Saturday, December 31, 2011
1)post once a week
2)get inspired by Tracy Shutterbean and her High Straightness Blog at Homefries, and get my kitchen in order... And write about it on here. (I organized the bathroom last night, and it is so much nicer in there now!)
3)Try something new once a month... Like make Curry and make the boyfriend actually eat it
4)eventually try a new look here... Not just the plain old Blogger template look.
5)Share more of life... not just food... I've been doing some crafts lately... and my super-secret project that I really want to share here, but not until I am finished the first part of it.
Five resolutions is a good place to start right? I promise I will be back. I am tryin to get myself out of the funk of the last few months... And I will...
Happy New Year everyone!!!!!!!!!!!
OOOO.. I have a #6 - check off more things on my Baking/Cooking Bucket List
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
One part of me is totally ready... I have gifts bought and 4 whole days off of work (SWEET!). I did the work Christmas party thing (got to ride up to the house in a 2-horse open sleigh with Jingle Bells... except it is really called a cutter and not a sleigh, but I'm okay with calling it a sleigh... well, part of my brain is), I gave my bosses and friends at work presents, I wrote all the clients Christmas cards, I baked cookies for the farrier... and the land lord, and people at work, and some just for us... and I'll bake more tonight as soon as I'm done typing this out.
So, while part of me is completely ready for Christmas... the blogger in me is hiding in the corner in shame, because, it is only 4 days until Christmas, and I haven't written anything in December. I'm going to have to stick to some kind of schedule for this, because I have been pretty lazy about this poor blog lately, and I am not proud of that, because I like baking and cooking and taking pictures and just getting better and trying new things and new skills, and This blog is what pushes me to really do that... So 2012, I will be better about this... I pinkie swear...
I think I might share some of the crafty-ness that I have been partaking in lately also... and the giant nerd in me... I had a project that I was trying to get done before Christmas, but It has become much more involved than I first imagined back in August, so when I finish the main part of that, I will share it here too... because I'm pretty proud of it.
If I don't get back here in the next four days... Have a Very Merry Christmas!!!
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
I FINALLY made the Apple Pocket Pies... It only took me a quarter of the year... BUT gee-golly they were so worth it. I do want to try them with some homemade pastry... but baby steps... Its been hard enough to get into the kitchen and make anything other than pasta lately... let alone take pictures of it and then edit them and write about it... But I'm on my way back... with Apple Pocket Pies...
This is pretty much the recipe that came with the pocket-pie-maker-thingy, but I havn't had a chance to tweek it yet... give me some time. BUT If you see this thing for sale... Buy it...it's pretty fun... Like a giant apple cookie cutter that presses things together too!
I lost the recipe card that came with the pie-maker, but It is pretty self explanatory. I made too many cooked apples, and so had to eat them all on their own (it was a tough job, but someone had to do it!). It uses Store bought puff pastry, and then apples with cinnamon and sugar.. then you bake them... See, easy. I let my mom take some of the pictures, and they are a little out of focus, but I'm going to be okay with that... Because these were AMAZING! I will be making them again soon!
Saturday, November 26, 2011
You are probably thinking "OH MY GAWD!, she is actually writing a new blog post!"
Or, if you read the title of this, you might be thinking: "Vina-whata?"
I don't really know what you are thinking, because this is the kind of thing that you either like, or don't... Unless you are like me, and at 6 years old, thought it was the most disgusting thing disguising as a Christmas cookie, Then waited until you got older to try it again and loved it... I have come to the personal conclusion that Vinatarta is not a kid's ideal Christmas food. It has prunes in it... According to my 6 year old brain... prunes make you poop... Who wants a Christmas cake that makes you poop, I mean really... well, unless you can't, and you really need to, then maybe you want to just eat prunes
Ok, so far, my first post back is not going so well, I am talking about poop and Christmas cake together... way to sell it....
|Winter's Here... (face palm)|
Want to know what makes our Vinatarta the best? Rum... Because rum is good, but you could easily just use water too.
There was a recipe on Swerve Calgary... But the one we used was closer to the one that is posted in the comments section of that same article. Only with rum.... and probably a little more cardamom because my Mom likes it.
Too make the cookie/cake layers:
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. baking powder
4 cups of flour
3 TBSP heavy cream
1 tsp Almond Extract
1 1/2 tsp. Cardamom
Cream butter. Add sugar, and beat well. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat Well. Add Almond Extract here also.
