We have yet another lawn ornament.  Actually, no, it’s work for Paul but they seem to be encroaching in “my space” like where we park our vehicles.  Cute boat though, no? A couple whom are around 86-87 own it.  They call their son when they want to sail – at least once a week; he trots down to the dock and gets it ready, pulls up the sails, sets everything, mom and dad walk onto the boat and sail away….off to the Isle of Shoals (a few miles) where his dad takes a long nap on the boat and Mom walks around the island.  They then come back to the dock and John breaks it down to put away.  They love it!  Isn’t that just the sweetest thing?  I love that he enables them to have and enjoy what they want so many people deny their elderly parents their “first love” just cause they’re old and what???? may die out there? who cares, they would be happiest.  Love it.

What to do on a rainy day?  For me, that would be sew or do some weaving.  I just love being in my own cozy nest on a crappy day.  I’ve been taking this Food Service for Managers Course for the past few days.  I thought I had a week to do it online but no, it’s 120 consecutive hours.  So, when I open it up to start (it is phenomenally boring, tedious and also hard, lots of chemistry and temperatures) the CLOCK IS TICKING.  There is even a timer in the corner of the screen, makes me crazy.  Anyhow, in between while my brain was resting I banged out a clothes pin bag.  Now I know your thinking – what kind of fete is that but just producing something simple, clean, tidy, no real math or science or even thought…ah, pleasure and success.

And, it works!  Hangs on the laundry line 24/7, made out of Sunbrella which is all weather fabric left over from some canvas cushion covers I made for the little boat.  It has a velcro attachment so I can take it on and off the line if I’d like.  Perfecto.  I got all excited about it and thought I should mass produce these as it really looks cool on the line and works but then after polling a few friends discovered I am probably the only person on earth who still hangs my laundry out.  What’s with that?

The March issue of Bon Appetit had a Black Sesame & Pear Tea Cake recipe…..sounded good.  I got out all my stuff…..ready to go and then reread the recipe.  Hey, Sesame, not poppy.  My brain automatically just assumed Poppy.  It got much more interesting to me at that point.  Cool.  I’ve never made a sweet/tea bread or even thought of sesame seeds as such.  Cool again.  I happened to have black sesame seeds on hand.  I buy them at an Asian store where they come in large bags.  I was going to use fresh rhubarb of which I have tons in my garden now but while in the basement where I keep my “kitchen” I happened to pass a caning jar of sweet pears of our own that I put up last fall.  Perfect.  I love it when that happens and I was wondering what to do with that jar as it’s perfect on ice cream but I’m trying to not eat that stuff.  Wallah…cake, we love cake!  (I know Sydney, I should not be eating that either).

Amazing.  What a cool flavor, kind of crunchy as you can actually taste and have texture of sesame seeds.

Paul, the naysayer, said he didn’t like the black stuff.  So, I made a yellow sesame one with frozen cherries.

Pretty good but I do prefer the black sesame better.  I found the white sesame to be a bit heavy with that kind of nuttiness peanut butter has.  Made me feel sluggish, nice flavor though. 

I made two loaves at a time as I wanted to give my friend Marcia who came for a visit on Saturday a loaf and why waste the dirty dishes on one thing at a time anyway – I’m sure this stuff freezes well.  Our house is like grand central on the week-ends this time of year so it goes fast around here, no leftovers.

This cake uses almond flour in it – 2 C. per double batch and 3 C. of unbleached flour so if your thinking of making it you may want to get some of that almond flour first – most of us don’t stock it.  Bob’s Red Mill has it at our Market Basket grocery store.  It also uses buttermilk which I usually make just milk with some white vinegar in it – same stuff pretty much.  Who has buttermilk on hand?  I cut out some sugar – calls for 2.5 C. I used 1.¾.  So here it is for two breads:

2 C. almond meal

3 C. unbleached flour (half whole wheat would be good)

4 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. soda

1 tsp. salt

Sift this together:  Add,

1 C. black or white sesame seeds

Melt:

2 Sticks unsalted butter or use coconut oil, same amount

Put butter in mixer, add:

1.¾ C. sugar (I use a light brown organic sugar)

2 whole eggs

2 Egg yolks

Beat till mixed nicely then start adding flour mixture and

1.5 Cups of buttermilk alternately.

Fold your fruit in last – chopped fresh fruit, small bag of frozen fruit (minus the thawed juice).

This fruit amount is probably about 1 C. or so for the two cakes.

Bake at 325 in a buttered loaf pan, sprinkle the top first with some sugar first.  Bake for anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half.  Turn the pans occasionally.

