Posts Tagged With: Baking

Panivorous? Then This Holiday’s Made Just For You

Today is Homemade Bread Day!

Luscious!

Luscious!

There’s nothing more comforting than the aroma of bread baking, unless it’s actually putting your lips around a warm slice slathered in butter. It’s one of the topics I write about frequently; all too often, I’m afraid. Like this one where I sing the praises of bread. And then I posted these recipes that I adore. And there’s more, which is silly, but not, since bread serves as both metaphor and sustenance in so many different forms.

Doesn't look that great to start, but just wait.

Doesn’t look that great to start, but just wait.

I plan on baking twice as many loaves as normal today as a way of celebrating this delightful little known holiday.

I love sharing my bread. I love the way someone’s eyes light up when I hand them a warm loaf. They all but hug it to their chest. They always lift it toward their face to catch the intoxicating scent. Their eyes almost glaze with a sort of nostalgia, even if they never had homemade bread while growing up.

I’d like to bake a fresh loaf every single morning, but that’s not realistic with only two of us in the house.

Maybe I ought to take up baking for a living, or at least as a little side job. It’s nice to imagine that a plethora of people want to experience the wonder of an imperfectly shaped but exquisitely flavored loaf on a regular basis. And I’d get the side benefit of a house that always smells like freshly baked bread. Mmmm.

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Kneading sometimes provides therapy.

I could bake up six loaves every morning five days a week. That’s thirty extremely happy households regularly. Imagine the transformation in a neighborhood if more lips met more fresh-baked dough. Smiles would surely appear unbidden. Forgiveness would  spring forth almost instantaneously. Love would definitely find expression more frequently. Random acts of kindness might even become the norm and not even make the nightly news as something amazing and different. And, who knows, maybe even peace on earth might break out for an hour or two on occasion.

You laugh. But the power of bread exceeds the power of all other food groups combined. Even (gasp) chocolate! I kid you not.

Seriously, if you’re offered a hot loaf of homemade bread or some kind of chocolate, which would you choose? Be honest!

If you’re male you most likely picked the bread. Female, you probably chose chocolate covered bread. Am I right?

Wait some more.

Wait some more.

If it’s been a long while since you had a truly home-baked loaf of bread, fresh from the oven, still emanating warmth and goodwill when you laid hands on it, then you’ll have forgotten the joy and true power of bread. You’re overdue for a slice or two.

Man may not live by bread alone, but it’s certainly a staple of nearly every culture.

Even people with gluten intolerance or celiac’s disease search out replacements for that perfect mix of crusty crunchiness and inner softness. There’s little that can reproduce the oh-so-marvelous sensation of home-baked bread.

My favorite one-year old refuses almost all other sustenance aside from bread. Her mother makes a wondrous variety of breads and the child has decided she’s found manna and the promised land all in one food group. Oh sure, she’ll eat the random banana, or a green smoothie sometimes,  and she’s okay with pasta drenched in red sauce. But otherwise, it’s bread, or nothing. Smart kid.

Her mother learned that there’s a word for such people: panivorous. It means “subsisting on bread.”

Done rising and ready to bake!

Done rising and ready to bake!

I think I share the same trait. Muffins for breakfast. Bread with butter and cheese for lunch. A fresh loaf, just sliced and buttered, with a few spoonfuls of soup on the side for dinner. I guess I’m not quite a purist. But I could be. Just call me Super Panivore! Surely there’s a cape and tights to go with that, snug fitting but stretchy enough for the bit of tummy bulge sure to accompany such a super hero.

You could probably talk me into a loaf if you live locally. Or I might trade you something for it. For instance, I’m getting my lawn mowed for a loaf this week. Really! Hard to say who’s getting the better deal out of it. Someone brought me a Diet Coke yesterday when a headache threatened to take me down, so they’re probably getting some bread this week, too. Kind acts deserve kindness in return, don’t you think?

Bread’s not a difficult thing to learn to bake. Usually there’s five ingredients. Water, yeast, sugar, salt, flour. Occasionally a bit of oil or butter, or you leave out the sugar, or milk instead of water. Easy peasey. Really.

Can't wait to dive in!

Can’t wait to dive in!

I’ve promised a bread making lesson to a couple of friends a while ago. I need to follow through with that soon.

If you’re curious or feeling adventurous I found two YouTube videos that walk you through the basics of bread baking. I’ve included those links below. Be brave. Be daring. Treat yourself to some love and bake yourself a loaf or two. You’ll thank me or rather, you’ll thank yourself.

If all else fails, at least go buy a fresh loaf from a bakery. It won’t fill your house with loveliness, but your mouth will thank you, and so will anyone you share with.

