Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Baking: Date & Nut Bread Baked in a Can

Baking and Recycling combined. Save those cans from dinner. I was interested in trying this recipe due to the fact of baking in vegetable cans. These little loaves turned out surprisingly well. I loved how they looked when sliced-- perfect round little slices. This quick bread is great with tea for breakfast. It is very sweet. The bread was not dry even though the recipe calls for only 1 tablespoon of fat.

Makes 3 mini loaves
You can also make this recipe in a 9x5 inch loaf pan. Bake it for 50 minutes to an hour, or until the bread tests done.

3/4 cup Boiling water
1 cup chopped pitted dates
1 tsp baking soda
1 T unsalted butter, melted
three fouths of a cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup plus 3/4 all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray or generously grease three clean 14 10 16 ounce cans.
In a small bowl, pour the boiling water over the dates. Stir in the baking soda. Let stand until cool.
In a large mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, cream the butter and the sugar, then beat in the egg and vanilla. Beat in the flour, salt, and walnuts. Mix in the date mixture.
Pour the batter into the cans, filling each about three-quarters full.
Bake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes, or until the cake tests done.
Cool for 5 minutes in the cans. Loosen the breads from the cans and remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Seed List

January is the month to DREAM about spring and think about gardening. I get my seed order in about this time each year. It takes me so long to decide what to get. Well, I worked on it some the past few days and am ready to mail it. The list is way too big! I am going to try specific varieties of Zinnias this year instead of the mixed; The boys really enjoyed them last summer. I let the boys pick these and they also like to spend time stalking the butterflies that Zinnias attract. Here is what I will be planting and (with luck) GROWING this year. -- Common Names only-- I may venture outside and collect a few Morning Glory seeds still left hanging on the arbor. --

Giant Hyacinthbean
Moon Flower
Scarlet O Hara MorningGlory
Angel's Trumpet
Common Stock
Red Phlox
Golden Columbine
American Columbine
Woodside Gold Columbine
Gas Plant
Salvia Transylvania
Blue Wild Indigo
Common Shooting Star
Cerulean Pimpernel
Scarlet Gleam Nasturtium
Scarlet Pentapetes
Nicotiana Purfume Deep Purple
Hardy Annual Impatiens
Hybrid Hibiscus
Scarlet Zinnia
CherryQueen Zinnia
Envy Zinnia
Youth and Old Age Zinnia
Benary's Giant Coral Zinnia
Benary's Giant Red zinnia
Enchantess Zinnia
Golden Giant Amaranthus
Cosmos Dazzler
Tassel Flower
Red Globe Amaranth
Castor Bean -Carmencita
Hello Yellow candy lily
Leaf celery
Cinnamon Basil
Mrs. Burns Lemon Basil
Sweet Genovese Basil
Holy Basil
Variegated Tomato
Brandywine Tomato
Black Krim Tomato
Swiss Chard
moss rose
old fashioed petunia
foxy foxglove
four o clocks
Hibiscus Sabdariffa
Cosmos Sulfereous
Maltese Cross

Baking: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cake from Tanner's Nana

What to do when it is so cold outside and stuck at home with sick kids--- Take a coffee break and bake something yummy---This is a great cake for snacking. It smells great while it bakes and is Full of chocolate chips.

1 3/4 cup boiling water
1 cup uncooked quick oatmeal
1 cup brown suga
1 cup white sugar
1 stick butter
2 large eggs
12 ounces chocolate chips
3/4 cup nuts
1 3/4 cup flour
1 Tsp soda
1/tsp salt
1 T cocoa

Pour Boiling water over oatmeal and let stand for 10 minutes. Add Brown sugar and white sugar and butter. Stir until butter melts. Add eggs and mix well. Sift together flour, soda, salt and cocoa. Add to sugar mixture. Add about half of the chocolate chips. Pour into a greased and floured 9x13 pan. Sprinkle remaining chips and the nuts on top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Watching and Enjoying: Blue Birds

This Morning the yard was full of flocks of birds feeding on seed from coneflowers and Hyssop and drinking from the pond. In those flocks, were several blue birds. I took these photos from inside the house so they are a bit blurry.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


I attended a tea cupping for the first time. What an interesting/informative event. The cupping featured Oolong Teas. We sampled and learned about several teas that are considered Oolong. Oolong is a tea that is inbetween a green and a black. We compared the differences between the loose tea and the steeped tea. We took note of the flavor, color, and smell of the teas. The cupping covered everything from where each tea was grown, how it was harvested, the percentage of oxidation that the tea undergoes before it is ready and more. This was a very casual lesson on Tea in general. The cupping was similar to a wine tasting; and as with wine, everyone has different likes and dislike when it comes to preferences for tea.

What is a Tea Cupping?
The term cupping is used to describe the tasting of different teas to determine quality, taste or color. Cupping similar teas against each other will enable you to determine quality vs. price when making a purchase. Cupping a tea by itself will help you understand the characteristics of that particular tea.
Professional tasters use similar methods in cupping teas. Consistency is the most important part of cupping. If you begin to develop a certain way of cupping teas, it is important to maintain your method for all teas.

Here is some more info that I found about Tea and Tea cuppings:
Your cup of tea is 99.9% water. The taste of the water will affect the flavor of any tea. Use fresh, filtered water when preparing your tea for tasting. Your filter system should help remove only contaminants, even fresh, clean water contains minerals. Fill a kettle with water and bring to a boil..

Tea is measured per cup by weight not volume. One teaspoon of a Fancy Oolong is considerably less tea than one teaspone of a China BOP. To prepare your tea for cupping, pour two grams (approximately the same weight as a U.S. dime) into a six to eight ounce cup and pour the fresh boiling water directly onto the leaves.

