either. I have never toasted nuts before, i think in my rush i did not leave them in the oven long enough. 

This is the white fudge with some chocolate that i made with the leftover milk (recipe here). The chocolate didn't really turn out, either, since i halved the recipe. It ended up being a bit harder than usual, but still edible. If you look at the white fudge closest to the bottom, you can see that it has slid a bit. The bottom of the fudge was very sticky, i had to peel it off the waxed paper. The top was a bit crispy from the air, so i sliced it and turned each piece upside down on a plate in the fridge, hopefully the bottom will crisp up to so i can pack it away.

When i go out today, i will get more chocolate; either a proper 12 ounces or the proper brand. And since i still have enough ingredients, i might try this again this evening!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Egg Nog Popovers

I looked in the refrigerator this morning and realized i still have 3/4 of a container of egg nog left from the bread i made awhile ago. Not wanting to waste it, i decided to do a search and find out how it could be used.

I found many recipes for egg nog cookies, which took up to 4 egg yolks, yikes; egg nog cake, which called for a yellow cake mix, something i do not have; even an egg nog pound cake, which was a combination of both evils. Finally, i found this one, popovers, on a website called Slashfood . The recipe looks very simple, the picture looks nice, so i decided to go for it.

Egg nog Popovers.

2 eggs.
1 cup egg nog.
1 tsp vanilla.
1/8 tsp nutmeg.
1 cup flour.
1/2 tsp salt.
1 - 2 Tbsp butter, for pan.

Preheat oven to 450 F. Heat a 6 cup muffin tin, greased well with butter, in oven while batter is mixed.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs, egg nog, vanilla and nutmeg. When smooth, whisk in flour and salt.
Remove heated tin from oven and quickly divide batter into each cup. Bake for 20 minutes at 450 F, then use a sharp knife to poke a small hole in each so they do not collapse.
Reduce oven to 350 F, bake for another 15 minutes.

This is one that i sliced open. Now, i don't know if it was the pan, the oven, or just me, but these did not turn out. At least, i don't think they did. I had to use my muffin top pan, since that is all i have. I put a small chunk of butter in each cup and stuck it in the oven. I could hear it sizzling in there and when i pulled it out a few minutes later, the butter was brown. I had pictures, but i accidentally left my camera set at very high resolution from taking pictures on my walk yesterday, so i can't seem to get the hi-res ones to upload. 

I stuck the batter over the brown butter, and had lots left, so i used my mini loaf pan and made another (sticking it in the oven for a minute to melt the butter). After 15 minutes at the very high temperature, my turnovers were very brown, except the loaf one. They did not need poking, so i just turned them in the oven and turned the temperature down. 

I left them at the lower temperature for about 7 minutes, when i started to smell them burning (up until now, they smelled really nice). I pulled all but the one in the loaf pan. They were toast. The loaf one took about  5 more minutes. They did not collapse to much, except the big one. They are all light except that one as well. For the size of it, it is very heavy! 

The bottoms seem to be more burnt than the top. I tried half of one, and it tastes like scrambled eggs. I wasn't crazy about them. I have a feeling my beau might like them if they were not so burnt. I will have to take this batch to the park to feed the duckies when i next go on a walk.

I might try these again just to see if it was my pan that screwed it up, if i can get a regular muffin tin. For now, i will have to find another egg nog recipe, or make a couple more breads; since i still have half a container left. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Banana Bread

I have been meaning to make this all weekend. First i was going to Friday night, but i was to tired after work. Then Saturday morning, but i went shopping instead. I planned again Saturday night, but i didn't feel like it. Then this morning, but i wanted to take some pictures so i went for a walk. Finally i said forget it, those bananas in the cupboard either have to be used or tossed, and i went for it.

This recipe is one that my mom has been using since probably before i existed. For sure since i was a baby. This is a picture of me, with a banana bread and, my favorite, a cherry bread. This was probaly taken around Christmas 1981.

Banana Bread.

