Posts Tagged ‘Baking’

Herbal Gardening Bits and Baking

Spring is here, but I can’t really tell by the weather. It snowed the first day of spring and it’s been cold all this week. When it was warm a few days a couple of weeks ago, I started working on the small herb bed. Many of the perennial herbs are already coming back : catnip, peppermint, oregano, sage, chives, thyme, and rosemary.

The sage looks like it needs some trimming, but I wasn’t real sure how to do it properly. Of course, the quick and easy way for an answer is to look it up online. I found an article at  Jim Long’s Garden with an explanation and pictures of how to trim sage plants. I’m going to try to do this soon, but while it’s cold I’ve been spending more time baking.

I’ve found a chocolate chip cookie recipe I LOVE over at apple a day blog. In fact she calls it Best-ever chewy chocolate chip cookies and I’d have to agree. I’ve now made the recipe 3 times and it’s never failed. The recipe doesn’t call for chilling the dough and I really wouldn’t as these cookies hardly flatten out. It’s that simple, mix ingredients and start baking cookies. 🙂

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I usually end up changing recipes a bit, but this one I’ve truly just left alone. There are only two things I’ve done a little different in the process. After using my scoop and putting the cookies on the cookie sheet(I always use a stoneware pan), I lightly flatten the tops a bit with my fingers, because I wanted my cookies a littler flatter than they were coming out.

The only other thing I did, was bake the cookies between 11-12 minutes, which is probably just a difference between ovens. The recipe calls for not baking over 10 minutes and at 10 minutes my cookies were still too gooey. These cookies are so delicious that the only hard thing will be trying not to eat too many. 🙂

Every now and then I have to make something none chocolate as not everyone in the house likes chocolate as much as I do, so the other day I made lemon crinkle cookies. These turned out great! They have a light buttery lemon taste and are a nice chewy cookie. It was from a recipe I found online at LDS Magazine(no reflection on my faith beliefs).

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Maybe it will warm up soon and I can get to gardening. Till then I’ll work on baking and some crochet projects. I’ll leave you with a picture of some of my tomato seedlings…roma and beefsteak, which I’ve already transplanted to some bigger pots. I started them out in one of those little seedling cell trays. These are proof you can often use older seeds with good results.

Tomato Seedlings

Tomato Seedlings

Share any thoughts or projects you’re working on or maybe your favorite thing to bake on a cold day?… 🙂

Renewal and New Additions

I’m planning to renew my blogging on Kittrell Country Life with vigor. It’s been a busy winter around here and I’ve hardly had a chance to slow down, but life is settling some. We’ve had some new additions to the barnyard arrive last week. My daughter and I bought four hens from Walk Ahead Farms in Youngsville. I’m looking forward to having fresh eggs again.

Chickens(Lydia, Lacewing, Rose, & Georgette)

Chickens(Lydia, Lacewing, Rose, & Georgette)

Another Picture of the Ladies

Another Picture of the Ladies

Another nice arrival this month was the snow, for the first time all winter it finally snowed more than a few flakes. It was beautiful and we were glad to make snow cream to eat, but I’m ready for spring. It’s right around the corner, less than one month now. As usual about this time of year, I have some seedlings growing in the house.  The top of the dryer near the back door and the kitchen window sills get good light and turn into my nurseries in the spring.

View of Snow Through Kitchen Windows

View of Snow Through Kitchen Windows

The only plants I’ve started so far are roma tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, and dark beauty eggplant. I’m planning to start more real soon. In case you’re not much of a gardener and didn’t know, you can use older seed. I’ve had pretty good results, better than 50%, but it’s best to plant at least 2 or 3 seeds per spot if you’re using seed older than a couple of years as some may not sprout. Some of the seeds I used this year were four years old.

