Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sugar Cookies, simple, delicious and a favorite

 The kitchen is open!

I quit eating hydrogenated vegetable fats a long time ago. When I was looking for lard to use as another fat source, it too was hydrogenated. Why? That did not make sense to me, and of course I would not purchase or eat it. I started using coconut oil, a few months ago. I do recall that coconut oil had a bad reputation years ago, yet I have to tell you, it made the best popcorn! When my children were small I worked evenings at a drive in theater during the summer and into the fall. The popped corn holding bed on the commercial popper was such a wonderful smelling place! As it turns out, that reputation was unfounded, so why and how did it start?

I have struggled with the recipes that I use to make, when I used Crisco, they are no longer made in my kitchen. Today when I made up this sugar cookie recipe, I used coconut oil for the shortening listed in the recipe. This cookie is an experiment in more ways than one, in addition to the coconut oil, we are now using the Ultra whole grain flour blend from Costco as our everyday flour. Today's cookies were made using that blended whole grain flour.

I will tell you that these turned out (really !) very good! I thought so when I ate one, and then when Honey come home from work, he confirmed how good they are. He said, "well I can only rate these about a 10". You know he is goofy like that!

A simple sugar cookie
adapted from Dinners for a Year and Beyond!
350 degree oven

1/3 c butter
1/3 c coconut oil
3/4 c sugar

1 egg
1 t vanilla

1 3/4 c flour
1/2 t salt
1 t baking powder

Beat butter, coconut oil and sugar until fluffy,

Add egg and vanilla, beating well. Add flour, salt and baking powder. Combine well.

Drop by 2 T measures or use a 2 T cookie scoop, placing dough onto prepared cookie sheet.

Bake 14-16 minutes, bottoms will be light golden brown.

Let cool on baking sheet 8 - 10 minutes, remove to towel or wire rack to finish cooling. Of course they are good warm also!
Makes 16 cookies.

Recipe rating:  Oh Yes! (will make again)

As always thanks,
for taking a moment to stop and say hello.

This post is shared with Foodie Friday @ Designs by Gollum, and
Fresh Clean and Pure Friday @ la bella vita

Tasty Tuesday @ A Beautiful Mess

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wednesday and wandering about, wants vs need

What I wanted to do was to bake up a simple drop style, sugar cookie. This cookie want of mine, has a long time in the wanting. Most sugar cookies recipes are roll and cut style, and to be honest, I have never had much luck with that type of cookie. They tend to look pretty, but that is deceiving. Your first bite reveals that I did not handle the dough gently, or roll it out carefully, and that I did have to re-roll, making for one tough cookie. No, for me the only use for a cookie cutter is decorative!

What I needed to do, was get the living room cleaned up after the stove install. Not as exciting, but the living room will be dust, grit and grime free when I get done. A much nicer place to be when we listen to music or relax. So I did what I needed to do. The cookies will wait until tomorrow.

There, a tidy home is a comfortable home. I am sure someone important said that, I just don't know who!

I did find some great links for everyone, so lets take a look at:

I found this Washington blogger while out "wandering" a while back. She has a great link on her blog called
A billion or so ways to use flash frozen chicken, well I thought at the time, that will come in handy!.

Pumpkin bread pudding, what a delicious treat. Ferdzy also shares what she learned about the pumpkin shortage.

I ran into this North Dakota blogger a bit ago, take a look at this great recipe for (easy) homemade cheese.

Root vegetables are coming on strong in the markets, and chard is still plentiful. This looks like a great way to enjoy both and offer the family a new side dish.

Have you ever lost a favorite old time recipe? Do you have some that others might be looking for? Take a look here.

OK, I know, it's beans, beans, beans with me.  But here are 2 great sites. One is beans only and the other has bean and grain recipes.


As always thanks
for taking a moment, to stop and say hello!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Laurie Colwin's Pot Roast and buying stoves

Our home is heated with wood, and has been since moving here a few years ago. I love wood heat, the flickering flame, crackling sounds and the warmth a fire delivers. The additional work of a wood fire,  has its own charms as well. I don't care to clean out the ashes, but I am very partial to the smell of fresh cut wood each time an arm load is brought into the house. 

Last spring changed all that when we bought two stoves. It must have been stove day at Lowe’s, because really, why else would you buy 2 stoves on the same day!? We purchased a new convection range for the kitchen and a pellet stove for heating the rest of the house. The kitchen stove had a ding in the drawer, but it also had a 50% off clearance tag. The ding is long gone, fixing that was an easy fix for Honey, he is real good about stuff like that! The stove and I are fast friends, turning out baked goods, soup and a pot roast or two.