Happy Homemade Bread Day!

***

Three minutes on the basics of homemade bread.

Fifteen minutes of bread making instruction, if you need a little hand holding.

~~~*~~~

“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight… [Breadmaking is] one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world’s sweetest smells… there is no chiropractic treatment, no yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.” ~M.F. K. Fisher, The Art of Eating

 

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Categories: Food | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Love is the Main Ingredient

So on Gratituesday this week I waxed poetic about all things bread which you can read here if you missed it. A few recipe requests came my way and I decided that I could definitely oblige.

Here, then is my contribution to the carbohydrate section of your recipe collection.

Yes, I’ve been lazy and didn’t retype them, except for the last, beyond well-loved and over-used, recipe card.

Does anyone know if there’s an app out there for a digital recipe box?

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English Muffin Bread. It’s a bit messy thanks to the cornmeal, but delish.

Here’s the recipe that my middle daughter gifted me:

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You’ll thank me for this one once you’ve made it.

 

I’ve tried to give credit where it’s due, but sometimes I have no idea where I found the recipe or who gave it to me, or if it’s their original creation or from a friend of a friend of a friend’s relative. Y’know how that goes.

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Perfection on a baking sheet.

The important thing about the above Braided Bread recipe is to combine the ingredients in order, like it says. I should highlight that in my book. I love this recipe for three reasons: 1) It’s fast. Two hours from “mmm, I want bread to oh, my this is delectable, pass me more butter, please.” 2) It only takes one bowl. I cheater knead it in the bowl and let it raise in the bowl I mixed it in. 3) It tastes like I imagine heaven will taste, if it has a taste.

Just as lovely as a food can be. I've tried it as a cinnamon and brown sugar braid with icing drizzled over it. Equally delightful.

Just as lovely as a food can be. I’ve tried it as a cinnamon and brown sugar braid with icing drizzled over it. Equally delightful.

This one, as noted, is from my friend Susan. She’s the kind of cook I’d like to be when I grow up. Anything she sets her hand to makes a person feel loved, comforted and completely at home.

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Just reading this can improve your mood. Imagine actually eating it.

No matter what’s been going wrong in your life, if you whip up a batch of these and eat a few you’ll be able to carry on with hope in your heart and a smile on your sticky face. (Also a Susan recipe. At least, it’s very similar to one she makes.)

Mom and Dad had a house fire thirty something years ago and one of the casualties was Mom’s recipe box. Ouch! This banana bread recipe is as close as I’ve ever been able to get to what she made. (It only looks like it’s been through a fire. Lots of lovely drips, splatters and messes go into making a recipe card look this loved.)

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A much-loved, well used recipe card.

Here’s the translation and one small adjustment:

Mom’s Banana Bread

1/2 cup shortening or margarine (I use real butter instead)

1 cup sugar 

Mix together then stir in:

2 eggs

Then add:

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp vanilla

Mash 3 ripe bananas 

(if you must you can add 1/2 cup, more or less, of chopped walnuts.) 

Bake in a greased and floured loaf pan at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes, until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

MSH prefers his with nuts, I don’t. Guess who wins? I’m the baker. Actually, I make two loaves, one with nuts, one without.)

So, there you have it. Five of my most beloved recipes. Go forth and bake something for yourself or for someone you care about.

Oh, and remember, “Love is the main ingredient.”

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Gospel truth. More important than yeast.

 

 

Categories: Food | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Baking Up a Storm

I wish I were baking up a storm.

But no, I’m putting it off. Just not feeling the baking love yet this month. I haven’t even made a loaf of bread in weeks. What’s up with that?

Russian tea cakes

Russian Tea Cakes are more like a cookie than a cake. Must be eaten with a glass on milk on the side. Powdered sugar on your shirt, face and arms will be guaranteed.

Normally I’d have whipped out a few batches of Russian Tea Cakes and eaten half of them myself by now. And I’d be contemplating making another batch or two to share with friends and neighbors.

Why the hiccup in my usual plans?

No idea.

I have a formidable list of treats I like to make this time of year. Here it is in no particular random order:

  • Russian Tea Cakes
  • Six Week Muffins
  • Carmel
  • Fudge
  • Christmas Pudding
  • Snowdrops
  • Toffee
  • Baklava
  • Divinity

