Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Looking Backwards and Forwards

The last few weeks have been kind of blah, with the exception of Easter.  Bud didn't feel well, then Sis developed the flu.  Now, Sis and Mama are being tested for allergies and both of them have some, which will require some environmental changes (but NOT with the cats; they will be staying.  Just maybe not sleeping with Sis, who is upset about it all.)  We've got spring fever, but not in a good way.      We're still down about Mr. P and recently marked the anniversaries of my surgery and Aunt Sis's death.  I'm hoping a few days of warm, sunny weather will help chase away the late-winter doldrums.  Except a major school project is due soon and the kids are inside working hard at their biography reports, plus all of Sis's make up work.

Still, spring is here and that's nice.  We'll take the opportunity for a few little local trips over the next two months--Providence (ZENTANGLE class!!), Deerfield (owls and Patriot's Day!), upstate NY (wolves and later Kripalu!), Mystic (harbor seals and lighthouses!), and the Jersey Shore and Atlantic City (lighthouses!)--and then, gasp, it's the end of 5th grade!

There's time yet, but I feel us barreling towards summer.  And all because it's bright and above freezing today.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Happy Easter!

It was hard to wake up this Monday morning, which is a gray, rainy first day back after a long weekend.  Especially because we had such a nice day yesterday.

I think I first heard a child moving around about 6:05 a.m.  But they didn't come jump on our bed until 7:00 on the dot--ah, the joys of the older child who can tell time!  I'll miss it when they don't get up early for holidays at all.

First things first, as usual, we went to the porch to see our Easter Baskets.  The kids had already ascertained that The Bunny had visited by looking outside and spotting an egg or two.  Sure enough, there were books, candies, little games, special drinks, and a few lawn sculptures in our Easter baskets.  And The Bunny had even left a basket for our friend, Miss N, who was coming later in the day.  She was a coworker of Mama's back in the NYC-commute days; originally from Japan, she lived in NYC, then returned to Japan, and has now moved to Hawaii.  She was visiting NYC for a little vacation and we invited her for Easter--she had never celebrated before!  But she wouldn't arrive until midday.

After perusing the baskets, the kids searched the house for plastic eggs filled with candy and coins.  There were also empty eggs, which were worth 15 minutes of screentime per egg.  Best.  Prize.  Ever.     The Bunny was tricky this year, hiding eggs higher than ever and actually in things like teapots and the piano bench.  It certainly kept the kids busy.      

There were carrot bits all over the house.  We think The Bunny must have raided the fridge--because the kids didn't leave out any treats.  They were a little aghast at forgetting.

We had a big breakfast of bacon and biscuits as we waited for 9 a.m., which is the earliest we let them search for eggs outside because they get rowdy and loud in excitement.  But right on the dot, they headed outside to find more plastic eggs and some hard-boiled ones.  Again, tricky bunny, the eggs were harder to find.  I said maybe they had a new Easter Bunny (we've discussed that there are probably several), on the 10 and up level!

And then, the kids and I watched Mockingjay Part 2.   Not exactly happy Easter fare, but we enjoyed seeing the last of the movie series.  And even though it's the saddest in terms of favorite characters dying, it didn't dampen our day.  (Probably helps that we all knew what to expect.)

It wasn't long after that our guest arrived.  We hadn't seen Miss N for a couple of years and were excited to catch up on news of her new life in Hawaii (on the "Big Island.")  And we got an invitation to visit and stay with her!!!  (You can bet we're looking into that.)    We had a nice big lunch, talked about traveling all over the world (she has been to Iceland and Peru and Kenya and more), and then  made our Shaker Lemon Pie, which was delicious.  While it baked, the kids organized an egg hunt for Miss N, who had never done that before.  Nor had she played the "hotter/colder" game for finding something.  And so we wandered altogether around the yard finding eggs.  The kids have gotten better at hiding them, too!

After she left, late in the day, we all just lounged around, not quite ready to end the weekend and face the school/work week.  Spring.  Easter.  Rebirth.  Renewal.  New Beginnings. All of that would wait til Monday!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Countdown to Easter

Sis stayed home because the doctor Thursday afternoon said she had probably had the flu and was only just getting over it (strep test negative.)  We lolled around, watching "Glee," our new show (yes, there are a lot of adolescent situations but it gives us a chance to talk--about sex, pleasure, responsibility, feminism, sexism, body issues, bullying, homophobia, acceptance, etc etc etc.)

