Post #837 Snow Finally Arrived

January 17, 2022 at 1:29 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

We’ve had several “winter events” recently, but mostly extremely cold air and ice with very little snow. This weekend we were supposed to get a major event with up to 18 inches of snow. It was forecast to start last night around 10 and last until today around 10pm. We woke up this morning to blowing wind and snow, almost white-out conditions, and an excited dog who wanted to play in it (he’s snoozing now.) Our porch furniture was cast about the area, and two garden flags had disappeared. However, things calmed down around 9am, and now, two hours later, the picture above shows how it is right now. Right now, it’s nowhere near 18 inches. And to be honest, to take the picture, I went outside in my sweats, wool socks, and a sweater and it felt fine. My socks got wet because everything was melting, but my feet didn’t get cold. We still have several hours where this could turn around, but we’ll see.

I’ve often called myself Heat Mizer from the Christmas special The Year Without A Santa Claus because it seems as though wherever I am, the weather patterns change and become hotter. The first time I noticed it was the year we lived in Reno, NV. We didn’t have winter that year. The local temps did not fall below 55. To put this in perspective, this is in the Lake Tahoe area, and the year before they were beset by one blizzard after another. Since we’ve been in Vermont, the snowfall in my local area was manageable, while other parts of the state were hammered. When we moved here, we were concerned over the snow falls, and we haven’t had any that weren’t manageable. I guess I’m magic.

However, since we were expecting this major snow event, we planned for it.

A couple of weeks ago, I wanted to make steak sandwiches for dinner. Since I had the time, I decided to make sandwich rolls. I have a recipe I’ve shared before for Bread Machine Sandwich Rolls. It makes 18 small rolls, or 12 large ones. They’re shaped to be round rather than long, and I wanted long rolls for this dinner. So I used this recipe modified for a by-hand method rather than the bread machine. It’s an enriched bread dough using butter, oil, and eggs to the basic dough to make it softer and tastier. I had a ton of dough, and didn’t want to use all of and have most it spoil through non-use. So I cut it in half and froze half. The rolls turned out great. I made four of them sesame topped, and the rest of them plain.

The dough sat in the freezer on the door where I could see it every time I opened it. I wasn’t frustrated or anything, but I was wondering what I should make with it. This past weekend, due to the upcoming storm, I thawed out that dough and made Grandma’s pizza! I forgot to take pictures. sorry.

Grandma’s Pizza is different from standard pizza. You have a crust, and you have cheese, but you don’t have a sauce, and traditionally, you don’t have toppings other than cheese. It’s a rectangular pizza because grandma had baking sheets rather than pizza rounds.

So, the crust is heavy on olive oil. Make your favorite pizza crust, or bread dough, and set it to its last rise. When it’s ready, put two tablespoons of olive oil on a baking sheet and use your (impeccably clean) hands to put a thin film of oil evenly over the sheet. Drain off any extra oil. Put the dough on the baking sheet and use your oiled hands to gently spread the dough over the entire sheet. If the dough springs back while stretching, let it rest for a few minutes, sometimes up to ten, then continue spreading.

Once the dough is spread, spread one pound (or more!) of shredded cheese, whatever mix you like evenly over the dough. I used cheddar, jack, and parmesan. In the past, I’ve used just mozzarella, but whatever you prefer, or have on hand. Drain a medium can of diced tomatoes. I use plain, unsalted, no spices added for mine, but if you want to use a flavored blend, go right ahead. When the tomatoes are drained but still moist, dot them across the cheese then spread lightly. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of dried oregano evenly over the top of the tomatoes. If you want toppings, put them on now. We used thinly sliced white onion, and pepperoni. Sprinkle a quarter cup to a half cup grated parmesan over the top.

Bake in a 500 degree oven for ten minutes. Check the pizza to see if the crust is crispy and the cheese is dark golden brown. You may have to go as long as fifteen minutes, depending on your oven. Just be aware that at that temp, the pizza will burn easily so be careful.

Remove the pizza to a large cutting board and let it cool for about five minutes. Cut into even pieces of any size you like and eat it. It’s really good. I wish I’d taken a picture.