Sift the dry ingredients together. Add to the wet, alternating with the Heavy Cream (starting and ending with the dry). Knead well. Divide the dough into 5 or 6 even balls (depending on how many layers you want... we do 6). Spread each ball onto the back of a round cake pan. Unless you have 6 round cake pans all the same size, you will have to work in batches... We did 2 at a time. Let the cake pan cool down a little before you spread the next layer on.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Bake about 10 minutes. Keep a close eye, and remove from the oven when the edges are starting to brown.
To make the Prune filling:
Place, approx. 1 pound of dried, pitted prunes in a large saucepan. Just barely cover with water (this is where we used rum... mixed with water, we would've had to use the whole bottle... just use to taste if you choose). Simmer until the prunes are soft.
Purée in a food processor (use water/rum) if you need more liquid to get the processor to actually process- like we did)
Once puréed, return to the saucepan with 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup rum (or prune juice). Cook until thick (you are making a prune jam/butter deal here... kind of like making Apple Butter). Add spices to taste... One recipe called for 2 tsp. of Cinnamon, another for cloves, and yet another for cardamom. We used all 3, until it tasted perfect for us. Just keep tasting until you like what you have. Cool Completely.
Pick out your ugliest cake layer and put it on the bottom. Spread an even layer of filling over top (using enough to all your layers are even). Put another cake on top, and spread with filling again. Save the best cake layer for the top
Once all assembled, Cover well with plastic wrap and let sit for AT LEAST 24 hours. Older recipes say 2 weeks. Vinatarta freezes well also.
You can cut slabs of cake if you choose, or cut into nice little rectangles instead. Another option is to frost the top with Almond butter cream, but my mom didn't want anything to do with that. And I don't think it needs it.
Have a Very Merry Holiday Season, and I hope you try this wonderful Christmas cake. Unless you are a kid, then you might not like it... I sure didn't... But I do now, and that is what I was trying to say... very ineloquently.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Anyway, so I bet you are wondering why I just told you all that... all rambly and non-sensical (is that how you spell it?).... I wanted to let you know that My mini resolution for December is to be a better blogger... After I've finally got most of my real-world life situations sorted out (for now at least). I have tons of pictures and notes of things I've made, I just havn't gotten to the point of writing that down into my blog and hitting "publish"... But I will.
Also, I sat out of the Daring Baker challenge this month, so I can finish getting my life some-what back into order... And we finally have some more staff at work, so I can stop being so exhausted from working my ass off every day.
Also... I downloaded a ton of christmas Music, and I am totally going to go bake some christmas cookies right now... EVEN if it is still only November
I will be back to post a recipe (or eight) as soon as I get my ass in gear and put hte pictures from my phone into my computer.
Happy American-Thanksgiving this week too... maybe I will start by posting my Canadian Thanksgiving pictures... From way back at the beginning of October.... oops
I will be back, I promise!!
Thursday, October 27, 2011
This month, our host was Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. She introduced us to Povitica (pronounced like Po-va-teet-sa) Which I am very happy to have learned. I have never heard about it before, But I think I will be making this again at Christmas... Jenni gave us recipes for 4, 2, or 1 loaf/loaves and I chose to just make the 1 loaf... although I do want to try this with cheese, to make a Cheese-Swirl bread.
I didn't take step by step pictures this time.. All i ended up with were 3 kind of OK photos...
If you type "Povitica" into Wikipedia, "nut roll" comes up, but it gives you some history on the bread-style.
I'm going to send you over to the Daring Kitchen website to the link on the Povitica Challenge, rather than copy Jenni's recipe word for word... I didn't change a thing on this challenge, and didn't have time to play around with different fillings like I wanted to, But I am really really happy to have learned this bread. Thanks Jenni... And to all my fellow Daring Bakers for their advice, and inspirational posts of their challenges in the forums. I REALLY love this group!
Sunday, October 23, 2011
But the Boyfriend told me that this is the best soup he has ever tasted, and since it is one of the best soups I have ever tasted, I don't think he was just being nice...
You are going to need butternut squash... how much depends on how much soup you want to end up with. I used one pretty large sized squash. Peel and cube the squash, and spread out on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Roast the squash at about 350 F until soft.
While the squash is roasting, peel potatoes (i used 4-5 potatoes) and cut into even cubes, peel carrots and cut into even pieces (about 5-6 carrots)
In a large pan, heat some oil (2-3 Tablespoons), saute some onion (I used one med.large onion), until translucent. You can also add in some garlic if you choose. Add in the carrot and potato and cook until soft
Add in some Chicken broth and continue to cook the vegetables. Once the Squash is soft, add into the pan and cook with the potato/carrot/onions. Add more broth as needed.
