Archive for January, 2010

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It’s beer-thirty somewhere…

January 21, 2010

The bread bug bit again last night.  Five loaves by the end of the evening, because I’m crazy.  This post is about one of them.

I didn’t want all of this month’s recipes to be sweet, but couldn’t decide what to do for savory.  I really didn’t want to have to go to the store to buy any special ingredients.  And then I realize, we have beer.  LOTS of beer.  No, we don’t live in a frat house.  We overbought for our wedding a few months ago, and even after giving a few cases away, we’re still working our way through the leftovers.  Sad but true.

Mrslovey remembered that her mom used to make beer bread from scratch.  I’ve never done it before, but how hard can it be?  After digging out the recipe card and looking it over, I’m amazed at how simple it is.  Really, really simple.  I know that lots of people swear by the beer bread mixes that you can buy at home food parties, but this recipe knocks the socks off of those.  It’s a beautiful golden brown color, fresh, tangy, and lacks the processed flavor of the boxed mixes.  And the best part?  You pay up to ten dollars (not including the beer you still have to add!) for the mixes.  Mrsloveymom’s recipe costs less than two dollars to make, beer-inclusive.  Who can argue with that?? Read the rest of this entry ?

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I know it’s not fall, so what?

January 18, 2010

Mrslovey’s hometown has a Farmers Market that’s been operating in the same location for 84 years.  It’s definitely an institution, although I must admit that I have never made it there.  When we lived out there, we didn’t appreciate good local food the way we do now.  And now that we’re back in New England, opportunities to check out the market are few and far between.  Last summer Mrslovey and her mother decided to go visit the old market.  Having driven 13 hours straight the day before (and not being a member of the insane early riser club, like those two are), I opted to stay in bed.

They came back just after I woke up, proudly showing off the vast quantities of fresh produce they had acquired.  And there, in the bottom of the bag, was the most prized purchase of the morning.  The market had put together a cookbook as a fundraiser, so they each bought a copy.  People, this is no tiny mimeographed handout.  This book is substantial – over 180 pages.  The majority is, of course, delicious-looking recipes from good solid midwestern farm folk.  Also included is a history of the market, with a nice selection of pictures showing how it’s changed (and stayed the same) over the years.

Just like any community cookbook, there are sometimes multiple versions of the same recipe.  When I decided I wanted to make bread to use some pumpkin I had put up last fall, I had several to choose from.  I used two of the cookbook recipes as a basis, and added my own  variation (and glaze) to it.  It came out VERY moist, and the glaze added just the right touch.

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Everybody deserves chocolate

January 16, 2010

I just realized that the virtual oven has been quiet this week, as the real oven has been in overdrive.  Lots of baking has been going on, and most of it wasn’t quick bread or muffin related, so will have to wait for another month.  In the midst of it all, however, I took an evening to make three dozen Chocolate Breakfast Muffins from one of my favorite recipe sources, mail order catalogs, and retail stores – King Arthur Flour.   These muffins are incredible.  Little handfuls of amazingly chocolately goodness, so compelling that you want to open up the oven and lick the piping-hot batter while they bake, because you can’t possibly wait another minute to taste them.  Seriously, they’re THAT good. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The lemony lemon thing, with all the lemons

January 10, 2010

As you may recall, last week I had a lot of reservations about my muffins, and needed some reassurance.  In addition to feedback from coworkers, I also sought out one of my baking mentors, K.  Even though she’s been trying to avoid sweets, she was willing to take one for the team so that I could get the opinion of someone whose oven I trust completely.  To thank her for this, I offered to let her pick my next recipe.  Almost instantly, the words ‘lemon poppy bread’ came tumbling out of her mouth.  Okay, works for me!

This recipe is very high on the lemon scale, without being totally over the top.  The texture is almost in the realm of pound cake.  And the glaze that you pour over the hot loaf when it comes out of the oven…nice.  It soaks in, adds more lemon flavor, and gives just a little crackle from the sugar.

So thanks, K, for your brave sacrifice for the greater good – this one’s for you!

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Sometimes, you just gotta believe

January 5, 2010

Have you ever opened the mailbox to find a packet of unsolicited recipe cards peeking out?  Usually they’re a teaser, trying to convince you to subscribe! now! and you’ll get a packet every month for the rest of forever (for a low, low price, of course).  We tend to get these every few months, and like to poke through the recipes before throwing them out.  Recently, one of the cards promised the ‘Best-Ever’ muffins.   The base recipe looked promising, but not quite what I was looking for.  Not being in a blueberry mood, I decided to make them with cranberries.  Not too shabby!

Last night, I decided to make them again, but was bored with the plain berry approach.  What the heck could I do to them to make them more interesting?   Hmmm…walnuts!  Cranberry walnut muffins sounded comforting and delicious.  I estimated the quantity of nuts, whipped up a double batch, sprinkled some coarse sparkling sugar on top, and threw them in the oven.

When they came out, I was devastated.  They were darker than I wanted, probably due to using metal pans with muffin papers, rather than the silicone pan (without papers) that I had used the first time.  The walnuts were overwhelming, making the whole thing taste like tree bark.  I thought they were awful.

We had differing opinions on what to do next.  I wanted to trash them, modify the recipe some more, and not post a peep about it until I had a successful result.  Mrslovey was of the mind that I should still write a post, describe the fail, and then re-post a revised recipe later on, once I had it nailed down.  I just didn’t know what to do.

So I did what anyone would do, I ignored the muffins and started poking around online.  Ran into friend L, and started talking about my muffin frustrations, and how I was torn between wanting to get a post out and wanting to have a ‘perfect’ recipe.  L reminded me that even if you don’t get the results you want, it can still be a learning experience.  I left the conversation feeling better about things, and decided to take the muffins to work to get feedback from a larger sampling of tasters.

Boyhowdy, did I ever get feedback – they loved them!  According to my coworkers, the muffins were moist, the sugar gave a nice crunch, and the cranberry/walnut combo worked to keep them from being overly sweet.  Seems the amount of walnuts was exactly right.  So I guess the lesson learned is this: sometimes, you just need to step away for a moment, have a little faith in your abilities, and taste the muffins again in the morning.

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January – Quick breads and muffins

January 3, 2010

There’s a lot going on in January, so quick breads and muffins seem like they’ll be the perfect theme.  And as the mrs said, “well, they’re…..quick.”  Right, couldn’t have said it better myself.  Anyway, keep checking in, this month should be  a fast and furious flurry of posts!