Post #541 What to Do With That Extra Cup of Sugar and a Dead Porcupine

August 7, 2017 at 5:48 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Okay, so I goofed over the weekend and found out what happens when you add a cup of sugar too much to a pan of brownies.  On Sunday, since we had a beautiful day, we decided to start by going to one of our favorite diners for breakfast.  They have the BEST bacon-egg-cheese-croissant sandwich anywhere.  It’s just so good it’s all I ever order.  Partner-Spouse varies his orders, but at this place, he likes the waffles, but he likes them plain with just butter and syrup.  So we were both tickled when we walked to the counter and she immediately wrote down my sandwich.  P-S then gave his order which was basically mine on an Everything Bagel.  For those who aren’t in the know, that’s a bagel with every kind of seed and seasoning imaginable on it.  She lifted her eyes and said, “No waffles?  Are you tired of them?”  We both laughed and he said, “No, just want something different.”

Pretty soon, they’re going to know us by name.

After we ate, we drove east then north for an hour and a half just to see new country.  We almost ended up in Cape Cod which is why we headed north.  One of these days, we’re going to head into Boston, but that’s not going to be a trip without a destination.  At least until we get to know the city a little bit.  But we did pass some really interesting historical areas and noticed quite a few antique stores that set our hearts pattering.

So when we got back home shortly before noon, he wanted to make bread and ended up with an artisan loaf with sesame seeds on the outside.  It was so good!  Then it was my turn since we were both jonesing for some home made brownies.

I’ve written about these brownies before.  They are simplicity itself and start to finish, it’s 45 minutes from no brownies to a pan of brownies cooling on the countertop.  Then, it’s a harsh two hour wait until the sugar is cool enough to handle.  Never eat brownies too soon.  You’ll end up with second degree burns in your mouth.

  • 1/2 cup of real butter, no substitutes here
  • 1 cup real sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (if you want a shiny, papery top)
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts of your favorite kind if you want them

Melt the butter over low heat in a medium sauce pan.  Add the sugar and stir.  Take off heat and stir in the eggs and vanilla.  Add the cocoa powder and carefully mix it in until completely combined.  Add the flour, salt, and baking powder and mix till completely incorporated.  Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts if you’re using them.  Pour into an 8×8 inch baking pan and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Cool for at least two hours before cutting.

Anyone can do this.  I’ve done it a million times.  Yet on Sunday, I goofed it all up.  You see, I don’t have all my “normal” cooking utensils.  So things that are on autopilot have to stop.  They didn’t when I made these brownies.  So I melted the butter, measure the sugar, dumped it into the pans, started stirring, and immediately thought, “What the hell?”

There wasn’t nearly enough butter to incorporate the sugar.  I reviewed the recipe in my head to make sure I didn’t forget to add another stick of butter since I was doing this from memory.  I looked at the bag of sugar, noticed my measuring cup, and started cursing myself thoroughly.  Partner/Spouse asked, “What?”

“I put two cups of sugar into the brownies when it only needs one!”

My measuring cup is a two cup model.  And on autopilot, I filled it right up.  Cuz I used to have a one cup model (as well as a 2 cup, 4 cup, 8 cup, and 16 cup) and that’s what I typically used for making brownies since nothing was over one cup.  So griping to myself, I made adjustments in other ingredients to see if I could compensate.

When the brownies were done, they looked beautiful.  Two hours later?  It was like eating chocolate candy coated sugar.  And later than that?  It was a sweet brick.

Of course, looking back on it, I should have just adjusted the ingredients to make a cake and forget about the brownies.  But that decision came only after eating the sugar brick.  It would have been fairly easy, too.  Just increase the flour and add enough liquid to bring it to cake batter consistency.  It already had sugar, butter, eggs, and enough rising agent since I’d increased it.  Oh well, live and learn.  I bet I don’t make that mistake again.

But I made bread today, just to prove I could do it right, and it turned out great!

A while back, I promised a friend I’d re-share the recipe for Porcupine Meatballs.  This was a recipe I discovered in the cookbook my mom gave me for Christmas the year I started learning to cook.  It’s pretty decent.  It’s not made of porcupine.  It’s made of ground beef and has rice in it.  As it cooks, the rice swells and sticks out of the meatballs and looks a little like porcupine quills.  Thus, the name.  So here it is, for my friend!

  • Two pounds good quality ground beef, or a mixture of ground meats
  • 1/4 cup uncooked rice
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Alternatively, you can omit all spices and seasonings and add one envelope dried onion soup mix
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
  • 14 oz can tomato sauce

Mix everything except last four ingredients together.  Form into well packed meatballs as large as you like.  In a large open skillet with a tight lid, heat a tablespoon of oil, and fry the meatballs lightly on each side.  Do this in batches if necessary.  When done frying, set meatballs aside and mix all wet ingredients in the skillet scraping the bottom carefully to incorporate all the brown bits of flavor, the fond.  Set the meatballs back into the sauce with any juices that have collected on the plate.  Set the temp to medium low, cover, and cook for about 45 minutes.  As the rice cooks, it will start poking out.  Serve in the sauce while hot or warm, with a salad or fresh bread, or both.  I tend to go a little crazy with the sauce and change it up to make an italian flavor by using a vinaigrette instead of the tomato sauce and ketchup.  Other times, I’ll give it an Asian flair with soy sauce, ginger, and other Asian flavors.  It’s really up to you how you want to create it.

So just to prove I could be successful in the kitchen, I made fresh thick cut oven fries, chopped tomatoes, and hamburger steaks while P/S made home made onion rings for dinner.  It was good even if the brownies weren’t.

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