Monday, December 26, 2022

Holiday Recap

December is always a busy month and this year was no exception. I've been baking up a storm. Since it wasn't a good canning year, I made a LOT of cookies to give out as gifts. Gingerbread, Linzers, chocolate chip, Nanaimo bars, meringue rochers, damiers, and toffee. I was baking for DAYS. But I was able to bring 4 dozen cookies to my new workplace, drop off cookies for neighbors and friends, and still have plenty left over for the family.

Then it came time for the actual holiday meals. On Christmas Eve we went to visit my parents and cooked lunch for them. I made fettuccine Alfredo and sautéed chicken and shrimp, so that everyone could add their own protein. For dessert we had...cookies!

For Christmas day, the family was greeted with warm cinnamon rolls, fresh out of the oven. I had made the dough the night before and, after its first rise, put it in the fridge. Rolling it out when it was cold was so much easier. I might even make them more often, considering how much easier it was. 

Dinner was chicken or salmon en croute, depending on if one eats fish or not. With curried mashed sweet potatoes on the side, yum! I made puff pastry from scratch, and wrapped each piece of fish or chicken individually. I did pre-cook the chicken because I was worried the puff pastry needed less time to cook than the chicken. They ended up being much larger than I envisioned, and we have plenty of leftovers. For dessert, I made creme brulée!

Chicken
Now I'm very tired and, other that making bread, I think I'll be taking a break. We have plenty of leftovers to eat.


Salmon

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Fried Banana Cake

The elderchild and a friend made banana cake the other day and brought some back to us. Faced with a whole loaf of banana cake (slightly lighter than banana bread), we made it into a terrific breakfast! Each slice was fried in butter about 2-3 minutes per side and then topped with maple syrup and whipped cream with cinnamon. Mmm.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Missed It

We missed apple picking season again. 

That's two years in a row. I guess I keep hoping both the kids will be free on the same weekend and, while technically they were, one had Covid so we couldn't exactly go anywhere. I still have some applesauce from last year and when I run out I can just buy a bunch of apples and make more, but the outing was always part of the fun. Maybe next year we can plan that better.

What I have done recently is make a chocolate cream pie, something I have not made before. I followed the King Arthur recipe and it was fabulous. The pie did not last long! Much more successful than that red velvet cake, I might add. 

Today I am making chocolate chip cookies, using a recipe from the NY Times. Lately my toll house cookies have been very...thin. I'm not sure what has been happening but they come out very flat and yet still chewy. Weird. This recipe is fantastic. At least, they look good. We haven't tasted them yet. My new coworkers have been after me to make cookies, since they know I bake. So I'm bringing some in for them. The cool thing about this recipe is that you make the dough and refrigerate it for at least a day. The longer you let it sit, the better it is, apparently. Seems to work. 

Monday, October 3, 2022

Fair in the Rain

We went up to the Fair two days ago, the weather was rainy but not super windy. It was the little bit of Hurricane Ian that reached New England, I guess. Generally, I prefer to be at the Fair in the rain because fewer people go so it doesn't feel as crowded. 

From the canning perspective, I won first place for sauerkraut and for tomato (pizza) sauce, and second place for the mulberry jelly, raspberry jam, and salsa verde. I didn't bake anything for the baking competition, but I did spend Friday baking a cake for the elderchild's birthday. More on that later.

One of the most fun parts for us is seeing the rabbits, and this year we spent some time watching the judging of some larger rabbits. There are these little stalls with wire doors that flip up so the rabbits are put in one side and the judge takes them out the other side and examines them. The rest of the rabbits, though, are all trying to get out of the stalls, and so every so often a rabbit's head pokes up above the stalls and a person has to hurry and push it back down before it jumps out. It's like whack-a-mole, but gently and with rabbits. It was so funny to watch!

After about four hours, we headed home, and I spent the rest of the afternoon frosting the cake I'd made and making chile rellenos for dinner.

Ah, the cake. The elderchild requested a red velvet cake like the one on this season's Great British Bake Off (the technical challenge). I looked up their recipe and, after making a run up to Saugus to get 6" cake pans which I discovered I needed right when I was about to start preparing the ingredients, followed the recipe to the letter. It SANK. I'm not sure why. So I cleaned up, went back out to the store to get more red food coloring and cocoa, and used a different recipe, which worked. And tasted really good, I might add. I did use the frosting from the GBBO recipe, which tasted great, but it was so runny. I had to put a skewer in the cake to keep it upright while I tried to frost it. There was a lot of cursing. 

Ultimately, the cake tasted fantastic, even if it was not as smoothly frosted as the ones on TV. 

Happy Birthday!


Sunday, September 18, 2022

Still Tomato Season

This week I was able to bring home another bag of plum tomatoes from the farm. It must have been about 12 pounds! Today I ran them through the food mill, yielding 16 cups of purée. Once it cooked down, I was able to can six pints of tomato sauce. Three pints have Persian spices and three pints are plain. It's a lot of work to get the purée and makes a big mess but it is worth it to have homemade tomato sauce. 

I miss the Jolly tomatoes the farm used to plant - these were nice to can whole since they were incredibly uniform in size. The closest I've seen lately were the weird hybrids mixed in with the Sungolds. When I went back this past week, they'd all split due to the recent rain and there weren't any good ones left. I wonder how many more weeks we'll get decent tomatoes before the weather catches up with us?

Friday, September 16, 2022

Spicy Gifts

For the past two weeks at the farm, the hot peppers have been in full swing. Since I could get 20 each time, I ended up with 40 Hungarian Hot Wax peppers to make hot sauce with. This is the recipe from my brother-in-law, which uses mustard, vinegar, sugar and hot peppers to make a spread. It's thickened with a flour and water mixture which, while not the preferred thickener for canning, works well as long as it's used quickly.

This batch made about 19 cups of the sauce, and I put 10 cups into 20 half-cup jars to add to my gift stash. I don't really know how many jars I need for the stash this year, but this gives the stash a significant boost. 

Sometime over the weekend, I'll take the next round of plum tomatoes and make more tomato sauce. 

Monday, September 12, 2022

Tomato Sauce

Last week the farm share was still flush with tomatoes. I grabbed as many plum tomatoes as I could carry and let them ripen for a few days on the counter. Tonight I processed them through the food mill, getting 13 cups of purée which I then cooked down to 6 cups of sauce. Each pint has a sprig of basil, some lemon juice and salt. Maybe there will still be more this week? It's been warm enough and there were still plenty of green ones on the vines. Having a lot of tomato sauce around has been really handy. 

In the row of sungold cherry tomatoes, which I love, I found a single plant that appears to have been some sort of cross between a larger red tomato and sungolds. Or something. It might have been a random heirloom seedling that got mixed in. Anyway, these tomatoes were about 1.5 inches across, deep greenish-red, and flavorful. I made a tomato tart out of most of the ones I picked. Yum.

Thanks to the elderchild, I've been introduced to a YouTube series called Pasta Grannies. They're incredibly inspiring. I may have to start making more pasta by hand!