Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Melba Toast Crackers

One of the easiest ways to be frugal in the kitchen is to present food differently. This helps in using what you have in creative ways, and thereby having new food, or at least food viewed as new. For instance I made a loaf of bread that was good. But no matter how good something is, it cannot be eaten everyday without getting tired of the taste.

There are many options available to eliminate waste. I could have cut the loaf in half and froze part for another time, or I could have given half to my neighbor as an act of generosity and friendship, or I could make crackers from the remaining bread and have a new type of food to enjoy and eliminate waste at the same time. Lets re-purpose bread into crackers.

Here is approximately 1/3 loaf of the bread, left after several breakfast. Although I have enjoyed this loaf, it is time to make something more from this and eliminate it from being pushed aside and left to waste.

Using an electric knife (quick breads are more crumbly, than yeast breads) which I prefer, cut slices approximately 1/4 inch thick.

Prepare a large baking sheet, I used coconut oil to film it lightly.

Take a small amount of coconut oil and "cream" it on a plate with a spoon. I have found that a spoon will spread the coconut oil on the bread slices easier than a knife will.

Cut the slices in half ( this is easier if you stack them up in 2 side by side stacks, and run the knife down the center), arrange on the tray and gently spread (or smear) a small dab, about 1/4 t of coconut oil on each piece. This is not specific, simply smear a bit of oil on each piece.

Place in a 250 degree oven and bake for 45-60 minutes until golden and crisping. Turn oven off and leave to dry, while oven cools. Keep the oven door closed. When cool, make sure there are no moisture pockets, you may need to preheat the oven, bake 5 minutes and then turn off and let finish drying.

Note: This will be based upon your oven and the density of the bread being made into crackers.

That's it, re-purposed bread into crackers. Made with the ingredients you want to eat, so you know that they will be good for you. Great as a snack, or with meals like soup or stew.Yum, crunchy and good!

As always, thanks for stopping by. This post is part of Tuesday Twister , Two for Tuesday  ,
Pennywise Platter , Food Renegade and Foodie Friday.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Festive Jam Loaf

This is the freshest time of year! Not a kitchen I know of is not in the middle of something delicious and seasonal. One of my favorite summer time activities is jam making. I can never have enough, it is great to have on hand for eating and enjoying, as well as a gift to say "thank you" to a friend that offered a helping hand.

This easy loaf is tasty, as well as a great way to use up last years jam. You can also drop the mixture into muffin cups for a handy personal size treat to eat out of hand.

 I chose a jar of fig and orange jam, I added cinnamon to the flour mixture, and stirred in 1/2 c walnuts at the end.

Sweet Jam loaf
adapted from: Seasonal Ontario Food
350 degree oven
1 c jam
1/3 c oil
2 eggs

1 c flour
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour - I prefer spelt flour
3 t baking powder
3/4 t salt

3/4 c milk

optional ingredients:  chopped nuts, diced dried fruit, chopped apples, cinnamon, the only limits would be your own preferences. 

Stir together until mixed well jam, oil and eggs. In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt, whisk to combine. Add the jam mixture and 1/2 of the milk, mix well to combine. Add remaining milk, mixing until combined and no streaks of any one ingredient remains. Stir in an optional ingredient if desired.

Bake 40 - 50 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes then turn loaf out to cool completely.

Makes 1 loaf, 12 - 15 slices.

Recipe rating:  It's Ok. (tasty but not special)

Remember quick breads once cool and sliced, toast up just like yeast bread.

If you happen to have some left over you can make melba toast, which is delicious, here is the link for homemade Melba Toast Crackers, also made from this tasty loaf.

As always thanks so much for your visit today.
I appreciate your time and your comments.

Update:  This post is being shared with:
Full Plate Thursday @ Miz Helen's Country Cottage

This post is a part of Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter Thursday, Whats on your plate ,
Make it from Scratch.  and Food Renegade.  

Monday, August 23, 2010

How about some tips, tricks and techniques

I keep toys in the kitchen! These little sand buckets are just the right size to hold vegetable scraps (under the sink) until you have a full bucket or are ready to make a trip to the compost pile.

Another way to preserve fresh lemons, this was a last minute decision to keep the lemons in the fruit bowl, from going to waste. It worked great. Wash the lemons and towel dry. Roll firmly on a hard surface to relax the inside membrane, then cut in half. This is especially frugal when you need the zest, but not the juice.

