Posts Tagged 'baking'

The importance of pie crust

I’m not sure if it was Erma Bombeck or the 1965 version of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook or my mom* who taught me this, but:

If you make enough dough for a double crust pie, and you only use one of the crusts for your custard pie, flatten the rest into a disk and freeze it for later.

Tasty, quick quiche

Tasty, quick quiche

Today, the pie dough I froze in November was used to make a quiche. Our neighborhood has been hit by more drenching ice, sleet, and freezing rain, so there was no hope of catching a quick dinner at a local restaurant. Luckily we had enough eggs, milk, asparagus, mushrooms and cheddar. Along with a loaf of bread bought during the buy one, get one half off sale on Sunday after the last storm.

To everyone on the east coast: hang tight. I’ve heard a rumor that Spring is around the corner.

*It probably was Mom. She was a dietitian with a streak of practicality. Wrap the pastry well, in a double wrap of plastic wrap or wax paper, and put it in a plastic freezer bag.

After driving back over the rivers and through the woods

treeornament2014The Jersey Pinelands are technically woods, and we did see a bit of the Poconos … Christmas Eve, we decorated M and D’s tree. Then we drove over to church to enjoy a lovely service and listen to M in the choir. Christmas Day, Julekake was eaten at breakfast, complete with geitost on top and strong coffee to drink. Christmas gifts were unwrapped, with the miracle of two pairs of identical gloves being given to M (everyone laughed). There was the “new to me” event of putting someone’s laptop on the table during Christmas dinner, so a family member could dial in an be present on video. Boxing day, after all the excitement, was so much more relaxed.

As usual, after a family get-together, I’m given either some needleworking tool that was used by someone in the 1950s, or a piece of needlework no one knows what to do with. This year, I scored one size 13 Boye crochet hook (not the USA size at all), as well as several others of unmarked size with needle covers. As a result, while happily searching around for information on the internet, I found this lovely site about crochet, filled with pictures of crochet as well as data on crochet hooks.

Yesterday was spent making Lucia bread in my own kitchen (very late for the season, but oh so good). And today, now that the rains have stopped, I think we will finally get a walk outdoors after all the time cooped up in houses or in a car to get to places. Although the Gardener did get to plant some rescued plants from the family garden (her version of crochet hooks of antiquity, perhaps).

I hope your holidays, whatever they might be, were filled with happiness and visits with family and friends. More about recent knitting once the project is done (although, why is the second sock always smaller, and should I just go up a size when I start the second one?).

Getting ready – 22 December

… otherwise known as the importance of ground cloves.


Moravian Christmas Cookies, made with a recipe from Winston-Salem, NC. Thank heavens Mom already did the math and reduced the amount of flour, molasses, etc. used (although I think I flubbed on the amount of spicing –> it really should be 1 Tbs each of ground ginger, cloves, and cinnamon. Kids, don’t try to make Christmas cookies after 9 PM after a full day of work.). So they’re subtly flavored, and not rolled thin enough. Next year, I’ll use the northern recipe. It’s a bit easier for me to handle. Christmas prep continues. Yes, there are socks that will not be done in time. (Cookie countdown: 2 varieties. Possibly 1 more to go, and the fast and easy Danish chocolates.)

Time to spiff up the tuxedo

It’s another concert night, so it’s time to spiff up the tuxedo, make sure I know where the bow tie is, and bake cookies for the reception. Our concert will include: music by Morten Lauridsen, Twas the Night Before Christmas, and Caroling, Caroling.* I may choose the Joy of Cooking peanut butter cookie recipe and substitute Nutella. I suppose I should put a warning note on it that it contains hazelnuts, in case someone has a nut allergy. Link to a preview of the concert (practice session) is here.

If you’re out of town, and can’t come to the concert, hopefully the links provided will help make your season a little bit brighter. It’s going to be a lovely concert. Hopefully only rain will be a problem –> no snow this year (fingers crossed).

