Thursday, September 29, 2011

RED flowers!

My garden is sighing with relief as the temps have gone from brutal to beautiful! I love how the flowers kick back in at this time of year, and thought you might enjoy seeing them too!

Do you have fun fall flowers you look forward to seeing every year? I would love to hear about what you have in your flower bed!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Food Memory Maker~ literally!

Sixteen years ago, just days after our honeymoon, I was able to convince my BHE (Best Husband Ever) that it would be well worth it to use some of our wedding gift money to purchase a Kitchen Aid mixer. Skeptical, he agreed, I am sure just to please his pleading bride. Promising to love and cherish my new mixer, we spent the money and brought home my new treasure... And have never looked back.

This mixer has been witness to almost 6,000 days of our lives, and been included in the making of most of them, in one way or another. From beating up pizza dough to whipping mashed potatoes, folding in egg whites to "hooking" the bread, this sweet little machine has working its magic in all of my kitchens. Hardly a day goes by that I am not plugging in this wonder tool to assist me in my cooking creations. Just today, we made a chocolate cake and a cinnamon roll cake together, and there is still frosting to look forward to whipping up!

So does my BHE regret the purchase? Sometimes... when he is helping out with dishes and has to wash that silver bowl and then wash it again... and again. Sigh~ that's love, huh?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Food Memory Day~ Paulsen Pizza

One favorite wedding present we received 16 years ago appeared to be a very simple gift. Along with a brown paper bag, there were two round pizza pans, a pizza cutter, a bag of "Pizza Seasoning," and a card on which was written the recipe for Paulsen Pizza.

This gift has brought us years of delicious memories... We have made it a practice to have homemade pizza every weekend. We have shared our love of homemade pizza with many. Our kiddos now beg to make "individual pizzas," and this is great food for a gathering with lots of people, as everyone likes what they put on their own pizza.

What started this lovely journey? Growing up, I would be invited out to play with Kris and Kelly at the Paulsen home. Mrs. Paulsen always made bread on Saturdays, and she would make enough extra dough to use as pizza crust. This meant that supper would be pizza! Spending delightful hours inhaling that amazing aroma of baking bread, chased by the tantilizing tastes of pizza made for Food Memory Days. Always served simply on a paper bag, that pizza consumed around the round kitchen table was more than just a meal. It really was a memory of love.

And that is why that simple wedding present has been so precious to us for so many years. We were given a gift of love, and we have been able to pass it on to so many...

Enjoy with those you love!

Paulsen Pizza

Dissolve together in mixing bowl:
2 tsp. yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 cup warm water
Once yeast is bubbly, stir in:
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 T. oil
Mix well. Knead. Cover and let rise until doubled. (I usually stick the dough in the microwave, as it proves a good proofing box... just don't turn it on!)

1- 8 oz can tomato sauce
1- small can tomato paste
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp. oregano
dash cayenne
1 T. oil

Top with desired toppings and cheese. Bake in preheated 450-475 degree oven- 10-12 minutes trade from bottom to middle rack halfway.

Makes 2 round pizza, serves 4-6.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sometimes being resourceful doesn't work out so well...

So I have this cookbook, The New York Times Cook Book, published in 1990. I realized the other day that I really haven't used it much. There is no particular reason for this. I love New York. And just look at the cover, the gold label glistening in the fading light of another busy day. It is a beacon, calling to me to make use of its tempting treasures within... Yes! I resolve to answer the call and make this my new "go-to" cookbook.

Following thus stated resolution, I probed the pages of my pristine cook book this afternoon, seeking inspiration for a quick and easy supper. Just needing a soup recipe to go with the fresh bread I baked. Oh, and it is Wednesday... In our house, Wednesday Night is Soup Night.

Okay. Easy, quick, and using what I have on hand. Guess that will eliminate 95% of the recipes-- (Note to self: Go grocery shopping!)

But wait! Page 64 offers a feasible solution! Quick Cold Beet Soup. (Well, it was hot here in TN today.) Pantry Check~ Beets: yes. Onion: yes. Salt, pepper, lemon juice: yes, yes, yes. Mashed potatoes: yes --leftover from the Baconfest, needing to get used up! Chicken stock , sour cream, ice cubes? Yes, yes, yes. I have it all!

Happily I follow the easy directions, and process everything in my food processor. Oops, that went a bit above the liquid line. I guess that line is there for a reason... Well, it is a pretty shade of... PINK. Uh-oh.

Those who know me realize that this may present a small problem in my male dominated household. Little Miss doesn't even care too much for pink, and it has never been my favorite color (with the exception being outside in my front flower bed, of course!).

Wow, that isn't just pink. It is PeptoBismol pink. This may be one of those times when being resourceful is going to result in... a simple bread and butter supper. Hmm. Bread: yes. Butter: yes. It's all good.

We learn from the things that don't always turn out as planned, right? Any lessons you want to share?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Perfect Red Bed... or not!