1/4 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
4 large bananas, mashed
1 + 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt 

Cream shortening and sugar, add well beaten egg. Add sifted dry ingredients, pour into prepared pan. Bake 45 minutes at 350 F, or until toothpick comes out clean.

I have a post of this recipe from way back in April, my first blog post ever. I figured i would re-post it with better pictures and a better description. A prepared pan can be one that has been greased and floured. Me (and my mom) stick with the lazy way and just throw some waxed paper into the pan and call it a day. Ta da, no stick, easy clean up. 

I was in and out of the oven with dinner while this was baking, so i am surprised it did not fall flat. I am keeping my fingers crossed that it does not taste like garlic banana bread! This recipe makes for a nice moist bread. And it freezes well, too. I wrap it in waxed paper and stick it in a medium freezer bag. They are great to save for Christmas, and thaw in a couple hours, perfect for last minute guests!

I usually buy bananas a bit green, i only eat one or two a day and so i find they go bad to fast; if i buy them green they last longer. I also keep them in the cupboard because i find the sun makes them ripen to fast. I have a huge skylight in my kitchen, so the room has wonderful natural light. But still, sometimes my bananas ripen to much to eat and i don't usually have time to use them right away in a recipe. And so, i just peel them and stick them in a yogurt container. They are airtight, i mark the number of bananas on the side of the bucket, and when i am ready to use them, i just poke around in the freezer till i find a tub with the proper number on it! 

Yummy banana recipes in a flash, without having to run out for bananas or wait around watching them ripen!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Spiced Molasses Cake (WW2 recipe)

I found this recipe in a library book about New Brunswick housewives during World War 2. There were a lot of stories of how they made do with little rations, so our boys overseas would have the best. This was one of those recipes, made with no sugar, one of the most rationed products.

Spiced Molasses Cake.

1 cup molasses.
1 egg.
2 + 1/2 cups flour.
1 tsp baking powder.
1 tsp baking soda.
1 tsp salt.
1/2 tsp ground cloves.
1 tsp cinnamon.
3/4 cup milk.
1/2 cup shortening.

Preheat oven to 350 F; grease and flour 9 " cake pan.
Beat molasses and egg in a bowl. Sift together dry ingredients, add to molasses alternating with milk. Mix well, then beat shortening until smooth. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until; toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in pan before turning out onto rack.

I have to admit, i was very skeptical about mixing the shortening in at the end. Especially since it was not melted. I was surprised when it went in very smoothly. Although i was using a mixer. I am sure a lot of ladies during the '40s did not have that luxury, i could not see myself to have the strength to beat something like hard shortening into an already solid mixture. Yes, i am spoiled. I love my Kitchen Aid mixer and, even though i have only had it a short time, i do not know what i would do with out it. 

Here is the batter with it all mixed in, after i poked it a bit to be sure there were no lumps of shortening 

The cake turned out quite nice, albeit a little dry. For a cake without sugar, it is sweet! It stores quite well covered in the fridge, and although i did not put any on it, it would probably do well with an icing. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Creamy Beef & Noodle Bake

This morning i woke up and felt like rolling over and going back to sleep. I just had no energy, no motivation, nothing. I even had a bowl of stale cereal for breakfast because i knew i had to have something, and i couldn't even force myself to make my usual toast with peanut butter.

I work shift work, and weeks like this one where i work 11 to 7, i need to take both lunch and dinner with me. 10:30 is to early to eat lunch before i leave for work, and 8 is to late for dinner by the time i get home and cook something. So by about an hour after i got up, i knew i had to make something for lunch and dinner today. I try to only buy my lunch/dinner once a week, and the other day when i made beans, i ended up going to Subway instead. Add in the lunch at Jungle Jim's yesterday with my family, and i am already over my budget. So today, i had no choice, i had to make something to take with me to work. Lunch was a PB&J...that was easy enough, but dinner had to be something more hearty.

