Waffles and Pancakes

Waffles and pancakes from scratch are a joy unbounded for breakfast, or anytime. They freeze well, and reheat in a toaster oven almost like fresh off the griddle.

These recipes are from Betty Crocker

Waffles

2 eggs, beaten

2 C buttermilk

2 C AP flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 C plus 2 T shortening

Preheat waffle iron.

Beat ingredients with hand mixer until smooth.

3/4 C batter on your prepared iron is usually enough depending on the size…4 minutes depending on how hot your iron gets.

Pancakes

1 egg

1 C buttermilk

2 T oil or melted shortening

1 C AP flour

1 T sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

Blend ingredients with hand mixer until smooth. Be sure your non stick fry pan or griddle is preheated on medium for at least 5 minutes. I use a fork to smear a light coat of shortening in pan or griddle for each pancake.

Again, how long depends on how hot your pan is. When bubbles form on your pancake, time to turn over using large spatula…yeah, it takes practice. Don’t make them too large or they will make a mess as you flip them. Using a griddle, you can cook four at once. Always put shortening before pouring batter.

Notes:

I use a round waffle maker after 20 years of having a square one drip over the sides. It’s physics; when you pour waffle batter onto round iron, it stays round. The above waffle recipe makes 5 waffles.

I prefer melted butter and heated pure maple syrup on my pancakes and waffles…you DO have pure Vermont Maple Syrup, don’t you? Yeah, it’s expensive, but it will last forever in your freezer. about $65 a gallon.

The preps..pitcher with flour, b powder, soda and salt with cut chunks of shortening, ready to receive buttermilk and eggs

Mixer ready for mixing

Waffle cooking station. I use a 3/4 C measuring cup to scoop from pitcher, and place onto waffle iron

batter onto iron…probably could have used a bit more as waffle was incomplete

there ya go!

 

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Potato Bread

I know, I know. The general first response is “are you kidding me man?”

This one of the easiest yeast breads to make.

4 1/2 C AP flour

1 C mashed potatoes

2 T butter melted

1 T salt

1 T yeast or 2 packages dry yeast

1 1/2 C warm water

2 T sugar

Put the warm water in mixing bowl with the sugar and yeast, and let stand for at least 5 minutes or until the mixture gets foamy.

Begin adding your flour, 1 C at a time..after 2 C, add the salt (I use 2t) and the potatoes.

Continue adding remaining flour.

If more is needed, add a little at a time.

Dough should be formed into a ball by now, and cleaning the sides of the mixing bowl.

Knead for a couple of minutes, and place dough in greased bowl, and let rise for an hour.

Punch down and form into two loaves, placing them into 4×8 loaf pans, and let rise again until double; about an hour.

Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes.

Brush tops with melted butter if you like while hot.

Cool completely on rack.

Note:

There is no substitute for hand kneading. Your stand mixer will do a decent job, but working the dough with your hands, and adding flour as you go will help.

On your lightly floured surface, bring part of your dough ball over towards you, and using both hands, press it into ball…repeat.

When you have a sturdy ball, hold it in your hands and work the top around to the bottom until there is no more dry flour visible, then place in your rising bowl.

I use Crisco for everything except pizza dough, then it’s olive oil.

After 1 hour rising

roll out into rectangle of equal sides; more or less

Divide in half, and roll up, sealing the edges and ends, then wrap ends under

Notice, I made a mistake on the left one by folding the ends under with the seam up..wrong.

The one on the right is correct with seam and folded under ends on bottom of loaf.

After second rise

Nice. I keep the plastic on until just before it goes into the oven. Be careful pulling off the plastic wrap, as they can collapse. Handle with care too. Don’t be too rough on the little fellas. If they collapse, well it’s pretty much over, and you will have flat top loaves.

These baked for 32 minutes. They collapsed a little. Probably let them rise too long, and when shoved into the 350 degree oven, the tops shrank back a little.

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Cocktail Sauce

I found this recipe online…it’s very good for fried shrimp or chicken strips.

36 oz bottle of ketchup

3 T steak sauce

3 T Worcestershire sauce

6 T lemon juice concentrate

3 T prepared horseradish

15 drops hot pepper sauce, or to taste

1 tsp salt

Mix ingredients in a large bowl using a wire whisk, and pour into your squeeze bottle.

I halved this easily to fit in my 22 oz squeeze bottle.

It will last a very long time in your fridge.

I prefer A1 steak sauce, and Lea and Perrins W sauce, and Heinz ketchup…use what you have.

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Merry Cherry Cheesecake Bars

One of my wife’s favorites.

1/3 c. COLD sweet cream butter (5 1/3 T)
1/3 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 c. all purpose flour

FILLING:

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 c. EACH chopped glazed red and green cherries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In 1 quart mixer bowl, cut butter in chunks; add brown sugar and flour; mix at low speed. Beat at medium speed, scraping sides of bowl often, until well mixed (1 minute).

Reserve 1/2 cup crumb mixture for topping; press remaining crumb mixture into 8 inch square baking pan. Bake near center of 350 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Prepare filling.

FILLING: In 1-quart mixer bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, egg and lemon juice at medium speed until fluffy (1 to 2 minutes). Stir in chopped cherries.

Spread filling over crust; sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture. Continue baking for 18 to 20 minutes or until filling is set and top is lightly browned. Cool. Store in refrigerator.

We make it without the cherries.

I guess one could use maraschino cherries, halved, drained well, and sprinkled on top of filling. I have not tried it.

I used a pastry blender instead of mixer to make crust…it’s too hard on the hand mixer…stand mixer might be OK…IMO.

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Clover Leaf Rolls


This recipe from Luby’s Cafeteria Cookbook

1 ounce active dry yeast…about 2 1/2 Tablespoons..yeah, it’s a lot

3 eggs

1/4 C melted butter plus 2 1/2 tsp

1/3 C non fat dry powdered milk

1/2 C white sugar

5 C AP flour

1 1/3 C warm water…110 degrees, more or less

1/2 tsp salt

Put the water and yeast in a stand mixer bowl with a dough hook attachment, and mix. Add other ingredients; eggs, melted butter, sugar, powdered milk, salt, and then flour, a cup at a time (obviously).

You want the dough to pretty much clean the sides of a the bowl, and stick to the hook;  mostly. You may want to knead for just a couple minutes before placing in greased or oiled bowl.

Let rise…check after 30 minutes. With all that yeast, it’s bound to be doubled.

Punch down, and tear off or cut pieces the size of shooter marbles and place in threes in a greased muffin pan. You will need two of them, and perhaps a small loaf pan as well, unless you have an extra muffin pan.

Let rise again. Check after 20 minutes. It’ll probably be ready.

Preheat oven to 350°, and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

This pic is after second rise, while oven is preheating

Sizing of the dough balls is critical.

Buns also can be done

Why square? you may ask…

Sandwich meat is rectangular, as is cheese…bologna is round..meat loaf is square..burgers can be round or square…

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Bert Porter Bread

This is from the King Arthur Flour Cookbook

You will need

1 5oz can of evaporated milk (2/3C)

1/3 C butter or oil

1/3 c honey or sugar

2 T active dry yeast

1 T salt

2 C water

7-8 C flour

Melt the butter in a Pyrex pitcher. Add 2 C water and heat for one minute. Add the evaporated milk. Heat for 1 minute. Don’t let it get hotter than 115°. I heat the honey to make it more liquidy, and add to mixture.

Pour  mixture into stand mixer bowl, and attach dough hook. Start on low and add 2 C flour. Then add the yeast. then add the salt.

You may substitute 2 C flour for whole wheat flour.

Continue adding flour until dough clings to hook and cleans side of bowl.

Remove and knead for 10 minutes adding flour as necessary.

Let rise for 1 hour: more or less, in greased bowl covered and out of draft. I cover with plastic and place in oven.

Note: if the weather is cold, I turn on oven for 1 minute, then shut it off. This will heat oven very slightly to allow the dough to stay warm and rise.

Punch down dough, and roll into rectangle. Cut off sections of dough, and roll into large fist sized balls and place two in greased bread pans. You will have enough dough for 3 medium bread pans, or 2 large ones.

Let rise again for about an hour.

Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes; check at 25.

Brush tops with butter when removed from oven.

Break apart the bread balls, and slice or freeze.

If you use salted butter, you make wish to back off a little on the salt.

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Bean With Bacon Soup

When I was a kid, this was my favorite soup.

ingredients

2 cups navy beans, soaked overnight
6 strips crispy fried bacon, minced
3 medium carrots, minced
3 medium celery stalks, minced
1 medium onion, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 ounces tomato paste
1 dash red pepper flakes
6 cups water, more if needed
2 cups ham stock, if available, decrease water
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
3 drops liquid smoke, optional
salt and pepper, to taste

 

directions

Soak beans overnight and discard water.

Place all ingredients except wine vinegar, salt and pepper in a large kettle. Simmer until beans are tender (about 3 hours).

Can remove and mash about 2 C of beans, and add back to soup to help thicken.

 

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Butter Bob’s Low Carb Chili

This recipe is copied from

Butter Bob’s Famous Chili

4 lbs ground beef, plus or minus; more is better…75/25 is fine, or eve 70/30

1 lb hot sausage…see below

2 tsp garlic powder…equal to about 8 cloves fresh garlic

2 T cumin

1/2-1 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 C chili powder

3 tsp salt

1 can Rotel tomatoes with green chiles

1 can tomato puree or crushed tomatoes

2 green peppers, chopped

2 onions chopped

beef or chicken broth, 32-48 oz

For myself,

Using a large pot or Dutch oven, add the canned tomatoes and spices. Will add the broth later to thin out the chili.

Sweat your veggies in two skillets, and add beef. You may add a little olive oil, but the beef will add its own fat as it cooks.

Drain and add to Dutch oven, then adding broth to thicken to desired consistency. I like mine thick.

Simmer at least an hour, stirring occasionally.

Serve with dollop of sour cream, or grated cheddar cheese.

Hot sausage…I’m not sure what that is, unless it is hot Italian sausage, which can be sweet. This recipe is low carb, and we don’t want any sugar in it.

There are discrepancies in the recipe; 3-4 1/2 lbs beef is quite a big difference.

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Brew Your Own Beer

Yes, you can too.

Yes, it takes a little initial investment.

After your basic equipment purchase, beer kits are readily available from many homebrew suppliers.

When you get enough of beer kits, you can now formulate your own recipes, based on what you have learned.

Your basic equipment should consist of

a 5 gallon stainless steel brew pot

a 6 gallon glass carboy, with a 5 gallon mark on the side..this is your primary fermenter

a 5 gallon glass carboy, this is your secondary fermenter

a 6 gallon food grade bucket with lid (optional)

a large non wooden spoon with holes in it; stainless steel is best

siphon and bottling hose, 2 sections of 6 feet each

an aquarium aerator..available at any aquarium shop with about 8 feet of airline hose and airstones…maybe $5 for all

a hydrometer…a crucial tool needed to check dissolved sugars in your beer

a funnel with a screen

a bottling cane

a racking cane with a standoff on the end…a standoff is a tip that fits over the end of your cane, so when you siphon your beer, the standoff prevents sludge from getting into your siphon.

sanitizer…I prefer One-Step…bleach can be used too, but container must be rinsed over and over and over to loose the bleach smell.

bottles…5 gallons of beer will require about 48 twelve ounce bottles, or about 30 twenty-two ounce bottles. These will require bottle caps. You may purchase the flip top, but are expensive compared to crown cap bottles.

a bottle capper

a drying rack for your bottles

a long carboy brush for cleaning. They are usually bent so as to clean the neck of the carboys.

a bottle brush is also a good idea

carboy handles are very handy if you plan to move your carboys when they contain beer…even if you don’t, they are still handy to haul your glass carboys around. They are not tempered, and can break if bounced against something.

carboy caps have two nozzles on them, which will be discussed later. Different sizes for different sized carboy jug tops.

a beer Thief…allows you to take a small sample of beer to check your gravity.

Erlenmeyer flask for making yeast starter.

carboy bungs (corks) into which your airlocks fit

airlocks; at least two

corn sugar, a one pound pack will do for starting out

I prefer to use stick on thermometers on the carboys…the range should not exceed 90°. Aquarium shops may have these too.

A floating thermometer is handy, especially when you graduate to partial mash recipes.

a grain bag is handy too for same.

a hop bag can be useful if using pellet hops

Understanding the basics…

The basic beer recipe consists of four ingredients: water, barley (adjunct) hops, and yeast..

An adjunct can be loosely defined as anything with a fermentable sugar; barley, wheat, rice, sugar, honey, fruits, syrups, cracked grains, and many more.

Your yeast is a very critical ingredient, as it is what makes the magic happen. The yeast needs food and oxygen to survive and multiply. You seen homemade bread rising, right? The tangy aroma you smell is the alcohol giving off by the yeast.

Yeast are alive, and require oxygen and food. In turn, they supply carbon dioxide gas (CO2) and alcohol as their by products.

Grains, when cracked open at the right time, have residual sugars in them.

Extract brewing uses these sugars in a concentrated product called malt. Malt can be dried, or liquid that looks like honey. Dried malt extract, or DME, has the texture of flour.

The liquid malt extract has water in it; the DME does not.

Recipes sometimes use both types, others use one or the other exclusively.

Other types of recipes are called “partial mash” in which the cracked grains are steeped in a temperature controlled water for a specified period of time, to extract the sugars from  the grains.

All grain brewing uses a lot of grains; several pounds, and takes special equipment to steep the grains, then rinse (sparge) the grains to rinse the sugars out.

We will assume for now, that we are brewing extract beers, which in my opinion, are just as flavorful as an all grain beer.

There are hundreds of varieties of yeast available, each will yield a slightly different taste to your beer.

There are liquid yeasts, White Labs, and Wyeast, to name two.

There are also many types of dry yeasts available like the kind used to bake yeast breads.

The liquid yeasts are more expensive, but give you more control over the type of beer you are making. They require a starter, for the most part. A starter is a batch of liquid yeast, put into a mixture of malt and water to increase the number of yeast cells to get your beer “kick started” so to speak.

The dry yeast packages contain massive amounts of dry yeast in them, and require hydration ideally, before pitching into your beer.

There is  no right or wrong. Each style will give you good beer.

Temperature is important as well in your fermentation; too cold and it will ferment slowly…too hot, and the yeast can impart off flavors to your beer. I have made excellent beer with the fermentation temps in the mid eighties, however cooler is better.

There are two types of beers: lagers, and ales.

Generally, ales are fermented warm, and lagers are fermented at cool temps; usually refrigerated. Lagers take much longer to ferment, and requires special yeasts to do so.

Consider this: beer brewing originated in Europe in the 1500s more or less. The Germans made lagers in the winter, and ales in the summer.

I made a lager once, and it was very, very good. It took several months to ferment in the fridge however.

We assume you are making ales here.

You must be absolutely certain that your equipment has been sanitized before touching your beer. Every hose, cane, tube, bottle, carboy, funnel, that touches your beer must be devoid of germs, or your beer will become skunky; or worse.

The One-Step mentioned earlier uses 1 tablespoon into one gallon of water. Shake until dissolved. You must rinse your carboys and all your bottles before using them. Hoses, funnels, canes too; everything. Make it a habit, and all your hard work will pay off.

