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Posts Tagged ‘In the Kitchen’

  1. Spider Bark

    January 15, 2014 by Hannah Jane


    Now, before I give you the recipe, I need to give you an explanation of the name, lest any misunderstandings occur.

    For years, one of my favorite homemade candies was “spiders” – chow mein noodles and peanuts covered in chocolate and butterscotch.  The name was derived from the shape of the candies, as their misshapen appearance vaguely ivaguely suggestive of a spider.  Now, we don’t often stock up on chow mein noodles, so it wasn’t surprising that I didn’t have any on hand on a certain day in 2012 when I was craving this candy.  I ended up improvising, creating my own version of the candy – a lumpy nut-and-coconut-filled chocolate-and-butterscotch-covered… lump.

    Not surprisingly, the similarly-flavored candies also ended up being called spiders, though they no longer bore any resemblance to any sort of insect.  I eventually got tired of trying to spoon the mixture into similarly-sized lumps, so I chopped up the nuts and smoothed the mixture into a slab, making it into a sort of bark.  Despite my attempt to give it a more appealing name, however, my siblings didn’t miss a beat and started calling it “smooshed flat spiders”.


    Anyway.  If you want to, feel free to think up your own name for this candy.  And if you don’t, rest assured in the knowledge that a spider’s bark is better than its bite.  :P


    The first step is to melt a bag of chocolate chips.  If you have a microwave, you could do it in there.  Otherwise, the stovetop works fine, especially if you have a double boiler.  If you don’t have one, you’ll have to watch carefully to make sure you don’t burn the chocolate, but it’s still quite doable.

    Oh, and you really must use dark chocolate.  Milk chocolate is sad.  So.


    Next, measure out two cups of nuts.  I used pecans and almonds, since they happen to be my favorites; you can use whatever type you like or have on hand.  Raw, roasted, salted or not – all work fine, and it’s really an issue of preference.



    Chop up those nuts in a food processor until most of ‘em are smaller than pea-size.  Larger chunks make it harder to chew and break bark into pieces, and smaller would make the nuts disappear in the chocolate and result in a loss of that delightful crunchiness.

    (The camera battery died after I took the above photo, and I had to use our old low-quality backup camera for the next several photos.  Pardon the not-so-appetizing quality of these pictures, please.)


    Stir those nuts into the chocolate, along with (unsweetened & toasted) coconut flakes and butterscotch-flavored chips.


    Pour the mixture out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.   (See how the butterscotch isn’t totally mixed into the chocolate?  That’s good.  We don’t wish for it to disappear – though we don’t want its flavor to be scarce, either.  Adding it in last helps keep it slightly distinct, but the heat of the melted chocolate will still be enough to make sure it melts a bit.)


    Then, place another piece of parchment paper on top and smash it until it’s flat.  A rolling pin helps if it’s being stiff and lumpy.  When it’s flattened enough, stick it in the freezer.  And then wait.  And wait.  And try not to think about how good it’ll taste.  And keep waiting.  I know, I know, waiting… it isn’t easy.  But when it finally hardens, pull it out..


    …and snap, smash, crush, or break apart in some way or another.


    That’s it!  Now all you have to do is guard it from any family members who think it’s okay to claim it all for themselves.  ;)



    Spider Bark
    Prep time

    Total time



    • 12 oz chocolate chips
    • 2 cups chopped nuts
    • ½ cup coconut flakes
    • ½ cup butterscotch chips

    1. Melt chocolate in a double boiler.
    2. Add other ingredients.
    3. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
    4. Pour mixture onto parchment paper and cover with another piece of parchment paper.
    5. Use your hands to smoosh the chocolate mixture into a thin layer between the papers. A rolling pin may be helpful if the mixture is being stubborn.
    6. Without removing the parchment paper, transfer the baking sheet to the freezer. Chill until hardened.
    7. Remove from baking sheet; peel off parchment paper. Break chocolate slab into small pieces.
    8. Enjoy! :D




  2. Turtle Cupcakes

    December 4, 2013 by Hannah Jane


    Opening my email this morning, I found a lovely missive from the Pioneer Woman’s blog which contained a recipe for Pretzel Turtles.  Can you say, “Yum”?