I found my newest Kraft What's Cooking magazine on the table, the Christmas edition has a few quick and easy meals, supposedly perfect for making on busy holiday evenings. This one was on the last page. I figured i had all the ingredients, since it was one i had planned on trying, so i decided to get cracking. The professional picture:

1 Lb lean ground beef.
1 small onion, chopped.
3 cups egg noodles, uncooked.
2 cups frozen vegetables.
1 can (10 oz) condensed cream of mushroom soup.
1 cup milk.
1 cup water.
1 + 1/2 shredded mozza-cheddar cheese.

Heat oven to 375F.
Brown meat with onions in skillet; drain. Spoon over noodles in 13 X 9 inch baking dish; top with vegetables.
Whisk soup, milk and water until well blended; pour over vegetables. Top with cheese; cover.
Bake 35 minutes or until heated through; uncovering after 25 minutes.

Oops. I just noticed that the recipe said it was supposed to be covered. Shows how much i was paying attention this morning. Anyway...i used a frozen blend of baby carrots, green and yellow beans, and i added a few peas on top, because they are my favorite. I also think i used less cheese, only because that was all i had and i did not bother measuring. Above is before the oven, below is after. 

I was not crazy about this. I think i am going to end up freezing the rest or feeding it to my beau. In all honestly, i am not really sure why i made it. I am not crazy about egg noodles, and i really do not like cream soups, especially mushroom. The recipe states it serves 4, i thought the dish was big enough for six and therefore divided it that way. It was not filling, i was hungry an hour later; if i do eat more tomorrow, i will eat a bigger serving. 

I doubt i will be making this again, even though i really should have known better. It is not bad, but it is not great either.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pumpkin Pie

Ever since his Grampie have him a pumpkin for Halloween, my 4 year old nephew has been asking his mommy for a pumpkin pie. She doesn't know why, neither she or his father like it, and so he has never tried it. But, for some reason, he has been asking for weeks for a pumpkin pie! This morning, my sisters and i took K to the Remembrance Day services and then out for lunch. Since our older sister likes pumpkin pie, we decided to show K how to make it; and if he does not like it, Auntie could take it home.

We were going to make the pumpkin from scratch, but it has been two weeks since Halloween, and even longer since K got the pumpkin. We were worried it might be bad so i had bought a can of pumpkin puree, just in case.  By the time we got back from lunch, we figured it would be to late to chop, peel, cook, and cool the pumpkin, so we went straight to the can.

The recipe we used, i found on All Recipes. We set up 2 stations, one for filling and one for pastry. My older sister makes the best pastry, so after a reminder to everyone in the kitchen of the one cooking 'rule', never put your fingers in the working bowl of the mixer, K and I measured the ingredients for the filling while Auntie made the crust.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

2 cups mashed pumpkin.
1 can evaporated milk.
2 eggs.
3/4 cup packed brown sugar.
1/2 tsp cinnamon.
1/2 tsp ginger.
1/2 tsp nutmeg.
sprinkle salt.

Beat on medium of electric mixer until well blended. Pour into pastry. Bake at 350 F for 40 minutes or until center is set.

While K was shown how to roll pastry, i monitored the mixing, scraping the bowl as necessary. I let it mix for about 2 minutes on medium.

We baked the pastry for about 10 minutes and let it cool for another 10 before adding the pumpkin mix. This is K using a ladle to put it into the shell.
And K's pumpkin pie complete! We did not realize it was fully cooked, it still looked jiggly and it is much lighter than the canned pie filling that my sister usually uses. Bit dark around the edges, but otherwise looks nice!

I found this recipe tasted much better than canned pie filling. I usually do not like pumpkin pie, but i took the bit off the end of the knife that we poked out, and it tastes quite nice. Very spicy!

