Thursday, May 28, 2009

King Arthur flour - -

- - makes the best biscuits!

They are crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.  Break one apart, hot from the oven, and watch the steam float toward the clouds.  Add fresh strawberry jam, and your taste buds will sing.

The recipe for these biscuits is adapted from one found at Carmen Cooks.  I replaced the 1/4 cup butter with half butter and half shortening, both frozen. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

lemon curd muffins

....but I can't post until June 1!

Sweet and Simple Bakes participants post of the first day of each month.  I used the lemon curd in these muffins.  I'm taking them to work tomorrow for some unbiased reviews.  "As for me and my house...," they are great!  And so simple.  Check back on June 1 for pictures and a complete post.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

lemon curd - my first attempt was a delicious success

Mix all the ingredients in the food processor (nothing curdling here!).

Pour into a heavy bottom pan.

Stir - stir - take it's temperature - stir.

STOP when you see this - remove pan from stovetop.

Lick your fingers numerous times at this point.  This stuff is unbelievably good!

Strain to achieve satin.

Photo session

As a quick synopsis, I mixed all the ingredients in the food processor, cooked in my All Clad pan, took it's temperature, and strained into my grandmother's antique pitcher.  Oh, and I tasted - several times.  It is d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s!

The lemon curd is one of the ingredients used in this month's "Sweet and Simple Bakes" recipe for lemon curd muffins. 

I read about 5 recipes for lemon curd, and combined parts of several to make this lemon curd.

Lemon Curd - -
zest of 3 lemons
1 cup (193g) granulated sugar
5 tablespoons very soft unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained to remove pulp and seeds

Pulse the zest and the sugar in a food processor for about a minute.

Add the soft butter to the food processor and pulse again for about 30 seconds. 

Add the eggs, one at a time, to the mixture in the food processor.  Pulse 2 or 3 times between each egg addition.

With the food processor running, slowly pour in the lemon juice.  Continue to mix until all ingredients are incorporated - just a few more seconds.

Pour into a heavy bottom pan and cook on LOW, stirring constantly.  I cooked and stirred for about 10 minutes, gradually increasing the temperature from Low to Medium Low.  Watch closely when the temperature reaches 160 degrees F.  The curd will reach the proper consistency very quickly at this point.  Mine was ready at about 165 degrees F.

Remove from stove.  Test with a wooden spoon and your finger (this is to allow you your first taste!).  If the trail from your finger remains on the wooden spoon, the curd has properly cooked.

Let cool slightly.  Strain into glass dish and cover with plastic wrap.  Punch a few holes in the plastic wrap to allow the steam to escape; place the plastic wrap directly on top of the lemon curd.
(There were no pieces of cooked egg to strain out of the mixture.  The only accumulation in my strainer was some of the lemon zest that did not chop finely in the food processor.)

Store in the refrigerator for a week, or freeze.  Yield about 1 1/2 cups of lemon curd.

Sunday afternoon

I have 4 windows and 2 doors that allow light to shine into the house on rainy Sunday afternoons.  The light is often perfect for my Nikon and 50mm 1.4 lens.  Love that lens!


Daddy would have been 82 today.

That is me in the picture also.  If you can read the date on the old b/white photo, you will see that I'm no spring chick!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

it's all in the book..

The Package Deal: My (not-so) Glamorous Transition from Single Gal to Instant Mom
Step- MOM
basically the Mom
a California girl
and a Memphis gospel choir

oh yes, and the cats

It sounds like the makings of a good southern novel, or a county music song.

A few minutes ago, I read the last page of "The Package Deal - My (not-so) Glamorous Transition from Single Gal to Instant Mom" by Izzy Rose.  Who of us cannot find ourselves some place in that mix-of-words title?  

Here's the link to the book on Amazon and here's the link to the short video promotion of the book.

This book is Izzy's memoir.  I have had the honor of watching this life story unfold from prior to the birth of 'the Tall One.'  You see, I'm a friend of the 'mother-in-law.'  Have you ever had the opportunity to read a book about the life of someone you know - someone you really know? It's a strange feeling, seeing life written on the page.  We read fiction, we read biographies, we read autobiographies,  but how often do we read about real people with whom we talk and laugh and cry and hug and interact?

Izzy's style of writing keeps the reader engrossed in the page.  I couldn't put the book down.  I'm sure part of that was because I wanted to see how she would tell the family saga.  But, her use of words had me laughing out loud (sitting in a room alone; that's a strange feeling to laugh out loud when no one is around) one moment, and wiping tears from my eyes the next.  And I knew the basic story line!  I knew what was coming next.  And I still cried!

I think I gave Hank and Izzy a cake stand as a wedding gift.  It was one of those pastel stands  from Williams Sonoma.  I hope it was pink; I just don't remember the color.  Perhaps it has had the honor of displaying Gram's Rum Cake (page 202).

You have to read the book.  Whether you are interested in the recipe for Gram's Rum Cake or the 21 Stepmom rules, there's something in the book for everyone.

