Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Scones, Ganache, and The Ransom of Red Chief

But first, some art work. Kateri loves drawing and writing, as our walls show. The other night she asked for a pencil and paper before she went up to bed. Figuring a pencil was safe, I gave them to her. The next morning, I found a cute picture on her bedside stand. It took me a second to figure out what it was. I realized she had traced the first page from the book "The Abbot and I". I love the face she added to the Abbot and the cat. They look very happy. It better if you click on the picture to make it bigger. I am saving this one for sure. Tomorrow, being the first day of Lent, is a strange time for posts about desserts. And being Eastern, our lent started yesterday, so it is even less fitting. but whenever my diet is restricted in any way, I suddenly feel the desire to cook all kinds of things. And stock pile and freeze them. It has come in handy in the times I've tried various diets and helped me be more creative. But as soon as I tried cutting out wheat, it was spelt-apple-rum cake. Eggs?-how about some vinegar chocolate cake. Dairy? Tofurella pizza with quinoa crust. The Swank diet? Canola, egg white, oatmeal cookies. Which were actually very tasty and I'd make them again if I had the recipe, but have not been able to find it.
Friday we had lunch with some friends and I bought some heavy cream to make the ganache for teh cream puffs. Well I happened to go to Costco so I bought the 1/2 gallon of heavy cream. And it just so happens I have a very good recipe for scones, which calls for heavy cream. Not wanting it to go to waste, and scones freezing well, I made a couple batches this morning.
One of the many, many things I love about my in-laws is their use of real butter. Butter was its own food group in my family and the first time I had dinner as Shane's parents' I was releived to see better on the table and to find it in all of Trudy's recipes. Another thing I felt at home with was their appreciation of good food. Which kind of goes hand-in-hand with butter. My mother-in-law gave me a book of family recipes, hand written, and I have to keep taping the pages back in. It has almost been like going to cooking school, all the new recipes and techinques I've learned. So here are a couple out of a lot. I'll put up Trudy's Delicious Bars another day, which, if you have been to any of our receptions or showers, you have tried. They are the ones with the pecans on top. That is the most requested recipe. But I have to find a picture as I have not made them in awhile.
First up is Trudy's Chocolate Ganache. It is so easy and so yummy. I love it for dipping cream puffs in. And Bananas, and strawberries, and just for fun I tried Pepperidge Farm Harvest Wheat crackers. Move over Keebler elves. If you refridgerate the left-overs, is makes a super rich fudge/mousse. With a spoon and a cup of strong dark coffee, you have a wonderful dessert.
To make Trudy's Chocolate Ganach:
Place 2 cups chocolate chips in a metal bowl and set a side.
In a sauce pan, heat until boiling:
1 cup heavy cream
2 T sugar
2 T butter
remove from heat and pour over chocolate chips. Let sit 5 min then stir. You have to stir for a little while until all the chocolate is incorpotated. Let cool slightly then dip, drizzle, pour, or whatever you like.

The other night Audrey came downstairs saying she was scared and was afraid of being kidnapped. I told her there was nothing to worry about and that I would look for a story to read them the next night but for now she was safe and go back to bed. She did, excited about the new promised story. So the next night, I found The Ransom of Red Cheif by O.Henry. I had forgotten how funny it was. Audrey asked me several times to stop reading because she was laughing too hard and couldn't hear. And I had to stop a few times because I couldn't read for laughing. I t was success and inspired lots of playing the next day. I decided to sit out the games, knowing what role I would get to play, but they had fun.

These are my favorite scones, because they don't use butter, which can be a pain to cut in and it makes them too crumbly. These scones get their fat quota in the form of heavy cream. I usually make them small so they are sized nicely for little tea parties. I got this recipe from my sister-in-law.
Dee's Cream Scones
2c flour
1/2 t salt
1 T baking powder
1/4 c sugar plus more for sprinkling
1 1/4 c heavy cream plus more for brushing on the tops

Mix all dry ingredients in bowl with a fork. Make a well in the middle and pour in cream. Stir with fork until just barely mixed.

Tranfer dough to floured surface and knead few times, just until you can make a round with it.

Cut into wedges, bruch with extra cream and sprinkle with sugar.