I also made a pineapple-pecan upside down cake. This one was a labor of love because the cake part was very intricate, involving things I’d never done before.

  1. 1/2 cup butter
  2. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  3. 4 pineapple slices
  4. 1/2 cup pecan pieces
  5. 4 eggs, separated, room temperature
  6. 1 cup sugar
  7. 1 cup flour
  8. 1 tsp baking powder
  9. 1/4 tsp salt
  10. 1 tablespoon melted butter
  11. 1 tsp vanilla

Melt a half cup butter over low heat. While the butter is melting, spread the brown sugar evenly over the bottom of a 9 inch round pan. Arrange the pineapple rings in the four “corners” close to the center. Sprinkle the pecans evenly over the sugar and pineapple. When the butter is melted, pour it carefully and evenly over the pan.

In a large bowl, whip the egg whites to soft peak stage. Then increase the speed of the mixer and add the sugar gradually and continue beating until the egg whites reach stiff peaks. Set them aside and whip the egg yolks at high speed until they’re thick and light yellow. Using a wide rubber spatula, fold the egg yolks into the eggs whites.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder. Using a sifter, sift the flour into the egg mixture, and fold gently. Add the flour in three stages and fold after each stage until the flour is blended and there are no lumps. Add the vanilla and melted butter to the batter and fold until blended. Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top.

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes until the top is golden and the batter is fully cooked. Remove from oven and cool five minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake, then turn onto a serving plate. If you’re lucky, all the topping came with the cake. If it didn’t, just scoop it out and arrange on the cake.

You probably noticed from the picture that my cake looks a little rough and ragged. When it was baking it mushroomed over the top of the pan. I had to cut the cake edges off but because of the stickiness of the egg white batter, it didn’t cut smoothly. I got it out of the pan after a short struggle, and it tastes wonderful. No harm done. In the future, I’ll use a spring form pan with higher sides. Higher sides so the batter doesn’t overflow the pan, and springform so I can release the sides all at once.

So that’s where we are in this fun snow storm. During writing this, the snow started up again, but went away. I got out and with the sun out and scraped off our car and did our walks and steps. Other places have gotten hammered hard and we’re always mindful that while we’re doing well, and having fun, and relaxing, others have no power and are eating hot dogs cooked in their gas fireplaces.

So, people, how are you doing? Is anyone else suffering from the storms? Let us know you’re okay and how you’re “weathering the storm”.

As always,

Post #836 Stix-O-Bread

January 12, 2022 at 3:54 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

I had a friend a long time ago who worked at McDonald’s for a short time, like about two months before he left the job. I never knew if he quit or got fired, but one day he wasn’t there anymore, and went into construction with my brother. But working the fast food place gave him a quirk that drove everyone crazy. He fell in love with one menu item; found irrepressibly funny and laughed every time he said it, which was often. Then he segued into modifying it for use with every other thing on the planet.

I wanted to kill him.

So did everyone else.

He stared calling everything “O’ <insert word here>” after their Filet O’ Fish sandwich. I don’t know why he found it so funny. Something triggered the memory in my brain the other day, and I started calling some garlic bread sticks I was making Stix O’ Bread. Sort of a long-winded intro to what the post is about.

It’s no surprise that we love bread in our house. We make all kinds. When we make bacon and eggs, we’ll throw flour, shortening, salt, and water together and make biscuits. When we make a roast of beef, we’ll sometimes make Yorkshire pudding which is flour, milk, and egg aerated together and baked at a high temp so they puff up. We like quick breads, and soda breads, and sweet bread, and english muffins, and all kinds of breads.

A few days ago, we were in the middle of an Artic blast and the outside temp was 1 degree. The wind chill factor brought it down to -10. Perfect weather for something long and slow cooked. I opted for home made spaghetti sauce. Partner/Spouse was agreeable and made a special request for garlic bread. I have a recipe gleaned from the ‘net that I tried once before with “okay” results, but I didn’t follow it precisely. So this time, I went by the letter. Except one thing, which I’ll talk about later.