Put in a freezer bag or container and freeze. When you need fresh lemon juice simply zap in the microwave for about 15 seconds for one half or 30 seconds for a whole lemon. This worked great at our jam making session the other day, with the lovely Jess.The thawed lemon halves were a breeze to juice.

Sometimes you just need a helping hand, and that is usually solved with a food guide. I have been making these for years. Take a large plastic funnel and cut the bottom off. The wider top allow you to pour items (wet or dry) into a small opening with ease. This works the same as a canning funnel, but the straight sides allows things to flow quickly right into the jar.

You can tailor these to fit your needs, the larger the funnel the larger your guide.

And now,

Who does not love fried potatoes? Here is a method to make real fried potatoes in 20 minutes, from peeled to served up golden brown.

Heat 1 T oil and 1 T butter or bacon fat in a large flat bottom skillet, on high. You will need the two types of fat, oil alone will not brown your spuds.

Add sliced potatoes in a single (mostly) layer. This was 5 medium potatoes. Swirl the potatoes gently in the pan to mix the fats together and make an even coating of fat on the bottom of the pan. With the heat source still on high or medium high depending on your stove, add about 1/3 c water and cover with a lid.

You want to steam simmer the potatoes for about 10 minutes, when the water had evaporated, your potatoes are cooked. Remove the cover and let the browning begin. Season with your favorite seasonings, we are purists here as Honey like his potatoes with salt and pepper only.

Continue to fry and turn until the desired color is achieved. Yum. Honey prefers the reverse order of things, browning first and steaming to finish up. He likes the softer texture, either way these are  delicious potatoes.
As always,
Thanks for taking a moment to stop and say hello,
I appreciate your visits!

This post submitted to Two for Tuesday.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Chocolate Cardamom Cake

Last week's oats and prune bread, was delicious. I enjoyed thick slices for breakfast toasted and spread with butter. I would think that most folks place prunes in that category, you know on the quick bread or muffin list. Prunes are elegant too, now wait, yes they are. Look at what we are making today.......

Chocolate Prune Cardamom Cake
adapted from: Kitchenography
350 degree oven

Steeping step:
3/4 c water
1/4 c sherry
3/4 c prunes

Heat water and sherry to almost boiling, add prunes, cover with a lid, turn off heat.

Leave on stove burner to steep, until lukewarm. When steeping is complete, drain well. (Reserve liquid for another use if desired*) and chop prunes into 1/2 inch dice. Reserve.

1 c flour
2 T dry baking cocoa - plus additional cocoa to dust the baking pan
1/2 t cardamom
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t baking powder

1/2 c oil
1 t vanilla
1 egg
3/4 c sugar

1 T lemon juice and enough milk to make 1/2 cup total liquid - let sit while assembling ingredients

In a medium size bowl, combine the dry ingredients and whisk together to combine. In a large bowl, combine the wet ingredients, whisk to beat well, the mixture will fall in a ribbon from the whisk. Add the dry ingredients to the egg and sugar mixture, along with 1/2 of the soured milk. Combine well, add remaining milk, whisking to combine. Beat will for 1 - 2 minutes. Batter will look glossy and fall in a ribbon from whisk. Fold in the steeped prunes.

Prepare an 8 inch spring form pan, and dust with additional cocoa.

Tap out an excess cocoa powder. Pour in the cake batter.

Bake 30 minutes or until tests done in your oven. Let cool in the pan 15 minutes. Run a spatula or thin knife around edge of cake to make sure it is free from the pan. Leave in spring form pan to cool completely.

Carefully run a spatula around the edge of the cooled cake, this will help when you are ready to remove the ring, after glazing.

2 T butter
2T milk
1/2 c semi sweet chocolate (chips)
1/2 c powder sugar

Heat butter, milk and chocolate until hot and chocolate begins to melt. Whisk until smooth, whisk in powder sugar, whisking until smooth. Return to burner on low and whisk until shiny. Pour over cake, and carefully rotate cake to "spread" to edges of the pan. Let cool.

 Run a thin knife around the edge of the glaze to separate from the pan. Set spring form pan on serving plate, carefully remove ring from around cake.