There is a gizmo called a Jet Washer that attaches to your kitchen faucet (with an adaptor) that is very handy to rinse your bottles after you sanitize them.

So now, you have all your supplies, and you’re ready to brew. You decided to make a hefeweizen from a kit. Hefeweizen is a wheat beer. The kit will contain a bag of DME, probably 5-7 lbs, a bag of either hop pellets or whole hops. Yeast is included; a dry package.

You may want to consider making some ice cubes from good water, placing them in a gallon ziploc bag (or two) for cooling your wort after the boil. Extra cubes too for your ice bath in your sink, into which you will place your brewpot to cool.

The rest is supplied by you.

Into your brewpot, put in 3 gallons of water. I recommend using bottled water from the store; spring water is best, drinking water is fine…NOT distilled water. Reverse osmosis water is very good as well, if you have a place that sells it; usually 50 cents a gallon.

Put your 3 gallons into your pot, and turn your heat on high.

If you have a floating thermometer you may use it, but we all know what temp water boils at.

You may put the lid on the pot and wait.

Have your malt and spoon ready.

Don’t let your water come to a complete boil, but just before, remove the lid turn down the heat to low, and add your malt.

Using your spoon, stir in your malt until it is completely dissolved; COMPLETELY. If you have any chunks that do not dissolve, it will burn, your batch is ruined.

Notice the chunks of malt

Use your slotted spoon and stir, stir, stir, bringing up spoonfuls until your are certain it is all dissolved.

Now, turn your heat back up to high, and wait.

When it begins to boil, set your timer for 60 minutes.

From this point on, do not walk away from your boil.

There are few things messier in life than a pot of wort (beer, before it’s beer) that boils over. It smells, and is basically sugar burned onto your stove.

this pot is full. It will  try to boil over. You must pull the pot away from the heat, leaving half your pot on the burner, or it will boil over. You will have to jack with it to keep it from doing so. Stirring may help. Lowering the heat will help too, but is not immediate. If you have a ceramic top stove, just slide the pot over. If you have an exposed element stove, it will be more difficult. Are you strong enough to lift the pot off the burner for a few seconds?

I promise that if you can master this for just a few minutes, the wort will reach a point called “hot break” in which the foam will subside, and you will see only the wort; not the foam. BUT you will have to endure this agony.

A larger brew pot will help too; say 6 gallon or larger. This 5 gallon is the largest, so I contend with it.

Don’t walk away or turn your back. If you must, turn the heat off.

For a Hefeweizen, the hops are added during the last 10 or even five minutes of the boil.

Other types of beers, IPA for example, will have multiple additions of hops and even different kinds of hops during the boil. It’s important to pay attention to the instructions for these types of beers.

Side note: hops contain oils that bitter  our beer. If we did not add hops, we would have a “fermented malt beverage” AKA, wine cooler. There are literally hundreds of types of hops out there.

Stop up your sink, and add cold tap water and ice cubes.

So, at 50 minutes, you add your hops, whether pellets or whole hops, and allow the boil to finish.

Cooling the wort…

we want our wort to cool as soon as possible. Every minute our warm wort stays in the sink, exposes it to wild yeasts and bacteria that just love warm wort.

Dump your bags of ice cubes into your pot and stir. Use your thermometer too. Add ice in sink as necessary to aid in cooling.

Take a 2 cup measuring pitcher, and add some good water to it, and dump your yeast in it, stir gently to “hydrate” the yeast, and let sit covered with paper towel on counter, until you are ready for it.

Keep checking your wort temp, when it reaches around 80, or 75 depending on the temp in your house, remove from sink.

Yes, it will be heavy. Water weighs 8.3 lbs per gallon, and this weighs more, given all the dissolved sugars in it.

Is your carboy ready? You should have the funnel in place by now.

I put mine in the other sink, and slowly, slowly pour the wort into the carboy. If you use the screen in your funnel, you will have to stir the screen,…to allow the wort to pass…I use the thermometer. That’s the downside of whole hops. With pellet hops, they all dissolve, you won’t need to filter them out. They will be removed after the primary ferment is done.

Remember, all this time wild yeasts and bacteria are landing on your wort. It is crucial to get your beer into your carboy as soon as possible, so you may start your ferment. Obviously, as your alcohol content increases, it will kill off said bacteria.

OK, got your wort in the carboy? Every drop?

OK. Now you must fill your carboy to the five gallon mark with fresh clean water you bought. This is a five gallon batch, right?

When you have done that, you may add (pitch) your yeast. Be sure to get all of it, and pour it into carboy.

Now get your aerator hose with the airstone, and attach it to your racking cane (or put it inside the cane) and put into carboy so it almost touches bottom, and turn on aerator, and run it for 15 minutes. Why?

When we boil the wort for an hour, the boil removed oxygen from the water. Remember we said that yeast need oxygen? This is one way to add it back in. There is no easy way to check for O2 levels. Just be sure it’s aerated well; longer it you like. You can’t over do it.

If the wort tries to bubble over, shut off aerator, and shake the carboy, and resume. Don’t skimp.

Time to get your Thief and the hydrometer. Using the Thief, fill it with wort and empty into hydrometer tube…check your gravity and make a note of the number. The one we’re interested in will begin with

1.000 the number will be in the range of 1.055-1.075. This is important. This number will help us to determine when the ferment is finished. We’ll say that the OG (Original Gravity) today is 1.060.

When your desired aeration time is up, put on your bung and add your airlock. Fill your airlock half full of water…can use vodka too.

Important…since this is a wheat beer, you may want to, instead of the airlock, put on a blowoff tube. Remove the airlock, put the hose in the bung hole, and the other end into a glass jar half full of water, so the end of the tube is submerged, and you can see it as it bubbles.

Wheat beers are notorious for bubbling up and blowing off airlocks…I have even seen them blow off a blowoff tube; all over the floor.

It may take up to 24 hours for the wort to begin bubbling, but keep an eye on the air in the tube, and the air will be pushed into the water.

As the yeasts multiply, so will the ferment increase activity. When it is bubbling full force, you can see through the side of the carboy, the agitation and churning going on…fascinating.

I have several 1 gallon glass jugs I used for this, as it will bubble some through the tube; yeast that is. Don’t fret. The tube will never come clean.

This activity will subside after a day or so.

Allow to sit for a week, undisturbed in as cool a place in your house as possible.

After a week, get your Thief and hydrometer and check the gravity again. For example’s sake, we will assume the gravity today reads 1.015. You may have to steal more than one sample of wort to fill the hydrometer tube.

OK, that’s good. Some math for you

1.060 ÷ 4 equals 1.015…

the numbers we are concerned with are the 60 and 15…15 is 1/4 of 60, yes?

Perfect. We want our FG (final gravity) to be one quarter of our OG.

What happened?

the yeast ate 75% of the sugars in the wort, leaving 25% unfermentable solids, and that’s OK.

I wish all my beers fermented out like this.

IMPORTANT

What if you check your gravity after one week, and it has only dropped to 1.025? That’s too high. that means that there are too many sugars left in the wort. So, more than likely, the oxygen ran out, and the yeast couldn’t work any more. The only remedy is to aerate again…risky, but if you bottle at this gravity, your bottled beer will explode due to too much carbonation.

Now we can siphon off to our other carboy…the smaller one that you sanitized right?

Never EVER put your mouth on a siphon tube on your beer. Your mouth has a zillion creepy crawly bacteria in it that would love to decimate your beer…don’t do it.

You have the two holed bottle caps? This orange one fits on the five gallon carboy. The racking cane here is stainless steel inserted through one of the holes in the cap. I blow into the other one to force the wort up into the cane, and through the tube into another jug, or bottling with a bottling cane, attached to the end of the hose. It shuts off the flow, when the can is removed from the bottle. I have the bottle can inserted into the carboy handle to keep the hose from kinking.

DSCN0231

Bottling cane

DSCN0210

This a thing of beauty. Insert into bottle with tip touching bottom, and it releases the flow of beer. Keep cane onto bottom until beer reaches almost top, and then withdraw. It leaves just enough head space..perfect.

It’s a miracle.

Back to today…

Siphon your beer into the secondary…Do not splash. If you splash your wort now, you will re introduce oxygen…that’s bad.

cover with bung and airlock.

Wait another week. This step is for clearing.

Next week, we bottle.

A few days before, sanitize your bottles.

bottle drying rack

DSCN0698

Now, you must prepare your priming sugar.

In a small saucepan, put in 2 C water. Bring to boil. Add 3/4 C corn sugar to boiling water, and boil 5 minutes. If you do not have corn sugar, you may use instead 1 1/4 C DME.

Allow to cool completely. Remember your carboy is not tempered and this will shatter your glass carboy if you pour it  in too hot.

After cooling, pour into empty carboy.

Siphon your cleared beer into said carboy and stir gently with racking cane to assure corn sugar gets distributed evenly. Don’t splash.

This is exactly the amount of corn sugar needed to kick up the fermentation just enough in your bottles, to carbonate them. Trust me.

Attach bottling cane to tube after siphoning into other jug, and begin.

I have a shallow tray I place on the floor when I bottle, as spillage always occurs.

DSCN0232

I use plastic bottles as I ship some of my brews to friends and relatives. I use a clear  bottle as when the brew clears in the bottle, it is likely ready to drink.

If using crown cap bottles, count number of bottles used, and count caps, allowing for a dropped one or two. I put my caps in boiling water, immediately removing them from heat. I then place them in a collander or similar to drain.

Also, with a plastic bottle sitting out at room temp, when it gets so hard you cannot squeeze it, it’s ready to refrigerate.

Do not put your bottles in the garage as they will become missiles.

Be patient.

Let them carbonate at room temp.

Usually, a week in the summertime is enough.

For sure check one in two weeks by placing in fridge, then sampling. If carbonation is good, chill the rest and enjoy the fruits of your labors.

Your friends will come over from everywhere at all hours to help you.

You must learn to be careful of this.

Partial mash brewing…

I have briefly touched on this earlier. Many beer recipes contain some grains to add flavor and body to the beer, that cannot be attained by malt extract alone.

These grains must be “cracked” and the homebrew supply store will gladly do it for you in a small mill.

These grains are allowed to sprout, then are dried. The germ inside the grain has now created a dab of sugar to allow it to grow. The drying process kills the grain, but retains the dab of sugar, which we leech out when we soak our grains in hot water. Read on.

For this, instead of plain water to begin our boil, we will do what is called a “partial mash”.

A full mash is all grain brewing. A partial mash is just that; partly  all grain.

Put approximately 2 gallons of fresh water into your carboy, and bring the temp to 160°.

While you are waiting, place your grains into a grain bag.

When the temp reaches the desired temp, put your grains into the water, and set your timer for 30 minutes.

I like using a temperature probe to constantly monitor the temp of the mash.

Do not let it go below 150 degrees.

You may have to kick on the burner to keep it as close as you can to 160. Don’t let it go higher, or you will release tannins that can give your beer a taste like way too strong tea.

Just watch it.

Meanwhile, in another pot, heat it to 160 degrees as well.

When your mash reaches 30 minutes, remove the grain bag, placing a collander over the brew pot with the grains in the bag, and rinse (sparge) with the other pot of water…slowly, until your heated water is gone.

Allow your grains to drain as much as possible. Do not squeeze the bag or attempt to wring it. Set is aside, and continue with your brewing.

Simple, right? It does add some extra time to the whole process, but you have now graduated to partial mash brewing!

Feed your spent grains to livestock, if you have them.

For myself, my favorite beer is a wheat beer, using 8 lbs DME, and 1/2 ounce of Hallertauer hops at 55 minutes into boil. Delicious.

My other favorite beer is Raspberry Wheat, in which I add 3-4 lbs frozen raspberries to a secondary bucket, the siphon off the primary fermenter. I let this sit a week, and siphon this into the other carboy, and let it sit a week.

The raspberries tend to clog the racking cane standoff, so I put the cane inside a grain bag when siphoning from the bucket.

Remember we do not put out mouths on the siphon? Obviously, we cannot use our carboy caps, so we must create a siphon with our grain bag on the racking cane and tube.

Yep, it’s a pain.

I fill the hose at the faucet, keeping my finger over the end, and the other up in the air while placing it into bucket, and allowing the first 16 ounces or so drain into another container, then into carboy.

I suppose one could just dump it into carboy, but the tap water I was used to was not something I wanted in my beer…even 16 ounces…I leave it to you.

Toss your fruit. I have used frozen peaches too.

No need to thaw them first, just siphon your beer onto them. You will need a lid on this, and it should have a hole drilled for the air lock. It will require a much smaller bung.

Be patient. Wait a week before siphoning off the fruit.

The peach flavor for some reason disappears quickly, but the raspberry does not.

I have tried watermelon as well…don’t waste your time

If you can get sour pie cherries locally, that is the best. Not Bing cherries, they leave no  flavor.

Sour pie cherries cost a fortune here in Texas to get from Michigan or elsewhere, and would be my top choice. I used 8 lbs of frozen sour pie cherries when I lived in Colorado, as they grow up there.

Beautiful red color too.

Blueberry, forget about it.

Strawberries; only if you really like strawberries, but there is something that happens to strawberries when they are combined with beer that just ain’t right.

Notes:

You may have noticed that the more malt or adjuncts (ferementables) in your beer, the higher the alcohol content. Approximately every pound of adjunct will give your beer a 1% alcohol. 8 lbs=8%…this is approximate.

Some yeasts are resistant to high alcohol levels; meaning over 10% ABV. That would be strong beer. Your standard Budweiser is 6%.

If you add extra adjuncts to bump up the alcohol, you will need to increase your hop bittering as well.

I have made cider/mead that killed the yeast as the alcohol was so high. It was very sweet, as the yeast could not eat more and tolerate the alcohol, so it died. By the third glass, your legs stopped working.

We can make great tasting beer, that has plenty of alcohol without ruining the flavor.

This is a very good site for beginning homebrewers. One cannot have too much information on the subject.

http://howtobrew.com/

I shop largely here

https://www.northernbrewer.com/

and

https://www.austinhomebrew.com/

Be sure you know what you want and watch the shipping charges.

Northern Brewer has a nice starter kit for about $160.

I can make a batch of partial mash beer in three hours; that includes clean up of equipment.

All grain brewing takes all day; 8 hours, and requires different equipment and knowledge. I have not attempted this, as I am perfectly satisfied with my extract brews.

My favorite beer is 8 lbs of wheat DME, and an ounce of Hallertauer hops, and a Wyeast 3068 yeast. Excellent beer, and easy, and strong.

I prefer DME to liquid extract, as the liquid contains water and requires more liquid extract to attain the same OG as DME.

Liquid extract comes in 3 lb cans, and it can be hopped as well…beware.

It’s the same amount of work to make a weak beer or a strong beer.

Weak beers are sometimes referred to as “lawn mower beers” as one can drink several with a lesser effect. To that I say, what’s the point?

Keep in mind that water weighs 8.3 lbs per gallon. In a glass carboy, this is over 43 pounds. Plus the extract, plus the weight of the carboy.

It’s OK to splash your beer before the first siphon (called racking). After the primary ferment, you must seriously endeavor to not splash your beer. This will oxygenate it, and will be detrimental to the taste.

Also, do not let your ferment sit in direct sunlight, as the sunlight will affect the hop oils, and give your beer a ‘skunky’ taste.

