Monday, September 29, 2008

The Apples and the Economy

Maybe the fruit knew something about the economy this year. Seriously, don't know about you, but I do feel a little apprehensive about the future. But my coffers are full. The fruit, all the fruit, was in abundance this year. So if things get too bad this winter with the price of gas, the price of food, there will be fruit at my house.

There is an overflow of apples. Personally, I haven't put apples into the freezer or made applesauce yet, but I predict that I will within the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, here is a recipe from my mom.

It really is ugly, about as ugly as Spencer just was to Heidi's mom. (My one guilty pleasure - watching The Hills on MTV right now. I think watching reality TV makes me feel a whole lot better about my normal life.)

Pop's Apple Ugly Cake
1 1/3 c. oil
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. sugar
3 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
4 c. chopped, peeled apples
1/2 c. raisins

Mix the oil, eggs, and vanilla in large bowl. Blend in remaining ingredients. Stir in the apples and raisins. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. Serve with lemon sauce.

Lemon Sauce
1 can lemon pie filling
3 c. water

Blend together and serve with cake. (You know that I am a lazy baker. I have used a jar of prepared lemon curd with good results.)

**My stars, how can Lauren have so many terrible, back-stabbing friends. Talk about real ugliness.

Make a cake and share with your real friends. Appreciate the ugly cake and your beautiful friendships.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Popcorn Balls

My grandma's house was the house you went to on Halloween. She made homemade popcorn balls. So when I was newly married in our little house in the sticks, I had dreams of being that house where everyone came for homemade popcorn balls. Grandma sent me her recipe, and I got to it. I had a big, gooey mess that wouldn't come off of my hands. Farmer Brown had to dial Grandma for backup. He held the phone while I talked. Apparently, my Grandma firmly believed in the power of name-brand marshmallows.

Guess how many kids came that first Halloween?

Two.

I don't even turn the porch light on any more.

I do, however, make popcorn balls. I have learned a lot.

First, prepare the table. Cover with waxed paper and lay out a stick of butter. The butter is very crucial for not having a fiasco like mine the first year.
Next, pop the popcorn. I use this Homestyle Popcorn. It has a little butter, a little salt. Grandma probably air popped hers. I do know that she did grow her own popcorn sometimes. One of these 3.5 oz bags on Popcorn button, option 3 in the microwave. Like 2 1/2 minutes - done.


I like the salt with the sweet. Sort through the popcorn to get out the unpopped kernels. Put the entire bag in a large bowl. If you don't use this kind of popcorn, it is 10 cups. One of these bags is perfectly 10 cups.

Then in a non-stick saucepan, melt 2 Tb. of butter with 3 cups of Kraft mini-marshallows. You can try, but Wal-Mart brand doesn't melt the same. I use my big Super Scraper from the Pampered Chef to mix with. It transfers well to the popcorn bowl to combine the two.
Remove from the heat and add 1 tsp. of vanilla. Okay, Grandma didn't add the vanilla, but Martha did. And Martha is always right.
I let it set for two heartbeats, to cool slightly. When you pour marshmallow goo on blazing hot, it seems to deflate the kernels. Mix into the large bowl of popcorn, stirring quickly.
Coat your hands with lots and lots of butter. Then add a little more butter to your hands. Grab a handful of mix and squeeze together the goo into balls just like you were making snowballs. Place on the wax paper to set up. Wrap in plastic fold-over sandwich bags.
One turn makes about SIX. I can eat all six. Plan on making several batches since you already have the stuff out. I would not double it. I think I tried that the first year, too. There is too much sticky stuff to work quickly to get a double turn out nicely.
If you are feeling all Martha-y, you can add candy corn or M&M's to the popcorn. I also copied Martha by individually wrapping each popcorn ball in saran wrap, then in orange tissue paper. Then I topped each one with a pipe cleaner stem and green tissue paper leaves. Presto - cute little pumpkins. I no longer do that.
I have also tried chocolate marshmallows. The taste was disappointing and they were poopy looking.
*I had a Phoebe from Friends moment. Her grandmother used to make the best chocolate chip cookies. Monica works frantically to recreate the lost recipe only to realize that the original recipe was the one on the bag of the Nestle chocolate chips. So when I first shared this recipe with someone else, they said, "Oh, just like making Rice Krispie treats with popcorn."
I had never made Rice Krispie Treats before.
So, um, yeah, just like making Rice Krispie treats with popcorn. The recipe on the box is probably easier to understand.

