More jam

Before, after and aftermath.

I think I’ve got jam on the brain. I suppose there are worth things.

This batch of jam (and by batch I mean just that one jar) was made necessary because of some excessive buying of Greenstring Farm plums. They’re very delicious, but it turns out that I can only eat so many plums and I buy them ripe.  So hurry!  Make some jam.  I used the ripest plums, an overripe nectarine, a really ripe apricot and a handful of strawberries in this batch.

I followed the basic jam making directions found on this site because I find they’re straightforward and make sense to me.  I use 1/2 cup sugar, 16 oz. cut up fruit and the juice and peel of one lemon.  That is all it takes to make a jar of jam. This batch is super tangy and nice and fruity.  The only thing I did differently this time is to use the immersion blender to squash up the fruit.  Berries are easy to squish with a fork, but these plums and friends didn’t want to squish.  The immersion blender blended the hell out of that fruit, so I worried that I’d be making some awful goop.  But the jam gods smiled upon my experiment and it thickened up nicely.  I can’t wait for breakfast tomorrow!

I also found myself with too much zucchini.  I’m sure this is a common situation in many households.  I cracked open my Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts and found azucchinicake Zucchini Spice Cake recipe.  It’s super delicious and a bundt cake!  I chose this recipe because they use butter instead of vegetable oil to make the cake, which is my preference.  Many zucchini bread recipes just are kind of yuck and heavy and chewy.  This is a nice cake.  I used cake flour (since I don’t have pastry flour) and 1.5 cups of ground almonds (not toasted because I couldn’t be bothered).  The zucchini makes the cake moist but doesn’t add much to the flavor, so it’s basically a moist spice cake.  I suspect this will be a good “keeper” when I want a treat without firing up the oven.  I cut most of the cake into pieces, wrapped them in plastic wrap then put them all into a ziplock bag (just like Martha Stewart taught me).  They should be good for weeks!  Who knew too much zucchini would be so delicious.

Scads of scones

Scones, jam and coffee. Good morning!

Today I had to make scones.  Had?  Yes, had.  I have some whole milk in the fridge that I used for a recipe.  I bought a pint of milk since that’s all I could find and only used about 2 tablespoons.  I won’t drink whole milk so I have to find ways to bake with it.  Horrible dilemma, no.

Baking inspiration struck and I made scones.  I dug out my scone recipe which is from a “lifestyle” show in the UK.  Well annoying TV people aside, this is a tasty scone recipe.  A few notes on making this:  I’d start with 400g of flour and add as necessary, or conversely you’ll probably need more milk since that’s a huge amount of flour for that amount of liquid.  If you’re wondering why the recipe calls for buttermilk and I’m trying to use up whole milk, I used a mixture of yogurt and whole milk with a scant teaspoon of cider vinegar to give it a bit more tang.  You can pretty much use any dairy in place of buttermilk – I’ve used yogurt, sour cream or regular milk.  It’s about using up what’s in the fridge.

These are great with some strawberry refrigerator jam.  If strawberries get a bit too old or I just want jam, I make up a jar.  No special equipment or pectin, just use lemon and a clean jam jar.  I use a clamshell box of strawberries quartered, 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar (depends on berry sweetness and your taste – I like it tangy) and juice of a lemon (natural pectin and super tang in the jam).  Here’s a great post on making easy jam if you’re interested in trying it.  Truly easy and super delicious, plus it only makes one jar so you’re not inundated.

Sorry for making you hungry if you’re stuck at work.

Cross ‘em if you’ve got ‘em

Much better than a hard boiled Easter egg.

I’ve been a bad blogerina the past few weeks.  My knitting mojo is nonexistent (even though I keep picking out new projects), my sewing on a super cute summery dress has stalled and I spend in inordinate amount of time taking care of a momma with a broken foot.  I’ve been to work one day in the last two weeks, so now I have to work all the trips I pushed together in the last week of the month, back to back to back.  Starting tomorrow.

Long explanation of why there’s a baked good displayed instead of crafting.  I made hot cross buns on Easter because they are traditional Easter buns and more importantly, they are delicious.  My favorite recipe is from Paul Hollywood and is here.  I make it in the Kitchenaid mixer, but if you want to do it manually, go for it.  The only things I do differently are to skip the whole milk (who has that hanging around the house) and use Trader Joe’s Golden Berry Blend (golden raisins, cherries, cranberries and blueberries) in place of raisins and candied peel.  I like candied peel, but I think I may be the only one who does so it stays out.  I also don’t glaze the buns with the apricot jam because it makes them sticky and harder to eat at speed.  Other than that, made as written.  Delicious.

I hope I finish my dress before I leave tomorrow so I’ve got a crafty swerve going on, if not be prepared for random pictures from random cities on my April whirlwind tour of duty.  Be well friends.

Buns is where they’re going.

They’re even better than they look!

When I have jetlag coupled with time change I get up super duper early,  4:30am this morning in fact.  Horrifying since it’s my day off.  What I often do at the ass crack of predawn is bake, and today was no exception.  There’s something so satisfying about baking when not a soul is up.

