Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Silky Smooth Cream of Tomato Soup

It's been a stressful few days trying to get my daughters home for the holidays--flights to Portland cancelled, stuck in airports, re-routes to Seattle, car rentals and driving through the snow and ice and freezing rain--they finally made it to Roseburg late last night, two days later than planned. I had a batch of this soup waiting in the crockpot; the perfect accompaniment to a grilled cheese or chicken salad sandwich. This is nothing like the overly sweetened, high fructose corn syrup-laden, condensed tomato soup that comes in a can! If you've never had homemade cream of tomato soup, you're in for a treat.

1/4 cup (1/2 a stick) butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk (I happen to have whole milk on hand for baking, but 1% or 2% works fine)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or basil (my home-canned tomato juice already has basil in it)
4 cups (1 quart jar) tomato juice or V-8 juice
salt and freshly ground pepper
heavy cream for garnishing (optional)

Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon or rubber scraper and blend into a smooth paste. Cooking, stirring constantly, for one or two minutes. Whisk in the broth, milk and thyme (or basil) and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for one minute. Whisk in the tomato or V-8 juice and heat through. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Garnish each bowlful with a drizzle of cream and swirl through with a spoon. Makes about 8 cups of soup.

If you are using home-canned tomato juice (which you must acidify with lemon juice) and you find the soup a bit tart, adding a pinch of sugar will balance the flavors.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cherry-Hazelnut Granola

A lightly-sweetened granola featuring three fine Oregon foods: Dried Bing Cherries, Norm Lehne's hazelnuts, and local honey. I pitted and dried some Bing cherries I picked at Shady Lane Orchards last summer, but I also bought 60 lbs. of pitted Bing cherries from Hentze Family Farm in Junction City and dried about 40 lbs. of them. They are great for snacking and they make a flavorful addition to muffins, biscotti, oatmeal cookies and this granola. If you don't have dried cherries you can substitute dried cranberries.

I like to stir a big spoonful of this granola into a container of homemade yogurt for a quick breakfast.

This makes a big batch of granola. You will need two large cookies sheets with sides to bake it in. Of course, you can always cut the recipe in half.

1# 8 oz. rolled oats (8 cups) I like to use a mix of quick and regular oats.
5 oz. ( 1 cup) sunflower seeds
2 oz. (1 cup) wheat bran
2 oz. (scant 1/2 cup) sesame seeds
8 oz. (1 1/2 cups measured whole) coarsely chopped hazelnuts
8 oz. (about 1 cup) canola oil
8 to 12 oz. (about 3/4 cup to 1 cup) honey, depending on how sweet you want it.
8 oz. (2 cups) dried Bing cherries, snipped into bits with oiled kitchen shears

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Lightly oil the pans. Combine the oats, seeds, bran and nuts, mixing well. Stir together the oil and honey and add to oat mixture, coating everything well. Divide equally between the two pans. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes and rotating the pans, until the granola is golden brown. Watch it closely toward the end so you don't let it burn. Stir in the dried cherries and let cool completely. Store at room temperature in a tightly-sealed container. Makes a little over 4 lbs.

For gift-giving, scoop a generous amount into a cellophane bag and tie with raffia.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Update on Cocoa

Dark, minty chocolate grated on top of hot cocoa was the perfect way to warm up after heading out into the snow/slush/rain/mud to cut our Christmas tree today.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Cup of Cocoa

Snow is on the way this weekend and nothing makes me feel cozy and warm like a steaming cup of hot cocoa. Not being a coffee-drinker, I fancy myself a "cocoa connoisseur" of sorts. Those little packets of powdered milk cocoa mix won't cut it around my house; it's got to be made from scratch. The ingredients are simple: good quality cocoa powder, sugar, and milk. Add a splash of vanilla extract or a spoonful of Torani flavoring to make it extra-special. Top it off with some real whipped cream and sit back and watch the snow fall!

For one incredibly good cup of hot cocoa:

In a cup or mug, combine 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 generous teaspoon cocoa powder*. Stir well until the cocoa is thoroughly blended with the sugar. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons Torani flavoring (I like Almond Roca or Hazelnut) and stir well into a smooth paste. If you don't have any flavoring, just use a tablespoon of milk. Add milk to fill the cup (whole milk is best, if you have it on hand, but I usually use 1%) and stir to combine. Microwave for about 1 minute and 35 seconds. Stir well again and top with a splash of cream or a dollop of whipped cream and if you really want to treat yourself, grate some dark chocolate on top. (Mini-marshmallows are reserved for the kids!)

*These amounts are for the standard teacup I usually use. If you're filling a big mug you will want to increase the sugar and cocoa.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Cakes to make you smile (or laugh out loud!)...

Okay, so I don't profess to be a professional cake decorator! But my children have always gotten a kick out of our homemade birthday cakes and often join in the fun of planning how to decorate them.

I'm heading to Splash!, the wave pool in Springfield, with a van full of ten-year old boys to celebrate my son's birthday, hence the Teddy Grahams swimming and floating in the water for this year's cake...

And from previous years, a castle with a fruit punch moat...

...a pirate ship

and a deserted island with a pretzel shack.

Have a good laugh on me!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

McDaniel Family Cornbread Dressing

This is the recipe exactly as it was handed down to me by my mother-in-law, who received it from her mother.....

One or two nights before you are going to cook a turkey, cook a pan of cornbread, and eat no more than four pieces:
Corn Cake
Beat 2 eggs. Stir in:

2 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup flour
2 1/2 cups corn meal
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. baking powder
2 tsp. salt

After this mixture is blended, lightly stir in 6 Tbsp. Saffola or corn oil. Do not over-stir.
Pour into buttered 9 x 13 pan. Bake 25 minutes in 450 degree oven, or just until set.
Let the leftover cornbread sit, uncovered, until the next day. Then break it into a large bowl. You can crumble it up, because it will do that during the mixing anyway.

