"What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us." – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Showing posts with label baking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label baking. Show all posts

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Over The Bridge And Through The Woods

That's what the Girl  (that's me)  did yesterday !
It has been over a year since I made that little road trip to some stores that are larger and have greater selections than what is available nearby my home.  I'm talking about stores like Lowe's,  Big Lots, Walmart and JoAnn's.  I have found that it is not to difficult to live without those stores since Internet shopping is readily available with increasing sites available with no shipping charges.   Plus,  at my stage of life, how many things do I really need versus want??

The last few years have been quite difficult for me following many losses and unexpected events in my life.  This has meant that I have stayed a lot closer to home while I am slowly finding  my way back to a life with more Joy and Purpose and improved psychological Health!!!  Perhaps, the biggest changing factor for me has been the loss of so many (and I really mean many) close friends and four-legged "love bugs" that have departed for The Hereafter.   Even though I have lived alone for the majority of my life (for various reasons) I have found that at this stage of my life it is a lot more difficult to live day to day feeling enthusiastic, adventurous, creative and independent.

Well, anyway,      I really enjoyed my day even though I did not have a companion to travel along with me to laugh, purr or bark and share the adventure.  I visited Lowe's to buy the spray paint  that I am going to use to refurbish my very old iron patio furniture.  One Homecrest small adjustable-height table with two swivel-rocker chairs is from the 1970's and the larger table set with four chairs is from the 1980's.  I tend to always take the best care I can of my things/possessions and the patio furniture is in great condition.  A good spray coat of premium paint and it all should look sparkly brand new.   I managed to find a few other things that have been on my shopping list for quite awhile.

Then, I stopped in at Applebee's Restaurant for a small lunch of Fish and Chips with cole slaw.  It was nicely prepared and very good.

Then, off to Walmart for some paper products, cleaning supplies and a few miscellaneous items that have been on another list for quite some time.  And much to my SURPRISE, the 27,000 square foot expansion and newly remodeled Supercenter had celebrated it's grand opening in June.
This is the local store at the beginning of the store expansion one year ago.

The large grocery department looked very nice from a distance as I knew I was too tired to peruse the whole store I will have to check out the produce next time.


Later in the day I prepared some simple food for my neighbor and a couple of his workers in appreciation for all the many times he takes my yard/garden rubbish to the local dump.
I fixed some Mixed Beans with Ground Beef  (now , that's simple !)  with some garlic sourdough toast.  And, then to add the necessary "sweet stuff" I baked some Fudge Molten Lava Brownies.

The fellows were very happy with my little surprise for them.
That's a Splatter Guard that I am trying in an effort to not have so much grease to clean up on the stovetop.  I think I will like it.  Time will tell.  Very inexpensive.

Wishing all of you a Good Weekend and let's send positive thoughts/energy and prayers for all those impacted by Hurricane Harvey in the Texas region.

Mary

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Dream Came True

This past Tuesday my Granddaughter phoned to say that their Thanksgiving plans to go out of town were canceled due to illness of the host. Then she asked if she could come and pick me up on Wednesday and spend Thanksgiving with them and then she would drive me back home on Friday. I do not know if I can put it in words how thrilled and grateful I felt. I was so excited!


In the process of getting a few things together to take I decided to prepare some Chicken Honey Lime Enchiladas that we could have for dinner Wednesday evening. I had grocery shopped the day before.

I did not get a photo of the finished dish but it looked very nice with the browned melted cheese on top. I also baked some 7 Layer Bars that seem to be popular on the blogs lately. Yummy!

I did not take many photos but after our great Thanksgiving dinner I had to take a photo of this sweetie helping mommy to load the dishwasher. This was the first time I was able to meet this little gal. She and her brother are so much fun and sweetness. They were always busy, busy and busy. There wasn't a quiet moment unless they were sleeping!

Mommy and Daddy are constantly teaching such things as please and thank you which I think is so important but it sure takes a lot of effort. And the little ones have a zillion questions. They truly have great parents. Thankfully. 

The Great Grands are the same age difference as my boy and girl were. But they sure seem to be more advanced because of all the technology. It is certainly a different time ! ! !


And Friday she brought me home, two hours-plus drive each way. So much driving but she was so happy to do it. Little Carter kept us company riding in the back seat on all four trips. He was such a good boy. And, I had such a wonderful time. And, I felt very loved!

Upon getting home I was greeted by my Holiday Cactus putting on a beautiful show of lots of different color.


I hope all of you had a Great Thanksgiving. We have had a rainy weekend which is lovely.

Mary

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Look At These Lovlies

This afternoon I decided that I should use the three very ripe bananas that have been sitting on my kitchen counter waiting to end up in some banana bread. It may sound silly but I was really having a good time. And, look how beautiful they have turned out. I plan to put a little sugar glaze on top. And, I may be able to share them. That is one of the nice things about making these cute little loaves.

