Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 sticks softened butter
1 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1 - 15 oz can pumpkin
2 large eggs
3 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ginger
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. cloves
2 c. milk chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 and grease pans.
Using mixer, beat butter until smooth. Beat in sugars, then eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla.
In another bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Stir into wet dough in thirds. Stir in chocolate chips. Scoot onto cookie sheets in heaping tablespoons. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until brown around the edges.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Grandma's 14-Day Sweet Pickles

I'll give an update on the wild yeast levain and the breads I've made with it soon but right now I have pickles on the brain, so I thought I'd share.

Raise your hand if you love Grandma's sweet pickles. Raise your hand if you used to eat them plain (while drinking Grandma's iced tea) in the summer time for a snack while visiting the farm. (ok, Laura and I might be the only ones raising our hands on that one.) And finally, raise your hand if you think that store-bought sweet pickles just can't compete.

I'll finally put my hand down now to type, but I love Grandma's Sweet Pickles with a passion and so long ago I asked her for her recipe. It's a photocopy from some magazine - not sure what one, but it's not exactly a family secret recipe or anything, but I still wanted to make sure I had her real recipe, for someday when she stopped making them (She did a few years ago. I guess at 80 she's allowed to 'retire!')

I was intimidated to try them for many years... 14-days! So much work! And I didn't have a "1-gallon" stone crock like the recipe called for - what would I use instead? Finally a good friend in Madison (Hi, Sarah!) who loves sweet pickles as much as I do and is fearless in the sewing room (anyone can make your own wedding dress, that's easy, but she made her husband's suit!) convinced me that I should really try them that they couldn't be that hard.

And she was right, they really aren't that bad. I went to a restaurant supply store in Madison and got a food-grade plastic bucket that works great for making pickles two weeks of the year and for holding Claire's toys the rest of the time. And except for 30-60 minutes the first day to wash the cucumbers and get things ready, an hour on Day 7 to cut the cucumbers, and around 2-3 hours on Day 14 to can them, the daily work is really only 10-15 min (and you don't do anything days 2, 4, and 6!

I had intentions of typing up the whole recipe for here, but looking it over, I realize that would be crazy. There's so much detail in the instructions that I wouldn't want to lose. I'll scan it into a PDF and if anyone wants it, just email me, send me a message on facebook, or leave your email address in the comments to this post.

If you love Grandma's pickles, there is only one way to get them now - make them yourself!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Making a wild yeast levain and a Book Review of 52 Loaves (the author's blog - includes recipes)

I heard about this book on another blog and thought it sounded worth reading. It is! The book is a non-fiction story about the author's attempt to re-create the "perfect" loaf of bread that he ate ~10 years before our story starts. He decides to make at least one loaf of bread a week for a year to try to do this. He bakes bread in various places around the world and learns from bakers... and also grows his own wheat and makes his own clay oven.

Alexander is an entertaining writer, including lots of interesting facts and details about bread, many of which I didn't know even though I've been baking homemade bread for probably almost 20 years. But he never loses sight of the story part of it (part memior) and it is funny at times and generally hooks you into the story!

He convinced me that I needed to bake more with a sourdough starter (a levain). As he says on his website: "Levain, sourdough, it want you want — it is the secret to authentic, yeasty, artisan bread. San Francisco sourdough has, in a sense, given all sourdoughs a bad name, but most wild yeast starters are far milder and (to my palate) more pleasant as well."

This convinced me to try to make a levain with wild yeast. I also think San Francisco sourdough bread is a little too strong for my taste, and when I've made starter before I've always used purchased, commercial yeast, so I'm anxious to see what the wild yeast starter is like.

I've started mine! Alexander recommends using orchard apples (the 'haze' on them is the yeast) so I thought I'd have to wait until fall for apples to be ready. But when we were at the farm last weekend Grandpa asked if we wanted apples! His neighbor or friend had a tree with "sauce apples" that he was trying to get rid of. Mom and Grandpa went and picked some.

I used a lot for making applesauce, but I saved one whole apple cut up into 1" chunks and the peel of a second to put in 1 c. de-chlorinated water. It has been sitting, covered, on my counter for almost the full three days (I've been stirring it at least twice a day) and already it is bubbly and smells like apple cider (and a little like vinegar... hopefully that's okay). I start "feeding" it with flour tomororw, so I'll keep you posted on how that goes and how it is to bake with! If it works and makes tasty bread, I'd be happy to share some starter with you if you want some Brown County wild yeast levain. Or, you can make your own, so far it seems pretty easy!

Alexander really recommends you use a scale when you bake. While, as a scientist, I understand that sentiment, I'm not sure if we'll get one or not. It seems like it's just one more item that may not get used enough to justify taking up precious real estate in my kitchen. If we want to follow any of his recipes though, a scale might be needed. He only posts them in metric weights. (This includes his levain recipe...) A few tips about bread making from the book would likely make any bread recipe better, however. (Soon I will post a recipe for "One Hour Bread" - a non-levain using bread that is great for instant gratification. It's even faster than a bread machine!!)

If you're looking for a good summer reading book, find a copy of 52 Loaves soon! Read while eating homemade bread, for the best experience.

(Legal note: A library copy of this book was read. This is not a popular enough blog that authors and companies send free stuff to so that it will be written about and our vast audiences will rush out and buy book or item. The author of this blog post wishes to state that she has no conflicting interests, and will have no material gain from the sale of this book, the making of levains, or the purchase and use (or not) of a kitchen scale.)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Roasted Red Pepper Chickpea Dip

As I was making this recipe today, I thought it would be a good one to share! This is just a great chickpea dip that's easy to make (less than 10 minutes total) and is good as an appetizer or afternoon snack at work.


2 cans chick peas (garbanzo beans) (15 ounces), drained
  • 1 small jar roasted red peppers (6 ounces), drained well and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 cloves garlic, cracked away from peel
  • 4 stems fresh rosemary, leaves stripped from stems
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), eyeball it as you drizzle it into recipe
  • 1 package flat breads, Everything flavor
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, rinsed
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch disks
  • any other veggies or other dipping items - I like baby carrots and red pepper strips.

  • Combine chick peas, roasted red pepper, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper in a food processor. Turn the processor on and stream in two tablespoons olive oil. Process until smooth.

    Monday, February 22, 2010

    Gingersnap cookies I

    Ever since Josie brought her amazing gingersnaps to our house several months ago I have been wanting to make them. They were so good!! Unfortunately, right around the time I asked her for the recipe she started being sick all the time due to a little one that Claire is getting excited to meet in June. (Claire's babysitter is also expecting, so the topic comes up a lot. Today Claire asked me: "do you have a baby in your belly, too?" No, just a few too many bowls of ice cream, Claire.)

    Anyway, I'm still hoping that sometime Josie will share her great gingersnap recipe, but in the meantime, I tried a recipe from Simply I made it pretty much exactly to her instructions, except that I only made half a recipe (in case I didn't like them... though not too much chance of that) and then I rolled them into a (somewhat lumpy) log and then in raw sugar before freezing the log.

    Tonight I cut off several thin roundish cookies and just finished baking them for 8 min. Couldn't be easier, really.

    And... they are really, pretty good! they are thinner than Josie's, but they are crunchy like hers, which is a must for me. I like all my cookies crunchy (feel free to disagree in the comments, I know not everyone agrees!) but especially gingersnaps! I think I still like yours better, Josie, they were a little more substantial, while still crunchy, and I REALLY loved the raw sugar all over yours, instead of just around the edges like these were.

    Maybe sometime there can be a Gingersnap Cookie II post??? :)