Monday, December 19, 2005
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Curse You Blogger!
Blogger is giving me fits today. I have tried at least 6 times to post the second installment of my 10 Favorite Foods. I keep getting some error and then it won't save the post. I close everything thinking it has deleted the post but then it saves it. When I try to Save as Draft that stupid error box pops up. So I have no idea what is going on but this might be the last time I get to post until after the holidays. I am sorry that I haven't been able to get anything to post. I have no idea what is going on, but I am going bald!
Friday, December 16, 2005
Holiday Cookie Exchange #3
I knew that this weekend was going to be very busy for me and that my car was going to be in the shop all day yesterday, so I figured that yesterday was the perfect time to bake. I had visions of the perfect little cookie to showcase for all my efforts. Well, we all know that good intensions can go horribly off course. Yesterday almost turned out like that. The best thing to do when the vision in your head is one thing and what is turning out not to match, is to make adjustments or lower your expectations. I am better at trying to make an adjustment then lowering my expectation, so that's how this went yesterday.
This entry for the Holiday Cookie Exchange hosted by Dawn at SoCal Foodie, will kill two birds with one stone. I glanced at Beth's blog Zen Foodism and noticed there was yet another event going on. There is a challenge to get out your oldest cookbook and make something from it. It just so happens that this cookie recipe is from my very first cookbook I ever owned. It's the Farm Journal's Country Cookbook . This recipe came from that tattered book. I love this book because it has so many old fashioned comfort food recipes. It has helped me to learn how to cook through the years.
This cookie recipe has driven me nuts every time I make it, but I keep trying and this year was no different. If I would make nuts that reminded about the changes I should have made this year, I wouldn't be frustrated at the turn out! So since I am sitting here doing this I will make notations in the book about my adjustments. UGH! Okay here we go.
First you sift all the dry ingredients. I never usually sift things but since I was trying this the way the recipe said, I sifted. Then...you add the rest of the ingredients except the egg. It says to use a pastry cutter. I just happened to have one but I think since it's a dry dough like pie dough before water, I would just use my fingers to break up the butter and incorporate the dry ingredients. If you like gadgets, use the pastry cutter. Fingers do work well though!
The recipe says to put a heaping half teaspoon on a heavily greased cookie sheet. I tried that several times and had a devil of a time getting them off the cookie sheet. Instead, I used parchment paper. Then once the cookies had cooled for about two or three minutes, I just peeled them off the parchment paper and used it for the next batch. These cookies are very crisp around the edges, fragile and then chewy in the middle.
Walnut Lace Cookies
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup walnuts, chopped
Sift together dry ingredients.
Blend butter, brown sugar and sifted dry ingredients with a pastry blender as for pie crust. Add egg and mix thoroughly. Stir in walnuts (instead of just chopping them by hand, it works better if you use a mini chopper of some kind and get them small and not too chunky).
Drop thin batter by half teaspoonfuls about 2" apart (they are not kidding-they really do spread) onto a heavily greased baking sheet. Bake in a moderate oven (375 degrees) 5-6 minutes. Remove from baking sheet at once and cool on racks. Makes about 5 1/2 dozen cookies (Good Luck!).
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
10 Foods I Can't Live Without or You are What You Eat Meme (part 1)
I have been tagged by two different folks, S'kat from S'kat and the Food and by Ilva at Lucullian Delights. I had a hard time making this list because I am such a simple no frills eater here at home. When I go out to eat, well that's a whole different matter. So my list seems pretty boring compared to some of the others that I had read already. You won't find Pate' on my list EVER. lol! Okay here we go...these are not in any special order.
