Thursday, November 21, 2013

Lori's Homemade Pancakes

                 Pancakes covered in butter and syrup.
                        See the fluffy goodness?

I do not understand why anyone would buy pancake mix when you can make homemade pancakes just as easy as the boxed kind and they taste so much better, not to mention there are no preservatives in the homemade kind. These are light, fluffy, and delicious.
You can double this recipe and make extras so you can have them for the next day, or you can freeze them for another time. Just reheat in oven or toaster to thaw.

Lori's Homemade Pancakes

1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
2 tsps baking powder*
1 Tbls cane sugar
dash real sea salt
1 1/2 cups milk*
1 egg
2 Tbls real butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
Extra butter for frying
Extra butter for spreading on warm cakes
Real maple syrup

In a medium bowl, sift flour with baking powder. Stir in sugar and salt; set aside.
In a small bowl, add milk, egg, and melted butter. Stir well to mix in egg.
Add milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir just enough to blend. There will be a lot of lumps.
Turn heat on under a skillet (or use a griddle),. Add some butter (maybe 1/2 tsp for 6" skillet, 1 tsp for 12" skillet), using the butter knife, run the butter all over the pan. Pour in some batter (about 2 Tbls worth) and allow to cook until bubbles appear and edges are dry, about 2 minutes, then flip and cook on other side about another minute or so. Keep warm in an oven set on low. Serve with lots of butter and warmed real maple syrup. Makes about eight 4"-5" pancakes.

*Use aluminum-free baking powder such as Rumford's.
*If you want thick pancakes, then only use 1 cup milk, or 1 1/4 for slightly less thick. I like really thin pancakes and often use up to 1 3/4 cup milk.
*You can serve these with peanut butter, jam, or other flavored syrups such as blueberry.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lori's Homemade Pasta Salad

Lori's Homemade Pasta Salad

  As you can see, I made boat loads of this stuff for a community meal a couple of months back and I ended up with over 8 pounds of pasta salad! It was delectable and oh, so delicious! It was also addictive and hard to stop eating as it tasted so good! It was one of my 'throw together' recipes where I did not measure out anything, including the vinaigrette, but just added what looked right. However, I did begin with 1 cup of olive oil and added more as I needed to. I added half the amount of vinegar as oil, so that is how I came up with amounts below. Ditto for the spices.
  You won't need to make that much, and besides, I really didn't use a recipe, I just threw stuff together and it all worked.  I used the vegetables I had growing in my garden at the time: cherry tomatoes, small pickling cucumbers, red onions, green bell peppers, and then opened up a can of black olives, drained them, then sliced them into rings. Yummy.
  I cooked 4 pounds of noodles, but that is way more than what you will need or want to cook. This recipe I am putting together used just 8 ounces of noodles, though you can double the recipe to take to a pot luck, if so desired. The nice thing about this recipe is you can use any veggies you desire, and you can add chunks of bite-sized cheeses or pepperoni, if that is what floats your boat. I like it as it is above, which made a lovely and delicious salad that went well as a side dish with everything. Pasta salads are good year-round, not just during the summer.
  I sure hope you enjoy this recipe and adjust it to fit your veggie likes/dislikes. Broccoli, peas, just about any veggie can be added to this recipe. Make it once, then make it yours.

Lori's Pasta Salad

8 ounces rotini noodles, uncooked*
1 red onion, diced small, about 1/2-3/4 cup
1 green pepper, diced, about 3/4 cup
1 red pepper, diced, about 3/4 cup, optional*
1 small pickling cucumber, diced
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
Grated carrots, about 1/2 medium or 4-6 baby carrots*
1 (6 ounce) can pitted olives, sliced*
1/4-1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese*
1 cup  extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar*
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
dash of Italian blend seasonings (mixture of herbs)*
1/4 tsp Real Sea Salt, to taste
1/8 tsp black pepper, to taste

Cook noodles according to package directions; strain, rinse with cold water to cool; set aside.
Dice all vegetables; set aside.
Combine olive oil, vinegar, spices, salt and pepper; set aside.
Place noodles in a large bowl. Add veggies and stir to incorporate.
Pour vinaigrette over top and stir to blend well.
Add Parmesan cheese and blend.
Cover and chill at least 2 hours before serving, though 8 hours is better. Best if left overnight.

