Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Holiday Style Sourdough Banana Bread

One of the sometimes slightly maddening fun things about sourdough is that to keep it bubbling away you have to keep feeding it.  And, unless you're giving everyone you know, and a few you don't know, a starter of their own, you need to find ways to use the stuff.  It makes you get in the kitchen and cook!! And, unlike your family which does the same thing, it doesn't bitch and whine and moan about what you cook! 

Today I made some Sourdough Banana Bread but since tis the season and all that, I wanted to kick it up a little and spice that bad baby out.  Turns out, spiced out Holiday Style sourdough bread kicks some serious ass.

*1/3 cup butter, softened (there actually IS a line on the butter wrapper for 1/3 cup! Who knew?!?)
*1 cup sugar - I used demerara sugar, but if you don't have that light brown sugar will do
*1 egg
*1 cup sourdough starter
*1 cup mashed bananas (approx. 2 large or 3 small bananas)
*2 1/4 cup self-rising flour
*1/4 tsp salt
*2 TB ginger powder
*1 tsp cinnamon
*1 tsp vanilla extract

1) Cream together butter and sugar.  Add vanilla extract, starter, and mashed bananas.  Mix together until just blended.
2) Sift together flour, salt, ginger, and cinnamon.  Add this to the other ingredients and blend well.
3) Pour contents into a greased bread pan (or two, do NOT over fill this unless you want a mess!) and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until done.
4) Serve warm with a nice pat of butter on top. 

Review: This turned out really well, aside from overflowing and making a mess in the oven.  Oh well, c'est la vie.  It is meant to be eaten, not gawked at, and it is still great for that.  Next time though I'll divvy this up into a couple of pans.  If you have a knack for it, this would also make a great muffin!
The flavor came out really nice.  The ginger hits your tongue just enough to let you know it is there, but not so much that you're going to freak out about it being spicy.  Delish. 
Try it and let me know what you think!

~Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Sourdough Sugar Cookies

Just in time for the holidays, I'm going to share with you my recipe for Sourdough Sugar Cookies.  I know we're all busy, so I'll make this quick and easy for you with a little review of the cookies at the end, ok?

1 stick butter, softened (if you use margarine I'll have to slap you!)
1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Approx. 1/2 cup sugar for sprinkling - I used colored sugar to zhush it up some.

1) In a small bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and nutmeg.
2) In a separate mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar.  Add vanilla extract, egg, and starter. Once well blended, add in the sifted/whisked dry ingredients.
3) Drop by the teaspoonful onto a well greased cookie sheet.  (*Tip - I've found that melon ballers are the perfect size for this!  Easy peasy and now you've actually got a good reason for having a melon baller!*)
4) Press down a bit on cookie dough ball with a fork dipped in water to give it the nice criss-cross pattern.  You'll want to re-dip that fork after about two presses or else the dough will stick to the fork.
5) Sprinkle liberally with sugar. 
6) Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until edges are just brown. 

7) Let sit on a kitchen island or counter top to cool.  Watch out for Mastiffs and children during this cooling period. 

Review: The boyos loved these as you can see in the photos, so there ya go, it is a win and kid-approved.  However, my boyos are used to sweets being homemade.  If you've already got a taste for store bought or pre-packaged tubes of sugar cookie dough, you're going to try one of these and think "Man, that has a twang!"  ... Well, yea, it does.  That is because it is made with Sourdough silly!
This is definitely a neat way to use some of your sourdough starter, and I'll definitely be making these again. 
The dough spread out some but not too much in the oven, which is nice.  Just that right amount of spreading, as opposed to running off everywhere like batter. 
One change I might make for the next time is that I made these with my standby flour blend: a mixture of unbleached white and whole wheat.  I think these might be better with just white flour, but that is really a personal taste. 

