Tag Archives: cookbooks

I Deserve A KitchenAid Stand Mixer

 

I want one.  Plain and simple.  When you get to the point when you are turning 50, you love to bake, and you’ve never had one, you deserve a $350 mixer.  Don’t you agree?

The big decision is what color to get!

 

 

Sharing the joy of cooking

I am enamored with cooking.  It is obviously a very old art and a necessary one.  Cooking is survival and love.

With all the fast food and ready-made overly processed food out there, I know that cooking is essential to our survival.  I support cooking in my life and encourage it in others.  Here are a few things I do:

  • Give cookbooks as gifts
  • Talk about cooking
  • Share recipes by email, mail, Pinterest
  • Connect with others who love to cook
  • Blog about cooking and read food blogs
  • Gather, write down, and keep family recipes
  • Teach others, especially younger family members, how to cook

The artfulness of pie crusts

 

5 minute cake in a mug

 

I love baked goods but they are my downfall.  One way to satisfy my sweet tooth without going overboard is my discovery of  the single sized baked good.  Case in point: the 5 Minute Cake In a Mug.  What a fabulous idea!  No more eating the whole pan of brownies.

I had made this one time before and must have liked it because I added it to my collection.  Last night I wanted something sweet. I asked my husband if he wanted me to make brownies.  He declined, trying to be good.  Well I wasn’t going to make a whole pan of brownies to tempt him and gorge myself.  So, 5 minute cake in a mug to the rescue!

The only problem, it’s got a zillion calories.  Next time I will make some healthier substitutions like applesauce for the butter, or use less butter.  Something.  But it was still better than eating a pan of brownies!

Giving books wings

 

I am not a collector of books.  I am a giver away of books. Sure, there are a few I keep: the odd poetry book, reference books, books of art and craft, bibles and prayer books, language books. I love cookbooks. But what I read most are novels and I don’t often reread novels. Novels have wings. They are meant to fly and soar. While I’m reading a book I’m always thinking of who I know that might like it. When I finish it I give it away and I don’t want it back. In that way books travel and soar and I like to be a part of that.

 

Apple pie and cookbooks

My sister-in-law is trying out baking and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  I’m not sure she enjoys baking as much as I do.  I guess you either love it or you don’t.

 

For Thanksgiving, she may be baking an apple pie.  Have you ever heard the expression “Easy as apple pie?”  Apple pie is supposed to be easy.  If you cheat and buy a pre-made pie crust, like I do, that’s half the battle.  Unfortunately store-bought tastes better than my crust!  :(

 

I do recommend using fresh apples though, not canned, because it will taste better.  And it’s pretty easy to chop up apples.

 

I sent her 2 recipes for apple pie (Alton Brown and the Pioneer Woman).  I usually read a couple of recipes first and decide which appeals to me the most: ingredients, process, how long it takes, etc.

 

Once I decide on which to use, I read it again carefully to make sure I have all the equipment, ingredients, etc. Then I buy everything I need and try it out.

 

People that are into cooking often read cookbooks the way others read novels.  I love reading cookbooks.  There’s nothing like curling up with a great cookbook to drool over pictures, learn cooking techniques, and find good recipes and ideas.

 

Guten appetit! (German)
Enjoy your meal! (English)
Buen provecho! (Spanish)
Bon appetit! (French)

 

 

Beef and Bean Chili

I love this recipe because it’s yummy and it’s also Weight Watchers.  Only 6 points per serving.  It’s also on the Simply Filling/Core plan.

First chop up all the veggies.

Put them in the pot.

Add the ground beef.  I used the thick grind for chili.

Now let the meat brown.

Add your spices.

Stir it up and let it cook.

Next add the diced tomatoes and beans.  I used pintos.

Stir it up and let it simmer for 20 minutes with the lid partially off.

Beef and Bean Chili (adapted from Weight Watchers just a bit)

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

4 t olive oil

2 onions, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

1 green pepper, seeded and chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/5 lb lean ground beef

1 T chili powder

2 t cumin

1 t dried oregano

1/2 t coriander

1 (14 1/2 oz.) can diced tomatoes

1 (16 oz.) can pinto or red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

salt and pepper to your liking

1. In large Dutch oven, heat the oil.  Saute chopped veggies until onions are translucent, about 15 minutes.  Add beef and cook, breaking apart with wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 5-7 minutes.  Stir in chili powder, cumin, oregano, and coriander; cook stirring, 1 minute.

2. Add tomatoes, beans, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until flavors blended, about 20 minutes.

Serve topped with chopped red onion, cilantro, sour cream or shredded cheese.  Great with cornbread.