Here’s the recipe:

  1. 1 package of dry yeast (2 to 2 1/4 tsps if you’re using yeast from a bottle)
  2. 4 1/4 cups AP flour (I used bread flour since I have so much), plus more for dusting
  3. 1/4 cup warm water
  4. 1 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water
  5. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (not melted)
  6. 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  7. 1 tablespoon table salt
  8. For the topping:
  9. 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  10. 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  11. 1/8 to 1/4 garlic powder
  12. pinch dried oregano

To make the dough, put 1/4 cup water in a large bowl and add yeast and 1 tsp of the sugar. Let the mix sit for 5-10 minutes until it’s foamy. Add all the other ingredients except the topping ingredients. Mix well until the dough is just slightly sticky. Remove from bowl onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and cohesive and no longer sticky, about 8-12 minutes. Alternatively, knead in the bowl of stand mixer for 8 minutes at high speeds, pushing the dough down as needed. The dough will be very soft.

Roll the dough into a log about two feet long. Cut into 16 pieces, each about an inch and a half long. Using your hands, roll each piece into a 7 inch long bread stick shape. Arrange on two baking sheets about two inches apart. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and allow to raise in a warm place, about 45-60 minutes.

While the dough is rising, mix the topping ingredients together and set aside. About ten minutes before the rising is finished, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. When the rising is done, brush the bread sticks with the topping gently to keep the bread sticks from deflating. Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Brush the bread sticks with any remaining butter topping. Allow to cool, then eat while warm. Once completely cooled, store in a plastic bag.

So, here’s what I did, cuz you know I never leave well enough alone. I followed the basic recipe except there was no way we needed 16 bread sticks. So I cut the dough in half and made 4 bread sticks and 10 dinner rolls. I portioned everything by weight to try to get them approximately the same size.

SIDE NOTE: A kitchen scale is a valuable tool and pretty cheap. If you’re going to get one, I suggest you get one with “regular” batteries rather than button cells. The first two I had were button cells, and while they lasted longer, once they were dead, replacing them was problematic enough that I just bought another scale. The last one we got uses AA batteries, and we’ve had that for years now.

To form the rolls, I weighed out ten portions, then rolled them into balls. I placed them in a round cake pan with seven on the outer circle and three in the center. Once they were risen and baked, they were perfect.

To form the bread sticks, I weighed out 4 of the same weight each and rolled them into ropes. The thing I like about forming rolls and loaves and bread sticks, etc. by hand is that they always come out different from each other. These slight imperfections prove they were made by hand, and as far as I’m concerned, they taste better.

Since I didn’t want the dinner rolls to have any garlic flavor, but I wanted the bread sticks to have a heavy garlic flavor. So I melted the butter and spread it over the rolls, then added the garlic to the leftover butter and doubled the amount of garlic powder. When garlic powder is added to liquid, it forms a paste. Since there was a lot of butter, the paste was thinner and I used the pastry brush to dab the garlic spread onto the bread sticks.

I baked the lot of them for the full twenty minutes so they’re browner than they might ordinarily be, but since I’d never made them this way before, I wanted to be certain they were bake completely through. Nothing is worse than underbaked bread.

I think they turned out perfectly. I used salted butter, and the full amount of salt by measure for the recipe (rather than a rough guesstimate poured into my palm), and the rolls tasted a little saltier than I would have expected. It wasn’t off putting, and when I’ve put jam or preserves on the rolls, I haven’t noticed the salty flavor. I’m probably going to cut the amount of salt back by half when I make them again to see how that goes. I did that the first time I made them, and they seemed bland, but I didn’t put the butter bath on them when I made them before either, so there’s that.

As you can see from the recipe, these are quick to make since they don’t use the double rise method. The softer dough also gives it extra lift since the yeast isn’t working against a stiff dough. They can be made plain, or any flavoring sweet or savory can be added very easily. And they can be shaped any way you prefer.

So, spaghetti and home made bread were what’s for dinner that night, and it was so warm and filling. The perfect defense to the cold outside.

So, how are you all handling the weather this year? Got any special methods for dealing with it? Share and let us know!