Try it and let me know what you think!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Maple Bacon Stout Chocolate Cake

Ok darlings, this is the one I promised you.  I made this while we were down at the beach, which means I was working in a less-than-stellar kitchen that was mid-grade when it was made in the 80's.  Aside from the insanely tilted burners, the poor calibration of the burners (no matter what, I couldn't get stuff to not burn on the bottom of the pan!! grrrr...), and the "lacking" of enough stuff it is actually a decent little kitchen.  What I'm trying to say here is that whenever I make something good at the beach it is automatically entitled to an "Oh DAMN!! That is GOOD!!" status just because of what I'm (literally) working with.

Every year at the beach we have a birthday night.  It started because one of our friend's birthdays tends to be that week but we decided we were ALL worthy of having our birthdays celebrated since we aren't able to get together the rest of the year.  Really it may just be more of an excuse to party bigger.  So ... birthday night gets planned and executed by me because I have a nearly 20 year history of fixing birthday cakes at this beach, in this kitchen.  (*Brief history flashback - this is where I would turn to the camera and we'd do an awesome photo montage - we stay in a timeshare that belongs to my Dad.  One of my brother's birthdays tended to also fall on a day we were at the beach and, because I am so awesome and my stepmother could boil water [though in that kitchen I couldn't blame her], I made his cakes.  They rocked.  They set me up for a groovy career path for a while.  Someday ask me about the bikini cake.*)

Being the beer snobs that we are we stopped at a local beer store down there before checking in.  What we found was enough to make me literally "EEK!" and grab up two bottles.  Rogue's Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale.  You can only get this in North Carolina or Oregon.  The clerk advised eating something that was either a maple doughnut or bacon when you drank it - hence the idea for this cake.  (*PS - dear awesome clerk lady from Chip's Wine & Beer Market in Moyock, I dedicate this to you!!)  She knows her stuff and without further rambling here is my much promised recipe.

Maple Bacon Stout Chocolate Cake
Ingredients:*1 Devil's Food box mix cake (ok, you know I don't normally use box mixes, but it is the beach and you already heard about the kitchen so give me a break, will ya?)
*10 slices bacon
*1/4 cup + 2 TB maple syrup (NO Mrs. Butterworth's!! Get the real stuff!!)
*1/2 cup oil
*1/2 cup water
*1/2 cup Southern Tier's Imperial Mokah Stout (also scored at Chip's Wine/Beer)
*2 eggs
*One 16 ounce tub Duncan Hine's Creamy Homestyle Milk Chocolate icing (again, give me a break for not making it from scratch)

Here's what you need.

1) Mix up the cake batter pretty much as it is called for, adding the 1/4 cup maple syrup and beer (which is not on the back of the box!).  Instead of using 1 cup water I used 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup of the awesome Mokah Stout.  Truth be told, if I hadn't already drank the rest of that bottle, I would've used 1 cup Mokah Stout and no water, but it is hard to hold onto a beer like that for cooking with.2) Cook up your slices of bacon.

See??  Even with my "from home" pan the bacon is trying to burn.  Stupid beach burner.

3) This is actually worthy of being a separate step - don't let your bacon get all crispy!!  I'll be honest that this was something I wasn't sure on till after it was all said and done, but you want your bacon chewy, not crispy. 
4) Grease up your 13x9 inch pan.  Since I didn't want to use olive oil and since we were being supremely decadent, we actually used some of the bacon grease to grease the baking pan.  We simply dipped a paper towel in it and rubbed it around like you would do with Crisco (though it wasn't laid on that thickly).  It worked perfectly and before you decide to freak out remember, this cake is not for wusses.
5) Pour cake batter into pan.  Break-up/chop up bacon, leaving pieces that are 1 - 1 1/2" long (roughly the size of your thumb from joint to tip).   This may seem big but you'll appreciate it when you eat the cake.
6) Bake per directions on box.  Which, was something like 325 or 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Read the box, I don't have it here with me to remember.  Cook till a toothpick comes out clean from the center.
Out of the oven & covered in icing!
7) Now for the icing!  Ok, you're using store bought icing which is a snoozer, but here is where we're going to make it fun.  Let the icing warm up some under those stove lights and mix in the extra 2 TB maple syrup.  It'll be yummy.  Spread it on the cake while it is still warm and it will melt out deliciously.