Slice a loaf of homemade whole wheat bread, 2 or 3 slices at a time. Stack the 3 slices up and cut them into small cubes (about crouton size). Add them to the cornbread, a few slices at a time, until the mixture is about half-and-half (perhaps a little more cornbread). This takes about 2/3 of a loaf of bread.

Finely dice one very large onion, or two onions. Add about the same amount of finely diced celery (about 3 large stalks). Saute this carefully in about 6 Tbsp. butter (no substitutes) until onion is transparent and celery is not crisp. Now, you can either put this mixture into the bowl with the breads, or you can blend it first. After blending, stir it through the bread mixture thoroughly. It will make the mixture quite moist.

Spicing the dressing: This should be done a little at a time, stopping now and then to check the aroma of the dressing, and perhaps taste a cube. Sprinkle on ground sage and also poultry seasoning. Use more sage than poultry seasoning. You can also sprinkle on a tiny amount of pepper. But there is pepper in poultry seasoning, so be careful. After you have sprinkled and tossed and tasted until it is right, then add turkey broth one tablespoon at a time. If the dressing seems moist and clings together, don't add any broth. Too much moisture will make it unappealing. One more word about spices: the flavor increases with cooking, so stop before it seems strong.

The recipe doesn't say how long to bake it or at what temperature because it was always used to stuff the turkey. I like to cook it in a separate pan, uncovered, at about 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, so the top gets nice and crunchy.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Home for the Holidays

Here's what my Christmas Dinner table will actually look like. I think this is a better shot than the one that appeared in the News-Review's Home for the Holidays insert. They did not tell me ahead of time that they wanted me in the picture!
For Thanksgiving it's a bit simpler. My parents and my brother joined us for the traditional feast...

Roast Turkey with Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Green peas
Fruit Ambrosia
Candied Yams
Featherlight Rolls
Pumpkin Pie
Charleston Poundcake

Conspicuously absent is the Cranberry Sauce! We were busy celebrating my husband's birthday Wednesday evening, when my son and I would normally be making our Homemade Cranberry Sauce. I thought I'd be up in plenty of time to make it Thursday morning and still get it chilled before dinner, but when I went to the freezer I discovered I was out of cranberries! I had dehydrated the last of them to use in the salad I made for our Think Local Umpqua Benefit in October.

A quick call to my mom and she assured me she had some canned sauce she would chill and bring with them, but, alas, it was forgotten. We survived just fine, but I will definitely be restocking my supply of Bandon cranberries before Christmas!

After dinner we took turns answering "if" questions my son had hidden under each place setting. I had picked up a copy of If...(Questions for the Game of Life) by Evelyn McFarlane & James Saywell at a used book store in Sutherlin last week. Here's a sampling of some great conversation starters:

If you could find one thing besides money in your attic, what would it be?
If you could put one sentence in the U.S. Constitution, what would it say?
If you could go back in time to observe any event from history, what would it be?
If you had to be represented by an object in your house, what would you choose?
If you could easily visit one known planet, which one would you go to?
If you could have freshly cut or picked flowers delivered to your home each week, what type of flowers would you choose? (I said sunflowers.)

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Local Toffee Makes a Great Gift

Donna Holm of Glide, Oregon makes delicious hazelnut toffee! It is the perfect consistency--not too brittle, not at all sticky--a perfect crunch to it. This is a great local gift idea for your friends and family with a sweet tooth. Click on the flyer to enlarge it for details on ordering. And don't forget to order at least one bag for yourself!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pain au Levain with Cranberries and Pecans

This is one of the loaves we mixed, fermented, shaped and partially proofed on Wednesday. It finished proofing in the refrigerator overnight and was baked Thursday morning.

Baking in a preheated Dutch oven traps in all the steam, giving the loaf a beautiful, crispy crust. The formula is straight from Daniel Leader's book, Bread Alone, though we substituted dried cranberries for dried cherries.

Homemade Egg Noodles & Pasta

Homemade Egg Noodles

Beat until very light:
3 egg yolks
1 whole egg

Then beat in:
3 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon salt

Stir in and then knead in as much of 2 cups flour as you can. You can use all-purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour or a blend.  This makes a fairly stiff dough. Knead until smooth, 10 to 15 minutes.

You can also make this in a food processor. Put 1 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt in the work bowl. Beat the egg yolks, egg and water together and add through the feed tube with the machine running. Add additional water or flour one tablespoon at a time to reach the correct consistency, then let the machine run for about 30 seconds. Turn out onto a floured board and knead by hand for 1 to 2 minutes until smooth.

After kneading, cover the dough and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes before proceeding.

If you don't have a pasta machine, just cut the dough into 3 or 4 pieces and roll each one as thin as possible on a lightly floured board or counter. You want it almost transparent. Let dry a bit before cutting into desired shapes.
If you have a pasta machine, cut the dough into egg-size pieces and cover with a towel to keep them from drying out while you work. Run one piece through the widest setting of the pasta machine. Fold in half and run through again. Repeat several more times, lightly flouring it if necessary, until the sheet of dough is smooth and not sticky. Change the notch on the machine to the next setting and run the dough through without folding. Continue to change the setting and run the dough through until it is the desired thickness, generally about 1/16 inch, number 6 on my machine. Repeat with remaining dough balls.

