Monday, July 3, 2017

Just in Time

Hey!  How are ya?  How ya doin'? This was an unexpected hiatus.  It's not like I stopped cooking.  My writing motivation has been low...hell, practically nil.  So, stick with me while I seek my writing muse to keep me going.

But, just in time for July 4th festivities, I bring you a drink that is perfect for your backyard bbq.  Lemonade is the ubiquitous Summer beverage and what fruit screams 'Summer!' more than watermelon?  Now how about we mix the two together?

I'm about to make a new batch of watermelon lemonade today.  I predict it won't be the last for the season and I'd bet that it won't be yours either.

First off...I highly recommend making simple syrup and keeping it in your fridge.  Who likes granules of sugar in their lemonade if not mixed thoroughly?  I don't.  Simple syrup sweetens perfectly and it comes in handy for adult beverages too.  Win win for all.

Watermelon Lemonade
Makes just shy of a quart

1 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup simple syrup (less or more to taste)
1 1/3 cups watermelon juice
1/2 cup water

In a blender, add roughly 4 cups of watermelon, cubed, and 1/2 cup water.  Puree watermelon.  Set up a sieve over a mixing bowl to strain the pulp from the juice.  Combine the lemon juice, watermelon juice, water, and simple syrup together in a pitcher or bottle.  Mix thoroughly.  Feel free to adjust ingredients as you see fit.  I personally love a tart lemonade, so my amount of simple syrup may still bring a big pucker to your lips.  

For the simple syrup:  Equal ratios of water to sugar.  One cup of sugar to one cup of water over medium heat until sugar dissolves.  Be sure to stir.  Once dissolved, allow to cool before use.  Will keep in fridge for at least a couple of weeks.

Monday, February 13, 2017

A Little Sweetness

Another Valentine's Day has arrived with all its heralds of the holiday...chocolates, roses, hearts, red and pink for miles.  I'm bringing you something sweet with jammy and buttery goodness.  Keep this in mind for a birthday, a dinner party, weekend brunch, or yes, even Valentine's day.

The lastest issue of the King Arthur Flour catalog was in my mailbox a few weeks ago and in it was their recipe for pound cake.  When was the last time you had pound cake?  I remember an Entenmann's pound cake was frequently in the house when I was growing up.  Rich with butter, it was perfect either topped with strawberries and whipped cream or just on its own, where you could savor the simplicity of it.

I kept thinking about that recipe and after I found a set of little heart cake pans while out shopping one day, I knew that was the impetus needed to finally bake that cake.  Of course, I had to add a little of me to the cake and decided that making a filled cake would be the way to go.  The great thing is that you can easily use a store bought jam, or take the extra few minutes and make your own.

King Arthur Flour Original Pound Cake Recipe

Quick Strawberry Preserves
Makes about a cup

1-2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 cup sugar
Juice of a quarter lemon
1/4 cup water

Put all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a low boil.  Once the mixture boils, lower the heat and allow to simmer until the fruit begins to break down.  Feel free to help the process by crushing the fruit with a wooden spoon.  When the mixtures has reduced by half, turn off the heat and allow to cool.  It will thicken slightly as it cools.  

For the cake:

You can make a classic loaf cake or a single 9-inch layer (maybe even a heart shaped layer).  Slice the cake in half and spread a fairly thick layer of jam/preserves on the bottom half, gently replacing the top.  Dust with confectioners' sugar or even a layer of whipped cream.  This cake also gets better if you let the preserves seep into the cake, kind of like a jelly donut.  

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Here We Are.

A week into 2017.  A new year.  A year of possibilities, clean slates, and brighter days. A year of uncertainty, fragile emotions, opportunities for change. Once again...I have no resolutions made, just the desire to change bad habits into smarter life choices.  Happy to be finished with the holidays and too many days laden with sweets and more sugar than I knew what to do with.  But...truth be told, I'm kicking this year off with a little sweetness, but not so overtly that it will give you a sugar headache.

I've been toying with the idea of giving up sugar, trying a Whole 30 kind of clean-eating deal, and giving up coffee...but honestly, it's just not gonna happen.  Like I's a time for smarter life choices.  Moderation.  Focusing.  Being more aware of my actions.  I've made the same promises to myself for the past few years and find myself in the same place.  And deeply unsatisfied and unhappy.  At some point over the past couple of months, I realized that I was eating to fill myself up, but it wasn't just the physical hunger I was trying to satisfy.

No, this isn't a counseling session, but it is me putting it out to the universe that the choices will be different this year.  The wherewithal to move forward, continually, expect to stumble, and embrace those stumbles and mis-steps instead of getting discouraged and giving up.

So...I keep the sweetness in my life.  And I share this one with you.  

Sweet Onion and Apple Jam

1 large Vidalia or Sweet Maui onion, sliced thin (about 2 cups)

3 medium apples, peeled and grated (large hole on box grater, about 2-2 1/2 cups)

2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger

1 cup light brown sugar

1 cup water

juice of half a small lemon, preferably Meyer

Slice the onion as thin as you can and put into a medium saucepan along with the grated apples, ginger, brown sugar, water, and lemon juice.  Mix thoroughly and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Let boil for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Lower temperture and let simmer until mixture reduces.  Be sure to stir so it doesn't stick.  Refrigerate to keep for about a week.  Notes:  I used Golden Delicious apples, but feel free to use whatever you like or have on hand.  Powdered ginger would work fine if it's what you have, but to me, nothing beats that zing of fresh ginger.

I made this as an accompaniment for a good cheddar on crackers (my mind is still in holiday party mode), but as you see below, this is pretty fabulous on a bagel and cream cheese.  I'd try it on roasted chicken or pork (another suggestion), and it would probably make a great layer in a sandwich.