Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lazy Sunday

Okay, so we didn't wake up in the late afternoon, and there was no Mr. Pibb or Red Vines involved, but it was still a fabulous lazy Sunday. (Ooh, and we did use Google's the best.) And SNL, it would be really great if you didn't sue us for unauthorized use of your material...thanks in advance!

Before I get to explaining our wonderful day, I'll do my usual recipe post from market yesterday. It was incredibly slow, which surprised me a little considering that there were 18,000 people downtown for the Bix7 and the Bix Jazz Festival. Laura, however, had an awesome day selling beef at the Sawyer Beef booth...but then, who can resist a pretty blond selling bovine products? Apparently plenty of people can resist an even prettier brunette hawking baked goods. Whatever. Here are the recipes before I get too depressed to type:

I altered the procedure from the original recipe a lot, so I'll post my version here:

adapted from the National Honey Board

3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 (1/4 oz.) package fast-rising yeast
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons butter
1 large egg
1/2 cup finely chopped dried apricots
honey for glaze

In large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, undissolved yeast, cinnamon and salt. Heat milk, honey, water and butter until very warm (120° to 130°F); stir into dry ingredients. Stir in egg and enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes. Cover; let rest 10 minutes. Knead in apricots.

Divide dough into six equal parts, then divide each part into four pieces. Roll each piece to a rope about six inches long and 1/2-inch in diameter. Braid these groups of four, then place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Go here for a video of how to braid with four strands. (Of course, you could also divide each of the six pieces of dough into three and do normal braids.) Once all braids are completed, cover them and let rise until doubled in size, about 40-60 minutes.

Bake at 350°F for 25 to 30 minutes or until done. Remove from oven; brush top of loaf with honey. Remove from sheet; cool on wire rack.

Bread machine variation: Measure 3 cups all-purpose flour and other ingredients into bread machine pan as suggested by manufacturer. Process on dough/manual cycle. When complete, remove dough to floured surface; knead in additional flour if necessary to make dough easy to handle. Shape dough and proceed as directed.

I used cornstarch instead of potato starch for this recipe, and I substituted butterscotch chips for the chocolate chips. Oh, and I used plain old canola oil instead of coconut oil. This made a very thick batter, and the craggly tops of the dough globs didn't even out in the oven. To make sure the tops are smooth, I suggest evening them out with a wet finger just before popping the muffins into the oven. Cupcake liners also tend to pull away from these, so you might want to forgo them altogether and just use a muffin tin sprayed with nonstick spray.

Root Beer Cupcakes

This recipe came from my Taste of Home Cupcake of the Week newsletter. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to try these little beauties. I don't turn down a recipe that gives me an excuse to use all my strength to shatter something to bits (this, among other reasons, is also why I will never go to Dairy Queen to buy a Butterfinger or Heath blizzard...much more fun to buy a candy bar and whack it to smithereens yourself.). In this case, the shattering victim is root beer barrel candies, which then get stirred into frosting to top the cupcakes. I didn't use whipped topping, as called for in the original recipe. Instead I made vanilla buttercream and swirled in the crushed candies before frosting the cupcakes.

Pineapple Muffins

The original recipe calls for a specific brand of fancy yogurt, but our store doesn't carry it, and even if it did, I don't think I'd be able to afford it, so I used plain old Yoplait Light Pineapple Upside-Down Cake flavor. I imagine any exotic-flavored yogurt in the mango-pineapple-coconut family would work out just fine. The recipe made way too much glaze. Next time I'll probably just mix a couple tablespoons of yogurt with a couple tablespoons of brown sugar and then down the rest of the yogurt myself.

White Chocolate and Cherry Scones

This recipe comes from dessert guru David Lebovitz, who adapted it from an Alice Medrich recipe. Buckwheat flour and cornmeal give these an interesting texture and nutty flavor. They don't rise as high as normal scones, but they're delicious nonetheless.

Apple Pie Bars

I love any excuse to use a cast iron skillet. There's just something about hearing the sizzle that can only come from food cooking at the high temperature made possible by cast iron's amazing ability to hold heat. After preparing this easy homemade apple pie filling, you'll never use that icky high fructose corn syrup-laden canned stuff again. A short-crust bottom and oatmeal-walnut crumb topping round out the recipe. Truth be told, these would probably be best in early September as an after-school treat, but as I had bushels of apples sitting in my refrigerator begging to be used, I couldn't resist trying the recipe.

And now on to my amazing afternoon. To give you a little background, I'll let you know a little secret about Laura and me. We were born in the wrong century. Right place, just about 150 years late. Both of us feel this indescribable pull toward mid-nineteenth-century Midwest farms. Honestly, we have a running dream of owning adjacent farms...separate acres, but still neighbors. Anyway, today we had the opportunity to visit our dream farm (this is where the aforementionedGoogle Mapscomes into the picture--we used it to make the twenty-minute drive to the farm). See, our friend Cathy was having a birthday bash (a homemade ice cream social, actually) to benefit the CCC food pantry. It was really neat, with donations being used to buy Freight House Farmers Market gift certificates, which will then be given to the food pantry, which will then purchase local foodstuffs to stock their shelves. What an ingenious idea...not surprising, because Cathy is full of ingenious (and generous) ideas. This particular farm also happens to be home to a U-Pick flower garden, and half the proceeds from the day's sales also went to the food pantry.

So we spent the afternoon roaming around Cathy's farm, admiring the gorgeous flowers, eating homemade ice cream in the Corn-zebo (just what it sounds like--a corncrib repurposed into a gazebo...again, ingenious!), and gushing over how perfect the farm was. The afternoon ended in Cathy adopting us (don't worry, Mom and Dad, we still really love you guys too...but there's always room for more positive parental influence, right?).

Cathy also raises chickens. She introduced us to a few, including one named Cruella de Vil and another named Napoleon (I resisted the urge to ask whether he had earned his name by staging a chicken coup). As Cathy explained it, he has a real "Short Man's Complex." Apparently he untied her husband Cliff's shoes today, which I personally think is nothing short of amazing.

Here are a couple pictures of the gorgeous flowers we picked today:

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