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Best cookies ever

July 2nd, 2010

making cookies

I really don’t find my way into the kitchen much these days. Erik has taken over meal preparation, for which I am deeply thankful. I do love to bake, but I don’t do it nearly as often as I should, or as I’d like to. I need to get back into the habit.

And what better way to get back a little of my kitchen mojo than with a quick-to-throw-together and totally delicious batch of cookies? I found this recipe on the back of a bag of Craisins. Oh, how I love Craisins–thankfully I stopped snacking on them before I had eaten them all up.

Good thing, too, because these turned out to be The. Best. Cookies. Ever.

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2/3 cup butter, softened (I actually used ghee that my friend and I made a few months back)
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs (check out the different colored egg shells from my folks’ Araucanas–so pretty!)
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup Craisins
2/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, mix well. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add to wet ingredients in several additions, mixing well after each addition. Stir in Craisins and chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes, cool on wire rack. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.

Warning: It is easy to gobble all of these down in one sitting. They are that good.

Oatmeal cranberry white chocolate chip cookies

Food

The best bread

January 30th, 2010

I may have mentioned this bread in passing before. I may have even posted the recipe before, but I can’t remember. This particular recipe is a new addition in our house, but it is definitely here to stay.

best bread

Honey Molasses Wheat Bread (makes 3-4 loaves)

4.5 tsp. yeast (or 2 envelopes)
4 cups warm water
.5 cup butter, melted
.25 cup molasses
.5 cup honey
2 tsp. salt
6 cups wheat flour
4 cups all purpose flour plus more for kneading

best bread

Dissolve yeast in the warm water. Let sit a few minutes. In a large bowl, combine melted butter, molasses, honey, and salt. Add yeast mixture. Start stirring in flour one cup at a time. I use the whisk for the first few few cups, then switch to a wooden spoon. When you can work the dough on the counter, knead in as much remaining flour as you can. I estimate that I knead in an additional cup or two of flour. When dough is smooth and not sticky, wash out your big mixing bowl, oil it, and put your dough in it. Turn the dough over so the top is oiled, then cover the bowl with a tea towel or plastic wrap and let rise until doubled. Gently press out gas and shape into four loaves or a couple loaves and some rolls, cover and let rise until doubled again. Bake at 375 degrees F for 35-40 minutes (20 minutes for rolls) or until tops of loaves are browned and sound hollow when tapped.

best bread

If the kids are helping, they like to use the electric mixer with the dough hooks. We have a rule that both hands are on the mixer handle at all times for safety. I find that I can make two large loaves, a tin of jumbo-sized rolls, and focaccia from the same batch (smother the dough in olive oil and sprinkle kosher or sea salt on it before baking, for focaccia).

Wheat bread and applesauce

Food ,

Wonderful

January 23rd, 2010

Wonderful. That pretty much sums up the past couple of months while I’ve been absent from the blog. Erik, my exceptionally hard working and good looking husband, was home for several weeks, so all the festivities of the season seemed extra special. (If you remember, Erik was in Iraq last Christmas.) I could go on and on, but I’ll just leave you with a few little snippets.

Christmas Eve dinner

There was our Ukranian Christmas Eve supper, which was fantastic. We pulled out all the stops and cooked up a traditional 12-course meal, including holobtsi (cabbage rolls), perogi, borscht, salmon, breads, and a huge assortment of other goodies (most of which I had never made before, which I know violates the rules of hosting a dinner party, but everything turned out delicious).

New wood insert

While we were cooking the aforementioned dinner, our new wood-burning fireplace insert was installed. This was especially welcome, as we had no other heat in the house besides an old, inefficient baseboard heater, and the weather has been unusually cold. Temperatures in Gold Beach rarely drop to freezing, yet we had a couple weeks where night time temperatures dropped into the low 20s, and daytime temps never reached 40. Brrr!

Wheat bread and applesauce

Not including all the holiday cooking, my friend, John, and I have been keeping the kitchen hopping with canning almost every weekend–and sometimes more often–since we started in November. Here are a few jars of delicious spiced applesauce we made, along with a huge batch of honey whole wheat bread. Here’s my new favorite recipe for wheat bread.

Gavin's 4th birthday

And just this week we celebrated Gavin’s 4th birthday with pizza and rootbeer at his favorite pizza joint in town. This kid. He just won’t stop growing. He’s so much fun. He’s developed such a great sense of humor, and he’s always talking (although we can’t always understand him) about something REALLY interesting. (These days that something is almost always centered around Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, his favorite Japanese amime; the box in the picture contains a scale model of his favorite character from said anime, up for nomination as Best Gift of the Century.)