And as always,

Post #835 Chocolate Soup And Other Tales of Woe

January 4, 2022 at 2:02 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

So, our holidays went well, although sometimes it feels like we should say “holidaze”, so much is happening. Our Solstice celebration went well. Our potato stacks turned out so good. Next time I make them, I’m going to try the air fryer. I’m hoping they’ll crisp up nicer. And I might use a different cheese. Parmesan is good, but it’s a little pungent for plain potatoes. And I made marshmallow fluff fudge, but because I accidentally bought the large jar, I made two and a half pounds (!) of the stuff for just two people. I ended up throwing most of it away because it grew mold on it faster than I anticipated so I didn’t take precautions. We also had shortbread cookies with candied peel (orange and lemon), chocolate chip cookies, and a gingerbread with stem ginger and orange candied peel from Great British Baking Show.

The only real disappointment was the pots de cremes, pronounced “po duh krem” whether there’s an s at the end or not. The “s” just delineates a plural. I’ve mentioned these here in the blog once back in 2010. I made them using a recipe from ATK. As advertised, they were delicious, and we’ve talked about them with delight ever since. I’ve never made them again until now. No real reason why, just didn’t. I don’t know what I did, but they were nothing like the first attempt 11 years ago.

First, here’s the recipe:

  1. 6 oz bittersweet or milk chocolate, chopped
  2. 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  3. 3 egg yolks
  4. 3 tablespoons white sugar
  5. 1/2 tsp salt
  6. 1 tsp vanilla (best quality you can afford)

That’s it. The recipe I used was called Easy (!) Pots de Cremes so I was looking forward to it. Anything easy has gotta be right. The lady even said she whipped these up in less than thirty minutes and served them often. Pot de Creme is basically a chocolate custard, like a thick pudding. It has a rich chocolate flavor with nothing else interfering with the chocolate.

The first thing you do is put the chocolate in a blender, then put the vanilla over the chocolate. I used chocolate chips since I normally have a lot of those. I used a full cup since there was a lot of air between the chips and I wanted to be certain I had the full 6 oz. Set that aside.

Put the heavy cream in a medium sized pan and whisk in the egg yolks, sugar and salt. Heat on medium until the mixture is steaming and just starting to bubble, whisking throughout.

It will start to thicken at this point so remove it from the heat and check how thick it is. The main way to test is to dip a spoon in the custard and look at it. It should coat the spoon thickly and leave a distinct track when you run your finger through it. (Lick your finger afterwards for a nice surprise.) Most of the time, recipes will call for straining the custard to remove any scrambled eggs but you won’t need to do this for this recipe. Pour the custard immediately into the blender using a rubber spatula to get all of it. Cover the blender cup and blend until smooth. Be careful because blending a hot liquid can sometimes cause it to rise quickly out of the blender. To avoid this, remove whatever “air hole/fill hole” your blender cap has and cover loosely with a kitchen towel. When everything is smooth and well blended, about 2-3 minutes, pour into serving cups.

The recipe says it will make six adequate servings, but they often just did four large servings. I went with four because we like chocolate. Ramekins work great, but if you have favorite stem ware or small canning jars, these work well too. Shoot, you can use cereal bowls if you want to.

Place the pots de cremes in the fridge and chill for several hours. Remove from the fridge about fifteen minutes before serving to soften a bit. Just before serving put a dollop of whipped cream or whipped dessert topping (can we all say Cool Whip together?). You can add some berries or chocolate curls or a dusting of cocoa powder, whatever you like to garnish. Then eat. You won’t be able to stop until it’s all done, it’s just that good.

Now, the first time I made this, it turned into chocolate soup. I don’t know what I did wrong, but at a guess, I didn’t let it thicken enough. But I do gotta say, it was the BEST chocolate soup I’ve ever had.

I always make fresh whipped cream once I learned how easy it is. Chill the bowl you’ll be using and the whisk or beaters in the freezer for at least an hour. You want them cold. Pour half a cup of heavy or whipping cream into the bowl. Add a tablespoon of confectioners/powdered/icing sugar and a tsp of vanilla. Using an electric hand mixer, start on low until everything is blending and bubbles start to form and hold in the cream. Then increase the speed to medium and keep whipping until the cream holds together in stiff peaks. Don’t over beat or it will turn to butter. Very sweet and tasty butter, but still butter.