My favorite color is red.

When planning the front bed of our home, I decided I wanted to have a classic red bed, with red Double Knock Out rose bushes. My sweet children and BHE gave me five of them for Mother's Day. I went ahead and filled in with barn red day lilies, deep purple cone flowers for contrast, and red verbenum. These would all surround a beautiful white Natchez crepe myrtle tree, and be softened by a row of boxwood behind. Doesn't that look beautiful in your mind?

Hmmm, funny how with gardening, things don't always go as planned.

The red roses bloomed... a deep hot pink. "That is not red," I thought, "But I guess it is okay. They are really pretty and profuse with blossoms. I can work with those..." The cone flowers, while more of a pale purple-pink, had a nice reddish center. "Different than I expected, but definitely doable." The verbenum just kept blooming and blooming little red flowers, but a true red, so they didn't clash with the hot pink roses. "Huh, think this might all be okay!"

Ha, ha~Foolish me!

Because then the day lilies bloomed. Barn. Red. Oh, no.

I can live with some things, but I was just not able to look past that garish red flower with the bright yellow center against the hot pink. I just couldn't do it.

Oh, I tried! I waited a year, and then another. I left some of the day lilies there~ moved some to the backyard ("Red Bed," take two!). I planted some pink fountain gaura, and some Autumn Joy sedum, along with some red and pink bee balm, and red and pink Oriental lilies...
And then one day, I couldn't take it anymore. I went out with my gardening shears, and I cut off every single barn red blossom on those day lilies. The greens left behind now provide a pretty filler in amongst the pinks. And all those day lilies? They made a lovely bouquet in my home.

This fall, I plan on transplanting the rest of those pretty barn red day lilies out by the new pavilion at church... where they will be able to bloom in all their magnificent barn red glory!

Anyone else have garden growing stories they'd like to share? I'd love to hear how you have grown with your garden!

Monday, September 12, 2011

A 10th Birthday Baconfest!

Son Three has always been an adventuresome eater... He loves to try new things, but has definite favorites, too. For example, every year for his birthday meal, he requests Glazed Meatloaf, Mama's Mashed Potatoes, and broccoli. (Yep, every year since he has been old enough to make a request!)
This year, being his 10th birthday, he decided to branch out and try something new.
Oh, he still requested Glazed Meatloaf, Mama's Mashed Potatoes, and broccoli, but for this celebration, he also proposed that everything made for his birthday include BACON.
Not one to turn down a challenge, I accepted.

10th Birthday Baconfest Menu:

~Buttermilk & Bacon Pancake Sticks~

~Glazed Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf ~
~Mama's Supreme Mashed Potatoes with Bacon~
~Broccoli with Bacon~
~Garden Tomatoes with Bacon & Basil~
~Bacon-Garlic-Rosemary Bread~
and the piece de resistance? (You knew this was coming, right?)

~Bacon-Laced Chocolate Cake~

(Recipe conveniently provided by Vosges Haut-Chocolat's Katrina Markoff
in the September 2011 issue of Better Homes & Gardens~ Thanks, Katrina!)

Do you have special traditions/meals you do for birthday celebrations in your home? I would love to hear about them!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Now on to the twigs...

I realize that most of my "twigs + loaves" posts have dealt with the "loaves." Cooking and baking does seem to take up most of my time these days, especially with the heat we have been having... Even I don't want to be spending a whole lot of time outside gardening. Sadly, my plants are not looking their lushest. (Hmmm, could those two sentences be read as 'cause and effect'?) I will even admit to having some less-than-alive plants in pots (My apologies, sweet neighbors!).
But the good thing about this time of year is that we are now in the months with an "r"... which of course means that I can begin trimming up my trees! (Is everyone but me familiar with that little mnemonic device: "You never trim a tree in a month without an 'r' ?" Thank you to Jon M., for sharing that tidbit with me!)
Last spring we planted a Forest Pansy red bud in our front bed. We were told it was a slow grower, but the promise of delicate purple flowers every spring and the glossy purple-green of the new foliage was appealing. Perhaps we misunderstood the bit about the slow-growing part... The tree has doubled in size! Not that we mind... It is a lovely tree, but with it growing up so quickly I found myself chomping to give it a bit of a trim. Patiently I waited through May, June, July and August... and promptly took up the saw in September!
Even in the trimming, this tree just keeps on giving me joy. After stripping off the leaves, beautiful twiggy branches were revealed. I think they look lovely in my living room...

Don't you think they will look pretty with ornaments at Christmas time, too?
And so my love for trees and twigs continues...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Once-a-Year Triple Chocolate Cake

Looking for a delectably moist, seriously "chock-full-of-chocolate" chocolate cake? This cake is not for the casual chocolate eater. This is not for the faint of heart (or those watching their calorie intake~ *DISCLAIMER: FEW OF MY RECIPES ARE!!*). This Triple Chocolate Cake recipe isrecommended for a once-a-year "WOW!"... perhaps a birthday celebration or a Cake Bake Off. (Yes, this is the cake recipe that won the Beautiful Savior Golden Cake Pan Award.)

