Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Knitting and kringle

Well, the gloves plural aren't finished, but one is, so I'll provide a picture. They're made with what may be my favorite yarn, Frog Tree Alpaca. This is the sport weight yarn, which I suggest for gloves and socks, unless you're willing to work with finer weight, and then their fingering weight is lovely. You do have to keep it safe from clothes moths, though, as I found out first hand losing one pair of socks to those critters. These are fitted to my hand, with the fingers a bit long in case I choose to grow my nails. Now let's see if they suit my daughter, and I keep them or not.

In addition, I've baked kringle. Kringle is a bit of a family tradition now. I started baking kringle after hearing about it in Oklahoma City around Christmas while in grad school for my Master's in City Planning. Ever since then, I've been making almond kringle - so that would be since 1984. Oh, heavens, 25 years of kringle baking. I found the recipe in a magazine, and of course tweaked it by changing the filling, leaving out candied citron (not my favorite thing, although candied citrus peel beats the heck out of green candied cherries in my estimation!), and substituting chopped pecans which were native to the area of Norman and Oklahoma City.

If you've never run into kringle before, it's a pastry that is filled with any of a number of fruit or nut fillings, or occasionally cheese or chocolate. Originally from Denmark, it's associated in the US most strongly with Racine, Wisconsin. I'm not sure how many Danes moved to Oklahoma City, but apparently some did because it was a local specialty around Christmas. The recipe I have uses a yeast dough that is more of a regular sweet roll type dough rather than a puff pastry type dough that the commercial bakeries such as those in Racine use. I like mine because it's fresh and you can smell it all through the house, which of course the bakery product doesn't offer. The other thing I've found with the bakery product when I bought it in Oklahoma City was that I thought the dough underneath the filling pulled moisture from the filling which I don't find with this dough. But that's me.

Almond Kringle

2 pkgs yeast
1/2 cup very warm water
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 stick butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
approx. 4 cups flour

Mix 2 pkg yeast, water and 1 Tbsp sugar in large bowl. Heat milk, 1/2 cup sugar, and butter in a pan on medium heat until butter melts and milk scalds, stirring to keep sugar from caramelizing on the bottom of the pan. Let milk mixture cool to lukewarm and add with eggs and salt to the yeast mix. Add two cups of flour. Mix well. Add flour by 1/2 cup increments until stiff enough to knead. Knead until smooth, adding flour as needed. Let rise until double. Make filling.


One 6-8 oz tin or tube of almond paste
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick softened butter
1 cup chopped pecans

Cut almond paste into small pieces, add sugar, and butter to food processor with metal blade. Process for a few seconds, move around after stopping processor, and process again until smooth. Add pecans, and process until mixed.

When dough is risen, cut in thirds, roll into approximately 24 X 6-8 inch oblongs for each third. Spread each with 1/3 of the filling, and roll into long log. Shape into pretzel shape on cookie sheet and let rise until double again. Glaze with whole egg glaze for nice brown sheen.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Yield 3 kringles (YUM!)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Overdue post

Ah, sorry not to have posted for awhile. I've been out of the cooking loop for a bit - knitting and illness took over for a few weeks. I've had a bad cold that set off asthma-like symptoms, darn it, and knocked me on my butt for a bit, then I have gloves on the knitting needles and socks for Mike. I've almost finished the gloves and will post photos of them, even though they aren't cooking. I won't post the pattern though, they are worked for my hands and I worked them without a pattern. The socks will take a bit longer.

I finally did some baking again. I would call them within the range of normal, but they taste so good, I'll post. They're oatmeal cookies with dried cherries. Mike and I have been enjoying them, and so have the collies. I can't have one without a begging dog at my side or at my feet!

Oatmeal Cherry Cookies

2 sticks butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups roll oats (old fashioned or quick, not instant)
1 cups dried cherries (chopped coarsely)

Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs, mix well. Add extracts and mix. Add flour, salt, and baking soda to the butter and egg mixture, mix well. (These first steps may be done by hand or in a mixer) Add oatmeal and cherries, mix by hand until combined. Drop by spoonfuls onto parchment lined baking sheets, one dozen per sheet. Bake in 350 degree oven 10 to 12 minutes until done. Makes 4 dozen cookies.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Baking for folks who don't eat eggs

Mike's heard from folks at his office that they'd like to taste what he brings in, but because of their culturally based food restrictions, they can't have the baked goods - banana bread, zucchini bread, muffins, or so forth. Today I went ahead and made pumpkin muffins and apple walnut muffins considering those restrictions.