When everything is soft, and seasoned to taste, let everything cool down. Blend in small batches and put into a large saucepan. Make sure there is enough liquid in the blender so all the veggies get blended. Once everything is blended and in the saucepan, add in some cream or more chicken broth, and you can season to taste. I like cream. Heat to whatever temperature you like, and serve. The cream and/or broth you add is to taste, depending on how liquid-y you want your soup.
This soup will most likely be seen a lot in our kitchen now. We loved it!
Also, you can carve Butternut Squash for Halloween too... You just need a melon baller to get the squash meat(?) out... and carve carefully. They do turn into old wrinkly men pretty fast, so don't do this too soon before Halloween... or do... They look pretty cool all wrinkly.
It is now official, I am a horrible blogger... I am working on my Daring Baker Challenge right now, so I promise to have a food-post on the 27th...
Just a taste of what I have been up to instead of blogging:
We went on a road trip to Drumheller to go to the Dinosaur musem (Royal Tyrell Museum) there.
I've been working like crazy... so has the boyfriend
Sunday, October 9, 2011
I have been in the kitchen though... More in the Kitchen than on the computer, which is why there is a lack of posting. I HAVE pictures and I HAVE made things with recipes to post, but finding the time to actually pots them... AND keep up with the other blog I started (which I have been MIA from also), AND working major hours, keeping the dogs and my boyfriend fed, and trying to keep up with housework (also failing at that too)
OMG. How do people do all this? I envy you if you can keep up with everything.
I will try and post later today, I am cooking Thanksgiving dinner as we speak, so I need to go check on my Pumpkin pies, and start getting the turkey in the oven...
HAPPY CANADIAN THANKSGIVING (weekend) everyone!!
I pinky swear i will be back a little later
PS... I got a new car!!!!!!!! SOOOOOO STOKED (so I've been driving alot also)
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
I was so thrilled when the challenge this month was Croissants, As they are on my baking bucket list (see for yourself). So I finally had an excuse to make them. Although, it would've been easier in a cold-weather spell.... Can't wait to try this again in the winter, now that I have done it once, I can learn from my mistakes. Not that there were many mistakes, They tasted AMAZING.
Thanks for the great Challenge Sarah!
Blog-checking lines: The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!
In the recipe notes, Sarah included a link to a Julia Child video on YouTube, which was VERY helpful, and pretty entertaining. I had just watched Julie and Julia a few days before I got this challenge also! Great Timing.
As Usual, I'm going to send you to the Daring Kitchen website to find the pdf file of this months challenge. Sarah included a ton of step by step photo's that were very helpful.
My Croissants didn't last long at all. We ended up eating half of them right after they were done baking, and then the rest for breakfast the next morning. I can't wait to make these again! Again, Thanks Sarah for giving me a reason to finally make Croissants!
Monday, September 26, 2011
I feel like there should be a drum roll here... because I am finally posting something food related, and not something excuse related.
I even have 2 projects on the go right now... One I will tell you about, and the other you have to wait until the 27th because it is my Daring Baker Challenge...
On it's final rise in my oven right now, is another loaf of Sourdough Bread. One reason I was waiting a little bit to post about my sourdough, is I wanted to actually know what I was writing about. I have wanted to make Sourdough bread for a REALLY long time, but the whole making a starter process scared the pants off me. But It really shouldn't have. It is so easy.... Basically, making a starter is putting water and flour together. This helps the little wild yeast that is living on the flour to grow into a strong colony. If you can remember to feed your dog, you can remember to feed your yeast, its not hard at all.
While it isn't hard, and your labour will be greatly rewarded with possibly the best bread to ever come out of your oven (mine was), Sourdough isn't really an instant-gratification kind of food. You need a lot of Patience, and timing. The timing is what threw me off on my second loaf (I'll tell you about it,... in this post).
The boyfriend keeps asking me why I take on these "epic food projects." And the only thing I can say is that I like the challenge. It isn't like 100 years ago my great grandmothers had prepackaged dry yeast. And even if they had access to a jar of active dry yeast (like we do today) It isn't like they could just run to the grocery store to pick some up. (by the way, I guess I should explain, that all of my great grandparents homesteaded in Saskatchewan, and things were spread far apart, times were tough and they had large families)
Plus, why buy yeast, when you already have it there in your bag of flour.
Anyway, back to the bread...
Sourdough starters are easy, I will send you over to Food Wishes, and you can obsessively watch the videos he has posted like I did, for the instructions... which I followed exactly. Just make sure you go and get yourself some Bread Flour. I don't know if it makes a difference with the all purpose compared to the bread flour, But You will be using a lot of the bread flour so it makes the purchase worth it. plus, it is the same price as All purpose anyway. (side note: Has anyone used Barley Flour? There is some at one of the grocery stores here that is local, and I'm just curious if I can use it the same why as regular wheat flour?)
