Failed Recipe #3: Raisin Bread

Failed Recipes: Raisin Bread... mebbe

I’ve been clearing out blogs which have been in “drafts”for the last three millennia. Here’s one from 2013. I may have posted this under one of my killed-off pseudos but fortunately, none of you will (ok, a couple of you) remember/know/care. I wrote this back when someone had given me a bottle of Bailey’s for Christmas. Generally speaking, I’m not a drinker. But give me 1/8 of an ounce and it’s Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!
.

Failed Recipe #3: Raisin Bread

I know what you’re wondering: WHAT ON EARTH IS THAT? Surely not raisin bread.

Raisin Bread ExplosionClearly, a raisined-product of sorts.

If CSI were here, they’d run that diagnostic pretty quickly and observe there’s some C6H10O5 involved. That’s the incomplete formula for flour; but they will be looking for more. The lab will run more tests and find some lipids (fats & oils), maybe a pinch of NaCl. All this modern-day hokey-pokey science will tell them NOTHING. The ingredients are as they should be.

This failed recipe is for a 1.5 pound bread. Really. That was the plan.

Equipment

1 bread maker OR

1 oven

Mixer

Mixing bowl for mixer

Spatulas etc.

Measuring cups, spoons OR

Digital food scale

Ingredients

Yeah, you’re wondering now. I am all metric-European measuring until it comes to the little stuff so I’ll put both deets in.

1 1/4 cups of warm milk or water (306 grams if using milk)

1 1/2 TB melted lard or vegetable shortening (22.5 grams) (who am I kidding? I used butter)

2 tsp yeast

1 cup raisins (I go crazy on the raisins though)

3 cups all-purpose flour (or whatever makes you happy) (360 grams)

1 tsp salt

2 tsp of cinnamon (or to taste)

How To

Bread Machine

If you are using a bread machine, like I did, it’s easy-peasy squeeze a lemon. Unless you happen to be me, which you aren’t. Unlike making mixer drinkie-poos, the rule for bread machines is liquids before solids.

1. Warm your milk or water first. This will help the yeast. Use the microwave or heat over the stove top or right from the *shudder* tap. Throw the shortening, lard, (or oil if you prefer) on top while you do this. Time-deepening I call it.

2. Liquid into bread machine.

3. Into a bowl, whisk the flour, cinnamon, and salt together. I think this helps the distribution.

4. Solids into machine atop the liquid.

5. Make  little well in the flour mixture and spoon in the yeast.

6. Turn on your bread machine to whichever setting is, essentially, 1.5 pound loaf, basic.

7. Watch the magic appear in two hours.

Oven

This collateral damage won’t happen if you use your oven. I say bake around 350 or 400 for some 22 minutes or so. I dunno. I bake til I remember that I forgot to turn on the timer or I smell the carbon charring.

🙂

Failed Recipes: Raisin Bread... mebbe

Failed Recipes: Raisin Bread… mebbe

So What Went Wrong

Did you catch it? I didn’t tell you to put the paddle INTO the machine. You should have known to do it, as I should have as well. But I forgot. I was nipping an Irish Creme Yogurt Smoothie and wasn’t quite what I should have been:

A – L – E – R – T

There should be a warning on the Irish Creme bottle:

Do not use your bread machine while slurping contents of this bottle.

So what happens when you put the bread machine on and there’s no paddle? Nothing mixes. The mixture heats up, ferments, and bakes without being swirled and combined. And you end up with that hardened lump shown above.

The squirrels were ecstatic, by the way. Yeah, I feed the rodentia in my yard. Cat? Not so pleased.

Best Bet Going Forward

Put the paddle in.

Trivia

Bread is yummy. Man may not live on bread alone, but I could.

Like Oprah, I have bread every day

Like Oprah, I have bread every day


What I’m Reading….

Gretchen Archer and Larissa Reinhart had books published recently (update: I started writing this blog in 2013… so Gretchen and Larissa STILL have books published recently.. but not these ones. These are both like #2 in their respective series and I think both series are now into Book 5 for Gretchen and or Book 6 for Larissa). Nonetheless, go get them, eh?

Double Whammy by Gretchen Archer.

Still Life in Brunswick Stew by Larissa Reinhart.

 

Read More...

Mule Muffins! (and a Recipe)

I know what you’re thinking. I’m using an epithet generally reserved for people like Col. Potter. But what I’m really talking about are mules made from muffins. So today’s post is called: Mule Muffins! (and a Recipe).

I know what you’re thinking now. Mules. No. Not this mule (who’s super cute and wants to live in my backyard, if I had one).

 (c) Can Stock Photo

How pretty are mules anyway? Seriously, they are under-rated.
(c) Can Stock Photo Heck yeah I pay for stock photography.

These mules. You got it. The ones that gave me osteo-arthritis. Now you’re talkin’.mules-marabou

This story is not really about the best kind of footwear: soft, comfy spongy happy shoes.