    Unfortunately, we’re out of mini pretzels and we haven’t purchased caramels in a long time.  Pretzel Turtles were unobtainable, at least until we go shopping again.  But that didn’t stop me from wanting something turtle-inspired.  My brain began to search for alternative ways to indulge in lovely mix of pecan, caramel, and chocolate – and I suddenly remembered all the salted-caramel frosting recipes I’ve been seeing on Pinterest lately.  Surely, this was the way to get the caramel portion without any actual caramel candies on hand.

    The next logical thought was that the frosting had to be on something.  Chocolate cake was the first thought which came to mind, but I discarded that idea in favor of chocolate cupcakes – and the pecan part? That could be sprinkled on top…

    A few hours later, I had gobs of little-bitty cupcakes.  And though I might be slightly biased, I honestly think that they’re some of the best cupcakes I’ve ever had.  From the way they’re disappearing from the counter, I think my family agrees, too, so the recipe needed to be written up – and since I had to type it anyway, I thought I’d share it here.

    Now, before I give you the recipe, I ought to note two things.

    •  First: these can not be classified as health food.  They won’t do as much damage to your well-being as many baked goods, perhaps, but they still aren’t healthy.  Which is why I made them in mini muffin pans.
    • Second: I realized after I made this recipe that it made a ton of cupcakes, and I ended up putting the second half of the batter into a 8×11 pan and making a cake – so I halved the amounts when typing it out here.

    The first step was to make the caramel sauce, which was a far more straightforward process than I’d imagined.


    The sugar is heated in a pan until it melts – it got rather “crunchy” looking before melting fully, but then soon liquefied completely.  The directions I read stated that it should be whisked constantly until it melts, and that it should mostly be left alone after that until it reaches the temperature of 350 degrees, but I found that there was almost no time whatsoever between the sugar liquefying and reaching that temperature.  (A candy thermometor came in quite handy for this step.)


    As soon as the sugar reaches 350, the butter is added in all at once and the mixture whisked until the butter melts.  The sugar will bubble, which is why a small saucepan should not be used.


    The most annoying part about making this was not the recipe itself, but the whisk.  We just bought two new whisks a few weeks ago, and I was using one to stir the (still melting) sugar when the handle suddenly broke apart from the whisk part.  I glared at it and tossed it into the sink, grabbing the second one to replace it.  Not thirty seconds later, that handle popped off too.  AUGH!  I ended up using the whisk part without any handle – thankfully, there was enough left for me to grasp without burning my fingers.

    Anyway, after adding the butter the pan is removed from heat and the cream is slowly stirred in until combined, and the salt added.


    After the caramel had cooled, I measured out the amount needed for the frosting and then put the rest into a handy-dandy squeezy bottle we had on hand.  I think it was originally intended to hold ketchup or some similar item, but it worked perfectly for drizzling the caramel later on.  :)


    Next up to make was the cupcake batter – coffee and cocoa powder are whisked together and allowed to cool.


    The dry ingredients – flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt are sifted together.  I’ve recently started measuring flour by weight instead of volume, and I really do feel that I end up with more precise and consistent results.

    10The butter and sugar are creamed, and then the eggs and vanilla are added.


    The cocoa mixture and the flour mixture are added to the butter mixture, starting with the flour (which is added in fourths) and then the cocoa (which is added in thirds).


    Adding the last bit of flour – then the cupcakes are baked.



    While the cupcakes are in the oven, it’s time to toast the pecans.  We have a toaster oven, so I simply spread them out on the little tray (I had to do it in two batches) and toasted them.  Literally.


    I put them into our food processor with the chocolate chips, which weren’t mini-sized.


    As you can see, the chocolate didn’t really chop up all that well, which wasn’t a big deal, though I do recommend using mini chocolate chips if you have them on hand.  Next up: the frosting….



    The butter and cream cheese are mixed together first, and I really recommend that you let them warm up a bit before starting on the frosting – I didn’t, and it took some extra mixing to compensate.


    The vanilla and powdered sugar are added next… I always forget how much powdered sugar poofs up when mixed, and it always makes a mess.  Tsk.


    Then the caramel sauce is added in… and a bit more sugar added, until the consistency seems right.


    I really could have gotten away with simply smearing the frosting unto the cupcakes using a knife or rubber spatula, but decided that I’d go the “fancy” route instead.


