Friday, September 23, 2011

Experiment with baked donuts...

So it wasn't a fail... but not a success either. However, as always, I used the recipe on the tins for the first try. I did substitute some whole wheat flour in, but I don't think that was the whole problem. They were just... not great. Not bad, but definitely not great.

I would really like to make a good baked, yeast-less donut. Yes, I know it will be more dense. But in the morning who has time for yeast donuts?! (I am open to the possibility that a good yeast-less baked donut can't exist, but I'm going to work on it awhile before admitting the error of my ways.)  And I'm definitely not frying them. I live 2 miles from Krispy Kreme - if I have to fry them, I might as well go there!

Problems with these donuts were:

*  Not enough flavor oomph. (Yes, that's a technical term...) The whole wheat flour might have overpowered the nutmeg and cinnamon, but I also brushed on some melted butter and dipped in cinnamon sugar, so there was a definite surfeit of flavors here.

* Not enough fat in the donut. The recipe only called for 1 tbsp of fat - I used butter, although it called for shortening. While I love good lower fat foods, recipes do need some for flavor and that certain delicious texture that butter (especially) gives. So more fat! (Yay!)

* Less whole wheat. I did the typical 1/2 and 1/2 substitution, but it didn't work. I want to get some whole grains in there... but 1/2 of the total flour is too much. It made for a bit of a strange texture, I think.

I will keep trying, although it may go the way of the strawberry muffins... Now THAT was an epic fail. (Many thanks to my poor husband who kept trying them!)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Lots of cooking lately! Lovely dinner rolls...

This is an 11 year old picture of my kids making rolls with my grandmother. My grandmother's rolls, which were HER grandmother's rolls, are wonderful. But they have shortening, and I didn't have shortening, so I didn't make them...

I have said for 6 mos or more that I wanted to get back to making bread. Now, I say "back"... and mean way back. Right after I graduated from college (1987 to save you the higher math), I lived with my aunt and uncle in the DC area. I didn't pay them any rent, to my eternal gratitude, so I took to making homemade bread several times a week, with an occasional cake thrown in, just to be able to contribute. I really enjoyed the process, and, of course, the product, but I haven't made any outside of using my bread machine in... well, that long. I even bought bowls in Uganda to proof bread in. But have I proofed bread? Nope.

So yesterday, I made yeast rolls. Real, honest to goodness, knead it, rise it, punch it down, yeast rolls. And they were a big hit! These didn't taste as good this morning as they did at dinner - somehow they were a little bit tough after reheating in the toaster oven, but I think they would be ok in the microwave for about 15 seconds. Only there aren't any more to test! BUT, the hot out of the oven ones were VERY good, and it was only about a 2-2 1/2 hr process, not 4-5 like some are. I also like that there's no shortening or butter in the recipe. So I'll share the recipe, which is from an old issue of Cooking Light (don't know which issue, I just have the page):


2 tsp sugar
1 pkg dry yeast
1 12oz can fat free evaporated milk, warmed to 100-110 degrees
3-4 c all purpose flour, divided
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp salt
cooking spray
1 tsp cornmeal
2 tbsp butter, melted and cooled (optional)
poppy seeds (optional)

1. Dissolve the sugar and yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl and let stand 5 min.

2. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup and level with a knife. Add 3 cups of flour and the egg to the milk mixture, stirring. [NOTE: the recipe says "stir til smooth", but this was quite thick, so I just stirred until the flour was all incorporated.] Cover and let stand 15 min.

3a. Recipe says "add 3/4 c flour and salt; stir until soft dough forms." NO WAY this was happening with the thickness of the dough already. So here's what I did instead:

3b. Put dough on a floured smooth surface. Add 1/4c flour mixed with the salt. Knead, adding flour a tbsp at a time, until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 min. (Dough will be a bit tacky, but not sticky.) I used MAYBE 1/2 cup. Max.

4. Coat a large bowl with cooking spray. Place dough ball in the bowl, turn to coat, cover and put in a warm place for 40 min or until doubled. [My oven has a "bread proof" selection, so I used that, and it took about an hour.] Punch dough down, cover, and rest for 5 min [the dough, not you!].

5. The recipe says to divide into 16 equal portions. I made 22. You can shape these in a ball, a spiral, a knot... however you like. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise 20 min or until doubled in size.

6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. OPTIONAL - brush with butter and top with poppy seeds. [I didn't do this.]

7. Recipe says 20 min, but mine barely took 10. They should be golden brown and sound hollow when you tap them.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Pili Pili Shrimp - it's African Style!

The only thing this picture has to do with this post is that it's Africa, and I like it...

This is a recipe with a story... The first time I was in Uganda Suzanne took me to Quality Hill, which is a Belgian owned compound with a very nice restaurant, a patisserie, a butcher, a small vegetable market, and a hotel. They have the best ice cream in Kampala, which also figures into any plans to go there!

I was perusing the menu and saw "Pili Pili Shrimp" which was described basically as "shrimp with rice." So I asked the waiter, "What's Pili Pili Shrimp?"

Waiter: "African style."

Me: "What's African style?"

Waiter: "Pili pili."


Me: "Ok then..."

So I got it, of course. How could you not, after this description?! And it was delicious, a spicy red sauce over rice.

When I got home I did some research, and pili pili is a VERY hot (think hotter than scotch bonnet) pepper native to Eastern Africa. They make a marinade for just about any meat from it. I don't like things quite that hot, so came up with my own marinade. Here you go:


1 1/2-2 lb peeled shrimp
2 tbsp Gourmet Garden Chili Pepper Spice Blend (in a tube in the produce section) - more or less to taste
1/4 c olive oil/canola mix (half and half)
1/2 c chicken broth
kosher salt

Blend all ingredients except shrimp in a Magic Bullet or blender until smooth and pink. Pour over shrimp in a large bowl, tossing to coat. Marinate an hour, tossing a few times. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large skillet over med high heat. Cook shrimp until pink and firm - don't overcook! Serve with hot rice, spooning sauce over the top.

NOTE: In the summer when I had fresh picked hot peppers, I used those instead of the mix. But the mix is available all year, and is better than grocery store peppers.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

New tweezers and a big revelation

I got new tweezers today. Really exciting, I know. But as I was grooming my eyebrows (which sounds a lot more *ahem* highbrow than "plucking"), I thought, "Wow! These are great tweezers! I can get every little hair!" And then I realized my old tweezers were like that when I got them, too.

So what's that got to do with a big revelation? Well, in the natural world, we find this happens a lot. We get a new knife and realize how dull our old knife was. Scissors. Tweezers. We don't realize as we're using these things day in and day out that they are losing their edge. That they are becoming dull. We don't really remember how easily the knife used to slice the tomato, or the scissors cut paper. Until we get the new one and we are confronted with how bad it's become.

And it hit me as I was plucking with my delightfully calibrated tweezers. We do this spiritually. All the time. We go along with a routine - for me, my morning quiet time. We read the Bible every day, in the same way, and we don't realize until we are taken out of our routine that we really haven't been paying attention for awhile. Or we use the same daily devotional, and it's not til after the 2nd year, when we get a new one, that we realize we just weren't getting anything out of it for quite some time. Even prayer - are we really spending time with God, or just going through a check list and getting it done?

So what conclusion did I draw while looking at my face in the scary magnifying mirror? That we need to intentionally keep it fresh in all aspects of our life. Our relationship with God first and foremost, but also with our spouse, our kids, and our household implements.... We don't want to be going along in a fog, not living life the way our Father wants us to, not loving in a finely tuned way.

Just a thought... Happy grooming!