Serves 8 - 10, serve with a whipped cream crown or a small ball of vanilla ice cream.

Recipe rating:  Oh Yes! (will make again)

As always, thanks so much for stopping by.
I really enjoy your visits!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Jars of happiness, no canning equipment needed.

I love gift giving, I love gift giving from the heart even more. All of my favorite gifts have been love inspired, some purchased and the others made at home, just for me. Or by me, I give gifts too!

As I have made little changes along the way to the slower life I want to get back to, gifts made at home, play a larger and larger role. Never once have I ever thought as I travel this familiar path back to my old, new life, gifts will not be given.

A quieter life, made at home is not about removing the joys of celebration, gifts and visiting. It is about life lived, enjoyed and created at home. Homemade. With care. With pride. For those you love and care about.

I have been gifted to, very generously in my life. I love gift giving so much, I tend to gift to others in the same fashion. It is not unusual to get multiple gifts on birthdays or special occasions. One of the gifts might be a jar of happiness.

I have made quote jars for a landmark birthday, where there is a quote for each year celebrated. This is especially fun for a birthday of say age 50 or so. You can fill a good sized jar and have fun in the process.

You can find quotes at many different sources, or make up anything you want. If they have a serious funny bone, jokes are fun. Or even questions to answer. Mini Crossword puzzles can be fun, especially if they say something special and meaningful to the person receiving the gift. What would be fun for your gift giving occasion? 

Here are some quote links, also a quick internet search will reveal many more.



This is a jar I received. I enjoy it daily, and have read the little notes many times. It sits on the bookshelf in my little computer/sewing/cookbook shelf/grandma's toy-box and sleep over couch/ room!

This is a memories jar. Each piece of paper is a memory written down by a member of the family. A simple jar, decorated with care and full of happiness. It is the little things, they really are the biggest gifts of all!

As always, thanks for taking a moment to stop and say hello, I appreciate your visits.
This is linked to:
Fresh Clean and Pure @ la bella vita
Simple Lives Thursday.
and Make it from Scratch 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Kitchen tips to share.....

I got a bit carried away yesterday with my baking, one of the items was intended for this mornings post. But one wrong "click" and away you go, out into the blogsphere, for ever more! So I retitled it using an edit feature and simply let it be. Since our baked goods are at an all time high, we do not need anymore baking in this household for a few days. Plus the weather here has heated up to a brisk level, making baking a bit uncomfortable this fine day.

I do have a 2 tips to share. These are eclectic in nature, but I find them helpful, non the less. It is funny, you will do something in your own kitchen that has been done for so long, it is second nature. Then along comes a visitor and they observe that action, commenting positively, which will then make you re-think what you do as possibly worth sharing. 

This first one is from my food service days. When I bring home bacon, I will cook it on low heat until done, but not crisp or brown. Let cool and then package for the refrigerator or freezer. You can quickly pull out as many slices as needed and brown it up quickly for breakfast or that garnish on a baked potato. Also it is a clean catch of all those good drippings that I like to save in the refrigerator and use to saute food in.

Cook on low, drain, cool and package. This is now "brown and serve" bacon.

We are great fans of gravy in this household. I especially enjoy a richly flavored gravy and have actually made potatoes and gravy my main dish. The secret to a great gravy is a well browned roux. Sometimes however there is not the time, to let the fat and flour slowly reach that just right stage. I keep dry browned flour in the refrigerator, and can use that to make a slurry for a richer tasting gravy in just a minute. It is easy to do, take a look.

Put 2 cups of plain flour in a dry pan, set the heat to medium to start. As you stir, when it just starts to smell "toasty", (depending upon your stove) you may want to start decreasing the level of heat. The reason is that a heavy bottom pan has absorbed a lot of heat and is releasing that upward into the flour. The flour is browning. Keep stirring, bringing the bottom up to the top. 

When it has reached a nice toasted color, remove pan from heat, continue to stir until all heat is released. Press through a mesh sieve and keep covered in the refrigerator. Use like plain flour, for your slurry. 