From checking some websites on vegan cooking for muffins and other baking, it's OK to just leave out the eggs if there's enough other moisture. Since the folks are from India and Pakistan, I felt it would be OK to use the milk and butter since my recipes for Indian food uses cheese and ghee. The apple muffins, though are vegan since I used cider for the liquid because I wanted to enhance the apple flavor. I thought it would be appropriate.

For general purposes if you're willing to try baking and need to substitute for eggs for vegans, pumpkin or applesauce can be used to add bulk and moisture; approximately 1/4 cup for one egg. Tofu, pureed, works to help bind and add protein. Finely ground flaxseed and water (1 Tablespoon to 1/4 cup water) is also useful for binding in baking. You also need to remember to have leavening since the leavening action of eggs is missing. But in muffins you already have baking powder, so I did not add extra.

Eggless Apple Walnut Muffins

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup oil
1 cup cider (or milk)
1 grated apple
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

for topping:
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Measure dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add wet ingredients, mix until just moistened. Add apple and walnuts and mix until evenly distributed.

Place batter in greased muffin tins (or line with paper muffin cups if preferred). Mix cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle tops of batter with cinnamon sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the tops are browned and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Take from muffin tin immediately after removing from oven and cool on rack.

Serve warm or room temperature. Great with tea or coffee. Also good with dinner - New Englanders would have muffins as the bread with the meal. These would be yummy with a sharp cheddar cheese!

Friday, October 30, 2009

not a recipe, but where I've been and what I've cooked

I was out of town last week and this week have been a little busy with knitting. Last week we went on vacation to Pennsylvania and headed to Amish country with a side trip on the way home to Cape May, NJ. Then this week I have two knitting nights.

We were in Lancaster County, PA around Bird-in-Hand and Intercourse. The area was very touristy along the main roads, but back in the farms they were very tidy and generally quite pretty. One of the Amish men took us on a carriage tour, he'd changed to this after farming because it was easier work than farming. Apparently the farms are dairy farms mainly these days. They grow corn and alfalfa for feeding the cattle and apples that are sold and eaten (also for cider). The cider apple pulp is also fed to cattle. They also have horses and mules for local travel and working the fields.

I have to say I'm not particularly fond of all Pennsylvania Dutch (Amish based) cooking. I had sauerkraut and pork one night that was acceptable, but seemed more of a way that would be using leftovers of a pork roast at home than a restaurant menu item. I was also surprised that the New England whoopie pie had made it as a pastry item the Amish bakers had taken to. I guess it's a good single serving cake.

In Cape May I stopped and ate seafood. Of course! I couldn't go without a good seafood meal there. I also bought finnan haddie to fix at home. I do like smoked fish.

In addition to finnan haddie, I've made beef stew the way I like to with red wine, onions, mushrooms, and carrots, and flavored with garlic and thyme, Bernard Clayton's rich white bread out of his Bread book, baked apples with the apples bought in Amish country, and steak. Yeah, we're a red meat house pretty often. The hubby's from Colorado and used to beef. Oh, yes, and one night I did a ham steak with roasted sweet potato spears. The sweet potatoes came out really nice and roasty toasty and were so good!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Chai tea

Today is blustery, wet, and chilly. Not really outright c-o-l-d, but chilly. Nice to have a beautiful collie laying at my feet, especially a dry collie, but of course they all wanted/needed out at the height of the rain this morning and they're all a bit damp. Can't blame them, I'd much rather they did what they needed to do outside rather than in the house! So, since I can't have a dog warming my toes, I'm having a cup of chai.

Chai can be flavored to suit you. What suits me is mainly cardamom and cinnamon with a little bit of spunk. I really like it made with Darjeeling tea, but my system doesn't tolerate much caffeine these days so I'm making mine with decaf English Breakfast. Not the same, but still decent.


2 cups of water (filtered)
2 inches cinnamon stick
small chip of nutmeg (use a knife and chip off a little piece about 1/8 inch)
8 to 12 cardamom pods
3 or 4 black peppercorns
1/3 coin of crystallized ginger

Bring water to the boil. Boil for 2 or 3 minutes, then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer 10 minutes.