*You can use rainbow noodles, if desired.
*Use red pepper, if you like, but I did not.
*I used baby carrots, but you can use regular.
*You can buy sliced olives or keep them whole in the recipe.
*I like a lot of Parmesan cheese and tend to add a lot. Add to taste.
*I only use Bragg's unpasteurized apple cider vinegar as it has the enzymes in it.
*You can use red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar, if desired, in place of apple cider vinegar.
*I used a dash of Sylvia's Italian Blend spices.
*You can add 6-8 ounces of pepperoni, diced, if desired.
*You can add 6-8 ounces of Mozzarella, if desired.
*You can add some fresh Parsley (1/8-1/4 cup) minced, or some dried (1 Tbls), if desired.

Lori's Pork Ribs

                                       Pork Ribs off the grill

  I wish I had a better camera! That, or I wish I was a better photographer! It doesn't matter as this picture does not catch the essence of how good these ribs were! They were delectable! Tender, juicy, tasty, and smoky. Just the way ribs should be!
  When I was younger I never knew how to cook ribs properly. I've even seen some people boil them to death! I never did that as that seemed to be all wrong, but I did cook them in the oven with mixed results that were less than stellar. Then one of my kids went to work in a restaurant where the specialty was ribs and he told me the basics of how they cooked the ribs to make them moist, delicious, and wonderful. Once I began to cook my ribs that way, I was on my way to making the very best ribs around! These are fall-off-the-bone tender, the way ribs should be.
  I like to use rubs for flavors that you just can't incorporate any other way. The type and kind you use is up to you, but I will give you a basic of what I use. I rarely measure out ingredients or write them down, much to the dismay of my kids as it is hard for me to tell them exactly how I make a recipe with this kind of loose cooking. However, if you have a delectable rub recipe, then use it by all means as it will not hurt my feelings in any way.
  I just used a store-bought BBQ sauce on these ribs (one without HFCS in it), but you can also make your own. Whether you like Carolina vinegar-based sauces or Sweeter Memphis or spicy Kansas City, it doesn't matter, what matters is that this is the best way to make ribs.
  Ribs can be made anytime of year, but in the fall is when pigs are usually butchered and the prices of pork come down and become more affordable. Get some ribs on sale and enjoy these delectable fall-apart meats for a reasonable price.

Pork Ribs
1-2 racks of ribs
1 batch of dry rub, your choice (I will post one later)
Heavy-duty foil
BBQ sauce, your choice

Buy ribs.
Take off membrane, if you know how.
Rub with a dry rub of your choice and allow to sit for 2-4 hours or overnight.
Once the ribs have marinated in the rub, place one set of ribs on a large sheet of foil, wrap tight, then wrap again in another sheet of foil.
Place in a large (15"x 20" x1") jellyroll pan, then place in pre-heated oven at 350 degrees.
If cooking another, repeat and place second set of ribs in oven, too.
Bake for 2 hours.
Remove pans and take ribs out of foil.
Place ribs on a hot grill and then swab with BBQ sauce of your choice. Allow ribs to cook on grill so that the sauce gets caramelized, then turn and do other side.
Remove ribs from grill and let set for 5-10 minutes before slicing to eat.

Make sure you wrap ribs tight in the foil so they steam inside and the steam does not escape.
Do not cook longer than 2 hours in oven or they will overcook and shred.
If you don't want to add a dry rub, then don't.
If you don't want to add a BBQ sauce, then don't.
Don't overcook on grill, but make sure the sauce cooks well on the ribs. About 5-10 minutes on each side.


