Thursday, March 29, 2012

Eggnog Loaf

We had extra eggnog left after Christmas.  I found this recipe and it looked interesting.

1/4 c melted marg or butter
3/4 c sugar
2 beaten eggs
2 1/4 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 c chopped pecans
1/2 c raisins
1/2 c mixed
candied fruit1 c eggnog

Combine the dry ingredients with the nuts, raisins and candied fruit.

Stir together to coat the fruit and nuts.

Mix together butter and sugar.

Beat eggs into the mixture.

Stir in about 1/3 of the eggnog.

Add about half of the dry mixture and stir just until moistened.

Add another 1/3 of the eggnog, and stir, then mix in the remaining dry ingredients.

Finally, stir in the last of the eggnog.  You don't want to stir loaves and quick bread too much or they become tough.

Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan.

This recipe makes two full sized loaves.

Bake at 350F for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove it from the pan and cool completely before slicing.

I found the loaf very tasty with the mixed fruit and nuts.  You can taste the flavour of the eggnog.  It has a Christmasy taste and look to it.  Enjoy!  ;)

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Swan, The Grizzly and The Brave Little Hen

Last fall we visited Swan Hills, AB.  Lulu and I were taking a walk in the park when we came across this confrontation and Lulu decided she needed to referee.  Here's the story that unfolded.  

Once upon a time there was a swan named Sonya.  She was big and beautiful and gold in colour.

One day. Sonya was stretching her wings and taking a quick break from her nestful of eggs.

While she was off her nest, who should appear but the neighbourhood bully, Gordo, the grizzly.  "Those eggs sure look tasty!" exclaimed Gordo.

"I'll guard the eggs!"  cried Lulu.  "You look after Gordo!"

"I'll just sit here on the edge and keep an eye on things."  said Lulu.

"Boy, Sonya sure has large eggs.  I don't think I can keep them all warm."  exclaimed Lulu.

"But I'll have to try because Sonya's busy with Gordo." puffed Lulu.

"That's it Sonya!  Stay between Gordo and the eggs!"  encouraged Lulu.  "The eggs are doing fine!"

"You keep away from my eggs, you big bully!"  Sonya screeched.

"Maybe I can help talk some sense into Gordo,"  declared Lulu.

"Sonya, I don't think flapping your wings and squawking is doing any good."  suggested Lulu.

"I think we need to work this out using calmer heads."  Lulu soothed.

"OK, Gordo.  Let's you and me have a chat about lunch alternatives."  said Lulu.

"Well," said Gordo.  "You might make a tasty morsel."

"Oh, not me!"  exclaimed Lulu.  "I'm all feathers and bones.  And you know how they say not to feed your dog chicken bones - I'll stick in your throat."

"Well, I wouldn't want to get sick," said Gordo.  "That's right," said Lulu.  "And you know eggs contain young birds - all those bones, not good for you."

"All right," said Gordo.  "I'll find something else to eat."  "Thanks, Lulu," exclaimed Sonya.  "You knew just the right things to say!"

So Lulu saved the day and they all lived happily ever after.  ;)

Monday, March 12, 2012

One of Those Days

Have you ever had one of those days where things go wrong and you figure you should climb back into bed?  Well, this was one of those.

It started with Lulu coming into my room and waking me up.  I usually sleep in later than she does but she stays quiet until I get up.  She usually didn't come into my bedroom at all, but several times in the last week or so she's been sitting there waiting for me to wake up.  Today, she decided to start chattering and woke me up.  When I got up, she squawked and yakked and headed over to her nesting box.

It usually takes Lulu several hours to lay an egg.  She sits and mutters and peers out trying to see what I'm doing. Since her nesting box is back in the corner of the closet/pantry, she can't see much.  But she's so nosy!  If I'm in the kitchen, she seems to be asking, "Mom.  Mom! What are you doing in there?  Are you getting food?  Do I hear you in the fridge?  Are you eating something?  Mom. Mom?"

Usually I take Lulu with me when I go shopping but went on my own since she was in her nesting box and I didn't want to wait until she was finished laying.  I needed some milk and eggs for the buns I was making.  When I got back, Lulu was still in her box so all was fine.

Since Easter is on its way, I started by making some Hot Cross Buns.  I featured them before on my blog.

First off, I didn't melt the marg.  It had been sitting out and was soft so I figured it was fine.  NOT!  It didn't melt completely in the milk so I had large lumps to work with.  It would have been fine if the milk had been hotter but by the time I thought of that, they were already in the mixing bowl.  It was not that big of a deal because it worked out in the end but it was the start of my goof-filled day. 

