Thursday, October 17, 2019

Molasses Cookies

There's an echo in the air now that Autumn has arrived. In my part of this world there's a large population of Amish people. In fact, a good portion of the community around me is comprised of Amish. My temporary abode sits at the intersection of a very busy road yet still the Amish brave the fast moving traffic in their traditional horse and buggy mode of transportation. I can hear the clicking of the horse hooves echo across the expanse of my front porch. There's something nostalgic about listening to the horses trot past on a chilly October morning.

It's chilly now in Ohio. The kind of weather that begs for warm loving scents to roll out of my kitchen. Today is Molasses cookie day. I love Joe Froggers and my Chocolate Orange Gingerbread Cookies both of which can be found here on the blog. The recipe today is for straight forward, pure flavor of Molasses Cookies. Bake them! You'll be rewarded with a kitchen that smells of Autumn.

The cookies are crisp around the edges and deliciously dense and chewy in the middle. The butter is really pronounced in flavor so use a good quality unsalted butter. Not all butter is the same. A cheaper butter with a higher water content will not produce a high quality product. Shop wisely.

Today I strayed away from my usual go to of Maida Heatter and her fabulous cookie recipes. This recipe is a Martha Stewart creation. I have merely duplicated the fine folks over there and will sing it's praises for this delicious little morsel. I did have almost an entire 1/4 of sugar leftover from the rolling process. I just sat this aside and will use it in my tea later. You might want to reduce the amount to avoid waste. These cookies are very easy to make and bake.




Molasses Cookies 

2 cups of all purpose flour (important to spoon the flour into your cup and then level off)
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. of nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cup of sugar (again I didn't need the entire 1/2 cup for rolling the cookies)
3/4 cup of unsalted butter
1/4 cup of molasses
1 egg

Preheat your over to 350 degrees. This recipe will make about 36 cookies, if you're not like me and eat the raw batter.
Whisk together in a bowl the flour, cinnamon, soda, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.
Place 1/2 sugar in a bowl and set aside for rolling the cookies.
In a separate bowl beat the butter for a minute to lighten it up, add the 1 cup of sugar and mix until light. Beat in the egg and then the molasses. This is a quick process and you just need to mix until everything is well combined.
Lower your mixer speed to low and add your dry ingredients. Just mix until everything is mixed together. Don't over mix.
Using your hands make small walnut sized balls and roll them in the sugar you have set aside.
Place the cookies on sheet pan at around 2 inches apart.
Bake just until firm and avoid over baking. Cool for one minute on the pan before trying to move to a wire rack to cool!


I'm attaching the echoes of hoof beats and the smell of crisp chilly air to this post. I hope you find a warm, heart glowing moment for yourself.

Until another time. May love surround your heart and mind.












Sunday, March 24, 2019

Hofbrauhaus Cleveland Ohio

Recent adventures found me at Hofbrauhaus in Cleveland. It's cold in Ohio during the first quarter of the year, especially in the Northeast near Lake Erie. One step inside of the Hofbrauhaus you'll be met with a warm and inviting environment.The dining area is open with an echo of past laughter and lively spirit. On the day that I visited, we were only 2 of 7 guests dining for an early lunch. I took advantage of the empty dining room to capture some photos. This beautiful dining room has a presence. The Bier Hall will delight your senses before ever having been served a bite of food.




Eager to sample some of the menu offerings it was time to get down to business. This day was Schnitzel Tuesday! Lucky me!! The portions were very generous for a mere price of $9.99. With this being my first and only visit to Hofbrauhaus my recommendations are based solely on a Tuesday experience. If your visit is more centered around enjoying the spirits and a lively atmosphere you may prefer a weekend visit. My focus was on the food! Although the spirits are highly acclaimed.


I ordered the Schnitzel Cordon Bleu but sneaked bites of the Jagerschnitzel from the plate across the table from me.
First up was my Schnitzel Cordon Bleu.


