Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cookie Dreams (or is that kooky?)

Call it my end of the year cookie clearance. Call it early Spring cleaning. Call it me working on something random instead of what I should be doing. But I noticed that there were more recipes for cookies in my bookmark folder than I could possibly ever make (though it sure would be fun to try). Frankly, it was getting pretty crowded in there, with all the Molasses Whatnots, Chocolate Dilly-Bobs and Cranberry Crinkle-Puffs. And more scrumptious baked goods were being posted on my favorite blogs nearly every day this month. Part of my reason for starting this blog in the first place was to be able to organize all my recipes and bookmarks. Guess I took a left turn somewhere. I don't make New Year's resolutions, but if I did, this might be a good place to start.

So here they are... nearly all the cookies I've been dreaming of for the last year or so, not including the ones that are in my cookbook collection (that's something else entirely). Now... let me tell you more about my dream: I dreamt that there were 67 days in the month of December, and 53 pounds of butter in my fridge...

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Christmas Dinner That Was

There's nothing like planning ahead. Or not. Last Wednesday we poured through my cookbooks looking for recipes, Thursday we bought the ingredients, Friday we did all the prep and went to a lovely candlelight service, Saturday we cooked and feasted, and Sunday we slept in  and then attacked the dishes. All in all, pretty darned glorious...

So, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good bite.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Low-Fat Oatmeal Banana Bread

Because sometimes breakfast needs to be as easy as cutting off a slice or two of the banana bread in the fridge...

Because this time of year, it's nice to eat something occasionally that isn't so sweet it makes your teeth ache....

Because sometimes you just need to do something with the black banana collection in the freezer...

Because sometimes the butter needs be used for baking more important things... like cookies.

Seriously... there's no butter in this. That thrills me to no end, and not because of any caloric reasons either... it's just difficult to bake things when you're out of butter (or when your favorite cookie recipes have called dibs on all of it). It's simply a good recipe to have in your bag of tricks, in your arsenal, up your sleeve, or even, oh... in your recipe box (because you're much more organized than I am)...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Blood Red And Ever Green

Meet the newest member of our kitchen garden*: a dwarf blood orange tree. It's name is Sanguinelli: from sanguine meaning blood (or cheer, confidence, health, passion) and elli meaning plural for ello... I don't know what ello means. I do know what this gift means to us though. It's a late anniversary/early Christmas present from my mom, and it's a gift that will truly keep on giving.

Our Sanguinelli is about 4-feet tall above the pot and there are about 20 oranges already on it (it's like a gift-with-purchase!), so come this February or March (providing they don't drop from the stress of moving) I should be both ready and able to make something scrumptious with them. In the meantime, it will live alongside our dwarf Meyer lemon on the patio in a big pot on wheels. It will get extra water during the summer months and get pulled up close to the house (and covered) on winter nights when the temperature dives to 32°F or below... like, um, tonight for instance.

Pecunia In Arbotis Non Crescit**... or does it?
Blood oranges are something that I usually just dream about as I substitute regular oranges into recipes that were designed to show off the unique color and flavor of Sanguinelli, Moro, or Tarocco. Sure, I could buy them at the fancy grocery store here in town... or rather, I could if we had a food budget that included exotic specialty fruits. So we decided to grow them instead. Ordinary fruits and vegetables are easily found all over, why give up garden space for cheap and ordinary? The care and feeding are the same whether it's a Blood Orange or a Navel (but guess which one costs less at the market). We'll most likely go for a lime tree next, but in keeping with my philosophy, we should maybe think about one of these other citrus varieties instead... perhaps a Limequat or Bhudda's Hand?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Yes Virginia, You Can Improve On A Family Favorite

I was a week late in making these, and frankly almost didn't make them at all this year. But you know what? If I didn't make them, it would plague me all year. I may not feel it until next December, but it would be there in the back of my noggin, naggin' at me all subconscious-like the whole time. And who needs that? Not me. Been there, done that, didn't like it one bit. Traditions can anchor you. But in a good way. It doesn't mean that there isn't room for new traditions*, just don't throw out the old favorites while you're doing it. Another way to mix things up is to update an old family fav. Tweak with tradition just a bit. See where it takes you.

After last year's bake-a-thon, I stood up and said no to the the green dye** and stated that I would never make our favorite gaudy, gooey fruited, artificial color-laden fruitcake cookies the same way ever again. Only about three people really care about these cookies enough to have expressed any concern over my statement so it's not like I was risking the wrath of thousands or anything. But still, these cookies have been made the same way in my family for as long as I can remember. We never changed a thing. Not ever. Well, aside from the type of booze to use, or whether to replace a pound of the candied pineapple with a pound of the candied citron or not.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Crock, Stock and Two Smoking Hot Loaves Of Bread

Yesterday was the day I dirtied up just about every pot, pan, mixing bowl and measuring cup I own. Two big kitchen projects (plus a few small ones) converged and aligned and generally bumped into each other at every opportunity. I never intend to have days like this. I certainly don't plan them this way, but they sometimes happen. Hey, you do what you gotta do when you gotta do it, right? Well, the lovely turkey carcass in my fridge desperately needed to be dealt with, and I couldn't put off baking the bread another minute. I'd gone far too long without toast.