Gardening is just one small part of homesteading I do. Homesteading is a lifestyle, which involves becoming more self-sufficient. This means being able to provide more for your own needs without having to rely so much on outside sources. Usually, most of us aren’t capable of becoming fully self-sufficient, but I figure the more I’m capable of doing, the better. Just don’t look for me to start making my own nails or homemade paper any time soon. 🙂

As I continue to learn more about homesteading, I’ll share about things as I go along. There will definitely be some recipes and links to recipes coming soon. I’ve really been doing a lot of cooking from scratch and baking. Trying to be more frugal to save money in this economy is good incentive to learn to do things for yourself you may never have done before. I’ve even become pretty adept at making homemade bread.

I have several boards on pinterest if you’d like to go take a peek. My favorites are the Gardening board and the Favorite Recipes board. Both have a lot of ideas I’d like to try and some I’ve already attempted. I try not to spend too much time on pinterest, but I do like being able to pin ideas so I can find them easily.

 

 

 

Whole Wheat Banana Oat Muffins

Yesterday I had some over ripe bananas sitting on the kitchen table just beckoning to be made into something.  I decided last night, I would make some muffins this morning.  Well, I searched around looking for recipes and ending up having fun experimenting.

Not all of my kitchen experiments turn out well, but this one is a keeper.  The muffins turned out moist, sweet enough, and held together well.  Of course, tasted great too or it wouldn’t be a keeper.  On the plus side, these are healthier than my usual muffins.

Whole Wheat Banana Oat Muffins

Whole Wheat Banana Oat Muffins

Whole Wheat Banana Oat Muffins

Ingredients :

  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 c. whole oats
  • 1/4 c. flaxseed meal
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter
  • 4 Tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 c. agave nectar
  • 2 mashed bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 c. milk

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Melt the butter in the microwave or in a pot on the stove.  Add the melted butter, applesauce, agave nectar, and milk in the bowl.  Do not stir just yet.  In a separate bowl mash 2 over ripe bananas with a fork.  Add the 2 eggs in with the bananas and beat slightly.  Pour the banana and egg mixture into the large mixing bowl with the other ingredients.  Now, stir all the ingredients together till moistened and well blended, but do not over stir.

Prepare muffin pan by greasing cups with cooking spray or using paper muffin liners.  Fill muffin cups with batter.  Place pan in a 350 degree preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes.  Makes 1 dozen muffins.  I actually pulled my muffins out at 23 minutes as I like my baked goods a little on the lighter side.  I also used fresh ground cinnamon in the recipe, just since I had it on hand, but cinnamon powder could be used.  Also, I think the cinnamon could’ve stood to be bumped up to 1 teaspoon for more flavor.  Yum!

Rainy Day Homemaking and Baking Banana Bread

Today started out a rainy dismal day with clouds looming overhead.  My daughter has been sick with a stomach bug, so she has been resting while vegging out watching cartoons.  She attempted to swallow a ginger root capsule to quell the nausea, but was unable.  She’s almost an adult and still has trouble swallowing pills, so we resorted to our good old standby of sipping peppermint tea.

It’s been a slow quiet day, but I’ve gotten quite a bit done.  I started this morning by taking the grain mill outside and grinding some wheat.  This is the first time I’ve done it outdoors, but it worked so well I think this is what I’ll do from now on.

There are two reasons grinding wheat outdoors is better than indoors.  One reason is my electric grain mill sounds like an airplane taking off, which is made worse by being in the enclosed indoors.  Secondly, even though I attempted to replace the filter in my grain mill, it still persists in shooting forth flour dust into the air and all over anything nearby.  Outdoors makes for easier clean up.

I used the fresh ground wheat and some over ripe bananas to make a loaf of banana bread.  I am peculiar over bananas.  Bananas only get eaten if the skin is yellow or yellow with a bit of green.  Once bananas start to get spots they are only good for putting in baked goods or feeding to the goat.