Bud came home midday (it was just a half day) and we hung out for a bit before running off to an appointment, picking up some dinner, and having some frozen yogurt.

That evening, I was gone for three hours on a night shoot for a new promotional video for the historic house.  I was very self-conscious but eventually settled into my role as narrator and costumed interpreter.  In fact, though it was in no way like a movie, I had some insight into several things--waiting waiting waiting around while lighting, set, props, etc were set up; trying to keep the same lines fresh over and over again without tripping on any words; taking direction to turn my head this way, modulate my voice that way, move a prop another way, and emote half the sentence like I did in the first take and half like the second; getting the giggles when I flubbed a line (cursing, too); becoming super self-conscious of how I looked, sounded, and moved.  But I had a great time and the video turned out pretty well.  (If I know you personally IRL and you want to see a copy of it, I'll send it to you; just email me.)

We were kinda dull on Friday, with Sis still recovering and Bud tired after a long week at school (he was probably fighting the virus Sis had without actually developing the flu.)  We had pizza and watched Beetlejuice, which holds up pretty well some thirty years later.  The kids didn't quite get it, but nobody was scared of the ghosts or sad about the deceased.

I finished crocheting a blanket for an old high school buddy with whom I've reconnected and sent it on its way; she's having surgery and I wanted her to know I was thinking of her.  It's my usual Giant Granny Square but with a new edging called the Crab Stitch (mainly reverse single crochet around a row of double crochet.)  The colors in the photo are a little muted because it was overcast--it's actually a lovely lavender, some deeper  light green, and blue.

I did manage some shopping for the last of our Easter grocery needs.  Our final menu includes deviled eggs, pimento cheese, ham, macaroni and cheese, green bean casserole, cheddar cheese rolls, green peas, and Shaker Lemon pie, with Zinger Sherbet Punch.   And I got some hyacinths and hydrangeas for Ma and for me.

The Easter Penguin came!    There weren't any wet footprints because we don't have carpet anymore, but he did leave the kids a set of Minecraft blocks.  We had asked Bud if he thought the Easter Penguin would come and Bud reiterated that the Easter Penguin was very reliable.

The kids skipped their morning activities, both because they weren't feeling great and because Ma and Gong arrived . . . . so we went to the movies instead!  Yep, went to see Zootopia, which was funny but also a good teachable moment on race, biological determinism, stereotypes, prejudice, free will, the role of police in society--it even had a plot to incriminate the "predators" by poisoning them with toxic flowers (see recent interview excerpts with Nixon lacky Ehrlichman who said the war on drugs was exaggerated to criminalize and oppress African Americans and hippies/war protestors.)  All it needed was #PredatorsLivesMatter.

We had lunch at a new traditional Mexican restaurant which serves fresh tableside-made guacamole, lots of grilled foods (including cactus!),  lots of authentic-seeming dishes, and fresh tortillas (I know, Texans, none of that sounds special but this is Connecticut.)  Some of it was even too spicy for Ma and Gong!

The afternoon was a hodgepodge of "It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown," eating apple pie, Bud trying out Gong's tai chi sword, building an Easter nest (there were flowers in bloom this year!!), making origami bunnies and frogs, and eventually saying goodbye to Ma and Gong.

We planted a hydrangea to mark the almost-one-year anniversary of the death of beloved Aunt Sis (today, btw, was the first anniversary since my emergency surgery.)  We had planted two other hydrangeas this spring in her memory, but I think only one survived the winter (and my gardening!)

Then the "work" started!  We pulled out the Easter decorations and purged some of the books and things.  We always find extra egg decorating kits--and so Sis chose plain tab Pas dye and Bud did tie dye.  I drew on a few eggs with a Sharpie and a wax crayon--see my bunny, Bay Max, and Totoro.  Lots of fun.  Then I prepped some dishes while Mama made the traditional last-minute run to the store.  And the kids and I hid some eggs and left a basket for the little girl and boy across the street.


And it's not even Easter yet.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Easter Favorites

Easter is upon on us, almost.  Except with Sis home the last two days with a fever and only a half-day tomorrow and a holiday Friday, I'm pretty much out of time.

Some of the Easter shopping is done--a big ham came today from Harrington's and I have the basket candy--but not many of the dinner ingredients.  On Saturday, we actually still have kung fu and ice skating; then, Ma and Gong are coming for the day.  But I'm not cooking.