The breaded pork cutlet was filled with Bavarian ham and Swiss cheese. Yes, this was delicious. True confession. I was most curious about German fried potatoes served with the cutlet. Equally well done. If it's true we eat with our eyes. I suppose it's only true to say we can experience writings about food with our eyes as well. Please don't let my amateur food photography dampen your eagerness to visit Hofbrauhaus. As I am neither a professional food critic or food stylist. Just a mere layperson chowing on good grub.The potatoes were perfectly cooked and seasoned.
But... as soon as the plate arrived across the table from me, I knew I would sneaking samples of the Spatzle.
The Jagerschnitzel being an unbreaded pork cutlet with a "delicious creamy Hunters mushroom sauce" was served with Hofbrauhaus's spatzle. Although I am not a mushroom lover, this sauce was divine. If ever I visit the Hofbrauhaus again, I'll be sure to order the spatzle rather than potatoes.
It's rude to eat off the plate across the table....or is it?? I managed to politely sample a few fork fulls of the perfectly cooked spatzle.

Perhaps it's my own failings to accomplish the perfect spatzle at home or maybe this spatzle is just that damned good. Either way, it's a good goal to strive towards. I'm going to scour my cookbooks to find the perfect recipe. I hope to master these tender delicious tidbits in my own kitchen.

Not all dining experiences are positive ones. This particular day at this particular establishment was for me an overall delightful encounter.

Don't forget to swing by the gift shop to pick up a little swag.


Monday, March 18, 2019

Almond Brittle Biscotti

"I'm not where I thought I would be or where I wanted to be at this point in my life." Have you ever uttered these words to someone else or has someone spoken these syllables into your life? The quotation marks are intentional as they represent words which have echoed within the chambers of my soul from the moment I was told them nearly a year ago. To reconcile ourselves with pain we must first be thankful for the pain. What a minute?This is such a tough notion to wrap our flawed human desire around, as most of us will shut down rather than dive into hurt.

The Tibetan Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron opened my soul to search beyond love and to examine attachment. We can both love and yet separate ourselves from being attached to people. For in loving them we can also learn to let go of them. The love does not seize to exist. It's merely transformed. Perhaps it's through death, divorce or a geographical distance that we find ourselves separated from a love we once came to know and could not or would not imagine ever being apart from.

As we enter into the season of Easter, I ponder upon how Christ spoke of such separation at the time of his Crucifixion. As he expressed the feelings of being forsaken by his father. Religion does not solely represent peace and love. Faith however in a collective spirit of inner self love is a common thread through out all religions..In that common thread our soul can find peace.

Love yourself where you are at this point in your life. Give love and be open to receiving love. Not the greedy sexual desire of love as Henri Nowen speaks of in his book The Return Of The Prodigal Son. There is a pure love. Outwardly, we can fool, trick and be impostors of love. Inwardly, until we reconcile ourselves to our own pain and reconcile ourselves with the source of pain, the searching will continue and self love will always elude us. We will never arrive to the point in our life where we "want to be."

Offer praise and thanksgiving for suffering as it is in those times that we see the face of God.

Almond Brittle Biscotti

  • Make your Almond Brittle
  • Make your Biscotti Batter
  • Shape
  • Bake
  • Slice
  • Bake Again
  • Share with Love


Make your Almond Brittle
2 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of sugar
1/4 cup sliced blanched almonds

Melt the butter with the sugar in a skillet over medium heat. Add almonds and cook until the nuts turn golden brown and are caramelized. This will take a little while, shake your pan, stir, watch them closely. Once the almonds and sugar syrup are golden turn the mixture out onto a parchment lined baking sheet to cool.


Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Make your dough.
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Cream that butter and sugar together until nice and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl combine your flour, soda, salt and baking powder. Add the flour mixture to your creamed mixture and gently stir them all together. Remember you want a nice tender dough. Just combine everything and then stir in your beautifully caramelized almonds.


Divide the dough in half. Creating 2 individual sections. Shape each section into logs on your parchment lined baking sheet.



These should be about 1/2" high by 1 1/2" wide by 14'" long. Wet your fingers to make this process work more efficiently.

Bake for 25 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes.
Place on cutting board or flat surface and slice each log with a serrated knife into about 3/8 inch thick slices. Yes, the dough really expands in the baking process.


Lay the slices back on the baking sheet.
Bake for an additional 10 minutes or until your desired crunchiness. I baked mine for about 12 minutes.