New this year Olympic Cremes, a childhood favorite. If they turn out okay I’ll post the recipe. I can almost taste them just remembering how Mom would carmelize sugar and then add the other simple ingredients then shape the mixture into balls of delight. Sugary, crispy, melt in your mouth confections unlike anything I’ve ever tasted for sale in a store or on a plate of gifted goodies.

Baklava

Baklava (Photo credit: niquei)

The Baklava is a middle eastern delight I learned to bake in the Paleocene era, from the original Greek dinosaurs Lambda Iota Tau Eateosaurus Rucus. Takes hours of painstaking work and pounds and pounds of butter and this decadent amount of honey, spices and nuts. But, it’s worth every aching muscle in my tired feet and back when it finally cools after eight hours. Those diamond-shaped delicacies bring joy to even the most grinchy soul.

The Toffee gets made multiple times over several weeks because we here at Casa de la Tilby inhale it like oxygen. Oh the butter and chocolate state of nirvana that one achieves! Words fail me.

Christmas Pudding graced my husband’s table as a wee lad. It took me years to embrace this unusual, I’m guessing British, dessert. The smell of all the spices steaming into the air over hours of bubbling on the stove top adds to the charm of this recipe. The best part about Christmas Pudding lies in its carmel sauce that I prefer to drown my small bowl of rich cake-like succulence in. I’m licking my spoon in my mind as I write.

Homemade Caramel Sauce-001

Basic ingredients to anything wonderful, butter, sugar, milk…mmmm (Photo credit: Emily Barney)

You should drop by for a taste or two. Anytime would be fine, if I ever get around to starting this process. That thought might motivate me to start the process sooner.

I don’t need to waste my words describing fudge or carmel as everyone has their own favorite twist on both. I’ve thought of forgoing the fudge this year to make next years batch seem all the more precious, but I might get in trouble. Maybe just half a batch and call it good.

How can I describe Divinity if you’ve never eaten any? Marshmallow cream training for a marathon. That doesn’t do it justice though. Divine Food of the Gods. Manna. Fluffy taste bud heaven. Here’s a visual I always think of when I say Divinity: the album cover to Herb Albert’s Whipped Cream and Other Delights. (Not exactly a G-rated piece of art, so don’t click if you’re a sensitive soul. Great music though!) I digress. Find some divinity or make some Divinity. Then, partake. You’ll thank me.

MSH prefers it with Walnuts. I don’t. I win since I’m the cook.

He gets nuts in nearly every other thing I bake this time of year, so don’t feel sorry for the man. Carmel and Divinity, no nuts. Everything else, nuts.

I’m nuts.

But that’s normal, not exclusive to this holiday season.

Melted white chocolate chips

Melted white chocolate! (Photo credit: frugalupstate)

Snowdrops are a recent addition to the repertoire. Okay, not that recent now that I think of how long ago we lived in Oklahoma, where I got the recipe.  It wasn’t an original Tilby or Mitchell family recipe.  It’s the easiest one I make and surprisingly satisfying. Imagine Rice Krispy treats but replace the melted sticky marshmallow with melted white chocolate, add peanuts, mini marshmallows left whole and unmelted, and a touch of Capn Crunch Peanut Butter cereal. That’s it. Weird, but truly delicious.

Great, just as I suspected I’ve made myself hungry for Christmas baking. I should jump on that motivational train before it departs the station.

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Nothing like sugar to help you blast through that Christmas to-do list!

What do you bake for the holidays? Anything unusual? Fun? Weird? I’d love to hear about it. Maybe I’ll forsake one of my standards and try one of yours.

(Lest anyone feel slightly, I used to do sugar cookies with frosting and sprinkles, but they had to take a sabbatical to make room for everything else.)

Include links to recipes and I’ll be your friend forever.

Now, where’s the sugar?

Categories: Food, Fun, Holiday | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

In Your Face

It’s pie baking day here at La Casa de Tilby. Not quite like the way we did things ten years ago, but then, what’s still the same as it was ten, or even five years ago?

It used to be, well just like I said in this post last year. The whole family got involved in the decisions about which pies, how many, who got to help make which ones. And MSH had to have a whole pan of “leftover” pie dough baked up as pie cookies, with cinnamon and sugar.

Things don’t work that way so much now with the kids scattered to the wind, or at least all living at different addresses than this one.

Apple and Pecan pies in the cooling stages.

Apple and Pecan pies in the cooling stages.

Daughter two dropped by early today and pretty much baked up two delicious and, might I say, picture perfect pies without any help from me. Okay, I held the baby and enjoyed cooing and smiles and changed a diaper. MSH took the two-year old to the park and kept himself and her entertained. Already, the dishes sit washed and drying and two pies cool temptingly on the table. Not sure they’ll survive unscathed until after dinner tomorrow.

Daughter three will drop by shortly to help bake up two or three more pies. I’ll probably be a little more involved this time as there are no babies or tots involved. And yes, MSH, don’t worry, we’ll make some pie cookies for you.