It was a nice ending to a great day. We not only taught K about pie making, but also about our veterans and what they did for us. There were quite a few children amongst the 7000 people at the services this morning, and i have to admit that K was among some of the best behaved. We told him why the day was special and why we are quiet to respect the veterans. He got a bit bored during the speeches and hymns and quietly played rock paper scissors with himself, you can't expect much more from a 4 year old. But he stood proud and sang the National Anthem with everyone and he was amazed when the veterans, along with the police, fire department, cadets, armed forces personnel, Girl Guides and Boy Scouts made their marches around the arena. He asked questions before and after, and stood and sat on cue with the rest of the folks. I never miss a Remembrance Day service, and this year is the first that we have taken K since he was about 7 months old. I carried him in a pack on my chest while his Mommy and Daddy marched with the Scouts. We will continue to take him year after year, so he understands what his Great Grandfathers and others did for our freedom.

For days like today.

Lest We Forget.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Baked Beans

Last night, i got a craving for something i have not had in a long time: my Mom's baked beans. Yummy! She made them often when we were kids, i suppose probably because it was a cheap meal. My theory was that I could throw them in my crock pot before i left for work, and run home on my lunch and grab a bit for dinner; like i did when i made chili a few weeks ago.  I remember it took all day for Mom to make them, to. But not all day all day, like mine did today; i ended up having dinner at Subway and am going to have beans for dinner tomorrow.

First thing i did was call Mom for her recipe. She gave me the following list of ingredients: Molasses, Brown sugar, 1 tsp dried mustard, water, onion, bacon, salt, pepper and a bit of ketchup. No measurements, and i did not think to ask.

The first thing i did after hanging up from Mom was to put a cup of dried beans onto soak in 3 cups water.

While they soaked, i slept. This morning, i boiled them in fresh water, for about 30 minutes. When they were cooked to my satisfaction, i threw them in my crock-pot with a chopped onion and started mixing my Mom's list of ingredients together.

Looks kind of nasty, but it turned out alright. Into my bowl, i put in one very heaping Tbsp of molasses; it was cold and kind of came out in one big glop. I think it was about a quarter cup. A squirt each of honey mustard and regular mustard; since i had no dried. A squirt of ketchup, about 2 Tbsp brown sugar and a sprinkle of crushed chillies. To the crock pot i added a garlic clove and the water. No how much? I went with 2 cups, it just nicely covered the beans. This is where i think i went wrong. :-)

I added my mix pictured above into my water, stirred it up a bit and threw it on high while i got ready to go to work, which was about an hour. At 10:30 i turned it down to low and left. When i got home on my lunch, about 4 hours later, it looked more like bean soup than baked beans. Mom's beans were thick, like chili. Mine was super watery. I decided to get Subway and hopefully they would be ready for tomorrow.

I got home from work again at about 7:30, and it still looked exactly the same, except the onions looked cooked. Grr. I mixed about 1/8 cup of water and a Tbsp of flour, and stirred that in to make it thicken. Back on High. At about 9, it still looked the same, so i tossed those puppies into a pot on the stove, added more flour and water and boiled the crap out of it for 15 minutes.

And because i was busy looking at a new cook book, i forgot to stir it, and those beans stuck to the bottom of the pot like glue! Oops.

This process seemed to boil it down a bit, it was defiantly thicker. I could see the 'high tide line' from where i had started boiling until when i had finished; it had gone down about an inch. Back into the crock-pot for an hour on High.

So, at about 10:15; i checked my masterpiece. It is still not as thick as i would have liked it, but maybe if i let it cool and refrigerate, maybe the poor beans will soak some more up. So 12 + hours later, i have baked beans that sort of taste like Mom's, but not quite. Maybe because I skipped the bacon, as it is not something i usually have on hand and i am not buying a whole package for one slice (way to expensive!)

I remember once when i was a teenager, Mom had told me she got her recipe from her Dad. I had asked her for the recipe soon after, but she basically told me no, there was no reason to give it to me. I think if i keep experimenting, i will get it someday. My next trial will be cutting the water down to 1 cup!! 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Egg Nog Bread

This is another recipe i found in a library book. I already make lemon bread, cherry bread and banana bread, so i thought i would try one more since i know so many people who like egg nog (i am not one of them). I made this past Sunday morning, keeping me in the kitchen and not having to look at the rain...which is still coming down today.