Bake these to share with those you love. By all means bake them just for you. Love yourself!









Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Wassail




From the book entitled:
 Revolutionary Recipes Colonial Food, Lore &  More.

An old English custom which is part of the New Years celebrations, this Wassail recipe is non-alcoholic. Spike it up to your liking! The master of the house would be offered a bowl of Wassail from which he would drink and then pass the bowl around to the guests. Hmmm I don't suggest this part of the custom but, please feel free to cheerfully repeat the phrase Wass Hael, it's Saxon and means "be whole" or "be well". 
I drank the first half of this glass full of warm, sweet beverage. As it cooled, it became incredibly sweet. Hence the addition of booze, I do believe. Or lots of ice cubes and enjoy it cold. I'll be refrigerating and or possibly freezing the remainder and serving chilled from now on. If you aren’t making this for a crowd you might want to only make half of the recipe. I did. Now I have Wassail and leftover juices in my refrigerator for the rest of the week. Modest and frugal! 

Here's what you'll need:

Wassail

3 cups of boiling water
3 black tea bags (or family size tea bags if you have them) 
2 cups of white sugar
1 quart of apple cranberry juice (or 1 pint of cranberry juice and 1 pint of apple cider)
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 1/2 cups of orange juice
1/2 cup of lemon juice

Steep the tea bags in the boiling water for five minutes. Add the sugar, apple cranberry juice, and spices, then simmer for 5 more minutes. Add the citrus juices and heat until simmering again. Serve warm....but you know...I'll be serving mine over ice.





Friday, January 11, 2019

Split Pea Soup

This soup is devoured every time I make it. But, every time I make it, the recipe varies. I’ll tell you how it came together tonight. The result was as great as every other time! Making the soup and enjoying my kitchen because it smells like life! 
What you will need.

Split Pea Soup 

Half pound of dried split peas 
6 cups of chicken broth
2 bay leaves 
1 tablespoon of dehydrated onions 
1 carrot peeled and chopped fine 
1/2 pound of lean chunks of ham
1/2 cup of heavy cream (or milk, or tonight I used half&half) 

Prepare the peas according to package directions. Chuck all of the ingredients except the heavy cream into a nice sturdy cook pot. 
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 1 hour. Purée to the thickness you desire and leave chunks or don’t purée at all. That’s the beauty of soup. Make it how you best enjoy it Add the heavy cream and as much black pepper to your taste.

There’s something so earthy and satisfying about this soup. I’m pretty sure if you read the nutritional label on the split pea bag you’ll understand. It’s healthy ( minus the hog)  The hog tastes good though, I think you’ll agree. 

It’s not exciting to look at in the bowl. We might eat with our eyes but, this is best enjoyed by your tongue. Hoping you’ll make this or any version of homemade Split Pea Soup soon. 


Monday, December 31, 2018

Cheese Puffs

Nothing but love for these little delights. Perfect for a dinner party or indulge yourself in their scrumptious flavor just for you. The choux pastry can be made ahead and frozen until ready to use. The make ahead quality makes this recipe work for me. I can throw together the pastry, enjoy a few puffs with dinner and freeze the rest for another meal. I think you'll love them.

Here's what you'll need.

1/2 cup all purpose flour (sifted)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup milk
2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup hard cheese of choice (I used Parmesan)
Beaten egg for glaze
Seeds of your choice ( I used poppy seeds. Sesame is a good choice as well)

* If you are planning to freeze these, do not brush with egg prior to freezing. Instead, take them straight from the freezer, brush with egg, top with seeds and bake them right away.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place the butter in a heavy bottom saucepan on medium heat. As the butter begins melting add the milk, water, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil. Add all of the flour at one time. Stirring constantly. Cook over low heat for about 1 to 2 minutes or until the dough forms a ball and leaves the sides of the pan.
Congrats! You just started some choux pastry dough.
Place the dough into a bowl and using a mixer, beat until cooled to lukewarm. Add the beaten eggs. Mix well. The dough will look sloppy but it'll come together. Add the cheese. Or also throw in some of your favorite herbs at this point. A tablespoon of chives would do nicely.
On a parchment lined baking sheet, make 8 gorgeous mounds of dough. Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle with seeds. The seeds give a nice crunch.
Bake for 10 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 25 -30 minutes.

