Oatmeal spice cake

Roll the presses! I made food! This recipe is made from a combination of two different cakes recipes.

1 c rolled oats
1.25 c boiling water
0.25 c butter
0.5 c white sugar*
0.5 c packed brown sugar*
2 eggs
3 T plain or vanilla yogurt
1.5 c flour
0.5 t nutmeg
0.5 t cinnamon
0.5 t allspice
0.25 t ground cloves
1 t baking soda
0.5 t salt

In a small bowl, stir oats into boiling water. Set aside to soak.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray oil on the bottom and sides of an 8×8 inch baking pan.
In a medium bowl, cream together the white sugar, brown sugar and butter until smooth. Beat in the eggs and yogurt. Combine flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, baking soda, and, salt. Add these dry ingredients to the egg mixture stir just until moistened. Mix in the soaked oats. Pour into the prepared pan, and spread evenly.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

* The recipe that I began with called for 1 cup of each type of sugar. This was too sweet. One-half cup of each produces a good cake. Adding three-quarters white sugar will make the cake sweeter and may improve the cake structure (it is a little dense).

The spices are good in this cake. I may try it again with 50% more nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves.

I recently tried this Cauliflower Rice Stuffing and found it to be good and not as different from other dressings as I would have guessed. The mushrooms tie everything together and I would likely skip this recipe if I didn’t like mushrooms. Two heads of cauliflower is a lot of cauliflower, but there were a reasonable amount of leftovers when I made it for just George and myself. I would make this recipe again, perhaps with the additions of grated carrot and dried cranberries.

Inspired Vegetarian Chili

Steamy Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 2 c sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 c finely chopped onion
  • 1 c chopped carrot
  • 3/4 c chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 c chopped celery
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1 t medium hot chili powder (I used Penzeys Spices)
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1 1/8 t salt
  • 3/4 t ground black pepper
  • 3/4 t dried basil
  • 3/4 t dried oregano
  • 2 quarts tomato juice, no seeds or skins
  • 3 c cooked black beans, drained and rinsed (about 26.5 oz canned)
  • hot pepper sauce to taste

Optional, advanced ingredients: Evenly diced sweet potato, parsnip, rutabaga, potato, and/or salsify.

  1. Heat olive oil in the large pot that that you’re going to add all the ingredients to. Add mushrooms, onion, carrot, green bell pepper, celery, garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt, black pepper, basil, and oregano. Stir and cook until the onion begins to soften, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in tomatoes and bring to a simmering boil until the carrots are the consistency you’d like.
  3. In a separate pot, steam the optional root vegetables to your desired consistency.
  4. Add the black beans and root vegetables to the chili. Re-heat to a boil and serve.

Some cooks get their inspiration from flavors, texture, color, or culture. My primary inspiration is ingredient volume. My vegetarian chili (and all other chili, for that matter) is extremely variable due to random harvesting, dumping, and jumbling of whatever is on hand. The first attempt at this vegetarian chili started with a recipe, highly rated from the reliable resource of the internet. Immediately and purposefully, I mangled the recipe to suit my tomato format, which is wonderfully canned in quart jars, without seeds or skins, by my dearly beloved George. Why add tomato paste and water, when you can just add tomatoes? I love fresh ingredients too. They never come in neat sizes. Perhaps the perfectly medium-sized bell pepper is 3/4 of a cup, but certainly not one from the store or my garden. The carrots came from the garden and were very fresh. In fact they needed to be dug, topped, scrubbed, diced, and then cut into tiny pieces by my favorite chopper. Yes, a real chef would never use one of these things. If you eat my food, you want me to use one. My hand chopping of hard vegetables flings them all over, mostly onto the floor. You don’t want to eat off my floor. Another thing about the carrots, they are wonderful and fresh, but by the time I’m done preparing them, I’m cranky. We did have some beautiful carrots out of the garden. But now we’re down to the ones that weren’t properly thinned and the carrots are pinky-sized, at best. Prepping homemade baby carrots isn’t my idea of fun. Following this stream of consciousness, this will be my second winter that I plan to glue carrot seeds onto a long strip of toilet paper, at the proper spacing. By time time glue and toilet paper season had rolled around last year it was long past the baby carrot harvest and gluing carrot seeds to toilet paper seemed ridiculous. May my current conviction lead to greater follow through this year! Jumping ahead to the conclusion of the first batch of chili: I followed my adaptation of the recipe and left lots of containers of leftovers in the refrigerator (3 T diced bell pepper, the extra carrots, etc.). No root vegetables were added. In the end I found the chili too spicy without enough depth of flavor (the internet recipe called for 1 T chili powder and 3/4 t hot pepper sauce).

The next three batches found me only measuring what was easy (quarts of tomatoes, spices) and just chopping and dumping the rest. I think the final batch was the best. Certainly not repeatable since I didn’t really measure, however I did use about two quarts of diced root vegetables in addition to the other ingredients. As far as spiciness, it isn’t too spicy, but I figure the eater can add that with hot pepper sauce.

Pretty kale that has nothing to do with chili October 16, 2014

Pretty kale that has nothing to do with chili
October 16, 2014

Grandma’s chicken in corn bread

I’m cleaning up some papers (picture a laundry basket with paper of all types piled in it, odd items (like a bike lock) interspersed throughout, and lots of dust and dog hair). This recipe for Grandma Elma’s chicken in corn bread surfaced. The dish was common in my childhood, especially for special events like the Fourth of July picnic on the farm. The chicken in cut into pieces, with skin and bone left in place, and baked. About half way through the baking, a corn meal batter is poured over the chicken. This recipe calls for the dish to be prepared in a 2 quart casserole, but I remember it in a 9″ x  13″  aluminum cake pan.