Here is the finished product, with the beer to go with it.  The lady from Chip's Wine & Beer Market was right, you definitely want to eat and drink at the same time.  If you have a piece of bacon in your mouth while you're drinking the beer all the better.  The beer is REALLY smoky.  Like "I think I might be drinking a campfire" smoky.  But it was good, and it was awesome and how often are you going to get to have both of these???

The cake itself was awesome enough that I brought it down to the beach to share with our lifeguard friends.  It isn't fair that they have six packs and great tans and get paid to sit on a beach all day, so I must tempt them with insanely delicious Maple Bacon cake. 

Lifeguard Ben approves!!

So, give the cake a try and let me know what you think.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.  This cake even got thumbs up from one of our friends who declares that she hates sweets and cakes and chocolate.  So, if that doesn't seal it for you, what will. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Caribbean Rum Punch

This is an adult drink and contains alcohol so if you’re under 21 please close your eyes and don’t continue reading.

I like my drinks to be seasonal. We all have our favorite drinks, but why not vary it up some according to the season and weather outside? Here is a terrific recipe that I found online at http://allrecipes.com/recipe/caribbean-rum-punch. I have added my own tweak to it of course, but let me tell you, this is a really good drink. It is smooth, perfect for Summer, and a delight to drink. I will warn you though to watch how fast you drink these. You can have a couple and be fine, but if you start drinking too quickly this drink will sneak up on you. It isn’t called a “punch” for nothing! So, as always, drink responsibly.

Caribbean Rum Punch


*1 cup fresh squeezed and strained lime juice – You’ll need approximately 5-6 limes for this.
*2 cups simple syrup – You can use store bought or make your own, I’ll share my recipe for this below.
*3 cups amber/dark rum
*4 cups orange-pineapple juice – I bought the generic Kroger variety for this and it is delicious. You can use all orange juice or a mixture of other tropical-esque juice as you see fit, but the orange-pineapple is delicious!
* 4 splashes bitters
* A good splash (approximately a TB or two worth) grenadine syrup
* ¼ tsp ground nutmeg

*For Serving – Either a large punch bowl will work or if you intend to keep it longer, you’ll need a gallon jug.


1. First, like I said I make my own simple syrup because it truly is simple to make. Simply heat up equal parts water and sugar in a pot on the stove, letting it cook down just a little so that it is more than just dissolved sugar in water. I get this going on the stove while I’m mixing together the rest of the punch.

2. Mix lime juice, rum, orange-pineapple juice, bitters, grenadine syrup, and nutmeg in either the punch bowl or gallon jug.

3. If you’re container is glass, you’ll want to let the simple syrup cool down before adding it to the rest of the punch to make sure the glass doesn’t break. Once it is cooled, add simple syrup and blend well.

4. Serve immediately over ice or refrigerate and serve later.

*Special Notes - Now, if you've ever had a cocktail made by me you know that my drinks tend to be strong, so please pay special attention to my following "heads up" because it isn't something you'll likely hear me say often --- Do NOT mess around with the booze-to-everything else ratio here!!!!  I made this mistake while trying to finish off the end of a rum bottle.  I thought I could add a little more juice to balance it out.  It wasn't bad, it just wasn't GOOD.  Totally drinkable, but not "hey bitches, check THIS drink out" drinkable.  Get it?  So, follow the recipe if you know what is good for you.

See?  It fills up almost a gallon jug!  So, oh hell yes, this IS the Summer drink!!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Canning Goodies & The Matrix

It's that amazing, wonderful time of year again ... canning season!  The above photos are just three of recent items we've canned.  We've been selling jelly jars of these for $4 each with great success and, more importantly, fantastic feedback!! 

We've also been stocking our pantry with canned peaches, applesauce, canned chicken stock (what a miracle in a jar!!), and apple pie filling.  That's a first for us, and I am eager to try it in a pie. 