    *ahem* Note the broken cupcakes on the left – that’s what happens when one tries to remove the cupcakes from the pans too soon.  


    I tried to group the cupcakes as closely together as possible when sprinkling on the topping, but much of it still landed on the counter top – so I simply picked it up and re-sprinkled it again.  (No fear, the counters were clean.)


    Then the caramel was drizzled on top… mm…




    This was the cake I mentioned earlier – I might add more pecans later on if I feel like it, but it’ll taste fine even if I don’t.

    Turtle Cupcakes
    Chocolate cupcakes topped with salted caramel frosting, sprinkled with toasted pecans, and drizzled with salted caramel sauce.

    Salted Caramel Sauce
    • 1 cup (7 oz.) white sugar
    • 6 Tbsp. butter, cut into small parts, at room temperature
    • ½ cup heavy cream, room temperature
    • ½ Tbsp sea salt
    • 1 cup (hot!) coffee
    • ½ cup cocoa powder
    • 1 3/8 cups flour
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • ¼ tsp baking powder
    • ¼ tsp salt
    • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
    • 1¼ cups white sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • ¾ tsp vanilla
    Pecan Topping
    • 1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
    • ¼ cup mini chocolate chips
    Salted Caramel Frosting
    • 6 Tbsp butter, room temperature
    • 4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
    • ½ tsp vanilla
    • 1½ – 2 cups powdered sugar
    • ½ cup salted caramel sauce (recipe above)

    For the Caramel Sauce:
    1. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the sugar over medium high heat. The sugar will seem “crunchy” while it is beginning to melt, but will quickly become liquid. As soon as it reaches the temperature of 350 degrees, dump in all the butter and stir until it is melted.
    2. Remove pan from heat, slowly pour in the cream. Whisk until well combined and smooth, then stir in the salt.
    3. Set sauce aside to cool.
    To make the cupcakes:
    1. Whisk together the coffee and cocoa powder in a medium bowl. Let cool completely.
    2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    3. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
    4. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until well blended.
    5. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla. Beat until fluffy.
    6. Add the flour and cocoa mixtures to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture (in fourths) and alternating with the cocoa mixture (in thirds). Stir until just blended after each addition. Do not overbeat.
    7. Spoon batter into well-greased mini muffin pans, filling cups about ⅔ of the way.
    8. Bake for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool in pans for a few minutes before removing.
    For the pecan topping:
    1. If the pecans are un-toasted, place them on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast in oven for a few minutes.
    2. Chop in food processor (or however you want to chop them), add chocolate chips.
    To make the frosting:
    1. Beat together the butter and cream cheese, add vanilla.
    2. Mix in 1 cup of the powdered sugar.
    3. Add the caramel sauce, then blend in remaining sugar until desired consistency is reached.
    To assemble:
    1. When cupcakes are cool, spread or pipe on the frosting. Group them closely together, and sprinkle on the pecan topping, then drizzle on some of the remaining caramel sauce. Keep cupcakes fairly cool for best results.


  3. More Kitchen Mishaps

    November 5, 2013 by Hannah Jane

    First it was mayonnaise.  Then sourdough.  But that wasn’t enough for me, folks.  I have to come up with some creative way to humiliate myself in the kitchen rather often, it seems.

    Three days ago, I needed a teaspoonful of coconut oil.  It needed to be in liquid form.  Since we don’t store the coconut oil jar in the oven, it was not liquid.  At all.

    In the past I’ve melted small amounts of oil by simply running the jar under hot water for a while.  Feeling rather impatient, however, I chose to grab a spoon, fill it with the oil, and hold it over the stove.  After it had melted, I dumped the oil out of the spoon.

    That was when my brain decided to stop functioning properly.

    I looked at the spoon and realized that there was still a wee bit of coconut oil left upon it.  So I brought the spoon to my mouth, completely forgetting about the fact that I’d just held that same spoon over a stove burner.  I’m such a doofus at times, people.

    It was only when I heard the hot metal of the spoon touch the moisture on my lip and sizzle that warning signals started flashing through my mind.  Oh!  Yeah! It’s HOT!

    Thankfully, I was able to pull away the spoon before getting seriously burned.  Mom thought my brain lapse was utterly hilarious, and started snickering every time she thought of it.  I walked around with an ice cube wrapped in a wet paper towel for the rest of that evening, which constantly helped her remember said brain lapse.  (Really, I wasn’t seriously hurt at all; every trace of the burn had vanished by the next morning.)