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Chicken Tetrazzini

EZ tetrazzini

You will need

2 C cooked chicken, more or less

8 oz spaghetti or egg noodles cooked

1 can cream mushroom soup, or cream of chicken or cream of celery

1 8 oz can mushrooms, undrained

1 cup sour cream

1/2 c grated Parmesian cheese

Panko bread crumbs for topping

a handful of grated cheddar cheese

poultry seasoning

I use skinless chicken breasts, use what you want. I boil them with salt and a teaspoon of poultry seasoning for 15 minutes, then removed chicken chunks, and boil noodles in same water. If you use bone in chicken, don’t worry about chunking it out.

Prepare noodles, rinse and set aside.

In a saucepan, put the can of condensed soup, mushrooms, sour cream, and 1/2 C  broth to thin it a little, heat up on low with about 1/8 tsp black pepper.

Preheat your oven to 350°.

I used a Pyrex rectangle cake dish, but not the 9×13. Spray with cooking spray.

Mix your chicken, noodles, and sauce in pan which you boiled your chicken in.

Pour into baking dish, top with cheddar, Parmesian, and Panko crumbs.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Note

I break up the spaghetti into thirds before boiling.

This recipe is a guide. There are many recipes out there.

You may add pimientos, chopped black olives, green pepper, onion…you decide.

You may make this ahead and freeze.

This recipe can be a crowd pleaser, and easily doubled or tripled.

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Chilly Today, Hot Tamale

Tamales are by far one of the most labor intensive Mexican foods out there. With all the varieties available, who can resist?

Pork, beef, chicken, bean, cream cheese, jelly, maple syrup, there are no limits on how to flavor them.

I used to buy them from a family who went door to door selling a dozen for $3..those were the days. I have paid as much as $12 a dozen since then.

This recipe will be for pork, which is the more traditional tamale.

Let’s face it; pork, by itself does not have much flavor. The same with pork tamales, and one must add a significant amount of varied peppers and spices to give them flavor. Bland tamales are a crime.

Serrano peppers, jalepeno peppers, ancho peppers, guajillo peppers, onion, garlic cloves, bay leaves, cumin, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper, of varied amounts all contribute to the savory taste.

There are as many recipes and techniques out there, as there are abuelitas (Spanish for grandmother). Mine is not etched in stone; it is a guide.

Making tamales can be divided up into 4 stages:

1. preparing your meat

2. preparing your sauce

3. preparing your masa

4. assembling and steaming

You will need about 4 lbs of pork. Pork butt, shoulder are the most commonly available at reasonable prices. A roast is probably the best price at around .99 cents a pound, will give you plenty of meat for several dozen tamales.

You may use a crock pot for the entire roast, or a Dutch oven, if it will hold the entire roast; mine didn’t so I use a crock pot for the roast.

You can get the roasts bone-in, or boneless. It will save you some time if you use boneless. The bone-in will give a little more flavor from the bone.

A crock pot on high will cook your roast in about 4 hours.

If you go boneless, you can cut up your meat into chunks, and just boil it.

Whichever method you choose, you must also add some things to your roast while it cooks.

Be sure you use enough water to cover your meat, and it’s very much recommended to use more water than needed, as you will use a lot of the broth later.

If you are using a whole roast, I rub the roast with salt, black pepper, garlic powder, cumin, even some chili powder, then sear all sides in a hot cast iron skillet, before placing it in my crock pot. Fill the pot with water so it comes at least halfway up the roast; more is better.

To your water as it heats up, add your peppers:

3-4 serrano peppers, split…I leave the seeds in as I like the spicy flavor it adds. This many won’t make it hot…if you put in 10 serranos, you’re looking at a 2-alarm fire. whole jalepenos with stems removed are fine too.

dried pepper pods: ancho, guajillo, or anaheim or other dried pods; about 10 will do; a few of each is fine.

On the dried peppers, removed the stem, cut open a side and knock out the seeds.

A whole onion, cut in half

drop in a whole head of garlic, or several peeled cloves 5-10; smash ’em if you like, you will save these for later after the meat is cooked.

a few bay leaves; 4-6

Cover and walk way for 4-5 hours.

When it’s done, the meat will fall off the bone. Remove the meat from the bone, and shred it. Here, I saved the shredded meat in a ziploc bag.

Reserve your juices and peppers and onion.

Push the garlic cloves out of the head into your blender as well, if you used the whole head.

Drain the juice.

Run everything else through a food processor or blender, using some broth.

Then strain it through a sieve or food mill to remove the pepper skins.

Now you have a nice red sauce. Cover, refrigerate until needed.

Note, you can make your sauce separately by soaking your de-seeded peppers in a saucepan with hot water for 30-45 minutes. Process them in blender with the onion, garlic, and hot peppers. Use your sieve to strain out skins. A food mill is best, but who of us has those?

You may now add some sauce to your shredded pork in a pot. Not too much broth, as you don’t want it runny. Add some salt a pepper now. Cook until heated through. Set aside, or refrigerate until assembly time.

Masa

6 C of Maseca

1 1/2 baking powder

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 T ground cumin

1 tsp Mexican oregano (if you have it; not mandatory)

1 C melted lard; not Crisco, not butter, Lard

1 C red sauce, more if needed

1 C broth, more if needed

Add these slowly to your stand mixer, and mix for 30 minutes; yes. You want the lard well incorporated to add air into the mix, making it fluffy.

Your masa when ready should look and spread like creamy peanut butter; easily spreadable, but not watery.

If you are assembling, then you must prepare the husks by soaking them in hot tap water for at least an hour, so they soften. Do this while you are making your masa.

Above pics show husks soaking, and masa in mixing bowl. You must drain your husks just before assembly as the masa will not stick to the husk. Also, the husk has a smooth side, and a textured side; spread you masa on the smooth side, or it will stick to the husk when cooked.

Assembly

Dry your husks. You can stand them up in a bowl, and dry them, or use paper towels (a lot) or dish towels…regardless, they must be dry when spreading.

Spread masa on your husk edge to edge, about half way down the husk, but leave about half an inch at the top. Use the back of a spoon to spread.

The masa, meat, and husk ready to assemble

Put about a tablespoon of filling into the center of masa, bring one side just over filling, tighten the roll a little, then bring other side over, and fold up bottom.

I have tied mine with a strip of husk; it is not necessary.

It’s best to place them standing up, folded side down in your steamer. I did not know this when I made these, but could have used an upside down bowl in center, and/or leaned them against the side of steamer. This is a 32 qt steamer; much bigger than I needed. I have since obtained a 16 qt.

the finished product. I steamed these for 2 hours.

Bring your water to a boil then down to simmer.

Cover your tamales with a wet dish towel, or unused husks to keep the steam in.

Don’t fill the steamer so full of water that it touches your tamales.

How long it takes, will depend on how many are cooking. An hour to and hour and a half is a good general steam time to check on them. I

If the masa comes off the husk, then it’s done.

This is a very good video that may help

 

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Beef Stew

Beef stew; a great winter warming food that will fill your kitchen with a wonderful smell as it cooks. Plus, there are always leftovers.

There as many beef stew recipes out there as there are people with a stove. Most of my posts are geared for aspiring cooks.

You can use any cut of beef for a stew; bone in? Throw the bone in the stew too. The marrow will add an additional depth to the flavor. Be sure to remove the bone before serving.

Boneless? beef shoulder, chuck roast, rump roast, sirloin (my favorite), it doesn’t matter. Cut your meat into large chunks, or bite sized chunks.

Best to brown your meat first. I use a cast iron skillet. It retains the heat better, will cook faster, and can slightly char your meat.

You can toss thinly sliced onions into your meat as it browns; garlic too, but will require more frequent stirring as garlic can burn, and it will ruin your batch.

If you are making a really large batch of stew, you may have to go  two rounds of browning your meat, and that’s OK.

What about your stew pot? Will you use a crock pot? It will take all day, and that may be just what you need as you prepare other items for your stew.

Regardless, you should plan your other ingredients before you start cooking.

Carrots…definitely

Potatoes…for sure…reds or Russets? Either will work, I prefer reds as they do not fall apart as easily as Russets. You can use the New Reds as they very small. With red potatoes, I remove the eyes, but do not peel them. They will hold together better with the peel on. Yes, you can still cut them into halves or quarters, if they are very large. If you do it this way, your taters can cook all day with your beef.

Celery? not too much, but 2-3 stems are OK.

Green pepper? sure not too many, coarsely chopped for the entire cook.

Onions? half or quarters for the entire cook.

Other veggies, squash, turnips, rutabaga will work but not many. Squash will get very mushy so put it in late.

I have used canned corn, drained and rinsed well in the last couple hours of the cook.

Green beans will work too, but not for the entire cook.

Many items go in later as they will over cook.

Get your beef going first and into your stew pot or crock pot before adding the rest of your veggies.

I use chicken broth with water. One can add dry wine or burgundy too…but that’s a different recipe.

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ree-drummond/burgundy-beef-stew-3345325?utm_campaign=yummly&utm_medium=yummly&utm_source=yummly

The Pioneer Woman has a ton of great recipes out there for free.

For seasoning, I just use a couple of bay leaves; be sure to remove them before serving. You can season your bowl of stew upon eating.

Crock pot

as you are browning your meat, start your crock pot with chicken broth and water…how much? how big is your pot? 6 quart? 8 quart? I would start with at least a quart of chicken broth. If you add boiling water, it will heat up quicker. Your crock pot can take 2-3 hours to get to simmering if all is cold. It will take 6-8 hours to cook in your crock pot. Start on high, then to low after it begins to bubble.

Preheat your cast iron skillet with nothing in it for 10 minutes on medium as you cut your meat.

When your meat is ready, toss in 2-3 tablespoons of butter and some olive oil, then your meat. Let your meat sizzle for several minutes before stirring.  When you turn or stir, add your sliced onions if desired. Cook for 5 more minutes, then put your meat into pot. Repeat, if you have a large batch.

You can add minced garlic to your meat as well, but keep it stirring.

Add your meat to your crock pot and cover. Now, leave it alone.

Don’t start timing until the meat is simmering, then add your first round of veggies after a couple hours; potatoes, carrots, onions and peppers…canned corn last with squash.

Personal note:

My favorite stew is very basic; beef, carrot, maybe one quartered onion, and potatoes. I cook these all day from the beginning.

I have been known to drain the stew when finished, make a gravy with the water/juice, and add it back to the crock.

A thickened stew is more tasty in my opinion.

One could experiment with cornstarch; perhaps 1/2 C water with 1/3 C cornstarch(depending on size of batch) mixed together, then added to bubbling stew. You will have to stir it in, leave it until it begins to bubble again.

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EZ Corn On The Cob

Corn on the cob is one of the most abused in cooking history. One can eat corn as it  is shucked. It does not have to be cooked.

Boil corn cobs? no way…roast on grill? there is an easier way…

For those of us who like our corn on the cob buttered, this is for you.

You will need

corn on the cobs, shucked

butter

wax paper

Smear butter on your corn cobs, and wrap with wax paper, twisting the ends.

Put individually in microwave for two minutes, and remove. Let sit a minute before serving, as they are extremely hot.

I just serve a platter full of wrapped cobs.

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Apple Cobbler

An easy recipe that uses a can of your favorite biscuits or roll dough.

Apple Cobbler

I used

6 apples..granny Smith, MacIntosh, Gala

½ C brown sugar

2 T cornstarch

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

½ tsp fresh lemon juice

½ tsp vanilla

dash salt

1 C pecan and walnut halves

butter as needed

Can of Pillsbury crescent rolls

I added an extra ¼ C white sugar as my wife likes it sweet

I peeled, cored, pared, or coarsely chopped the apples, placing them in a large bowl, to which I added the other ingredients, except the rolls.

I stirred, tossed ingredients together, and put them in colander over the same bowl to save the juice.

I put the collected juice after an hour into a saucepan, and brought slowly to simmer for 20 minutes, or desired thickness Watch for boil over. Allow to cool completely. This will be a caramel like addition to the cobbler.

I added maybe a tablespoon of whipping cream to the caramel mixture, and 2 T unsalted butter, and cooked them in until thickened. Watch it, as it can burn. The caramel will get much thicker as it cools.

I used a 9×13 deep baking dish, and placed in it the apples. I had sprayed the dish earlier.

I put the pecans and walnuts on top of the apples.

I cut most of the rolls into quarters, and tossed them with melted butter, rolled them in white sugar, and placed them on top of the apples and nuts.

I drizzled the caramel mixture on top, and put in an oven preheated to 350°.

Since this recipe is a hybrid. I covered the dish with foil so to get the apples cooking without over browning the rolls.

I removed the foil after 30 minutes, as the apples were bubbling, and the rolls were not browned.

I added ten minutes to bake time.

That was enough.

The rolls are nice and brown, and it smells great.

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Alfredo Sauce

Admittedly, I did not appreciate Alfredo Sauce until I was in my fifties, after receiving a book The Joy Of Cooking

I urge you to to get this book. There are many editions, but you will find nearly every type of recipe out there, in there.

I serve Alfredo Sauce with fettucini.

For Fettucini Alfredo, you will need equal amounts of

fresh grated Parmesian cheese

butter

heavy cream; also known as whipping cream

How much you make will depend on how big a batch of fettucini you are making.

For this example, let’s assume you are making a pound of noodles.

We will use

1/2 C butter (1 stick) not margarine

1/2 C grated Parmesian cheese (this is the one in the triangle package; not the can of pre grated cheese)

1/2 C cream

In a medium saucepan on medium heat, melt your butter.

You should be boiling your noodles as well. The timing must be right as you want to add your noodles to your Alfredo Sauce as soon as the noodles are done.

Add your cream, and stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to bubble slightly.

Add your Parmesian now.

Stir in the cheese, again until it bubbles slightly.

Your noodles are just done. Drain them, but do not rinse. Pour about 1/4 C of  sauce mixture in bottom of serving bowl. Place noodles in bowl, and add rest of Alfredo Sauce mixture. Stir with fork and toss, and serve immediately.

The Parmesian will not melt. We like it that way.

I serve this with Chicken Parmesian.

The Alfredo Sauce with fettucini does not re heat well, so it’s best to use it all in the first serving.

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Chicken Parmesian

This recipe is also from The Joy Of Cooking

You will need

boneless skinless chicken breasts

your favorite canned spaghetti sauce (unless you make your own) need about 1 C

eggs

flour

1/4 C grated Parmesian cheese; plus extra for topping

sliced or grated mozzarella cheese

bread crumbs

Italian spices; oregano, basil

olive oil for frying

I put my chicken breasts in a ziploc bag and flatten them with a rolling pin. A large breast will fill the bag. It’s OK if there are shreds on the edges.

Beat your egg(s) with 1-2 tsp water

Your dry batter mix will consist of grated Parmesian cheese, bread crumbs (avoid seasoned Panko…too much spice…plain are fine), a pinch of basil and/or oregano, salt and pepper.

Dip your breasts into flour, then into egg wash, then your dry crumbs,  making sure you get all of the breast coated. Do this for all breasts.

Heat 1/2″ olive oil in large skillet to 350°, or until the oil is “shimmery” and aromatic. If your oil is not hot enough, your batter will soak up the oil, rather than be fried by it.

About 2 1/2 – 3  minutes on each side will do.