This morning when it became clear that I was done sleeping I started thinking of buns.  I wanted to make some Scandinavian style coffee buns that I read about in all my favorite Scandinavian mysteries.  There are lots of coffees, cakes and buns flying around those stories, it doesn’t matter if it’s Finland, Sweden or Norway – buns unite these people.  The Swedish recipe I used today is really good, in fact these are my best buns to date.  They’re called Kanelbullar which I believe just means cinnamon buns.  The dough is liberally infused with cardamom and the cinnamon sugar is only on the inner rolled up edge.  Also, these buns aren’t super sweet or sticky like our American style cinnamon rolls, so they’re a nice treat with coffee (or tea or sparkling water or with another bun).

The recipe is from here. I weigh all my ingredients and this made a very nice enriched dough.  The only differences I found are with the timings.  I used dried instant yeast (not fresh) and my dough needed 1.5 hours on the first rise.  The second rise was about 1.25 hours and the baking time for me was 14 minutes.  My buns were a little bigger than in the recipe so my baking time was a bit more, but watch your buns to see how they’re progressing.  Also make sure you eat one as soon as they’re cool enough to handle because they’re a little bit of heaven.

Lemon love

Oh yes, it’s as good as it looks…

Although I’m trying to reduce the amount of sugar I eat, I had a hot burning to make this lemon yogurt cake that I came across the other day.  I am rather glad I did because it’s really delicious and stupidly easy to make.  This is one of those instances where the effort that went into making the cake was extremely small compared to the moist delicious lemon cake I ended up with.  If you make it, just follow the recipe and don’t reinvent the wheel.

Because none of my crafty efforts are worthy of an entry I shall post a couple of photos that cracked me up this weekend when I was at work.

This bag is sticking out 6″ from the edge of the bin. I’m almost sure that won’t work.

I saw this bag the other day and just had to take a piccie. The lady nicely put up her bag, pushed it in all the way and saw it didn’t go any further, shrugged and sat down. It’s hanging out about 6″.  There was room to turn it btw and yes I did fix it.  This cracked me up for some reason, maybe I should make this my wallpaper.  Perhaps it’s only funny to me?

Can we have class outside today Miss?

Remember when you were in grade school and you’d beg the teacher to have class outside? I assume that kids do that all over and not just here in California?  That’s what this reminded me of, that schoolkid wish.  I was walking in Kansas City to the most fabulous bbq place a mile from my hotel in the 90+ degree heat.  I wanted ribs dammit – it’s KC!  I came upon this little scene and started making up possible scenarios to explain it.  Since the chairs were outside a business that sold “security and alarm systems” I imagined a burglar gang broke in and rearranged the furniture as a definite thumbing of the nose to the security company.  Or it’s a really badly attended church service.  Or one of the six weddings (no joke that) taking place at our hotel ran out of chairs and an SOS was sent out for “more chairs STAT!”

Happy Monday!

Cake time!

CAKE CAKE CAKE!

Apparently last week I bought an roundtrip ticket on the freaky train, well that ride is mercifully over and now there’s cake on the blog.

Unbeknownst to you, I gave up (most) sweet treats about a month ago.  No reason other than my acupuncturist telling me it’d immediately help my many annoying maladies.  Well, hmm.  I don’t feel amazingly better (all my maladies are minor btw) and I’m not in any danger of losing even one pound from my badonkadonk.  So, why continue.  They only thing I can come up with is “why not”.  It’s a healthy habit and it’s really not hard to pass up sweets.  I’m not militant about it, so presumably I’ll enjoy a treat more if it’s a rare thing, right.

Well on to the cake.  It’s a birthday cake for a dear friend.  She likes chocolate and caramel so I opted for a rich, dark chocolate cake with caramel buttercream.  I know the cake looks huge, but it’s really only 6″ across.  Have I mentioned before how much I adore making little cakes in my 6″ springform pan?  Most of the time you don’t need a giant cake, just enough for a few people to have dessert, so that 6″ pan is perfect.

I used my go to chocolate cake recipe (it’s for a one layer cake and fits my little pan perfectly) that is super delicious and easy.  No fancy ingredients, just honest cake building blocks.  The caramel buttercream recipe is from here and the only change I made to the frosting was to add 1T dark rum.  Who wouldn’t.

If you’re wondering why the cake is dusted with chocolate shavings (ignore the asymmetry) it’s because the recipient does NOT like jimmys!  I was all set to use jimmys and colored decorations when it came up in conversation the other day that jimmys were GROSS!  What!  Well, you love your friends despite their quirks so shaved chocolate bar it was.  And yes, we do have very deep conversations don’t we…

Sptizbuben

If this is naughty, I don’t want to be nice.

Can you see them all nestled in the tin?  Hell ya!  Those are spitzbuben and they are delicious.  What is a spitzbub?  A cookie.  And it means naughty boy.  If you eat a bunch of them (and why wouldn’t you?) you’d be naughty too.  Actually I just thought they’d be a nice Swiss treat to celebrate the day I get my profit sharing check from the “the man” – as we used to say at Berkeley.  It’s not much money, but I’m happy to take free money whenever it’s handed out.