    Two days later (er, yesterday) I found myself in kitchen once again.  Mom was having trouble with a can opener, and asked me to help, since I’ve met others’ complaints regarding the can opener with skepticism in the past.  

    With some amount of effort I was able to get the can mostly opened, but there was no way I’d be able to get the last inch, given the rather warped and sorry appearance of the can at this point.  No problem – I’d just bend back the lid and pour out the enchilada sauce, right?

    Bending back the lid proved troublesome, however, and I realized that just opposite the intact-inch there was another sliver intact – also out of reach of the can opener.  But it was tiny enough that it would be easy to break.

    Placing my thumbs against the lid of the can near that errant sliver, I pressed downward.  Mom glanced toward me with at concerned expression and, “Hannah, I don’t think that’s -” at about the same instant that the tiny piece of metal broke.  Green chili enchilada sauce erupted out of the can and spewed forth onto my hands, the counter, and floor.  I may or may not have also gotten some on my face.  Which looked like this, but with green chili enchilada sauce:

    Grumpy Cat

    Oh, and I’m also not a cat.  That should be obvious, but I thought I’d clarify just in case. 

    I guess I won’t doubt those who say that we need a new can opener, anymore.

  4. Raspberry-Chocolate Coffee Cake

    September 23, 2013 by Hannah Jane


    I know, I know… I’ve been posting far too many dessert-type recipes lately.  I *do* bake and cook more than just sweets, but the cakes and such seem to be the recipes which make it onto my blog. 

    While the cake itself is quite plain, a ripple of berry filling studded with chocolate and an almond crumb topping makes it quite delectable.

    Raspberry-Chocolate Coffee Cake
    Prep time

    Cook time

    Total time



    • ¼ cup sugar
    • 6 Tbsp cornstarch
    • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp cold water
    • 3 cups (frozen) raspberries (mixed berries also work*)
    • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
    • ⅛ tsp almond extract
    • ½ cup chocolate chips
    • 3 cups flour
    • 1 Tbsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1½ tsp cinnamon
    • 1 cup butter
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    Crumb Topping
    • ½ cup sugar
    • ½ cup flour
    • ¼ cup butter
    • ⅓ cup sliced or chopped almonds

    1. In a medium saucepan, combine the first three ingredients and whisk until smooth.
    2. Add berries, cook over low heat, stirring occasionally.
    3. Bring mixture to a boil, let boil one minute, stirring constantly.
    4. Remove from heat, add lemon juice and almond extract.
    5. Let mixture cool.
    1. Sift together flour and next four ingredients in a large bowl.
    2. Cut in the butter until crumbly.
    3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and vanilla.
    4. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.
    5. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and combine, mixing until just combined.
    Crumb Topping:
    1. Cut together first three ingredients, add nuts.
    1. Grease a 9×13 pan and spread ⅔ of the cake batter evenly in the pan.
    2. Spread berry mixture over batter, sprinkle the chocolate chips on top.
    3. Use a spoon to dollop the rest of the batter over the berry and chocolate layer, smoothing out as best as possible.
    4. Sprinkle crumb topping on top.
    5. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or til tests done.

    *If you use a berry mix with blueberries, you may have to use a food processor or blender to break down the berries further before assembling the cake.


  5. Pumpkin Squares

    August 30, 2013 by Hannah Jane

    Pumpkin Squares

    This was a recipe handed down to me by my great-aunt, and while it certainly isn’t the most healthy recipe ever, it is a favorite of mine.

    Pumpkin Squares
    Prep time

    Cook time

    Total time


    Serves: 24

    For the Cake:
    • 1 cup oil
    • 2 cups brown sugar (or sucanat)
    • 2 cups pumpkin
    • 4 eggs
    • 2 cups flour, all purpose or whole wheat pastry or spelt
    • 2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • ½ tsp. salt
    • 2 tsp. cinnamon
    For the Frosting:
    • 8 oz. cream cheese
    • ½ cup butter
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • 2 cups powdered sugar

    1. Mix together the oil and sugar, add the pumpkin.
    2. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
    3. Sift the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, then add to wet ingredients. Stir until thoroughly combined, do not over mix.
    4. Pour batter into a greased 9×13 pan.
    5. Bake for 18-24 minutes, or until tests done.
    1. Beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together until smooth, add powdered sugar.
    2. Spread on cooled cake.


