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Archive for October, 2009

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Oct
24
2009

Always, always jump in with both feet.

As you all know by now I used to own and operate a very successful soapmaking business.  I sold the internet portion and closed the rest (what I thought would be temporarily) when my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer in May of 2007.  Not knowing how long she would be with us, I certainly didn’t want to be distracted during her illness.  And honestly, it was beginning to be more than I could handle on my own.  And soapmaking is something you have to love to do because frankly, it is a lot of work. After her passing I just didn’t have it in me to stir the soap pot for what has ended up being forever I suppose.  Oh I will still make it for my immediate family when needed but never for a business.  Oh yeah, never say never.  But you know, I have no plans to ever do it again.

What I don’t know is if you know what I did before soap.  My mom, my oldest daughter and I baked for people.  We sort of inherited the business from Husband’s mother when she retired.  We started on a whim, and many times the fun things are started this way.  We wanted to make a little extra money and before long from October to January, our ovens were never turned off.  One year we made something close to 1200 dozen cookies from October to January.  I am not kidding.  that is 14,400 cookies or approximately 4 cookies for each man, woman and child that live in our town.  Whew.

Well, through the years, we have had many a phone call asking if we still bake.  I always had to tell them “not while I am making soap.  If I ever quit making soap maybe, just maybe, we will get back into that.”   Well, here we go again!  Rachel and I are throwing our spatulas into the ring!  Rachel has a natural talent for food art.  There isn’t much else to call it when it turns out so beautiful and tastes so good. I have had to work a little harder to be a good cook/baker.  But we are quite a team.  Just as Jessica and I were “back in the day”.  We would buzz around our little kitchen and practically use telepathy to communicate.  We each had a job to do in order to get the baked goods to the right person and we performed like a well oiled machine.  I am much older now, so we will see how well I hold up!  Rachel is like a circle saw so she should be able to make up whatever I lack.

Without putting out the word or brochure, we have orders for next week.  This is a good sign, don’t you think?  This will be a seasonal thing.  October – January, just like old times.  Maybe an occasional order thru the rest of the year, but this is when people need the help with their baking needs.  They need holiday sweets and food gifts, candy, cookies, pies, cakes…

So, Rachel has designed the brochure we will give people that want to know what we make and I am working on the contents and pricing.  I found some of my mother in law’s notes and order books from back in the 70’s.  SEVENTY CENTS for a dozen cookies???? Well…the price has gone up a bit!  I never thought she charged enough.  She was just so talented.  There wasn’t anything she couldn’t cook.  And her pastry was just to die for.  I have her hand-written recipes – what a treasure.

So this is what is running through my head today.  Plus we have a baby shower to attend and a wedding if time permits. And tomorrow evening we are having company for supper.  Husband is making pulled pork sandwiches and I am supposed to make homemade buns and potato salad.  I better get up and rolling!

And just so you all know, I really am working to get all the recipes up on the recipe page.  Soon…soon.  Oh…and THE PIE BOOK…so close to being finished it makes me giddy!  We will have a proof copy shortly!

To whet your appetite here is a photo (credit goes to Rachel) from NotQuiteJuneCleaver Bakes a Pie!

blueberrypie2

Have a great weekend!  And stay tuned…Awesome Autumn Apron Giveaway next week!


Oct
23
2009

Friday Baking with NotQuiteJuneCleaver Recipes for October 23 – 30

witchhatboots

Good Morning! The week before Halloween is a busy one!  I wish I were a tad more enthusiastic with my decorating this year but I seem to be falling down on that job.  Our Halloween tree is up and that’s about it!  If you were to walk into my kitchen this morning, you might think I was well on my way to having that room adorned but you see, my kitchen is always filled with witches!  I collect them.  My mother in law gave me my first kitchen witch not long after Husband and I married.  I am sad to say “Hilda” is no longer with us – I honestly don’t remember when she disappeared but it has always been my fear that I left her hanging in a kitchen when we moved once.  She was the old fashioned Strega style with a kerchief and riding a broom.  She had a little poem that read:

Look who’s landed in your kitchen,
Bringing fortune to your home.
It’s me, the lucky kitchen witch,
Your special little gnome.
I’ll end burnt pots,
I’ll keep meals hot,
I’ll do such magic chores.
For I’m your lucky kitchen witch,
Keep me safe by your kitchen door.
Look who’s landed in your kitchen,
Bringing fortune to your home.
It’s me, the lucky kitchen witch,
Your special little gnome.
I’ll end burnt pots,
I’ll keep meals hot,
I’ll do such magic chores.
For I’m your lucky kitchen witch,
Keep me safe by your kitchen door.