Get yourself a plastic or glass container with a lid. (I use a Ziploc large entree semi-disposable). Grab a whisk, and some warm (not hot, or your yeast will die before they ever get to colonize your container), and your bread flour. Now watch Day one of Chef John's instructions... then the next day, watch Day 2 ,and keep going. Until the first loaf of bread is baked.
Smell your starter everyday. I know its weird right? But after a few days of feeding it everyday, it starts to smell just like sourdough. Which is kind of a little mini-reward, because you know it is working. As time goes on, it starts to get a little more of an alcohol smell to it. After the first week of your starter, you can put it in the fridge, and then just feed it once a week instead of everyday. My yeast get fed on Mondays (usually).
So to actually make the bread:
Dump your active starter in a large bowl, add in a cup of warm water and a cup of bread flour, and whisk just like feeding the starter. Cover with plastic wrap and poke a few holes. Let it sit at room temperature for about 8 hours, maybe more, maybe less. This is to make "the sponge". I usually do this at 6:30am just before I go to work on Friday, and then it has about 10 hours while I'm gone to sponge-ify.
So when I get home from work and relax a little, my sponge has usually more than doubled, and looks like a giant pale sponge.
Now is where the work comes in... Make sure your starter container is clean. Knock the bubbles in the sponge down, so it looks like pancake batter again. Pour this all back into your starter container. (here is the foodwishes link for you to watch)
Measure out 2 cups of Sponge into a large mixing bowl, add in 2 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of sugar, and 2 tbsp of Olive oil. Stir this all together, and then stir in 1 cup of flour. Once it is all combined, stir in another 1/2 cup of flour. The dough will still be sticky at this point, but turn it out onto a surface, with another 1/2 cup of flour and work it in. You will be kneading for a long time to help develop the gluten, This is the part that sucks, but just look at it like a work out. You know you are done needing when you can tear off a little piece of dough, stretch it, and it doesn't break. My first loaf, I probably kneaded for 40 minutes, just trying to get more and more flour in. All total you want to try and get 2.5-3 cups of flour into the bread. I haven't been able to get to the 3 cups, I usually just knead for about 30minutes, and get about 2.5 cups in. Just follow whatever your gut tells you to do.When you can poke your finger into the ball of dough, and the dough springs back, with hardly any imprint of your finger being there, then you are pretty much there. Chef John's instructions and videos really help, and I would definitely go back there and bookmark it whenever you have a bit of a question as to what to do next. I haven't tried any different recipes than his with my starter yet, but I know his videos work!
Put your dough ball in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and stab a few holes in it. I usually put it in the oven, but that is just because I grew up in a house with cats, who liked to get into everything ,and rising dough is much safer in the oven... You can just leave it on your counter though.
So this is where timing is so important. You kind of need to know your schedule of the next 2 days before you start making sourdough bread. You also need to know how long your yeast takes to rise. Its not hard, you just need to pay attention. I have found that you can make the first 2 rises (your sponge and your dough) fit around your schedule a little bit, but don't screw with the last one. My sponge gets about 12 hours, and my dough gets about 12 hours. The first one, while I'm at work, and the 2nd while I am sleeping. Then when I get up on Saturday morning (which is usually early, despite my best efforts of trying to sleep in on my day off, because the dogs need to go out to pee), and then I "punch down" my dough. Except you don't really punch it, just kind of push on it to deflate it.
Then stretch it into a square/rectangle shape, roll it into a loaf shape, and put it on a sturdy baking sheet that you sprinkled with some cornmeal.
Brush the top with a little water, and I cover with a damp tea towel in the oven. Chef John says you don't have to cover it, but I do anyway.
So now, you just have to wait until your loaf has doubled in size... Mine is usually about 4-6 hours. but it could be longer. Just listen to the yeast. Also, Don't push this rise too long. I did, I went out shopping, and forgot I was busy with the sourdough project, So when I baked it, it was sooooo deflated. It still tasted great, but it wasn't as pretty, and it looked more like sourdough Biscotti, than sourdough bread.
So when your loaf is finished rising, Brush the top with water (or use a spray bottle, like Chef John says... I just haven't remembered to pick one up whenever I'm at a store that has spray bottles). Get a pan with some water in it, and put it on the lower rack in your oven. Put the bread into the oven cold. Then turn the temperature to 400F (John said 425, but this is a higher altitude, and so I think you should lower the temperature of the oven and lengthen the cooking time.... don't hold me to that, I'm not an expert on the difference altitude makes in baking, I just know it makes a difference)
Every 10 minutes, open the oven, brush (or spray) with water, and rotate pan, if needed. I usually do this every time, just to keep everything as even as possible.
