Monday, August 17, 2009

Swan Song

Okay, so nobody's dying...but my life here in Iowa is about to meet its end, at least for now. I can't begin to explain how amazing this summer has been: great new friends from the Farmers' Market, a new set of adoptive parents, eye-opening experiences through Buy Fresh, Buy Local, weekly Ultimate Frisbee, spelunking in the rain, lots of fests (Rhubarb, Sheep and Wool, Jazz, Tug), my first experience camping in a tent, lots of baseball (River Bandits, Iowa Cubs, and even a White Sox game!), free yoga every Friday, more coffee and sushi than should ever be consumed by one person (I'm the caffeine addict, Laura's the one who should probably be worried about too much mercury in her system), and many chances to hone my baking skills.

I haven't had a chance to feel too sad about my impending departure, because some amazing company arrived over the weekend! Laura's college buddy Joe is visiting from Minnesota and our cousin Trina drove down last night from Wisconsin. It's been an adventure-packed weekend involving the Farmers' Market, Tugfest, the aforementioned spelunking in the rain at Maquoketa caves, and River Bandits baseball. Today we're going to check out a local record store, maybe make spaghetti sauce with some gorgeous tomatoes from the Farmers' Market, and play Ultimate Frisbee--if the weather cooperates, that is.

Now, I know what you're thinking, and no, I haven't forgotten about posting my recipes. Friday was my last full-blown baking day, although I plan on making some caramels and caramel corn to sell after I'm gone...I need to preserve my legacy, after all.

What's a Midwest summer without at least one batch of baked goods laced with zucchini? I used half whole wheat flour in these, simply because I was running out of all-purpose, and I omitted the nuts. One more use for that cute mini loaf pan!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Shortcake

This recipe comes from a community cookbook produced back in my hometown in Wisconsin. It never ceases to amaze me that pouring boiling water over a pile of dry flour and sugar can actually be a good thing, but hey, that's the magic of dump cakes. Since there's no online link for this recipe, I'll post it here:

rhubarb and strawberries to line 13x9" pan
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 Tbsp. butter
1 cup milk
2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 cups boiling water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream together the sugar and butter. Add milk and blend well. Combine baking powder, flour, and 1/2 tsp. salt; add to wet ingredients and mix well. Pour over rhubarb and strawberries in pan.

Mix together sugar, remaining 1/2 tsp. salt, and cornstarch. Sprinkle over batter.

Pour boiling water over entire mixture. Bake 1 hour.

NOTE: A few drops of red food coloring may be added to the water to add color to the cake. (I didn't do this.)

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting

I had leftover marshmallow frosting from last week's Confetti Cupcakes, so I used it to top these chocolate beauties instead of using the semi-sweet chocolate frosting from the cake recipe. I used white rice flour instead of tapioca flour because I was out of tapioca flour.

This is a pretty wet batter, but worth the mess, because the scones come out fluffy and delicious.

I had some leftover butterscotch chips from a pan of Monkey Bars I made last week, so I baked them up into a batch of these oatmeal cinnamon cookies.

I used a combination of almonds and hazelnuts in these naturally-sweetened treats. The filling was comprised of dried currants, dried figs, and dried apricots. These aren't overly sweet; they're more of a snack than a dessert.

So that's all she wrote. At least as far as Farmers' Market posts are concerned. Thursday I go back home for about a week and a half, then it's back to good old UW-Stevens Point for another year of higher learning. I'll keep you posted about my adventures in dorm baking, and there will probably be more than a few instances where I use this blog as a sounding board to rant about how stressed I am about the upcoming midterm, etc. Hopefully I'll be back for Christmas and/or next summer, and the Farmers' Market baking madness can resume.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Belated Baking

Okay, so I've been a little negligent of the ol' blog lately. Sorry! This means that TWO Saturday markets have passed since I last wrote, so this blog will be a little long what with the double dose of recipes. Here we go!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Maple Muffins

This week's naturally-sweetened recipe is adapted from a recipe for Maple Breakfast Cake from the Michigan Maple Syrup Association. Instead of baking in a cake pan, I put the batter in muffin cups...the recipe made exactly twelve regular-sized muffins. The syrup was courtesy of a friend who recently visited his home in New England...I would rather have had Michigan maple syrup, but hey, as long as it's the real deal, I'll take what I can get.

This was also originally a cake recipe, but for ease of dispersal, I made it into twelve cupcakes. They baked up with beautiful round domes, but soon fell to create a little depression right in the center of each cupcake. This was perfect though, because it created a great little spot to drizzle the chocolate glaze without having it pour all over the sides of the cupcakes.

I've tried gluten-free brownies before, and they're usually very thin and gooey...these were still gooey, but thicker and overall more...brownie-like, I guess. Instead of almonds, as the original recipe calls for, I used hazelnuts, because I had some leftover from the chocolate cupcakes.

Three ingredients. That's all that goes into this simple recipe. Okay, four, if you count the blueberries, but the original recipe doesn't include them, so neither do I. If you don't have self-rising flour, check your all-purpose flour package for a "recipe" for homemade self-rising flour using baking powder and salt. I've also used fresh chopped strawberries in these with great results.

Chocolate Chunk Banana Breads

Banana bread is kind of my thing, but for some reason, I waited until now to make it for market. I chopped up some milk chocolate to mix in and baked it in a mini loaf pan (the kind that's a single pan with 8 depressions). I got the pan from my aunt as a Christmas gift about ten years ago and never used it until this summer, so I'm glad it's finally getting some use.