Green Beans, Potatoes and Ham

Green Beans, Potatoes and Ham

When I was a child my grandma would always make a huge pot of this for dinner with the very first harvest of green beans from the garden, and then maybe one or two more batches before summer was
over and all the beans canned for the year. I like to make this a few times per year myself as it is a
nourishing and deliciously easy soup that uses up ingredients from the garden.
  Over the many years of my life I have eaten this made by other people. Most people gather green beans, stem and snap them, then cook them for 2-3 hours in water, adding the potatoes and ham shortly before the beans are "done". It is the way I used to make this soup as it is how I was taught, but over the years I have learned how to make this much more quickly, saving much of the nutrients in the beans, and adding other items that make this much more tasty and nutrient-dense.
  A dinner of this soup with some hearty homemade bread and butter is a meal worthy of kings. My husband loves this meal and asks for it sometimes. I have even made it in the dead of winter from canned beans, though it is not as healthy as when it is made from fresh ingredients. However you make it, you will enjoy it and so will your family. Promise.
  I have never in my life measured out or weighed the ingredients in this soup. This is one of those soups where you just add what you want and hoof it as there is no 'official' recipe that I know of where one uses exact amounts, so you will also have to "eye" the amounts you are using and make it work. In this recipe (picture above) I used a piece of ham bought as a slice from the store for convenience. but the very best ham to use is leftover ham from a whole ham as it will be more smoky and delicious tasting, besides being more tender. However, I did not have leftovers from a whole ham, so I had to use a slice, which is not smoky, is not as tender, and does not need to be added until shortly before the soup is done. Some people use bacon in place of the ham, and you can, too, but I don't like it as well. You could also use pork hocks or any other kind of pork, but I like ham best.
Green Beans, Potatoes and Ham
Fresh green beans (about a pound or so)
1 quart of homemade or canned chicken broth
4 Tbls. of real butter*
Red or white potatoes cut into bite-sized pieces
About 1 cup or so of onions, diced*
Leftover ham cut into bite-sized pieces or a slice of ham from the meat department
Real sea salt and pepper, to taste
Pick, clean, and snap your green beans.
Place a steamer basket inside of a large pot, add water to bottom of pot almost to the basket, then place in green beans, put on lid, and put over the fire. Allow beans to steam to desired tenderness, which for me is about 25 minutes.
While beans are cooking, peel and dice potatoes; put to the side till ready to cook.
Dice onions and put to the side.
When done, drain the beans and put to the side.
Clean the large pot, then add the quart of chicken broth and place over the fire on medium heat. Add the butter and the potatoes and cook till potatoes are almost done, about 15-20 minutes, depending on size of potatoes.
While potatoes are cooking, cut up ham into bite-sized pieces, trimming off any excess fat.
Add onions so they can cook 10 minutes or so until opaque. Also add the beans at this time.
If you are using leftover whole ham, this can be added with the onions and beans, or even when the potatoes come to a boil.
If you are using a slice of ham from the store, then add about 5 minutes before soup is done so the ham does not cook much and get tough, but gets heated thoroughly.
Once the food is all cooked, the soup is hot and bubbly, check the seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve piping hot along with bread thickly spread with real butter.
*Do NOT leave out the butter! This has two uses: 1) keeps the potatoes from boiling over in the pot and 2) gives a richness and depth to the broth.
*If you don't like onions, then omit them.
*For time's sake, you can snap the beans, cut the potatoes, chop the onions, and dice the ham before cooking if you are worried about the time factor. If you do this, place potatoes in cold salted water in a pan to sit so they do not oxidize and turn brown. Drain them before adding them to the broth to cook.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting

My oven is off balance and I've asked my hubby to level it, but it never happens. As a result, I rarely make layer cakes as mine have to be babysat and turned every few minutes of baking in order to achieve a fairly level cake top. Besides, I tend to be on the lazy side and usually just make a sheet cake as they taste just as well. Yesterday was just the day to make this cake. It is truly delicious, without the metallic taste one finds in a boxed cake. And this one is so easy to throw together that it rivals the ease of a boxed cake mix.
I was able to find my buttermilk marked down (1 pint size) as it was almost outdated (most dairy keeps up to 10 days past expiration date), and so the cost was not bad at all
I have to admit, I am guessing some on the frosting as I am really not sure how much sugar or cocoa I used as I am a 'dump' cook, and just dump a bit of this and a bit of that together until it tastes like I want it to taste, which is what I did with the frosting I made. However, I did use about the amounts listed. I did use a stick of butter, and I did use a tsp of vanilla, but that is all I am sure of. I added about 3-4 cups of powdered sugar, added a 1/2 cup of cocoa, which was surely not enough for me, and then began to add more and more till it tasted the way I wanted it to taste, which was about a cup of cocoa. As for the milk, I never, never add a Tbls at a time as I just dump a bit in and add as needed. I've been making these things since my early teens and so I've learned to eyeball foods when I make them. I am sorry if this is confusing to some of you. Just start with the smaller amounts and add more as you taste test till you get what you want, too. Enjoy!