I love potatoes. Many, many times I have said that I have never met a potato that I didn't like. I like them, baked, boiled, fried, mashed, and any other way you can think of. I guess I look at potatoes and the "poor man's filler food". I remember eating instant mashed potatoes when I was a kid. When we celebrated holidays, my mom would make "real" mashed potatoes, with tons of milk and butter. I don't usually eat instand mashed potatoes anymore. Nor do I wait for a holiday for the "real" mashed potatoes. I could eat some kind of a potato fixed any way you can think of every single meal of every single day. Nuts
I am nuts about nuts! Just like potatoes, there aren't too many nuts or too many ways that I don't like nuts prepared. I put them in cookies, brownies, cakes, breads, etc. I grew up in Texas (mostly when my dad wasn't stationed someplace else) and we ate tons of pecans. I have childhood memories of going to my grandparents farm and picking up pounds and pounds of pecans. I would sit for hours with a pair of plyers, a nut pick, a trash can and a bowl for the nuts. I really can't tell you the kinds of pecans that I picked. I know there were really long ones that would nearly take up my whole little hand and ones I think remembered being called, "paper shells". I think they were called that because the shell was really thin and they were very easy to crack. So easy that sometimes if you weren't careful, you would ruin the "meat" which was the inside of the nut. I remember that when we didn't live close to family, we would get a care package at the holidays filled with an empty Wonder Bread bag filled with shelled pecans. I even have a memory of smuggling pecans across some state line here in the states where they did agriculture inspections. The bag of pecans was locked away in a car top carrier and I was just daring them to make us unpack them. We never got caught, but my nose did start to grow after we drove away from the check point. To this day, I still get shelled pecans from my family members when we go back to Texas for the holidays. If my mother doesn't make fudge with one perfectly shaped pecan on each piece of fudge, it just isn't Christmas. I am equally crazy about salted peanuts in the shells. I love restaurants that serve them so I can eat a whole bucket myself and then take my dinner home in a doggie bag. I know I am strange. Now, I am addicted to those wonderful Hazelnuts that Michelle from Accidental Scientist sent to me recently. They are just too good!
I can't live without bread in some way, shape or form. I love carbs and even better that it comes in the form of numberous kinds of warm baked love. My love of bread started when I had to carry my lunch to school. There was something wonderful about two slices of very white and soft Wonder Bread surrounding a slice of Oscar Mayer Bologna. I think that I ate one four days a week all my years in elementary school. I did take a day off from my soft white bread sandwich on Fridays for fried fish sticks. Being a Southern Baptist, I thought it was really cool that our school had fish on Fridays for all the Catholic kids. So the bologna sandwich was on hold every Friday. As an adult I learned later in life how to bake bread from scratch, which is something I never saw my grandmother or mother ever do. I used to work in a bakery and I worked with a Polish Master Baker to try and learn how to make every loaf of bread exactly the same as the other. I never did achieve that, but I sure have a tremendous respect for those who can do it. My bread machine has been used a sum total of three times of which once the silly loaf actually turned out. I got so disgusted with the other two loaves that I went back to doing it by hand. I still am not perfect but I continue to learn.
I have more on my list, but you will have to come back to read the rest...I have to get ready for the Holiday Cookie Exchange hosted byDawn at So Cal Foodie.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Holiday Cookie Exchange #2
I almost did not make the Cookie Exchange this weekend. There was a not so nice occurrence earlier this week and I have been distracted. I came home from work the other day in the middle of the day and caught someone casing some houses on my street. When I drove up I scared them away. Luckily the neighbor two doors down from me noticed the same two young males and stayed around in his car in the drive way to see if they were going to leave. I went down to talk to his wife and she told me that they have been on this street checking out houses and parked cars earlier in the week. Then almost to add insult to injury, I found out that three houses behind where I live got robbed in one day in late October. I canceled my next client and canceled the spinning lesson that I had been looking forward to. I stayed home until we could have time this weekend to do some extra security measures for the house. I am a wreck. Baking and cooking were not a top priority this weekend. I remembered late this afternoon that I had some posts I needed to do of which this one was the most important!! This event is hosted by Dawn at So Cal Foodie.
I wanted to make cookies that would show up well on the blog. I am not a great photographer so I need all the help I can get! So I made red and green cookies. They are called Pinwheels. I have this cute little cookie book (Christmas Cookies by Linda Curtis) that I picked up some place eons ago. I just looked in the front jacket of the book and the copyright date is 1987, although I don't think I have had the book that long! I think it was on some clearance rack. So here is the first step to making the cookies...