I am almost feeling giddy about my oven that is finally working. 

And, here is another photo of some lovlies that continue to bloom, bloom and bloom some more. From one little plant from the grocery store, I now have seven plants that are all blooming "with gusto"! Every flower looks so perfect. They almost do not look real - but they are.

It would be nice if you could join me for a cup of tea and my home baked banana bread.

Take Care.

Mary

Monday, February 29, 2016

Do You Know Your Spices And Herbs

I never have given a lot of thought to this question. But, now that I have tossed out almost everything in my spice drawer I am learning a few facts (thoughts) about the subject from various websites. 
Spice or Herb?

Herbs and spices. We often say these words together: “flavored with herbs and spices.” But what’s the difference between them? Both are seasonings, of course. But of the two, spices are generally stronger smelling and often stronger tasting. Spices typically come from the bark, buds, fruit, roots, seeds, or stems of plants and trees; while herbs are the more gently fragrant leaves of plants. 

That is new info for me or I don't remember. I did not realize that the herbs are the leaves. 


Cooking with Herbs

When do you add herbs and spices? It depends on the kind of herb or spice you’re dealing with and the cooking time the recipe calls for. Herbs with mild flavors, like basil and parsley, work best when added right at the end, while strong-flavored herbs like bay leaves and sage work fine over the length of the cooking.
Compared to whole spices, the flavor of ground spices is more concentrated; ground spices will infuse sauces with flavor more quickly than whole spices. If you have a short cooking time, add ground spices at the start. If your recipe calls for a slow simmer, it’s okay to add them near the end of cooking. Long-simmering stews and soups are also great for whole spices, whose flavors will release at a leisurely pace.

Before adding leafy herbs to a dish, place them in the palm of your hand and rub them gently with your fingertips to help release flavors and aromas. Toasting seeds and certain spices (like cumin) in a dry skillet can also enhance flavors and aromas.
I am including the following information from Foodbabe.com  as "Food For Thought". This is something else that I have not given a lot of thought. However, it does not surprise me.

Conventional Spices Contain Harmful Ingredients

There are many reasons for adding spices to food, including enhancing flavor, boosting nutritional value, and also preserving freshness.  Unfortunately, when we buy conventional spices, they often contain more negative qualities than positive. Like conventional food found in supermarkets, many of the spices we find on the shelves are treated with chemicals, contain GMO's
and are irradiated. Virtually all conventional spices sold in the United States are fumigated (sterilized) with hazardous chemicals that are banned in Europe.

What is Irradiation?
Food irradiation is the process of using radiation to kill bacteria and other contaminants. But while radiation is used to reduce bacteria in the spices we are consuming, the finished product has decreased levels of vitamins and natural enzymes. Irradiation changes the chemical composition of a spice, potentially creating toxic, carcinogenic by-products in the food and increasing our exposure to free radicals. Free radicals cause aging and disease – something we want to avoid at all costs!

How To Buy Spices Safely

With that said, it’s extremely important to fill our pantries with spices that promote health, rather than take away from it.  Below are strategies for buying spices to make flavorful dishes, promote health and limit your exposure to hidden toxins.
  1. Always buy organic spices – not only will they not have toxic pesticides, but they also will not be irradiated. Organic spices cannot have genetically engineered ingredients (GMOs), artificial colors, preservatives, and other synthetic anti-caking agents. 
  2. Buy spices from the bulk bin to get the most bang for your buck. Buying a large amount ensures the spices will be used in an appropriate amount of time. 
  3. Check the expiration date. Spices, unlike wine, do not get better with age. Make sure you clean out your pantry often to avoid using expired spices. With age, spices lose their powerful benefits.
  4. Replace conventional spices as soon as possible. If your spice cabinet is full of conventional spices, start to buy organic spices for each new recipe you make week after week, eventually you’ll have a whole new assortment of organic spices to choose from.

    Interesting, and like I say, not surprising. That said, this is all fine and good but not all of us have the luxury to buy according to these guidelines. Like most things we simply have to make a chose and do what we thing works for each of our situations.

    Yesterday, when I was out and about I stopped into a little independent grocery store and I was delighted to find spices in small quantities (0.60 oz.) and very reasonably priced at $1.99 each. I purchased 12 spices and I am pleased especially since according to my research the company is reputable and has been around for years. In fact when I looked at my spices some of them are the same brand. 

    No, they are not organic but given the fact that I am three quarters of a century old, I see no reason to be concerned that they are not organic or about irradiation or GMO's.  I do not think my life span will be shortened! Additionally, I certainly do not cook as much or elaborate as once was my style. 

    Now let's go and cook something and use fresh spice.
    Have A Great Day.