One of these days I will find another one like her and add her to my collection.  At last count I have 9 – not all hanging.  Maybe some day when I am cleaning them I will have them all pose for a photo ;) Oh…and here’s my Witch Broom…standing alone I might add.

witchbroomShe stays out all year as well.

We have had a very busy time since Husband arrived home.  We got more of our fall/winter garden planted and as soon as the rain stops and the ground is a bit dryer we will start on my greenhouse!  I am so excited about that!  I will post photos as soon as it is up.

We harvested and delivered all the pumpkins and I only wish I had a better picture to share.  I am not the photographer of the family!

pumpkinharvest1a

I know the lighting is terrible!  This is part of them and they ended up being beautiful, as usual.  I was worried that they were not going to be pretty since the weather had been against us since planting them.  But they were much better than I expected. Through the week I am going to try and post more “seasonal” pictures for you to see.  But for now I best get you some recipes posted!

Technically this recipe is a baking recipe since you end up baking the popped corn before consuming!  I know it is a stretch but this was my mom’s caramel corn recipe and I have never made it.  It’s one of those little things that “she did better” so I just never tried.  I will give it a whirl this year!

OLD FASHIONED CARAMEL CORN

  • 14 cups popped popcorn
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Combine the sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once it begins to boil, stop stirring for 5 minutes, or until mixture reaches 255 degrees on candy thermometer. (You may have to adjust according to altitude and humidity). Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. The mixture will start to foam, so stir well until blended.

While the caramel mixture is cooking, pop the pop-corn either in a hot air popper or microwave. Once you have popped the pop-corn, remove any unpopped kernels. Now place the popcorn in a large (buttered) metal bowl. Pour the hot mixture over the pop-corn and toss gently with well buttered forks to distribute evenly. Spread onto 2 ungreased baking sheets and bake at 200 degrees for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. if it starts to look too golden it may be time to take it out!

Remove the caramel corm from the oven and allow to cool completely. Once cool, break it into clusters, and store in a tightly covered container. For a Halloween party, serve in decorative bowls. For treats, fill those little paper Halloween bags and tie off with black ribbon to hand out.

And now for Recipe Two:

I wish I could take credit for this because it is TOO cute!  But it is from Matthew Mead’s Monster Book of Halloween.

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If you don’t know who he is…google him.  He’s a genius!  So many ideas! Or you could click in my recommendation section and order the book for yourself!


Yummy Mummy Meatloaf

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photo from Epicurious.com

Meatloaf:

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons prepared mustard
  • 8 ounces pappardelle pasta
  • 1 3-ounce mozzarella ball
  • 1 can pitted large black olives

Sauce:

  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard

To make the meatloaf:

1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil a 10 x 13-inch (or 10-inch round) baking dish. Combine the meat, egg, onion, milk, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Shape the mixture into a 10-inch round dome and place it in the baking dish. Mix the 1/3 cup ketchup, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons prepared mustard in a small bowl until blended. Spread the mixture over the meatloaf. Bake for 1 hour. Transfer the meatloaf to a wire rack and let rest for 20 minutes.

2. Cook the pappardelle according to the package directions; drain and keep warm while meatloaf rests.

To make the sauce:

1. Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until bubbly and thickened, about 3 minutes. Keep warm until ready to serve.

2. Remove the meatloaf from the pan and place on a serving plate. Cut the mozzarella ball in half. Layer the pasta strands one by one over the meatloaf to look like a mummy’s wrappings, adding the mozzarella and two olives for eyes as shown. Surround the meatloaf with more olives. Serve with the sauce on the side.

My intentions are to post more recipes through the week.  But you know where the road to good intentions leads! :0

Have a great Autumn weekend!

witchysig

Oct
16
2009

Friday Baking with NotQuiteJuneCleaver Recipes for October 16-23

boygirlpumpkin

Hope you all are enjoying lovely Autumn weather while we are about to drown here!  SO MUCH RAIN!