All this pie talk and baking reminded me today of my first pie encounter with My Sweet Husband when we were dating.

Yes, a dating story, from the Jurassic period. Cool, I know!

I had a friend from high school coming to visit me for a weekend at the University. That put a damper on the future MSH’s plans for the weekend, but he adapted and decided to take us both out to a movie and then dessert back at his apartment.

True to guy fashion he’d gone all out and bought a frozen cream pie. Banana. You know the kind with the artificial yellow and simulated banana flavor? The whipped cream edge got smooshed somewhere in the process from the factory to the tabletop. It looked…not very appetizing.

Banana cream pie

This pie looks nothing at all like the actual pie described. This one looks 100x better. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At that time in my life I kind of liked that fake banana flavor. Reminded me of Laffy Taffy or Creamies Frozen Confections. Sure, it wasn’t the fancy over the top date idea of the week that had just gotten a foothold on the dating scene, but it would taste sweet.

Turns out it hadn’t quite thawed all the way yet. So we listened to some records, yes, vinyl LPs. MSH had a sweet stereo set-up with massive speakers and all the latest technology available in the Jurassic period. The three of us listened to tunes and laughed and one-upped each other with silly stories and jokes. We’d worked ourselves into a bit of a state when someone remembered we hadn’t eaten the pie yet.

I don’t recall if it was my idea or my friend’s idea but one of us had what we thought was a hilarious plan. I can’t imagine I would have done anything so mischievous back then. So for brevity’s sake I’m going with her as the instigator. She picked up the pie, swiped a bit of whipped cream off the edge and said something to the effect of, “someone needs to be wearing this pie.” She licked the whipped cream from her finger and laughed maniacally.

Before we knew what was happening MSH had the pie in hand and we had unwittingly become the target. My friend and I shrieked and headed for the door. We somehow managed to escape out to the stairwell where we felt, oddly, safe from the potential onslaught.

“I’m kidding, I’m kidding,” MSH said in his most innocent and believable look. “Come back inside and let’s eat this pie.” We made out way back up the stairs and headed toward the door.

Before we knew what was happening he had the pie in launch mode balanced on one hand just above his shoulder. We shrieked again. (Why do we do that?) We looked at the pie and the pie launcher and knew we were doomed.

Just as he let the pie fly I had the instinct to duck, and my friend, who stood behind me her caught the banana cream concoction full on in the face. The look of surprise that registered sent MSH and I into paroxysms of laughter. She stood there shocked and immobile.

With yellow goo and whipped cream sliding slowly down her blond hair and dropping to the linoleum, she finally came out of her stunned state and joined in the laughter. She grabbed what little of the muck she could and flung it at me, as if I had been the one who threw the pie! Luckily she wasn’t a very good aim. Little wonder since she could hardly see out through the layer of crust and pudding and cream.

I think we ended up at Denny’s for some pie after quite the effort at damage control.

Ah, those were the days.

If that happened now all anyone could think about would be the mess, the clean up and the waste of a perfectly good pie. Of course, no one is their right mind in this home-baking house of perfectionism would spend good money on such a thing as a frozen banana cream pie.

Although, for old times sake, it could make for some great laughs.

*****

(No real bananas were injured in the making of the blog post.)

A bunch of Bananas.

Categories: Family, Food, Fun, Memory Lane | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Food! Glorious Food!

It’s Gratituesday! Today I am thankful for the ability, resources and desire for cooking. There’s something so satisfying about taking a few ingredients, measuring, mixing, tasting and baking. I especially love working with fresh ingredients, having scents and sensations mingling into something tantalizing and new.

When I chop up tomatoes and onions, cilantro and peppers, then add a few spices, to make a lovely concoction called salsa, my favorite part is slicing a lime in half and squeezing it over the bowl. That’s the finishing touch, the little something that puts the perfect tortilla chip companion over the edge into something not simply good, but crave-worthy.

Bread

Bread, the food of love!! (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)

Mixing the most basic ingredients known to man, flour, water, salt and yeast is the magic formula for putting love into the air. Seriously, can you think of anything else on the planet that says comfort, love, security, safety and welcome as well as the smell of bread baking? I can’t. A fresh loaf of bread can make the most mundane meal into a feast.  Add some strawberry or raspberry freezer jam, handmade by me when berries are on sale, and it’s a perfect pairing. Satisfaction seeps into every pore.

Not enough time for a loaf of bread, some rolls, biscuits, muffins, banana bread, scones, bread sticks or even toast will do. Done with love as the main ingredient, you can’t go wrong with breads.