In a glass oven pan, spoon a thin layer of spaghetti sauce into bottom that has been sprayed with cooking spray…don’t over do the spaghetti sauce.

Place a healthy spoonful of sauce into bottom of pan, and place breasts in pan. Sprinkle tops with Parmesian cheese, spoon a little sauce on each, sprinkle some mozzarella on each breast or a piece of a slice.

Repeat for all breasts. It’s OK to overlap them. Again, do not over do the sauce. Top all with another sprinkle of Parmesian cheese.

Put in preheated oven at 325, for about twenty minutes, covered until sauce is bubbly and mozzarella is melted nicely.

Serve with Fettuccine Alfredo.

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Wellness Tonic

This tonic, as I call it, is a general weight loss supplement as well as keeping one’s body healthy.

This stuff will keep you healthy if you take it daily. If your on a weight loss plan, it’s a great supplement.

Apple Cider Vinegar has an abundance of health benefits that I will not enumerate here.

I don’t recall where I found it, but it is not my recipe.

You may want to wear gloves during the preparation, especially when handling hot peppers, because it is difficult to get the tingling off your hands! Be careful, its smell is very strong, and it may stimulate the sinuses instantly.

Ingredients:

24 oz /700 ml apple cider vinegar; Bragg’s is one brand

  • ¼ cup finely chopped garlic
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 fresh peppers, the hottest you can find (be careful with the cleaning – wear gloves!!!) I used 2 large serrano peppers. Do not de seed them. You want it hot.
  • ¼ cup grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp grated horseradish
  • 2 tbsp turmeric powder or 2 pieces of turmeric root, grated
  • 1 T ground cumin

Preparation:

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, except for the vinegar.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a Mason jar.
  3. Pour in some apple cider vinegar and fill it to the top. It is best if 2/3 of the jar consist of dry ingredients, and fill in the rest with vinegar.
  4. Close well and shake.
  5. Keep the jar in a cool and dry place for 2 weeks. Shake well several times a day.
  6. After 14 days, squeeze well and strain the liquid through a plastic strainer.  Squeeze well so the whole juice comes out. I used a tea towel that I had to throw away. The turmeric stains easily.
  7. Use the rest of the dry mixture when cooking

I urge you to pour 1 T of this into a half liter bottle of water, and sip throughout the day. When you get used to it, increase to 2 T in your water bottle. Shake before drinking, and use a straw. A nice amount at bedtime will aid in weight loss.

The horseradish root and turmeric root were hard to find, and a tad expensive since I only needed a little of each.

This made quite a bit as it filled three bottles.

It will settle. Be prepared to shake when pouring or using.

Add the juice of half a lemon to your glass from which you drink this with some water. It will be more palatable.

If your looking for some great articles on weight loss, try here

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Italian Dressing Chicken

This is a recipe that was popular back in the eighties.

My buddy calls it “blackened fowl”.

It is best cooked with bone-in, skin on, chicken breasts.

I used five big ones…leave intact.

Lemon pepper in your freezer zip lock bag; a couple table spoons

Add your chicken breasts, and sprinkle a little more lemon pepper on the breasts while in the bag…don’t over do the lemon pepper.

Add your Italian dressing to the bag (I use zesty Italian).

Bleed out the air and squish it around some to get the breasts coated.

Marinate for at last six hours in fridge before putting on grill, turning frequently.

I drain the breasts in a colander, and reserve the drippings to baste while cooking.

Now consider this:

This is oil. It will burn like an old lumber yard if it catches fire. Let your fire burn past the peak before placing these on your grill. It will take longer than burgers, because they are thick.

The skin will burn…don’t worry. It will be delicious.

Baste and turn often. Cover your grill if they catch fire (they will), but no too long so as to put out the fire.

If you think they’re ready, cut into thickest part of breast and check for doneness. Don’t over cook or they will dry out.

This chicken is excellent off the grill, and a great addition to a salad.

It can be eaten cold too.

One can also marinate the bags, and freeze one for another time.

It’s best to eat the chicken you cook. The cooked breasts do not freeze well…I don’t know why.

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Meat Loaf

The limitations of meat loaf possibilities are limited only by imagination

Basic Recipe

2-3 lbs of ground meat..all beef, chuck, or turkey, or pork or any combo thereof.

Filler

Usually, a filler is required. This can be a cup of cooked rice, oatmeal, crushed soda crackers, crumbled corn bread, bread crumbs…something to help soak up the  moisture generated by all the meat.

2-3 egg help hold that solid chunk of meat together.

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

After that, use whatcha got

finely chopped onion…too big of piece and it will fall apart

finely chopped green pepper

oregano, basil, or what have you in the spice area.

For Italian style, or  Mexican style, use appropriate spices…don’t over do…watch the garlic as it can take over.

I have placed a chunk of mozzarella in the middle with pepperoni slices…

You can mix in bbq sauce with your meat…maybe 1/4-1/2 C no  more, or it will fall apart.

I always top with ketchup

Bake at least 75-90 minutes at 350°. Sometimes, I drain off the fat at that time, and put back in oven to finish crisping the outside.

Don’t over bake. After 90  minutes, watch closely, as it can get over cooked quickly without the fat.

I have a variety of loaf pans; cast iron, aluminum, Pyrex…various sizes to accommodate varying degrees of loaf size.

Three pounds of meat will require the larger pan, or two smaller ones.

If using smaller pans, decrease baking time by at least 15 minutes.

Serve with potatoes, gravy, and a canned veggie.

Leftovers may be sliced thin for meat loaf sammiches…

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Buttermilk Pie

Don’t let the buttermilk dissuade you from this southern treat.

It’s very sweet, and requires no crust.

Buttermilk Pie

1 cup buttermilk

Directions

  1. Mix well and pour into ungreased pyrex pie plate.
  2. Bake 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until knife comes out clean

The pie will make a very light brown edge that will serve as a crust.

 

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Chicken Fried Steak

Chicken Fried Steak

Who among us does not like a plate sized chicken fried steak, covered with gravy and smashed taters on the side?

From Ree Drummond

Ingredients

Chicken Fried Steak:

1 1/2 cups whole milk

2 large eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons seasoned salt

Freshly ground black pepper

3/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 pounds cube steak (tenderized round steak that’s been extra tenderized)

Kosher salt

1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil

1 tablespoon butter

Gravy:

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

3 to 4 cups whole milk

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Mashed potatoes, for serving

 

Directions

  1. For the steak: Begin with setting up an assembly line of dishes. Mix the milk with the eggs in one; the flour mixed with the seasoned salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper, paprika and cayenne in another; and the meat in a third. Then have one clean plate at the end to receive the breaded meat.
  2. Work with one piece of meat at a time. Sprinkle both sides with kosher salt and black pepper, then place it in the flour mixture. Turn to coat. Place the meat into the milk/egg mixture, turning to coat. Finally, place it back in the flour and turn to coat (dry mixture/wet mixture/dry mixture). Place the breaded meat on the clean plate, then repeat with the remaining meat.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the butter. Drop in a few sprinkles of flour to make sure it’s sufficiently hot. When the butter sizzles immediately, you know it’s ready. (It should not brown right away, if it does, the fire is too hot.) Cook the meat, 3 pieces at a time, until the edges start to look golden brown, about 2 minutes each side. Remove the meat to a paper towel-lined plate and keep them warm by covering lightly with another plate or a sheet of foil. Repeat until all the meat is cooked.
  4. After all the meat is fried, pour off the grease into a heatproof bowl. Without cleaning the skillet, return it to the stove over medium-low heat. Add 1/4 cup of the grease back to the skillet and allow it to heat up.
  5. For the gravy: When the grease is hot, sprinkle the flour evenly over the grease. Using a whisk, mix the flour with the grease, creating a golden-brown paste. Add more flour if it looks overly greasy; add a little more grease if it becomes too pasty/clumpy. Keep cooking until the roux reaches a deep golden brown color.
  6. Pour in the milk, whisking constantly. Add the seasoned salt and black pepper to taste and cook, whisking, until the gravy is smooth and thick, 5 to 10 minutes. Be prepared to add more milk if it becomes overly thick. Be sure to taste to make sure gravy is sufficiently seasoned.
  7. Serve the meat next to a big side of mashed potatoes. Pour gravy over the whole shebang!

Chicken Fried Chicken

Yep, you read correctly.

Use boneless skinless chicken breasts.

I put one in a gallon ziploc bag and pound it flat with a rolling pin

Follow the recipe

I also have been known to add 1/2C Panko bread crumbs to flour mixture.

One can also cut the flattened breasts into strips

I have found that soaking the chicken strips in buttermilk for several hours before dipping, adds an enhanced flavor. Yeah, it’s more work, and one has to let the buttermilk dry before beginning the dipping process. I use a wire rack for this.

Note:

Your local meat market will cut your tenderized cube steaks to the size you like. I believe the cut is from bottom round.

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Jalepeno Poppers

I don’t know why they call them poppers, but then I don’t understand guys wear shorts around their ankles.

You will need large, whole, fresh jalepenos

room temp thick sliced bacon; plan on one slice per jalepeno

cream cheese; I used the regular brick…softened helps spreading

toothpicks

Cut the stems off your jalepenos, then carefully cut them vertically in half. Use gloves; if not, be very careful about touching around your eyes for a while…and other places.

Scrape out all the seeds and the white pith; this is where the heat comes from

Fill the halves with cream cheese; try to keep the halves together

Put halves together, and wrap bacon around using two toothpick(s) to hold bacon around. Consider using a third to close the open end…I didn’t except the last one I wrapped from the small end then finished by pushing one through the bacon and the end of the pepper.

I put them on the grill. Turn frequently.  Remove when bacon is done.

You can pan fry them as well. I have not tried other methods; broiling or oven.

I use brick cream cheese because the spreadable cream cheese can get very runny when placed over a hot fire.

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Migas

Mexican breakfast foods are a joy unbounded when properly prepared.

One of my personal favorites is migas.

Basically migas is

eggs

crushed tortilla chips

chilies

Now, I add a chunk of chorizo to mine; about a thumb’s length. I cook it with 10-12 thin jalepeno slices in some butter. When the chorizo is done, I add three whole eggs, stir it around, then add maybe 1/4 C crushed tortilla chips, and some grated cheddar cheese if available. Cook until eggs are done and serve immediately.

I had some already made chili con queso, and used a large spoonful of that.

The local restaurant serves this dish with flour tortillas, and refried beans…excellent. They do not add chorizo.

Chorizo is a spicy sausage…not necessarily hot, but has lots of different spices in it. It usually comes in sausages the size of bratwursts. Just cut off what you need, and freeze the rest. Look for it in the bacon/pork sausage area of your local grocer.

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Stuffed Bell Peppers

One of life’s little pleasures are stuffed bell peppers. Keto diet friendly.

The last batch I made I used

4 bell peppers; assorted colors

1 lb ground beef; your choice of chuck, beef, sirloin

1 medium onion

1 clove garlic, or to taste

grated cheese; cheddar, colby-jack, jack or whatever you like

taco seasoning

Coarsely chop onion while heating skillet. Add some oil or butter, and cook onions until barely translucent, then add beef. I added about half package of taco seasoning to beef. Then add garlic and cook until browned well. Drain.

Cut tops off peppers, and scrape seeds and pith (white stuff on sides). You may have to slice a teeny bit from bottom to help them stand up in your baking pan. I use an 8×8 Pyrex dish sprayed with Pam.

Preheat your oven to 350°.

Fill your peppers with the ground beef mixture, and top with lots of cheese. You can also put cheese in your pepper and put beef on top.

Bake 20-25 minutes.

They reheat well. Can also top with sour cream after removing from oven.

In the past, I have mixed in cooked rice with beef and add to peppers. It goes further, but is not on the Keto diet.

You could go with an Italian twist and sub the taco seasoning for 1 tsp basil, 1 tsp oregano, and pinch of cayenne with mozzarella and Parmesian cheese. Even a few pepperonis would add some extra flavor.

I have eaten these at a Mexican food restaurant, and they used poblano peppers. It was very good. I have not attempted to use the poblanos. They call them chile rellenos.

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Shrimp HQ

I have two shrimp recipes I am posting here. Both are from the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. cookbook.

Alabama Style shrimp bake:

1 C melted butter

3/4C lemon juice

3/4 C Worcestershire sauce

1 T salt

1 T coarsely ground pepper

1 t dried rosemary

1/8 t ground red pepper

1 T hot sauce

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 1/2 lbs large or jumbo shrimp

2 lemons, thinly sliced

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

Combine first 9 ingredient in a small bowl, set aside.

Rinse shrimp and drain well. Layer shrimp, lemon slices, and onion slices in an ungreased baking dish. Pour butter mixture over shrimp.

Bake, uncovered at 400° for 20-25 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Baste occasionally with pan juices.

 

Bubba’s Beer Battered Fried Shrimp

1 lb large fresh shrimp

1/4 C AP flour

1/4 C cornstarch

1/8 t salt

1/4 C beer

2 T butter melted

1 egg yolk

oil for frying…I use peanut oil.

Peel shrimp, leaving tails intact; devein. Combine flour, cornstarch and salt. Add beer, butter, and egg yolk. Stir until smooth.

Pour oil to depth of 2 inches in Dutch oven. Heat to 375°. Dip shrimp into batter; fry a few at a time until golden. Drain on rack or paper towels.

Note:

I have had trouble getting the batter to stick to the shrimp.  It’s a mess, and the end product is a blob of fried batter with shrimp inside…it’s still delicious.

Use a darker beer. It will impart more flavor than a domestic light beer.

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Crescent Roll Turnovers

I got this recipe from The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. No I do not have the link.

I have done this with peaches, but one could probably use apples as well, although the apples may not get softened enough. Other fruit would work too; blueberries, strawberries, raspberries. Still I recommend freezing them first.

Get yourself some fresh peaches; as big as you can find. You will need 8 slices.

A can of crescent roll dough

cinnamon

sugar

Peel your peach, and cut 8 large slices from it.

Flash freeze them. OK, lay them on a cookie sheet or sheet pan lined with parchment paper, and freeze them for several hours or  until needed.

Why? you may ask.

Have you ever gotten some really nice peaches,  bought a bunch of them, sliced them up and jammed them into a ziploc bag, only to have a peach iceball when you need them?

When you freeze them individually. they won’t stick together in a ziploc for longer term freezer storage.

Lay out your dough pieces on a cookie sheet

Take a peach slice, and roll it in cinnamon sugar, then roll it up in a piece of dough.

Repeat with all eight pieces of dough, and you may sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top of your turnovers if you like.

Bake according to directions on dough container.

Best when served hot.

Notes:

If you purchase a large quantity of peaches when they are abundant in season, peeling them can be a real pain

Blanch them.

Bring a large pot of water to boiling, like you boil spaghetti.

Have a large bowl of ice water standing by.

Drop 2 or 3 peaches in  your boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove with tongs and place in ice water.

Repeat for all peaches.

The peel will come off very easily after this.

Cling peaches cling like crazy to the pit, and can be difficult to section off. Still very doable, but more work. Cling peaches are more available, I think. Your grocery store or produce persons should know if which type they are selling.

Freestone peaches are easier to split. Sometimes we have to buy what is available.