The recipe was originally from the back of a bag of walnuts I purchased, so I don't have a link for it. I'll post it here with my modifications. Ironically, my adapted recipe doesn't include walnuts.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 ripe bananas
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3 tbsp. milk
1 cup milk chocolate, chopped, or 1 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and bananas and mix, using an electric mixer, until bananas are well-mashed. Add flour, milk, and baking soda. Blend thoroughly just until well-combined. Fold in chocolate. Pour batter into 2 greased and floured loaf pans (8 1/2"x4 1/2"x2") or 8 mini loaf pans (about 4"x2" each). Bake for 45 minutes for large loaves or 30 minutes for mini loaves, or until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean. Remove from pans and cool on a wire rack.

Oh, and here's a picture of the beautiful eggs from Miss Effie's that I used in many of the above recipes:

Alright, on to last Saturday's Market:

This cake turned out perfectly moist. Instead of gluten-free baking mix, I used equal parts white rice flour, brown rice flour, and sorghum flour. I didn't use the raisins or nuts as suggested in the recipe. I also didn't use nuts in the frosting recipe. Store this cake in the fridge if it's summer, because warm temperatures make the frosting run a lot.

The original recipe for these scones calls for cranberries, but I'd already made this version, so I decided to go more of the cinnamon-raisin route. However, I didn't have raisins, so I had to settle for dried currants, which are pretty much the same thing but smaller. The oatmeal gives these a really interesting texture. Sorry about the picture; I had already wrapped the scones before I got the camera out. To make these, simply add a little cinnamon and substitute raisins or currants for the cranberries.

I adapted a recipe for a Spicy Chocolate Cake to make this recipe. I omitted the jalapenos because I actually wanted to sell some of this (although I plan to make the original recipe soon and serve it to unsuspecting family members--it will kind of be a test to see who actually reads this...those who do will be rewarded by knowing enough to stay away from any chocolate cake I offer them in the near future). I also used milk chocolate instead of dark chocolate because I had the former and not the latter. Anyway, my modified version must have been pretty good, because it sold out!

This was my naturally-sweetened recipe for the week. I wouldn't recommend trying these unless you really like molasses. They're good, but the molasses definitely steals the show in this recipe. I omitted the coconut because I didn't have any, and used quinoa flakes instead of bran cereal.

The homemade marshmallow frosting takes a while, but it's definitely worth it. It's one of those amazing kitchen start with about a cup of runny, almost-clear liquid, and after (just) fifteen minutes of beating with an electric mixer, you have your very own version of something very similar to marshmallow fluff--except it doesn't melt out like the store-bought kind. And it's sooo shiny.

Laura's been begging me to make bagels since pretty much the beginning of summer, and this weekend I finally caved in. I added baking soda to the water bath from the original recipe to aid in browning. After brushing the bagels with egg wash, I sprinkled them with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and a steak seasoning that included mustard seeds, pepper, salt, garlic, and onion flakes.

I goofed a bit on these. The recipe warns not to cook them until brown, lest they get too hard. So I did what I was told and baked them until set. However, they were too soft and all ended up sticking to each other so that I could only get three of them out to sell at market. Those three sold out though, and I'm sure this is a great recipe so long as you bake the cookies long enough.

Sadly, next week will be my last market post. I'm going home for a couple of weeks before returning to school for my sophomore year of college at the beginning of September. Don't worry though, I'll still keep you posted (no pun intended) on what I'm up dorm has a full kitchen so I'm sure I'll be doing a fair amount of cooking, especially in the first couple weeks as I try to bribe people into becoming friends with me.

I'll leave you with a picture I took at the Great Mississippi Valley Fair on Friday. I hope someday my pantry looks like this!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Flours, Fibers, and Fastballs

I figured it was time to end my on-line silence and contribute to the blog again. This post is devoted to the other pastime that Emily and I have been enjoying this summer... America's pastime... baseball! The picture above is Emily and me with our brother Steve. He's visiting for the week, and we kicked off his visit with a trip to Chicago (note the skyline in the background of the photo) to see the White Sox/ Yankees game. It was awesome! A beautiful day, some good baseball, and a drive around downtown Chicago. The only downers were that the home team lost and we got to the game too late to see the Doobie Brothers sing the national anthem. After the game, we were treated to a cookout at my friend Pat's house, courtesy of his mom. Thanks Mrs. Miller! We enjoyed grilled fajitas to the musical stylings of Lady Gaga. No joke; it was amazing. Below is a photo of U.S. Cellular Field (home of the White Sox).

Em mentioned in a previous post that we got to check out a couple Iowa Cubs games while we were in Des Moines. What she didn't mention was that we happened to run into some other residents of Marinette. Check out the picture below to see who we found at the game...

Yep, that's right. That is Mrs. Hayes, our beloved kindergarten teacher. I cannot describe the state of complete confusion I was in when she stopped me on the concourse. There I was, on a trip for work, in a city 180 miles from the city I live in, and 500 miles from the town in which I grew up, face to face with my kindergarten teacher. I literally didn't hear the first few things she said to me. Once the fog cleared, Em and I moved to sit by Mr. and Mrs. Hayes, and had a great time watching baseball and catching up on Marinette news.

The game was made even sweeter by the fact that I got to see my high school buddy, Greg Reinhard, pitch that night. We had a great time with some old friends that night. Thanks, Greg!
(The photo below is Greg on the mound for the Iowa Cubs.)

In more baseball news, Em, Steve, and I are hitting up the River Bandits game on Thursday. We'll keep you posted on whether or not we try to sneak the underagers into the Tiki Hut. Changing that ridiculous policy has become one of my goals in life.