Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Homemade 'Hat', Carrot Soup, Jumping in the Leaves, Planting Spring Flower Seeds

Tori put my pashmina around her neck and then pulled it up on top of her head. It was soooooo endearing, I had to take a shot! I just noticed her hands are in the shape of a heart...

26.5 WEEKS


This is my favorite soup recipe. It's from my 2005 Sunset magazine. I won't say it's quick or simple, because it is very involved and has many steps, but it IS easy to follow. And worthy and tasty in the end!
Carrot Soup with Tomatillo Relish

JUMPING IN THE LEAVESWhen Tori and I prepared the soil for Papa to help her plant her flower seeds, we discovered there was a whole bed of dried leaves that we never raked last fall. So, we raked them into piles. My little silly Sue can't resist a good crunchy pile of leaves and begged me to let her jump in them. I relented.

The jumping morphed into throwing. The throwing got pretty messy....And I had to rake em again!


Look at how meticulously she places the seeds on the soil...
They planted Bachelor Buttons, a variety of Cosmos, some wildflowers...

Our back forty isn't conducive to learning to ride a tricycle, so we brought it indoors, and she rides in circles in our tiny living room all throughout the day.

Tori and I are going to be in California for a bit, so my next blogs will either be posted from there (using vacation pics) or will wait until end of May! CAIO!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Moist Carrot Muffins, Some Jeep Action, a Ponytail Beauty, & a bit of Sassafras!

 This is the latest experiment at my venue is this really moist carrot muffin. I only omitted the walnuts, though they would make the muffin taste divine! However, I need to expand my no-nut offerings, so I've chosen to make this a no-nut muffin.
My favorite recipes are those that cream the fat with the sugar, which seems to make a more moist muffin in the end. If I had more time to experiment, I'd switch my other recipes to this process also, just to see if it makes a difference in how moist they are.
Mix the oil and sugar (above), then add one egg at a time (below), mixing between each egg.

 The batter thickens with each egg and mixing.
 After tasting the first batch I made, I felt that using only cinnamon made for an average-tasting spiced muffin. And reviews from others who tasted it concluded that it tasted like a zucchini bread. That's not what I was going for, so this time around, I used cinnamon, all spice, cardamom, nutmeg, and mace (some of these spices are repeats in the all spice). In this batch, because I doubled it, I used 1 tsp of each, but in a single batch, just guesstimate equal parts to make 2 1/2 tsp. :o)
 Add flour to egg mixture...
 The more gently you stir, the more moist they will be!
 Added a generous amount of shredded carrots...
 Golden raisins...
 Once, I filled the cups 2/3 full. This time, I filled them more than 3/4 full. They didn't overflow, and it made for a nice dome top, though not as high as my lemon muffin!
 SIDENOTE! I stopped for a snack while baking the muffins at 350 for 25-30 minutes. From the leftover fruit in my refrigerator, I concocted a delicious grape/strawberry/banana/yogurt/oj smootie and enjoyed it alongside my last lemon muffin. Mm-mm!
 After 30 minutes, these tasties were finally cooked through nearly all the way, so I sat them on the stovetop in the tins for five minutes before removing them to cool on a rack. Just look at how many muffins come from a double batch! A single batch produces only 6 jumbo muffins. Doubling the recipe gave me 18! That's TRIPLE! So our family is going to enjoy some of them this week.
3 Cups grated carrots
4 large eggs
2 C flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp spices (see blog re: spices)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 C sugar
1 1/4 C oil
1 1/2 C walnuts
1 C raisins

Preheat oven to 350F. In first bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. In second bowl, mix sugar, vanilla, and oil together, then add the eggs one at a time, mixing for about 30 seconds each. Add flour mixture to this and stir til blended. Fold in shredded carrots, walnuts, and raisins. Divide batter into paper-lined muffin tins. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

In an earlier post, I mentioned that we had found a Jeep for free that 'just' needed a battery. Upon finding that batteries are $75, the jeep sat in our back forty for months on end (all winter, to be precise). A week or so ago, our landlord brought his daughter's jeep over for Tori to use as long as we live here. Now that he built a dune buggy for his 8 year old, she has no interest in her jeep!
Here is our girl, ruling the back forty with her new vehicle! She's a pro!

making a 'bird nest' from grass clippings and 'decorating it for the birds' with dandelions. :o)

And here is that BIT OF SASSAFRAS I promised...

