Monday, November 29, 2010

Grandma's Sourdough Scones

This is one of the sourdough recipes I got from my grandmother years ago

1 cup flour
dash salt
1 TBSP baking powder (yes tablespoon)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup oil
1 cup sourdough
Optional: your choice of 1/2 c raisins, cranberries, candied peel, dried fruit, etc.

Mix together dry ingredients.  Then add the rest of the ingredients and stir.  I added raisins to mine to make raisin scones.

Turn out onto lightly floured board and knead 8 to 10 times.

Roll or flatten until 1/2 to 3/4" thick.  I pat mine into a rectangular shape.

 Cut into diamond shapes.  I cut mine into wedges instead.  I first cut them into rectangles.

Then I cut each piece on the diagonal.

Place on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 375F for 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove from pan and serve.  You can serve them with butter, honey, or jam.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sourdough Starter

The first time I got sourdough starter was from my grandmother when I was in high school .  She gave me some starter, instructions and some recipes to take home with me.  I kept it in a 2 quart sealer in the fridge feeding it regularly and using it for a number of things - biscuits, scones, muffins and pancakes.  I had it for a number of years but lost interest when I went to university.

After I was married, I found a recipe to make my own starter from Robin Hood Flour.  It was called Sherwood and I sent away for a booklet of recipes.  I found the recipe on their website for those who are interested.

To start sourdough you dissolve 1 tsp. sugar in 1/2 cup warm water.  Sprinkle in 1 package of yeast and let stand 10 minutes.  Add 1 1/2 cups warm water and 2 cups of flour and beat until smooth.  Cover and leave overnight at room temperature.

Day 2:  Mix 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 cup milk and add to sourdough.  Stir well, cover and refrigerate.

Day 3 & 4:  Stir daily.

Day 5:  Feed the sourdough again as on day 2.

Day 6 to 9:  Stir daily.

Day 10:  Bake with the sourdough and/or give away 1 cup starter to a friend with feeding instructions and some recipes.  Keep 1 cup to feed as on day 2.

Here is a photo of my sourdough bubbly and ready to use.

Once your sourdough is established you can feed every 5 days if you are using it often or every 10 days if you don't use it as much.  If you want to leave it for an extended length of time you can freeze it.  When you bring the sourdough out of the freezer, thaw in the fridge for 24 hours.  Then feed as on day 2 and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours before using.

Some of the recipes in that Robin Hood booklet have become my all-time favorites.  From time to time I will share sourdough recipes with you.  I have collected quite a number of the years but seem to use the same ones over and over.

Sourdough is very easy to keep.  I keep it in an ice cream pail in the fridge feeding it and using it much more in the winter than the summer. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Gardening with Lulu

Lulu enjoys being outside on nice sunny days, as the warm weather seems to lessen her lameness.  She enjoys checking out the flower beds to see what is growing, what tastes good and what she can find to eat.

Lulu likes to be around people who are digging in the soil - you never know what you might dig up for her.  She likes to supervise and encourage us to find worms and bugs for her.  She is quite vocal and chatters the whole time.

Because of her lame leg, Lulu has trouble scratching like a regular chicken.  She looks like she is doing a little dance - one foot forward, the other foot forward, first foot back, second foot back.  So instead of scratching, Lulu dances - forward, step, step, back, step, step. 

Lulu is very independent because she can check out flower beds and the garden by herself.  She doesn't get nervous when she is alone, she just goes along her merry way following her own agenda.  The other chickens have flock mentality - where one goes, they all go. 

Lulu is opinionated and lets us know when we need to shape up.  Once when I saw her resting in a flower bed near the garage, I went weeding in the front without her.  She noticed me and came hustling around the corner of the house muttering and grumbling because I left her behind.  I quickly found her some bugs to mollify her.