Pumpkin Bread Revisited

So the pumpkin bread with a cake mix is more like pumpkin cake. It was good, lightly pumpkiny, but still cake-like. Plus, it made two dinky loaves. I would probably make one big one and name it the Great Pumpkin Loaf. It didn't make it with me. Once again, a little disappointed by "the pan". I like smooth parts on my bread. Too many bumps and grooves to make that smooth, velvety texture you get on bread.

Here's "the pan":

Monday, September 15, 2008

Pumpkin Bread, Take 2

If I had to rename my blog, it would be "The Lazy Baker". It is just a few more steps to make something from scratch, and I do bake from scratch often. But at 9:30 at night, when I feel like some pumpkin bread would be good for tomorrow, I want to use one bowl and measure minimally.

I wondered if I could make pumpkin bread using a cake mix as a base. I found a recipe at some recipe software site called dvo.com. It's amazing what a little google can find you.

I brought out "the pan". I bought "the pan" from Williams-Sonoma several years ago. Nothing has ever turned out in it. It's cute to look at, the concept is great, but when you turn out pumpkin bread, it is hard to see the details. Yes, I sprinkle with powdered sugar. Yes, I have made white drizzly glazes. Still hard to see the details. Maybe this will be the time when "the pan" redeems itself.

Pumpkin Bread

1 pkg. yellow cake mix

1 (15 oz.) can of pumpkin

3 eggs

1/3 c. vegetable oil

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

Dump everything in a large mixing bowl. Mix on low speed for 1 minute. Stop and scrape down the bowl. Mix for additional 2 minutes on medium speed. Pour batter into two greased and floured loaf pans. Lick the beaters and the bowl and the spatulas. Bake at 350 degrees for 48 - 55 minutes, checking to see when the bread is pulling away from the sides. Cool for 10 minutes and invert onto wire rack to cool completely.

If it tastes good, looks good, it will go into this basket:


and I will take it to the all-day computer training I have to go to tomorrow. If it doesn't turn out, doesn't taste good, it will go to work with Farmer Brown.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dog-eared and splattered.

This is one of my favorite cookbooks. I don't remember where I got it. All I know is that I use it constantly because it features recipes using Nestle Toll House morsels of different varieties and canned pumpkin.



Obviously, it features classic recipes such as the orginial chocolate chip cookies and pumpkin pie. But in addition, it features endless variations of these, and then some.



I haven't made it through the entire book, but every so often, I try something new. The only ones that I haven't been crazy about are the low-fat versions of some of the recipes. Bleh. If I am going to bake, it will be full-fat.



My favorites include Pumpkin Carrot Cake, Pumpkin Dutch Apple Pie, and Pumpkin Apple Gingerbread.



It is avaliable online through Amazon and some other companies. It is an older book. Mine is ten years old. If you are looking for a baking recipe book that uses convience products, you will find this a great resource.

Coconut Pumpkin Loaves

When I am in the kitchen, I like to make lots of product with only one mess. This makes 3 loaves of bread. If you don't have three friends to give this to, it does freeze well.


I sometimes have trouble finding the instant coconut pudding. Go figure - it seems like a normal flavor. I have substituted instant vanilla before. The coconut adds a different flavor to the pumpkin.


I don't know how we started this, but Frick and Frack do like this toasted and with peanut butter, just like the Banana Nut Bread.

Coconut Pumpkin Loaves
5 eggs
2 c. canned pumpkin
2 c. sugar
1 1/4 c. oil
3 c. all-purpose flour
2 pkg. (3.4 oz.) instant coconut pudding
3 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
3/4 c. chopped pecans

Mix eggs and pumpkin. Beat in sugar and oil. Mix in flour, pudding mixes, cinnamon, baking soda, and nutmeg. Stir in nuts. Pour into 3 greased and floured loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 - 65 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in pan. Remove to wire racks to cool. Wrap and freeze for up to 6 months.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Pumpkin Crisp

If you are looking for great pictures to go with recipes, I ain't got any. I'm trying not to eat that stuff currently. (This period of deprivation will end sometime next week with my head stuffed into a Little Debbie box.) If I don't make it, I don't eat it. With the absence of sweets, I find myself dreaming about food. This pumpkin recipe blows my mind when it is warm out of the oven. I love hot cake, but hot crisp is the bomb.