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting
                             Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2 cups cane sugar
1 3/4 cup unbleached flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder*
2 tsps baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp real sea salt*
2 large eggs*
1 cup buttermilk*
1 cup strong black coffee, cooled
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tsps vanilla
Frosting, recipe follows

Grease a 15"x 10" pan, or three 9" pans, or place paper liners in muffins tins.
In a large bowl, add first 6 ingredients (dry) and mix well with a whisk.
Add remaining ingredients and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Batter will be thin.
Pour into prepared pan(s).
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes for cupcakes, about 25-30 minutes for 9" pans, and 30-40 minutes for 15"x 10" pan. Check for doneness at earliest time posted with a toothpick, if need be, bake for a few minutes more, being careful not to over bake.
Cool in pan(s) for 10 minutes, then invert onto serving platter to continue to cool. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate Frosting

3-4 cups powdered sugar (about 1 pound)
1/2-3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (I use 3/4-1 cup)
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened to room temp
1 tsp vanilla
2-4 Tbls milk

Add sugar and cocoa to a medium mixing bowl and mix well.
Add butter, vanilla, and 2 Tbls of milk and beat well with an electric mixer on medium.
If too dry, add a bit more milk at a time until spreading consistency desired is found.
If too wet, add bit more sugar until right consistency is achieved.
Use for cake.

*I used Hershey's cocoa as I think it has the best flavor.
*Use real sea salt, pink in color.
*Farm eggs are best.
*You can sour milk by adding a Tbls of white vinegar to a cup measure and then add enough milk to
   make a cup. Let sit 5 minutes. This works in a pinch; I prefer the real thing.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Redbud-Herb Muffins

I came across this recipe on the Internet a few years ago and thought I'd try it, but never got around to it. Last Sunday, while coming home from church, I saw a lone Redbud tree growing in 'no man's land' where it didn't look like it belonged to anyone in particular, which meant I could forage the flowers buds without having to get permission. I took my 4 cup measure cup with me, drove to the area, got out of the vehicle and went over and picked my buds till I had 2 cups. It only took a few minutes.
Just take a branch in your hand and run your finger and thumb along the branch and the flower buds will fall off into your container.They strip off very easily.
Redbud flowers are high in vitamin C and edible, with a slightly nutty flavor. They can be added to pancakes, muffins, fritters or used as an attractive garnish on salads. Or you can use them to make a unique pickle relish or as a replacement for capers.  If you want to eat Redbud flowers, remember, as with the gathering of any wild edible, don't take all that you find. Leave plenty for the tree to produce seeds, for the insects to get nectar and pollen, and for people to enjoy for their beauty. The tree also makes seed pods which are edible.
These were very easy to make. I did change a lot of things as I made them the way I wanted to, and with what ingredients I had on hand. I did not add the sage or rosemary as I wanted a sweet muffin, not a savory one, and I really am not over fond of either herb for 'snacking'. I may try this recipe with the herbs at some point, but I just left them out. I actually think lemon balm would be perfect to add to these muffins as they have a lovely lemon taste which would compliment the lemon juice and rind.
I only had a 6 oz container of raspberry yogurt and used that instead of plain yogurt. I also added about 1-2 Tbls of sour cream to make 8 oz (or about 1/2 cup) of yogurt.
I did grate the lemon rind off of the lemon I was juicing. Just make sure you wash your lemons well.
I used cane sugar, but I am sure you could use coconut sugar, rapadura, succanat, or even honey.
These turned out really well, but tasted even better the next day after they'd sat overnight. If I make these again (which I am sure I will!), then I will let them sit 8 hours or overnight before eating them as the flavors develop and the muffins firm more and come out of the paper easier.
This is a fun way to forage for foods and teach your kids to forage, too.