That’s it.  Kind of a nice addition to the tea bread line.

P.S. I finished that darn course with a few hours to spare…there is something wrong with me when I’m pressured; totally freak out.  I may have to gear up and take an anxiety pill when I test on Friday in Boston.  Such a dope!

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I’ve gotten into this habit of making our bread each week.  Lately it’s the knead free style – very easy, mix at night in a bowl, let rise, in the morning roll it into a cast iron skillet and bake for almost an hour.  Done, bingo, yummy.  The book: Kneadlessly Simple by Nancy Baggett.

Swedish Limpa Bread

2 C. Whole Wheat Flour

1.5 C. Unbleached White

2 C. Rye Flour (I keep this in the freezer as I don’t use it often)

2.5 tsp. salt

1.5 tsp. caraway seeds

1.5 tsp. fennel or anise seeds

1.5 tsp. yeast

2/3 C. molasses

¼ C. oil (safflower or whatever you have)

2 C. cold, cold water

The next morning:

1/3 C. dry milk powder

½ C. Rye flour

1/3 C. brown sugar

3.5 Tbs. butter

1.5 Tbs. hot water

Late day or early evening:

Put your dry in a bowl, give it a hand held whisk to mix it up well.  Mix molasses, oil and water in another small bowl, pour into dry, blending well.  With spatula kind of center the dough and smooth it out, pat with some oil or butter, cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature overnight.

In the morning:

Mix milk, brown sugar, 2 Tbs. butter and hot water in a bowl, gradually add the dry milk and rye flour.

Put your dough from the night before in a mixer, add what you just put together in the a.m. and turn for a bit with a dough hook till blended evenly.

Butter a cast iron pan or two bread pans, put the dough in, butter the top with your hands (that’s melt the butter first), smoothing the dough; cover with a clean cloth & let rise for around 2 more hours.

Preheat the oven to 350.  When the loaves are ready to bake turn the oven down to 325 and bake an hour, cover the tops with foil and bake about 15 minutes more or until done – I’m a big one for temperature so stick a thermometer in and when it says 204, fini!

This is such a delicious bread….I love the “browness” of it, the buttery top and the seeds, incredible aroma and taste.  This is this weeks toasted with a bit of butter wake up with our coffee and paper.

I did freeze half of it – it’s a very large loaf if you don’t split it.

Ghee making was in the works the other day also:

6 sticks of butter makes this….butter minus the water and milk solids (lactose) supposedly it’s good for you…a healthy fat I’ve been told.  I love having it around and have found so many more uses for it than I thought I would.  The making of it is easy as I bake it in the oven on a very low temp for a few hours, skimming.  I think one of the reasons I like it is it stays at room temp so when I need some butter, there it is, softened and ready to go – this shot is before it firmed up.  Liquid Gold, no?

Speaking of gold:

The second of my two baby hats this week…..and the silk noil warp I’ve been trying to get on my loom (it’s on, just not threaded yet).

My friend Marji came over the other day, always a blast, we’re both such freaks about food.  She worked with me at the cafe, a champ!  Anyhow, she’s now working with animals at Lucky Pet in Berwick, Maine (lucky them), running allot but still loving food, good girl.  As she was leaving she noticed my rhubarb….it’s giant already.  She took some and talked about a crisp.  Now, I don’t usually make them as Paul yammers on about pie most of the time but……it stuck in my brain so I made one last night.

Another amazingly simple recipe from The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen.  What a book, a must have if there is one, this is it.  My book from work is so darned trashed so I ordered a new one just to make it through the next 30 or 40 years.  Simple, clean, good food.  Never outdated.

So, I started with frozen peaches.  These are beautiful.  I buy them at The Market Basket, an in house brand, perfect and inexpensive for my morning fruit & vege. drink (by the way, I have lost 10 lbs. so far, could be the lack of alcohol also).

I thawed them for about 10 minutes just to soften.  We ate a few.  Added them to my rhubarb….check out how green it is.  That store stuff is so darn old.  My stuff cracks when I cut it, beautiful.

To this I added:

½ C. organic sugar, and some cinnamon. I loaded this into a large, shallow baking dish.  Then in the same bowl mixed in 2 C. rolled oats, 1 C. unbleached flour and 1 C. whole wheat flour, ½ C. brown sugar, cinnamon, a touch of salt and then some of the soft ghee, just spreading it all around till everything looked moist.  If no ghee, use 1.5 sticks of butter melted.

Spread your crumble over the top and bake at 375 for almost an hour.

It’s o.k. stuff.  Thanks for the idea Marji!

