Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cookie bender

I don't know if it is the chill in the house, being tired from going back to work, or something else completely, but I want cookies. And more cookies. Its not like me to crave cookies, I generally trend towards fruity sugary things like poundcake and berries, ice cream, etc. Since I went back to work last week, I've tried to keep things simple in the kitchen, to get in a few routines again. I've been packing lunches... and making cookies. 

The only recipe I will ever use for oatmeal raisin cookies is the Quaker Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookie recipe, but I make it is either cranberries or dried cherries (like this time). The cookies in the top photo are my mother in law's wedding cookies. My mother made these when I was young too, and  think the recipe is pretty standard, though called Danish wedding cookies, Mexican wedding cookies, and/or Italian wedding cookies. 

"International" Wedding Cookies

1 c. pecans
1 stk butter (cold is fine if you are using a food processor)
1/4 c. confectioner's sugar
1 tsp.vanilla extract
1 c. all purpose flour (a GF all purpose blend works OK too)
1/8 tsp salt
additional confectioner's sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 350F. Put pecans in food processor and whiz until finely ground. Add all remaining ingredients (cut the butter into smaller pieces) and whiz until a dough forms. Use small spoonfuls or scoop from a small sized batter scoop. Roll to shape the balls uniformly. You may need to chill the dough if you find the shaping process difficult. Bake on an un-greased cookie sheet in 350F oven for 10 minutes. Gently roll hot cookies in confectioner's sugar to coat. Leave to cool completely on a cooling rack and re-roll in the sugar. 

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Sunday, October 19, 2014


We took a bit of a road trip, the longest the kayaks have ever been from home, down to Upper Pleasant Valley Wildlife Management Area and Tygart Lake. It was uncharted territory for us and a nice departure from the usual scenery. The foliage was just perfect. 

We paddled all around the pond for a while, spooked out a family of red winged blackbirds, paddled up the creek and through the cow pasture until a downed tree across the creek prohibited further passage. 

We were entertained by an osprey that kept screeching from its perch and diving into the pond for a snack. It was fascinating to watch, and something we'd never witnessed before. That's him/her in the photo above. 

Tonight we are expecting our first frost. The temp is already 36F so I am confident we will get a good one. It is late coming, I feel, and as beautiful as this fall has been, I think I am about ready for putting the garden to bed. Ah. I should go clip some fresh cilantro first, though. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Moving too fast

corned beef :: cookies for breakfast :: spoon bread

Didn't I just post yesterday what happened in the kitchen last week... wasn't yesterday Thursday? Isn't today Friday? How does the grass need mowing again so soon? What happened to the weekend?

Whew! Like is flying by at a break-neck speed for us. I don't even know what we ate this week but I know my fridge is chock-full of leftovers, so we must not have starved. I made squash casserole, more couscous, a for-real corned beef (for the first time), lots of salad, and who knows what else.

Like I've mentioned in previous posts this fall, I'm on a bit of a corn/cornmeal kick. I was flipping through the Nero Wolfe Cookbook and was surprised to see a recipe, which I've always considered pretty humble food, in such a gourmet cookbook. Then I was in an antiques store and found an old ladies auxiliary cookbook from Monticello that probably has four different ones.

Consider this week one of the spoon bread cook-off. This picture was the Three Eggs and Boiled Milk recipe from the Nero Wolfe Cookbook (there was an option with fewer eggs).

Spoonbread #1 
from The Nero Wolfe Cookbook

5 Tbsp butter, melted
1 c. white cornmeal
1 tsp salt
2 c. boiling water
1 c. milk
3 large eggs, beaten
1/3 c raisins, soaked in Kirschwasser (brandy) (optional)

Add boiling water to cornmeal and salt, mix and let sit for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 425F. Bring milk to just a boil then remove from heat and stir, carefully, into cornmeal mixture. Temper eggs with some of the cornmeal mixture, adding remaining eggs a little bit at a time back into main bowl. Stir in melted butter and raisins (if using) and pour mixture into buttered baking dish. Bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown on top and set through. Serve with maple syrup and or cream and currant jelly.

Observations: This spoonbread bakes up like a cornmeal soufflé, which is a bit different than I am used to. It was delicious straight out of the oven, albeit a bit eggy in the way that a clafoutis or a cream puff can be eggy. For that reason, I wish that I had used the raisins, or dried cherries, and had it for breakfast. It was excellent with the maple syrup and really had a melt-in-your-mouth sort of texture. In the future, I will plan it as a brunch option instead and perhaps, in lieu of raisins, add grated cheese instead.

Play along by sharing what's in your kitchen at Beauty That Moves.

PS, I went back to work this week part time as an admin. asst. for a local church. I like the work but it takes a chunk out of my routine!