The store didn't have the deluxe fruit I usually use so I bought a container of glazed pineapple chunks and another of glazed cherries.  I had to chop them and while I was chopping them up, I added the flour to the mixer.  I forgot about mixing the fruit with the flour like I usually do so it was a chore to add the fruit and currants when the dough was already all mixed.  The fruit didn't seem to want to stay in the dough - anytime a piece worked its way to the surface, it would fall out.  I had to take the dough out of the mixer and knead it by hand to try and keep the fruit in the dough.

While this was happening, Lulu laid her egg and jumped out of her box and started towards the back door chattering the whole way.  I put her out by the garage and went back to my baking.

While the Hot Cross Buns were rising, I decided to start on my other buns.  I was going to use the recipe for Carrot Rolls that I featured earlier  and adjust it.  I decided to use pumpkin instead of carrots since I have quite a bit of pumpkin in the freezer.  I brought it out the night before and thawed it in a strainer to remove the excess moisture.  I decided to add 1/2 tsp of ginger to the 1/2 tsp nutmeg because in my mind pumpkin seems to need ginger. 

Every thing was going nicely until I ran out of flour up here and went down to get some out of the cold room.  I knew I had a partial bag there but didn't realize that it was whole wheat.  Since I didn't want to run back to the store, the buns now were going to be whole wheat.  I probably used half and half white and whole wheat. 

I forgot that in the past I divided the dough in half when kneading it in my mixer.  I have found that if I don't divide bread dough, it climbs the dough hook and makes its way up into the slot where you attach the hook.  Then you have to dig out dough with a toothpick!  Well, that was me today.  I don't know where my head was because I didn't catch the dough before it got away on me.  It is a pain in the butt kneeling on the floor twisting your neck so you can sort of see what you're doing.

While this was going on I checked on Lulu and she was in the front yard squawking up a storm.  It wasn't alarm-type of squawks but she was being very vocal.  I went back and got the mixer all cleaned and the dough kneaded. 

While the dough was rising, I checked on Lulu again and she was at the back door wanting in.  She muttering and chattered as she came in and hustled over to her nesting box and jumped in.  I think she must have forgot that she laid her egg because she sat there again for over an hour.  When she was done laying her invisible egg,  she jumped out, grabbed a few bites of food and a drink and headed to the door to go out again!  Crazy girl!

When I was cleaning up the kitchen, I found that somehow I hadn't attached the dough hook correctly and now it is stuck in the machine.  I did that once before and needed help from my husband to remove it.  Well, so far no luck at removing it and my husband won't be back for two weeks so it may just sit until he returns.

Now on to making the buns.  The Hot Cross Buns were fiddly because the fruit didn't want to stay in the dough.  I had currants and bits of fruit that kept falling out and needed to be pushed back into the buns.  I also had trouble cutting the crosses - maybe the dough was softer or I used a different knife but several of the buns got a bit mangled.  When they were finished baking, I forgot to remove them from the pan to cool and only remembered after I had iced them so I got my hands all sticky taking them out.

The Pumpkin Rolls turned out fine but are not a nice orange like the carrot ones.  They look just like whole wheat buns.  I also forgot that carrots and sweet potatoes are sweeter than pumpkin so could have added a bit more sugar.  The spice was a waste of time too because the whole wheat flour overpowers the bit of spice I used.

Then when I was finished and reading my email, I hit my glass of water with my elbow and spilled water all over the desk, papers and floor.   Thank goodness, I missed the computer.

Anyway, enough ranting as the buns taste fine and I now have almost 5 dozen buns in the freezer.  Hopefully this was my goof day for the year.

OH! I got an email saying that my laptop has been shipped - so soon, very soon I'll have Lulu pics for you. ;)

Monday, March 5, 2012

An End in Sight

Finally!  I ordered a laptop so it should be up and running within a couple weeks (depending on how soon it arrives). 

I have lots of pictures of travels with Lulu to share, plus spring and gardening are just around the corner.  :)

On a happy note, Lulu laid her first egg today since sometime before Christmas.  I am hoping that means her molting is over for the time being.  I am tired of the house looking like I've been having pillow fights.  Some days, I pick up all the feathers and turn around and there's Lulu grooming and picking out more feathers that are bothering her.  She seemed to do an all-over molt with no bare spots so she never looked funny.

She has been able to spend a fair bit of time outside except on days like today where we have strong wind warnings.  They mentioned that the winds could get up to 80 kph.  I hope not but time will tell.

Anyway, next time I will have lots of pictures to share.  ;)