Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Oh yeah, winter ?? Take THIS !

 Winter.  Overstaying it's welcome.  Well...

 I usually try to buy local and seasonal as much as I can. But when my local-ish (when you live out on Honeysuckle Hill, nothing's really too close, lol)  Aldi's store had California strawberries on sale for 99 cents a pound, I had to act.  I bought 8 pounds, thinking I'd bring them home, take the stems off, wash thoroughly and freeze them whole, to use in smoothies or pie or something. And I did do that...with about 6.5 pounds of them. The other pound and a half, I sliced as well and mashed a bit and decided that nothing would brighten up my winter doldrums like a nice strawberry shortcake for dessert. 

  I got the strawberries ready and put them in the fridge. I added just a scootch of sugar because A) They were already pretty sweet and B) it helps develop the juiciness you want for shortcake.

  Next--the shortcake.  I am an old purist sometimes when it comes to recipes for things like this. And by that I mean that when I think shortcake, I am NOT talking about those nasty little Twinkie dough things they sell in the store. I'm talking about the way my dirt-poor granny made desserts, and she usually made them from everyday things that she magically transformed into something else.  In this case, it was biscuits.  There were only a couple of rules. Biscuits had to be made with butter and they had to be  made with buttermilk. Nothing else would do.

  To turn biscuits into something magical,  all it took was a little extra sugar  (for shortcakes)  or the addition of sugar and cinnamon (to make cinnamon biscuits).  When she made shortcakes, if strawberries weren't in season, there were always peaches or blackberries or even cherries in the pantry that she'd canned from the summer. Any of those fruits make a glorious dessert, with a little whipped cream on top.


  This is an easy biscuit recipe .  Imagine my surprise when my dear friend Mary from South Africa sent me (upon my begging request)  her recipe for scones. I was all pumped up to make what  (in America) we call scones, and when I looked at the recipe I realized that this was my granny's biscuit recipe.  lol  It's perfect. For biscuits I make them according to this recipe, for shortcake, I add extra sugar and then sugar the tops as well.

 Heat your oven to 450 degrees.

 In a medium  bowl, combine :
                                               2.5 cups unbleached flour
                                               3.5 tsp. baking powder
                                               1 Tbsp. sugar (add 3 more for shortcake)
                                               1.5 tsp. salt
                                               1/2 tsp. baking soda
                                               1/2 cup butter

  I always mix up the dry ingredients before putting the butter in. I also cut that stick of butter into small cubes before adding it. The I use my pastry blender to cut in the butter until the mixture is crumble.  Then stir in :
                                               1 1/4 cups buttermilk

 Stir until just combined. Overworking these kinds of dough will make them tougher and less flaky. Once it's combined, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface (I use a sheet of waxed paper) and knead the dough 5 or 6 times -AND NO MORE. 

  Then pat it out to about 3/4 inch thick for biscuits or more like an inch thick or a little better for shortcakes.  Cut with a biscuit cutter and place on an ungreased baking sheet. You want the edges of the biscuits touching each other. 

  Bake these at 12-15 minutes for biscuits and a little longer for shortcake (because you made them a little thicker).  They'll be a beautiful golden brown when done, top and bottom.

  Now.  When I'm feeling particularly decadent, I will make these desserts with warm biscuits that I have sliced in half, lightly buttered and then spooned the strawberries on.  It goes like this:  bottom of the biscuit--butter (or not) --  strawberries--a bit of whipped cream--biscuit top--more strawberries--top with whipped cream.  And please please please, y'all...DO NOT SULLY THIS GORGEOUS DESSERT WITH A FAKE WHIPPED TOPPING OR COOL WHIP.  Not that I think you would...but just in case.  LOL

  In case you wondered if all we eat around here is dessert...here's what was on the supper menu that night.  Chicken and vegetable kabobs with quinoa.

Because it was a halfway nice day, we grilled the kabobs outside on the grill.  It was a very healthy and very tasty meal. 

Bon Apetit !

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Will this winter ever end ?

This was the early part of January.  Bleech.  Even then, we'd had too much snow and cold for way too long. 

 It was good weather, however, for comfort foods, like this veggie pot pie.

On January 21st, I was rear-ended at an icy intersection. Not a real bad accident, but enough to cause me some whiplash injury and my neck and shoulders giving me a bit of trouble.

 Then, on February 1st, this:

 On my way out to loose the chickens in the morning, I slipped on a patch of ice (that I had been avoiding for weeks), and fell and broke my right wrist.  Of course. My RIGHT wrist.  After 5 days of waiting for the swelling to go down, they were finally able to remove the splint and put a cast on it. For 3 weeks, at which time they would remove said cast and x-ray it and go from there. Hopefully putting a soft brace on it to heal the rest of the way. Because it was a non-displaced fracture. A nice straight across the big bone break The distal radius. 

  The best thing about the cast was that at least my fingers were freed. lol  I was having a hard time with that splint going from almost my finger tips to my elbow. Can't do anything.  This was a little better.  I tried  to abstain from using it, and it did hurt, so that helped some. Still...when the time came to get xrays again, the non-displaced bone had displaced. It slipped.  Possibly from my overusing it and partly from the swelling going down enough to let the cast slip.  Sigh...no brace for me. back into another cast.  I tried to be a good sport about it...

...but when nobody was looking, I cried.   Scared that because I'm in my 60's it's not going to heal. That I won't be able to do things. That they will have to do surgery and put a pin in it, because that's the next step.

  Starting to feel like 2014 hates me.  lol

 The bottom line here is...

 Aglio y Olio
 Old Fashioned oatmeal Spice cake
Orange Ginger Chicken

   ...bottom line is, I still cook, we still eat.  And I have to ask for help with so many things, it's either going to kill me or liberate me, I'm not sure which.  lol

  Today is March 13th. We just had what might be our last winter storm. Not as much snow as they predicted, but cold and howling winds and rainy icy mush.  Yesterday temps were in the high 30's. Today is heading for 60.  My first batch of heirloom seeds arrived.  We are debating about the potato order.  Should we just buy the locally available stuff, or pay out the nose for the certified seed potatoes. Sigh...

  I smell spring in the air. It's a little chilly out there right now, but I don't care. The windows are open, the furnace is turned off. I am going to do a little cleaning. Within reason (cough).

  I go back to the doc on Monday, to look again and see how things are. It doesn't hurt as much as it did (most of the time), so I have high hopes. Can't wait to get this heavy stinky cast off me. LOL  The other day it smelled like garlic.   :)

  Hopefully I will get back to putting some new recipes on here.  The oatmeal spice cake maybe for starters ? or have I posted that before...hmmm...maybe I'd better check.  

Happy Spring, people !!!!  7 more days.

Bon apetit !