Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Caramel Popcorn

Caramel popcorn was a family tradition around Christmas time when I was growing up. It is the perfect crunchy sweet treat.

I haven't made caramel popcorn for ages but Ed recently brought it to mind and I'm hoping to make it soon. My cousin just asked for the recipe to make for New Year's Eve. While I was typing it out for her, I thought I'd share it here. If I get it made this week, I'll add photos.

7 quart popped corn
1 cup butter
2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda

Mix sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt. Bring to boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in soda and vanilla. Pour syrup over popcorn and stir. Bake in 250 oven for 30 minutes. Stir while cooling.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

From Our Home to Yours

Wishing you a blessed Christmas!

"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

I just came back from caroling at the local women's detention center. The above verse has been on my mind. The wondrous miracle that God came to this sin cursed earth and made a way for us to experience His Glory! Wow! We may live in uncertain days but the glorious certainty of His presence is reason for a blessed Christmas! May His Name be praised!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lazy Mom's Cinnamon Biscuits

On Saturday, a friend emailed me some photos of some luscious looking cinnamon buns. If there wasn't a foot of snow on the ground, with more coming down, and if she didn't live back a long lane, we would have been tempted to come visiting!

My husband took one look at the photo in the email and said that cinnamon buns were exactly what he was hungry for on the cold snowy evening!

Now, you know that I love to bake bread. My husband knows I like to bake bread. I'm not married to an unreasonable man and usually I love when he tells me something for which he is particularly hungry. But on Saturday evening, I just really wasn't in the mood to pull out the yeast and start kneading. But cinnamon buns sounded good to me, too!

My lazy mom's solution was these cinnamon biscuits. No, they are not as good as real cinnamon buns. But, with only 30 minutes total time, from when the idea hits until you sit down with a cup of cocoa and bite into your bun, this recipe is a keeper! Perfect for breakfast or bed time snack, give it a try the next time you are hit with the urge for homemade cinnamon buns! Or just to delight a sweet toothed husband.

This recipe comes from a card that has been in my recipe file for years and I'm not really sure the source.

2 cup flour (I used half whole wheat.)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup oil
3/4 cup buttermilk

Combine dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in oil and buttermilk until just blended.
Turn dough onto floured counter and knead lightly. Roll dough into 15x8 rectangle.
Spread generously with soft butter. Sprinkle with brown sugar (about 1/2 cup) and cinnamon (about 2 tsp).
Roll up rectangle like jelly roll, starting from the long side. Cut into 6 to 8 slices.
Arrange slices in 9-inch round baking pan. Bake at 425 degrees until lightly browned, about 15-20 minutes. Serve with milk if desired.

These are best served hot but are not bad the next day either. Recipe can easily be doubled for 9x13 pan.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Snowy Home Joys!

I know that a foot of snow does not bring joy and gladness in the heart's of some folks. There are many snow removal workers, stranded travelers, and emergency personal that have not enjoyed a merry weekend.
But in my warm home, looking out to a sparkling white world, watching children shuffle through powdery flakes with shining eyes and rosy red cheeks, life could hardly get better! These are days that I love being a homemaker! No where to go, nothing that "must get done" (besides care for my family). Saturday, the snow was all fluff but today it was wet enough to build a snowman!
Snow at Christmas is rare here and, for the past two years, we have had hardly any snow. So for our children, this is one of the few times they've played in the snow! And probably never this quantity. They were in bliss!
I've enjoyed having chickens this year as it gets me out of the house at least a couple times a day to give them warm water and check the eggs. It is only out the back door, past the garden and up the hill, but the walk, even in brisk cold weather, does me good.

Inside the coop, the sun is shining in the windows and it is surprisingly comfortable. Egg production has dropped significantly with the cold weather but, so far, we still have enough.

The cold frame didn't fare so well with the weight of the snow. We need some heavier tubing. We still have it covered with row cover, but my husband is thinking of replacing it with some heavy plastic for the winter.

But inside there is still some lettuce! I can't believe it can survive!

Now we are back in the house for story time before naps! After the fresh air and exercise, there is no reluctance to be tucked in!

Oh, give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good, for His mercy endureth forever!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Artisan Breads Every Day - Many Seed Bread

More results from baking through Peter Reinhart's newest book.

Many-Seed Bread

We love bread with "nutty things". They add nutrition but best of all they are delicious! This recipe reminds me of the Hearty Grain Bread in Recipes from the Old Mill. Both yield a bread with lots of flavor and wholesome goodness.

This bread can be made into a free formed "french style" loaf or in a loaf pan. I like free formed loaves to slice and eat with a bowl of soup. To make a hearty sandwich or great peanut butter and jelly toast, the loaf pan works best.