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X’s Smashed Potatoes

Who doesn’t love a big pile of mashed potatoes with a well big enough to hold a large quantity of gravy? or butter? or sour cream? or grated cheese? or all of these?

For my smashed potatoes, I use either reds or Russets. How many you need depends on how many folks you are serving. Roughly figure 1 1/2 taters per person.

8 potatoes

1/2 C melted butter

1/2 C room temp half and half;;;not milk…not whipping cream

Cut out the eyes and peel them, placing in a large pot of water. Cut them into chunks; maybe quarters? You can leave them in pot for hours at the ready.

I start my timer when the taters are at full boil for about fifteen minutes. You may just cut off heat and let them sit until you are ready. The potatoes should be the last thing you serve as you want them hot.

Drain well. You man want to save some of the potato water for your gravy; maybe a cup or so.

I have been known to use an electric mixer for the next step, but feel free to use a potato masher if  you like.

I heat melted butter in m/w with half and half to temper it a little. Don’t be chintzy with the liquids.

Mash them to desired consistency, adding melted butter and room temperature half and half to make them creamy. The general consensus around here is slightly chunky.

Serve immediately.

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Homemade Gravy

I spent many years experimenting with making gravy with many failures. These were the days before the internet…school of hard knocks if you will.

Gravy

1/4 C fat from your juices or butter or oil or combination. I prefer butter; not margarine. It is easier to measure, and imparts better flavor than oil…IMO

1/4 flour

juices from turkey or chicken broth

water from boiled potatoes

little bit half and half

If you can separate the juices from bird; ie, fat from juices, by all means use the fat; but be sure to measure it. Avoid getting any liquid into your fat.

In saucepan, heat your oil or fat until hot. Add your flour and cook over medium heat until flour starts to brown, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and add 2 C broth or juices. Return to medium heat, and stir until it boils and  thickens. You can add a little half and half to lighten if you like. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Basically, 1/4 C oil and flour with 2 C broth will yield about 2 1/2 C gravy. I always make double for holidays.

For a holiday turkey, I make a double batch of gravy for pouring over stuffing and turkey.

Anyone who doesn’t like gravy on smashed taters is a commie, and should be dealt with as such.

Remember equal amounts of fat and flour x 8 is your yield

1/2 C flour and fat, yields 4 cups gravy

mix your broth, potato water for your liquids to your desire…add only a couple of tablespoons of half and half if desired; it is not required.

If you are making gravy for beef, you may use beef broth for your liquid. I avoid the Banquet stuff as it really doesn’t add anything, and overdoing it will ruin your gravy.

There is no shame from using canned chicken broth. They sell that stuff now in cartons of varied sizes. Avoid using bouillon cubes as your broth. too salty.

If you are using juices from a roasted turkey, chicken, or pot roast, be sure to skim as much fat as you can from the juices. Pot roast juice gravy is some of the most flavorful ever.

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Cast Iron Skillet Apple Pie

I have not tried this yet, but here you go. Sure looks good, but a lot work.
Here is the link to the recipe
https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/cinnamon-sugar-apple-pie/

Cinnamon-Sugar Apple Pie
Apple pie baked in a cast iron skillet is a real stunner. This beauty, with its flaky, tender crust, also works in a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate.
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 1 hour + chilling Bake: 65 min. + cooling YIELD: 10 servings.
Ingredients

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cups cold lard
6 to 8 tablespoons cold 2% milk
FILLING:
2-1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
9 cups thinly sliced peeled tart apples (about 9 medium)
1 tablespoon bourbon, optional
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Dash salt
3 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
TOPPING:
1 tablespoon 2% milk
2 teaspoons coarse sugar
Directions
• 1. In a large bowl, mix flour and salt; cut in lard until crumbly. Gradually add milk, tossing with a fork until dough holds together when pressed. Divide dough in half. Shape each into a disk; wrap in plastic. Refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.
• 2. For filling, in a large bowl, mix sugar, cinnamon and ginger. Add apples and toss to coat.
Cover; let stand 1 hour to allow apples to release juices, stirring occasionally.
• 3. Drain apples, reserving syrup. Place syrup and, if desired, bourbon in a small saucepan; bring
to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 20-25 minutes or until mixture thickens slightly and turns a medium amber color. Remove from heat; cool completely.
• 4. Preheat oven to 400°. Toss drained apples with flour and salt. On a lightly floured surface,
roll one half of dough to a 1/8-in.-thick circle; transfer to a 10-in. cast-iron or other deep oven proof skillet. Trim pastry even with rim. Add apple mixture. Pour cooled syrup over top;
dot with butter.
• 5. Roll remaining dough to a 1/8-in.-thick circle. Place over filling. Trim, seal and flute edge.
Cut slits in top. Brush milk over pastry; sprinkle with coarse sugar. Place on a foil-lined baking
sheet. Bake 20 minutes.
• 6. Reduce oven setting to 350°. Bake 45-55 minutes longer or until crust is golden brown and
filling is bubbly. Cool on a wire rack.

Notes:

My past experience with making pie crust, leaves a whole lot to be desired. I must admit after trying this recipe, I think I have found a recipe that works for  my shortcomings. Lard is the key. You may ask “X, how does one measure 1-1/4 C cold lard?”

Good question. I will tell you. Remember out ol’ friend Archimedes? ‘Course you do. I used a Pyrex 1 qt measuring pitcher with 2 C plain water…measured exactly. Cut off a large chunk of lard from your brick and place it in the water. The displacement will tell you how much lard is floating in the water. Carefully cut off chunks until you have reached the 3-1/4 C mark, and you’re done measuring! Be sure your water is cold. The lard will not absorb water. You can pat it dry with a paper towel if necessary.

I did not take a picture because the pie was ugly. Still, the crust structure was very forgiving (unlike other recipes I have tried) and I pieced together patches to make it work. Be sure your lard rests at room temp for a while. It was too cold in my house when I made this, so it was a bit brittle. Don’t overdo the milk.

The juices collected in my batch were over a pint. Beware of heating it in too small a pot as mine boiled over when I stepped away from the stove for less than a minute. Still salvageable, I put it in a larger saucepan, and finished it. When it cools, it is very much like thin caramel. Don’t skimp on this step.

Be sure you have at least 9 C of apples. Don’t be cheap. I used a combo of Granny Smith, MacIntosh, and Cortland apples. I have a nice 8 C plastic Tupperware pitcher that I heaped with the pared apples, and the pie fell substantially. I don’t think this can be avoided.

I baked it on a half sheet pan, lined with HD aluminum foil for right at the suggested baking times. I did not brush milk on the top of the crust. It did not require any foil around the crust edge to prevent over browning…nice, that was a first.

The pie was delicious.

 

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Hash Browns

Ever tried to  make  your own hash browns from scratch? Only to have them severely browned on both sides, and raw in the middle? Me too. Frustrating.

Well, thanks to a buddy of mine, Tony TSquare, he gave me a tip on the secret.

Bake your potatoes first as  you normally do. Let them cool completely.

For breakfast, heat up your fry pan for at least 5 minutes, and let it get really hot. I set my burner on 6.

Meanwhile, grate your potatoes like you would cheese. I prefer red potatoes with eyes cut out and peel on. Take your pile of grated taters and make a thick pancake from them. Pat it down. Firm the edges. It wants to fall apart, but don’t let it. Add salt at this time; no pepper as pepper will burn.

When your pan is hot enough, throw 2-3 tablespoons of butter in your pan, and gather your tater patty with a wide spatula, and gently place it into the puddle of your melted butter.

Walk away for 5 minutes. It will sizzle and pop, and that’s OK. You want it crispy so it holds together when you turn it.

Before turning, put 5-6 blobs of butter on top, then gently flip it. Walk away. Give it 5 minutes minimum.

Remove it from pan. If you are successful, your hash browns are crispy on both sides, and hot and done inside.

Pepper now, and ketchup if desired. You may keep them warm in an oven if you are making multiple servings.

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Cheesecake

This recipe from Betty Crocker. I have made it many times, and it is  no fail, provided one follows instructions.

2 8oz packages cream cheese plus 3 ounces, softened to room temp.

1 C sugar

1 1/4 C graham cracker crumbs; or vanilla wafer, or shortbread

3 T butter, melted

2 T sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

2 tsp lemon zest

3 eggs

My technique

Preheat oven to 350°.

First, make the crust. Crush your graham crackers, shortbread cookies, or vanilla wafers, and put in a large bowl. Add the 2 T sugar and blend well. Add melted butter, and blend with a fork or pastry blender. Evenly press crumb mixture into springform pan. Place in preheated oven, immediately reduce heat to 325°, bake for 10 minutes. Removed and cool completely on wire rack.

Using a stand mixer, I put in the softened cream cheese, and beat it on 2 for several minutes until it is creamy, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Add the sugar slowly allowing it to blend with the cream cheese.

Add the vanilla.

Add the eggs, one at a time giving them a chance to fully incorporate before adding next one.

Add the lemon zest……..Side note: I used fresh lemon juice instead of lemon zest. One could use a combo. My result was barely noticeable lemon flavor. Some say the lemon zest (2 tsp) is too much.

Pour into cooled crust, and bake at 300° for 1 hour. Mine was done in 53 minutes as my springform pan is dark and non stick. Edges will brown slightly and time to come out. Center will jiggle slightly. I turn off heat, and open oven door to reduce cracking for 10 minutes…it will likely still crack; mine does.

Let cool and top with your favorite or just plain. I like canned cherry pie filling.

Note: this recipe is for a 9 inch springform pan. I used a 10 inch. The filling is a bit thinner, but still delicious.

King Arthur Flour Cheesecake

2 8 oz bricks of cream cheese, softened to room temp

2 eggs also room temp

1 1/2 C crushed graham crackers, or shortbread cookies, or vanilla wafers

1/3 C butter, melted

1/4 C powdered sugar

2/3 C granulated sugar

pinch salt

1 tsp vanilla

Coarsely crush the crumbs, and put in large bowl. Add powdered sugar, salt, and melted butter. Mix using a pastry blender or fork.

Press into 9″ pie plate. I used a 9″ springform pan, ungreased.

I cut cream cheese into smaller chunks into mixing bowl, and put in granulated sugar, vanilla, and eggs. I used a hand mixer and mixed until  smooth.

Pour and spread  in your pan evenly, and bake in preheated 350° for 28-30 minutes.

I placed mine on a sheet cake pan to avoid scorching.

When I removed it to wire rack to cool, I placed the hot sheet pan on top to aid in finishing the baking.

Cool to room temp, and refrigerate a couple hours before eating.

My favorite topping is cherry pie filling, but by all means top with whatever you like, if you top at all.

If using a springform pan, run a knife around the edge before releasing the springform outside.

I urge you to use the baking sheet. My crust leaked butter into the sheet pan. Without it, you will have the smell of burned butter.

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Oklahoma Beans

When I was a kid growing up in Central Oklahoma in the sixties, my folks sent my brothers and I to ‘friends’ to watch us during the day while my mom attended college getting her master’s. We bounced around some from place to place, and one summer we were left with a family of white trash during the day.

I don’t know how we my folks knew them, or what their daddy did for a living, but for lunch every, we had beans and corn bread. I can still smell how the aroma of those beans filled the house as the noon hour approached…and now, you can too.

Overnight, soak 1 lb dry pinto beans with a tablespoon of salt; enough water to cover them; about an inch or so. The more beans, the more water. They will still soak up water as they cook, so keep an eye on the water level.

After 12 hours, drain and rinse well, and place in crock pot with again, enough water to just cover them.

I use a half pound of bacon, thick or thin your choice, sliced into half inch wide pieces. Cook them in a skillet  over medium heat until a lot of fat is rendered, and the bacon is just starting to brown and add it to the beans. Stir in gently.

Start timing after your beans begin to simmer, and simmer for four hours. Avoid stirring after this as it can break up your beans and cause them to split.

If you have to add water to boiling beans, be sure your additional water is boiling too, or it will cause beans to split, and take a seemingly endless period of time before returning to boil.

Salt your beans as you serve them, not while cooking.

I often place a whole carrot in the beans. Supposedly, it will reduce the gas effects. Regardless, it adds flavor.

This is a small recipe I use for my 3 qt crock pot. If I use my 6 quart, I use 1 1/2 lbs dry beans. A large pot on stove works well too.

I have found at the grocery store in the bacon section a product called “Bacon Ends and Pieces”. It is 3-4 lbs of bacon odds and ends. It’s a lot cheaper than 3-4 lbs of bacon, and just as good. I divided the whole box up into sandwich bags of 1/2 lb each, and placed all in a gallon zip bag and froze them. A single batch of beans, one bag…double batch two bags, etc.

Old fashioned corn bread is best with this.

1 c corn meal

1 C flour

1 C milk

2 T sugar

4 tsp baking powder

1/2 salt

1/4 shortening

1 egg

Preheat oven to 425°. Mix dry ingredients first, then add others. Blend slowly, then mix briskly for 1 minute. Pour into greased cast iron skillet or 8×8 glass pan for 22 minutes.

Note:

It’s always a good idea to rinse your beans before soaking as they may, and probably will, contain dirt or gravel. Be especially wary if you buy your beans in bulk from the “big barrel” at the store. This would require painstakingly manually sorting the beans on your kitchen counter to rid the gravel. Believe me, if you bite into a hunk of gravel, it will not be pleasant.

Be absolutely sure to rinse your beans well after you soak them to rid the salt, and possible loosened dirt particles. You cannot over rinse them.

