baking

5. Bake an Apple Pie

breakfast

We are finally sleeping at the new place. We’re not fully moved out of the old apartment, but we have officially started living in my new home.

The shininess of it all is still shiny enough that I feel special and sort of woo woo positive about setting up new housing and home based rituals. I have not had a formal kitchen table since I had an on-campus apartment in grad school so I’m still enjoying the ability to actually set a table and eat at a table. We made a rule based on both an attempt to keep our new furniture as nice as possible for as long as possible, and the summer of bugs, that we wouldn’t eat in the living room. We have a small space built into the kitchen that’s big enough for a small table to act like a separate dining space.

I needed a break from packing last night, plus it was raining and already dark by the time I got out of work [I’m one of those people who work four ten hour shifts between Wednesday and Saturday]. I hadn’t tested the oven yet and decided it was time for a pie.

pie

I don’t scratch my pies, not really. Pie crust is one of the products I fully admit to buying in a box. Mine are terrible, on a level where the amount of years necessary to improve them daunts me and I just find it easier to buy a box of crusts. I don’t peel my apples unless I’m really bored or looking for ways of filling time. I normally toss them with sugar, flour, and pumpkin spice but I just went with cinnamon this time [better quality cinnamon than I normally have in the house, however]. A little bit of butter.

It came out of the oven around 11 last night, and I went straight to bed. This morning I got up before Mid, set up his plate for breakfast, made his coffee. Wandered off to do whatever.

When I came back into the front of the apartment he was sprawled in front of Star Trek, on the couch. With the pie.

Our plan of not eating in the living room made it a full 24 hours.

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Success [Simple Applesauce Layered Cake]

apples-214148_1280

I have finally managed to do something that has always bothered me to anger that I couldn’t accomplish.

I have finally made a layered cake that didn’t fall to pieces. Sure it’s lumpy and my frosting skills are sub par (and I ran out of frosting) but I have finally -made- a successful layered cake.

All of this wedding stuff means that there’s stuff in this apartment that I almost never have, one of them being white cake mix. I also have a zoo of half or less filled canning jars in the fridge from the ends of batches of the stress canning I’ve been doing. I combined two of these things, a cake mix and applesauce, to clear out jars and use up mixes that would just sit there otherwise.

Simple Applesauce Layered Cake

1 white cake mix

2 round cake pans

1 1/2 cups water

about a pint’s worth of applesauce

3 eggs

Optional: pumpkin or cake spice

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix cake mix, fruit, water and eggs.

Pour into pans, and bake for 34-36 minutes.

Let cool, remove from pans and frost with frosting of choice.

Pumpkin Bread with Whiskey and Raisins

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I understand the point of seasonal cooking.

I also understand that if I’m working only with the seasonal food available at this time of the year, I’m going to be eating a healthy well rounded diet of rock salt and pot holes.

One of the joys of home food preservation is the ability to still eat local (or localish) and be out of season. I have bags of pumpkin in the freezer, and I love pumpkin year round. I’m not one to limit a flavor to one season or another.

I bought raisins months ago with the intention of making soul cakes but never got that far. I melt my butter with the coffee when I make recipes like this, so I just dumped my dried out raisins in that pot to let them plump up again a little.

Note:

I used a Pyrex baking pan and it took forever to bake because everything takes forever to bake in that pan. I think I finally pulled it at the 1 1/2 hour mark.

Pumpkin bread with whiskey and raisins (modified slightly from Simply Recipes)

1 1/2 cup flour

1 cup sugar

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 shot whiskey

1 tea baking soda

1 tablespoon pumpkin spice

2 eggs

1/4 cup hot coffee

1 stick butter, melted

2 tea molasses

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

 

Preheat oven to 350

Mix all wet (sugar, eggs, molasses, butter, coffee, pumpkin, whiskey)

Mix all dry excluding raisins and chocolate

Mix both together till just combined

Add chocolate and raisins

Place into a 9×5 bread pan

Bake 45-60 minutes

Orange Cookies

firstlake

I  made these cookies a couple of weeks ago during one of my rare weekends off from work.

I love the flavor of citrus, especially during spring. I know that citrus is a winter crop, but there’s something about orange that makes me think of the light coming back and increasing warmth.

Buffalo seems to be holding out okay through the thaw-the city is having a spat of terrible roofing issues because of the combination of the never ending snow and the cold. There were concerns about widespread flooding, but it doesn’t seem to be leaning that direction.

I have started walking outside again but I fear that with that I may be overeager. I’m still having to dodge snow banks and black ice, but the need to not be indoors is stronger than any sidewalk self preservation instinct I might have.

