Friday, April 27, 2012

Homemaking Fun (and Asparagus)

It's been a busy homemaking week  here at the castle.  From plum compote made with fruit plucked from my freezer
to smoked salmon-deviled eggs sandwich-ettes;
 from ice cream smothered with peanut butter then chocolate sauce (if you're a fan of p.butter/chocolate ice cream, you MUST try)

to orange poppy seed scones;
from a happy bday package to one of my favorite people :)

to  homemade blackberry jam, lid decorated with the cutest Gooseberry Patch scrapbook paper ever.  Yes indeed, it's been a mighty happy kitchen lately, with plenty of  good tastes and smells going on around here.

One of our favorites of the recent experiments?
This springtime asparagus dish.  Which, for reluctant vegetable eaters like us, is saying something.  Kahuna roasted theolive oil-coated spears on the bbq, then we poured over a  sesame oil, lemon juice, green onion marinade.  Outstanding.  Recipe from this fun little almanac.

2 bunches asparagus, about 2 lbs.
1 T. olive oil
3 T. soy sauce
3 T. sesame oil
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice (or lime juice)
1 T. finely grated fresh ginger (I used the minced stuff from the jar)
1 lg. clove garlic, pressed
2 green onions, minced (use both green and white parts)
1 t. brown sugar

Rinse asparagus, and snap each stalk in two with your hands.  (They will snap at just the right point;  you will keep the spear part and throw away the tougher end part.)  Put asparagus in bowl and coat with oil.  (You have my permission to use your hands for this.)  In a separate bowl, mix up the rest of the ingredients and set aside.

Cook your asparagus, either barbecuing the stalks on the grill, a few minutes each side (turning with tongs when they look good and roasty).  Or, place asparagus spears on baking pan and  broil, four inches from  heat, for about eight minutes, shaking pan halfway through to turn asparagus.

When done cooking, put asparagus in bowl and pour over the dressing.  Serves four.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Apricot Almond Oatmeal Bread

I'm not all that impressed by your average everyday loaf of homemade bread -- not that I'm a bread snob, but I've been spoiled by having a bread machine for 15 years, thanks to a generous gift from my generous grandma.  (You can read more about my beautiful grandma here.)

I have grown accustomed to the delights of  bread baking in my very own kitchen -- its yeasty smell that permeates through the house, its soul-satisfying warmth as you cut that first slice and see the butter, cold from the fridge, begin to soften then ooze its way into each little crevice.

It takes a lot these days for a bread to make me sit up and take note.  This dried apricot-studded loaf, humble as it may appear, is just that sort of bread

I'm thinking of the word swoon.

So make yourself a loaf next time you get the chance, toast and butter a slice, nestle up by the fire, if it's chilly, with your homemade happy frappy and your latest library book, and REJOICE!  Life does not get any better.

Happy homemaking.

Note:  The recipe comes from The Bread machine Cookbook II by Donna Rathmell German.  This book not only has gobs of creative bread recipes, but it also includes instructions for small (1-pound), medium (1 1/2-pound), and large (2-pound) loaves.  Kahuna and I have found the small loaves to be the perfect size for the two of us -- just enough for a day or two or three of fresh bread, but not so much that we are overwhelmed with the abundance.  If you have a large family, or will be serving more than three people, I'd recommend doubling this recipe to make the large loaf.  The directions here are for the small one.


2/3 c. milk or water (I used water)
1 1/2 T. vegetable oil (I used Canola)
1 1/2 T. honey
1/2 egg, or 2 T. (this is the first time I'd ever run across 1/2 egg as an ingredient.  I whipped up the egg in a small bowl and measured out 2 T.)
1/3 t. salt
1/3 t. grated lemon peel
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. oatmeal (uncooked)
1 c. bread flour
1 t. yeast

Dump all ingredients in bread machine in order listed and push the magic "on" button.  At the beep, add
1/4 c. diced dried apricots
1/4 c. raisins
2 T.  chopped almonds (I'm thinking next time I may toast these first for added flavor)

That's it!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sourdough Starter

My first attempt at sourdough starter.  Anyone done this before?  Hints?


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Muffins

After a week or two of making
roasted vegetables (soggy), 
Kahlua butter (bitter),
and a few other assorted dishes which, let's just say, did not make the castle hit parade in this queenie's opinion, I was oh so happy to stumble upon these chocolatey muffins.  I'm almost positive the recipe came from this book because I found the almost identical recipe here.   But there are a few differences  between the two versions and I made a change or two myself, so for the sake of simplicity I'll type in the recipe the way I made it.  

Never forget:  a chocolate breakfast is a happy breakfast.  Walker.  2012.  You may quote me.

2/3 c. cocoa powder
1 3/4 c. flour
1 c. lightly packed brown sugar
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
3/4 t. salt
1 c. chocolate chips  (I may increase this to 1 1/2 c. next time)
2 eggs
1 c. milk
2 t. vanilla
2 t. vinegar
1 stick (8 T. ) butter, melted
(optional:  3/4 t. espresso powder.  I didn't add, but may next time)

In large bowl, mix together cocoa, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, chocolate chips, and espresso powder, if using.  Make a well in the center and dump in eggs, milk, vanilla, vinegar, and melted butter.  Stir just until mixed.  Ladle batter into well-greased muffin cups (mine filled 16 cups).  Bake 10 - 15 minutes at 400 degrees, until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  (Mine took 10 or 11 minutes, but if you fill your muffin cups very full and make fewer muffins, expect them to take a bit longer to cook.)  The book's recipe warns you that these will burn around the edges if you bake them too long, so take a peek toward the end as a safeguard.  Remove from oven and turn out of muffin tin after five or ten minutes.

Christ is risen.  He is risen indeed!