Thursday, February 25, 2021

Snugging in on a cold winter night

Cooper passed out in my chair 

The cats melted in their chair

The reason everyone is so relaxed 

There is nothing more pleasant than snuggling in with the woodstove going full bore. The critters have it right.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Dessert—Banana Pudding

I had three bananas that needed to be used up. Three is too many for my banana bread recipe and I already had bananas in the freezer so didn’t want to just chuck these in there too. Then inspiration struck—pudding! And not just any pudding. Southern style baked banana pudding with Nilla Wafers and meringue. 

Except I didn’t have any Wafers and sure didn’t feel like going out. So I found a recipe online and away we go!

The cookie recipe came from The first batch out of the oven hadn’t taken on any color at the end of the suggested bake time and additional time in the oven was just drying them out. So I increased the oven temp to 375 and baked 15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. This gave me a bit of browning on the bottom and edges which I think helps with flavor. 

A bit misshapen but very good

Do they taste exactly like the store-bought version? Of course not. Were they simple to bake and taste good? Yup! I’m counting this a keeper.

The banana pudding recipe is from my favorite online chef, Chef John at A wonderful recipe and it uses four eggs—an important consideration in this household since the hens are laying so well.

Beautiful meringue 

Worthy of a second shot

An excellent way to use up bananas and eggs. What’s not to love?

Friday, February 12, 2021

Not quite right


I found a recipe on YouTube for a vegetable pancake presented by Maangchi. It looked good and seemed simple. Unfortunately it didn’t come out quite right; it was sort of gummy in fact. Basically it’s 3 cups of veggies mixed with a flour/water batter to form a pancake. There aren’t any leaveners in it which may have contributed to the textural heaviness. 

I fully intend to keep trying this because I find it wonderfully appealing as an idea—vegetables lightly bound and served with dipping sauce. I mean, I can easily see making something like this all summer as vegetables ripen in the garden. Quick, easy, good.

Well, we have some refining to do before it achieves “good”. But it’s close. I’m going to lighten the batter. Maybe add a bit of leavening. Shoot, maybe add an egg.

But I’ll be keeping the basic structure of simple, fresh, and quick.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Sourdough Discard Crackers

I got into sourdough baking just before Covid hit so I got to practice before flour became a scarce commodity. I made lots of stuff without worrying too much about whether it would be a waste of flour or not. If nothing else, it’d be chicken food. Fortunately most things worked well, but I confess I never really enjoyed the bread. I have other rustic bread recipes that I prefer more so I started looking for ways to use my sourdough starter straight from the fridge rather than worrying about its activity level. This meant I was going for flavor more than rise. 

Basically I now use only “discard” in my recipes. It’s quite freeing.

One of my favorite recipes is sourdough discard crackers (you knew I’d get there eventually). They’re easy, taste great, and store way longer than you’d think possible. I’ve adapted this recipe from several I’ve found online, so if this doesn’t appeal to you there are many out there to try.

  • 248g discard (I use mine straight from the fridge; don’t even bother to let it warm up)
  • 113g flour (wheat flour gives a stronger sour flavor, white is more neutral)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt 
  • 57g soft butter (I use a combo of butter and extra virgin olive oil)
  • 2 Tbl of seeds or herbs (I prefer poppy and sesame seeds)
  • Additional EVOO and salt for topping 
Plop everything in a mixing bowl. Use your hand to thoroughly combine ingredients.

Form dough into a ball. It’ll be soft and tacky.

Divide the dough in half, shape into discs, and wrap in plastic. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F. 

Roll one dough ball very thin to fit a half-sheet pan. I do this on a floured parchment sheet with the plastic wrap on top to help prevent sticking.

Dock with a fork, brush with EVOO, sprinkle with crunchy salt, and cut into strips using a knife, pizza wheel, or ravioli wheel to get those cool wavy edges. Transfer to pan then repeat with other dough ball.

Place pans in oven, bake for 10 minutes then rotate pans (top to bottom and front to back) and bake for 10 minutes more. Turn off oven and crack door to let crackers cool naturally; this helps them dry out more.

Transfer to a cracker jar and enjoy. They keep very well though I’m sure household conditions will impact that. It’s February in upstate NY and we heat with wood so our house is very dry right now. My last batch of crackers was still crisp 4 weeks later. This summer? Probably not going to last that long.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Sunny day and apple pie

February is typically our dreariest month, full of sub-zero temperatures and cloudy, gray skies. But not today!

Today was not only sunny it was warm (warm being relative in upstate New York). We hit 42 degrees today and there was virtually no wind. 

It was a perfect day to clean the chicken coop. Wait, what? Not snowshoe, or ski, or goof off? Nope, you gotta grab these opportunities when they appear. I use the deep litter method on my coop so by this time of winter it’s getting pretty deep in there. It’s great to have a chance to pull a few layers out and get them into the compost pile. Fresh wood shavings and hay make the coop much more pleasant for everyone.

Once the coop was cleaned (and I’d had a shower) I spent some pleasant time in the kitchen. Last fall my Dad had given me a few bags of orchard apples and I seasoned and froze some for pies. I had one bag left and decided to experiment a bit. I made a bottom crust, par-baked it, filled it with the raw, thawed apples, and topped it with my Grandma’s apple crisp topping. 

 I gotta admit that turned out to be one fantastic pie. I doubt I’ll go back to double crust apple pie ever again.