There are a few other notable events from the past couple weeks which I would be remiss to not mention:

My hard working, handsome husband turned 26.

We successfully navigated our way through another BHM deadline (look for the March/April 2010 issue in your mailbox in mid-February).

I passed the half-way mark in my pregnancy with our little Baby Dango, I’m finally over most of the exhaustion of the first trimester, and I’m starting to feel a lot of movement.

It’s going to be a wonderful, busy year here on the Tuttle place. I hope you are all enjoying yourselves as much as we are.

Canning/Preserving, Food, Our house, This dream of mine , , , , , , ,

Canning soups

November 23rd, 2009

This weekend my friend, John Silveira, came over, and together we canned 33 pints of soup. And we had so much fun that we decided to try to can something every weekend all winter long.

Saturday we made kale soup.

The recipe is here. We made a triple batch. Pressure can pints for 75 minutes at 10 pounds pressure (if you are below 1000 feet sea level).

Kale soup

Kale soup in jars

Canned kale soup, cooling down

Sunday we made chicken soup with rice, lentils, yellow peas, and pearl barley. It is the best chicken soup I’ve ever had.

Chicken and rice soup

The recipe:

Chicken soup with split peas and lentils

7 cups chicken stock

2 cups vegetable stock

4 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless, cubed

1 large onion, diced

1 large carrot, peeled and sliced thin

2 stalks celery, sliced thin

½ cup red lentils

¼ cup pearl barley

1 cup split yellow peas

¼ cup parsley, chopped

1½ tsp Italian seasoning

1 bay leaf

salt, to taste

fresh ground black pepper, to taste

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

¼ cup short grain white rice

8 medium size white mushrooms, quartered

8 or more cloves of garlic, minced

Combine all but the last three ingredients in a large pot.  Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer and let it cook for about an hour, stirring regularly to keep it from catching on the bottom of the pot.  If it gets too thick, add some water or more stock.  When the peas and lentils are cooked, add the white rice, mushrooms, and garlic and let cook another 25 minutes.  Remove the bay leaf and serve.

When preparing soups to can, you need to adjust how much time you cook the soup before you can it. Canning takes over an hour at hotter-than-boiling temperature, so things like pasta and rice can get over cooked. What we did with the above recipe was put the peas and lentils in and cooked until they were just tender, then threw the rice, mushrooms, and garlic in and canned it without cooking for the additional 25 minutes.

Pressure can for 75 minutes at 10 pounds pressure (if you live below 1000 feet sea level).

Canning/Preserving

Apple harvest

September 22nd, 2008

Putting up apples

There aren’t too many apples on the trees this year, and honestly, they’re not the best apples we’ve had. But they’re still perfect for dehydrating and jellies and sauce. I wanted to put something up that I could send to Erik in Iraq, and since glass jars are definitely out, I thought some dried apple rings would fit the bill.

For the first batch of dried apples, I peeled them, then sliced apples about 1/4 inch thick (or slightly thinner) into lemony water. (I microwaved a lemon for a few seconds, chopped it, and squeezed the juice into a bowl with enough water to cover the apples.) I didn’t core the apples, but that’s just a matter of preference–I love the little “star” at the center of the apple. The apple slices went into the dehydrator for about 24 hours, until they were quite dry and leathery. Unfortunately for Erik, the rest of my family thought they were very good, so a second batch is in the dehydrator today (with apple skins left on–very pretty). I’ll hide them as soon as they’re dry, or else I fear that Erik may never get any.

I saved all of the leftover apple peels and ends, and I turned them into a quick jelly. There wasn’t much juice left in all of the trimmings, so I threw it all into the crock pot, covered the peels in an equal amount of water, and set the crock pot to low all day, then gently mashed the pulp, and proceeded as with any regular jelly recipe. I only ended up with three 1/2 pints of jelly, so I’m not sure it was worth the effort, but I’m sure it will be tasty, and it certainly is an economical recipe. There was even some pulp leftover for compost. Not bad!

Food, Gardening

Kale soup

September 20th, 2008

Making kale soup

The past few mornings have been crisp–not quite cold enough to light off the wood stoves, but we’re wearing extra layers and slippers now. Autumn is here right on schedule, and with it, thankfully, is the first crop of kale. We were all getting pretty impatient for our first batch of kale soup (the original recipe from John Silveira is in Backwoods Home Cooking). My dad adjusted the recipe a bit to be slightly lower in fat, and I think it may be even better than the original recipe now.