Here is a recipe for a nice moist banana bread I have perfected over the years(must use bananas with spots).  Pour 1/2 c. melted butter in mixer bowl with 1 1/4 c. sugar.  Add 2 eggs and 4 mashed up ripened bananas.  Mix all ingredients well.  Add 1 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp. baking powder, and 1/2 tsp. salt.  Blend well and then mix in 2 c. wheat flour.  Finally add 3 Tbsp. milk and 1 tsp. vanilla.  Mix ingredients well and then pour into a greased loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Test to see if it is done by poking the middle with a clean toothpick.  If moist batter is on toothpick, then try to cook a few more minutes.  After it comes out of the oven, I rub the end of a stick of butter over the top of it.  Yum!

Besides baking, today has mainly been one of those slow days I have dibbled in a little of this and that.  I have played laundry catch up some, done some writing, and worked on a few other miscellaneous chores.  Well, the day has brightened up, my daughter is feeling better, and I must go try to accomplish a few more things.

Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

I was in a baking mood again today so I made some cookies.  This was from a Martha Stewart recipe which can be found at http://www.food.com/recipe/Chewy-Chocolate-Gingerbread-Cookies-145285 .  I found it while searching online for a chewy cookie which was chocolate and used fresh grated raw ginger root

I made a few changes.  I substituted semi-sweet chocolate chips for the chocolate cut into chunks.  I had no squares of semi-sweet chocolate, but plenty of chocolate chips.  I had bought two big bags of them at a good sale during the christmas season.  Also, I figure pouring chocolate chips in a recipe is a whole lot easier than trying to chop chocolate up into chunks.  Either way you get the important part—the chocolate!

There were only two other changes I did to the ingredients.  I only put 1 teaspoon of ground ginger instead of 1 1/4 teaspoons.  The other thing I did was used dark cocoa powder instead of regular cocoa powder.  I had regular cocoa powder, just thought the dark cocoa might add better flavor. 

There were two other changes I did towards the end of making the cookies.  The first change was after the recipe was mixed, I omitted the step to pat out the dough and seal with plastic wrap.  I simply put a piece of plastic wrap over the mixing bowl and stuck it in the fridge to firm.  The other modification I ended up having to make, was to bake the cookies longer than called for in the recipe.  This could have simply been a difference in ovens.  I baked mine for 15 minutes instead of the 10-12 minutes stated in the recipe.

Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

These were really tasty cookies, especially with a glass of ice cold milk.  The combination of chocolate with the spices was a nice flavor.  It was a good soft chewy cookie, which I will definitely make again and may even try a batch without the chocolate chips.

Homemade Banana Pudding

Pudding From Scratch

I have been in a baking mood today.  It started with making a peach cobbler this morning for breakfast.  This afternoon I was wanting to bake something else and decided I needed to use the bananas before they went bad, so I hunted up my banana pudding recipie.

First thing I did was to go ahead and separate the three eggs for the recipie.  I put the bowl with the egg whites in the fridge and started to make the pudding.   I figured if I made the pudding first, then it could be cooling while I made the meringue.  Into the pot went 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 cups milk, 1/4 cup of cornstarch, and the 3 egg yolks.

This was a hand written recipie and I haven’t made it in a long time, so I couldn’t remember if it was suppose to have vanilla extract in it and maybe I just forgot to write it down.  To be on the safe side, I decided to add about a 1/4 teaspoonof vanilla extract.  I stirred the pudding over medium heat till it thickened, which it did nicely.  Started out with a spoon, but switched to a whisk as it was looking a bit lumpy.

After sitting the pot aside, I used the mixer to make the meringue.  I love doing things the old fashioned way, but for some reason, my attempts to whisk merigue in a bowl typically fail.  Into the mixing bowl went the 3 egg whites, 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar, 6 tablespoons sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla.  A little while at high speed and soon the egg whites turned glossy white with lovely peaks. 

In the glass baking dish I layered vanilla wafers, bananas, and pudding.  Then after repeating the layers once more, I topped it all off with the meringue and used a spoon to gently fluff it up into nice pointy peaks.  Baked it in the oven for only 8 minutes and out came a fair worthy homemade banana pudding according to my daughter.

Homemade Banana Pudding