As always, thanks for taking a moment to stop and say hello. I appreciate your visits!

this post shared with:
tip day Thursday @ Around my Family Table

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Chocolate Mint Zucchini Cake with Walnuts

Like my cooking, this blog is subject to my going back and making a change in already posted recipes. Such is the case with the Chocolate mint zucchini bread with walnuts. I had put notes in bold script on how to turn that basic recipe into a cake. Well that is simply not going to work, I don't know what I was thinking (or not thinking as the case may be!).

When I purchased the zucchini, I made sure I got enough to cook at least 2 recipes from it. It was a real toss up I will tell you, the Tomato Zucchini Gratin or this cake. The deciding factor? It is simply that the mint is coming to an end. I really wanted to perfect this little cake, so much so, that I can't let it go, I needed to make it.You can bet I will go out to the organic farmer again, real soon!

Zucchini Mint Chocolate Chip Cake with Walnut Garnish
by the seat of my pants!
oven 350

2 c flour
1/2 c dry baking cocoa
1 1/2 c sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 t baking soda

Combine in a large bowl, then add

2 eggs
3/4 c yogurt (or buttermilk)
2 t vanilla
1/2 c oil

Beat well for 2 minutes with an electric mixer, stir in

1 1/2 c grated zucchini (3 small to medium zucchini )
1/3 c chiffonade mint leaves

when mixed well, stir in

2 c chocolate chips

Pour into 3 - 5 small loaf pans, it will depend upon your pan size OR a standard 9X5 loaf pan.

garnish with chopped walnuts (this is where I like walnuts, on top to get golden and toasted!)

bake 35 - 40 minutes for small loaf size, up to 55 minutes for standard loaf size. Let cool 10 minutes, turn out and cool completely.

Recipe rating:  Oh Yes! (will make again)

Thanks so much for taking a moment to stop and say hello, I appreciate your visits!

Oat and Dried Plums Bread

 finally it is time for breakfast, warm with butter.

I could go on and on about the healthy virtues of prunes, but I have learned that the way to eat well, is to cook well. Cooking well means, quality ingredients, used in creative ways that will entice a meal shared. I used the word entice for that sentence because sometimes you do have to entice folks to eat a food that they have already formed a negative opinion about. And that is OK, because it is all about learning for the first time or relearning if need be. For a lot of folks relearning is usually needed with prunes.

This is such a beautiful book, it holds today's recipe. Lets get started shall we.........oh and just a reminder, quick breads toast up great in the toaster.

Cooks notes and possible words of wisdom:  For an easier to slice loaf of bread, cut the dried plums in smaller pieces that the recipe states. The large chunks of fruit while delicious, makes for a chunky and easily broken loaf of bread. 

Oats and Prunes Bread
adapted from:  Herbal Breads
by, Ruth Bass
350 degree oven

2 c pitted prunes, snipped into thirds
1/2 c orange juice
1/2 t dried thyme leaves, crumbled (don't leave this out, it is delicious!)

1 c oats, whirl in a processor to chop - pulsed only - do not make flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1 c flour
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c brown sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 t cinnamon

3/4 c yogurt (or buttermilk)
2 eggs
1/3 c oil

chopped walnuts for top of breads, if desire

Snip prunes into thirds, add thyme and orange juice let soak while preparing rest of the ingredients.

In a medium bowl combine flours, oats, sugars, cinnamon, salt and baking powder. Whisk to blend ingredients well.

In a large bowl, blend the yogurt, eggs and oil. Quickly stir dry ingredients into wet. Add prunes and orange juice mixture, stirring well.

Divide into two 4X8 loaf pans, top with walnuts.

 I currently do not have 8X4 inch loaf pans, I do have this lovely Danish* loaf pan that I prefer to use. 

Bake 40 - 45 minutes or until tests done in your oven. Cool in pans 10 minutes, turn out on rack or towel to cool completely.

 This danish pan takes longer than the 8X4 pan listed in the book, by about 12 minutes. A standard 9X5 loaf recipe will bake in the same amount of time.

 This is what happens in my kitchen, how about yours?

Recipe rating:  It's Ok. (tasty but not special)

As always, thanks for stopping by, 
leave a note so I know you were here! Have a great day.

* a Danish style pan is narrower and longer than our standard 9X5 inch loaf pan, yet holds the same amount or a standard recipe.

Shared with:

Cookbook Sunday @ Brenda's Canadian Kitchen
Potluck Sunday @ Mommy's Kitchen