If you just can't imagine a whole year going by without another taste of this cake, you can always skip the frosting and Ganache, and just dust it with powdered sugar... or eat it plain... on a weekly basis. Enjoy!

Triple Chocolate Cake

2 c. sugar

1-3/4 c. flour

¾ c. baking cocoa

1-1/2 t. baking powder

1-1/2 t. baking soda

1 t. salt

2 eggs

1 c. milk (whole is best)

2 t. vanilla extract

½ c. vegetable oil

1 c. boiling water

Heat oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans (I like to put parchment circles in the pans to ensure clean removal.) Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large mixing bowl. In separate bowl (I use my 4 c. measuring cup) mix together eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Add to mixing bowl and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. (I use the same measuring cup then and put 1 c. of water into microwave for that two minutes.) Stir in boiling water (Batter will be thin. Make sure to scrape up the bottom of the bowl as you stir the water in.) Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. (You will know by the smell that it is done!) Cool 10 minutes; remove to wire racks and cool completely before frosting.

Fluffy Chocolate Frosting

*Frosting comes together more easily if butter and milk are at room temperature.

8 T (1 stick) butter, room temperature

2/3 c. baking cocoa

3 c. powdered sugar

1/3 c. whole milk

2 t. vanilla extract

1/4 t. salt

Place the butter and cocoa in large mixing bowl. Blend with electric mixer on low speed until the mixture is soft and well combined, 30 seconds. Stop the machine. Put in the remaining ingredients and beat with mixer on medium speed until the frosting lightens and is fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add more milk if too thick or more sugar if too thin, 1 T. at a time.

*For Mocha frosting, add 2 t. instant coffee to the milk.

Chocolate Ganache
¾ c. heavy (whipping) cream
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 T. liquor (Kaluha!)--optional

Place cream in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Bring to boil, stirring.Place chopped chocolate in a large mixing bowl. Pour hot cream over chocolate. Stir until chocolate is melted. Stir in liquor.

To use as frosting, let sit at room temperature for about 4 hours or chill until it thickens and is spreadable.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Have a wonderful Labor Day Weekend!

I will be taking the weekend off of writing to gather ideas and pictures for upcoming blogs.

Just to give you a sneak peek at what is coming, we are busy here planning a Bacon Birthday Bash for Son Three. That is sure to be fun...

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Schmidt's Bacon=Liquid Gold!

Bakin' Bacon Cookies

Making that delicious Schmidt’s bacon the other evening resulted in a lovely amount of liquid gold, a.k.a. Schmidt’s Bacon Drippings! This may not appeal to everyone, but when times were tough, people made do with what they had. Surely they would not have wasted this precious gift from the bacon?
I did a little research in an inherited cookbook, The American Woman’s Cook Book from the Culinary Arts Institute, copyrighted 1938. (Belonged to BHE’s Great-Aunt Aggie—I love it!) Ruth Berolzheimer edited the book, and regarding my question she wrote: “Lard and meat drippings for shortening and cooking date from the time when all fats were prepared at home.” Her thought was that bacon fat was too highly seasoned for any but limited use… and that is where I stopped her. With the ongoing fascination for flavoring everything with bacon, this liquid gold is going places in my kitchen!
Several years ago, I came across a recipe for Molasses Cookies that used bacon fat in place of butter. I have tried in vain to relocate that recipe-- future blog: organizing my recipes!-- and so instead did a little googling, and came up with this:

Ingredients : 1 c. bacon grease or lard 1 c. sugar 1 egg, beaten 4 tbsp. molasses 2 c. flour 1 tsp. salt 2 tsp. soda 1/2 tsp. ginger 1/2 tsp. cloves 1 tsp. cinnamon
Preparation : Sift dry ingredients together. Stir in bacon grease and egg. Roll in balls. Roll balls in sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

My kitchen smells amazing right now! Two of my kiddos just tried them... "These taste like bacon!" exclaimed Baby Girl. "This is kinda weird..." Son One (13), "I think I like them better with butter." Say what they will, I think I have hit upon something here. Kinda crazy, but I'm bakin' Bacon cookies! (The dog is confused... It smells like bacon, but there is no bacon treat for him?)
Melinda and Jess, upon hearing about my endeavor, volunteered to be tasters-- Thanks gals! ;-) Both of them agreed that the molasses made for a better cookie. (Good thing I remembered to put it in... eventually!) Jess commented that the molasses and the bacon flavors were well-balanced. Melinda has decided to put their Saturday morning bacon drippings to good use, too!

I love and respect the resourcefulness of those who came up with this recipe. They inspire me to be more resourceful. Who knew they would be such "green trendsetters," those Depression-Era survivors?