Bake just two for you or double the recipe and bake sixteen for a crowd. It's up to you!

Happy New Year! 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Swedish Cinnamon Slices

This recipe originated from the book entitled Biscotti by Lou Pappas. I made the change of using Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream specified in the recipe. Here's what they look like.
For helpful hints about this recipe please read the information following the instructions.



Swedish Cinnamon Slices

2/3 cup blanched slivered almonds
1 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar packed
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tablespoon of cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the almonds on a bake sheet and toast in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes until slightly brown. Set aside to cool.
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the extract, yogurt and eggs.
Mix together the cinnamon, salt, baking powder, flour and soda. Add this to the cream mixture and stir gently until mixed together. Fold in the almonds.
The next part is a little tricky if you've never made Biscotti before.
On a greased and floured bake sheet or use parchment paper. You are going to form two logs with the dough. Divide the dough in half in your mixing bowl. Forming two logs about 1/2" high. 1 1/2" wide and 15" long.
Bake in the middle of your preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the biscotti, reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Allow the biscotti to cool for 5 minutes then transfer to a cutting board or flat surface.With a serrated knife, slice the logs into 1/2' slices on a 45 degree angel. Stand the slices upright on the baking sheet and return to the oven for another 10 minutes or longer. Let cool on rack. Place in airtight container.Makes about 3 dozen.

Helpful information.
The dough is sticky. Moisten your fingertips with water throughout the process as needed. Start forming the logs by placing dollops of the dough in a row. Don't worry about being totally accurate here.

You can smooth these out later with your moistened fingertips.



As the recipe suggests, after the bake time, as you are slicing these, make sure they are thick enough. I cut mine too thin and it made them harder to handle when placing back on the bake sheet.

Tender for a biscotti. You won't break a tooth on these bad boys. No dunking needed.

One final note. I didn't have slivered almonds on hand. I just finely chopped whole almonds. I think the end result would be better had I used the slivered almonds. Maybe don't skimp on this. I'll use slivered almonds next time.
But, alas when a broken heart is needing a baking fix, like a junkie... you'll turn to any supply you can get your hands on to get you there.
No sour cream, no slivered almonds, no problem.
HUT 2...3...4...


Perseverance

If you're new here, take a minute to check out the tab entitled "About", The words written today will be better understood as you read.

Columbia Creations... do I look for the connection therefore I find it, or does this reoccurring theme truly seem to unravel?
As I sat on the phone with my local gas company today, switching the bill from Mister's name to my own. The surreal reminder of this blog shot through me like an electric pulse. Right through to my very core.

It's been nearly two years since my last post.

During this time period, I have endured and been grieving the loss of my mother, the death of my brother, the death of both of my beloved dogs, the end of my marriage to Mister.

I tell you this list of personal catastrophes not looking for comfort as there is no earthly way to overcome. Breath. Accept. Release. Let Go. Repeat. Daily if not hourly at times.

So, good old Columbia Gas Company turned my writer bone back on. I considered starting a new blog. A fresh, updated, solo venture blog.

 Yet, every post.
 Every triumph in gardening, Every adventure in travels. Every recipe tasted and enjoyed, were and still are the shining truths and accomplishments of my experiences.

I fired up the oven today, dusted off the cookie sheets.
I will come back to this place.
This place is my home.
This place is my expression.
 Columbia Creations and I have been stagnant. But, like the Dahlias I've grown. We both will bust open in bold bloom once again.


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Pot Roast


Okay let's make this.