But the pellet stove has suffered a much different story. It has been waiting for its turn to burn, sitting very quiet and cold in the garage since we brought it home. Today Honey is grouting the tiles installed on the hearth. After the grout dries, the stove can be brought out of the garage, thoroughly dusted off and hooked up. The weather is cooling quickly here in Vancouver and heat will be needed sooner than one knows.  

In order to hook up the pellet stove, we had to remove the old wood stove insert from the fireplace. What an interesting task that turned out to be! How (Honey and me)  two people were able to move that big, heavy, dirty thing out of there, without getting soot on the new carpet, or spraining something, is beyond me! But we did, and I am still in awe.It truly was one of those "meant to be" moments, where what needs done, gets done.

After that, the hearth needed some tile repair. Just look at what a couple of hours and a few new tiles look like. Like everything he does, this turned out great. And wouldn’t you know, not one of his worries played out. That list of worries was longer than my weekly grocery list. I reminded him that it was going to be fine, well, yeah more than once actually. Until finally I said while pointing (maybe jabbing would be a better term for my finger movements!), “Honey even if something is not perfect, no one will notice, there is going to be a stove sitting right there!”. 

Beautiful, what a great job, as always.

Now all we need is cold weather, and the stove can be completed. Firing up instructions indicate, first time use should be 3 hours in length. 

Right now the house is cool, but not cold. I don't think this house is ever been cold. It is small and very well insulated. We have been without heat since mid February, by choice. Vancouver had a cold winter, when our firewood ran out, we decided that we would not purchase another cord. A cord of wood, would of been more than we needed and unusable once the new stove was installed, so we simply put on a sweater if we got cold. There was a surprising benefit to that decision. I found that having a chill in the air, was a wonderful time to understand warmth. 

Warmth is very soothing, to the body as well as the soul. Fortunately, warmth is in ample supply and can be found in just about every area of your life.You can find warmth in the work you do, or in the comfort of your home and surroundings, and with the ones you love or spend the most time with. But finding warmth is a task of happiness, as much as comfort, provided to a cold and tired body.

As it turns out, warmth is also a complement or a good thought. Friends and family are often described as having a “warm heart”. When something tickles your senses or funny bone it is often described as a “warm and fuzzy” feeling. And of course my personal favorite “cold hands, warm heart” offered as a compliment, when a handshake surprises the one with the warmer hands! I am pretty sure that one is my favorite, because I usually have very chilly hands.

Another place I find warmth is in a story or book. When I read, I find myself comfortable and cozy, well wrapped up in the story. There must be a break in the universal clock when I read, because time does not tick away, chores do not beckon and sleep will not come. Which is why I do not read in bed, I would never ever get to sleep!

I have just finished reading; HOME COOKING, a writer in the kitchen by Laurie Colwin. It is a bittersweet read, she was so engaged in life and in living her life. Warm is the perfect word to describe her. As I read how she managed life, and loved her family, I am touched deeply and wish for more, much more. 

Laurie was also a great cook and eater. I get the impression that everyone was well fed and loved in her New York kitchen. This quote is about her pot roast, she says: "This meal, which takes some time to prepare, must be eaten slowly. Afterwards it is best to stretch out on the sofa, with a cup of coffee balanced on your stomach". You know, I think friends share those thoughts and talk to each other like that, don't you?
Laurie Colwin's Pot Roast
Adapted from:  HOME COOKING a writer in the kitchen
300 degree oven                 

5 pound chuck roast
olive oil
3 red bell peppers, sliced
2 yellow onions, cut into chunks
1 carrot, peeled and sliced 1 inch thick
6 cloves garlic
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 glass red wine
salt and pepper to taste

Tie a string around the outside of the roast to keep it stable. Sprinkle well with paprika.

In a large skillet, sear the meat, turning to brown all sides. Place the roast into a Dutch oven.

In the same skillet, add the peppers and saute in olive oil. Spoon over meat in the dutch oven.

My little corner market was out of red peppers, I picked out the ripest of the green peppers. I also decided to saute all the vegetables including the garlic.

Add the wine and tomato sauce to the skillet, and simmer to cook down slightly, pour over roast.

Season with salt and pepper to preference, then cover.  Cook 3 – 5 hours. When the meat is tender, carefully remove from dutch oven and place on platter, covered loosely with foil or a clean tea towel.

 This is the color of the rich pan stock, this will be reduced and served over slices of the roast.

Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon,  push through a sieve or food mill. Do Not Use a Blender. The end result is to remove any fibers and seeds from the puree.

Add the pureed vegetables to the meat broth and simmer to reduce and thicken slightly.

I choose to thicken the sauce with a bit of golden browned flour I keep in the refrigerator. It was just the right touch to thicken and give the consistency needed for serving over mashed potatoes.

Slice meat and spoon some of the gravy over, serve remaining in a gravy boat to pass at the table.

This is simply delicious! I hope you enjoy this roast as much as we did, and if you should need anything, you will find me on the couch, practicing with my coffee cup.

Recipe rating:  Oh Yes! (will make again)

As always, thanks so very much for stopping for a visit.
I appreciate your visits more than you know!

This post is also shared through Hearth & Soul Blog Hop.  
 And by request at Tuesday Supper Club

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Cafe menu peek!


Main dish:

Easy baked chicken with Pesto - offered with brown rice, if desired.

Kansas City Sue's Chicken - offered with brown rice or homemade sandwich rolls for a 2 handed entree!

Paula Deen's Baked Spaghetti, by way of Rocquie@Sage Trifle.

Homestyle Meat loaf w/ catsup topping! -


Twice baked potatoes -

Cottage cheese dinner/sandwich buns - these have some added goodies, blue cheese crumbles and roasted garlic.


Tossed Garden Salad w/ Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

Buttered Brussels Sprouts


Cinnamon toast bread pudding - 

Rhubarb sauce -

Lemon Dessert Sauce - 

Chocolate cake with Chocolate frosting -

Another great time together. As always, thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Tomorrow is Sunday Cafe

Tomorrow is the last Sunday in September and Sunday Cafe. Today is a busy planning and cooking day for everything that can be cooked ahead, for everything else, prepped ahead.

By now it is most apparent that there may be (usually are in fact) a few changes at the last minute. The reasons vary, but usually fall into one of these 3 categories:

missing ingredient, oops!
simply forgot to make it, I hate it when that happens!
it did not seem like the best choice, what was I thinking?

What is tentatively planned for tomorrow dinner is,

Kansas City Sue's Chicken, from My Kitchen Cafe. I will offer homemade sandwich buns made with blue cheese and roasted garlic for a two handed sandwich or steamed rice for a conventional dinner.

Baked Chicken Pesto, from Kalyn's Kitchen.There will be steamed rice to enjoy this with, if you want.

Paula Deen's Baked Spaghetti, from Sage Trifle. This looked really good, and I am hoping for leftovers.

Homestyle Meat loaf, from Mom's Sunday Cafe. It is simply time for a little meatloaf, Honey will appreciate this choice.

Twice baked potatoes, these are always good.

Tossed Salad with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette, from Cocina's Diary. I love maple, and this dressing sounded so good.

Brussel sprouts, I love these little guys.

Cinnamon toast bread pudding, on the side Poached rhubarb, whipped cream and fresh lemon sauce. Each person may dress up their dessert as they wish.

Chocolate Frosted Chocolate cake, again Honey will thank me for that choice!

See you tomorrow, with photos!

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

Friday, September 24, 2010

Alabama Split Pea Soup

There is no denying it, I have not been very productive this week. Honey has been home on vacation, which is nice, don't get me wrong. But having another around tends to slow things down. He took a couple of days and went to Walla Walla to see some family, and when he is gone, I don't usually cook a meal for myself. I graze upon what is available and use up leftovers. After his return we took one day and went to the beach.

I have done some cooking, I made gingerbread and another batch of roasted tomato (lacto-fermented) salsa. I also rendered a couple of large blocks of bacon "ends and pieces" for cooking fat and ready to use bacon bits.  There was a batch of granola and another of muffins.This lull in cooking was good for me, because it helped to cement in my front lobe, how badly I have been putting meals on the table. Or rather, how badly I have not been putting a meal on the table.

Honey is a (not!) true gourmet. His idea of a 4 course meal is 3 donuts and a quart of chocolate milk, seriously. Au Gratin potatoes, one of his favorites, comes in a box and you add water. Therefore if I don't cook, he does not mind, and sometimes I think he is secretly happy! As for whole wheat, isn't that something you feed to the animals?

But I mind, and need to mind even more. It is easy for me to get complacent and not care as much as I should. And this is an issue, that should be cared about. Having a set plan for meals is a savior for some families, this is not so easy for us. Honey can work up to 3 different shifts in a single week. Having a pre-planned meat loaf dinner with baked potatoes all cooked with no one to eat it, doesn't seem like the best idea for us. We would be in serious leftover mode around here, not to mention a lot of food waste.