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Holday Ale

AHS Holiday Ale (21A) – Mini Mash
# 05682
If using pitchable liquid yeast, let the yeast warm up to 72 – 78 degrees F. The longer the yeast sets at this
temperature range, up to 24 hours, the *5682*
faster the beer will start fermenting.
READ THESE INSTRUCTIONS. VERIFY YOU HAVE EVERYTHING. SANITIZE EVERYTHING!
Make sure everything is clean to the eye. Then clean and sanitize using sanitizers like One-Step, Iodophor, or
Cleanitizer. If required by the manufacturer, rinse off the sanitizing solution thoroughly. In a 20 quart or larger
stainless stockpot, bring 2 gallons of water to 160°F and turn off heat.
1 1⁄2 lb Pale Ale Malt
Put the crushed grains in the grain bag:
8 oz White Wheat
1 lb Crystal 40L Malt
4 oz Chocolate Malt
Soak the grains in the hot water and maintain approx. 155°F for 45 minutes. After soaking the grains, dunk the
grain bag in and out of the water and then completely lift the grain bag out. Place a strainer over the stockpot and
then put the grain bag into the strainer. Pour 170°F water evenly over the grain bag using approx. 1 quart of water
per 2 lb. of grain. Allow the bag to drip (without squeezing) until nearly all of the water has dripped out, then
discard the grains, add 1 gallon of water and return to heat until boiling.
Turn off the heat once again and move the stockpot to a cool burner.
Add the malt extract and any additional sugars listed below:
5 lb Extra Pale Extract
Stir constantly to dissolve the malt extract. Return heat to the mixture once dissolved, stirring occasionally. The
mixture now contains a lot of sugar and can burn if not stirred. Heat the mixture to boiling. When the mixture reaches
boiling, it can rise very rapidly and boil over. At this time, reduce heat to control the rising foam. Once the boil is under
control, adjust the heat to a good rolling boil without boiling over.
Add the
bittering
hops and set your timer for:
4 HBU Pack
*Add the
flavor
60 Minutes
3 HBU Pack
hops for the last: 15 Minutes
Our Special Holiday Spice Pack
Add the
aroma
hops for the last:
5 Minutes
1 oz Saaz
*FOR YEAST FUEL AND/OR A WHIRLFLOC TABLET ADD AT 15 MINUTES LEFT IN THE BOIL*
Once the boil time has elapsed since the bittering hops were added, remove the wort from the heat and cool down quickly
to 80oF. A sink full of water with ice in it works well. You may need to change the water a couple of times because it will
warm up quickly. Ideally the wort should be cooled to 80oF within 15-20 minutes. You may want to use a wort chiller to
speed up the process. Once the wort has cooled to 80oF, pour this mixture into the sanitized primary fermenter and add
cool water to make 5 1⁄4 gallons. Vigorously stir the wort to make sure the sugars are well mixed with the added water.
Check the specific gravity of the wort using a hydrometer. Follow the instructions included with the hydrometer. The
hydrometer readings will determine the alcohol content of the beer and allow you to troubleshoot if there is a problem.
The original specific gravity should be approximately: 1.052Recommended Yeast:
Wyeast
White Labs
California Ale 001
*WLP001*
Dry Yeast
American Ale 1056
SafAle US-05
1056
Pitchable Liquid Yeast:
Let the yeast warm up to 72 – 78 degrees
F. The longer the yeast sets at this temperature
range,
**WLP00
*1056*
**
up to 24 hours, the faster the beer will start fermenting. Shake the yeast container well and pour into the wort and
stir/aerate well.
Put the lid on the fermenter with the airlock installed (fill airlock 1/3 with water). After 12-36 hours this mixture will begin
to churn and produce CO2. This is the yeast vigorously eating the sugar in the wort, expelling unwanted proteins and
fermenting the mixture into alcohol. If you do not see any activity after 24 hours, then remove the lid and vigorously stir
the wort with a sanitized spoon. If after another 24 hours you do not see any fermentation, please call us. After 5-7 days
since the wort started fermenting, the mixture will calm down and the excess proteins will settle at the bottom of the
primary fermenter. At this time, check the specific gravity to make sure it is within 3-4 points of the FG and then carefully
move the fermenter full of beer to a counter top. Be careful not to disturb the sediment on the bottom.
If the recipe calls for dry hopping, add these hops to the sanitized secondary fermenter at this point:
Text90:
Text90:
None
Text90:
You can move the primary fermenter several hours before you intend to transfer, so the sediment has a chance to resettle
to the bottom of the primary fermenter. Carefully siphon the beer into the sanitized secondary fermenter. Move the airlock
from the primary fermenter to the secondary fermenter. Make sure the airlock has enough water. Let the beer clarify in the
secondary for 5-7 days. If the beer has not cleared in 7 days, you can add Claro K.C. finings for beer.
Check the specific gravity of the beer using the hydrometer.
The final specific gravity should be approximately: 1.014
The original gravity minus the final gravity multiplied by 131 will give you the alcohol content of your beer.
Bottling the Beer:
SANITIZE EVERYTHING FIRST!!!
Make sure everything is clean to the eye and sanitize. Carefully move the secondary fermenter full of beer to a counter top.
Be careful not to disturb the sediment on the bottom. You can move the carboy several hours before you intend to bottle,
so the sediment has a chance to resettle to the bottom of the fermenter. Next you need to put 2 cups of water into a
saucepan and bring to a boil. Then add the priming sugar and boil for another minute. Remove from heat and let cool to
Pour the cooled sugar water into the plastic bucket (primary fermenter), and then transfer the beer from the secondary
fermenter into the bucket. Siphon the beer into the bucket trying very hard not to disturb the sediment on the bottom of
the fermenter. This will mix the sugar water and beer thoroughly. The yeast in the beer will ferment the priming sugar
and carbonate the bottled beer.
Flavoring to add before bottling
No Flavoring
Once the beer is in the bucket, place the bucket on the counter top. Attach the bottle filler to the end of the tubing.
Siphon the beer and use the filler to put beer in the bottles. Fill the bottles to the top. When you remove the filler, the
level of beer will be appropriate for capping. Proceed to cap the bottles and store in a dark place at room temperature.
Chill the beer when you are ready to drink it.
This handcrafted beer will taste best after
3 weeks
or more of storage.

Note:

This recipe will be heavily  modified before I actually brew it. I will not use the vanilla powder, and will instead flavor it with orange peel, cinnamon stick, and whole cloves. Amounts are TBD and will publish when brewed.

This recipe is horseshit. Some of the ingredients listed here are not in the kit.

Technically, this recipe kit is called Winter Solstice ale. I’m sticking with Holiday Ale.

ingredients

1.5 lbs 40L crystal malt

1 lb 4 oz two row malt

1 lb English crystal malt

1 oz Cascade leaf hops 7.3% AAU

1 Wyeast California Lager 2112 from a starter

orange peel; sour and sweet

whole cloves 6

cinnamon stick 2 in boil, 3 inches each

yeast fuel (can’t hurt)

8 lbs extra pale malt extract syrup

1 lb amber DME

1 lb alcohol boost (probably rice solids)

I heated two gallons water to 160 degrees, and added the grains in two bags, and steeped at 155° for 40 minutes.

I sparged that with 3/4  gallon of 170° water, then brought to 185°.

At this time, I added the malts and alcohol boost and stirred until dissolved. The liquid malts dissolve much easier than that DME, and I had no problem with foamy boilover…FYI.

I added one 3 inch cinnamon stick, 6 whole cloves, and a T of bitter orange peel at the beginning. I also took apart the yeast fuel capsule, and added it manually. I have seen those things lingering even after the brew was finished. One an also add some bread yeast. The boil will kill it, and the yeast are little cannibals; they will eat their own dead…it’s a little disturbing.

No other additions necessary until 45 minutes in when the Cascade hops are added.

Side note while I’m waiting…one of the jugs of malt syrup had mold on it. I probably could have left it, but I had so many things wrong already, I didn’t want to chance it, so I scraped it off with a spoon; along with a large glob of malt syrup.

At 45 minutes, I added the hops.

At the end of the boil, I placed the brewpot into my waiting washtub with ice water, and added two gallon zip bags of ice to the pot, and covered, stirring occasionally.

33 minutes after removing wort from stove, it was in the carboy, topped off to five gallons. Then the aeration for 10 minutes. I use a clothespin to hold the aerator tube off the bottom, and while placing said clothespin onto tube, I DROPPED THE CLOTHESPIN INTO THE WORT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, heh heh, I managed to dig it out with another stiff tube like a scissor grab on it. Every once in a while, there is an unforeseen event that makes our brew unforgettable.

I shall dub this beer Holiday Clothespin Ale.

I can only hope that I can get the ferment started in record time so as to kill off any creepy crawlies that may have been on the clothespin.

The OG is a respectable 1.076. Not bad for a Holiday Ale. They should be strong, and not too hoppy or sweet, IMO. That would yield an ABV of 10%.

Our target gravity will be around 1.019.

Notes:

The liquid extract took a lot less time to dissolve, than 8 lbs of DME. This is considerable. Also, I had absolutely no problem with a threatened boilover with this patch. I attribute it to the liquid extract. Note to beginning brewers: 8 lbs of DME versus 8 lbs of liquid malt extract will give you a higher alcohol content, as the liquid already contains water, hence slightly diluting your malt.

This batch cool faster than any other brew I have done in recent years. The leap hops allowed a much faster pouring cooled wort into the fermenter.

For the starter, this batch I used 2 1/4 C water, and 3/4 C malt. It was definitely foamy when I pitched it.

Note to Austin Homebrew if anyone cares:

We, as consumers shop where we want. Part of homebrewing is trusting our suppliers. It takes time to build a trusting relationship. You have ruined it for me. You sold me old yeast, and moldy extract. You have a problem with your quality control. I suggest you act on it.

10/12

I racked the beer today to a 5 gallon carboy. The gravity is 1.020

It’s a little high, but should finish fermenting the secondary, if I let it sit a couple weeks. I added a couple ounces of sweet orange peel and a stick of cinnamon, trying to attain more of a ‘holiday’ aroma. Remember, out target FG is 1.018; more or less. There was lots of CO2 bubbles, so it has a little ways to go yet before bottling.

11/4/2018

I bottled today to another pack of same yeast, 2 C water, and 3/4 C corn sugar.

The gravity was 1.016.

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X’s Fruit Jell-O Tips

My wife loves the way I make her fruit Jell-O.

You pick your flavor of Jell-O and the canned fruit you will use.

First, drain the fruit of into a strainer, and save the juice in another freezer safe container. A small zip top bag works just fine, as you will only use it once. Get it into the freezer, and wait until it is frozen solid, or almost.

In whatever bowl you will serve the Jell-O from, chill it in the fridge as well with the drained fruit.

When you are ready, here’s what I do…

In a microwave safe container (I use a 2 C Pyrex cup) measure 1 C water. Put in m/w for 2:30. Have your Jell-O packet opened and ready. When it comes out, it will be boiling. Slowly pour your Jell-O into the Pyrex while stirring, continuing to do so until Jell-O is dissolved.

Now add your frozen fruit juice, and ice cubes to make 2 C even. Stir until ice is dissolved.

Pour into your bowl and stir briefly, then chill in fridge. It should only take a couple hours before it has set.

I usually add a handful of pecan halves to the bowl before chilling, as my wife loves them.

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T-Square’s Irish Red Recipe

Irish Red
Ingredients:
6.6 pounds Northwestern amber malt extract
3/4 pound 60 degree L Crystal Malt
2-1/2 ounces Fuggles hop plugs (4.6% alpha)
1 ounce Cascades whole leaf hops. (5% alpha)
1 package Glen-brew ale yeast
1/2 ounce Irish Moss

When using liquid yeast, I always use a starter. I use a 1 liter Erlenmeyer flask (get a 2 liter if you haven’t got one; the more yeast you pitch to your beer, the stronger your ferment will be. Increase the water to 2 C and dme to 1 C), filled with boiling water to sterilize it. I boil about 1 C water with 1/2 C DME for five minutes, and add that to the sterilized flask, covering it with foil that has been torched by a Bic lighter, and allowing to cool completely. I add the expanded smack pack when cool, and allowed to sit a day before pitching. You will need a bung and airlock for your starter as well. Plan ahead. You want your yeast environment to be free of all bacteria before putting in your sterile yeast pack.

Your wort can safely sit for 24 hours after boiling and cooling, as long as your car boy has been properly sanitized.

An aquarium aerator helps in adding O2 to add O2 to the wort for maybe 10 minutes. I use a racking can to hold down the end of the hose inside the wort. I have not found an inexpensive airstone to use. The homebrew shops sell the stainless steel ones for around $30. I don’t use an airstone any more.

The next batch I make will use a Wyeast American Ale II a double pitch.

The second pitch I will do at bottling to assure a complete ferment and carbonation. Yes it costs more, but I have had batches crash at bottling, not having enough viable yeast left in the wort to carbonate. Use same amount of priming sugar. No starter needed.

 

I prefer to use DME instead of malt syrup as it makes a stronger beer. Syrup has a lot of water in it.

I do not use Irish moss any more, as I found that it made absolutely no difference.

My fermenter is a 6 1/2 gallon carboy. Pouring hot wort into it is not a good idea. I prefer to set my wort in a sink or wash tub with ice water, and add ice to the wort itself.

The Glenbrew yeast was not available from where I bought my supplies so I will use Wyeast.

Modifications

I prefer DME instead of liquid malt extract. I am using 7 lbs amber DME.

I am using 1 lb of 60L crystal malt.

2 oz Fuggles 2 oz pellets..4.3% AA units

Cascade whole hops 1 ½ oz…7.3% AA units

.7 ounce Irish moss…all I had..I figured and Irish beer? Irish moss ok. It was very old.

I am an old school brewer, and have it in my head to boil for a solid 60 minutes, with appropriate hop additions along the way.

We begin by bringing 2 gallons of water in a brew pot; I have a 5 gallon. A 7 gallon or even 6 would be better, to allow what’s called a full wort boil. Use what you got. I began brewing 20 years ago with a 3 gallon. One just has to add more water after cooling the wort.

Bring the water to 160º, and put in the grain bag. Start your timer for 30 minutes, and watch the temp of the water. Keep it below 170, and above 150 degrees.

 

While the grains are steeping, be heating up another pot with 1 gallon of water to 160 degrees. This will be for sparging (rinsing) when the grains are done. Get out your collander to rest on the brewpot for sparging.

Meanwhile, prepare the DME; cut open the bags. Lay out hops. Sanitize carboy. I use a 6 ½ gallon for the primary ferment, and siphon to a 5 gallon after the primary ferment is done.

When the grains have stepped for the thirty minutes, remove them and place in your collander over your brewpot, and rinse them with the other pot of water. Allow to drain. Do not wring it.

When draining is done, removed the collander and bring up the heat to near boiling.

Remove brewpot from heat completely, and add DME. Stir until completely dissolved. This is critical as if any lumps of the DME fall to the bottom and remain undissolved, they will burn and ruin the whole batch. Stir, stir, stir until you are positive all is dissolved. Then and only then will you return the brewpot to the burner, and bring to a boil.

At this point, you must watch it very carefully, and when the wort (unfermented beer) gets close to the boiling point, it will begin to rise up with foam.

You must remove it from heat to prevent a boil over. It’s the only way. You cannot stir it out. If you have ceramic top stove, slide the pot over off the burner. If you use a stove with elements, it’s better to just remove it, and place it back until the hot break is reached. That is where the wort no longer foams, and you can relax…a little.

The first hop addition was 1 ounce Fuggles at the beginning. Start your timer for 60 minutes. The second ounce of Fuggles was at 20 minutes.

I am adding a half ounce of Cascades at 15 minutes with the Irish moss, and another ½ oz Cascades at 5 minutes.

By now, you should be preparing your cooling station. I use a washtub with cold water and ice. I also add ice cubes to the wort to aid in cooling. The fast you cool your wort to room temp the better. I also keep a gallon or so water in the freezer to aid in cooling down the wort in the fermenter if necessary. A deep sink works ok as long as the cold water is even with the wort inside the brewpot.

Our goal is to get the wort as close as possible to the temp of the yeast starter we started a few days ago. If you wort is more than 10 degrees higher than your yeast, you will increase what is called “lag time” before the ferment begins. The quicker the ferment starts, the less chance we have of getting our wort contaminated.

Warm wort is like a bacteria vacation. Don’t let ’em in.

Remove wort from boil, and place in cooling vessel. I add bottle water ice cubes to the wort itself to aid in cooling. The vessel contains ice water as well. I use the brew thermometer to stir the ice cubes in the wort…carefully.

Keep the lid on, but you can stir the wort to evenly distribute the cooling wort. Be sure not to breathe directly into your wort while stirring. Our breath contains some really nasty bacteria that would just love to take up homesteading in your nice, sweet wort.

The cooling will take usually around 20 minutes, depending on how prepared we are.

Today, my target temp is 75 degrees.

I got it down to 75 after the agonizing filter-out-the hops-process. That is why I dislike pellet hops versus leaf hops. All homebrew shops are different, carry different types of hops; leaf hops, hop plugs (pressed leaf hops), and pellet hops which are chopped and pressed into what looks like cocoa puffs.