So a few days later, we decided to try them again. I don’t know what I did different because timing was exactly the same, but this time they were sheer perfection (as Mary Berry often says.) They thickened even before I started pouring into the ramekins. So, the more I make these, the more familiar I’ll become with the process, and the more reliable the results will be. But if you want to impress someone with something super simple, this is the dessert to make. However, if you’re lactose intolerant, or even just sensitive, these aren’t the desserts for you. We ate them any way (he’s intolerant, I’m sensitive and also lack a gall bladder) and put up the aftermath because they are just that good!

We had one other “tale of woe” during the holiday season. We went grocery shopping a couple of days after Christmas to get a few things we were low on. We had bulky items so I was making several trips from the car to the apartment. That’s our routine: I unload the car while he puts things away. On the very last trip, I stepped onto the porch (it’s only a single step up so there’s no stairs or anything) and I’m not sure how it happened, but I fell. As I fell, I scraped the front of my right shin along the edge of the porch (no railing), and since I had two bags, one in each hand, I couldn’t brace the impact. Since my right leg was splayed out behind me, I went down full on my face, hard. I manage to turn my head to the right so the brunt of the fall was taken by my left cheek. I saw stars and for a second or two was confused about what happened. Then I relaxed to catch my breath and hollered for Partner/Spouse. He had heard the crash and was already on the move.

I have a contusion on my left cheek, but it’s not nearly as sensitive as it was. Lots of pulled muscles, and minor aches and pains. Because of my history of head and neck trauma, we were very careful about it but no damage there at all. I rested for the next few days to make sure nothing was damaged (part of why I didn’t post last week), and I’m back to normal, just waiting for the outward signs to go away.

And, as everyone knows, the year ended with the death of Betty White. It’s like 2021 was giving us all the finger as it left. We’d been expecting it but it was still a surprise. But I have to say, as sad as I am that she’s gone, I’m not really going to miss her because she’s not really gone. Her body of work is still there. Partner/Spouse goes to bed every night with The Golden Girls on to make his brain shut up. Anytime we need a Betty White fix, just turn on the television. And thank you for being a friend.

Rose rescuing her teddy from the “mean girl” Sunshine Cadet

And as always,

Post #834 Holidays Start Today!

December 21, 2021 at 3:47 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My family has a lot of days to celebrate at this time of the year. As with any type of celebration, these are days we choose to hold above others as significant and special to us. This time of year is busy for us but it’s also happy. The days and nights are full of anticipation and plans and, hopefully, some relaxation. So for this post, I thought I’d tell you about some of the significance of these days for us.

Today is actually the start of our holiday season. The day itself isn’t significant. The 21st doesn’t hold any special appeal for us. But something happens this time of year that is special to us. It’s the Winter Solstice. The Winter Solstice, or simply the Solstice, is the shortest day of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere), and the longest night. It’s also known as Yule or Yuletide. As celtic pagans, we celebrate a natural religion which highlights nature and things found in nature. At this point in the year, days start getting longer and winter will be over in a few short but incredibly cold weeks. Since we follow a lunar calendar, this event can happen on one of several days at this time of year. Typically it falls around the 21st or the 22nd. Several branches of the pagan mythos follow vegetarian rules, but we don’t, so our first feast day, today, we’re going to have a thick slice of ham steak, and potato stacks. (Funny story, when I first started traveling in Asia, we got pork in every dish for some reason. So much so, that one guy started saying “Pork, the other white vegetable!”) All I’m going to do is fry it up. The potatoes are the fun dish here. Slice a good baking potato in a mandolin set for 1/16″. Slice enough potato slices to fill two cups in a muffin tin. Use small potatoes so they fit in the muffin tin which are usually about three inches in diameter. Set the oven for 375, then prep the muffin tins. A thin coating of olive oil will do the trick, but a quick spray of vegetable spray will, too. Lay four slices of potato in the bottom of the muffin tin, then lightly oil the potatoes. Sprinkle with salt, garlic powder, and put a small pinch of thyme on them. Keep layering the potatoes until the muffin cup is filled, remembering to oil and season the potatoes every fourth slice. Sprinkle the tops of the potatoes with grated parmesan cheese. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Insert a knife to check for doneness. Dot the top with a small amount of butter and sprinkle more parmesan cheese on to taste. Bake another 15 minutes until cheese is golden and crusty. Serve hot. Run a knife around the muffin cup to loosen any stuck potatoes or cheese.