So let’s get to the point.  Spitzbuben are a shortbread type cookie and are filled with raspberry jam (that I thinned wit kirsch!).  How is that bad?  I used this recipe which is German and according to my Swiss mom they are a bit non-typical.  There is a bit of ground almond in there and I rolled them out too thin so they looked like my idea of sandwich cookie, not the Swiss nation’s idea of a cookie.  Wrong, yet still delish.  Apparently my recipe is German (not Swiss!) and maybe they like almonds more.  What evs.  Thick, thin, almonds or no these are tasty.

The other note here is that these are traditionally Christmas cookies, but clearly would be enjoyable on Valentine’s Day/Profit Sharing Day too!

Granola chica

I don’t love all kinds of granola, but this one is my total fave.   This is Pumpkin Spice Granola made from a recipe I came across on Everybody Likes Sandwiches.   It’s just a little bit sweet, has kicky spices and is not dry and icky.  And how cute is this batch housed in my new Daiso orange topped jar?  100 yen baby ($1.50)!

Ok, back to the recipe.  This recipe is adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen: A Tastier Take on Whole Foods which I don’t own but will look for,  based on the yummy granola.  I make half the recipe on the Everybody Likes Sandwiches site because I only have one jelly roll size pan and half fits perfectly.  I use rough chopped almonds (not walnuts), skip the sesame seeds and use dried cranberries.  I don’t know what pumpkin pie spice is but I use 1/2 t cinnamon, 1/8 t cloves and 1/4 t each of nutmeg, ginger and cardamon.  I bake it for about 40 to 45 minutes stirring it around every 15 minutes until the almonds are good and toasted.  So good.

Back to my knitting now that I’m fortified with granola.

Hot cross buns!

The Easter candy has been in the stores since Valentine’s Day and for some reason I’m suddenly overcome with a craving for Hot Cross Buns.  Today.  Now.  Hurry!

Ok, there is a difference between hot cross buns I’ve had here in the U.S. and those I’ve had in the U.K.  The U.S. ones are sweeter and the cross is usually icing.  The U.K. ones aren’t very sweet and the cross is some kind of flour goo.  I wanted the U.K. kind and the google machine came up with this recipe by Nigella.  Whatever your feelings about Ms. Lawson, these buns are damn good.

I changed the recipe a bit by using Trader Joe’s Golden Berry Blend which is golden raisins, cherries, cranberries and blueberries.  I didn’t have cardamon pods or whole cloves so I added 1/8t of each to the list of spices.  I added 1T sugar and 1/2t salt to the dry ingredients list.  I used the microwave to heat the milk and butter and just let the dough rise for two hours until doubled instead of overnight.  The crosses were made with the flour goo that I spooned into a sandwich bag and snipped the corner off of to make a disposable pastry bag.  Super easy recipe and Yummy!  Plenty sweet with all the dried fruits and the house smells like heaven.  A win!

Raspberry cupcake afterthought

That is a mashup title and maybe I don’t have the hang of it.  Mashed thusly are (left) raspberry coat pinned together for the most part; (middle) super yum cupcakes for old folks; (right) finished Hello 80s Socks!

We shall begin with the raspberry coat, shall we.  What you see here is the body sewn up and the hems pinned in preparation for hemming then lining.  Of course I still need to sew the lining together.  I’ve decided to bag the lining rather than doing a more high brow application by hand.  I finally realized that I’d been dragging my heels on this coat construction because I didn’t want to choose the “wrong” method to construct it.  That meant I didn’t make the darn thing at all.  I resolved to just do it – it’s not going to be the coat of the century but it doesn’t really have to be.  It’ll be (hopefully) a nice warm coat for winter and I’ll have made my first coat.  I can build on my coat making knowledge next time based on this raspberry coat of today.  It’s the Nike “Just Do It” sewing philosophy.

The middle pic of a scrumptious cupcake is one of a batch I made for Mom’s xmas party with her crew.  I opted to make chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  Both recipes are from Paula Deen and are delicious.  The cupcakes are dark and moist and so easy to make it’s embarrassing.  The frosting is this recipe and I added an extra teaspoon of vanilla and a bit more powdered sugar to make piping it easier.  30 cupcakes off the assembly line.  The best part was putting candy canes in a baggie and smashing them up with a meat hammer to make the festive decoration.  Gotta love a meat hammer.

The right picture means it’s official:  The 80s are OVER!  Yup, Hello 80s socks are done!  My first afterthought heel socks turned out well.  They also fit very nicely so I’ll have to add them to the sock knitting rotation.  They look especially nice with the striping sock yarn.  You get a bullseye heel effect with the stripes.  The socks are fraternal twins rather than identical.  They were identical pretty much up until the last heel when I guess I did one more row and ended up with smudge of purple on the last heel bit.  I could have ripped the whole heel out and started over, but NO!  It’s fine.  I do not live in Crazytown.  Vesper Sock Yarn is still yummy in case you were wondering.

Well the 80s are over so I’ll be taking down my Billy Idol and Adam Ant posters and digging out some flannel plaid for the emergence of grunge.  Later I’ll be watching Pretty in Pink on my automobile sized VCR.  Awesome!

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