Having home cooked, healthy food in the freezer, ready to go is a better option for this household. Personally I am a soup gal, I could eat a soup meal everyday, and not grow tired of it. This won't surprise you, but for Honey, that is not ideal. Substitute eggs however and you have yourself a winner. Where as I  prefer my eggs at dinner time. A good understanding of food preferences and lifestyle parameters is important to keep everyone happy, fed nutritiously and keep food waste to a bare minimum. 

One of the goals that I have kept up with is "a pot of beans a week". I have found by cooking up a pot of beans each week with no particular plan in place, I have a great spur of the moment meal and a second meal in the freezer for those, what are we going to have for dinner? days. Today I am cooking up another split pea soup. I have found it is a good idea to have multiple yet different recipes of each type of soup in the freezer. After all variety is the spice in life!

This soup is brought to you by way of Alabama, through the lovely blog of my friend Rocquie@Sage Trifle. She has been a great source of information and is wonderful to bounce ideas off!

Alabama Split peas soup w/ celery
Adapted from: Sage Trifle

1 pound split peas
2 ham hocks or shank ends
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 bay leaf
2 quarts fresh water
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large dutch oven, simmer 2 - 3 hours. Remove shanks, let cool slightly. Remove meat, dice and return meat to the soup.

Ladle into bowls and pass condiments so each person may dress their soup according to preference,

soy sauce
hot sauce
balsamic vinegar
olive oil.

Yield approximately 3 quarts of soup.

Serve with some crusty bread, a glass of wine and you have a great meal to share or truth be told, enjoy on your own.

Recipe rating:
Oh Yes! Will make again.

As always thanks so much for stopping by,
I love having visitors.

This post will be shared with Foodie Friday @ Designs by Gollam.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Gingerbread mix to keep on hand

I have a gingerbread in the oven, it is this one, and I can't wait to try it! Since I love gingerbread, and the author states this makes a good make ahead mix, I took advantage of that suggestion and made a backup package of gingerbread mix. This recipe makes a 9X13 pan, it can be shared or enjoyed a couple of different ways.

One way to enjoy gingerbread is with whipped cream, the American standard of gingerbread desserts. Another would be to serve the gingerbread with poached fruit and sweetened vanilla yogurt.

Right now however I am reading "Home Cooking, a writer in the kitchen" by Laurie Colwin, her favorite gingerbread dessert was gingerbread filled with raspberry preserves and frosted with chocolate butter cream. That seems like a lot of flavor, but I do believe I am up to the challenge.

Next time I make this gingerbread, I am going to use applesauce for some of the oil, along with some apple slices on the bottom for Apple Gingerbread upside down cake. That gingerbread dessert should be served with vanilla ice cream. I am looking to recreate a campfire dessert we use to make in scouts, which was a gingerbread mix and applesauce baked in a cast iron pan. Very simply, funny how those memories never go away.

My Mom's Gingerbread
from:  Voluntary Simplicity
350 degree oven

2 c flour
1 c sugar
2 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ginger
1/2 t allspice
1/2 t salt

3 eggs
1 c oil
1 c molasses

1 c boiling water

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

Add remaining ingredients except boiling water, beat well for 3 minutes.

Mixture will be smooth. Beat in boiling water. Pour batter into a 9X13 inch pan.

Bake 35 - 40 minutes. Or until done in your oven. Remove from oven and let cool (at least a bit!) before serving. Serves 12 - 15

To make up as a mix

Combine dry ingredients, whisking to mix well. Store in a QT size plastic freezer bag or carton. Separably package the complete directions, store the two packages together with rubber bands.

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

Lets start some wandering!

Warning, there is an interesting and off beat variety tonight!

Monkey bread, yes I know it is mostly sugar, but everyone needs a little treat every now and again. This is made from scratch monkey bread, not canned biscuit dough.

Some might feel this is out of place, right after a sugar based recipe, make your own sprouted flour.

Chinese Coca Cola Chicken, yes your read that right.

Here is a blog about foraging in the PNW. I will never forage for mushrooms, but for other foods, I'm in.

I want to go to Rosie Oats Sheep Farm and simply stay forever.

This winter when there is not a tomato worth eating in sight, I will try this salsa.

Until then, we will keep enjoying this salsa. I made another batch today, it is so good.

choosing Voluntary Simplicity, this is great reading.

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