Redbud-Herb Muffins
                                                Preheat oven to 375°
2 cups Redbuds
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage or rosemary leaves
½ cup sugar or sweetener of your choice.
Minced zest of 1 lemon
1 ½ cups unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon Real sea salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup yogurt
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly reamed lemon juice

1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon    
Fill 18 muffin tins with paper muffin cups; set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine redbuds, herb, sugar, zest. Let sit 30 minutes.
In a small bowl, sift flour, powder, baking soda, salt large bowl.
In 2 cup measuring cup or small bowl, combine egg, yogurt, milk, oil, lemon juice.
Combine the flour mixture in with the flower mixture, toss to combine.
Add wet ingredients, stirring just dry ingredients are moistened. Do not over mix.
Fill your muffin tins 3/4 full.
Combine sugar cinnamon the topping sprinkle some each muffin Bake for 25 minutes, or until tops spring back when lightly touched.
Remove form muffin pan and cool on a wire rack. Makes about 18.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Lori's Gingerbread Cake


I remember getting this recipe out of the Columbus Dispatch food section in 1975. I thought it sounded good and wrote it out on a lined 3"x5" recipe card to add to my recipe collection.
In the fall of 1975, we belonged to a card club that met once a month at someone's house, and that October was our month to host. Since it was cool outside, I thought this would be the perfect dessert to serve at our card party. I made it up without the raisins or nuts, but dusted it with the powdered sugar and served it with whipped cream. My then mother-in-law was delighted to have such an 'old fashioned' dessert as she loved gingerbread. It was quite the hit of the party.
This cake comes together quickly and can be served anytime you want or need a quick dessert that will please most people. Though it is a wonderful fall dessert, it also works well other times of the year. This is a denser cake that is very similar in texture to a quick bread. It will become a favorite in your kitchen, just as it has been a favorite in my kitchen.

Lori's Gingerbread Cake

1/2 cup shortening or butter*
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup molasses
1 cup boiling water
2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)
Real whipped cream (optional)

Cream together the shortening and sugar; add eggs, mix.
Combine molasses and boiling water.
Sift together all the dry ingredients into a bowl.
Add dry ingredients alternately with the molasses mixture to the creamed mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients to prevent curdling.
Fold in raisins and nuts, if using.
Pour batter into a greased and floured 13"x9" pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, till cake tests done.
When cool, sprinkle on some powdered sugar and serve with dollops of real whipped cream, if desired.

*Use palm shortening or lard, if not using butter.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Lori's No-Bake Oatmeal Cookies


These are delicious and easy and way different than other more popular recipes out there. There is no butter in this recipe, yet they are fudge-like and delicious.
I got this recipe from my 7th grade Home-Ec class as these are the cookies that the lunch ladies from Eastmoor Jr High school (Columbus, Ohio) used to make for dessert several times a month. They made a lot of homemade items for lunch, and this was one of them.
I love my grandma's no-bake cookies (posted on here), but I also love these and have been making them since I was 12 years old. These are the no-bakes my kids grew up eating.
These are not healthy. These are an indulgence that one would make on occasion. And these will quickly become a favorite of yours.

Lori's No-Bake Oatmeal Cookies

3 cups quick cook oats
6 Tbls unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 - 2/3 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla

In a bowl, combine oats and cocoa; stir to combine, then set aside.
In a 3 quart saucepan, combine sugar, milk, and vanilla; bring to a rolling boil and boil 1 minute. Add peanut butter (amount depends on how much you like peanut butter!).
Add oats and cocoa, stir well to combine.
Working quickly, drop by tsp or Tbls onto waxed or parchment paper.
Cool one hour before eating (if you can wait that long!).
Makes 32-40 cookies, depending on size.
*You must work quickly when dropping these onto waxed paper as they will set up hard in pan.

Honey-Wheat Bread


This is a delicious bread that is very easy to make. I originally got this off the back of a bag of King Arthur Whole Wheat flour, but I have been unable to find this exact recipe on their website, in their cook book, or on the backs of their bags of flour. I don't know why as it is a really good recipe.
I used to make this sometimes and keep one loaf plain as is, and to the other loaf I would add some dried fruit (look at tips below), and this made it especially good as a breakfast bread as it made excellent toast. Any kind of dried fruit would work, but I used Sun Maid Fruit Bits as they are just the right size and texture. Many people avoid sulphur added to dried fruits, but I don't eat these often enough that I worry about it.
If you love a good wheat bread, then you will love this recipe.