We’re looking forward to this.

The next two days are prep for the next events. In my head, I’m scheduled to make fudge, bake chocolate chip cookies, make pot de cremes, bake clover leaf roles, and other sundry items.

The 24th has two celebrations for us. Actually, the one is a way to celebrate the other. Of course, the major event is Christmas Eve. I know a lot of people don’t celebrate it, but we do. We celebrate the more commercial side of the days. Lots of eating and gift giving. However, while Christmas carols are playing in the background, and the Christmas lights on the tree create a multicolored glow sort of reminiscent of a fireplace, we celebrate Jolabokaflod. It’s pronounced Yo La Boke A Flot (or Flod). It’s the Icelandic tradition of giving books on Christmas Eve with the express intent of reading those books on Christmas Eve and discussing them. The whole thing is enhanced by eating chocolate, drinking hot chocolate, and relaxing. Jolabokaflod means Christmas Book Flood, and it started in WW2. Everything was rationed at the time, except paper. Paper wasn’t rationed because the government wanted to encourage people on the home front to write letters to the soldiers to help keep their spirits up. Publishers took advantage of that and books were very easy to come by, about the only thing a person could find to give as a present. And that started a tradition. We start usually about a month before and start buying books for ourselves that we wouldn’t ordinarily buy. For instance, I buy a lot of books about writing, so I wouldn’t buy a book about writing for Jolabokaflod. But I do like history and science, so I might buy a book about one of those. And if it’s a picture book like Castle by David MacCauley which outlines the history of one castle and so outlines the history of castles in general through drawings and blueprints then I’m a happy camper, and it’s a perfect book for the day. Traditionally, food for the day is served buffet style and replenished throughout the day. We just “forage” throughout the day, with lots of appetizers and fresh bread. It’s the books and the chocolate that make the day, so first thing in the morning I’ll bake chocolate chip cookies, and possibly brownies or a cake.

The next big day is obviously Christmas. This goes back to a visceral response to nostalgia. As Ralphie says in A Christmas Story, “The one day around which the whole kid Universe revolves.” We always set a budget for presents, and we always blow it. Partner/Spouse does the decorating and starts the day after Thanksgiving. The tree is up that weekend, and it only gets turned off at night when we go to bed. Christmas morning I’ll make a cinnamon bread for breakfast, plus we have bacon, and ham, and eggs, plus all the wonderful delights I’ve been baking and making for the past couple of days. Then on to presents! For the feast that day, we have a prime rib roast. Partner/Spouse is in charge of that, plus Yorkshire pudding, gravy, and roasted root veggies. He’s already started dry ageing the meat. He rubs salt and seasonings all over it, wraps it loosely so air can get to it, then puts it in the fridge for a few days. The salt keeps bacteria off the meat and creates a crust to seal in moisture as it’s cooking.

You’d think that would be the end, right? But we have another day to celebrate before the New Year enters. Partner/Spouse has birthday after Christmas but before the New Year. This year is a big one. He enters a new decade, but I’m not saying which one. We’re going to our favorite churrascaria and eating till we explode. Not sure when we’ll do the gifts, but at some point. It’ll be his day, so his call as to what we do all day.

Then we have New Year’s Eve/Day. By this time, we’re usually tuckered out. And we’re old and don’t want to stay up. In the pagan mythos, “feast days” or big celebrations are timed for big natural events. The next one is around Feb 1. Pretend you’re a medieval peasant working a plot of land from dawn to dusk. Winter comes along, and there’s not much to do apart from fixing and replacing tack and equipment that’s worn out from use. By Feb 1, even if you don’t know the date, you’re likely feeling like winter is never going to end. By this time, though, you should start feeling a change in the air. You can tell Spring isn’t too far away. It’s time to get busy again to plan for the harvests to come. You’re tired in a way that saps your strength. You’re tired of the dark; you’re tired of the cold; you’re tired of the same food. It’s time for another feast day before the work starts again. Halfway between the solstices and the equinoxes are the “minor” feast days. Feb 1 is one of them. I’ll tell you more about that later.