These cookies are pretty amazing. They’re fluffy, and sweet, and decently orange but not, like, orange popsicle overpowering. I used tangelos but I’m dreaming of a version with lemon and raspberries and white chocolate chips.

*These are supposed to be glazed but we ate them so quickly the batch never made it that far.

Orange Cookies-from Taste of Home

1 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cup sugar

1 cup buttermilk

3 eggs

2/3 cup orange juice

4 1/2 tea orange zest

3 to 4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

Cream the sugar and the butter. I added the zest to the sugar since I used fresh; if you use dried, add it as a dry ingredient later.

Add the eggs, milk, and juice.  Mix well.

Starting with 3 cups flour, add the rest. Mix well. You want a stiffish dough but it doesn’t have to be terribly tight, you’re going to chill the dough.

Chill the dough for at least an hour (the butter needs to solidify so the cookies will hold their shape).

Preheat oven to 375.

Drop about 2 inches apart on cookie tray, and bake for 10 minutes.

Pryaniki

pryaniki

I’ve been having some fun cooking outside of my food comfort ranges.

If you  pay attention to food blogging there’s a lot of similarities across blogs in relation to the projects they take on. The same types of food show up again and again.

Unfortunately a lot of it has to do with stats and traffic. You make what you think will bring people to the blog-or what photographs well. I understand that.

But part of the reason that I’ve not been posting a lot of food is that I’ve been in a food rut, and I’m not particularly interested in common or frequent foods. When I have been cooking I’ve been making recipes I’m finding on Amish groups, or food that I’ve not heard about, or things I haven’t had since I was a kid.

I found this recipe on Lublyou for Russian pryaniki. It fits my current draw back to my heritage, and yes, I will admit that the photography played a part in the decision.

I didn’t really change the recipe this time, all I did was add a little salt. So I’m going to link straight to the recipe this time.

Pryaniki

Baking the Bacon

bacon-31754_1280

I guess that this is an entry in the Pinterest series? I’ve seen this suggestion everywhere, so I guess it works.

I hate cooking bacon. I hate how long it takes, how much it spits, and how I have to sit around and babysit it. I don’t mind greasy bacon, so when I found suggestions to just bake your bacon on a lined cookie sheet, I thought I would try it.

A lot of the original posts talked about using tin foil on a cookie sheet. I lined a deep lipped 13×9 baking pan with tin foil leaving the edges sort of poking up. I split up my bacon into chunks and put it into an oven preheated to 375. I checked and flipped it at the 10 minute mark, noticed that it wasn’t crisping at all, and upped the temperature to 400.

I ended up being happy with it at the 30 minute mark, checking on it every ten minutes. My oven didn’t start smoking, so I’m assuming that the pan caught most of the splatters.

The bacon wasn’t nearly as crispy, but I was satisfied with the outcome.

So shorthand:

Preheat oven to 375.

Put bacon into a 13×9 pan lined with foil, leaving the edges tented up to help catch the splatters.

Bake, checking and flipping the bacon every 10 minutes to make sure it doesn’t scorch. Stay close to your oven and check more frequently if it seems to be smoking-don’t leave completely unintended in case of grease fires, same as any other bacon cooking method.

Increase temperature to no more than 400 if it doesn’t seem to want to brown and crisp.

Remove from oven, and drain same as stove top bacon.

Souring Milk For Baking

Pixabay

Pixabay

My winter project is going to be going through old photos on this blog-retaking project photos if I can, finding holder images on Pixabay if I have to, or resorting to making images in Picmonkey if it really comes down to it.

I have been going through the 2012 entries, especially, and noticing just how dark a lot of them are. I don’t know if this is just a ‘march of time’ issue or if it’s just that my current camera is that much clearer-but I’m trying to at least run photos through an editing software to see if they’re salvageable.

They might not be. I don’t know. But if anything it gives me something to do when the snow machine kicks in.

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Buttermilk is a weird baking staple in that a lot of recipes call for it, but rarely in the quantities that it’s sold in.

I do hope that you enjoy pancakes.

In theory, there’s no reason that you couldn’t split the container and freeze it-I know plenty of people who do it and if you have the space for it, I think that it’s a fine idea. However, I don’t have the space for it.

Souring milk for cooking is extremely simple and doesn’t take up space.

Add about a tablespoon of regular white or cider vinegar to a liquid measuring cup, then measure out milk to make up the volume of buttermilk needed in the recipe. Let it sit for about five minutes.

You should be able to see where the top of the milk looks like it’s slightly curdled.

Use in your recipe in place of buttermilk.

baking