Reheat water to the boil. Add tea for desired strength (1 or 2 teabags - remember this is served with milk). Let steep for about 5 minutes. Add sweetener, which for me is honey, and milk to the desired milkiness.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Spiced Cider

I seem to be falling into a pattern. Past posts seem to rely on oatmeal, and now the last post and this one are apple related. Oh, well. Maybe it's a relationship with being a bit seasonal - with the season certain things are common in the cooking. Winter tends to be a time for stews and roasts because warming up the kitchen is a pleasure and warming for the rest of the house. Summer barbecues and grilling means that heating the kitchen and the house isn't a problem.

Now that's not to say that I don't bake in the summer because I dearly love peach cobbler, blackberry cobbler or pie, and strawberry shortcake - just that I don't bake anywhere near as often. Nothing like getting the fruit in the morning either from the farmers market or from the garden, then cooking in the afternoon, and on the plate at supper (or before - you have to test it as the cook, you know)!

My daughter several years ago told me she likes my spiced cider better than a number of other people's because mine has more than just cinnamon. It does. If any of the spices don't appeal to you, leave them out, and if you don't have them, leave them out. It will be tasty anyway. The proportions are for a single serving

Spiced Cider for One

One cup of cider (or apple juice if it's what you prefer)
one inch of cinnamon stick
4 grates of nutmeg on a small grater
4 cardamom pods
1/4 ring of crystallized ginger
pinch of dried orange rind

Before making your cider, taste to determine sweetness. If it's tart, plan to sweeten with a bit of brown sugar. Usually a teaspoon or so will do the trick if it's needed at all.

Add the remaining ingredients. Heat to a boil, let simmer 5 minutes. Pour into a coffee cup, and enjoy!!! Great when the weather's cold enough your toes are chilly and you're too ornery to start the heat.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Apple Crisp

Apple crisp is one of those comfort foods of fall for me. I've been making this since I was in undergrad 30 plus years ago. There were apple trees on the campus that were left to fend for themselves and I would raid when I could. I also would go to Green Mountain Orchards in Putney, Vt. In addition to apple crisp I would make applesauce, baked apples filled with nuts and dried fruit (sometimes with granola), and apple pies. Can't tell I lived in New England, can you? (*Smile*)

My family always likes an extra bit of crumbly crust on the apple crisp, so this one may have a bit more than you and you family looks for. It's still good, awh heck, with apple crisp it's all good! Enjoy the recipe and fiddle as you like.

Apple Crisp

5 or 6 medium to large apples (mix up varieties) sliced thinly
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. flour

1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 stick butter, melted

Heat over to 350 degrees.
Toss the apples, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 Tbsp flour. Place in 8X8 or 9X9 in sq. pan.

In a medium sized bowl mix the dry ingredients for the topping. Add the butter, mix until small balls of moist crumbs are formed (all the dry ingredients are incorporated). Place the topping over the apple mix.

Place in 350 degree oven for approximately 40 minutes until the apples are soft and the topping is toasty brown and crisp.

To guild this somewhat rustic lily, serve a la mode.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Crunchy granola anyone?

I guess I tend to be a crunchy granola type - studying natural resources, growing my own fruit (see the figs in the pictures that follow), preferring wind and people powered watercraft, and that sort of thing.

Here's one the crows decided to get. They get to the fruit when it's hot and they're thirsty.

A nice ripe fig

So, in honor of the granola image, here's a recipe for the granola I've made for years. I like it with yogurt and fruit in a parfait for breakfast (not very crunchy granola of me), and I usually have dried fruit in the winter. Unless, of course, I don't have granola and have steel-cut oats. I found adding the fruit just before serving makes it much more chewable; if you add it before cooking it becomes too sticky to your teeth and pulls out fillings!

Winnie's Morning Granola

1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup cooking oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup sunflower seeds
2 cups nuts (your preference, almonds, pecans, walnuts, etc in good sized pieces)
1 1/2 cups coconut (large flakes of unsweetened is preferred)
3 cups Old Fashioned Rolled Oats

optional: 1 cup mixed wheat germ, oat bran

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Warm oil and honey (I microwave for about a minute, but you could warm on the stove in small saucepan), add brown sugar.