So, there’s our upcoming celebrations. It feels a little overwhelming at times, but we’re busy with work and busy with fun, and it’s a good time. I hope all your celebrations are wonderful.

As always,

Post #833 Hi, Karen! Let’s Talk Eggs!

December 17, 2021 at 2:16 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hey Karen! I know you know that I’ve been talking a lot about my new air fryer lately. I’ve been using the various settings for it and have big plans for the holiday fiestas. But one thing that’s featured in the cookbook is “boiled eggs.” But they’re not in water. Basically, they’re baked in the shell, but quickly so they give the appearance of boiled eggs. I guess. I’m not gonna try it. Since we were talking about eggs recently, I thought I’d share our thoughts with the blog-o-sphere.

Eggs need to be treated gently for many reasons. If you handle them roughly, they break. The shells break; the yolks break; the flavor breaks. My mom used to fry eggs in a skillet full of melted Crisco. She’d tilt the pan and spoon hot fat over the eggs until they were cooked. For a long time, that was the only way I knew to cook eggs. I never knew until years later that the method was known as basting, and was a way to gently cook all kinds of things, most notably fish. Which my mom never did.

Partner/Spouse and I love eggs for nearly any meal. For breakfast, we will scramble a few with spices and herbs while frying up some potatoes or toasting bread. Sometimes we have some bacon, or ham. We also fry eggs sunnyside up. That’s one of our favorites, too. If it’s done right, the eggs are tender and soft with a warm runny yolk that creates its own sauce. When I was a kid I hated for my foods to touch each other on the plate. I’d eat the whites of the egg around the yolk cutting as close to the yolk as I could without breaking it. Once everything else was done, I’d pick the yolks up with my fork as carefully as I could and eat each one in one gulp, hopefully not breaking the yolk. I won the game if there was not a spot of yellow on my plate. I still do this. Partner/Spouse laughs at me.

So how do you cook an egg gently so it’s fried sunnyside up, fully cooked, no runny whites, and the yolk warm and runny? It’s pretty easy if you do it right. First, on medium heat melt about a tablespoon of butter in a non-stick skillet just barely big enough to hold the eggs you’re cooking. It should also have a lid that fits it tightly. Onces the butter is sizzling a little, turn the heat down to low. Break your eggs into a bowl as carefully as you can to avoid breaking the yolks. Then slide the eggs from the bowl into the skillet. Season the eggs any way you like; we typically sprinkle salt and pepper over them, but FiL used to love red pepper flakes and tabasco sauce on them. Cook the eggs until the whites are cooked on the bottom completely, then turn the heat off. Cover the eggs and cook for two minutes. This will set the whites on the top so they aren’t runny and slimy. If you go longer than two minutes, the yolks will get a film over them. It’s just the whites of the eggs cooking. Some people like that. Remove the lid and allow the eggs to stay in the skillet for about another minute, then slide onto the plate. If you do this right, you won’t need a spatula at all.

Scrambled eggs are just as easy. Break the eggs into a bowl and use a fork to stir them until they’re as broken as you like them. If you want fluffy scrambled eggs, there are two way to do this. Eggs get fluffier when steam is introduced to the process. Put a splash of milk or water into the eggs as you’re stirring them. The liquid helps break up the eggs, but as they cook the water/milk steams and raises the eggs. OR you can cook the eggs in the microwave. The microwaves cook the eggs fast creating steam from the eggs themselves. I don’t like microwaved eggs (or microwaved foods) very much so I don’t use this method often. You have to watch it carefully to avoid overcooking.

Omelets are basically scrambled eggs with the addition of fillings, predominantly cheese.

For lunch, boiled eggs are second to none. You can add boiled eggs to salads, salad molds, or create a salad with the eggs. My favorite egg salad recipe is three hard boiled eggs diced up. Add a tablespoon of mayo, a quarter cup of shredded cheddar, a half stalk of celery diced fine, a tsp of yellow mustard, and a big dollop of dill pickle relish. Mix together and chill then spread on toast and sprinkle with sunflower seeds.