3 lb chicken, cut into pieces
1/4 c four
2 T oleo

Coat chicken with 1/4 c flour. Place 2 T oleo and chicken in 2 quart casserole and bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.

2 T oleo
1 c chopped celery
1 c chopped onion
1 T flour
1/2 t salt
1/8 t pepper

Sauté 2 T oleo, celery, and onion. Blend in 1 T flour, salt, and pepper. Place around chicken.

1/2 c flour
1/2 c corn meal
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 t sage
1/4 t thyme
1/8 t pepper
1 T oleo
3 eggs, slightly beaten
3/4 c milk

Combine dry ingredients. Blend in oleo, eggs, and milk.  Spoon this topping over chicken.

2 T chicken soup base
1.5 c water

Dissolve soup base in water. Pour over topping. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Serve hot or cold.

Enjoy this rich and savory dish under the shade trees while the sun shines above. Pair with watermelon and volleyball on the lawn.

Yes you can…

…have too much candy. Although the 2.25 cups of corn syrup and 2 cups of sugar should have tipped me off, Martha’s delicate picture of nougat threw me off.

Nougat

Especially when the candy isn’t cooked quite as long as it should be. It isn’t ready to share with anyone who isn’t leaning over the pan with a spoon. Now that we have both overdosed on nougat, it has been wrestled into the freezer. Ask for some when you stop by. We have had enough!

Oatmeal and flax chocolate chip cookies

cookies

3/4 c butter
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 t vanilla
1 c flour
1/2 c ground flax
1/2 t baking soda
1 t salt
2 1/2 c rolled oats
1 c chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 F.
Cream together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar.
Add eggs and vanilla to the creamed mixture.
In another bowl, mix flour, ground flax, baking soda, salt and rolled oats.
Blend together the dry and cream mixture. Add chocolate chips and mix well.
Using a tablespoon, scoop batter separated about 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown around edges.

If you are like me, the 325 F oven provides lots of forgiveness to forget the last cookies in the oven, start a blog post, and then remember the cookies without having burnt them. However, Grandma Siggie and I agree that only cowards cook on low.

Recipe adapted from Ellie’s Whole Grains.
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike

Making food

I freely admit that George does most of the cooking, canning, and baking at our house. He likes it and is good at it. I appreciate it. Very much. As a result, when I do actually put more than two ingredients together, I want everyone to know. (Cold cereal, milk, and banana doesn’t count.)

Purple cone flower

Jenny shared a purple cone flower for our garden

The tuna salad was pretty good. I used bread and cucumber strips rather than pitas to hold it all together.

I made treats for a canoe trip. George seemed a little annoyed that I would make food for canoeing, but not at home.

Jessie’s Peanut Butter Balls

1 c peanut butter (adding more will increase moisture)
1/2 c nonfat powdered milk
1 c rolled oats
1 t cinnamon
1/2 c ground flax
1/2 c honey (adding more will increase moisture)

Combine all ingredients and shape into balls (large marble size or smaller). Keep refrigerated. Will stay fresh and moist for over a week.

Kathy’s Traveling Cupcakes

4 squares of semi-sweet chocolate
1 c of butter
1 3/4 c pecans, chopped
1 c flour
4 eggs, beaten lightly
1 t vanilla
mini peanut butter cups

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Melt chocolate and butter in a heavy pan over low heat. Add nuts and stir until well coated. Combine sugar, flour, eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl. DO NOT BEAT. Add chocolate mixture to flour mixture. Fold in but DO NOT BEAT. Line muffin pan with paper liners. Fill to 2/3 full. Press a mini peanut butter cup flush to top of batter in the center of each cupcake. Bake at 325 F for 25 minutes. Makes 2 dozen. These are called traveling cupcakes because they don’t need any frosting and travel well.

I modified the recipe to use powdered cocoa instead of semi-sweet chocolate and black cocoa. Normally to substitute powdered cocoa for chocolate squares requires adding oil. These cupcakes have enough butter in them already to make the transition without it. I used 1/2 c cocoa powder and 1/4 black cocoa instead of 4 squares of semi-sweet chocolate. To be fair, I also added extra butter, but think it was a little heavy on the butter. Imagine that!

Mary made some of my favorite orange cranberry snack mix. I’m not sure if she used the Betty Crocker recipe or not, but it seems like a similar one.

If you want to see some of the activity that these snack’s powered, see Jessie’s blog post.

Old oak tree

Old oak tree

We had strong straight-line winds and nearby tornadoes  on Tuesday/Wednesday night. The only damage we had was to an old oak along the lane. We are fortunate.

Vacuuming, dish washing, organizing, and weeding wanted to be done yesterday afternoon. Instead George and I paddled from J’s farm on Highway 54 on the South Branch of the Little Wolf to P’s farm on County Road B on the Little Wolf. To say that we are not a well matched team in the canoe is fair. Meg, the dog, was with us and shook most of the time. We were trying to decide if she was terrified or laughing at us. There were several portages for trees across the river and insufficient river depth. We still had lots of fun portaging downfalls on the South Branch, chasing turtles, and spotting plants, birds, and fish. My favorite was the blooming blue lobelia. We’ll probably do it again!

Tammy, the cow

Tammy says hello