The steeping process which releases the flavor from the tea leaves has a certain time limit. After five minutes of steeping, the acids in the leaf begin to steep into the cup creating a bitter taste. Please note that some teas require a longer steeping time (seven minutes for Oolongs) and some teas require a shorter steeping time (three to four minutes for green teas and Darjeelings). At the end of the prescribed time, pour off the tea from the leaves to halt the steeping.

As with any rule, there are exceptions. The instructions listed above will be used for nearly every black tea you taste. However, some teas require a different process to bring out the true flavor of the leaf.

Green and White Teas: Green and white teas do not require you to fully boil the water. Pour the water from the kettle just before the water comes to a rolling boil Also these teas usually take less time to steep. Three to four minutes should be plenty

Oolong Teas: Finer oolongs have a very large, unbroken leaf. As a result, they usually need more time in the hot water to fully release the flavanols or catechins, which give the tea its flavor.

One of the great things about tea is its ability to be something different to every one who tries it. These suggestions for cupping teas are just that, suggestions. No one way will ever be considered the only way to taste teas. Experiment, try teas with different amounts and different steeping times. You never know if you're going to like it unless you try it. Truly, the most important part of cupping teas is consistency. If there is one thing for sure, it is that teas will change flavor when you change the way you brew them.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Sesame seed - peanut butter Cookies

This recipe comes from The Spice Cookbook by Avanelle Day and Lillie Stuchey. I picked this cookbook up at a used bookstore a while ago and have only tried a few things from it.
This book is packed with unique recipes.

These little cookies were surprisingly addictive. The sesame and the peanut butter combination was great.

1 Cup Sifted all-purpose flour

1 tsp double-acting baking powder
3 T Toasted Sesame Seed

1/4 tsp soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup light-brown sugar
1 large egg

31/2 T Toasted Sesame Seed

Sift together flour and baking powder and mix with the 3 T Toasted Sesame seed. Set aside. Combine the next four ingredients. Add peanut butter and mix well. Gradually add sugar. Beat in egg. Stir in flour mixture.

Drop 1/2-tsp portions of dough. 2 inches apart, onto ungreased cookie sheets. Sprinkle each with 1/4 tsp Toasted Sesame Seed. Bake in a preheated moderate oven. (375) 10 minutes or until edges have lightly browned. Cool on wire racks. Store airtight.

Yield: 31/2 dozen cookies

Scot's Doughnuts

On Wintery Saturday mornings once in a great while....

What does Scot Make for the Boys?


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Baking: No Knead Bread

Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Baking: Fig Bars

I have been wanting to try these bars for a while. The recipe comes from The Metropoltian Bakery Cookbook. Everyone in our house loved these. Cade wants me to make more.


2 1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 2 T unsalted butter
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract


2 cups dried Black Mission figs, stems removed
1 cup water
1/2 cup raspberry preserves
Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon


1 large egg
1 tsp milk
2 T crystalized sugar

1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In the Bowl of a Heavy-Duty mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. With the mixer at low speed, gradually and the flour mixture into the butter mixture until combined. Remove the dough from the bowl and shape into a rectangle. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine the figs and water; bring to simmer over medium heat. Simmer until the figs are soft and tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer the figs and the cooking liquid to a food processor; add the preserves and lemon juice and zest. Process until smooth.

3.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or use nonstick baking sheets.

4. Pour the filling into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch round tip. On a lightly floured surface., roll dough into a 24"x6" rectangle. Fold each each long side of the rectangle toward the center of the strip of filling, so that the sides overlap slightly. Cut the dough crosswise into two 12" logs; refrigerate 15 minutes or overnight.

5. In a small bowl, beat together the egg and the milk. Transfer each log, seam-side down, to a cutting board. brush with the egg glaze, then sprinkle with the crystal sugar. Cut each log into 12 1" thick slices; place 2" apart, on the prepared baking sheets. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheets between the upper and lower oven racks halfway through baking, until golden brown. Transfer the bars to wire racks to cool.

Makes 2 dozen bars

Birthday Cookies: Cakes and Gifts

Making: Spicy Fizzy Bath Hearts

These were fun to make and so easy.

I look forward to making different scent combinations.

This Basic Bath Bomb Recipe comes from

I also followed the directions for making fizzing bath salts in Marie Browning's book "Melt & Pour Soapmaking"

This recipe made 4- 2" Hearts

Dry ingredients:
1 cup baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
½ cup citric acid (sifted or finely ground)
½ cup corn starch

Wet ingredients:
2 ½ tablespoons sweet almond oil
¾ tablespoon water
¼ - 1 teaspoon of essential or fragrance oil= I used 1/4 tsp of Sweet Orange, cinnamon, Clove bud, and Ylang Ylang essential oils.
colorant (optional)- a few drops of red liquid soap colorant

3-dimensional mold or deep dish style molds
squirt bottle with witch hazel or water

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Mix all the dry ingredients together and set aside. Mix the wet ingredients in an old jar with a lid so they can be shaken well. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix with your hands. The citric acid my start to fizz, so pour slowly and work the liquid in as you go. The mixture should be damp enough to hold together. If needed, mist with witch hazel or water. Work fast to press the mixture into the molds. If you're using a 2-part sphere, fill each side and then press together. Let bombs dry in the mold for a few hours. Larger spheres may need more drying time. Remove from mold and let dry for 1 week before use. Cover with tissue paper and store in a dry place.

Tip: If you want to use only a part of the molded salts, place in a bag and break with a Hammer. Place a Piece in the bath.

To Use: Draw a warm bath and drop the solid bath salt into the water. Hop in and let the salts dissolve and fizz away stress and tension.

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