But shoes made from muffins. Aye, there’s the rub. These muffins, not those.

Let’s step back a moment. This is a dream I had about my wearing English muffins. It’s a metaphor, pretty sure. What else could it be?

Mule Muffins! (and a Recipe)

Here’s some background

When I was younger, I worked in downtown Toronto. My friends were still in high school but I had a weird job doing online research and building databases, back in 1983. Not a lot online research back then, but enough to keep me gainfully employed (and out of school because I had left home early and REALLY needed the job).

So downtown Toronto was where I was wandering in this dream: barefoot, in a sundress. But think: Commerce Court or the TD Centre.

I was trying to walk from downtown Toronto to Montreal, by way of Aurora.

Perhaps not a great idea, looking back.

Here’s the map (Toronto-Aurora-Montreal) by foot

Only 118 hours? Imagine that! And I was going to take the train. 

Toronto-Dees-Montreal

Sneaky Dee’s

In my dream, I stopped by Sneaky Dee’s first. Have you been? It’s a great place; but as someone who likely didn’t belong there said to me once: don’t order the port.

I don’t want to appropriate anyone’s photography so here’s a quick collage (and the search I used to pull up the collage).

SneakyDeesCollage

Sneaky Dee’s, how I loved thee.

I used to live within crawling (believe me, I know) distance of  Sneaky Dee’s waaaaay back when the sun could still shine between my thighs.


By the way, Sneaky Dee’s is not a place to go pee-pees if you’re mysophobic. 🙂 Fortunately, this doesn’t bother me.


I kinda miss this part of my life (and the dress size which went with it).

Dee’s does a wicked breakfast (hangover helper we called it) and when they moved south to College & Bathurst, I swear I did too, just to keep my sanity.

Right. My dream. It’s a long walk and the business district is nothing but concrete. And in my dream, like in freals, my feet hurt (did I mention I now have arthritis?). Then I remembered (in my dream):

I had English muffins in my pockets

This is how I began to realise I was dreaming: usable pockets in women’s clothing. Right after THEY cure the common cold, THEY will design sundresses with useful pockets.

Have you worn English muffins? They are the epitome of bready footwear. Keep a few in your pocket and you can go anywhere. Climb every mountain. Eschew the streams though. Your shoes will degrade like a teenager’s language after their first martini.

So what’s the point of all this?

Glad you asked.  I didn’t get to Aurora or Montreal, really. I think I woke up after Sneaky Dee’s, when I bumped into an ex-boyfriend’s parents (from the late 80s) and offered to give them a lift home in the car I suddenly had (1967 Mustang, I thank you). I started some strange journey, wearing English muffins on my feet, and never got anywhere.

And I started this blog on December 26, 2014 (now it’s January 9, 2015 and I just posted Flipping My Lids) (no wait, it’s now December 6, 2016 and I just posted My First Kiss) then I started to load content for a client’s two websites and I was swamped. I spent the entire holiday loading underwhelming websites (thankfully I didn’t design them) and working like a dog and never EVER getting to finish this blog and I forgot the rest of the dream.

Between 2014 and now I’ve been overworked, fired, hired, injured, had pneumonia (twice) H1N1, broke a couple of bones, pinched several nerves in my neck, and played laser tag. I’ve written at least 200 blogs and yet never finished this off. Til now. 

So what’s the point again?

Well for one thing: English muffins suck monkey bums for walking. They seem like a good idea at the time; but when your feet hurt like a motherscratcher, any port in a storm… to mix metaphors.

Ok, so what about Montreal and Aurora?

Right. I forgot. Montreal is where I did my MA in English(Creative Writing). Aurora is where I lived (post-Toronto) til I ran away. The devils’ in the details.

My dream was telling me I was about to embark on a long strange journey (a lot of which was any port in a storm, is my thinking) that hopefully allowed me to transcend my corporate yet rock-and-roll past, as well as my working behind-the-scenes doing everyone else’s blogs, sites, consulting, five-year-plans, and you get the idea. Constantly sublimating my creative need for someone else’s vision.

I think I’m done, finally. It was funny, yesterday on Facebook, to see a blog I wrote two years ago for a client being reposted  on their FB page, being passed off as someone else’s work (it’s ok, I signed those rights away to them). The odd thing was, the blog was written on a semi-personal level. The company forgot to actually re-read the blog and remove my personal asides. Snicker. Rather gratifying, really.

I clicked “like” and moved on. 


Right, the Recipe.

This is from my old but still existing recipe blog (circa 2011) Like I Need Another Hole in my Head which needs a serious update. I’ve pasted this, verbatim. I really need to fix that thing.

Carrot Bran Muffins (can be low-fat, if you wish)

I know I said this isn’t a low-fat healthy site, but sometimes you just gotta have something good for you. Apologies to all who may be offended. I promise to type up my cinnamon bun recipe shortly.

But dang these are good and moist and have very little fat to them if you use applesauce (makes muffin a bit denser though) instead of oil.