Pumpkin Crisp
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
1 c. evaporated milk
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 pkg. yellow cake mix
1 c. chopped pecans
1 c. butter, melted
Stir together the first five ingredients. Pour into a lightly greased 9 x 13 pan. Sprinkle cake mix evenly over pumpkin mix. Sprinkle with pecans. Drizzle melted butter over top. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with nutmeg.

Monday, September 8, 2008

I Zafu, Do You?

One of my new favorite blogs is Bye, Bye Pie http://byebyepie.typepad.com/bye_bye_pie/. It makes me snort out loud every day. A recent post was about her quest for jeans. I can so relate. I am tired of shopping for clothes that fit when all the stores sell are the latest styles like low-rise and hip huggers. Stacey London can tell me what not to wear and what to wear, but when I only have Wal-mart and on-line shopping, that can be an impossible task to find something that truly fits me and my budget.

So, on recommendation from Bye, Bye Pie lady - zafu.com.

Genius.

Answer some weird questions, and recommendations are made for you and your body. Plus there are links to purchase these recommendations. It's like having Stacey London on the computer. Although, I can't imagine Stacey ever asking me how many pencils I can hold under my breast. Nice to know for my next party trick, though.

I have only completed the Bra Finder Quiz but it found 33, yes, 33 results of decent looking bras in a variety of prices and styles. So while I am on a quest for a new body, I can clothe the current body with new clothes that fit.

The New Apple


Sixth graders are sweet. I sometimes feel like they are too young to be exposed to their older middle school peers who taint them in only a few short months. These first few weeks when they get to class right on time, when they hug me at the door, when they giggle over Junie B. Jones books, they melt my heart. This allows me to love them all year even when they start the eye rolls, shoulder shrugs, and mumbles.


Today, a student brought me a quart bag of Concord grapes picked from his dad's yard. He took the time to take each grape off of the stems. He didn't know that Concord grapes remind me of my grandparent's house when we would sneak and eat the grapes on Grandpa's vines. To eat properly, you had to slide the firm little eyeball out of the skin and spit out the sour skin. Grandma's shelves would be lined with pretty purple grape juice with little shriveled up grapes floating in the top. I remember always requesting, and getting, a few of those little grapes in my juice glass.


I planned on taking pictures. I planned on saving some for Frick and Frack. But I didn't plan on how good they would taste and how much each bite reminded me of some other time. I ate them all.


That boy, no matter how much the teenage-angst will consume his soul for the next few years, no matter how cool he will become and pretend not to know his sixth grade teacher, will always have a place in my heart for this kindness and thoughtfulness.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

My Mama will be proud.


My first award. Isn't it sweet? It came from Laura at Real Mom Kitchen. Her site is filled daily with recipes using normal ingredients that your family will eat. She has nice pictures of her food and easy tips. Her bio says that one day she would like to have a cookbook for real moms. It would definitely be a keeper for my cookbook collection.
I'm not really sure about blog-etiquette, but I think that I am supposed to pass it on to others. I will have to hold on to it and pass it along soon. With school starting, I have not been doing much but quick lurking around other sites. I don't want to creep anyone out by giving them an award and have them thinking that I am weird stalker person.

That's a lot of Zucchini Bread.


Geez-a-wheez. That's a big zucchini. She seems proud of the zucchini's length (over 6 feet), but she should see the diameter of the unharvested zucchini in my garden. I refuse to pick any more. I am not out of recipes, just zucchined-out.
You can read the whole article here:
Yes, I still don't know how to embed a picture.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Side Dish of Frick and Frack

Pictures of Frack's first day of preschool. She was so excited that she packed all of her stuff up right in front of the door the night before, just so we wouldn't forget anything. Farmer Brown got to take her for her first day, and she wasn't dressed by the time Frick and I left.

Frack loves her teacher even though she doesn't know her name. Plus, Frack ate oatmeal for breakfast. They must be good if they got her to eat oatmeal.

Making Pork Chops Special

Frick and Frack love pork chops. They're quick and easy. We have pork chops at least once a week. But after awhile, pork chops are just pork chops. To make them special this evening, I added freshly baked bread.

Yeah, kind of freshly baked. If you haven't had these rolls, go buy some. Seriously. Five to ten minutes in a 350 degrees. Brush them with melted butter and other toppings before baking. Mine had melted butter and honey (thanks, Delmus). Mmmmm.
They come in whole wheat also, if you can find them. They sell them in extremely large bags at Sam's Club. I suggest you stock up.
*Extremely high 2 points on WW, not including the butter. I'm guessing the butter doesn't count somehow but haven't figured out the excuse just yet.


 

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