Do you suffer from migraine headaches but don't want to be on nasty medications for the rest of your life? Try what I do! I drink feverfew tea (though it's not tasty), Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer tea, use feverfew capsules, and try to incorporate a regular intake of almonds in my diet. All but the latter (almonds) help to alleviate the headaches. A cold compress on your neck and warm compress on the back of your knees helps also. And drinking a lot of water sometimes help, if dehydration is the issue.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Lemon Muffins (Take 2) & a Load of Silly Girl Pics

I found a lemon pound cake that I could work into a muffin recipe and achieve the results I was looking for- moist, light, lemony!
I completed the creaming process with a mixer, though you could do it by hand if you're ambitious. I tire easily while pregnant, I guess, so I utilize whichever electric appliances are at my disposal.

(For the farm, I made a double batch, so you will see double ingredients in my photos this time.)

The first time I made these, I didn't have lemon extract, so I used the pure lemon from my mother-in-law mixed with fresh lemon juice. It worked out well.
Creaming the butter and sugar...

If you make the same mistake as I did (adding sour cream before adding the eggs), rest assured that the end result was the same in flavor. :o)

Adding eggs, vanilla, and lemon...

A dose of friendly companionship makes for a fluffier muffin, too *wink*

Adding the flour mixture
This recipe is thicker in consistency than any other recipe I use. It's more scone-like.
Making the glaze.... easiest segment, again. Adding lemon zest is my own addition. I like how it adds texture, flavor, and zing!

The single recipe yields 5 jumbo muffins. I like the muffin to have a domed top. It's more appealing to my clientele. These baked a little longer than my other recipes. I believe they were in for 20-25 minutes. Again, I hesitate to write a concrete length of time with all the variables involved in baking...
Drizzle the glaze all over the top. It hardens as the muffin cools.
As with every citrus muffin I have baked, these tops were darker than I desired. And there were dark spots around the edges of the papers, indicating the lemon extract was ever-present.
As far as the darker tops go, use a bit of a lower temperature and cook a bit longer (i.e. 390 instead of 400).
I'm still looking at remedies for the black edges caused by lemon extract. If you have a tip, please share it! My first batch didn't have those dark marks (when I used pure lemon and fresh lemon juice), but other recipes using citrus extracts have had them. I have a nagging feeling that the acidity is higher in the extract than in the pure lemon bottle I used.
At any rate, they were DELICIOUS (I have to try every new muffin before selling them. Even after a few tries, it's always good to test them, just for consistency's sake. LOL!!!!)

1/2 C buttter, softened
1 C sugar
2 eggs
1/2 C sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1 3/4 C all-purpose flour (or approximated cake flour)
1/2 tsp salt
1 T fresh lemon zest
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 C confectioner's sugar
1 T fresh lemon zest
3 T lemon juice

In large bowl, cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well each time. Beat in sour cream and extracts. Combine the flour,lemon zest, salt, and baking soda, then add to creamed miture just until moistened. DO NOT OVERMIX.
Fill paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake at 400F 18-20 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes before removing from pan. Cool on wire rack. Combine glaze ingredients; drizzle over muffins. Yields 1 dozen regular muffins or 6 jumbo muffins.

If I woke up in the morning with hair looking this good...
 and a silly face like this....lol
 I would throw my hairbrush out the window!

A week ago, spring sprung in the form of an 80 degree day, so we hopped into the car, bought some gardening gear and some herbs to plant. I had gone in the house for a few moments, and when I came back outside, I found this silly (because look at her pose!) girl dressed up in all my new gardening garb (along with her own new gloves and shovel). Why does she always look so much cuter in my hats than I do? LOL
 That day, we planted tulips that were given to us...

 ...and tilled the ground for when Papa finds time to help Tori plant her seeds (cosmos of all colors, bachelor buttons, etc).
 And we spent a WHOLE lot of time being cute and posing for the camera...
 I guess it's safe to say that I passed on my "mud pie making gene", at least to my first offspring!!!
More gardening photos to come in future posts.

Speaking of plants....