    In other news, I had to update my blog’s theme and therefore lost all of my custom fonts and colors and such.  You’ll have to pardon any wonky-looking elements –  I’ll try to get it “fixed” soon.

  6. Chocolate-Swirl Coffee Cake

    August 19, 2013 by Hannah Jane

    Chocolate-Swirl Coffee Cake

    Although we haven’t done it as often lately, our family’s traditional Sunday-morning breakfast for the last several years has included coffee cake or muffins. This may not be *the* healthiest breakfast recipe ever, but it certainly is good – and if you don’t wish to serve it for breakfast, it’ll work just fine for snacking or dessert.

    I personally like to use freshly-ground flour and sucanat or coconut sugar for this, but all-purpose flour and white sugar work fine.  I also double the recipe to ensure that we don’t run out, and since we don’t have two tube pans I divide the extra dough between two loaf pans and reduce the amount of baking time slightly.

    I personally think that the best way to serve this is with a little butter – some members of my family like to pour yogurt on top.

    Chocolate-Swirl Coffee Cake
    Prep time

    Cook time

    Total time


    Recipe type: Cake
    Serves: 8

    • 4 – 4½ cups flour
    • 2 Tbsp instant yeast
    • ¾ cup sugar
    • ½ cup butter
    • ⅔ cup water
    • ⅓ cup milk
    • ½ tsp salt
    • 2 eggs
    Chocolate filling:
    • 1 cup chocolate chips
    • ⅓ cup milk
    • ½ tsp cinnamon
    Crumb topping:
    • ¼ cup flour
    • ¼ cup sugar
    • ¼ cup butter
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • ¼ cup chocolate chips
    • ¼ cup chopped nuts, optional

    Mixing the cake:
    1. In a small bowl, combine 1½ cups of flour and yeast.
    2. Combine the sugar, butter, water, milk, and salt in a medium saucepan and heat until the butter is nearly melted.
    3. Pour heated mixture over flour mixture, stir well.
    4. Mix in eggs.
    5. Knead in the remainder of the flour, loosely cover bowl and let dough rise for about an hour.
    Making the filling:
    1. In a double boiler, combine the chocolate chips, milk, and cinnamon. Heat until chips are melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
    Crumb topping:
    1. Cut together the flour, sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Add nuts and chocolate chips.
    1. Grease a 10″ tube pan.
    2. Place dough on floured surface and roll out to make a rectangle about 14″ x 22″.
    3. Spread filling over dough, leaving a 1″ border on all sides.
    4. Starting with one of the shorter ends, roll the dough up cinnamon roll-style.
    5. Pick up dough and place it in the tube pan, forming a circle. Pinch the two ends together.
    6. Let cake rise until nearly doubled.
    7. Sprinkle topping on top of cake.
    8. Bake cake at 350 for 40-50 minutes, or until tests done.


  7. Sourdough II {+Plums}

    June 26, 2013 by Hannah Jane

    I finished my last post with a promise to tell you guys how the sourdough bread turned out, fully intending at the time to do so fairly soon.  But then, stuff happened, and writing a follow-up blog post just wasn’t a high priority.  Sorry ’bout that…

    I’d show you a lovely photo of the finished product, except that I don’t have one.  And honestly, the bread wasn’t lovely, anyway.  Picture in your mind a brown brick made of baked dough…

    Mom liked the bread, at least.  I’m less than thrilled with the results.  Maybe I just had silly and unrealistic expectations, but I wasn’t expecting a squarish lump which tastes like kefir.  But that’s what I got.

    One lady referred to sourdough starter as a pet.  O.o  So.  I have a new pet, sitting inside the fridge like a lump of dough.  I think it needs to go to obedience school.  Or cooking school.  Or maybe I’m the one needing to go to school.  Or something like that.

    Anyway.  I’ll try again with the silly stuff later, and hopefully will have better results.  If not… well, at least Mom will eat it.

    In other news, the little tree in our front yard which produces these lovely blossoms every year has decided to give us plums.  Lots of itsy-bitsy-kinda-sour plums.

