posts tagged with 'baking'
Last year a garden reorganization brought all the rhubarb in our yard into one garden row, united from various far-flung and suboptimal spots. Since it was newly installed we didn't harvest much last year, but this year the plants are working at peak capacity and I have to keep picking to keep them healthy. So we're using lots of rhubarb. Besides a pie a week, I also made rhubarb syrup the other day. Some of us had it on pancakes (others objected vehemently to the very idea). Then yesterday after a hot afternoon of working outside we cooled off and re-hydrated with some rhubarb soda—syrup and tonic water on ice. Delicious! I just wished I had some lime to go with it.
This morning I was going to make rhubarb muffins, but we had some pear that needed to be used up. Pear muffins were good but it was sad to break the streak. Harvey and I could eat (and drink) rhubarb-sugar concoctions all day. The other two boys aren't as enthusiastic. Oh well, it'll be strawberry season soon. The strawberries plants, in the row next to the rhubarb, are looking good! Do you think they'll like strawberry rhubarb pie?
As I mentioned yesterday, on Saturday we drove an hour away to pick up some flour (and go to the beach, of course). That's kind of crazy, I know. But here's how it happened.
First of all, we're not hoarding. The boys and I went to Costco back in the first week of March, and I deliberately didn't buy toilet paper. We had plenty! But the reason I was there was to buy flour—we usually buy our all-purpose flour at Costco, at a rate of 25lbs every month and a half or so. Maybe more frequently. Well, on that trip they were out. And a few days later Leah made it to Market Basket to find they only had one 5lb bag of King Arthur AP flour left. The pandemic hadn't even really started yet and our supplies were running low!
And that's just the all-purpose flour: there was a separate crisis in whole wheat flour stocks at Market Basket that predated the pandemic, so I was already feeling nervous about that. My one Market Basket trip of the pandemic time—alone! So strange going without the kids!—netted us 15 pounds of AP flour and 10 of bread flour, but once again no whole wheat. Last week's bread used up the last couple cups and was still whiter than we'd like, and the pancakes with all white flour were definitely not as good as we're used to. It was ever on my mind, which is why Leah mentioned it to her cousin (her mom's cousin, really) on the phone last week. Well, people in Leah's family get things done, which is why on Saturday we found ourselves driving down to the South Shore to pick up 30 pounds of whole wheat flour (plus some brown sugar for good measure).
So baking here continues apace. There's bread! There's cookies! Good pancakes! Of course, now the next worry is the AP flour again. It's really stressful not being able to run out to the store, and not being able to trust the store will have what you need. And we're down to four rolls of toilet paper left in the basement...
After 12 cold oven-less days, we're back in action on the baking front with a replacement installed this morning. (Remember when I mentioned our oven seemed like it was on the way out? It was. It never started again after I wrote those words.) After we burned off the foul-smelling chemicals that new ovens apparently come with, the first thing I baked was the batch of sugar cookies that I put in the fridge back on February 13, with the thought of having them for Valentines Day. The two-week-old dough was a little hard to roll out, but the cookies came out fine. Then I made bread. It was kind of rough around here without bread—we did alright with one package of rolls from the store, some bagels from church, and lots of tortillas cooked on the stovetop, but I'm very glad to have real sandwich bread available again. Just in time for our lunch out at homeschool science tomorrow.
A couple weeks ago I picked up a cookbook at the library, Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich, thinking I'd get some inspiration for holiday treats. The only problem with the book is that, while it's designed like a glossy coffee-table book, there are only pictures for every fourth or fifth recipe! How does the author expect me to bake something that I haven't already seen in mouthwatering full-page illustration? Yesterday we tried it out for the first time, making "Rocky Road bars" (pictured on page 213) and they were delicious. So good, in fact, that after we left the last five with our friends who gave us dinner yesterday I had to make some more for dessert this evening. They came out even better the second time!
The recipe is super simple: just a graham cracker crust (with sugar added), topped with chocolate chips, marshmallows, and nuts. You hardly need a recipe for that! And yet, I never thought of it myself despite always wishing I could get marshmallows in cookies somehow. The key, I think, is baking the crust for 10 minutes at 350° and then adding the other stuff before baking for 10-12 more minutes at 375°. I don't know if I'll get to any of the other recipes in the book before I have to return it—we've got a little bit going on this time of year—but it's already changed our lives. Rocky Road bars are a keeper!
In former times I had no qualms about wanting to make pumpkin bread all year long. Since then I've expanded my baked goods repertoire so it's now a more seasonal treat... and this is the season! The best thing about pumpkin bread is that, since it's clearly bread rather than cake—just look at the name!—you can eat it for breakfast. Which we did yesterday. Then, since it's packed with sugar we had it for dessert after lunch and dinner.
We had the first loaf with dinner the day before. We hosted friends and made roast chicken and mashed potatoes, so it all felt very Thanksgivingy. Our friends brought pumpkin cookies for dessert which weren't any sweeter than the bread, but they did have frosting on them.
Here's the recipe, if you want to try this decadence for yourself. Super easy.
Preheat oven to 375°. Beat together in the stand mixer:
1 cup oil
2 1/2 cup sugar
1 can pumpkin
Combine in a large bowl and whisk all up:
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ginger
Add to the wet ingredients and mix til combined.
Bake in two ungreased loaf pans for 55-60 minutes.
Last year we got tons of apples from our Northern Spy tree. At the time I predicted, half in jest, that the bumper crop would mean slim pickings this year—in fact that's just what happened. Never mind, we got tons of Honeycrisps this year, which is what the people want, and there are enough Northern Spys to eat a few and make a couple of pies. I made the first one yesterday.
I have to admit I didn't feel totally manly as I rolled out this particular crust; the refrigerator repair guys working a few feet away put me off my game a little bit. But the apples were good ones, and the pie came out wonderful. Even better, when time came to serve it there was also a cheesecake and a gigantic (and wonderful) carrot cake, so there was some pie left for me and the boys to have for breakfast this morning.
I enjoy baking. Mostly the boys get the benefit of my desserts—and bread, of course. But for some reason I tend to only make muffins to give away. Like this month I'm making a dozen every Sunday to bring to church, to encourage other people to do the same and diversify our food offerings away from just bagels (it's working already!). Why don't I make muffins just for us?! Yesterday morning I decided to break that pattern, and we had blueberry muffins with our breakfast. Which shows up the best part of baking for family: you don't have to worry about things coming out perfect! I guess blueberry muffins are pretty common, but for whatever reason they haven't been something I've really ever made. Probably because I have better things to do with my blueberries! But now Leah and Zion are really into frozen blueberries, so they're perpetually available.
As it happened yesterday's muffins came out quite acceptably. The only interesting thing was their color: the thawing berries turned the batter a beautiful purple, which I thought was lovely; but when they cooked they came out green, which was less so. Still tasty. They're all gone now. I'll make more soon: my family deserves muffins too.