Let the sheets dry a bit before cutting by machine or by hand into wide noodles, fettucine or spaghetti. Place in soft bundles and air dry for at least 15 minutes before cooking or 24 hours before storing. You can speed this up in a dehydrator( 30 to 60 minutes, depending on thickness at about 145 degrees). Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water. The time will depend on how long they have dried, but check after just 3 or 4 minutes.

This egg pasta can also be used to make ravioli, tortellini or it can be cut into rectangles, dried and used for lasagne. No need to cook it before assembling the lasagne!

Store thoroughly dried noodles in ziploc bags or glass jars at room temperature or in the freezer. I usually make enough in November for Turkey & Noodles after both Thanksgiving and Christmas. I also like fill cellophane bags, tie with raffia and give them as gifts for the holidays.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bread Baking Day

I spent the day doing some one-on-one breadbaking instruction with a new friend. Pictured above are Almost No-Knead Bread (left) and Pain au Levain (right) that were baked in a Dutch oven and in the back is a loaf of Pain au Levain that was baked directly on the baking stone, using a spray bottle for steam (not as pretty, that's why it's in the back).

Below are some panned loaves of Power Bread (ground raisins, flax, sunflower and pumpkin seeds) going into the oven. The four loaves of Pain au levain with Dried Cranberries and Pecans are finishing their proof in the frig and will be baked in the morning.

I still have egg noodles to make tonight for our What's for Dinner? class in Sutherlin tomorrow!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

And the winner is...........

Well, actually there are two! The first name I drew was someone from my hometown and I will deliver it personally. Since I won't have any shipping expense and because I can mix two cakes at once in my Bosch mixer and bake two cakes at once in my oven, I decided to draw another name just from the out-of-town readers.
Sooooooooooooo..... the winners are.....
Kim Turner of Roseburg
Aura Lee of Coos Bay
Thanks to all of you who entered and sent encouraging words!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Cake Giveaway!

Don't forget to enter my Reader Appreciation week contest! Only two more days to enter.

The Scoop on Local Walnuts

Local walnuts are ready at Cleveland Rapids Orchards in Garden Valley (553 Cleveland Rapids Rd., 673-5660). Ray and Kaye Lehne harvested 16 ton of Hartley walnuts from their orchard this year, down from last year's 30-ton crop, but still a good year. Hartleys are a less acidic variety so if walnuts tend to make your mouth sore, these would be a good choice. The nuts have already been dried and sorted. They are available in three sizes: medium for $.90/lb., large for $1.10/lb. and jumbo for $1.25/lb. You can purchase the medium size cracked for you for $1.00/lb.

I opted for a 25 lb. bag of the jumbos and plan to spend the evening in front of the fire, cracking walnuts while we watch the election results come in, all cozy in my hand-knit, red, white & blue, non-partisan, Get-Out-The-Vote sweater! The sweater is an Election Day tradition with me; perhaps cracking walnuts will become a tradition too.

Kaye said I can expect to get about 43% nutmeats by weight from the jumbos. I will keep track so I can compare the cost per pound to buying walnuts from the grocery. Of course, there is no comparison in quality, freshness or flavor! For storage, I will get them cracked and into the freezer as soon as possible, but they will keep in the garage in the shell all through the winter and early spring.

Cleveland Rapids Orchards should have walnuts available for the next 2 to 3 weeks, but if you want a particular size I suggest you get out there soon.

Friday, October 31, 2008

What's For Dinner?--November class

On November 13 we'll have our next class in the What's For Dinner? series put on by the OSU Extension Service and the Douglas County Master Food Preservers. We've got a great fall menu planned. Ed Hoffman will be making a Hearty Pork Stew, I'll do a demo on making Homemade Egg Noodles to go with the stew (and just in time for your post-Thanksgiving Turkey Carcass Soup) and My Favorite Salad. For dessert Paulette Zwirn will teach us how to make her Delicious Apple Dumplings. All for the bargain price of $15.00 and that includes a full meal! The class meets from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm at the Sutherlin Community Building at 150 S. Willamette.

Click here for a registration form you can mail in or call 672-4461. Class is limited to 24.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Reader Appreciation Week

Thanksgiving will be here before we know it and I will be baking up a storm for my very favorite holiday of the year. I would love to share an Old-Fashioned Charleston Poundcake with one of you. This is a rich, moist cake that will stay fresh and delicious for almost a month! My mom, born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina, has been making this cake as long as I can remember, just like her mother before her. This is a large cake, filling a tube-pan and weighing over four pounds. It will easily serve 16. I will personally bake it and ship it to you so it arrives just before Thanksgiving. To enter the giveaway, simply send an e-mail to:

You have only one week to enter! On Thursday, November 6, I will select one name at random and contact the winner for a shipping address. I look forward to hearing from you!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Last Day of the Farmers' Market

Today was the last day of the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market for this year. I couldn't help lingering at the market even after I had stocked up on organic jonagold apples, Swedish fingerling potatoes, enough lettuce to last a week or two if carefully washed and bagged, one more head of cheddar cauliflower, a few beets, two more jars of local honey, a few handmade chocolates, a package of bratwurst and one orange bell pepper.

I will miss my Saturday morning routine of making the rounds of all the vendors. In Deep Economy, author Bill McKibbon cites a study of shopping behavior which found that "consumers have ten times as many conversations at farmers' markets as they do at supermarkets." No wonder I enjoy it so much more than going to the grocery store!

All is not lost for shopping local, however. Several farm stands are still open and there is plenty of local produce to be found: broccoli, cauliflower, winter squash, beets, carrots, cabbage, apples, Klamath potatoes, hazelnuts.........and walnuts! Local walnuts will be ready at Cleveland Rapids Orchard on November 1.