Back in the Day Bakery

I came across this great baker and bakery in Savannah, Georgia.  I’ve never been there, just read about it, but can’t wait to go!  Here’s a cute video of the owners, Cheryl and her husband Griff talking about their new book.

I had also read about Cheryl in Where Women Cook.  Last, I just saw a cute episode of Paula Deen where Cheryl visits.  You can check out her cute blog here.

What I love about them is that they are trying to bring back baking from scratch.  I love baking from scratch but have to admit that sometimes the idea makes me tired.  I know that baking brownies from scratch is not that many more steps than a box mix. It means I have to get out my flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda/powder.  But hey, is that so hard?  I think the bigger question is simplifying our lives and slowing down so we don’t feel so pressed for time.  The bakery is called “back in the day” perhaps like a time when people had more time to sit on the porch, talk and bake from scratch.  I’m all for that slow living idea.  I hereby vow to slow down and bake more from scratch.  :)

 

Baking for Beginners

Picture by Kevin Dooley

Why do I love baking so much?  Cooking is great, but there is just something about baking.  Something about putting something raw and gooey into the oven that comes out fluffy and big and done! 

I’m not so interested in the chemistry of baking but I suspect that to be a really good baker you need to understand it.  I had a friend once that was a great baker.  She understood how much dry to liquid to use intuitively and could make cakes without measuring anything.  That would be helpful.  I just bought two beginner baking books:

(1) Basic Baking: Everything You Need to Know to Start Baking plus 101 Luscious Dessert Recipes that Anyone Can Make”
Lora Brody

(2) “Basic Baking: All You Need to Bake Well Simply (Basic Series)”
Sebastian Dickhaut

I got them really cheap used from Amazon.  Honestly, they were about $1 each.  Of course they’ll probably have dried egg all over them!  Hope not.

I plan to read them cover to cover like a novel so I can truly learn some basics about baking.  Then I am going to set out to make the perfect cake.  I think everyone needs a signature cake.  I have a couple of signature dishes: potato salad and mac and cheese.  They both happen to be side dishes.  I can make good brownies and cookies but I’ve never been great at cakes.  The last frontier for me will be decorating a cake.  But I’d settle for a cake that has a really good taste and texture and is attractive.  I don’t really see me as the perfectly decorated cake kind of person.  We’ll see.

To Fold

Picture by Southern Foodways Alliance

Over the weekend I encountered a problem with folding.  I’ve had problems with folding before.  Understanding how to fold laundry is one thing, but folding batter is a whole other thing.

I was following a recipe for Coconut Cake.  It was not my favorite kind of recipe.  Too many bowls were involved.  I like being a one bowl or one dish wonder.  That’s why I adore casseroles.  Back to the cake.  I totally expect to use at least two bowls. One for the liquids and one for the flour mix.  Mixing one into the other is fine with me.  But this recipe had you beating the egg whites first in one bowl.  In bowl two you had the egg yolks.  In bowl three the butter.  And in yet another bowl, bowl 4, you had your flour.  Nevertheless, everything was going along smoothly.  And then came the part where I was to fold the egg whites into the batter.  

The glossary on www.recipetips.com defines folding as follows:

The process of blending a light ingredient, such as beaten egg whites, into a heavier ingredient by lifting from underneath with a spatula or spoon.  In order to fold ingredients properly, the heavier ingredient is placed at the bottom of a bowl and the lighter above. A motion commonly used to fold the ingredients involves starting at one side of the bowl, moving downward and then across the bottom to the opposite side, enabling the ingredients on top to be brought down into and replacing the ingredients on the bottom. The bowl is then rotated a quarter turn and the motion is repeated. It is important not to completely blend the ingredients together. For example, if beaten egg whites are blended too thoroughly, the egg whites will lose their volume.

OK.  That is confusing enough.  I didn’t see this definition until this morning though.  This weekend I was folding, and it’s hard for me because I tend to be heavy handed.  I put the filled cake pans in the oven.  There were big clouds of egg whites through the yellow.  My son came into the kitchen and said “You need to mix that up more.”  I explained to him that I wasn’t allowed to mix, only fold.  He said “Well, that doesn’t look right and it’s gonna mess up the cake.”  I took the cake pans out of the oven and gently stirred a little because I feared he might be right.  Then I returned the cake pans to the oven.  There were still little clouds but I thought what the heck.  If I stir all the egg white puffs away, what’s the point of the fold?

It got me thinking about proper folding.  When do you stop folding?  How mixed up do the two ingredients need to be?  I’d love some comments from experienced (or at last more experienced than me) bakers.  Also, while you are at it, If anyone knows of any beginner baking books, I’d like a recommendation.  Thanks!

By the way, in case you are wondering, the cake came out excellent.  The yellow and white was completely mixed and the cake was light and fluffy!  A folding success, I guess.