When we were planting the garden, Lulu was a big help - NOT!  My son was planting the peas and at first Lulu decided to help herself to some of the seeds that were floating in the bowl where they were being soaked.  Then she decided that she didn't like to have to dip her face into the water, so she followed my son down the row eating seeds he had just planted.  Lulu quickly found herself moved out of the garden until our work was done.

Sometimes Lulu likes to play hide and seek with us.  She will lay down in the garden and make us hunt for her. 

Sometimes she makes cooing sounds to give us a chance while other times she stays quiet.  Occasionally she will stand up and stretch her neck so she can see us and we can see her.  She is such a tease.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Swiss Steak with Tomatoes

When I was young, my mom used to make Swiss Steak with a brown gravy-type sauce with onions.  Since I didn't like onions (or was just being picky), I didn't like it.  Even though I grew up and now like cooked onions, I still have a mental block for that kind of Swiss Steak.  When I ate Swiss Steak with a tomato sauce, I decided to try it at home since I enjoyed it immensely. 

Most of my recipes do not have actual measurements - I throw in a pinch of this and a sprinkle of that.  An eye of newt and a toe of bat - OH! Sorry - Halloween is over.  ;)
Anyway, back to the recipe.  I was talking about measurements and amounts - to me a recipe is just a guideline not something set in stone, so feel free to adjust it to your liking.

Many Swiss Steak recipes use round steak which is great but when my boys were growing up, they were bottomless pits.  Blade steak was the cheapest cut plus seemed to be on sale quite regularly, so I would stock up and freeze them individually so I could use as many as needed on any given day.

For this recipe, you do not have to thaw the steak - cooking it from a frozen state works just as well.  It makes a nice meal if you find out at noon that you are having company for supper and have no meat thawed.

Here I am using two very large steaks because I am expecting company.  Usually one would do so I'll give recipe amounts as if I was cooking one steak.  I cook them in my large oval roaster so I have room to turn the steak without slopping the sauce.

Chop/slice one onion - I like the pieces a bit larger so I cut the onion in quarters and slice it that way. 

Chop 3 or 4 stalks of celery.  I try to chop the ones that have leaves as I find that adds texture to the sauce but it is not necessary.

 Sprinkle steak on all sides with spices.  I usually use pepper, seasoning salt, paprika.  Be generous as this will be seasoning the sauce as well.  Layer the chopped vegetables under and between the steaks.  I add a couple pinches of parsley flakes as well.

Mix a couple of Oxo cubes in 2 cups hot water to dissolve.  I use the reduced salt beef bullion powder - bulk if I can find it.  Pour this over the steaks. 

I used fresh tomatoes because I still have them on hand.  You can use canned tomatoes just as easily.  

Process the fresh tomatoes.  You can skin them if you want but I don't. 

Pour the tomatoes on all sides of the steak - under, between and on top.

Cook at 350F for several hours.  Every hour or so I turn the steak over so all sides are in the sauce.  As time goes on the steak starts to fall apart and the sauce thickens.

I serve it with rice and usually peas as a vegetable.  (My boys loved peas or peas and carrots in rice.)  The sauce is very tasty spooned over the rice.  A green salad finishes off the meal nicely.  I usually serve up the larger pieces of steak and leave the smaller fattier ones for later.  My chickens love the fatty leftovers. 

I know most Swiss Steak recipes use flour to thicken the sauce, but in my recipe, the sauce reduces as it cooks.  The steak needs time to cook well since it is a tougher cut.  The tomato also helps tenderize the steak as does cooking it in the liquid.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tropical Flowers

What a desolate place

would be a world

without flowers.

It would be a face

without a smile;

a feast without a welcome.

Are not flowers

the stars of the earth? 

Are not our stars 

the flowers of heaven?

 -by  Clara L. Balfour

  All photos taken in Maui.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Story of Lulu - Part Two

During the winter, the girls started laying eggs.  We wondered if Lulu was well enough to lay as well.  She started to do the squat that chickens often do as their bodies are getting ready to produce eggs.  Her comb also turned a darker red which is another indication that the hen is getting ready to lay.  Her comb got quite large and my son would say that Lulu was wearing a "comb over"  ;)

Here are a couple of photos of Lulu lying in front of the fridge showing off her "comb over".