Honey-Wheat Bread
 Makes 2 loaves

1 cup water
1 cup milk*
2 Tbls active dry yeast
1/2 cup honey
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 large egg, beaten
2 tsp real sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil
3-4 1/2 cups unbleached white flour*

Heat water and milk to warm (105-115 degrees). Pour into a glass bowl. Add 1 tsp honey, yeast, and 3 cups whole wheat flour. Mix; cover and let rest 20 minutes (or all day~ but the dough will sour and take on a sourdough flavor).
Mix in honey, egg, salt, oil, and 3 cups unbleached white flour, till well-incorporated.
Knead dough and add more flour, as needed.
Knead 8-10 minutes, till soft and elastic.
Divide into two equal pieces.
Roll out and shape into loaves.
Place in two greased 9"x5"x2" pans.
Grease top of bread with lard or a bit of olive oil, if desired..
Cover; let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees about 10 minutes before bread is ready.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until bread tests done by sounding 'hollow' when thumped.
Allow to cool in pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to cool.
You can rub with some butter if you did not grease tops prior to baking.
Eat warm, or let cool and eat. This makes good toast.
Makes two loaves.
If you wrap very well you can freeze one loaf for future use.

*Use whole milk for a richer loaf.
*You can use all whole wheat flour, if you want, but the bread will be heavier and denser.
*I sometimes add 1/2 - 3/4 cup dried fruits to one loaf and use this as a breakfast bread. Make sure
  these fruits are cut in small pieces.


Sunday, March 31, 2013

Lori's Pumpkin Bread

 Years ago, Bob and I were neighbors with a couple whom we sometimes played cards with and whose wife I often hung out with during the day as we both had young children at the time. One night we'd gone next door to play cards while the children slept (we were close by and in a very small town), and this friend pulled out a loaf of this bread and I could not stop eating it. It was so delicious! I am usually not a big pumpkin fan, but the spicy warmness of this bread was enticing. I asked her for the recipe and I've made it ever since, which is close to 30 years.
I usually make this in the fall, but this is one of those quick breads that makes up nicely most anytime of year. I prefer it in cooler months, such as fall, winter, and spring. But I will eat it in summer as well. It is a really good recipe that will make you a believer in pumpkin, too.

Lori's Pumpkin Bread
Makes two loaves
                          Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2/3 cup shortening*
2 2/3 cup sugar*
4 eggs*
1 can (16 oz) pumpkin*
2/3 cup water
3 1/3 cups unbleached flour
2 tsps baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder*
1 tsp ground cloves
2 tsps ground cinnamon
2/3 cup chopped nuts (optional)
2/3 cup raisins (optional)

In large bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar till light and fluffy. Stir in eggs, pumpkin and water; blend till well mixed.
In another bowl, combine flour, soda, baking powder, cloves and cinnamon.
Blend dry ingredients gradually into the creamed mixture; blend well.
Fold in raisins and nuts, if used.
Pour evenly into two well-greased 9"x 5"x 2" pans. Level tops.
Bake at 350 degrees for 70 minutes or till toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool in pans for 5 minutes, then invert onto cooling racks to cool completely.
When completely cool, wrap well and let sit overnight before cutting and serving, or freeze up to 2 months. Makes 2 loaves.

*I use palm oil shortening, or you could use lard or tallow.
*You could substitute Rapadura or Succanat for the sugar.
*We use farm fresh eggs.
*Make sure your baking powder does not contain aluminum. I use Rumsford.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Aunt Martha DiPietro's Easter Bread


Italian Easter Bread

I do not know who Aunt Martha is, but I do know she was a relative of Bob's grandpa Di Pietro, most likely his dad's sister. All I know is that my mother-in-law used to make this every year for Easter. She is now celiac, really doesn't have anyone to cook or bake for anymore, so she rarely makes this or many other foods anymore.
This may seem time-consuming, but in reality, it just seems so as there is a long rest time. What is nice is you can make it up the night before and then form, raise, and bake the next day. This sounds like a lot of work, but it isn't as so much of it is raising time.
I don't allow it to raise for the 6 hours in the beginning because that is excessive. If a dough raises too much it will fall and be ruined.
I imagine you could change the extracts and use lemon or orange or even butter rum, whatever you'd prefer, but for Italians, anise is the oil of choice.
I will give this recipe as given, but in brackets you will see how I made this.
If you don't like anise, you could substitute lemon extract instead. This makes good toast slathered with lots of fresh butter.