Egg Nog Bread

1 cup sugar.
1 large egg.
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted.
1 + 1/2 cups egg nog.
3 cups flour.
1 Tbsp baking powder.
1 tsp salt.
1/2 tsp cinnamon.
1/2 tsp nutmeg.
2/3 cup chopped pecans or walnuts.
1 cup glazed mixed fruit, cut up.

Beat sugar and egg. Beat in melted butter. Add egg nog, mix well.
Sift flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg over egg nog mixture. Stir until moistened. Mix in nuts and fruit.
Turn into greased loaf pan.
Bake at 350 F for about 1 hour, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 20 minutes in the pan before turning onto cooling rack.

I got cheap and did not add the fruit or nuts. Those things are expensive for the little amount you get!! This was really just a trial run; have people try it, see if it turns out and if everyone liked it, maybe i will make another one properly at Christmas.

This is the mixture before adding all of the dry ingredients. 

The batter was a bit lumpy going into the pan; it reminded me of a muffin batter. The egg nog has a strong taste in the unbaked batter, but when it came out, it was much milder.

Also, the next time i make it, i will add a bit more cinnamon and nutmeg. My beau tried a piece and said it would do well with both spices. I had to tell him they were in there because he could barely taste them.

The bread rose very high and took about an hour and ten minutes to cook. I tested after an hour and it was a bit gooey, so i left it in the extra 10 minutes. The crust on the bread is very hard, i had to use a serrated knife to cut through it! It is a bit dry, but otherwise good. If the taste test goes over well, i might get the fruit and nuts and make it again! 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Peanut Butter Balls

It has been raining for 4 days...and not just sprinkling; Thursday it rained steadily, Friday, it pored, yesterday and today it has been steadily raining to. And the weather man is predicting it will be the same until Wednesday...time to send out the duckies!!

Monday to Friday rain is not so bad. My office is internal, i can't see it the 8 hours i am in there unless i poke my head into someone's office. But my apartment has huge windows on the front, great for sunny days...not so much for rainy ones. So this morning, i got tired of seeing it. I kept the curtains closed, and even though it is way to early, I put on a Christmas CD. Not to loud though, new neighbors moved into the other apartment on this floor just last weekend; no sense in making them think i am to weird before we even get to know each other! :-) Into the kitchen i went. The kitchen has only a skylight, no windows, perfect for ignoring the rain.

I made a sweet bread, i will post that tomorrow after it has proper time to cool and be tested. And one of my favorite Christmas memories, Mom's peanut butter balls. The recipe originally came from an old cookbook. Not sure which, though, my mom has a stack!

Peanut Butter Balls

3/4 cup peanut butter.
1 cup icing sugar.
1/2 cup cherries, cut up.
1 tsp vanilla.
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional).
1 cup coconut, for rolling.

Shape into balls and roll in coconut. Keep frozen or refrigerated in covered container.

It looks really dry, but once you start rolling them, the juice of the cherries comes out and it makes it a bit more moist. These are one of the things i loved about Christmas, because is the only time of year that my Mom makes them. I guess i am kind of getting into the same habit, because i don't think i have made them since last Christmas. 

The dough does not come together with just a spoon, you have to get your hands in there and mash it around. This is a great recipe for kids, super easy to make. I have been helping make them as long as i can remember!

I store these in an empty ice cream container, layered between wax paper cut to fit, in the freezer. They thaw out in no time. Some, like my Dad and my beau, don't even bother letting them thaw! Out of the freezer and into the mouth, a bite sized morsel! 

I am thinking of going for a drive to my parents' house this afternoon, i have to go get my winter tires on my car before the snow flies, they are stored back on the farm! With the time change it is only 1, although it feels later, and the day seems so long. I am just waiting to see if i have company to go along to the country. If not, i might put the drive off until Thursday when i am off and bake some more today!