Prep time: 10 – 15 minutes

Baking time: 20 minutes (making LARGE muffins… adjust time accordingly for regular size)

Regular muffins have 185 calories and 4.5 grams of fibre and a few grams of fat, nothing like muffins from franchised coffee shops!

Makes 12 regular muffins or 6 large muffins

1 1/4 cup flour (150 grams)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups raisin bran cereal (110 grams, add more if you wish!)
1 1/4 cup milk (306 grams for skim)
1/4 cup of either unsweetened applesauce or vegetable oil
1/3 cup molasses
1 egg or 2 egg whites
1 cup (more or less) of shredded carrot
1/2 cup additional raisins or chopped dates (mostly for moisture)

Preheat oven to 400. Either use muffin liners or spray tin with cooking spray or butter and flour your tins.

1. Add cereal and milk together in a large bowl and let the cereal soften about five minutes.

2. Add oil (or applesauce), molasses, egg and beat. Beat or stir in dry ingredients.

3. Add carrot (and additional fruit if using) and stir.

4. Glop into tins. Personally I make larger muffins. So what they have nearly 400 calories? You need energy mid-day right? These will do it with low-fat and as you can see, low-sugar. Live a little.

5. Bake approx 20 minutes. I use a convection oven so adjust your time accordingly. May take longer.

These keep very well. Extremely moist muffins.

 



At a loss what to get people for Christmas? How about donating to the Heart & Stroke Foundation in their name?

Read More...

Best of Bridge: Baking with My Mum

Best of Bridge: Baking with My Mum

A few things have happened in the two months (plus) since I’ve blogged. One? I was very sick. No. Really. Very sick. And it changed my life in a way I’m not quite ready to share here but I can tell you this:

I bake more.

I cook and bake more.

Mostly I bake. I love to bake.

Another thing which didn’t happen to me but affected me? My friend’s mum died. My mum died going on nine years now; but today I was about to bake (peanut butter and jam squares) and it reminded me to dig up my mother’s cookbooks (my sister took the jewellery and THAT is another blog for another day: I took the cookbooks).

My friend had a rough go of it and I re-lived some of the mixed feelings one has when a parent dies: anger, frustration, denial, sorrow. I am too lazy to ask Dr Google the list of things one goes through after a death but you get the idea: it’s a bumpy ride.

But you see, for me it was different. My mother and I always had a bumpy ride of it but in her final years, as dementia took over, our relationship blossomed. I’m not trying to be funny here (usually, I try, but this time it’s just what it is). Our best years were likely her last two years. We had a beautiful relationship. Our antagonism was gone. I’d call her and every call was a joy. Even if I had called twice in the same day. She was always thrilled to hear from me and we chatted up a storm. She was jolly and happy. Sunny, for lack of a better word. Our best years. And I cherished them.

Mum-July22-2007So when she died, I mourned but I was grateful to have had that time with her. All those angry moments and horrible things that came out of my mouth. They disappeared (she forgot, and hopefully forgave) and our relationship was fresh. New. When I became a mother, I saw my mum through very different eyes. I was sad she was gone when DS1 was only seven weeks old. But she got to see him, hold him as best she could. My last photo of her is her reaching out to him. My father (now gone, too) could never look at this photo, the last ever taken of his wife of 62 years.

Only two weeks earlier we’d been out for a visit and Mum was still at home, sitting up, all seemed tickety-boo.

So today, looking for recipes for my next venture, I happened across the fabulous BEST OF BRIDGE books I filched from my parents’ house. And for the first time. Today. I saw this note:

BestOfBridge

I was kind of blown away. Maybe this isn’t profound for any of you but for me, it caused me to burst into tears.

I was touched she wrote down who gave her the book, and when. Like it was important to her. And I guess it was. To me, I remember the book, loved it. But I don’t remember ever seeing the note before and I have used this book at least 100 times.

I guess the notes appear when the child is ready.

And I got to wondering: does my mother forgive me for being such a pain-in-the-arse kid? Mouthy. Self-righteous. Troublesome. Does she forgive me? Did she, when we were at our worst fights, think in the back of her mind that one day I will understand. One day I’ll fight with my own child and suddenly “get it?” About love, fights, harsh words. And forgiveness. We never had any “talks” and never addressed any of our issues. I only told her once I loved her (and she, me) and that was just before surgery on her aorta. It was an awkward moment for us both.

So I wondered, as I looked for a recipe for orange cake (found it) tears in my eyes: could she forgive me, would she, after the fights, the shitty things I’ve said, or thought, over the years? Just because we all do it doesn’t excuse it. Would she know nine years later—even though she’s gone and I have no way to tell her—I’m sorry and that I love her?

I am thinking she knows and forgives. Anyhoodle, Mum, I love you. Thanks for all that hamburger soup (p. 129) you made for me from this cookbook when I was sick.

And everything else. Every.

 

 

 

Read More...