Monday, October 20, 2008

My Favorite Salad

Fresh greens, diced apple, dried cranberries and toasted nuts tossed with a berry-pear vinaigrette
in my favorite myrtlewood salad bowl.

This is a perfect salad for fall. We made enough to serve about 60 people for our first Think Local Umpqua Benefit Dinner and Concert last Friday. We used organic lettuce from Sutherlin, apples and hazelnuts from Norm Lehne Garden & Orchard, dried Bandon cranberries (which I dehydrated myself!), and a Marionberry-Pear vinaigrette with local pears and my homemade Marionberry vinegar. The dressing recipe is adapted from one in Thyme and the River by Sharon Van Loan and Patricia Lee. This cookbook is a wonderful collection of recipes and stories from The Steamboat Inn on the North Umpqua River. I often include this salad recipe when I give away a bottle of berry vinegar.

For four to six servings:

Coarsely chop 1/2 cup hazelnuts. I don't worry about removing the skins. Toast in a preheated 350 degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes until their color deepens just a little and they become fragrant. Set aside to cool.

Tear up a variety of fresh, crisp lettuce leaves, enough to fill a good-sized salad bowl. I like to use a mixture of different green and red leaf types and a bit of arugula thrown in, if you have it, is good too.

Add one apple, diced and 1/2 cup dried cranberries. Add the cooled hazelnuts.

Pour about 2/3 of the Berry Vinaigrette (see below) over the salad and toss well. Add additional dressing as needed and a bit more salt as your taste dictates. Serve immediately.

Berry-Pear Vinaigrette

1/2 of a ripe pear
, any variety will do. I don't bother to peel it. You can dice the other half and add it to the salad or puree the whole thing and freeze half for another time. I also keep containers of baby food pears on hand for those times I don't have a ripe pear. The 2.5 oz size is perfect for one recipe of dressing. This year I actually canned some pear puree in the little 4 ounce jelly jars just for this purpose! I also froze some in ice cube trays.

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons berry vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
dash of nutmeg

If using fresh pear, combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and oil is emulsified. If using baby food pears you can just whisk everything together. Leftover vinaigrette can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Another variation for the salad--use dried bing cherries and cherry vinegar with toasted walnuts!

Oven-"Fried" Green Tomatoes

For those of you who have never tried them, Fried Green Tomatoes are really quite good! I first had them at Salishan Lodge on the Oregon Coast and was pleasantly surprised at how tasty they were. I rarely fry anything; this is a lower fat version that still yields a nice crusty coating.

Oven-"Fried" Green Tomatoes

4 to 6 green tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick

1 beaten egg

3 slices whole grain bread, torn into pieces (or cracker crumbs or croutons)

2 tablespoons butter

a 1-ounce chunk of parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/4 teaspoon salt
a few grinds of pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a food processor, combine the bread, butter, cheese, Italian seasoning and salt. Pulse until well-combined and crumbly. Place in a shallow bowl or pie pan. Dip each tomato slice in the beaten egg and then in the bread & cheese crumbs, coating both sides well. Place on a parchment-lined or lightly-buttered shallow pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until tomatoes are tender and crust is golden brown. Serve immediately.

Any leftovers can be reheated in a dry, non-stick pan until heated through. Microwaving would make for a very soggy crust.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Local Hazelnuts (filberts) are ready!

Hazelnuts (filberts) are ready at Norm Lehne Garden & Orchard in Garden Valley. I bought a 10 lb. sack this morning and had Norm run them through the cracker for me. After I get them all shelled, some will be blanched, toasted and chopped to be added to a green salad for our Think Local Umpqua benefit dinner and concert this Friday. The rest will go into the freezer for winter baking and snacking. I might even try my hand at making some Nutella-style chocolate-hazelnut spread!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins

I use whole wheat flour, freshly ground from soft white wheat for all my muffins, pancakes and waffles. Look for whole wheat pastry flour in the bulk bins. You can also substitute unbleached white all-purpose flour.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola or safflower oil
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree, either canned or from a pie pumpkin you have baked
4 eggs
3 cups whole wheat flour, preferably pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease, spray with oil, or line with paper bake cups a 12-cup muffin tin.*

In a large bowl, whisk together the honey, sugar, oil , pumpkin and eggs until well-blended. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, stirring just until blended and all of the flour is wet.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full with batter. I use a spring-action ice cream scoop. Bake at 375 degrees for 23 to 25 minutes, until muffin springs back when the top is lightly pressed. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove and serve warm or cool completely on a wire rack.

*This recipe makes 18 to 20 muffins or 12 standard muffins and 12 mini muffins or 12 standard muffins and one small loaf. The mini muffins will take about 15 minutes to bake. The small loaf will take 30 to 35 minutes. If you only have one muffin tin or can only fit one in your oven at a time, just bake the first 12, then bake the remaining muffins after the first have come out of the pan. Fill the empty muffin cups half full with water to keep your pan from warping.

Potato-Corn Chowder

The fall crop of russet potatoes from Malin, Oregon are now available at Kruse Farms. For this chowder, I combined diced potatoes with corn kernels cut from some leftover corn-on-the-cob (picked at Norm Lehne's the other day) and the last of the ripe tomatoes and bell pepper from my garden.