I mixed up the dough recipe and divided it into two batches in order to color it. I needed a batch of red and a batch of green. After mixing, I wrapped the two batches up in wax paper and put them in the refrigerator for a hour. Then...I rolled out the red dough in one spot on the cart, then the green. I took the green dough and folded it up and set it on top of the red dough. I used a floured rolling pin and mashed them together. I did my best to roll the two doughs to make a log. I made the mistake of not putting enough flour on the cart so it was a bit sticky. I took a pastry cutter and dipped it in some flour and tried to help the roll go more smoothly. Then I took a pastry brush and brushed off the excess flour as I rolled the dough up. I rolled the dough up in a piece of wax paper and refrigerated it for two more hours.I cut up the dough into thin slices and put them on plain cookie sheet. They baked at the alloted recipe time and temperature. While I enjoyed making these cookies, I didn't follow the directions as far as the time the dough was supposed to be in the refrigerator. I should have waited the 24 hours it called for but they turned out just fine anyway. I have to say that I would cut them thicker than the recipe says. I would also know if my oven runs hot or right on the money. The edges tend to get brown right before your very eyes if you let them stay one second past the recommended baking time. I have some of those in the pictures. They spread out, so don't crowd the pan with too many rounds.
Yield: about 3 dozen (depending on the thickness you cut them)
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, melted (I didn't so this part because I wanted colored cookies-so when I divided the batch into two I used food coloring on each batch)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease several cookie sheets (I didn't do this either). In a large bowl, beat butter at medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar, egg and vanilla while continuing to beat. Sift flour (there are not enough hours in my day to sift flour but you can if you feel you have to)into a small bowl with salt and baking powder and add to butter mixture. Mix well. Divide dough in half and mix chocolate into one half. Wrap both halves in plastic and refrigerate for several hours.
Roll out plain and chocolate dough separately into oblongs about 1/8 thick. Place dark dough on top of light dough and roll up layers together, jelly roll fashion. Wrap up and refrigerate again, over night.
Cut roll into 1/8 thick slices and place on greased cookie sheet, spacing about one inch apart. Bake 8 minutes. Cool on racks.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Fabulous Fudge Recipe
I have a well loved plastic recipe box sitting in my kitchen cabinet right above the coffee machine that is the keeper of all that is old and yummy. I was hankering chocolate yesterday and decided to see what I could whip up. I really didn't feel like being fussy or taking lots of time so I went to "the box". I really wish you could see how yellow the paper clipping is on that index card in the picture. I think I have been carrying that recipe with me everywhere I have lived for over 26 years.
The recipe for Fabulous Fudge came from Heloise.
Fabulous Fudge Recipe
4 1/2 sugar
1 can evaporated milk
8 ounces miniture marshmallows
18 ounces chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
2 cups pecans (broken pieces)
1 tsp vanilla
In a heavy, large saucepan, put 4 1/2 cups sugar and one large can of evaporated milk. Bring slowly to a rolling boil. Let it boil for no longer than 8 minutes.
Remove from the heat and add 8 ounces of miniture marshmallows, 18 ounces chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of butter. Stir until melted.
Add 2 cups broken pecan pieces and 1 tsp vanilla. Spread on a large ungreased pan and when cooled cut into squares.
I made this in a 13X9 pyrex dish and it took about three hours to cool and get firm. It's quick and would make a nice give-away for a plate to give to the neighbors. I usually do about 5-8 pieces and then an assortment of cookies.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Welcome Daily Press Readers
I want to welcome you to The Moveable Feast Food Blog. I have say that I am not a writer nor a photographer. I am a personal chef with a culinary degree, but honestly...I didn't start doing this because of any of that. I have had a great time doing this and have been showing those who are nervous about cooking that it's not rocket science. I have never been a fancy eater except when I got out to dinner and then I like things that I would never want to fix at home. I am not about fussy food because I am just not that kind of person. If I have to deconstruct my food, I don't want to eat it. On the other hand, the presentation has to have some eye appeal.
Special thanks goes to Prue Salasky for being interested in blogging to write an article about it. It has opened up so many doors for me since starting in Sept. I have met so many nice people and have started up a new hobby (not in the cooking field). So put in a key word on a search engine and look for a subject that you are interested in and start reading. You might find you get hooked. I know I did!
Chunky Winter Love!
I know, I know...more soup, but it's COLD here and I want warm things that give me comfort. When I was a kid I thought the only way you could get stew was from a big red can. We all know the national brand I am speaking of. My mom made great stew later in my life and I learned how she did it and now I have honed my own skills at making a simple beef stew.