Failed Recipes # 2: Kale, Chia, Oatbran, and Chocolate Chip Pancakes

IMG-20160128-WA0023

Don’t get excited. These were for the kids. 🙁

 

You may think the title of this blog alone tells the problem: my use of the Oxford comma. Some people will tell you straight up that where I went wrong here was the use of the Oxford comma. But there you’d be wrong. I did NOT use “oatbran and chocolate” chips in my recipe. Not to get all pendantic on you or anything but I’m pretty sure (hopeful) that there is no such gustatory beast.

Screenshot_2016-01-28-09-13-16I regret to inform you all that I added kale, chia, oatbran, and chocolate chips to my pancakes yesterday. In an effort to continue to enjoy pancakes in general despite being on my Weight Stagnation Journey, I took the leftover batter from what I made for my kids and I added some fibre, protein, and omega-3 goodness.

Then — probably while I was in the loo — Shrek came by and pooped in the batter, turning it a luscious and ogre-fouled green.

When I saw what he had done, I sent a message to my organic vegetarian hippie graphic designer friend Sophia of The Blessed Type (who has my birthday card greeting as her profile photo, which is kinda meta, kinda strange) for validation and consolation. I think I heard Sophia whimper a little bit, then change her phone number. She’s probably tired of my trying to understand hippies.

Contrariwise, my friend Irene who, along with Bueller (formerly known as “Melody” on this blog), introduced me to kale, … anyhoodle, Irene wanted the recipe (and probably will actually eat it, minus the chocolate chips because Irene actually despises chocolate) and suggested I could blog about it. Will do, Irene.


 

Failed Recipes # 2: Kale, Chia, Oatbran, and Chocolate Chip Pancakes

The recipe is all so simple, really. This should make about 6 human-body friendly pancakes, plus 2 Elven-quality green slabs of drywall.

Batter

Screenshot_2016-01-28-09-13-27135 grams (1 1/8 cups) of all-purpose flour (or whatever you find, seriously… this is a gluten-free friendly recipe because you can use GF flour and the hockey-puck texture remains the same).

1 egg (or substitute w/ ground flax seed, or 2 egg whites)

245 grams of whole milk (or water or soy hippie crap) LESS the volume of aforementioned egg/eggwhites. This means, drop the egg/egg whites in (if you’re using flax seed, figure it out… nah, kidding, use about 200 grams of liquid or about 7/8 of a cup)

2 TB oil or use applesauce (I kinda slop it in, frankly)

1 heaping teaspoon of baking powder (go a bit cray cray because it has calcium, yo)

1/2 tsp of salt

1 TB of either brown sugar (whatevs… ) or white-death sugar.

1 tsp of vanilla extract

random handfuls of chocolate chips

Surely you don’t need me to tell you… ok, I will: preheat griddle blah blah.
OK, these are for the kids… make about six pancakes for the ungrateful creatures. You should have some left over. Take the remaining stuff left over and brutalize it in the name of higher health add your other ingredients.

Here we go for the win:

IMAG5522At least…. (all measurements are imprecise because I’m a “thrower” when it comes to pancakülar cooking).

1 heaping TB ground chia seeds

1 heaping TB ground kale powder

at least 15 grams of plain oatbran

Stir it up and plop, friends. Then go clean the house because these will take a while.  How long?

Well, I let the cat in and out and in and out and in and out and in and out while they cooked, so that’s at least 10 minutes.

Have you ever sat back and wondered what kale pancakes taste like? Earthy. They taste earthy. Lawny is another good word. Lawny, earthy, broccoloid.

These two pancakes have a modicum of carbs, but a goodly bit of protein, fibre, and a whole buncha vitamin A and C, for those of you fearing scurvy.

 


 

Having said all this, the pucks pancakes were actually quite edible and if you eschew syrup and butter, they can be eaten in the hand like hardtack or biscuits. But perhaps not for company. They are an acquired taste and I will be making them again.

Chocolate chips are essential, though. Like you didn’t know.

The leftovers were donated to the local Elves in my backyard, in aid of their winter home reconstruction. It seems the Elves use kale and chia pancakes as an organic and renewable source of drywall. Who knew?


 

Send A Little Love | Romance Has A Heart

I’m very happy to be part of a group of romance authors (even if I’m NOT an author… yet) who have pulled together the following project: Send a little love.

Know someone who needs a little love for Valentine’s Day? Head over to find a lovely selection of complimentary romance novels available to send to your friend as a valentine.

Ordering starts February 1st and ends February 15th; but the site is live now (and I’m uploading some new titles and authors to it the moment I finish this blog which is in 5…4…3…2..).

Read More...

Bring those Yummy Buns

First, I’m sorry I haven’t written in two months. This is my busiest season, and my fervent hope for December is that I’m writing my own stuff, not making any more websites. 🙂

Bring those Yummy Buns

What could this possibly be about?

