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Posts from ‘September, 2011’

New Fall Decor

I've been working on a couple of new fall decorations recently. This first one was an idea I found on Pinterest. Do you pin? I wanted something new for on the mantel and this was quick and easy. I found all the supplies at Hobby Lobby and at the grocery store. All the items at Hobby Lobby were on sale for 50% off and I figure I can cook and eat the grocery items after a quick rinse when it's time to replace fall with Christmas. ๐Ÿ™‚

picture of Dried Bean Vase

I started working on this table runner a couple of weeks ago. I found the pattern up at the Cherry Pit Quilt Shop in Seiverville, Tennessee the last time we were up in that area. It is an overwhelmingly beautiful shop. I bought this pattern thinking that it was time to replace the fall table runner that I have used for many, many years. When I dug through my stash I was able to find enough fabrics to make the runner without having to buy anything. This was the first time I have tried to do the buttonhole stitch applique on the sewing machine--I have always done it by hand on past projects. It was a lot of fun to do. Here's a picture of the applique portion:

picture of Gobble Table Runner AP

Here's a picture of my helper, Adelaide, while I was refilling a bobbin:

picture of Table Runner Help

I'll try to post a picture of the finished product soon--that will be a good incentive for me!

How about you--any new fall projects in the works?


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A new cake

picture of Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cake

I've been looking for a recipe for a good pumpkin bundt cake for an event later this month. I think I found it this weekend. I made this Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bundt Cake which calls for an unusual ingredient: wheat bran. I happened to have some from Bob's Red Mill (available locally at Ingles) out in my freezer. It was delicious and I would highly recommend that you try it if you need a new fall dessert. I found the recipe over at the Joy of Baking website--many good looking recipes there.

A few tips for making bundt cakes:

I actually got rid of my first bundt pan because I could never get the cakes to come out of the pan--they would stick horribly to the top of the pan. A friend shared her secret with me--use a flexible plastic knife like you get at a fast-food restaurant to run around the edge and center of the pan before removing the cake from the pan. This knife will bend and you can reach the curved part of the pan. I also have a can of Baker's Joy pan spray that has oil and flour in it that I reserve for use when making bundt cakes. Be sure to let the cake cool in the pan for 10-20 mins. before trying to remove it from the pan. Hopefully these tips will help you to make a beautiful cake.

Edited to add: I have also made this cake with mashed sweet potatoes, which we actually liked even better. I subbed 2 cups mashed sweet potatoes plus 1/4 cup water for the pumpkin. Makes a delicious cake.


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An abundance of okra

It seems like each year there is one crop in our small garden which outdoes itself. This year we have three things in abundance: okra, eggplant, and green beans. I'm already burned out on the eggplants and we have been trying to give them away. I've been freezing the green beans and trying some new okra recipes. Here is one of the new recipes which we have really enjoyed:

picture of Harvest Gumbo

Harvest Gumbo

1 Tbsp. olive oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 stalks chopped celery
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
black pepper to taste
4-5 cups water
1 1/2 tsps. chicken soup base or 2-3 cubes
1 cup diced tomatoes (I usually use jarred spaghetti sauce)
1/2 lb. sliced kielbasa
2 cups sliced okra
1 1 /2 cups baby lima beans
1 1/2 cups corn
1 1/2 cups sliced green beans

In a large soup kettle heat the oil and then saute the onions, celery, and red pepper. Add the water, tomatoes, kielbasa, and seasonings. Simmer about 15 mins. Add the vegetables and simmer about 15 more minutes or until tender. This makes 6-8 servings and is very colorful and tasty.