I took stew meat and tossed it with some all-purpose flour along with some salt and pepper. Then about 1/4 cup of Canola oil went into the stock pot and was heated up. The stew meat was then browned on all sides until it stuck to the bottom of the pot. I used a slotted spoon to get the meat out and put in a bowl on the side for later use. I cut up one onion and three stalks of celery and then the combination went into the left over oil from browning the beef. Once the onions and celery had wilted, I poured in about 1 cup of left over red wine from the refrigerator. The other night it was a bottle of Dunnemore Merlot, which I didn't drink. While the meat was browning I also took four potatoes and cut them up in chunks. I like to leave the skin on all my potatoes, no matter what kind they are. There are so many more benefits to leaving the skins on than to peel them off and trash all those vitamins. Leaving the skins on give an added benefit of color and texture. I chunked up three carrots. After the meat, onions and celery are all cooked, the Merlot was dumped in and once it started to come to a slight bubbly state, I took a wooden spoon and scraped the bottom of the pot. That brown stuff on the bottom adds so much flavor to the stew. The French call it fond. After everything reduced a bit, I dumped in three cups of beef broth, 1 can of diced tomatoes, and 5 small bay leaves.
The rest is just time. I covered the pot with a lid and brought the stew up to a boil, then reduced the heat and walked away. I think the total cooking time was about 2 hours. I tested a piece of meat to be sure that it was fork tender and it was good to go!
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Liquid Winter Love
I am a firm believer that love comes in many, many forms. In the spring it's endless days of rain to help those new green leaves go gang busters. The summer is more rain that nourishes the parched ground that is just begging for a cool drink of water. The fall brings hot coffee, homemade hot chocolate and flavored teas to settle down with in front of the fireplace. During the winter months, liquid love for me is in the form of SOUP and STEWS. I can't get enough of soup in the winter months especially if there is a piece of crusty bread to go with it.
This past weekend hubby was feeling wicked bad and I decided that chicken soup was called for. So I whipped out three boneless chicken breasts, three carrots, three stalks of celery, one onion, a handfull of frozen peas a hand full of dried parsley, three dashes of pountry seasoning, half a bag of left over egg noodles, and made Chicken Noodle soup. It's nothing fancy, but it was hot and homemade and it hit the spot. What is it about Chicken Noodle soup or any soup that makes you feel like you are home?
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Holiday Cookie Exchange #1 hosted by So Cal Foodie
This has been such a long process for one blog entry, but I have say that I had fun doing it. I spent the better part of Friday mixing and baking the cookies. The process is not hard but it is time consuming. I had to make the templates... Then make three batches of the cookie dough...
The three batches of cookie dough were cut into two rolls each to make rolling out the dough easy. After the dough warmed up a little bit, I rolled out the dough and cut out two of each one of the templates.
Once the cookies are baked I made sure that I had two of each one of the 8 templates that I had cut. Plus I had to have graduated sized of rounds for each layer. There needed to be two of each one of them also. I matched up all the stars with the round spacers. I also made some royal icing and iced the cookies.
Next I assembled the tower according to the sizes and it made a tree...
1 cup margarine (if you are not going to eat this, then save the money and use the margarine, if not then use butter)
1 Cup Sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 TBS milk
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Cream margarine and sugar until fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and milk and then blend well. Add the flour in 1/2 cup at a time and mix well. Divide the dough in half and wrap in either wax paper or plastic wrap and chill for two hours until firm enough to roll out.
Preheat oven to 375
Baking pan: ungreased cookie sheet or jelly roll pan.
Bake for 8-10 minutes depending on the size of the cut out. Let cookies cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet and then transfer to a cooking rack.
3 1/2 cups (1 pound) Confectioners' sugar
3/4 tsp cream of tarter
3 egg whites
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix for 5 minutes (you can use a hand mixer, a whisk or a Kitchen Aid). Scrap down the sides to make sure all the sugar is mixed in. If you store the icing for for more than a few hours, cover with plastic wrap directly on the icing. This icing works great with coloring!
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Give Me S'More!
The weather here in VA hasn't been normal this fall. One day it's lovely and the next it's windy, dreary and cold. Problem is...this is almost Christmas and I have only had a fire in the fireplace twice. Desperate times call for desperate measures. So the other night I resorted to irrational behavior. I had to have a S'more. So you do what you have to do to satisfy the craving. Is this shameless or what? Stop laughing...I know there are some of you who have done this over your gas stove. I might have done it there but we have electric. So I did what I had to do.