Rosemary's Potato-Corn Chowder

2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, very finely minced (I used half of a very large Walla Walla)
1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and very finely minced
1 stalk celery, very finely minced
4-5 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 5 cups)
1 cup chicken broth
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh tomatoes, peeled* and diced (or 1 pint home-canned tomatoes or 1 14.5 oz. can petite-diced tomatoes)
1 cup corn kernels (cut from 2 ears) or 1 cup frozen corn**
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup cream or half-n-half
freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large, heavy-bottomed sou pot, cook the onion, pepper and celery in the butter until onion is transparent. Add the potatoes, broth and salt. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 - 15 minutes. Do not add the tomatoes until the potatoes are tender!

Stir in the tomatoes (with the juice if using canned) and corn; cook gently until corn is tender. Stir in the milk and cream.; heat through, but do not boil. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve in warm bowls. Makes 5 to 6 servings.

This chowder goes especially well with cornbread or Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins.

*to peel fresh tomatoes: dip in boiling water for 30 seconds, then place in a bowl of cold water. Slip the skins off under cold, running water.

**if using leftover, cooked corn you will want to add it with the milk and cream just to heat it through.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Peanut Butter Brownies

Yet another variation of my decadent brownies. These will be going to our Think Local Umpqua AMIBA (American Independent Business Alliance) workshop at Umpqua Community College tonight. Unlike the Marionberry-Walnut or Caramel-Pecan versions, these do not have dark chocolate chips scattered throughout the batter, but rather a peanut butter topping (think Reese's Peanut Butter cups) strewn all over the surface before baking. Would have been simpler to use a bag of peanut butter chips, but they include a whole lot of ingredients I would rather not eat!

Peanut Butter Brownies

These are best made a day or two in advance and refrigerated before cutting. They freeze well too!

1 cup (9 oz) chunky natural-style peanut butter
4 Tablespoons (2 oz) butter, very soft or melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups (8 oz) powdered sugar
1 pound unsalted butter
8 ounces unsweetened cbaking hocolate
4 cups (1# 12 oz) sugar
8 large farm fresh local eggs (1#1oz in the shell)
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups (12 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
milk chocolate chips (optional, for drizzling on top after baking)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. I bake these on a baking stone on the center rack.

Line a 12 by 17 inch "jelly-roll" half-sheet pan or two 9 by 13 pans with parchment or grease and flour them well.

Stir together the peanut butter, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla until you have a crumbly mass. Set aside.

Melt the unsalted butter and unsweetened chocolate together over very low heat, stirring until smooth. Turn off heat, stir in sugar and let sit for about 5 minutes until sugar melts. Whisk together the 8 eggs, salt and vanilla in a very large bowl. Gradually whisk the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and stir until it becomes glossy.

Gently stir in the flour, mixing just until all the flour is incorporated. Pour into prepared pan(s). Crumble peanut butter topping evenly over the top. Reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake for 30 minutes. Do not overbake!

Let cool completely on a wire rack. If desired, when cool, drizzle the top with melted milk chocolate before cutting into bars. These are best made a day in advance and refrigerated overnight before cutting. They will firm up considerably. They also freeze well. Makes 24 large or 48 small brownies.

Shirley's Apples

My neighbor, Shirley, died this week. She was in her eighties and fell and broke her leg while she was vaccuuming. Shirley had many health problems and never recovered from the surgery needed to fix her leg. I had the privilege of being one of several friends and family members who were with her at the hospital when she peacefully passed into the next life.

The day she broke her leg, Shirley had picked a 5-gallon bucket of apples from the tree in her back yard. Her family asked if I could use them. Ever industrious and frugal, I knew Shirley would not have wanted them to go to waste. So I spent Saturday afternoon remembering Shirley while I peeled her apples and made applesauce. I labeled the jars "Shirley's" and every time I open a jar from this batch I will think of Shirley and the fine example she set for me and my children.

Lazy Lady Applesauce

When I had three children at home, we went through quite a bit of applesauce. To get the job done quickly, I would wash and quarter the apples, add just enough water to the pot or roaster pan to keep them from sticking, cover and cook (on the stove top or in the oven) until they were tender and then run them through a food mill to strain out the peels, seeds and stems. Then I would can or freeze the sauce. This method is fast, but only good for making smooth applesauce.

Lately, I have become more fond of chunky applesauce, so I'm doing things a bit differently. I also only have one child left at home, so I'm not making as much as I used to. Here's a easy method using a slow cooker. Yes, you have to peel and core the apples, but once they are in the cooker you have lots of leeway in the timing before you need to can or freeze the sauce. I can make a batch every few days this way instead of trying to do it all at once. I have one of the large, oval Rival Crockpots and I get 6 or 7 pint jars out of one batch. If you have an electric roaster, you can make an even larger quantity at one time.

I usually get the apples in the cooker while I'm preparing dinner and by the time the dishes are done, they are ready to mash and process.

Lazy Lady (slow cooker) Applesauce

Peel, quarter and core enough apples to fill your slow cooker. I like Gravensteins, but any mixture of apples will make good sauce. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of applejuice or water to the bottom, just enough to create some steam. Cover and cook on high for 1 to 2 hours or low for 2 to 3 hours, depending on your schedule. You can add a few cinnamon sticks too, if you like.

When the apples are tender, mash them into sauce right in the cooker, leaving some coarse chunks. I use a potato masher, but a wire whisk stirred through the pot does the trick too. Add sweetener (sugar, brown sugar, sucanat or honey) to taste, if desired. Cover and keep hot until ready to can. Fill pints and quarts leaving 1/2-inch headspace and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes. Or uncover and let cool , then ladle into jars or plastic containers, leaving 1-inch headspace and freeze.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Garden Valley Apples

My son sampling a Golden Delicious apple picked at Cleveland Rapids Orchard (1999).