Place remaining ingredients in a large bowl, toss with hands. Add warm wet ingredients, mix well. Spread on two cookie sheets with raised edges, non-stick works well here.

Bake for 5 minutes, stir around on sheets, and then exchange sheet locations. Bake another 5 minutes and remove from oven if coconut is toasted to light brown. If not, bake another few minutes until coconut is golden brown and smells toasty.

Take off cookie sheets into a large bowl to cool, stir while cooling or will clump into large chunks. Bag into a one gallon bag to hold for breakfasts. Recommended portion size is 1/2 cup or less.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bread for chewing

I've been wanting bread worth chewing. Store-bought bread is too fluffy for the mood I'm in of late. I decided to do up a bread with seeds and chewiness - whole wheat, sunflower seeds, wheat berries, oatmeal and using some of the buckwheat honey I picked up at a local farm market. The honey tastes more like molasses, which works well with the whole wheat flavor. If you don't have buckwheat honey, I'd say just use half and half honey and molasses to mimic the flavor.

To cook the wheat berries, put at least 1/2 cup (3/4 works better) and at least twice as much water in a small saucepan on the stove. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for approximately 20 minutes. Taste one to see if it's tender, if so, they're done. If not, keep simmering until tender - it will depend on type of wheat and how dry they are. Any left over can be eaten with milk and sugar for breakfast if you're OK with a fairly bland cereal. The extra wheat berries also can be used to make wheat berry salads with celery, onion, a bit of tomato, etc and a vinaigrette.

Sunny Honey Oat Wheat Bread

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cups buckwheat honey
2 1/2 cups boiling water
1 packet or 2 1/2 tsp of dried yeast
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp cooking oil
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup cooked wheat berries
1 cup sunflower seed
3 cups all purpose flour, approximately

In a large bowl, soak the oats in the boiling water with the honey for 1 1/2 hours.

Add yeast, salt, cooking oil and whole wheat flour; mix well. Add wheat berries, and sunflower seeds and mix well. Add all purpose flour 1/2 cup at a time; mix by spoon until too stiff to mix, then begin to knead in flour until the dough becomes resilient and the seeds begin to show through the dough.

Let rise approximately an hour (if using rapid-rise yeast) or until doubled. Split the dough in half, shape for two prepared 8X4 inch (greased) pans. Let rise approximately 45 minutes until about an inch above the edge of the pan. Heat the oven to 350 degrees about 15 to 20 minutes before baking.

Bake 40 to 50 minutes until the loaf sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hot days, cooking on hold

Yesterday and today are hot, or more accurately humid. It's 80 some-odd degrees and humid, which I know isn't necessarily hot, but doesn't induce me to cook too much.

I did make dinner yesterday. Beef stroganoff and spatzle (commercial). Considering I hadn't made stroganoff in ages it came out pretty good. I had giant oyster mushrooms from the local Asian market which went in, along with the few regular button mushrooms, half an onion, beef stock, and some left over lightly cooked "London broil." And, of course, the necessary sour cream. Yum.

Tomorrow we're headed to an orchard just outside of Charlottesville, Carter Mountain Orchard, to get apples and see what else might be picked up. I guess it's time for apple pies, or apple crisp.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Oops, didn't post yesterday

Today's recipe a baking recipe rather than stovetop. It's a variant on Whoopie Pies, again modified from one on the web. Whoopie Pies are a New England cookie/cake that are usually two filled chocolate cookies. I grew up with Whoopie Pies, and sold them in the supermarket deli where I worked in high school

This recipe is for pumpkin ones! The pumpkin really helps add moisture, and it's more of a spice cookie. I changed the filling which is often based on shortening, to cream cheese frosting. I'd recommend even doing a lemon cream cheese frosting (using lemon zest and lemon juice) in the frosting if you're not going to make some of it chocolate which I did.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1 cup butter
2 cups lt. brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 cups home cooked pumpkin or 1 15 oz. canned pumpkin (not pie filling)

Line cookie sheets with baking parchment or silpat sheets. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk dry ingredients in a bowl. In a mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs individually to the creamed mixture. Add extract and pumpkin. Beat in flour until just incorporated. Drop by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared sheets. Smooth tops of cookies with the back of a spoon. Bake 10-12 minutes in the center of the oven until cakelike and firm.