Don’t even get me started on deserts.

Cooking is my love language. If you show up at my house feeling blue, I’ll try to put a plate or bowl of something in front of you.

Everyone needs a few good comfort foods. I was lucky to grow up with bread baking, homemade cookies, home canned peaches, a backyard garden and a mom who taught me the basics of cooking. Joy is found almost every day as I frolic in my kitchen or sit at the table with family and friends.

Categories: Food, Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Where is the Grinch When He’s Really Needed?

I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day. Never have been. Not as a kid, not as a teen, not as an adult. Not even as a married person.

Nope. Not a fan.

It’s one of the areas in my life I’ve decided I’m just going to be cranky and annoyed about.

Sorry to burst your shiny red heart-shaped mylar balloon.

Those valentine mailboxes we decorated in elementary school with such high expectations? Always a letdown. While it seemed every other girl ended up with at least one or two surprises from a secret admirer or best friend, I only got the obligatory stack of valentines.

English: A glass of milk (left) and a glass of...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In fact, there were a couple of years the creepazoid boys that made my school life at recess miserable, took the Valentine’s day opportunity to make certain that I felt despised and pathetic. Boys that age have a talent for rude, mean, despicable behavior. (It might warm your heart to know that by high school I was on friendly terms with most of them. They became slightly human by then somehow.)

There was one year, fifth grade I think, that we had a contest for the best valentine mailbox. My dad helped me with this project and it turned out awesome! He found a tall three or four-foot box about the circumference of a shoebox. We turned it into a clown with a wide-open mouth for the mailbox opening. The crowning glory was a squishy red bulbous squeeze horn. Honk, honk! We took first place of course. The grand prize was a supersized Hershey’s chocolate bar. Sixteen ounces of pure heaven I kept hidden in a drawer in my bedroom and nibbled on for weeks.

That memory right there is the highlight of decades of Valentine’s Day celebrations.

As a married couple we attempted a few Valentine’s dates. We quickly discovered that night of all nights is the worst possible one for a date. Restaurants are overrun and rushed. Movies are packed and noisy. Traffic is silly. Dances are ridiculous. Flowers cost twice as much as normal. Leftover Christmas chocolates are stingily arranged in overpriced heart-shaped boxes. We don’t do Valentine’s. We choose to abstain from all celebrating of this silly holiday. Okay, we might exchange cards. But that’s it.

Sorry, I am the Valentine Grinch. Where is Dr. Seuss when you really need him?

CreativeTools.se - PackshotCreator - 3D printe...

(Photo credit: Creative Tools)

The perfect Valentine’s Day for me is in my own hands. It’s a product of my own making. I bake up a huge batch of buttery heart-shaped sugar cookies. Then I slather them with pink butter cream frosting, showering each one with multicolored sprinkles.  Easy. None of that magazine cover overachieving piped lacy design nonsense.

Pop a few of these cookies into your mouth and life just doesn’t get any better than that. The kids love them, MSH loves them. My friends, if I choose to share, love them.

At this very moment there’s plenty of ice-cold milk in the fridge. Butter and yogurt is out on the counter waiting for me to start mixing up the magic cookie dough.

Cookie heart

Cookie heart (Photo credit: summerbl4ck)

My Grincy valentine heart will soften as I mix and roll and cut and bake. All those old resentments will fade as the butter and powdered sugar and red dye whip together into a frothy cloud of pink deliciousness.

Love is in the air, and it smells like sugar cookies.

Happy Valentine’s Day if you’re a believer. Otherwise, enjoy something freshly baked and revel in every bite.

Categories: Food, Love, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Looking for a Recipe?

“A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.” — Elsa Schiaparelli

Is it an unwritten rule that blogs need to post recipes? Seems even the most scholarly, artistic or unconventional blogs end up posting a recipe once in a while.

All my recipes come from other people. If I posted a recipe it would be like plagiarizing, which I really don’t want to do.

How about instead of a recipe I just post some really yummy looking food pictures.

Finished cinnamon roll with glaze.

Cinnamon roll. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Italian Creme cake. #holidays #christmas #ipho...

Italian Creme cake. (Photo credit: pindarninja)

Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate (Photo credit: Jo Anslow)

Caramel Corn

Caramel Corn (Photo credit: Jenn Durfey)

Pot Roast

Pot Roast (Photo credit: Offbeat Photography)

It’s a blustery day. Makes me want to fill the house with the smell of bread baking, throw together a bubbling pot of chowder and curl up with a good book.

What I get to do instead is run errands.

Sigh.

Maybe later I can bake, simmer and chill out.

Happy Saturday!

Categories: Food | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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