Rome Beauty, Newton Pippin, Spitz and Red Delicious apples are all ready for picking at Norm Lehne Garden & Orchard. They are so easy to pick that it's hard not to get carried away. I already have tomatoes and peppers needing my attention, but I just couldn't resist the apples. I only picked about 20 pounds; the two women ahead of me at the scale had just picked close to 180 pounds! Don't wait too long or they'll all be gone.

I really only dashed out there (five minutes away) to pick a few ears of corn for dinner. Norm just opened up a new patch of Candystore corn for u-picking, but a freeze is expected tonight, so I thought I'd better get it while I could. Might be our last chance for corn-on-the-cob this year!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Gingerbread Cake

Rule number one at the Pumpkin Patch: You can choose any pumpkin you like, but you have to be able to carry it all by yourself! October means it's time to dig out all of my favorite pumpkin recipes. I won a blue ribbon at our county fair many years back for this Pumpkin Gingerbread Cake. I make it with whole wheat pastry flour, but all-purpose white flour works well too.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Gingerbread Cake

Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan (angel food cake pan), a bundt pan or two 9 x 5 loaf pans. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, stir together:
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour (I grind my own from soft white wheat)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon cloves
¾ teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, cream together:
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed

Add in and mix well:
½ cup molasses
1/3 cup honey

One at a time, beat in:
3 large eggs

Then mix in:
½ cup pumpkin puree (either canned or from one you have baked)
½ cup buttermilk

Gradually add in the flour mixture until there are no dry spots. Pour into prepared pan(s) and bake for 40 – 50 minutes until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then remove from pan(s) and finish cooling on a wire rack.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Semolina Bread with Basil Butter Filling

The same Basil Butter with Garlic spread that I love to slather on vegetables makes a delicious filling for Semolina Bread. The flavor of the dough develops best when it is refrigerated overnight before shaping and baking. It also gives you more flexibility in the timing of the bake!

Semolina Bread with Basil Butter Filling
(makes three loaves)

3 cups (1 pound) semolina flour (I like Bob's Red Mill brand)
1 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast (aka Bread Machine Yeast or Rapid Rise Yeast)
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups (1 pound) room temperature water
1 3/4 to 2 1/4 cups (9 to 10 ounces) bread flour or all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil

In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer, combine the semolina, instant yeast, and salt. Add the water and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Mix until well-combined. Gradually add in enough of the bread flour until a soft dough is formed, not too sticky, but just so it barely clings to your finger when touched. Knead until dough is elastic and passes the windowpane test. (Pinch off a small piece and try to stretch it out into a sheet. When the dough is ready it should not tear easily, but you should be able to stretch it out until you can see through it.) Kneading will take 10 to 15 minutes by hand or 7 to 10 minutes with a machine and dough hook.

Place in a container large enough for the dough to triple in size. Pour the remaining olive oil over the top and turn the dough over to coat it well. Cover tightly and let rise at room temperature until it doubles in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Turn the dough out onto a floured board or countertop. Fold the top down, bottom up and then each side in overlapping each other in the center. Turn the whole thing over and put it back in the rising container. Brush lightly with oil or spray with oil spray; cover tightly and refrigerate overnight or at least several hours.

Remove from refrigerator and let sit, still covered, at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours so it can warm up a bit. Turn out onto a floured board and divide into three equal pieces. Cover and let rest 15 to 20 minutes.

Gently flatten or roll each piece into an oval about 10 inches long and 5 to 6 inches wide. Try not to press all of the air bubbles out while you're doing this. Spread each oval with one heaping tablespoon of the Basil Butter with Garlic filling, leaving a small margin at the ends and the top edge. Roll the dough up and away from you, pinching and sealing the ends and seam so no filling will escape. Place your hands on top of each other on the center of the loaf and gently roll and stretch it out until it is about 12 inches long, moving your hands apart and toward each end as you roll. Semolina bread is often made into an "S" shape. To do this, curl each end, in opposite directions, toward the center of the loaf, pressing against the sides lightly to seal.

Place the loaves on a parchment-lined half-sheet pan (cookie sheet with sides.) Two loaves will fit at an angle on one pan. Cover the loaves with plastic wrap and let proof at room temperature until doubled in size, about 45-60 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees with a baking stone on the center rack if you have one.

Place the loaves in the oven and spray the oven with water ( a plant sprayer works well). Spray again after five minutes. Reduce heat to 375 and bake for a total of about 25 to 35 minutes, until nicely browned. Cool on a wire rack before slicing. If you absolutely can't wait you can use an electric knife, but anything else will squash the warm loaves.

Mamie's Chocolate Cake

An incredibly moist, dark chocolate cake with a fudge glaze, said to have been created in honor of Mamie Eisenhower by the chef at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. My mother made this "Mamie's Cake" for my birthday a few days ago. This cake, along with her Charleston Poundcake (whose recipe I am forbidden to publish) and her Caramel "Earthquake" Cake are legendary among our family and friends.

For special occasions my mom bakes the cake in two 9-inch round cake pans and doubles the glaze recipe to fill and frost the layers. For everyday eating or for transporting to potlucks and such, she bakes it in a 9 x 13 pan.

Mamie's Chocolate Cake
2 cups milk, preferably whole
2 sticks (1 cup or 8 ounces) butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate (Mom prefers Hershey's)
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 cups sifted flour (I have never seen her actually sift it and I don't bother)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour one 9 x 13 pan or two 9-inch round cake pans.
Combine the milk, butter and chocolate in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil until mixture thickens a litte, remove from heat and add sugar. Refrigerate until cool, about 20 minutes. Beat in the eggs with an electric mixer, then add combined flour and baking soda. Mix until blended. Add vanilla and blend in.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean.