Today, we've been making up a batch of spaghetti sauce to can.  We haven't made this in over a year due to the kitchen renovation from last year.  This year's garden produced nicely though and there is a large stock pot bubbling away on the stove.  A friend stopped by and immediately proclaimed that she could smell the garlic I had been roasting to add to the sauce.  Of course, she's a garlic aficionado, so I don't doubt that she would be able to pick up the aroma from quite a way off. 

I was struck by something though, while I was mixing up the sauce and pureeing it down: how good it tastes.  And I don't mean that in a bragging, "oh man, my sauce is awesome" kind of way.  I mean, I was just blown away at how GOOD it was because it was REAL.  Not store bought. 

It is amazing to me how we can actually forget what REAL food tastes like.  We think we know, we're sure we know.  Then we taste REAL food, and we are awakened.  Awakened from a sleep we didn't know we were in.  --- Ooohhh ... how very "Matrix", right? 

As silly as that sounds, I swear that is really how it is.  The first time I tried raw milk I simply knew how right it was.  For those of us who cook, it's like when you're trying to perfect a recipe.  Suddenly, you get it right.  How do you know it's right?  You just do. 

When you've been eating store bought food, you can think you've eaten, and even created, some very good meals.  To some extent, that is a completely accurate statement.  I've eaten very good meals that were made from store bought, packaged, processed items. 

But then .. then you try something that is homemade.  Homegrown.  Organic.  Fresh off the vine, literally still warm from the sun.  And .. well, Morpheus might as well have just given you that magic little red pill.  Have you experienced it yet? 

Dinner is beckoning me now, so I will leave you with this quote from 'The Matrix':
Morpheus: Let me tell you why you're here. You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I'm talking about?

Now, Neo replied "The Matrix", but Mama Taney replies "Real Food".  :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cookin' up a Stingray

Yes, you read that right. This post begins & took place in Duck, NC. where we were on vacation. We had been fishing from the beach and a friend kept catching skates (not the type you put on your feet to wheel around under a disco ball!). As he was tossing one back he commented how unscrupulous restaurants "cookie cutter" the wings and pass them off as scallops. I pondered that if they tasted like scallops, why weren't we keeping them and eating them? Good point, he acknowledged, and then he agreed we would do so with the next one.

The next one however wasn't a skate. It was a stingray. With the poisonous barb tail. But, a quick look on the ole smart phone revealed they're just as edible as skates. So, he hacked off the tail, let the thing die, and brought it to me. In a cooler. This is my experience with a stingray.

First off, how do you get it out of the cooler without turning into a prancing girl?? I'm not known for being very girly-girl, but I'll admit this had me prancing & flapping about the kitchen like I was trying to fly.

The wings kept turning under. And this is something that can kill you when it's alive. Or when the tail is still on, which it wasn't, but still. Ewww.

I decided that first I should maybe just drain out the cooler.

And that's when the entire thing went sliding out of the cooler and into the sink & I ran, yelping, out of the kitchen. So, Step 1 was solved, it's out of the cooler. Now what?

Well, I was still prancing about. Those wings rolled like slimy tortillas making a stingray burrito. So, naturally, the next logical steps were:

*go ahead and clean the cooler, obviously it would be rude to leave it dirty and smelly, and we don't want to be rude .. so best to go ahead and clean it out

*wash hands, the "slime" seemed to be really clingy

*try to pick up the stingray, watch it fold and slip

*drop stingray back into the sink & then begin flapping around the kitchen

*wash your hands again.

This proceeded on for several long minutes, much to the amusement of friends who were now watching. Time to man-up. I poured myself a stout (more manly, ya know?). I bellied up to the sink, because that is a kinda manly thing to do too. And I faced off with the stingray.

What I had looked up online said to cut the wings off. It showed a nice graphic photo of how to do this which required another swig of beer. I have never prepared a fresh fish before. Never filleted one. Completely new experience.

One note (which was mentioned online) when dealing with a stingray (or skate for that matter) is to make sure you have a solid and stable surface to work on. These things are slippery!!