Another good lunch dish made from eggs is shirred eggs. That just means they’ve been baked. One of my favorite ways to do this is to make a bed of chopped spinach (make sure all the water is squeezed out of it) inside a ramekin. Add one or two eggs (depending on the size of the ramekin and the amount of spinach you are using) and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bacon bits. Bake at 350 until the egg is set and the yolks are the consistency you like. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then set ramekin on a saucer and serve with crackers or toast.

Dinner eggs are any of the above. However, one of our favorite ways is making a frittata. A frittata is an Italian dish using leftovers held together with eggs and topped with cheese. For two people, break six eggs in a large bowl and scramble them with a dash of water. Add whatever extras you want. We tend to use meat and veggie leftovers a lot for this. Using a large skillet, melt two tablespoons of butter in the skillet and pour the eggs into it. Top with grated parmesan or shredded cheddar, or whatever other cheese you have. You can also add dried or fresh herbs at this point. Fresh basil is good, as well as cilantro or parsley. Cook the eggs until the bottom is set. Do not stir the eggs, but lift the edges to make certain nothing is sticking. Cook until you can see that the eggs are about 75% cooked. Set in the oven with the broiler setting and cook for another five minutes watching carefully to avoid burning. This will cook the top of the eggs and brown the cheese. Remove from the oven and slide onto a serving plate or a cutting board. Serve hot cut into wedges.

There are tons of elegant ways to prepare eggs. Poached, soft boiled, soft scrambled, devilled, Eggs Benedict, sauced, 100 Year Old, etc. Have you ever heard of Graved Eggs? Me neither. But I was in a FB chat with a friend about these. I’m not sure I have the intestinal fortitude to try these, but I’m told . . . well, I’m assured that these are wonderful and sweet tasting.

Basically, Graved Eggs are cured yolks and require very little in the way of preparation. First, separate the yolks into small bowls, one bowl for each yolk. Do not break the yolk. In another large bowl mix equal parts of granulated salt and sugar. Pour two thirds of the sugar/salt mix into another large bowl or casserole dish. Using a spoon, smooth out a small hole to contain the yolk, but do not expose the bottom of the bowl. Carefully place a single yolk in each hole of the salt/sugar mix. Do not allow the yolks to touch each other. Cover each yolk with the remaining salt/sugar mix. Leave for at least 90 minutes. This is the curing process. The salt gets rid of the moisture which in turns kills bad bacteria; the sugar feeds good bacteria which eats the bad bacteria. There’s a real war going on there. A skin forms on the yolks, but they still must be treated gently. Allow the yolks to remain in the salt/sugar mix for a minimum of 90 minutes. The longer they stay in the mix, the firmer they will become. If you want a yolk like the one above, at 90 minutes use a spoon to carefully remove the yolk from the salt/sugar mix and brush off all the mix that adheres. Alternatively, you can dip the egg yolk in water at room temp and move it carefully to remove the mix. Be careful because the water will make the yolk skin slippery. Drain on paper towels then use the yolk. Most of the time they are used on toast, or in addition to another dish where egg yolk is used to make a sauce on the plate. The firmer egg yolks can be dried for a short time (90-120 minutes) in a low oven, no more than 175 degrees Fahrenheit. The firmer yolks can be grated onto salads or other dishes like cheese.

Hey, Karen! Ever heard of Egg-n-Toast?

It’s easy peasy. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a skillet over medium heat with a lid that’s large enough to hold a slice of bread. While the butter is melting use a cookie cutter and cut out a large hole in a slice of bread. If you don’t have a cookie cutter, use a glass or a clean jar. When the butter is melted place the slice of bread in the skillet and grill until it’s toasted as you like. Flip the bread and crack in egg into the hole of the bread. Sprinkle the top with bacon bits and cheese and cook until egg is set and done to your liking. Use a spatula to remove the egg and toast to a plate, then eat it. We do this one all the time too.

Well, I’m done with eggs for now. Holler at me if you want more.

As always,

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