Let your bread cool, and then ENJOY... (seriously, you will enjoy)
One last little hint. In Chef John's sourdough series, at the end, he says that your first loaf probably won't work. Mine did, BUT because I was worried it wouldn't, and I didn't want to lose all my faith in my sourdough abilities, I added in about 1 tsp of active dry yeast when I made the dough... just to make sure I got a loaf of bread. All my loaves since then haven't worked just fine without the extra yeast. But if you want to ensure you end up with bread your first time out too, then add a little more yeast just to cover yourself if your homegrown yeast colony doesn't want to be bread yet.
Sorry for the wait!
Thursday, September 15, 2011
September 1st, we had a party at work. It was my friend's last day, and so we all pitched in to make something for him. I was in charge of dessert. And I asked him what he wanted... Pumpkin Pie.
I said a little secret "YES!" to myself, because homemade pumpkin pie is on my cooking/baking bucket list, and I finally had an excuse to actually make it. I have honestly never had a homemade pumpkin pie. Always store bought. I would like to actually make my own pumpkin puree at some point too, but the middle of summer isn't really pumpkin season, so that will have to wait for another time.
I made Vodka pie crust, The Cooks Illustrated recipe, that Smitten Kitchen posted. It was awesome. I will definitely make it again (hopefully for apple pie if I can go rob my grandma's apple tree!). Although, i might just use all butter instead of mixing in some shortening with it. Butter is better!
I followed the pumpkin pie recipe that came with the can of pumpkin puree, But for my second pie (because it makes 2), I used Maple Syrup and brown sugar to taste instead of just brown sugar. The Maple Syrup pie was AMAZING!!! I am the official thanksgiving and Christmas pumpkin pie baker now... no more store bought!
My photos will show the process a little better than I can explain them, and for the pie crust, head over to the Smitten Kitchen, because she has step by step instructional photo post, and It is very helpful!
It was super late when I finally finished making this pie, And I totally spaced and forgot to take a picture of the pie when It was all done baking... oopsie.
|My pie crust!|
|Pumpkin cutter crust embellishments ;)|
|Pies baking in the oven.... which I really need to clean... :(|
Pumpkin Pie, Like the Sourdough bread... MUCH easier than I expected.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Ok, I'm a bad food-blogger
I havn't forgotten about you
I just havn't found any time to spend on you
I'm trying to soak up as much summer as I can...
But soon, it will be winter again and I will have tons of inside time when I will actually want my oven to be heating up my house.
Plus, horse show season is winding down, so work should get less crazy too *keep your fingers crossed*
Do blogs even have fingers to cross? whatever, this one does! and they are crossed.
I have stacks of recipes to try out.... AND a pretty new iPhone to take pictures with when my camera is being uncopperative...
It will happen, I will write more often than once a month.... soon... very very soon
Saturday, August 27, 2011
August 2011 Daring Baker Challenge
Oy.... This was definitely the wrong time of year to try and temper chocolate. Everyday that I got the chance to try, it was hotter in my kitchen than the temperature I was supposed to get the chocolate down to. I have no idea how anybody without air conditioning did it, because I sure didn't.
I will definatly be trying this for Christmas though. and I would also like to thank not only the hosts of the challenge, but all my fellow daring bakers, for the inspiration, and great lessons this month. Very inspiring.
This month has been a little crazy, and today is no exception, so I am going to slap this post together. If I don't write it now, it will not get done...
I also had a complete camera fail while I was trying to get pictures of my failed chocolate experiences.... so I repeat... Oy
The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at http://www.chocoley.com offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!Okay, so the chocolate portion of my challenge was a failure... except that I had an excuse to eat a lot of chocolate.
But the second part... AMAZING. and I will be making it again and again... and it doesn't matter how hot your kitchen is, it will still turn out.
SPONGE TOFFEE!... I used the recipe from Wilde in the Kitchen... It was incredible... Still not quite like a crunchie bar, but the closest that I have ever tasted.
I attempted to make Chocolate covered cherries... but the whole chocolate part experience I talked about... left me with cherry brandy and some drunk cherries... and the will to try this again when the weather gets cooler, and my kitchen isn't 40degrees.
I'm sorry, this is all the time I have... I will try and find the time to come back and edit this like a proper blog post, but I can't promise anything. Hopefully things will calm down again soon!
Even if i failed this challenge, i still consider it a Win just because of the sponge toffee.... I'll share the whole sponge toffee experience when i get a chance too.