Cool on wire racks. When cooled, fill with your favorite cream cheese frosting. For easier filling, put frosting in a plastic bag, cut the corner off the bag and use as an informal pastry bag.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pumpkin pancakes

The pumpkin vine growing over and around the compost heap

Two nights ago I made pumpkin pancakes for dinner with Surry sausages. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Surry sausage is a smoked pork sausage that is dense, hammy, peppery and is a local product in the Tidewater of Virginia. The pumpkin came from one of five that we picked a few weeks ago. The pumpkins came up volunteer out of my compost heap. Last year's lumina went bad before I roasted it, so off "to feed the opossums" it went. Only the 'possums didn't get it, and we have pumpkin climbing over the carport and back fence. It's repaying us with a bounty of white pumpkins and the first one has delivered about 10 cups of roasted pumpkin meat which I've pureed.

One of the pumpkins set on in the shrubs next to the carport.

Two young pumpkins and a pumpkin blossom.

Pumpkin Pancakes

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup pumpkin puree (you can use canned)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl with a whisk. In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry, whisk quickly, but leaving a few lumps is OK, over mixing can toughen. Cook on a hot greased surface (skillet or griddle).

Recommended accompaniment: maple syrup, applesauce, fried apples, whipped cream depending upon your fancy.

Note: mine came out thick - you may want more milk, also this makes a BUNCH, so may be better for a brunch with friends. Of course the canine friends are always happy to help clean up at my place.

Today, chutney!

Ah, a surfeit of figs, from my tree and another locally. I've made fig jam, eaten figs fresh broiled with cheese and pork, so now it's time for chutney. This chutney would be good by the scent with all sorts of things, Indian Food, chicken, roast pork, and cheese.

This recipe is adapted from two online recipes, this one and this one. I wanted to use fresh peppers, so I substituted for dried and used half golden raisins and half dried cranberries. Beyond that I think you can figure out any other adaptations, mainly just in measures.

Fig Chutney

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 large onion peeled and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic peeled and thinly sliced
1/3 cup grated fresh ginger
5 Tbsp black mustard seeds
5 serrano peppers, two seeded and diced, the remainder just diced
1 Tbsp salt
8 cups fresh figs quartered if small, eighths if large

Bring sugar and vinegar to boil in a heavy medium sized non-reactive pot over medium heat. Add dried fruit, salt, spices. Bring to a simmer. Add figs. Reduce heat and maintain a gentle simmer. Cook approximately four hours until thick and dark.

Put in sterilized 1/2 pint jars and process 10 minutes.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thursday Pickles

At the moment I have four quarts of cucumber slices marinating with salt and ice to make the second batch of pickles for the summer (although it's currently autumn, what the hey!). The dogs are hanging out in the living room happily stretched out in front of the fan, on the sofa, or where ever is the most comfy.

I now know what I did wrong with last year's pickles - I let them come to the boil and let them cook too long in the syrup AND I processed the jars too long. Well the first batch this year came out so much better that I tossed the remaining three jars from last year on the compost heap and I'm making a second batch. I'll split the batch and do half regular bread and butter and half hot.

The recipe for bread and butter pickles is one adapted from a website that I've now forgotten. If it was from your site, my apologies for not passing along credit! I made the mistake of handwriting the recipe in my notepad and did not list the website.

Bread and Butter Pickles

4 quarts thinly sliced cucumbers
3 thinly sliced large onions
1/2 cup pickling or kosher salt
5 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp tumeric (powdered)
1 tsp celery seed
2 Tbsp mustard seed (yellow is prettier, but black works)
5 cups cider vinegar

Salt cukes and onions with the pickling/kosher salt. Add 2 quarts of ice and mix thoroughly. Let rest for 3 hours. Drain well and put veggies in a large kettle. Add sugar, spices, and vinegar. Bring almost to a boil stirring often with a wooden spoon, but do not boil. Pack into hot jars and seal. Process for 10 minutes for pints and quarts if lower than 1000 ft in elevation (I live nearly AT sea level, check for your area!)

To make hot sweet pickles, I added two tablespoons of flaked hot chili to a half batch of pickles last batch. This time I'll add six small dried hot chilis (about three inches long). The first were good - a bit of heat, but not too much. Of course the chili flakes had been sitting around for awhile so it had lost some potency. The new batch may be really hot. Will let you know!