For the 9 x 13 cake, cool slightly in the pan on a wire rack. Poke all over the top with a fork and pour the glaze on top while both the cake and the glaze are still warm.

For the layer cake, cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely. Make the glaze and let cool and thicken to a spreadable consistency before filling and frosting the layers.

If you're really brave you can split each layer in half horizontally before frosting to make an over-the-top 4-layer cake. The easiest way to do this is by wrapping a piece of thread or dental floss around the sides of each layer, half-way up from the bottom. Then, holding each end of the thread, cross them over each other and keep pulling until the thread comes all the way through.

Sweet Chocolate Glaze
(remember to double it for the layer cake version)

4 ounces Baker's German Sweet Chocolate
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
dash salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Melt the chocolate, butter and water together over low heat. Add in the powdered sugar, salt and vanilla and blend until smooth.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Toward Better Baking...

If you've never checked out Marcy Goldman's baking website,, now is the time. Marcy is not only a great pastry chef, she's a great all-around chef as well and her writing is always delightful. Don't overlook the "When Bakers Write" section; Dwayne's World is hilarious!

This week Marcy is giving out several free recipes and I, for one, can't wait to try the Cranberry Sauce Sweet and Sour Meatballs. As soon as I read the recipe my mind began to "localize" the ingredients...hmmm...lean ground beef from Kathy Linn's ranch in Canyonville, fresh eggs from my friend Georgie, Bandon cranberries, maybe some local honey instead of the brown sugar...

You will notice that you don't even have to brown the meatballs before adding them to the sauce! I have made meatballs in a marinara sauce (for meatball sandwiches) this way and they come our very tender and more readily absorb the flavor of the sauce. Adapts well to the slow cooker too!


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Double Cheddar Cauliflower Soup

Autumn is in the air and the cooler weather means "Soup's on" at our house. A head of Cheddar cauliflower and extra sharp Tillamook Cheddar Cheese give this soup it's lovely golden color. I made a big pot a few days ago and I have been enjoying the leftovers for lunch.

Double Cheddar Cauliflower Soup
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (it will be pureed later)
1 medium head cheddar cauliflower, cut into florets, about 1 pound (white cauliflower works fine too)
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup whole milk
4 ounces extra sharp Tillamook cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (start with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper and work up from there)

Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven. Add the chopped onion and cook until nearly transparent. Add the chicken broth and the cauliflower. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.

Puree the soup. I like to use my hand blender right in the pot. You can also puree the soup in batches in a regular blender. If you use a food processor, you will need to strain out the vegetables and puree them with just a bit of the broth to get a smooth consistency and then add in the remaining liquid. Return the mixture to the pot.

Stir in the milk, cheese and nutmeg and whisk over low heat until the cheese is melted and the soup is smooth and heated through. Do not let it boil or the cheese may separate. Add some freshly ground pepper and salt to taste. Start with 1/2 teaspoon salt and work up from there. It will depend somewhat on how much sodium was in the chicken broth.

Serve in warm bowls garnished with freshly snipped chives, if desired. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Fresh Raspberry Tarts

A mini tart using a shortbread crust, raspberry freezer jam, fresh raspberries and real whipped cream from my demo at our OSU Extension/Master Food Preserver's What's for Dinner? class on Thursday. This recipe is adapted from one in The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.

Fresh Raspberry Tarts

Shortbread crust:
¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar just until combined. Add the vanilla. Stir together the flour and salt, then add to the butter and sugar mixture. Mix until just combined. Dump into a 9 or 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Press firmly all over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using your thumb to make sure finished edge is flat. Chill until firm.

Butter one side of a piece of aluminum foil and place, buttered side down, on top of chilled pastry. Fill with rice or beans. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and beans, prick the tart all over with a fork and return to oven to bake an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool to room temperature.

1 cup raspberry preserves or raspberry freezer jam.
3 cups fresh raspberries, plus additional for garnishing

1 cup heavy whipping cream (not ultra-pasteurized!)

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Spread preserves or jam all over cooled crust. Arrange fresh berries, stem end down in concentric circles. Serve immediately or within a few hours. Top with whipped cream just before serving and garnish with a few fresh berries.

Do not refrigerate or crust will get soggy. Makes one 9 or 10-inch tart or six to twelve mini tarts, depending on pan size.

Low-Sugar Freezer Jams

This is the pectin I've been using all summer to make low-sugar freezer jams from fresh blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. I hadn't made freezer jam in many years because it used to require so much sugar and often corn syrup too to form a good gel--more sugar than fruit! This newer pectin from Ball is not marketed as a "low-sugar" product, but it requires only 1 1/2 cups of sugar for 4 cups of crushed fruit and it sets up beautifully. It also works with Splenda, if you absolutely must avoid sugar. I used this to make the raspberry filling for my Fresh Raspberry Tarts.

The process is easy enough for a child to do. You simply stir the pectin and sugar together, add the crushed fruit, stir for three minutes, ladle into jars or plastic containers, let stand 30 minutes and then freeze for up to one year or refrigerate for up to three weeks.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Market Day

Saturday was a gloriously beautiful day at the farmers market. First off, I bought these Chinese yardlong beans and some delightfully sweet seedless green grapes from Dang at Dang's Garden and then a couple zucchini, four 49er peaches and three perfect ears of Bodacious corn from Norm Lehne.