The funnel has a strainer in it to filter out the hops. It must be constantly scraped with the thermometer to allow the wort through. Yep, pain in the ass.

Now we must aerate our wort. After all that boiling, there is little, if any oxygen left in our wort for our yeast to eat, so we must add some O2 to it. In the past, I have just grabbed the carboy by the neck, and shook the hell out of it, but that doesn’t really add a lot of oxygen. This is a dual line aquarium aerator with an airline attached, using a stiff tube to support it and hold it in the carboy. I used a clothespin to keep the tip off the bottom. 10 minutes of this, and ’twill make our yeast happy.

Next, the original gravity (OG). This is important to know as it tells us the potential of how much ABV (alcohol by volume) our beer has. It will also tell us when the fermentation is finished…more or less.

Can you see where the hydrometer sits? It’s on 1.060.

I use a gizmo called “the thief” that allows me to pull a sample of beer out, and drain it into my hydrometer with little or no mess.

Our OG is a respectable 1.060. This tells us that the potential ABV is 8%. It won’t get that high, and that’s OK. The only way it would is if the wort fermented down to 1.000. If it did, it wouldn’t have any flavor. Champagne, ferments actually below 1.000 and some dry wines as well; high in alcohol, but low in flavor.

After checking the gravity, I pitched the yeast into it, and used the aerator for another couple minutes to mix in the yeast.

We will be hoping to attain a final gravity of around 1.015, which is about ¼ of OG. When the wort reaches this level of ferment, we are ready to siphon into secondary for clearing.

Given the troubles we had with our yeast, this could go horribly wrong, and have a slow take off. Ideally, I should see the airlock on this start to bubble by bedtime tonight.

Now, for the clean up.

Will update as brew progresses (or not).

18 hours later

Pleasantly surprised.

Update 8 days later

I racked off the beer today into the secondary fermenter. The gravity is at 1.015…nice.

Will bottle next week.

10/11/2018

I bottled the brew today with another yeast pack of same and 3/4 C corn sugar. FG was 1.018. I was able to bottle 20 22 oz bombers, 3 1 liter plastic bottles, 1 12 oz clear bottle, and one 16 plastic Coke bottle.

Side note

one must sanitize your equipment; fermenters, bottles, hoses, canes, everything that touches your beer or you risk contamination. I use One Step sanitizer. Ebay has it for $11 a pound and free shipping. Most homebrew shops either sell you 8 oz or 5 lbs. I have used One Step fro 20 years without any problems. 1 tablespoon per gallon of water; dissolve it, and rinse away. It is said that if you let your equipment dry after sanitizing, you do not have to rinse it.

One can use bleach too, but it must be rinsed again and again to rid the smell.

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More Tacos

One of my favorite comfort foods is tacos.

Heat up about 3/4 inch of oil in a cast iron skillet. Better to have a candy thermometer to measure temp to 350°. Don’t put it on much past medium or it could catch fire. If your cooking with gas…be really careful about spillage. Oil absorbs heat very slowly. Be patient. With 6 being halfway, I put mine on 7 until temp is reached, then back down to 6.

While your oil is heating, get your tortillas ready. When the oil reaches temp, begin putting them in the hot oil, one at a time for maybe 5 seconds each side. Place them on a plate with paper towel and allow to cool. Count on 4 tacos per person.

Meanwhile, cook your ground beef in another skillet. If you have a family, brown two pounds. I use McCormick taco seasoning available at your grocer. A whole pack is plenty. I also cook an onion in the pan with some olive oil then the beef. Add seasoning and stir until mixture is browned.

Additional condiments are grated cheddar or American cheese, chopped lettuce, chopped tomatoes, picante sauce, Ranch style beans, there is no limit of possibilities.

As long as we’ve got a skillet full of hot oil, you can fry tortilla chips. You can cut them like Doritos in wedges, strips, or whole for chalupas. Fry them until there is almost no bubbles coming up and salt and paprika them when removed. I place them in a large bowl with paper towels. Strips or wedges go in a 9X13 pan lined with paper towels.

Smear on your refried beans, then top with jalepeno or grated cheese, and put into toaster oven or broiler in your oven until cheese melts, then finish with lettuce tomato or picante sauce.

The best chips are home fried especially when you make the queso dip.

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Home Made Pizza Dough

Let’s face it; unless you’re a descendant from Italians, or worked in an old timey pizza parlor, or you live ’round the corner from a Shakey’s Pizza, you’re at the mercy of the world for pizza.

However, there is still hope. I found this recipe for dough, and even though one has to wait a while, the dough is manageable after it rises, which is a new one for me.

In all fairness, I found the recipe here, giving credit where credit is due.

The recipe makes enough for two pizzas, or one in a sheet pan, but limits your ability to call it “thin crust” which is what I prefer instead of “deep dish” or Chicago style.

The toppings are up to you, this is for the dough.

RECIPE (two 9-inch round pizzas)

INGREDIENTS

For the Dough:
3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
2 1/4 tsp instant (rapid rise) yeast
2 tsp white sugar
1 1/2 tsp table salt
1 1/4 cups room temp water
3 TB melted butter
4 TB  softened butter
olive oil

Mix your flour, cornmeal, yeast, sugar, and salt together first in a mixer bowl, then add the water and 3 T melted butter. (I used my Kitchenaid Mixer. If you don’t have one, I would urge you to make the investment. I’ve had mine for over 30 years now.)

Using dough hook, mix until dough cleans sides of bowl, and clings to hook. Sprinkle either water or flour to gain this consistency…very important.

I put the dough in large oiled bowl and let rise for an hour or until doubled. Cover with plastic. I hit my oven for 1 1/2 minutes, then shut it off and place dough inside.

After it has risen, I punch down on counter and roll into rectangle, then fold on itself and divide in half, putting each half into a quart Ziploc bag sprayed with cooking spray. I then place in fridge. It will last two or three days in the fridge.

Allow to chill overnight, and removed an hour or so before building pizza, allowing it to rise  some more.

It handles easily and I use an aluminum pizza round pan, but use what you have. I place my pizza on bottom rack at 400 for 20-25 minutes.

I use canned spaghetti sauce; Ragu works well, but often the generic is cheaper. I add a spoon of sugar to the sauce. I usually heat and cook it on the stove. The sugar helps offset the acidity of the tomatoes.

Personally, I like pepperoni, grated mozzarella, mushrooms and black olives for my toppings. I have tried the Chicago style but have not mastered the technique so I do it the old fashioned way.

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Buffalo Burgers

If you have never had a charbroiled buffalo burger, than you have missed something delicious, and you owe it to yourself to try them at least once.

I mix 1 lb of ground bison with a pound of ground chuck. Mix in a large bowl by hand,  being sure to get the two meat well blended.

We add the chuck to add some fat as the buffalo meat is very lean, and if you do not add a fatter meat to it, they burgers will literally fall apart while you cook them on the grill.

I use a digital scale and measure 1/2 pound of meat per burger (that will give you 4 burgers). I put them in a cake pan, and chill them for a couple of hours.

When you’re ready, start your fire, and get it hot as the sun.

Put your burgers on the grill carefully, and cook them fast…but don’t burn them. If you’re really good, you will only need to turn them once. Don’t turn them too early the first time or they might break up.

I serve on giant wheat bun will whatever burger fixings you or your  brood like.

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Cubed Steak

This isn’t really chicken fried steak, but it’s very close.

Cubed steak; you know, the tenderized breakfast steaks? However many you want; figure two per person.

Get yourself a Dutch oven and begin to heat it on medium heat. While you are doing that…

I start by salting and peppering each steak individually both sides. Then flour generously each side.

When Dutch oven is hot, pour in about a half inch olive oil (depending on how many you have) and when the oil gets “shimmery”, it is ready.

Put two steaks in at a time. No touching, and no touching sides of Dutch oven. Fry for two minutes each side. Remove and place inside Dutch oven lid resting nearby, and cover with heavy duty foil.

Cook steaks two at a time until they are all browned, leaving them to rest inside Dutch oven lid.

Add 2 Cups chicken broth (at least) to the Dutch oven, whisking up the brownings. When it begins to boil, add 1/4 tsp ground thyme and whisk in.

Put your steaks in, being sure that they are mostly covered. OK to overlap them. They do not have to be completely submerged, but close.

Put lid on Dutch oven and place into preheated oven at 300° for 2 hours. Be sure your lid fits squarely or the broth will boil out and burn everything.

At 2 hours, it’s ready.

You can make gravy from the drippings, or the broth will have thickened and makes a nice thick sauce.

Great with potatoes.

I got this recipe from Good Eats episode “Cubing A Round”.

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Pineapple Cheesecake

This recipe is also from the Texas Coop Power Magazine.

https://www.texascooppower.com/food/recipes/pineapple-cream-cheese-pie

I substituted vanilla wafer crumbs for graham cracker crumbs (1 1/2 C). I crush mine with a rolling pin, and a gallon freezer zip top bag.

There’s a lot going on so be sure everything is prepped when you begin.

Speaking for myself, I usually bake my cheesecake crusts (10 min @ 325°) and allow to cool. Why? you may ask.

Because what happens to butter when you put it in the fridge? It gets hard.

If you mix your melted butter with your crumbs, and it doesn’t get baked enough, it will be like a rock to chisel out of the pan.

Will update this as mine is cooling now.

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Pecan Pie

I had never made one before, and did a little research before choosing. All my cookbooks had at least one recipe for pecan pie.

The recipe I used is from The Joy of Cooking because it used the most pecans (2C). I also substituted brown sugar for the white sugar with another tablespoon of molasses added. Also used 1/2 C light corn syrup, and 1/2 C dark corn syrup. I did toast the pecans, PIA as it may be.

I used a grocery store pre made crust, and let it sit out for half an hour to soften. I placed it in a Pyrex 9.5 ” pie plate.

Filling

2 C coarsely chopped pecans. I toasted them for 8 minutes on a cookie sheet at 375°, stirring three times.

3 eggs

1 C corn syrup (half light, half dark)

1 C sugar (brown sugar)

1 Tbp molasses

1/2 tsp salt

5 Tbp unsalted butter, melted

1 tsp vanilla or 1 T dark rum

I placed the pie crust in the oven for a couple minutes to heat it while I was stirring in pecans.

Mix well with wire whisk, and stir in pecans. Pour into crust, and bake for 35-45 minutes  until center seems quivery (like gelatin) when nudged (hey that’s what they said).

I goofed on mine by setting the temp at 350. I caught it with eight minutes left. Will update to see how I salvaged it…if at all.

Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

If you must refrigerate, bring to room temp before serving (20 min?)

Update…

I check it at 36 min, and the crust was already over done so I pulled it. Will have to cool before verdict comes in. By the way, it was quivery all over.

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Cherry Coffeecake

I found this in the Texas Coop Power magazine.

http://www.texascooppower.com/food/recipes/cherry-nut-coffee-cake

Remember those cinnamon rolls/coffee cakes with all the icing your folks brought home from the grocery store? This reminds me of that. Nothing special. A lot of work, and it makes quite a bit too.

I don’t know what the difference would be if one were to let the dough rise, then continue like it was the next day. Seems a waste to let it sit in fridge…sounds more like “that’s the Auntie Em used to do it.”

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Easy Cheesecake

This was one of my mom’s secret recipes.

You will need

1 1/2 C either vanilla wafer or graham cracker crumbs

1/3 C melted butter

1 pkg INSTANT lemon Jello pudding

2 C whole milk

1 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened

blend the butter with the crumbs. If using graham crackers, add 1 T sugar while blending. Press crumb mixture into 9 1/2 inch pie pan, or round aluminum pan and bake at 325° for ten minutes. Cool completely.

To your softened cream cheese, add 3/4 C milk that has been microwaved 30 seconds. Using mixer, blend well with your softened cream cheese. Mix until smooth.

Add the remainder of chilled milk (1 1/4C), jello pudding, and blend until thickened. Pour into crust and chill until set.

X likes cherry pie filling for his topping.

Strawberries, cut up and mixed with sugar work nicely, as well as blueberries, peaches, or whatever you like.

Note:

I use my hand mixer for recipes like this.

My Kitchenaid whisk does not reach the bottom of the mixing bowl, and thus leaves unmixed batter behind.

A package of graham crackers used to be more than 1 1/2 C…now it takes more than one package to attain 1 1/2 C. Why? because even though you pay the same amount, you get fewer graham crackers.

That ain’t right.

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Cranberry Walnut Cookies

Cranberry Walnut Cookies

  • One stick each salted and unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon thawed orange juice concentrate
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 C Old Fashioned Oats (not the quick kind)
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Cream sugars with butter. Add wet ingredients and combine, then dry blend well. I used 1 C dried cranberries.

Bake 350 for 14-16 minutes.

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Potato Salad

I too was stymied, mystified about how to make potato salad, until I was into my thirties. A friend of mine’s mother gave me the direction I needed, and I have since refined it to a very basic recipe. One of the tricks is to bake your potatoes, and let them cool completely to room temp, then pop into fridge overnight to chill. I prefer red potatoes, with only the eyes removed. Scrub well, butter, and wrap in foil. Place in 400° oven for 55  minutes, and shut off oven and let cool. I use a toaster oven with no problem.

You will need

eight medium baked red potatoes, chilled

4 hard boiled eggs, chilled (I use one egg for each two taters)

a large dill pickle, I prefer polish style chopped coarsely

and/ or dill pickle relish

sweet pickles, coarsely chopped

and/or sweet pickle relish

Miracle Whip to taste with sour cream; half each?

yellow mustard to taste I squirt one and one half ring around the bowl.

options: unlimited

black/ green olives with pimientos removed, a dozen?

chopped crispy fried bacon, 3-4 pieces

celery, thin sliced/chopped

fresh bell pepper chopped

cut your  taters into chunks bigger than the end of your pinky.

Take your hard boiled eggs, and fork them into small pieces on a cutting board

add your pickles and or relish

Start with a big dollop spoon of Miracle Whip

a little sour cream works too (1/4C)

Use a bowl scraper to mix ingredients.

I have been known to add a little bit of green olive juice into the mix.

Cut your black olives in half.

Blend well.

Add cracked black pepper if you like.

Some top with paprika for the color.

Cover your bowl with plastic and push your plastic directly on top of the potato salad.  This will decrease condensation on the  underside of the plastic.

Serve chilled.

 

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Sweet Corn Bread

I got this recipe from Land O’ Lakes Cookbook,  now probably thirty years old.

1 C AP flour

1 C corn meal

4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 C sugar

1 C whipping cream

1/4 C oil

1/4 C honey

2 slightly beaten eggs

Preheat oven to 400°.

Mix the dry ingredients together first, then add the wet. Mix briskly with a whisk for twenty seconds, then pour into greased cast iron skillet; 9″.

Bake 20-22 minutes.

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X’s Scalloped Potatoes

So easy.

potatoes 2 lbs or more evenly thinly sliced; I prefer reds

chopped onion about 1/2 C

milk 1 1/2 C

flour 1/4 C

cheddar cheese 1 C

softened butter

layer taters, onion, and 1 T flour, and repeat layers, dotting with butter each layer, lightly salting and peppering each layer as well

scald milk and pour over entire dish,  cover, placing into preheated oven at 350° for 30 minutes. Don’t put your milk on cold, or it will increase baking time significantly.

