Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What's Good for the Goose

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This post has nothing to do with geese. But "What's Good for the Gooseberry" just didn't have the same ring to it.

Before my mom married her husband, I had never heard of gooseberries, let alone tasted anything made with them. I had also never seen anyone eat marmite or drink buttermilk, but that's another story. He's got some strange taste when it comes to food sometimes. The only new food that I've grown to enjoy is gooseberry pie. Gooseberries are these little sour green berries that apparently look like this...

I however, have never seen fresh gooseberries down here. Mine come looking like this...

Actually, I've never even seen the cans in stores down here. I have to get them from Amazon. Wherever you can find them, they make a really good pie. It's slightly sour, similar to cherry pie, but with a flavor all its own. So for Father's Day this year, I made Brian his favorite pie, and it's quickly becoming one of my favorites as well.

Gooseberry Pie
Makes 1 pie
  • 2 Cans Gooseberries, drained
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar (You can add more if you like your pies sweeter)
  • 1/4 Cup Tapioca
  • 1/4 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp Orange Zest (optional, but adds a great flavor)
  • Double pie crust (recipe below)
  1. Combine all ingredients and let sit while making the pie crust. 
  2. Pour filling into bottom crust. Place top crust on top and crimp edges with a fork to seal.
  3. Cut slits in top crust (or polka dots if you're like me and bored of cutting slits in pies).
  4. Bake at 450º for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350º and bake 30 minutes more. Cover edges with foil if they start getting too brown.
  5. Let cool before slicing.
Pie Crust
Makes a top and bottom crust

  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 2/3 Cup Shortening
  • 2 Tbsp Butter, cold
  • 1/2 Cup Iced Water (Don't let the ice cubes get in the dough)
  1. Combine flour and salt.
  2. Using a pastry blender, 2 knives, or your hands, cut in the shortening and butter until the pieces are about pea-sized.
  3. Stir in the water with a fork until a dough forms.
  4. On a lightly floured piece of wax paper, roll out half of the dough. Always roll from the middle to the outside - it's easier and is less likely to tear.
  5. Place your pie pan upside down and cut around the outside to make your top piece. Put the top crust (still on the wax paper) in the fridge while you roll out the bottom crust. (My mom taught me to roll the top crust out first. That way it's always exactly the right size and the prettiest, since that's what everyone sees! Thanks, mom!)
  6. Roll out the scraps and remaining half of the dough to make your bottom crust and place it in your pie pan.
Don't ask why I didn't take a picture of the whole pie...

If you're lucky enough to find gooseberries, try this pie! You might just discover a new favorite. You can also try marmite and drinking buttermilk, but I wouldn't recommend it!

Happy Late Father's Day to all the fathers and father-figures!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What the Hex?

I'm not a crafty person... but occasionally I pretend to be.

When I saw this post ages ago on the ModCloth blog via Honestly... WTF, I thought I had finally found a DIY project that I could actually do!

I can braid, and that's pretty much the only skill needed for this. With some twine from my kitchen and a cheap bag of silver hex nuts from Home Depot, I was ready to go!

No, this isn't mine. Like I said, not crafty!

This one's mine.

It was actually easier than I thought. With one minor detail. I have no idea how to put it on. Tying a knot on the back of my wrist works, but is completely bulky and stupid looking. While trying to get a picture I was literally holding the loose ends in my fist, which isn't really practical for everyday wear. Why do instructions always stop too early for me? Would it have killed those talented crafty folks to include the one extra step of how to put this on? Any advice out there? Heeeelp...

But I still love it. Sure, from close-up it's obviously made out of hex nuts, but from a normal point of view, it's really cool looking and doesn't scream "I'm from Home Depot!" And I think it looks perfect for the summer.

And now, I feel braver. Maybe next time I'll take on something more complicated than braiding.

Ok, maybe not!

Top two images from Honestly... WTF

Monday, June 13, 2011

What a Week

I feel like I've been gone forever! Last week was hectic between VBS, home improvement projects, and visiting with friends I haven't seen in years. But it's all over now and I can officially relax! And by relax, I mean bake.

I have a confession. I frequently buy cream cheese when I grocery shop. Not because I need it, I just claim that I like to have it on hand. Then I never use it. A couple of days before it's about to expire, I pull it out and am "forced" to bake something yummy to prevent it from spoiling. I've probably done this a dozen times. So far no one has caught on. I hope they never do or I'll never have a valid reason to bake cupcakes when it's no one's birthday!

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Yield: 24 cupcakes
From a recipe card I recently discovered from my paternal grandmother

  • 1/2 Cup (1 stick) Butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 Cups Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 4 Tbsp Red Food Coloring
  • 2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
  • 1 Cup Buttermilk
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tbsp White Vinegar
  • 1 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 2 1/2 Cups Flour, sifted
  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Grease and flour muffin pans, or use paper liners.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar.
  3. Beat in the eggs.
  4. Combine the food coloring and cocoa powder and add to the egg mixture.
  5. Combine buttermilk, salt, white vinegar, and baking soda and add to the egg mixture.
  6. Slowly add the flour. When combined, beat for 2 minutes or until fluffy.
  7. Pour into muffin pans and bake for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Let cool completely and frost (recipe below).
Cream Cheese Frosting
Because I couldn't let that cream cheese spoil...

  • 1/2 Cup (1 stick) Butter, softened
  • 8 oz package cream cheese (reduced fat is fine, fat-free doesn't work well)
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla
  • 4 Cups Powdered Sugar
  1. Beat all ingredients until smooth.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Amish Life

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I wish I were Amish.

Except with electricity. And cars.

And without the clothes and super strict rules. And I don't think I could learn Pennsylvania Dutch either.

Ok, so I actually just want to be Amish for the food. It's like a 24/7 diet of comfort food! What's not to love about that? Besides all of the calories of course... But having delicious treats like homemade bread and pies every day instead of saving them for special occasions would be amazing.

When a craving for something super sweet and comforting (and yes, super unhealthy) hits, where better to look for inspiration than the Amish? And in this case, the traditional Amish treat of Whoopie Pies was the perfect choice.

I know Whoopie Pies have been trending for awhile now, so it may appear I'm jumping on the bandwagon a little late. But I was actually ahead of the game for once on this trend! I have a binder full of recipes that I made when I was about 9 or so. I wrote down a recipe for Whoopie Pies way back when, and 16 years later, I'm finally getting around to making them!

Whoopie Pies
I have no idea who to credit this recipe to, but a big thank you 
to whoever created these! They are so good!
  • 6 Tablespoons Shortening
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 5 Tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1-1/2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 375º and grease baking sheets.

2. Cream together shortening, sugar, and the egg.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

4. Add the flour mixture to the shortening mixture alternately with the milk and vanilla, mixing well after each addition.

5. Drop by spoonfuls on the sheets and bake for 10 minutes. 

6. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

7. Spread about a tablespoon of filling (recipe below) onto half of the cooled cookies and top with the remaining cookies.

Filling Recipe

  • 3/4 Cup Butter, Softened
  • 1 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 Cup Marshmallow Creme
  • 1 Tablespoon Milk
1. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.

2. Mix in the remaining ingredients. If frosting it too thick, add more milk. If it's too thin, add more powdered sugar.

These are obviously not your everyday cookies, as they are pretty unhealthy. But they make an amazing treat. And while the people you serve them to may not shout "whoopie!" upon seeing them, they will definitely love you for making them!

I'll stick with my modern life for now, as long as I can still occasionally be Amish in the kitchen!
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