  1. My tuchus?
  2. My baking?
  3. My tuchus as affected by my baking?
  4. All the above?

IG-bringyummybuns

Oh you know me, that’s just a rhetorical question.

The real nugget?

Everyone should have a friend named Irene.

I have one and I can highly recommend her. She’s that friend who always (however forcefully, however gently) helps you to do better.

That means I’m actually getting to the gym on a daily basis now. Irene drags me out for not one but TWO classes every day. TWO. Always seems to involve cardio, weight-bearing exercise, and a lot of lactic acid fermentation. She’ll drag me to Body Pump, then Zumba. And those of you regular to my blog know my love of Zumba. But Zumba after lifting weights in a rhythmic and ongoing way for an hour? Really?

Yeah, I went. Irene gently taps into my fiercely competitive soul.

Irene is that person who cuts you with a “you can do it” look when you gaze back at her during Body Pump like you’re going to barf. She lifts more than I do and frankly I want to kick her patootie; so I pick that bar up and heave it. Like most cool people, she is oblivious to my pathetic attempt to show her up. 

Irene is that person who sends you a message at some ungodly hour (before 9am) and is clearly trying to suss you out, see if you’ll go to the gym at 05:45 for Body Combat.

larks-owls

Irene is that person who knows that one day I’ll do it. Just to show her that I can. Like me, she has two energetic boys, and a job. Why can she get up and I can’t? She doesn’t ask or judge. She just leaves it there for me to pick up.

A bit about Irene and Zumba

I have finally found someone who shares my affective for Zumba, as well as my aptitude. Nice to finally have one other person go left when everyone goes right. Who’s still waving their arms when everyone else is double-tapping their toes then lunging. I give a little prayer of thanks for Irene who gives up without giving up when it comes to rhythm and following steps.

A bit about Barfing and Hot Yoga

This will be another blog but I want to bring it up since the gym is on my mind; I want to caution all of you with a competitive spirit but a weak stomach: If you haven’t gone to hot yoga in 10-12 years, hitting the 106 degree Power Yoga class is a bad idea. Chaturanga Dandasana, under the wrong circumstances, is lethal, if not embarrassing.

Update on my Weight Stagnation Journey?

Glad you asked. I’m down 17 pounds thank you. Goal for New Year’s Eve? To see 139.9 on the scale. 

Oh, right, my Yummy Buns.

The boys really did eat them all. And here’s a link to the recipe. I mostly followed it and it’s fairly easy. If you roll ’em right, 3 Weight Watchers points. Otherwise, you’re looking at 9. Roll prudently, friends.


 

What I’m reading these days

Collette Cameron: Heartbreak and Honor | Highland Heather Romancing A Scot Series, Book 3 (romance, Scottish, Regency, and sweet).

Randall Munroe: Just finishing off What If? (Science, non-fiction)

Next up: TWO by Terri L Austin

Diner Knock Out (A Rose Strickland Mystery Book 4) (Cozy Mystery)

His Kind of Trouble (Beauty and the Brit) (Contemporary Romance)

 

 

Read More...

Failed Recipe #1: Irish Cream Yogurt

Failed Recipe #1: Irish Cream Yogurt

Now that I’m on Weight Watchers…. 🙂

 

The first in a random series of recipes where I ALMOST got it right.

 

I know I know, what was I thinking, right? But I love Irish Cream. I’m just not a drinker. And I love yogurt.

And I make my own yogurt. I don’t, for the record, make my own Irish Cream. But I could. It just wouldn’t be the same as that famous name brand who’d probably sue me for using their name here because I’m so famous that I would degrade their brand. And for what it’s worth, I checked their site just in case they had a recipe for yogurt and was amused to see I had to provide my country of origin and age to prove I was old enough to be there. So there I am, a 59 year old Albanian, looking for Irish cream yogurt recipes. No luck. Guess the hippie mentality hasn’t got there yet.

So what failed? Not much really. It’s a bit goopy. Good with crushed ice. Actually, it was really good, hic hic hic. Just not quite what I was hoping for.

For those who’ve never made their own yogurt, I’ll tell you a little secret: it’s insanely easy and is virtually NO work. Really. And no, you don’t need a yogurt machine. I use Corning Ware and a hotplate. Worked since university and that’s sooo 80s.

Equipment

  • Hotplate on which to cook (very low temp) the yogurt. Stovetop is too dicey because the temp you’ll be using is very low and you’ll be a-cooking for 8 hours.
  • Pot (and lid) to hold (and cover) yogurt (I usually make about 2 litres at a go, but you can do whatever suits). However much milk you put into the pot is how much yogurt will come out. A gallon of milk yields about a gallon of yogurt.
  • Candy or meat thermometer (ESSENTIAL).
  • Spatula or wooden spoon.
  • A few tea towels.  (for temp control).
  • Oven mitts
  • Microwave is best for heating the milk but if you are keen to stovetop it, g’head. Remember, milk scalds super easy-like.