Izzy, what's next?  I'm (im)patiently awaiting your next book...

UPDATE:  June 11, 2009 
Here's the link to photos from Izzy's book reading and signing in Memphis, TN

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Strawberry Jam

I watch tooooo much Food Network, and specifically Barefoot Contessa.  She makes is all look....possible.  

Strawberries were cheaper by the flat at the farmer's market.  I didn't really need a flat, but my accountant's brain said 'cheaper is better.'  So, here I am - inspired, again, by Ina.  

The recipe was relatively easy.  The use of a thermometer eliminated any guess work involved in making jam.  I cooked the mixture on medium heat; there was some splattering as it cooked thicker and thicker.  I followed her recipe (found here) exactly as written.  One point I would stress - use a very heavy bottom pan to make the jam.  My jam did burn, just a little, in the bottom of my 'not thick enough' pan.  I quickly transferred the jam to another pan, cooked it a little longer, and hoped for the best.  Once that whiff of 'something is not right' drifts through the air, it's advisable to check it out.

I am so pleased with the texture and color of my jam.  It does not taste like the jam MaMa made, but MaMa never added Grand Marnier, blueberries, nor apples to her strawberry jam.  I'm anxious to bake biscuits and really give this jam a true test drive.

I don't know what will happen, but I froze some of the jam.  The sugar may crystalize.  I'll report the results of that 'experiment' in weeks to come.

updated May 9, 2010:
The frozen strawberry jam is still as delicious as the day it was made.  The color is a little darker, but the flavor is great.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

It's not all bloggable

I make a lot of messes in the kitchen!  I mean, a lot.  I envision the baking results before I begin, and it just doesn't always happen.  
Today, the strawberry ice cream overflowed the ice cream maker, and the latte squares were so soft, even after refrigeration, that they could not be cut into squares for baking.  And, the whole wheat pizza dough refused to form a pretty circle.  All three taste really good..they just aren't....bloggable.

Here's the success story for the day - Rose Water Almond Tea Cookies, originally posted by Baking Obsession.  After baking these, my entire house smelled of vases and vases of roses.  The first bite was crunchy, crisp, and flakey, dusted with powdered sugar.  These are the prefect 'tea' cookie.  Eating them makes one feel like it's tea time.  The rose water taste is so very subtle, that it's hard to distinguish, yet you know something unusual is adding to the
 cookie flavor.

I intended to follow the original recipe, but I added an extra ounce of butter in the creamed mixture by mistake . To compensate, I added 1/3 more flour, almond meal and sugar.  Even with this minor adjustment, the cookies were perfect.

Saturday morning tea...

...something I look forward to all week...

Noritake China Japan 5516

I have given away my wedding china.  This I inherited from my 'Granny Reeves.'

Discontinued Actual: 1954 - 1959

Pattern: 5516 by NORITAKE [N 5516]    Pattern #: 5516


Friday, May 15, 2009

under the cling wrap

Friday night - preparation for the weekend - 

What's under the cling wrap.  The bowl is no indication.  It's my newest batter bowl, and it was the size I needed; but, I should have used a light pink, floral bowl.   This is the cookie dough for Rose Water Almond Tea cookies that I found at Baking Obsession HERE.   I wanted to bake with rose water; I've found a recipe for madeleines and marshmallows using the rose water.  Watch for future posts. But, back to this cling wrap covered bowl.  The dough smells like two dozen roses sitting on my kitchen counter (I visualize them as pink roses.)  I tasted the raw dough (yes, I do taste batter containing raw eggs; I just don't eat it by the spoon full!), and it did not taste like a flower - it didn't taste like what I think a flower would taste like.  I'll bake these during the weekend.

& & &

What's under the cling wrap #2 (does this remind you of 'Let's Make a Deal' - what's behind door #2?)  Notice the old kitchen towel prop; that's supposed to help you guess what's under the cling wrap.  Whole Wheat Pizza Dough studded with roasted pumpkin seeds.  Process the seeds in the food processor; they give added texture to the dough.  The recipe lists sunflower seeds, but I used what I had in the freezer.  I'll scale this into three - 8oz rounds of pizza dough, wrap each tightly in cling wrap, place in a zip lock bag, and freeze.  When I'm ready for a pizza, I'll move the dough from the freezer to the refrigerator to the counter to rise again.

I made this dough (a similar dough) in a Viking Pizza class.  It's so easily made in the food processor, and so much better than anything you would buy in the grocery store.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


This concoction holds an important place in my baking kitchen. I first learned of this mixture while attending a Viking Bakeshop Basics class.  After further research, I found a similar recipe in my "Baking and Pastry - Mastering the Art and Craft - Culinary Institute of America" textbook.

Pan release is designed to be used when baking any batter based mixture.  Forget the can of Pam; forget the 'grease and flour the pan' routine!  Pan Release to the rescue!