So, anyone else have the Christmas concert jitters? Or are all of your concerts later in December, so you still have time to prep?

* Music links are to other choruses. The Morten Lauridsen piece is done by Conspirare in Texas. Their version is truly inspirational, and I’ve been listening to it a lot. I might have to get their CD. ‘Twas the Night recording was done by Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians. Caroling, Caroling was sung by Utah Chamber Artists.

Woman vs. squash

1. The squash — a blue-skinned pumpkin

bluesquash2. Halves

squashhalves3.  A pie, after steaming and pulverizing the pumpkin, then making the filling. Pie crust my normal butter crust. We ended up getting a pie and a deep-dish tiny pie.

bluepumpkinpieIt’s 1 AM. I have a freezer with enough steamed pumpkin for 2 more pies. My kitchen is a mess, but I’m going to sleep happy. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. And to those outside the USA, the best of days with lots of gratitude.

Pausing on a day with frost nipping at my nose

…to note that a local bookshop cafe’ has rosemary hot chocolate. It’s lovely, and was great to find on a raw November day when I had nipped in from my car to pick up a sandwich.

I do wonder how they made it — rosemary simple syrup? Rosemary infused milk and then add the chocolate like in this recipe? Apparently the M Restaurant in Philadelphia makes rosemary hot chocolate, and searching by G**gle provides you with cafes in Portland Oregon that also have it on the menu. For those of you who don’t like hot chocolate, or who live in an environment where hot food isn’t welcome (Bermuda? Aruba? Australia in December?), here’s a recipe for rosemary chocolate ganache with orange.

Maple walnut granola

Before I forget it…

Maple walnut granola (based on a recipe from the Heart Association Cookbook)

6 cups slow cook oats (old fashioned)

1 cup wheatgerm

1 cup broken walnut pieces

3/4 cup mix of honey and maple syrup (I used about 1/8 cup of honey and the rest was syrup)

1/4 cup olive oil

cinnamon and cardamom to taste

Preheat oven to 225°F. Line a large pan with nonstick paper (I’ve been using a large lasagna/casserole pan). Important: make sure the pan has high enough sides that the oats won’t fall out while you are turning them. Add oats, wheatgerm, and walnut pieces. Mix honey, maple syrup, and oil together (recipe suggests heating if the honey won’t dissolve). Drizzle over the oat mixture, mixing thoroughly with a scraper or spatula. Shake a bit of cardamom or cinnamon over the oats. Once everything is mixed, put into oven. Check every 20 minutes, using the spatula or scraper to make sure the honey doesn’t stick and burn. Takes about 2 hours of baking time. Keeps in the refrigerator, although it’s gone so fast we don’t have any info beyond one week.

The snow of February


…covers the backdoor steps, like time erasing the footprints of the past. (And how fun that it’s groundhogs’ day?)

The snow made a splendid excuse for baking corn muffins and making chili instead of going outdoors. It’s very small grains of snow, and no one across the street has shoveled yet, so it sparkles on sidewalks and streets in the streetlights’ glow. (And mercifully muffles the sound of revelers preparing for Superbowl.)

Scandinavian Southern Cream Cake

I had some extra heavy cream, and didn’t want it to go to waste. So, I decided to make a southern cream cake. There’s a lovely, simple recipe here. It doesn’t involve butter or milk — just cream, vanilla, 2 eggs, flour, baking powder, salt. So you might want to ask how this became Scandinavian southern cream cake?

I filled it with lingonberry jam, and iced it with coffee chocolate frosting. The Gardener and I both think it would rock with a bit of cardamom too.

Eager anticipation

Untitled by rjknits
Untitled, a photo by rjknits on Flickr.

I’ve spent the day wrapping gifts and baking. So far, on the baking front:

  • Lucia buns
  • Jul konfekt
  • Toffee bars
  • Birthday cake for the Gardener
  • Blueberry sour cream coffeecake with pecans

… Apparently I need running shoes and an exercise program to survive Christmas, but I can’t wait. Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.