Ingredients

  • Milk (whatever % turns your crank, and however much you wish to make.. see note above about yield)
  • Unflavoured yogurt as “stock”. About 2 or 3 teaspoons. If you only have flavoured, no big whup, it still works. In fact, forget the “unflavoured” part completely.
  • Irish cream (however much you think you can handle)
  • Cream (if you are feeling capricious with your fat intake.. makes the yogurt smoother but is NOT an essential ingredient)

How (not) To  Make Irish Cream Yogurt

  1. Heat the milk (and cream, if using) in a clean pot to 180 degrees F. This kills off the bad stuff. DO NOT put the thermometer into the microwave. If using the stovetop, watch carefully for scalding. If your milk scalds your yogurt will taste like bumcakes. Use the microwave and I suggest a few rounds of 5 or 7 minutes at HIGH. Make sure you have enough room in your pot for frothing and possibly boiling over.
  2. Once the milk’s reached 180, stop heating the milk.
  3. Cool the milk down to 105 – 110 degrees F. I suggest the kitchen sink, with cold water. Yes, keep it in the pot (that’s why Corning Ware rocks).
  4. Once the milk’s down to 105-110, add your yogurt stock. Don’t be neurotic about it. Use good unflavoured yogurt. Glop and stir. That’s the ONLY stirring you need. Really. Don’t stir again.
  5. Add the booze (oh wait, stir that in first, then don’t stir again, unless you’re a mouse).
  6. On your hotplate (or stovetop.. if you choose stovetop be SUPER careful) place the pot with milk/yogurt/hooch mixture. Place the thermometer into the pot so that you can easily read the temp as necessary throughout the next 8 hours. Keep the heat to as low as possible. You want to keep the heat in the pot between 105-110 because that’s the heat required for the bacteria to multiply.
  7. Cover the pot.
  8. You may find you will need to adjust the temp by placing the pot ON towels, or cover pot with towels.
  9. That’s pretty much it. DO NOT STIR.

Just check the heat randomly so keep it very very low.

No stirring (I know, I said that, but still.. people want to “do” something).

That is it. That is how you make yogurt. So easy. And despite the electricity costs, about 1/3 or 1/4 the cost of most yogurts.

Greek Style?

Yeah, about that. It’s just super-strained so more protein-rich etc. The end. Don’t get excited. Nothing fancy going on there. Make your own. Really. Once you get the trick of straining it, you’re good. Just don’t use Greek Style yogurt when a recipe calls for regular, especially when baking.

Want a Cheater-Pumpkin-Eater recipe for it? Here goes: buy skim milk powder and throw it into the mix before you add the starter yogurt. Yeah, that’s kinda it.

So What Went Wrong

Booze darlings. I put booze into the mix. Mmm fermenting boozy goodness of yogurt and Irish Cream. I thought the booze might cook out. Not entirely. And alcohol is a bit different than the rest of the mix. Put the booze in after? Breakdownage. Silly me. Bases and proteins and acids oh my.

Best Bet Going Forward

Make Greek yogurt (more protein, less sugar and liquid), let cool, whisk in Irish Cream. The yogurt will thin out and you will still have a nice bacteria buzz.

Have an ice cream maker? Throw in some Greek yogurt, Irish Cream, (and other required ingredients… rock salt, you’ll want that) and Bob’s your uncle.

Nota Bene

The recipe above for making regular yogurt still stands. It’s easy. It’s cheap. You can control what kind of milk, quantity, etc. It’s obscene what they charge for yogurt. We eat gallons of the stuff.

Trivia

The bacteria, as it propagates, will nibble up the lactose in the milk. Unless you’re making it wrong, your yogurt will be completely or mostly lactose-free.

And if not, well, carry a lighter.

Speaking of Nanny State (which we weren’t)

I went to the BiC site because I wanted to find my favourite BiC commercial with the great line “This bar is dark but with a flick of my bic I can see you’re a hick.” I had to indicate I was of-age. Cheeky.

They have a trivia game and an app, for your concert-goers. Wish I had this when I saw Procol Haram.

For Vegans:

You can do this recipe with soy. You just need to add thickeners (cornstarch is good… unless you’re a Fruitarian).

Tip: Ask Googlia Child.


Long after I wrote this blog (ok, three weeks later… I forgot to press “Publish” on this, duhhhhh) I fell upon a yogurt machiney thing at Goodwill for 5 bucks. But since most people don’t have a machiney thing, I thought I’d keep the recipe as-is. But the machiney thing is fun. But seriously, find one secondhand. They’re way too expensive for what they are. If you buy new, don’t go over $20 USD or so.


 

Read More...

Paper Bag on My Head

Paper Bag on My Head

I know what you’re thinking. This is a fat-shaming blog today. There you’d be wrong. The owls are not what they seem.

Above is just an innocent photo of my latest round of GF PB cookies. It’s not that I care about gluten, it’s that I care about “taste enjoyment” and I don’t want flour to get in the way of my peanut butter.