    Mary

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Not Again - Disappointment

 It's the Oven Again.
I had every thing I needed to bake a bundt cake. I even picked up an inexpensive new pan at the store a while back. My bundt pans were ancient, like me and I was a little concerned about the "old style coating " of years past. So, I was all set and decided to make Apple Bundt Cake with Caramel Frosting from Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen.

Assembling every thing went fine and my decision to use cardamon spice instead of cinnamon worked out very well flavor wise. I did not have any cinnamon because I cleaned out my old spices a few days ago.

You may know or remember that I have a hate-love relationship with my range. I haven't taken the time to do the cleaning and replacement of the gasket yet. But, I thought I would try to keep an eye on the temperature gauge. Into the oven goes my beautiful prepared cake batter in my nice brand new cake pan. Fun, huh?

Well, 20 minutes into baking time I noticed the gauge inside the oven was 25 degrees higher than the external gauge on the front panel of the range. The cake was already browning beautifully which surprised me, but I turned the range temperature down and kind of baby sat the cake until I felt it was time to take it out of the oven. Oh, so lovely it came out of the pan! See the photo.

Are you ready? Here comes the disappointment. I decided to cut a piece before preparing the frosting so I could see the texture and taste it first. The flavor was wonderful but the texture was a combination of very over baked and just slightly under baked  and gummy in the center! That meant that the outer portion was very dry. Not Good! I think I should have screamed, but I didn't.

This is a beautiful picture from Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen blog of what I was expecting. Doesn't that look great?
Well now, since the flavor was so good. I will probably be enjoying some of it even though I chose not to prepare the lovely frosting.

That's my sad tale for today. Now I have to give a lot of thought as to what I want to do with "The Range That I Hate." Look at blog here. I really don't want to pay for a new door gasket (it looks fine) and install it when it may not make any difference. After all, this temperature thing has been going on for quite some time.

Ya gotta give me an A+ for trying, I think. 

Please have a Great Day.

Mary

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Do You Ever Hate Your Kitchen Range

I do not use the word HATE very often.

Oh, but she is so Pretty and Sleek looking. Right?                        But, does she perform as promoted by literature and the salesperson? Well - - - - - - - Stove-top, Kinda. - - - - - - Oven, No. Absolutely Not.


Just a little history. I bought the range in 2008 at the time that I was doing some upgrading of my little home. I refinanced the mortgage, got a good interest rate and took enough money to make the home improvements which mostly involved the kitchen and bathrooms. In addition, I painted and painted and painted all the rooms. But, I don't think I can honestly say that I have totally finished the painting!   

Now back to the range. It was not inexpensive. I desired a few bells and whistles. I had a smooth ceramic glass cook top in the past and I wanted it again. One minor reason for replacing the range was that I had unintentionally placed a plastic microwave plate cover on the hot surface. Need I say more??? In addition I was interested in having a convection oven. 

I do not remember having a lot of disappointment with the range at the beginning other than my large (14' X 16') cookie sheets would not fit in the oven because the fan (for the convection) took up space in the back of the oven. A few years ago I researched buyer reviews of this model oven and found a huge amount of dissatisfaction. Most were related to the fluctuation of the oven temperature. The oven takes a long time to preheat and I have a lot of difficulty baking and roasting and inaccurate temperature that I never have had with other ovens.  I certainly noticed it when I was doing a lot more cooking when I was in the five year relationship. And, I am continually annoyed with the cook top temperature. For $2310.99 (in 2008) I should be a lot happier! Don't ya think? 

Recently, I have been researching ranges on the Internet and that is as far as I got. I really prefer a gas range or a duel fuel range but that would involve gas line installment! I don't think so. But, I got out my current range manual and studied every page. I will try again to adjust the temperature with the available feature on this range after I thoroughly clean the oven/stove top. Before I use the self clean control I am going to use the overnight ammonia/vinegar method. I have never left the racks in with the self clean method. But, I can leave them in with the ammonia/vinegar way. Check out this link, Oven Cleaning.

And, one more thing I am going to do is to replace the oven door gasket. They run about $50.00. A small amount if it can make me a Happy Range Lover!

It seems as though I have had way to many cooking/baking flops lately, mostly oven. Maybe, it is ME and not the range. I HOPE NOT! When I made the ham on New Years it was over cooked but still very usable. The oven was set at 275 degrees and the store bought thermometer (they say you should not use one because they reportedly are inaccurate) said 350 degrees. Go figure...

By the way, I made some great Potato And Ham Chowder with the ham bone. It is nice to have some chowder in the freezer.

I hope your weekend was very good.  Mary

I Think I Got Bumped To The Bottom

I Think I Got Bumped To The Bottom
Did I do Something Wrong?

While You Weren't Looking

While You Weren't Looking
I Went Shopping - Thinking of the Holidays