If freezing, place on cookie sheet and freeze 1 hour or more. Then place in zip-loc bags and return to freezer. When ready to bake, either fresh or frozen, place cookie sheet- either greased or use a silpat- in 425 degree oven 15 min. Just until very, very lightly golden. If I see a tiny spot darker than cream colored, I take them out. 10-12 min if I make them tiny.

Its great having a quick, tasty, treatreadily available for impromptu tea parties or unexpected company. Fabulous with butter-of course- and strawberry jam. But also super tasty alone. I've added blue berries as well, but have found we mostly prefer them plain.
Maybe I'll put up some tasty lenten recipes later, yes there are some, but not now. And if anyone has the Swank Diet oatmeal cookie recipe, I'd love to make some. To freeze. Of course.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Few Good Men, Or at Least Very Smart Ones

Here is a fascinating news piece about Peter Schiff. Its like he was reading yesterday's paper, only it was over two years ago. Shane ordered some of his books and we're excited to read them. It would be nice if anyone listened to what he has to say.

Speaking of the economy,bailouts, and good advice, it was very heartening to read that Governors Jindal, Barbour, Otter, Perry, and Sanford are all turning down their portions of the bailout pie. As Governor Perry expains it,

"If this money expands entiltements, we will not accept it. This is exactly how addicts get hooked on drugs."

Hmmm, lets accept the money, start programs we cannot afford or sustain, and then leave people high and dry when the money runs out. Or mandate major non-voluntary public funding i.e. tax hikes. Sounds like a government plan. Well, six good men is a place to start.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Mistake

I cannot stand door-to-door sales. It drives me mad sometimes. And inspires me to be not as polite as I would normally be. Unfortunately, today, I practically invited the guy in. Accidentally.

If you are in the library reading e-mail, and it is dark outside, and the porch light is not turned on, you can hardly see out the windows. So when I was in the library doing said activity, waiting for Shane to get home, and saw a sihlouette coming up the steps I smiled and waved enthusiastically. Probably surprised to get such a greeting, he waved back and I jumped up to get the door. Definitely surprised, I opened the door and to my great disappointment found a little man offering carpet stain treatments. Before he even started I told him I was not interested.

"We are offering a free service for carpets. Do you have any stains you've been unable to remove?"

(What did he want me to list out loud all the things I have embedded in my rugs? Couldn't he see I have four kids? One not fully potty trained. What a gross man. )

"I'm sure I do but I'll take care of them. Thank you."

"Well we have a brand new sanding technique to remove all your unwanted stains"

(But they could leave the ones I wanted?)

"Thanks, but I've seen the sawdust technique on my parent's rug. And I'm not interested."

(My parents were vacuuming up the sawdust, that had so lovingly been ground into their rug, for years. And when they pulled it up, even more years later, the sawdust had to be removed before the new carpet could be layed. The last thing I wanted was the same experience with sand.)

"Oh, but this is different. This is a patented Kirby service."

At the word Kirby I thought I had him.

"Actually, I have a Kirby (this is true) so I can shampoo and all that myself. Thank you anyway."

Still not to be deterred, he continued,

"Oh great. So you are familiar with our products. Can I ask which Kirby you have?"

Not wanting to hear about the next generations millions of evolved attributes and thinking this had gone on far too long I answered,

"The one I want."

I'm contemplating making a new sign.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Kateri Knows Her Letters

As proof, I found this message on the computer desk upstairs. I think its funny she doesn't even consider her work is incriminating. Who else is going to write "Kateri Jack" on everything.
She has not decided if her pen is mightier than the cross-bow. Or which is more fun.

Following in Papa's foot steps, she has taken to drawing army scenes. I think her little green tank is about the cutest thing I've seen. Its so cute, it kind of disarms you and you don't realize you are about to be blown up until its too late. Kind of like Kateri.

The same day, I found this written under the counter. It is pencil so will wash of nicely. At least she uses pencil, mostly because I don't keep pens down. I have some of the other kids writings etched in furniture. Cyril's motor boat on his dresser, "A"s for Audrey on a shelf. It does make it easier to save and display their artwork, and its kind of hard to lose a book case.