    I blanched, peeled, and pitted a good number of them this evening, and I’m not going to do that again if I can help it.  I probably got a teaspoon or less of actually fruit out of each plum, and for that much work, it just isn’t worth it.  The meager amount of fruit left is cooking in the crock pot at the moment, and I guess I’ll figure out how to make it into jam or butter or something tomorrow.

    Unless I figure out some easier way to take care of the rest, though, I think that’ll be the extent of our plum harvest this year.

    ANYWAY.  That’s the extent of my kitchen woes for the moment.  Now I’m going to go figure out how to get my chocolate fix… ;)

  8. Sourdough

    June 17, 2013 by Hannah Jane

    I’ve been hearing people mention the health benefits of sourdough bread for quite some time, and Mom recently read of a method which involves letting a bowl of flour and water sit on the counter for days on end in an effort to catch wild yeast and make a starter.

    I’m daring enough to try my hand at making bagels, doughnuts, pita pockets, bread, and other such items, but this?  In my mind, the only thing that I’d catch would be mold spores, and I’m not really eager to do that.  So.

    But then Mom obtained a sourdough starter.  Read:  I don’t have to catch the wild yeast, I just have to let it sit on the counter with flour and water and get activated.  Whatever that means…

    I read the instructions several times and decided that it seemed about as straightforward as a tangled mass of yarn.  Slightly less intimidating than catching wild yeast, sure, but still rather foreign-sounding.

    Letting food sit out on the counter when it’s 90° out and and we don’t have air conditioning?  Not something I normally do.

    Never touching food with metal?  Sure, I’ve done this with kefir before, but half of the things in the kitchen are made with metal!  How am I to avoid it?

    Feeding food?  Again, not something I’m accustomed to.  I feed food to people, but I don’t feed the food itself.  Most of the time.

    Dumping half of the food so that there’s room for more ingredients?  Probably the most intimidating step of it all, as it I’ve been taught all my life not to waste food.

    Nevertheless, I managed not to balk.  I pulled out some wide mouth canning jars and stuck the little packet of dehydrated starter in with the required amounts of flour and water.  I fed the stuff when instructed to, and put it in a place where it wouldn’t be disturbed, and made sure that I didn’t stir it with anything metal.

    I couldn’t bring myself to just waste the excess, though.  The first time I just separated it and put into another jar, figuring that I would work two batches instead of one in case one failed.  I realized the second time, though, that this wasn’t going to be something I could do every time.  If I fed them every twelve hours and doubled my amount of jars at every feeding, in just four days I’d end up with over a hundred jars of starter.  Sure, I’m part of a large family, but we don’t eat THAT much.

    So, instead of dumping that extra starter, I found a recipe that used it.  Two recipes, actually, but the idea of making cookies out of the stuff sounded too strange, so I went with the pancake recipe instead.  The result?  Failure.  The pancakes didn’t rise, didn’t even want to cook, and were not appetizing at all.

    Some friends of our have a saying framed on their kitchen wall stating,  ”Even my failures are edible.”  I suppose that’s sort of true, as the chickens seemed to enjoy the pancake batter we threw at them.  Acceptable for human consumption, though?  Er… no.

    In the meantime, my jars of not-yet-activated starter remained on the hutch, where I was keeping them.  I faithfully fed them everyday, and looked for the telltale bubbly-ness which was supposed to indicate that the yeast had been effectively activated.  I had some small amount, but nothing like what I was looking for.

    So, off to YouTube it was for some instructional tutorials.  Halfway through one video, a light bulb went on in my head.  Oh!  OH!  Did she say two parts flour to one part water?

    Yes, folks, I’d been feeding my poor starter half as much flour as it needed, which meant that it was far soggier than it should have been, and therefore, not bubbly. Oops.  This is also probably why the pancakes were such a failure…

    When the next feeding time rolled around I put in the correct amount of flour, and after just a few hours, I was starting to see some bubbly-ness.  A couple more feedings, and the mixture was doubling in size from bubbly-ness, which is just what it was supposed to be doing.


    The smell had me somewhat worried.  It had an unpleasantly sour odor, and didn’t smell “yeasty” to me.  Taking the mixture out of the jars it had been in and moving it to the fridge helped a bit with that aspect, though.