As we were told in the Viking class, "your baked goods will not stick to the pan if you use this mixture."  The CIA textbook states that this will create a "nonstick surface."  I have been using this since October 2008 (7 months), with 100% success.  I'm still using my original mixture; it keeps well if stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.  Initially, I erred on the side of spreading the pan release thickly.  You will need to use a generous coating on your pan, but not an excessive coating.  Too much pan release and you will have a light 'floury film' on your baked goods.  After you use this a couple of times, you will easily know how thickly to apply the pan release.

Add this 'recipe' to your files today.  

The Viking class recipe stated:  Use equal portions of Crisco, flour, and Vegetable Oil; store in refrigerator.

I followed the CIA instructions as listed on page 826 of the above mentioned book.  
1 lb / 454g Shortening (I used Crisco)
1 lb/ 454g Bread Flour
1 lb/ 454g Vegetable Oil (I used Crisco Oil)
Mix the shortening and flour; gradually add the oil until all is well mixed.  Store in the refrigerator.

Happy No-Stick Baking!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Vanilla Scones

How many of us remember that something that Mom baked?  I would venture to say that many of us do remember a special treat that our mothers baked.  It might have been ordinary, everyday baking, or it might have been a favorite Amalgamation cake that Mom only baked at Christmas.

May represents Mother's day.  My mother has not been able to bake for several years; so, when I bake, I remember her.

I never saw my mother use a vanilla bean.  She would have enjoyed baking with vanilla sugar.  The vanilla sugar 'shake' with vanilla bean 'straw' represent my contribution to recycling (I always save the bean, after scraping the seeds, and bury it in a container of granulated sugar.).  The sugar shake smells divine.  And, it lends its own special contribution to my baking.

I used the vanilla sugar to make triple vanilla scones.  They were delicious!  I found the recipe on Food Blog Search.  That took me to this post by Cookie Baker Lynn from 2008.  Good food just does not go out of style. 

I followed the recipe as printed, using heavy whipping cream and I weighed the dry ingredients by using this converter.  Let me offer this piece of advice.  Use the food processor as she suggests.  I used my 4.5 qt Kitchen Aid mixer and this recipe was too much for the mixer.  The motor strained and the flour in the bottom of the mixer bowl did not mix well.  I had to hand knead the dough, thus warming the butter.  After working through this minor mishap, the scones rose beautifully, and they tasted deliciously delicious.  

This scone recipe yields a scone that is ever so slightly 'cakey.'  But, not in a bad way.  They are a cross between a flaky, buttery scone and a cake scone.  

These are far better than the similar product at Starbucks; but, everything is always better fresh home baked!

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.  This wonderful, vanilla baked treat is in honor of gale...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wine -or not- lovers, cast your vote

Little brother stepped up to the plate.
VOTE for him after watching his YouTube 59 second video.  He has applied for a job, and the video is part of the application process.

Again, if you like the video, VOTE

This is for an opportunity that I’m interviewing for in regards to a 6 month gig in California’s Sonoma wine country.  There will be several candidates but only one will be selected to live in Sonoma (Healdsburg, CA) and work for the Murphy-Goode vineyard for 6 months, starting Aug 09.  I think this would be a very cool opportunity, if you’re into wine, so I need all the votes I can get.  Many thanks.  See link below.

Grandmother Pearl's Cake Plate

Mama, born in 1931, frequently served cakes on this platter during the years we three kids were growing up on the farm.  The platter originally belonged to her mother, who was born in 1891.  Through the years, I was concerned that that antique platter would be broken.  However, Mama continued to bake and serve on the platter.  Now, at 51, I'm the keeper of the platter.  (Notice all the dates...the platter is really old!) It sits in a place of honor in my home....I really should bake a cake and serve it on the platter...

Saturday, May 2, 2009


I made the marshmallow syrup as recommended by the "Marshmallows" cookbook author.  It crystalized as hard as a brick.  I couldn't melt it out of the jars. So, I used Karo syrup.  The marshmallows are DELICIOUS.  I sent a few to my sick friend, hoping she will be back 'in the pink' in a short time.

These are a week old and they are still delicious.

cacao nibs - try the recipe in the box

relaxing rainy day

Today has been a lazy, rainy, Saturday...just made for rest and relaxation.  And that's about all I've done.  I did attempt a scone recipe this morning.  I chose the recipe because these scones are made with sour cream, and because I didn't have cream, which I use for most of my scones. Maybe it's not the fault of the recipe...maybe it's because I hurt my finger and could not mix the scones well...but, for whatever reason, this recipe now resides in the Trash can on my computer.  However, a camera can make almost any 'mistake' look good.

Friday, May 1, 2009

last weekend

Coconut madeleines...they were delicious!
Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa) will not lead you astray...

I watched her bake these on the Food Network, and knew I had to make them too.  Here's the link to the recipe.

I'll mix flour with...something...this weekend

Welcome to my new blog.  I'm a fan of TasteSpotting, and there are so many beautiful blogs featured.  It's time to expand my blog.

Visit my photography web page by clicking this link:

Visit my previous blog by clicking this link:

Watch for my first 'real' post soon.