I made Lulu a nesting box and filled it with shredded paper.  We placed a golf ball in it to simulate an egg.  We put it in the back of the closet near Lulu's corner.  Occasionally I would set her in it so she would get the idea to go there.

One day she went there on her own and after a great deal of thought and determination she presented us with her first egg!  Yippee!  Lulu's a mom!  Now what does that make me?  - a grandma??  LOL!!  She even sang a sweet egg song.

Lulu continued to live in her corner of the kitchen until spring.  Most chickens sing their egg song when they are finished laying their egg but Lulu had to be unique.  She would sing BEFORE she laid as if to announce to everyone that she was ready to do her job and to get out the treats.  When she laid her egg, I would always pet her and praise her.  She would get treats like a scrap of bread or a peanut.  She loved her peanuts - If she heard the bag rattle, she would scramble over there before we even got the peanut shelled.

When the nice weather arrived, Lulu was as excited as the rest of us to be outside. 

We wondered what she would do about laying her egg but she had it all figured out.  When it was time to lay her egg, she would sing her song making quite a racket.  Then she would climb/hop/fly up the back steps to be let in.  She would hustle across the kitchen and hop into her nesting box to present us with a nice fresh egg.  Sometimes she would sing another song when she was finished.  After her treat, Lulu would head back outside to explore the yard and patrol for bugs.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Danish Apple Bars

I have been making these delicious bars every fall for over twenty years.  When I lived on the prairies, I would sometimes use large crab apples instead of apples.  (We had several crab apple trees as well as a couple of apple trees in the yard.)

The original recipe came from Company's Coming - Desserts by Jean Pare but I adjusted it to fit my large jelly roll pan and to accommodate my two boys with their hollow legs.  I use a large 12" by 18" jelly roll pan.

3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups butter or margarine

2 egg yolks in enough milk to make 1 cup

1 1/2 cups crushed corn flakes
ice cream pail full of apples
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 egg whites

1 cup icing sugar
3 tbsp water
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix flour and butter until crumbly.

Beat egg yolks with a small amount of milk in measuring cup.  Then add enough milk to make one cup of liquid.

Mix the egg/milk mixture into flour mixture.  Shape into two equal balls and refrigerate for 1/2 hour.

This dough is very forgiving so don't be afraid of it. If you rip it, you can reroll it or you can patch the hole.   First roll one ball a bit larger than the pan. 

When the dough is large enough, I gently fold it in half. 

Then I fold it in half again.

I then place it in the pan and start to unfold it.

Don't be afraid to handle the dough and move it around so it fits the pan better.

When the dough covers the bottom of your pan, press up the sides. 

 You need enough on the sides so you can seal the top and bottom together so the filling doesn't spill out into your oven while it is baking.

Now onto the filling:  It takes about 3 cups of corn flakes to make 1 1/2 cups of crumbs.

Spread the crumbs evenly over the dough.

Arrange apple slices over the crumbs.  The original recipe called for peeled apples but I don't peel mine.  Add as many apples as you want - I usually use a heaping ice cream pail full.  Again, the original recipe called for only 4 apples to cover a 10 by 15 pan.  We like lots of filling so I pile the apples high.

Mix sugar and cinnamon together. Sprinkle evenly on top of apples.

 Roll the other ball of pastry as you did the last.  When it is large enough to cover the pan fold into quarters again.  Moisten the bottom crust edge with water.  Lift to one end of the pan and unfold as before.

Press the edges together to seal. 

Cut slits in the top crust.

Beat egg whites until stiff.  Brush them over the crust.

Bake in a 400F oven for 1 hour or until apples are tender.

Mix together icing sugar, water and vanilla and drizzle glaze over warm crust.