Remove cover and bake for additional 60-70 minutes.

10 minutes before removing, sprinkle grated cheese on top and bake for 10 minutes.

You can expand this to fit a much larger casserole dish. I used an 8×8. As long as you layer each with each ingredient, you can make it as large as necessary to feed the crowd.

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Southern Lady’s Cobbler

X has made this recipe several times, and it is a favorite of Mrs X.

The Southern Lady has made it clear that her stuff is copywrited so X wants no trouble with that type of infringement.

Iron Skillet Pineapple Cobbler

http://thesouthernladycooks.com/2015/07/29/iron-skillet-pineapple-cobbler/

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Sirloin Tips and Mushrooms

This recipe is very close to beef stroganoff that requires sour cream instead of whipping cream.

I usually make a double batch

1 1/4 pounds sirloin cut into 1/2″ cubes

3 T butter

1 T veg oil

1 clove garlic, minced or pressed

3/4 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced (or 1 large can of mushrooms, drained)

1/3 C beef broth or water

1/3 C dry red wine

1 1/2 t soy sauce

2 t Dijon style mustard

1 t cornstarch

1/2 C whipping cream

Brown the meat in 2 T of the butter and oil and the garlic. When done, remove to covered casserole in preheated 275° oven.

With remaining butter, cook mushrooms until soft. Add to meat and cook for 1 hour.

If using canned mushrooms, drain them and add just before serving.

Meanwhile, add broth, wine, and soy sauce to pan. Stir up brownings until reduced to a glaze. Blend the mustard, cornstarch and cream and add to pan. Boil until thick and smooth. blend with meat until heated through.

Serve with egg noodles

I add cornstarch as needed to make thick sauce. 1/4 C with 1/4 C water will thicken nicely.

I normally use an entire blue container of mushroom per 1 1/2 pound of sirloin.

If the meat is cooked longer, it will be more tender. A different cut of meat will require longer cooking time.

Alternate method:

Brown the meat the same way.

I use canned mushrooms, and drain them, saving the juice.

Add juice to pan with wine and soy sauce. I add enough water or beef (or chicken) broth to cover meat and simmer covered, for two hours.

I drain that and make add the whipping cream, Dijon and cornstarch to it and bring to boiling; adding more cornstarch (mixed with a little water) to gain desired thickness, then add meat back and heat through.

Note:

the original method is the best for flavor. I brown the beef first, and simmer it in a covered pan on the stove for a couple of hours. I then use the juices from that as the beef broth in the recipe. If I have broth, I’ll simmer the beef in that with water; otherwise just use water. I avoid using bouillon  cubes.

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Carrot Cake

Don’t let the ‘carrot’ deter you from this delicious cake and frosting.

X has had no fewer than two marriage proposals from this recipe.

3 C grated carrots

1 1/2 C veg oil

2 C sugar

4 eggs

2 tsp soda

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

2 C flour

1 C chopped pecans (if desired)

I have used baby carrots, but they are a lot of grating unless you have a food processor (I don’t have one). I buy a 1 lb bag of carrots, cut ends off, and peel them before grating and I use the entire bag.

Mix oil and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time and blend well. Add soda, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt. Add grated carrots. Blend in flour and nuts.

Preheat oven to 350°.

In greased and floured pan, bake 55-60 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Frosting

1 8 oz cream cheese softened

1 stick butter softened

4 C powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Blend cream cheese and butter well. Add vanilla. Blend in powdered sugar until all is dissolved.

Spread over cake when completely cooled. 

This frosting will allow you to have 1/2″ thick frosting. Not for diabetics or dieters.

Refrigerate and frosting will set better.

Freezes well if you cut it and wrap in plastic then foil.

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Powdered Sugar Icing

2 cups powdered sugar

3 Tablespoons milk

1 Tablespoon white corn syrup

1 Tablespoon melted butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix well. I use a butter knife to mix and a Pyrex 2 Cup pitcher.  You may need to add a little more powdered sugar. You want the consistency so that it does not run off your knife. If it does, it will run off your cookie too.

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Jubilee Jumbles

This isn’t really a Christmas cookie but many recipients of said cookie appreciate them as gifts. From Betty Crocker.

Cream

1 1/2 C brown sugar

1/2 C shortening

1 C dairy sour cream

then mix

2 eggs

then mix

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla

mix

2 1/4 C flour

blend well then fold in 1 12 oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 1 1/3 C)

spoonfuls onto cookie sheet

bake at 375° for 9-9 1/2 minutes

Cool on newspaper.

Frost with powdered sugar icing.

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Oven Fries

You will need a preheated 400° oven.

I use a sheet pan for my fries.

I used 4 Russet potatoes this round. Peel and cut into finger sized chunks.

In a mixing bowl, put a couple tablespoons of olive oil, a tsp of chili powder, and your taters.

Toss the taters around until they are coated.

What spices you use are up to you. I often use basil.

Place your slices on the sheet pan and lightly sprinkle coarse salt on them.

Bake 20 minutes, then turn repeat salt sprinkle.

You can also use sweet potatoes.

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You might consider spraying the sheet with oil as these stuck. They were good though.

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X’s Guacamole

Guacamole is another side that is personal and everyone has their own recipe.

This is mine

avocados, how many depends on how much you want to end up with. I got these at Sam’s, six of them for 3 bucks. Helluva deal.

X’s pico de gallo about half a cup or a chopped tomato

fresh squeezed lime juice, at least one teaspoon

a dab of Miracle Whip if desired

salt to taste

I use a pastry blender to mash up the avocados coarsely, add lime juice, and fold in pico or tomato. My wife likes garlic salt on hers so I made her own batch. I leave it a little chunky.

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And now, I will divulge the secret to keep your guacamole from turning brown prematurely.

It is not the pits. Do not put the avocado pits in your guacamole. They will not make one bit of difference in keeping your guacamole green.

The secret is covering your guacamole with plastic wrap, pushing the plastic wrap against the guacamole, keeping oxygen away from it. All the way around. Bleed out as much air as you can.

Oxygen is the enemy of guacamole.

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Snowballs

These are favorites of my wife, and since she’s bringing home the bacon, I’ll make the effort and bake these for her.

1 Cup softened butter (2 sticks)

2 1/4 C AP flour

1/2 C powdered sugar

1/2 C chopped walnuts

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

powdered sugar for rolling/coating

Cream together the butter, 1/2 C powdered sugar, and salt until well blended. Add vanilla and blend. Add flour slowly and incorporate well. Add nuts. (Notice, no leavening ingredients.)

Chill for two hours. I only chilled for one hour and the dough was not quite hardened in the center. Still, I went for it.

Preheat oven to 400°. Bake 8-10 minutes until set, but not browned.

Remove and roll in powdered sugar while still warm and store in Ziploc with powdered sugar until consumed.

Notes:

Using a dark cookie sheet will cause premature browning on bottoms. You may have to just put one tray on top rack and bake, checking at the eight minute mark or slightly before.

I used aluminum half sheets. You can get them at Sam’s; a pair for ten bucks.

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This batch made 30 snowballs. Many of these were about the size of walnuts; maybe larger.

I had 25 on one tray, I baked it for 10 minutes. They were just starting to brown.

The other had 5 or 6, I baked it for nine minutes.

From here they cool and into the Ziploc.

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X’s Standard Kitchen Rules/Laws…or they should be

One rule that we all know but don’t follow is to be sure all your ingredients are at room temperature before mixing; especially eggs and milk. The exception to this would be biscuits. You can put your eggs in a bowl of hot tap water for a few minutes to speed up the acclimation.

In my experience, a couple sets of Pyrex measuring cups are invaluable in the kitchen. A 4 Cup, a 2 Cup, and a 1 Cup are usually sold in a set. I have three sets.

A Kitchen Aid stand mixer is a must. I have certainly been down the road the hard way and made yeast bread and rolls by hand. It’s a lot of work and takes more time. The stand mixer is a great investment.

Whenever you make cookies and some breads and cakes, always cream your fat with your sugar first.

Baking quick yeast breads and quick breads: preheat your oven 25° hotter than it calls for as you will lose a tremendous amount of heat when you open that oven door. After placing in oven and closing door, set your thermostat back where it should be. (don’t forget)

If a recipe ever calls for nutmeg, you will get much more pronounced aroma and flavor by using a whole nutmeg and grinding the needed amount from the nut. I have a tool that is a zester that works well for that.

A whole nutmeg. Use a zester over a paper plate if you’re measuring, or hold over your French toast dipping mixture, or over your holiday egg nog.

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One can make sour milk as an almost buttermilk substitute by adding 1 Tablespoon of white vinegar to 1 C whole milk. Let it stand for ten minutes.

Baking cookies: divide the time in half. Put your tray on the bottom rack and start timer. When it goes off, put that tray on top rack and next tray on bottom and so on until all trays are done.

Plan, plan, plan ahead. If you need softened butter,  plan ahead. Melted is not softened.

Crisco sticks are handier than scooping and measuring shortening out of a can.

Before frying chicken, I soak the chicken in buttermilk for several hours; the chicken is more tender, and it will taste better.

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Christmas Cookies

I have used this sugar cookie recipe for Christmas cut outs since the eighties.

Cream together

2 C sugar

1 C butter, softened

then

add 2 eggs and blend

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 tsp vanilla

blend

3 1/2 C flour

Blend well.

At this point, the dough can be chilled. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.

Roll out dough on floured cheesecloth into a uniform thickness; 1/4 inch works well for me. I use a 1/4 inch wooden dowel on either side of my dough with a rolling pin to keep the dough to 1/4 inch thickness.

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I was unable to use my giant rolling pin as the cookie dough stuck to it, so I used my smaller one with a cheesecloth sleeve. Excellent.

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Flour your cutters and cut the cookies and place on cookie sheet.

Save your leftover dough and reintegrate and use again. I keep rolling and cutting until it’s gone.

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Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes.

Cool on newspaper.

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Powdered Sugar Icing

2 cups powdered sugar

3 Tablespoons milk

1 Tablespoon white corn syrup

1 Tablespoon melted butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix well. You may need to add a little more powdered sugar. You want the consistency so that it does not run off your knife. If it does, it will run off your cookie too.

Spread cookies and sprinkle with decoration. This frosting is soft enough that you can sprinkle right from the can/bottle/jar. You can also put sprinkles on paper plates and invert your cookie and press.

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I put them in the fridge on a cookie sheet to help the frosting set a little. If you don’t the frosting will stick to anything it touches.

You can use this recipe without frosting and sprinkles. Avoid rolling and cutting too by rolling into balls, dip tops in sugar, place on cookie sheet and flatten slightly with the bottom of a glass. Bake same way.

 

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Cranberry Bread

This bread is very good. It’s difficult to make. Freezing the cranberries makes it a little easier to deal with them.

1 C cranberries, grated or processed

1 1/4 C sugar

3 C flour

4 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

3 T fresh grated orange rind

1 C milk

3 T butter, melted

1 egg

1/2 C chopped walnuts or pecans

The original recipe calls to grate the cranberries which I did for several years until I got a small food processor. If you grate them, you will freeze your finger into numbness. Could grate them fresh as well…still hard on fingertips. Sigh. Seems like all us cooks do is sacrifice.

Pour 1/4 C of the sugar into the cranberries and set aside. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt orange rind, and 1 C sugar together. Mix in your butter, egg, and milk. Fold in nuts. Batter will be thick.

Pour into greased loaf pan and bake at 350° for one hour. Allow to cool slightly and tightly wrap in foil. Store for at least one day before serving to allow flavors to permeate.

 

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Chocolate Walnut Dollars

Great gramma’s recipe

blend

1/2 C shortening or softened butter

1 C sugar

add 1 egg, blend

2 Tablespoons milk

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted

blend

1 tsp baking powder

1 t cinnamon

1 t vanilla

blend

2 1/4 C flour

blend well

add 1/2 C chopped walnuts or pecans

Blend well.

Form into two balls then into rolls about 12 inches long.

Place in wax paper and chill for at least two hours.

When firm, cut into 1/4 inch discs and bake at 350 for 12 minutes.

I melted the chocolate in my mixing bowl first, then added the butter and sugar.

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The dough is very dry. I used my hands to mix the last bit of flour and walnuts. It will try to crumble when you make the rolls. Patience.

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Cinnamon Rolls

This recipe is not a task for the faint of heart. The reward is beyond measure, and it is some considerable work. It will take you minimum three hours, and that is if all goes well.

Ingredients

7-8 C flour, I used bread flour but AP works fine

2 pkg dry yeast or 4 1/2 tsp dry yeast

2 C hot water or milk or mixture

3/4 C warm water

1/2 C oil or melted butter

2 eggs beaten

1  tsp salt

1 Tablespoon sugar

cinnamon

brown sugar

extra butter

dental floss

Phase I: Making the dough

To 3/4 warm water dissolve 1 Tablespoon sugar, and add yeast. Set aside.

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Heat the 2 C water or milk and pour into mixing bowl. Add 2 C sugar, butter/oil beaten eggs and salt. Start your mixer on speed 2. I used a dough hook. You may also add 2 C of flour now.

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When your yeast is pretty foamy, add it to batter.

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Add remaining flour 1 C at at time until it forms a loose bowl; this should take 7 cups +-.

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Pour dough out onto floured board or counter top.

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Knead  dough for 5 minutes by hand adding flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to counter.

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I bring a flap of dough over the top and push it into the dough ball with the heel of my hand. Rotate 90 degrees, and repeat for 5 minutes.

Then form dough into ball so that no dry flour remains.

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Place in greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap sprayed on inside surface with non stick spray (just in case). Place in warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size. (I use the oven. I turn it on for 2 minutes, then shut it off before the dough goes in…just to heat it a little.)

Phase II: making the rolls.

When your dough has doubled, it’s time now to form our rolls

Punch down your dough, and turn it out onto the greased counter.

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I use Crisco and grease my counter top in the shape of a  huge rectangle approximately 30″ x 24″. Pour out your dough and roll it to fit the rectangle with even thickness as much as possible.

Take your melted butter and spread over dough.

Sprinkle dough with cinnamon. Don’t get carried away. Cinnamon is strong stuff and it can cause indigestion.

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Sprinkle dough with brown sugar. I use my fist and crumble the brown sugar out the bottom. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

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Beginning at the side closest to you, begin rolling the dough towards the other side. Just move back and forth along the dough as you go. When you reach the other side, pinch the edge to the dough, sealing it.

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You should have at least 2 greased cake pans ready.

Using waxed dental floss, slide the floss under the dough to the desired thickness of the roll; about 3/4″ is plenty.

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Bring the floss ends across and pull them through the dough. Place your roll into the cake pans until you have cut them all.

Cover, place in warm place for an hour. (This batch took an hour plus twenty).

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Phase III: baking

Removed your rolls from the oven (if you used it to let them rise) and preheat the oven to 350°. Keep rolls covered until oven is ready. Remove plastic wrap carefully because the rolls can collapse if handled roughly.

Bake 18-22 minutes.

Brush tops with softened butter.

I turn mine out onto cookie sheets upside down to cool.

I usually get around thirty rolls, depending how thick you cut them.

Ready to go in.

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I didn’t get a pic of the finished rolls.

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