Another note, which is my own to add, is make sure you have a sharp knife. On vacation, in the rental's kitchen, there were steak knives of decent enough quality, but not so much for carving up this fella. I ended up using a paring knife.

The wings off, this is what the stingray now looks like. I read that you can use a couple other parts (the liver for example), but I'm not familiar with the anatomy of a stingray enough to desire messing around more than this with it.

So, the wings go into a bowl.

Where they are soaked in 2TB lemon juice & a good sprinkle of salt for 10 minutes or so.

The recipes I found online called for barbecuing the wings. Again, being on vacation and of limited kitchen I decided to line a dish with foil, put some bbq sauce (which I just happened to buy on the way down there when we stopped for lunch) both underneath and on top of the wings, fold it all up and cook it in the oven.

That's before the oven. I had the oven on 350 degrees. I had thought they would take quite a while to cook, as I read that cooking them in a pan takes longer than the oven. Luckily, while they were in the oven I happened to talk to one of my brothers and tell him about the experience and how I was "winging it" (get it?!?!). He quickly did a search online for me and found something that said to cook them for 10 minutes. They had been in the oven for 20.

Out of the oven after 20 minutes of cooking at 350 degrees.

Yup, I think it's done. Though I have to admit that the bbq sauce creeped most everyone out because it looked like blood.

Special Note - if you're cooking something like this for the first time, don't cook it in something the color of blood!!

On the plate and ready for trying. It turns out that, once cooked, the skin on this peels right off. VERY easy!! That was nice

A close-up of the now cooked wing. It was nice and flaky. We all tried it and agreed that it wasn't bad.
There aren't bones, which was nice, though there was cartilage, which was easy enough to avoid. In the end I could've likely used less bbq sauce, because the flavor of that was a little overwhelming. Though, the general flavor of the stingray itself seemed a little bland.

Nobody ate a lot of it though. Of course, it wasn't out of the oven and ready for consumption until 11pm, a time by which we had all already had dinner. So that was one reason. Our friend Jesse, who had caught the thing, and I both admitted though that there was a lot of anxiety (at least on our parts) about eating something that could kill you. Potentially. At some point in time. Something none of us had ever eaten or had experience in cooking with.

But, I can now say that I've cooked and eaten stingray. After all, you don't go on vacation to do (and eat!) the same ole stuff you can eat at home anytime, right?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

This basic recipe comes from a blog that I absolutely love following, Macheesmo. I tweaked the recipe some, using homemade peanut butter rather than store bought. Wanna know something else cool? I got that recipe from Macheesmo too!! Since I am still tweaking my version I am going to just give you the links to the Macheesmo postings.

BUT, I did take photos!! So, here we go .... Peanuts in the food processor. Check it out, chopped up peanuts!!! Ice cream topping anyone?
Semi-sweet chocolate chips and dark chocolate chips along with some butter, melting in a double boiler.
While the chips melted, the peanuts kept blending, I added honey, some vanilla sugar, and some homebrewed Chocolate Stout beer. Keep blending and voila ... peanut butter!
And now, we have melted chocolate too!
Tin foil cups in the muffin pans.
The tin foil cups now "filled" with the melted chocolate, just on the sides and a little bit on the bottom though.
After being popped into the freezer for a few minutes here they are with the chocolate hardened.
Filling them with the peanut butter. Roughly a tablespoon worth.
Beginning to cover the peanut butter with more chocolate. You want to make sure to get the peanut butter covered without making the chocolate on top too thick.
After a few minutes back in the freezer, here is one of the cups, ready for eating.
Ok, well NOW it is ready for eating. The foil was really easy to peel off.
Cut open in half so you can see it a little better. Very yummy.

I still want to tweak this some. Maybe it's been a long day (we didn't start these till after 10pm) but the felt time consuming to make. I would like to make the chocolate easier to work with. However, they are good. And making your own peanut butter REALLY allows you to personalize it as much as you want. ... Cool ..