Rainy Day Sunday Baking

These are totally unreal.  Fabulous taste, not too sweet, a perfect sweet roll without all that sweet.

First up, above, end result! 

Dough rising – a mere 2 hrs. just after dinner while watching The Iron Lady – I agree with the British critics, not sure I want to know about Margaret Thatcher’s struggle with Alzheimer’s – so sad and completely demoralizing for that poor woman.  Cripes, why?  Let me go if it happens to me (although my kids try and make me think it already has, dorks.)

This is the butter mixture spread on the dough before rolling it up, slicing, placing in a greased pan, covering & refridg. over night.  Fast.

This recipe I got from trolling through Lottie & Doof….a blog site I enjoy – they got it from Sauveur who got it from I don’t know where.  These recipes cycle around and around where we all tweak it to suit our tastes.

1.25 C. hot milk

1 tsp. yeast

1/3 C. sugar

2 Tbs. melted butter

1 egg

4 C. flour

1.5 tsp. salt

Combine milk, yeast & sugar in the mixer, let sit a minute.  Add the butter, egg, flour & salt….mix till smooth about 8 minutes.  Transfer to a buttered bowl and let rise 2 hrs.

¼ C. brown sugar

zest from one orange (or lemon, or lime, or all of them)

1.5 C. confectioners sugar

1 tsp. orange extract

1 tsp. vanilla

Mix in clean mixer till smooth

When the dough is ready roll it out carefully to a shape to fit your pan – 9X12?  Spread most of the butter stuff on top then roll up.  Cut into 8-12 slices, fit in pan, cover with plastic and re fridge over night.

In the morning, uncover and…bake those babies at 375 for about a half an hour.  Just before they are done, add the orange juice from your whole orange to the remaining butter mixture and when they come out, spread it over the hot buns.

That’s it.  Yummmy.

We had 6 bananas hanging out, kinda dark so I put them in these: Banana, Walnut, Espresso muffins made with coconut oil instead of butter.  The trick to these is get them out of the tins before they cool down too much as they tend to stick even though they are in paper.  Probably get them out of the paper too.  I think the coconut oil doesn’t keep them greasy as butter does.  But, happy to not be having that same old boring piece of toast with our coffee at 5:30 a.m.  at least for a few days anyway.

While trolling through Lottie & Douf they talked about going to Oleander in Boston – I’ve never been but interesting recipes.  They had, while there, a carrot (not quite puree) chunky appetizer that sounded really interesting to me, so, I made it with what I had for ingredients around the house.

Now, they say, they had it at Oleanders and also it was from Ana Sortun’s Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean.  That said:

1 Lb. carrots, peeled, cut in 2" lengths

3 Tbs. olive oil

1.5 Tbs. white balsamic vinegar

2.5 tsp. harissa which I did not have so I used fennel seed & sesame seeds

1 tsp. ground cumin

½ tsp. ginger

S&P

Cook the carrots till almost done, drain, mush with a fork till chunky – add the rest.  I ground the spices up in my coffee grinder together.

This alone on a nice slice of earthy rich bread is great.  We had it with a bowl of soup.

They suggest this Dukkah to sprinkle over the top of the carrot stuff.

¼ C. dry pan sauteed almonds

1.5 Tbs. coriander seeds

1 Tbs. cumin seeds

1.5 Tbs. sesame seeds

¼ C. unsweetened dried coconut

1.5 tsp. salt

½ tsp. black pepper

I did not have coriander so I added black sesame plus the white, all in the grinder, coconut and all.  I ended up with an interesting spice mixture but a bit of overkill for the carrots.  I already had a yummy lentil soup going so I dumped the whole carrot deal, 2 Tbs. of the spice, into the soup.  That worked. 

Along with that delicious toasted no knead walnut bread….more than enough health food!  A super wintery dinner.

That’s it, no more cooking today.  I have a warp that needs tending, it’s a perfect rainy day for that.  We put the potatoes in the garden this morning while it was misty – Paul says we’ll have 50 lbs. of mashers this year.  Yesterday we tilled the vegetable garden more, and argued over where things are going.  I put all the pansies in various spots – I’m an over buyer on those things.  They are just so darn cute how can you not buy all the smiling faces?  I use them as garnish on everything all summer long; the rich blue ones are beautiful on a glossy chocolate cake!

Newborn hat. 5 starts with another pattern, gave up and made this while watching an old 40,s movie …hurricane! Watch it just to see raymond burr as a 20 year old, unreal. Along side the caradine dad of david perhaps 175 pounds total. Love the rope belts.