I snagged these sunflowers and rudbeckia at Hom's Garden and then bought some yellow wax beans and fresh basil for Basil Butter with Garlic from Linnea Marie Farms. Next, I headed down to the Sweet Briar Farms canopy and picked up two inch-thick center-cut pork loin chops, which they kindly wrapped in ice for me (their pork is always sold fresh, not frozen.)
I bought another quart of honey from Terry and Dawna Kauk of Kauk's Bee's. I try to pick up a quart or two each week. This jar of wildflower honey was just pulled from the hive the night before. It is the most delicious honey I have ever tasted! It almost has a slight vanilla flavor to it.

Last of all, (and my canvas bag was pretty heavy by this point) I stocked up on organic apples and Yukon Gold potatoes at Lighthouse Center Organics.

Next week the market will be held at Stewart Park as part of the Roseburg Harvest Festival. Eating local has never been so easy!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Local Breakfast

A perfectly ripe canteloupe from Brosi's SugarTree Farms in Winston, halved and filled with homemade yogurt, wild blackberries and Garden Valley walnuts makes a wholesome and delicious early morning breakfast!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Basil Butter with Garlic

Drizzled on green and yellow wax beans, tossed with boiled new potatoes or slathered on corn-on-the-cob, this flavored butter is a quick way to dress up your veggies.
Basil Butter with Garlic
1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 ounce (about 1 cup lightly packed) fresh basil leaves, rinsed and patted dry
6 to 8 cloves garlic, the fresher, the better

In a food processor: With the food processor running, drop the peeled garlic cloves in and let run until they are very finely minced. Add the basil leaves and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the softened butter and pulse until well-mixed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

By hand: Finely chop the basil leaves using a sharp knife or kitchen shears. Put the garlic through a press or mince finely by hand. Stir both into the softened butter until well-combined.

Makes a bit more than 1 cup. Store in the refrigerator up to one week. For longer storage, drop by tablespoonsful onto a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet and freeze until firm. Pack in freezer bags and store in freezer to use as needed.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Giant Dahlias

I bought five exquisite dahlias from Ayers Rainbow of Dahlias (580-5236) at the Umpqua Valley Farmers Market. Unfortunately, I broke the stem of one before I got home. Ever resourceful, I simply trimmed the stem short and floated the giant flower in a crystal bowl on my dining room table. I added fresh water every day or two and it lasted all week.

The remaining four dahlias made a stunning centerpiece on their own. I was holding the fresh flowers while I was buying peppers and beans from Jim Leet and a kind, elderly woman gave me this tip: to make the dahlias last longer, trim the stems at a sharp angle and hold the ends in scalding water for about 30 seconds. Then put them in a vase of tepid water with some 7-up soda mixed in or a penny in the bottom. Repeat the procedure every two days. She said they would stay fresh for up to ten days this way. I did as instructed (using 7-up) and mine looked good for 6 or 7 days, longer than my dahlias have ever lasted before.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Caramel-Pecan Brownies

A variation of my Marionberry-Walnut Brownies, I made these for a Chautauqua presentation at the Douglas County Library tonight. Half of the caramel was baked into the batter, creating faultlines of gooey goodness; the rest was drizzled on top of the baked brownies.

Caramel-Pecan Brownies
1 pound unsalted butter
8 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
4 cups (1# 12 ounces) sugar
8 large farm-fresh local eggs
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 ounces)
1 (11.5 oz.) package Ghirardelli 60% Dark Chocolate Chips
1 cup (4 ounces) coarsely chopped pecans
1 jar (8 to 12 ounces) caramel topping or caramels melted and thinned with a bit of milk

Line a 12 x 17-inch jelly roll pan with unbleached parchment or grease and flour well. Preheat the oven to 350 degreees.

In a large, heavy saucepan melt the butter and unsweetened chocolate over very low heat just until melted. Stir in the sugar, turn off the heat and let stand for 5 or 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sugar is melted.

Whisk the eggs, salt and vanilla together in a very large bowl. Slowly pour in the chocolate mixture, stirring constantly until well-combined. Gently fold in the flour until no dry particles are visible. Pour into the prepared pan.

Scatter the chocolate chips evenly over the surface of the batter. Using a rubber scraper or the back of a spoon, gently smooth the top so the chips are covered with batter.

Sprinkle the chopped pecans over the top. Heat the open jar of caramel topping in the microwave for about 1 minute, until slightly softened. (Alternativley, heat the unwrapped caramels with a tablespoon or two of milk). Stir well and then drizzle half of the warm caramel all over the brownie batter. Reserve the remaining caramel.

Place pan on the center rack of the oven and turn the heat down to 325 degrees. Bake for exactly 30 minutes. Remove from oven to a wire rack. Drizzle remaining caramel over the top of baked brownies. Cool completely.

Brownies will be easier to cut if covered tightly after cooling and then refrigerated overnight. I loosen the edges, slide a large pancake turner under the parchment and then lift the entire piece out onto the counter. This makes them easy to cut into uniform squares without scratching up the sides of the pan.

Makes 48 small or 24 large brownies. These freeze very well!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Mediterranean Madness

Tomatoes from the garden, fresh basil, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar and
a bit of salt are ready to mound on crusty bread for Italian Bruschetta.

The Douglas County Master Food Preservers are once again offering a What's for Dinner cooking class on Thursday, September 11 from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm at the Sutherlin Community Building. Our theme this month is Mediterranean Madness and we'll be featuring fresh tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, eggplant and fresh fruit in our menu:
Italian Bruschetta
Spanish Gazpacho
Eggplant Parmigiana
Moroccan Stuffed Bell Peppers
Fresh Fruit Desserts
Ed Hoffman and I will be doing the demonstrations and a full lunch is included with the $15 registration fee. You can print off a form by clicking here. Pre-registration is required as the class is limited to 24 participants.