Aunt Martha Di Pietro's Easter Bread

1 medium potato
1 1/4 cups unbleached flour
1-2 oz block yeast (I used 4 tsp dry yeast)
*2 eggs
*1/2 handful salt (I used about 1 1/2 tsp Real Sea Salt)
*1 cup oil (I used 1 cup olive oil)
*1 1/2 cups sugar
*1/2 box raisins (I used about 6-8 oz, as I buy in bulk, so I used 1/2 lb, about)
*2- 1 oz bottles anise extract (the anise oil would be stronger, if you like it)
9 beaten eggs
6 cups unbleached flour ( I used an additional 4-6 cups flour)
1 egg
a bit of milk

Peel and chop potatoes and cook till tender. Run through a ricer. (I just mashed the potatoes) and add enough water to make a pint (2 cups). When cool (to around 110-115 degrees), add yeast, 2 eggs, and 1 1/4 cups flour. Let raise 6 hours (I only let raise about 30-45 minutes).
Combine oil, sugar, anise and raisins in a pan. Heat to lukewarm.
Beat the 9 eggs together and add to cooled oil mixture (I added eggs and oil mixture to the original raised yeast mixture). Add salt.
Beat two minutes. (you can use electric mixer or by hand~I did by hand)
Add 6 cups flour gradually to mixture; beat additional 2 minutes on low. (I beat by hand with a spoon, and I added more like another 4-6 cups flour as it was way too wet to knead!)
Knead 8-10 minutes, till elastic and smooth.
Raise overnight (I did in garage, which is cool and keeps it from raising too fast and falling).
Punch dough down, divide into 5 equal parts (I used a kitchen scale and weighed them out into 5 equal parts) and form into loaves, cover with a towel, and place in greased loaf pans.You can roll out into a rectangle and make traditional looking loaves, or you can divide dough into thirds and make into braids.
Use 8" x 4" or 9" x 5" loaf pans.
Raise 1 1/2 hours.
Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.
Take egg and some milk and combine together to make an egg wash. Brush tops of bread before putting in oven. About halfway through, brush again. Will give a shiny look.
Original recipe just says to brush with an egg yolk, but I prefer to use the egg/milk wash.

*I always use eggs from a farm.
*I used Redmond's Real Sea Salt.
*My mother-in-law used vegetable oil, but I use olive oil in all my baking where oil is called for.
*I used cane sugar, but Succanat or Rapadura could be used.
*Bob said it needed more raisins, though I used what the recipe called for. Don't be afraid to use 12-
  16 oz of raisins.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Lori's Hot Fudge Sauce

    Oh my goodness! This is delicious, rich, and chocolaty. This can be made with a bittersweet chocolate (85% cacao), or with milk chocolate, whichever you prefer. I prefer the bittersweet as I like a more deeper, richer chocolate flavor. This is divine over ice cream, brownies, chocolate cake, over a brownie sundae. However you eat this, it is delicious.
I trnsformed an existing recipe I had found in a cook book from an old church I used to attend and made this my recipe. I changed amounts and added the chocolate, which made a better product.
The hot fudge sauce one finds at the store is made with all kinds of fillers and ingredients one can't pronounce, including high fructose corn syrup, which I try to avoid like the plague.This one is simple with simple ingredients. In my quest to get away from highly processed foods, I enjoy using recipes where I am more in control of what goes into the final product. No, this is not a nutritionally dense or health food, but since we all eat foods once in awhile that are not healthy, I prefer to have something that I make myself. I know that once you make this, you will make it again and again as it is so decadently delicious. And easy. Enjoy!

Lori's Hot Fudge Sauce

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
4 Tbls unsweetened cocoa powder
4 Tbls real butter
1 1/4 cups evaporated milk (NOT sweetened condensed milk!)
1 tsp vanilla
About 1-2 oz dark chocolate bar, chopped fine (I used Black and Green's Organic 85% cacao bar)
(1/4-1/3 chocolate bar)

Sift together the powdered sugar and cocoa into a bowl; set aside.
Melt the butter in a 2 quart saucepan.
Add about 1/4 cup milk to the pan, add the sugar mixture and stir well till smooth.
Add rest of milk and stir well. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once at a boil, cook for two minutes. Shut off heat, remove pan, stir in vanilla and chocolate, then stir to mix. The chocolate will melt almost immediately.
Pour into a pint mason jar or two half pint mason jars. Place lids and screw bands on top and let cool. Keeps in fridge for up to two weeks.
Heat to serve.