My changes (because I can't even let a great recipe alone without making some substitutes!) I replaced 2 cups of whole wheat flour for the white and added 2 T vital gluten. I increased the water by one half cup making the total water, 2 cups. The flour to water ratio seemed about perfect. I'm slowly learning how much additional water to add when I replace white flour with whole wheat. Sometimes bread can seem to dry if whole wheat flour is added without increasing the water.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Artisan Breads Every Day - Sourdough Bread

Still enjoying the flavors of working through Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day.

Pain au Levain - sourdough or naturally leavened bread

I've had a desire to make sourdough bread for several years. The goal was renewed while reading through Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books with the children. In "The Long Winter", Ma took wheat and turned it into edible bread that sustained the family's life for months when there was no other food available.

I think that I can make a good bread - but take away my commercial yeast and whatever other ingredients I choose to add and I'd be rather helpless. If I was ever put into Ma's shoes with wheat, and wheat alone, to feed my family, I would fail completely. While I hope to never face such a test, I have made conquering sourdough one of my goals.
First I needed a sourdough starter. I had high goals of a sourdough starter with no commercial yeast and no sugar. I actually made several attempts in the last few years with no success.

Peter's directions for a sourdough starter were different then most others that I've seen and his was the first that actually worked for me! When I made my first loaf of Pain au Levain, by the "purist" directions containing no commercial yeast, I felt I was watching a miracle! This bread contains flour, water, and salt. That is it! And it was delicious! I just couldn't believe it could puff up and raise with the strength of the wild yeast alone!

I do think I could have baked it a little longer, which gives me something to try next time. I followed the directions exactly and made no variations (can you believe it, I couldn't!)

This bread was mostly white flour and my next goal is a whole wheat sourdough bread.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ozark Style Venison Stroganoff

Yesterday, I shared how we can venison. One of my favorite ways to use canned venison is this stroganoff recipe which I found online several years ago. Simple, fast, and delicious!

1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 qt canned venison, undrained
1 can mushroom, drained
1 pint tomato soup
1 T Worchestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup sour cream (or plain yogurt)

In pan, saute onion and garlic in oil until tender. Add venison, mushrooms, soup, Worchestershire, and salt. Bring to simmer. Add sour cream immediately before serving. Serve over mashed potatoes, rice or noodles.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Canning Venison

I was asked to describe how to can deer meat. I was hoping to have some venison this week to take some photos of the process. So far, no meat has come my way, so I'll just try to describe it with words. Maybe later I can come back and add photos.

I love the convenience of canned meat for a quick meal. Canning venison makes it fork tender and removes any wild flavor. Of course, the final product is only as good as the meat you put into it. I have only ever canned young doe. We use the good cuts of meat and save the tougher cuts for grinding.

I will assume you have basic pressure canner skills. Do not try to can meat without a pressure canner. Boiling water alone will not raise the temperature high enough for safety.

Start by cutting the meat into chunks and trimming off bones, fat and gristle.
Fill pint or quart jars. Allow at least 1/2 inch of head space at the top of the jar.
Add 1 tsp of salt per quart.
Do not add water or broth to the jar. Broth will form by itself during canning.
Seal the jars with flats and rings and place in canner.
Follow directions for your pressure canner. For my canner meat is processed at 11 lb pressure for 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts.

How to use canned meat. (besides eating it straight out of the jar)

My mom often uses canned venison for a quick Sunday lunch. First she drains off the broth, then rolls the chunks of meat in flour and quickly fries them. Pour the broth over hot noodles and you have a great meal in minutes!

We love to make a thick meat gravy over mashed potatoes. I dump the jar into a pan and stir in some flour. Add water to your liking and heat. Stir until thickened. Serve over mashed potatoes, noodles, or rice.

Sometimes I dump a jar in the crockpot on Sunday morning with chopped carrots, potatoes, and onions. A roast would never be done in a short morning, but since the meat is already cooked, it is only the veggies that need cooked.

Tomorrow I'll post another venison recipe that we love - which adapts well to canned meat.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Artisan Breads Every Day - Rustic Bread and Focaccia

One of our favorites from Peter Reinhart's newest bread book...

Pain a l'Ancienne Rustic Bread

This recipe was one of our favorites during the recipe testing last spring. Ed just loved the chewy texture, large holes and great flavor. The dough is very wet and sticky but the stretch and fold technique described in the book is a simple way to eliminate the kneading. If you go to Amazon, you can a watch a short video demonstrating the stretch and fold.

Changes I made: I replaced 1 1/2 cups of flour with whole wheat. I also added 2 T of vital gluten. Whole wheat flour makes a drier dough so I increased the water by 1/4 cup.

The photo above shows a large ciabatta loaf.

Focaccia, pictured below, uses the same ingredients with a slightly different method. When I made the focaccia, I increased the whole wheat flour even more to 2 1/2 cups and increased the water by 1/2 cup and added 3 T vital gluten. I kept the topping simple, just olive oil and some herbs. Next time I want to add more topping, maybe pesto, or sun dried tomatoes and some cheese. This would make an awesome pizza crust, if I kept the toppings simple enough to let the great bread flavor shine through!


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