What you'll need: Here's your list

Beef Roast (rump, chuck, whatever is one sale)
Potatoes (Russet preferred)
Onion
Celery
Carrots
Bay leaves
Marjoram (Dried)
Oregano (Dried)
Tomato Paste
Beef Broth

Here's your measurements: Your procedure

2 to 3 lbs. rump roast cut into one inch cubes
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. marjoram
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

1 tablespoon of tomato paste
6 cups of beef broth ( I used chicken today cause that's what I had on hand)
1 Tablespoon of bacon fat or olive oil or whatever oil you have
1/2 cup carrots finely diced
1/2 cup celery finely dice
1/2 cup onion finely diced
4 large carrots cut into chunks
7 potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
1 teaspoon of oregano
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. marjoram

Finely dice a stalk of celery, half of an onion and one of the carrots until you have a 1/2 cups of each vegetable.
 Cube the meat into bite size chunks.
 Mix together the flour with the first measurements of oregano, marjoram, salt and pepper.

While your fat is heating in a large cook pot, dredge the meat in the flour.

Working in small batches brown the cubed meat just enough to brown the flour and remove to a plate for a few minutes. Leave the drippings in the pan as you move onto the next step. We just want to brown on all of the sides. Don't get crazy about this, just work in small patches. Take your time, shake the pan, move the meat around until it's brown and the white of flour is gone.

Saute the half cups of vegetables in the cook pot that you just removed the meat from, add the tomato paste and stir until you can smell the paste has cooked and doesn't have a raw smell and until the onions are sorta soft looking. Add the additional oregano, and marjoram and  the bay leaves.


 Return the meat to the cook pot. Stir and slowly add only 4 cups of your broth. You can use water, a little beer, a combination of all. Just so that you have about 4 cups of liquid. Bring this up to a boil and immediately reduce the heat to a slow simmer. Cover the pot with a good fitting lid. Set your timer for one hour. Relax and smell the yummy cooking. Check on it in an hour to make sure there's enough liquid still and see if the meat is tender. Set your timer for another 30 minutes.

 Meanwhile peel your potatoes and carrots. Cut into nice chunks. Wait for you timer to tell you the 30 minutes is up and toss the second round of carrots and potatoes into your soup pot, along with another 2 cups of liquid. Cook for another 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender when a fork is inserted. Serve with your favorite bread.

 This has a nice layering of flavors. You'll find the first addition of vegetables have cooked into the broth and are all but unrecognizable, just all flavor. You will end up with a nice broth that's slightly thickened because of the flour on the meat and the slow cook process in which the finely diced vegetables have become a part of the broth. A real comfort food. For me this is best served with a few slices of toast. Toast is a comfort food too in my book.

When using the canned stock the sodium can be high and for this reason very little salt is used. The vegetables and herbs create a nice flavor and I don't need additional salt. If you use homemade stock or water, additional salt may be needed. As always season to your taste.

 I dumped a cup of frozen corn in there today because it was in my freezer I just emptied the bag in, you could add some frozen peas too in the very last 5 minutes if you wanted. This is my reincarnation of a recipe from the Joy of Cooking cookbook.

It's January here in Ohio and slowing down is made all the easier with the frigid air outside. Let's cook again soon.


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Meaningful Connections

Meaningful connections with people.
There's an old expression "barking up the wrong tree." This idiom is pinging around inside my brain. Sincere human interaction seems to have fallen away and has been replaced with pitiful empty popular culture. Have we become content with an emoji and a "like" as our sole source of approval, acceptance, and interactions? Is this the culprit of young adults being unable to truly connect in meaningful ways?

 Dwelling in the trees of humanity.
 I know there are genuine attributes to be found. Surely, I've been standing at the bottom of a tree barking. Barking... where those qualities are off limits to me. They exist in another tree. We all deserve to have meaningful connections with people.

On this day. This very Christmas Day. The best gift of all has been the acceptance of knowing that it's okay to stop barking. Because that tree does not provide what it is I need.

Mister and I have big plans for the New Year. We are kicking off the holiday with a fun trip close to home. Aging in spirit, mind and body. Still relishing in the youth of our youngest child who keeps us current and involved. Otherwise we could surely become reclusive relics and be just fine doing so. Guarding our youngest from the traps of popular culture and the stagnant emptiness of social media. We have grown. As individuals and as a family.

If you're finding a relationship in your life is leaving more of a broken feeling than genuine acceptance, consider pondering what you are hoping to find with that individual. Perhaps those qualities are no where to be found. Forge meaningful connections. Do yourself this kindness.

This is my gift to me this Christmas 2016.

Merry Christmas to you!