You see, I’m goal-oriented. I’ll tie the paper bag in below, but first, my cookie recipe:


Flourless PB Cookie Recipe

2 Cups PB (450-600g)

HINT: don’t use that hippie-crap PB which is just peanuts and nothing else smushed together, the cookies don’t hold well. Use some commercially produced garbage PB, crunchy is best.

PS for those now offended, I actually LOVE hippie-crap PB and it’s my stress-food of choice, but it’s horrid in this recipe. Hippie-crap PB is for eating from a spoon, standing up, in the kitchen, weeping. Trust me on this.

2 Cups “white death” granulated sugar (450g)

For those wanting a “purer” and “healthier” sugar, go for it. Brown sugar won’t leave these babies crispy though. And frankly, this is a peanut butter cookie recipe. If you want healthy, make a salad. I regret I have no recipes for salads. Actually, scratch that. I have no regrets.

2 eggs

For my vegan friend(s), use smushed up flax seed. For those watching their cholesterol, try egg whites. They’ll do. I can respect that.

2 tsp baking soda

Seriously? You want to get rid of the sodium? Eat an apple already, although they are kinda useless on the good-fruit scale. The sodium’s not there because late-model Western capitalism has taught us to love salt; it’s there to change the acidity of the mixture, make little bubbles, and help the cookies rise. Leave the sodium alone. Just eat one cookie and make a burnt offering later in the backyard.

FakeVanilla

I went to search for the ingredients of fake vanilla and surprisingly, McCormicks was blocked by my computer security. Probably because the site is rife with yummy evil suggestions.

1 humongous pinch o’ salt

Live a little.

1 tsp (give or take) of vanilla extract

Artificial vanilla tastes like arse. Get the real stuff. Don’t be cheap.

MODUS OPERANDI

  • Preheat oven to 350F (176C) OR just eat the batter and hang the baking. C’mon, don’t be a scaredy-cat. You know you wanna.
  • Since this is a cookie recipe, it’s same old same old: CREAM fat w/ sugar and egg.
  • THROW in salty things and vanilla.
  • FORM balls (big or small, I don’t judge) and drop said balls onto greased sheet. Despite the high fat content, these babies will sometimes stick.
  • PRESS the balls with a fork. Tee hee. I said balls again.
  • Personal choice: SPRINKLE tops of pressed cookies with granulated sugar. Makes the tops nice and crispy and adds to the twitch-boost of the cookies. You know you’re stress-eating. Adjust accordingly.
  • BAKE for 8-11 minutes, depending on size of cookies and proclivity of oven. Or see note above: eat the dough.
  • When cookies go “ping”, REMOVE them from the oven but LET THEM STAND a few mins on the sheet before transferring to a cooling rack. These babies will crumble.

YIELD:

This recipe yield depends on the size of your cookies.

And you thought I would say the b-word again, shame on you!

  • 25-40 normal-ish cookies (whatever your normal is).
  • Or 12 menopausal cookies (because you ate the dough).
  • Those PMSing may want to add chocolate chips. For you gals, these make not-enough.
  • 64 husband cookies (they always say they’re on a diet but they aren’t and they always want to eat the “small ones”. But then they eat ALL the cookies and never EVER gain a rackin-frackin’ pound).

 

And now back to our regularly scheduled blog. Oh wait. Too late. It’s time for elevenses!

Kidding. Would I do that?

I’m finally making progress on my travesty, now a mystery. Thanks to wonderful suggestions from my friends at Romance Writers Weekly, my evil twin Terri L Austin (follow her on twitter because she’s awesome, and the doinks at #SouthernCharm have blocked her), and my good twin, Paula Tiberius

I’ve transcended my self-loathing and moved into the realm of productive edit-free writing and plotting.

(c) Canstock, eh?

(c) Canstock, eh?

Here are some random sentences from The Paper Bag Party:

  • We spent the earlier part of the evening making our bags.
  • As the major domo, for lack of a better word (decked out as Bruce Willis in Moonlighting) intoned the rules: no cell phones, no fighting, no drugs and alcohol, and directions of fire exits, public use bathrooms (male, female, trans, and indifferent), I was overcome with a dark and stormy case of the fantods.
  • The drive home was subdued and we both knew Netflix wasn’t happening tonight.
  • But of course, one doesn’t use cyanoacrylate in glue guns, does one?
  • I wasted no time pulling the man from cubicle into the harsh light of the Louis XIV powder room.

 

You can see where plotting vs pantsing really does help the narrative. 

And now, back to my cookies.

I mean, writing. Yeah, that’s the ticket. (Sweetie, if you’re reading this: those are the cookies from last week. I just used them today for the blog. I didn’t make another batch so please don’t look for cookies when you come home because there aren’t any, sorry.)

Hope he buys that. Sucka! Nom nom nom.