Last week I told you I would see what I could find on canning pumpkin or preparing a fresh pumpkin for cooking.  I found a great place online that gave a link to a pdf file that you can print out.  Cool huh?  Here is the link: Pick Your Own’s Making a Pumpkin Pie From Fresh Pumpkin and Canning Cubed Pumpkin from The Pumpkin Nook.  Canning pureed pumpkin is not recommended by The National Center for Home Food Preservation. I know, I wanted to know WHY too.  So here is what I found:

The National Center for Home Food Preservation is a land-grant university consortium sponsored by the USDA, and considered to be the leading authorities on food safety science and food preservation research.  This is from their literature:

“Home canning is not recommended for pumpkin butter or any mashed or pureed pumpkin or winter squash, but we do have directions for canning cubed pumpkin. Pumpkin puree can be frozen or made into a spicy pumpkin leather…

There are not sufficient data available to allow establishing safe processing times for any of these types of products. It is true that previous USDA recommendations had directions for canning mashed winter squash, but USDA withdrew those recommendations…

Some of the factors that are critical to the safety of canned pumpkin products are the viscosity (thickness), the acidity and the water activity. Studies conducted at the University of Minnesota in the 1970’s indicated that there was too much variation in viscosity among different batches of prepared pumpkin purees to permit calculation of a single processing recommendation that would cover the potential variation among products (Zottola et. al, 1978). Pumpkin and winter squash are also low-acid foods (pH > 4.6) capable of supporting the growth of Clostridium botulinum bacteria which can cause the very serious illness, botulism, under the right storage conditions. If the bacteria are present and survive processing, and the product has a high enough water activity, they can thrive and produce toxin in the product. (Botulism very, very bad!)

More recent research with pumpkin butter has been done at the University of Missouri. Pumpkin butter is mashed or pureed pumpkin that has had large quantities of sugar added to it, but not always enough to inhibit pathogens. Sometimes an ingredient such as vinegar or lemon juice is added to the formulation to increase the acidity (decrease the pH). However, pumpkin butters produced by home canners and small commercial processors in Missouri have had pH values as high as 5.4. In fact, the pH values seemed to be extremely variable between batches made by the same formulation (Holt, 1995).

It is not possible at this point to evaluate a recipe for pumpkin or mashed squash for canning potential by looking at it. At this point, research seems to indicate variability of the products is great, and in several ways that raise safety concerns. It is best to freeze pumpkin butters or mashed squash.”

Obviously, pumpkin pie filling is essentially “pureed pumpkin” and similar to pumpkin butter. This means that neither the cooked pumpkin puree not the pumpkin pie filling (puree plus sugar and spices) would be candidates for safe home canning.

The University of Illinois Extension also says: “Canning pumpkin butter not a good idea, but try pieces or freezing. “

So there you have it.
greenribbon
FINALLY, here are your two recipes for this week.  Happy Baking!

Easy Pumpkin Bars

  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin
  • 1 C. vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 C. sugar
  • 2 C. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Cream Cheese Frosting or Whipped Cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×13 inch baking pan. Mix together pumpkin, oil, eggs, and sugar with an electric mixer. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until center springs back when touched. Serve with whipped topping or frost with a cream cheese frosting.


Frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temp
  • 1/2 cup butter at room temp
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 pound confectioners sugar

Beat cream cheese and butter until light. Add vanilla and mix well. Add confectioners sugar a cup at the time and when all in incorporated beat on high until light and spreading consistency.

This recipe sounded so good!  I am going to try and talk Rachel in to making these for us.  She’s had great success with pretzel making.

Soft Pumpkin Pretzels

1 1/4 cup warm water plus up to 1/4 more as needed
1 teaspoon  granulated sugar
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups unbleached white flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon olive oil
kosher salt, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds for garnish

For Boiling:
8 cups water
2 tablespoons baking soda

In a big bowl dissolve the sugar in 1 1/4 cups warm-to-the-touch water.  Add the yeast and let sit a few minutes until the yeast proofs.  Stir in the canned pumpkin.Stir in the flours and salt and mix to form a dough. If the dough seems too dry, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until it comes together.  Hand knead for ten minutes, or five minutes in a mixer with a dough hook. Put the olive oil in a big bowl and turn the dough around in the oil until the sides of the bowl are oiled and the surface of the dough is covered in a light film. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled about 50 minutes.


Preheat oven to 475F.

In a pot with high sides (the water will foam up once the pretzels are added), bring 8 cups of water to a boil with the baking soda. Divide the dough into six even pieces. One by one, carefully roll them into a coil that is 19″ long and about 3/4-1″ thick. Carefully twist each rope into a pretzel shape and pinch the ends of the rope to the body of the pretzel so they stay in place. Boil three pretzels at a time for one minute, flip over with tongs and boil the second side for another minute. Place on a greased  cookie sheet  or one covered in parchment and lightly blot off any foam with a towel. Quickly sprinkle with seeds and salt so they stick to the moist dough. Bake for 15-25 minutes, until deeply browned on top.

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