    Then, I ran into another bit of confusion.  The recipe I was planning to use to bake the bread had instructions for how to use the starter in one way (feed the sourdough starter periodically while it’s in the fridge, pull out a lump whenever you need to bake with it) , and the instructions which came with the starter used a different method (pull out a lump of sourdough starter when you want to bake with it, then feed it for a day or two, then put part of it back in to feed the main lump and use the rest in your baking).  In the end, I went with the easier set of directions, which was the one with the recipe.

    Easy is good, right?

    Then, yet another bit of perplexity: am I allowed to use metal while baking with sourdough?  All of our mixing bowl are metal, how do I avoid using it?  A quick bit of research, and it seems baking with metal will be okay – I hope.

    Then, FINALLY, after two or so weeks of prep work – it’s time to bake sourdough bread.  And once again, I’m in unfamiliar territory – I expect bread dough to hold it’s shape at least somewhat, and to be stretch and smooth and elastic.  This stuff?  It’s supposed to have a consistency similar to… oatmeal.  And it does, too.  I suppose I should be glad that it’s doing what it’s supposed to do, but instead, I’m annoyed about the fact that it’s supposed to be oatmeal-ish.

    And now, as I write this, my porridge dough is sitting happily in three loaf pans, where it will remain for the next seven or so hours while it’s supposed to rise.

    I shall come back with an update of how this ridiculous stuff turns out… later.

  9. Tomorrow’s Breakfast

    May 25, 2013 by Hannah Jane



    Cut together:
    6 cups flour (I use whole wheat pastry or spelt.  I’m sure that all-purpose would work just fine, but I don’t think I’ve ever tried it… so, you’ve been… warned?)
    1 cup sugar (I use sucanat or coconut sugar most of the time)
    1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
    1 1/2 tsp. baking soda 
    1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
    1 1/2 tsp. salt
    3/4 cup butter 
    2 cups buttermilk
    Mix until just combined, then spread grapefruit-sized portions of the dough out onto ungreased baking sheets, smushing into circles about 3/4 to 1 inch thick.  Cut each circle into 6 wedges. 

    Mix together, in a small bowl:
    1/3 cup sugar
    1 Tbsp cinnamon
    Sprinkle on top of scones.

    Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.

    This recipe makes about 36 scones.  Which is enough for breakfast for the nine of us, with a few left over for snacks.  If you don’t want 36 scones, then you should probably just half or third the recipe.  :)

  10. Black and White… Things

    February 9, 2013 by Hannah Jane

    I’ve been debating for some time now what to call these.  Muffins? That’s what original recipe called them, but these seem to be far too sweet and chocolate-y.  Cupcakes?  Maybe, but aren’t cupcakes supposed to be frosted?

    A Google search didn’t help.  It seems that everyone has their own opinion on how muffins and cupcakes are different.

    They’re chocolate, and have a cream cheese filling studded with chocolate chips; therefore, they are too sweet to be muffins and must be cupcakes.

    They aren’t frosted, which obviously means they must be muffins.

    They have a fairly fine crumb, and the only reason they aren’t frosted is because that would make them far too sweet.  Cupcakes.

    They’ve been made with oil, not butter.  Muffins.

    They wouldn’t make a very good quick bread, which means they’re cupcakes.  Except for the fact that they also wouldn’t make a very good cake, which supposedly means that they’re muffins.

    Perhaps I’ll just alternate between the two terms.  If we’re serving it for breakfast, they’ll obviously be muffins.  We wouldn’t want to serve something as unhealthy as cupcakes for breakfast, would we?   And when we offer it for dessert, they’ll be cupcakes.  Because after all, cupcakes make much better desserts than muffins do.  Right?

    Black and White Cupcakes (or Muffins)

    Sift together, in a large bowl:
    1 1/2 c. Flour
    3/4 c. Sugar
    1/4 c. Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)
    1 tsp. Baking Soda
    1/2 tsp. Salt

    Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, and then add:
    1 c. Water
    1/3 c. Oil
    1 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
    1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla

    Mix together until just blended.

    In a separate bowl, cream together until fluffy:
    8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
    1 Egg
    3 Tbsp. Sugar
    1/4 tsp. Salt

    Stir in:
    1 c. Chocolate Chips

    Prepare muffin tins. Fill 1/3 full with batter and top each with a dollop of cream cheese mixture. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes for 350°.