My Reading List

I’ve been asked to go back to listing what I’m reading these days. This pretty much covers the last four weeks:

Ann Charles: The Jackrabbit Junction Series and Deadwood Series (cozy mystery)

Sarah Hegger: Nobody’s Angel (she has a GoodReads giveaway going on) (contemporary romance)

A.S. Fenichel: End of Days Trilogy (paranormal romance)

New Scientist: From absolute zero to cosmic oblivion? amazing insights into nothingness (non-fiction, science)

Collette Cameron: Castle Brides Series (historical romance)

Lariss Reinhart: Death in Perspective (cozy mystery) #TeamMax!

Linda Joyce: Fleur de Lis Series (contemporary romance) 

Read More...

Chocolate Icing

Prep time: Hard to say, depends how much you eat and have to replace.
This is what my late mum would call a by-guess-and-by-golly recipe.

2 squares UNSWEETENED chocolate

2 tbsp butter

1/4 cup of milk (or whatever you have)

2 cups sifted icing sugar
1. Melt chocolate, butter and milk over the stove on LOW heat.2. Add to the icing sugar, use the blender to whip. Keep cocoa, more icing sugar, and boiled water handy to adjust accordingly.

Sometimes I don’t have chocolate squares. I use cocoa and extra butter. Moooo.

Now you know I’m Canadian because I said “icing”. Anyhoooo

Read More...

Brownies (LOW-fat and MEDIUM-fat versions provided)

Here is a medium-fat and low-fat version of my old brownie recipe which I just found out is from the Baker’s Chocolate box.

The shift from the old recipe is found in the butter and egg components. Normally I wouldn’t bother doing low-fat things but reality has set in that I’m middle-aged, spreading, and now at this writing 44 and pregnant. I don’t really need a tray of 5,000+ calories of brownies in my midst. Make those for someone you pretend to like.

Calorie and fat count INCLUDES the icing. What would brownies be without icing?

Original recipe was 5000 calories with about 250 grams of fat. Medium-fat is about 3700 calories and 136 grams of fat. Low-fat is 3300 calories with 90 grams of fat. On a 9 x 13 tray cut to 1 x 1 1/2 inch pieces (78 brownies), this can add up. Wouldn’t you rather eat 2 or 3 than 1? I would.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 35 – 40 minutes

4 squares unsweetened baking chocolate
*1/4 cup butter, softened plus 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (MEDIUM FAT VERSION)OR
*3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (LOW FAT VERSION)
2 cups granulated sugar
**1 egg plus 8 TB of egg white (MEDIUM FAT VERSION) OR
**12 TB egg white (about six egg whites, equivalent in volume to 3 eggs) (LOW FAT VERSION)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 13 x 9 pan with foil for easier removal of brownies. Grease (use spray if you have it) pan. DO NOT flour the pan as this will make hard crusts on the edges. Yucky.

1. Heat chocolate squares in microwave on MED-HI for 3 – 4 minutes or until mixture is melted. If you wish, use a double boiler. Watch out for scorching!! All microwaves are NOT created equal.

2. Blend sugar, applesauce and butter (if using oh, and if you want, substitute shortening for butter but it’s more fat and has blechy transfat). Add chocolate. Blend til fluffy.

3. Add eggs and vanilla. Blend til fluffy again.

4. Add flour and beat until smooth (by hand or mixer).

5. Spread into pan.

6. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes. Let cool before icing.

ICING
2 squares unsweetened baking chocolate
1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
3 – 4ish TB hot milk (I use skim)
dash of salt

chocolate-icingBlend til fluffy!! You will want to have a cup of water to dip a knife into for easier spreading.

The difference between low-fat and high fat? The low-fat (and medium fat) are more cakey. As if that’s a bad thing. Frankly they were much yummier and lighter. Cut to 1 x 1 1/2 inch pieces and you have a walloping 78 pieces of joy in your life.

I will experiment later with substituting the baking chocolate with some cocoa and shortening (reduced amounts) to limit the fat some more but let’s face it… no fat = boring brownies. And cut into small pieces, each brownie has about 1 – 1.5 grams of fat rather than 3+grams of fat. So the difference at that level is moot.

Read More...

Chocolate Meringue Cookies

Prep time: 10 minutes

Baking: 1 hour (unattended)
Sit time: 2 hours (unattended)

2 large egg whites
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of cocoa
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. (Yes, that cool). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or foil and set aside
2. In large bowl (best to use glass or ceramic), use electric mixer to beat egg whites at moderately high speed until they hold stiff peaks.
3. Beat in sugar, one spoonful at a time, then beat in vanilla extra.
4. Reduce to low speed and beat in cocoa powder.
5. With rubber spatula, fold in chocolate chips.
6. Drop mixture by rounded teaspoonfuls onto the baking sheets, spacing the cookies 1 inch apart. Bake for 1 hour.

7. Turn off the oven and dry the cookies for 2 more hours.
 

Makes about 40 cookies (23 calories each).

What ‘stiff peaks’ look like.

The final mixture is somewhat gooey.

Make the cookies small, but give some space.

Read More...