And now, a word about the bread in the picture:

A former co-worker of mine has started a bakery here in the area called Simple Gifts Artisan Breads. He has built a wood burning oven in which to bake his delicious breads which he sells at local Farmer's Markets and to some restaurants. A Lebanese man who lives nearby gave him a special seasoning blend and asked David if he would make him some Lebanese bread. David agreed and the man was quite pleased. One week the Lebanese guy didn't come to the Farmer's Market to get his bread and David gave me a loaf of it. The bread was thin and dimpled like Foccacia but had a very interesting flavor which we really enjoyed. Shortly after that first exposure I saw some of the bread at the Pita House (a middle eastern restaurant and grocery here in the area.) I asked the owner Ziad about it and he showed me the seasoning blend and told me it contains sumac (not the poisonous kind), thyme, and sesame seeds, among other ingredients. I bought a small container of the blend and have made the bread a couple of times. I even found a recipe for it in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I just use pizza dough which I brush liberally with olive oil and then sprinkle on some of the "mixed zaattar". I then bake it right on the pizza stone. It is delicious for sandwiches or with soup and freezes well. So, if you like middle eastern flavors you might want to try this one.


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New Recipes recently

I tried a couple of new recipes recently that I had found on the internet. The first was pulled pork from a recipe I found on the Southern Plate website. I had never made pulled pork before, but we love barbecue, so I thought I would give it a try. It turned out delicious! I served it on the pretzel rolls I wrote about in my last post. I had a pork roast in the freezer which was smaller than the one in the original recipe, so I cut back on the recipe and found it still made quite a bit. If you like pork I would encourage you to try this easy and good recipe.

The second new recipe was for these peach cupcakes:

picture of Peach Cupcakes 9-11

I had seen a photo of these on Pinterest and was intrigued by them. The woman who posted the original recipe also has similar recipes for blueberry and strawberry cupcakes. The cupcakes use fresh peaches and freeze dried peaches and are really moist and flavorful. I found the dried peaches at Target. I also saw the freeze dried blueberries and strawberries at Trader Joes and hope to try those variations some time. I think these cupcakes would be lovely made into little mini cupcakes for a shower or tea.

How about you--have you tried any new recipes recently?


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Pretzel Rolls

picture of Baked Pretzel Rolls

Years ago when we visited Germany we had some delicious pretzel rolls from one of the many excellent bakeries there. We had them here in the states once when we were visiting a restaurant in Findlay, Ohio, where my niece Dena worked at the time. The pretzel rolls were a choice of the breads you could choose for sandwiches. I have seen them recently at Trader Joe's here in town.

When we were visiting Megan this summer she planned for us to make pretzel rolls one day. We had both seen the recipe on the Tasty Kitchen website, but she had gotten around to trying it before I did. I made them again this week and wanted to share the recipe here. Making these rolls is similar to making bagels. You make the dough, let it rise, shape it, let it rise again and then simmer the rolls briefly in a bath of water and baking soda.

picture of Simmering Pretzel Rolls

After this you brush them with beaten egg, sprinkle with coarse salt and then bake them. This gives them their pretzel-like appearance and taste.

picture of Preparing Pretzel Rolls

Pretzel Rolls

4 cups bread flour (approximately)
2 tsps. sugar
1 Tbsp. yeast
2 tsps. salt
4 Tbsps. butter, melted
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
1/4 cup baking soda
1 egg, lightly beaten
Coarse salt for sprinkling on top

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Add the warm water and the melted butter. Mix with dough hook adding additional flour if necessary to make a soft dough. Set aside in a warm place to rise for one hour.

Line two baking pans with parchment paper. Spray with pan spray. (I did not do this and had trouble with one pan sticking.) Punch down the dough and turn out onto a floured surface. Cut the dough into 18 pieces and shape each piece into a smooth round ball. Place on the sheets, cover, (I use waxed paper) and let rise for about 30 minutes.

In the meantime preheat oven to 425 degrees and place two quarts of water in a large kettle and then bring this to a boil. When the dough has risen sufficiently add the 1/4 baking soda to the boiling water and reduce the temperature to a simmer. Carefully add the rolls to the water a few at a time and let them "poach" for about 30 seconds on each side, turning once. Remove the rolls from the water with a slotted spoon and place back on the baking sheets. Brush with the beaten egg and then cut a cross in the center of each roll. Sprinkle with the coarse salt. Bake for about 20 mins. or until well browned. Enjoy your delicious pretzel rolls!


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