Making kale soup

Kale Soup

6 cans vegetable stock
2 cans chicken stock
2 lbs. hot chicken or turkey sausage, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large red onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced
4 medium red potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 cup parsley, no stems, chopped.
1 1/2 – 2 lbs. kale, stems and all, cut into manageable pieces. Be sure to use the really curly-leafed kale, not the decorative type, which doesn’t taste nearly as good.
2 15-oz. cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed well
2 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes, liquid and all
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Making kale soup

Throw it all into the biggest pot you can find. You may have to add the kale in batches, let it cook down a bit, then add more on top. Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer until the potatoes and kale are tender (check the kale stems) and the kale is not bitter, about 30 minutes. Then add:

Making kale soup

8 cloves garlic, minced (garlic lover here–I put in a whole bulb)
8 to 12 ozs. elbow macaroni

Continue to simmer until the macaroni is done. You may need to add more liquid if the soup seems too thick.

Food, Gardening

Two weeks left

August 7th, 2008

More boxes

One of two jungle gyms impressive piles of boxes in the house (the other is in another room).

Our move is sneaking up on us at an alarming rate. Thankfully everything is going as planned so far. We only have about two weeks left here (schedule always subject to change, when dealing with the Marine Corps), but I really need to have the house empty by next weekend so I’ll have enough time to get the inside ship shape… and also enough time to resolve as-of-yet unrecognized impending disasters (like, the Marine Corps).

A reading selection

Today the children helped a great deal with picking out a few books (okay, a whole box full of books) to keep out and hopefully take with us to Oregon. We may have to go through them again and pare down some more, depending on which of our vehicles we drive out. Going through books has really been the hardest part of packing (for me, anyway). I love my books. Love.

Moving on.

Yesterday and Tuesday my friend Katie came over and we worked in the kitchen cooking and baking all day while the children played together. The idea is that if I have a ton of stuff prepared in the freezer, meals will be easier to prepare as more of my kitchen stuff gets packed up, and we won’t have to spend so much money dining out or ordering in. Oh, did I mention that my friend Katie actually did my grocery shopping for me? It so happens that I have EXCELLENT taste in friends, and it also happens that the one household chore that I despise more than any other (shopping) is her most favorite household chore. (And not only does she like it, but she also knows how to score the very best deals, and rounded out my slim-pickin’s pantry with enough food to last another two weeks for only $75–including beer.) But I digress…

We made angel food cake, roast chicken, corn bread, wheat bread, a massive batch of salmon patties, and two pie crusts (soon to be filled with pumpkin pie, made with pumpkin still frozen from Halloween). I also made and froze two huge (and if I say so my self, beautiful) pizzas, which will be for our moving party next week (date and attendees yet to be determined, Erik is in charge of that). I used Jackie Clay‘s pizza dough recipe from our very own Backwoods Home Cooking (page 137). Yum!

At least we’ll have good eats during the move!

Food, Homemaking, This dream of mine

Good bread

April 15th, 2008

along with good jam, good coffee, and the quiet of early morning.

100% Whole Wheat Bread

This is, so far, the best 100% Whole Wheat recipe I’ve found. I discovered it in the most obvious of places: printed on the bag of King Arthur whole wheat flour. Time again these “free” recipes become our family favorites.

Classic 100% Whole Wheat Bread (makes one loaf)

2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast or 1 packet (that’s 2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast dissolved in 2 Tablespoons water
1 1/3 cups lukewarm water
1/4 cup vegetable oil (use Canola, it’s better for you)
1/4 cup honey, molasses, or maple syrup
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup nonfat dried milk (I didn’t have any of this, I just used regular milk and reduced the water above)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt

Mix it all together. (The recipe doesn’t give any order in which to add ingredients. I let the yeast dissolve in the water/milk mixture first, then I added everything except the flour, mixed it up well in my stand mixer, then slowly worked in the flour.) Knead for a few minutes (I love to knead, so I stopped myself after about 10 minutes). Let rise in an oiled bowl for about an hour. Punch down and shape loaf, and allow to rise for another hour (or less if your kitchen is warm… it was quite chilly here yesterday). Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.
Bread is done when it sounds hollow when thumped.

Food