I am cooking on Sunday, when Mama's friend and coworker, Miss N, is coming.  She'd moved from NYC back home to Japan and now is in Hawaii; but she's in NYC for a quick vacation.  And we invited her to Easter--she's never celebrated before and so we're putting on a spread and have Easter treats for her.  Should be fun.

Except I can't decide.  Here's a compilation of what we've made in years past and what we're considering for this year.  Still have to pick and choose.  Don't worry, I'm definitely not making everything.

(Oh, and there are a few recipes I've never tried that I'm considering, including Shaker Lemon Tart, Swiss Easter Rice Tart,  Pan-Baked Lemon-Almond Tart, Pull-Apart French Bread.)

Easter Menu 2002 and beyond
Mom always made ham for Easter, though often the accompaniments would change—green beans, scalloped potatoes, banana peppers.  My first Easter away from home was spent at my roomate’s house during my sophomore year in college.  Since then, when I haven’t been with Mom and Dad, I’ve made ham and the fixings.  For Easter 2002, with Mama's family visiting, this is the menu we served.  And it worked really well!  The most popular dishes—deviled eggs and “bride’s dessert.”

Pimiento Cheese
Makes 4 cups
Prep: 15 min.
11/2 cups mayonnaise
1 (4-oz.) jar diced pimiento, drained
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (Margie added a bit more)
1 tsp. finely grated onion (Margie added a bit more)
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
1 (8-oz.) block extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, finely shredded
1 (8-o.z) block sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
Stir together first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in cheeses. Store in refrigerator up to 1 week.

Jalapeño Pimiento Cheese: Add 2 seeded and minced jalapeño peppers.

Cream Cheese-Olive Pimiento Cheese: Reduce mayonnaise to 3/4 cup. Stir together first 5 ingredients, 1 (8-oz.) package softened cream cheese, and 1 (53/4-oz.) jar sliced salad olives, drained. Proceed with recipe as directed.

Pecan Pimiento Cheese: Stir in 3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted.
Rev. M

Bar Nuts
For Easter 2002, we used dried rosemary, same amount—it wasn’t as strong but was good enough.

1 ¼ lb unsalted assorted nuts (peanuts, cashews, brazil, pecans, almonds)
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar (or light)
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon melted butter (double to 2 tablespoons)

Preheat oven to 35O°F.  Toss nuts in a bowl and then spread out evenly on cookie sheet.  Toast until golden brown, about 10 minutes.  In a large bowl, combine rosemary, sugar, cayenne, salt, and butter.  Thoroughly toss nuts with spices.  Serve warm and enjoy!
Larissa Bailiff

Deviled Eggs

Mom’s recipe, if you actually need a recipe for deviled eggs.  As Mama noted, they are best served cold, cold, cold.  Gong ate 4-5.  Goo doesn’t like mustard or pickles.  Oh, well, more for us.

4 hard-boiled eggs
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/8 teaspoon powdered dry mustard
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 to 4 drops bottled liquid hot pepper sauce or 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon paprika
salt and white pepper to taste
pickles, onions (optional)

Cut eggs lengthwise and gently remove yolks.  Mash yolks with a fork, but do not pack.  Add mayonnaise, dry mustard, Worcestershire, pepper sauce, paprika, salt, and white pepper.  Also, add finely chopped pickles and onions, if desirable.  Garnish with paprika, pimiento strips, or sliced olives.

Gommie Hungry

Black-Eyed Pea Dip

Aunt Banana always brings this dip to holiday meals, either Thanksgiving or Easter.  We always eat the whole bowl and then have lots of dinner leftovers!

2-15 oz. cans black-eyed peas, drained
1 stick butter (or less)
4 oz. green chilies
1 cup Monterrey Jack cheese
5 green onions/scallions
1 clove of garlic

 Heat cheese and oleo in pan.  Add others and heat until soft.  Serve with corn chips.

Alternate: Black-Eyed Pea Dip

4 cans (8 cups) Trappey’s jalapeno black-eyed peas, drained and coarsely mashed
                                                                                    (reserve liquid, in case needed)
1 stick butter
1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
chopped onion to taste
1-4 oz. can green chilies, chopped

Combine black-eyed peas, butter, grated cheese, onion and chilies in saucepan or chafing dish and heat over low heat, stirring occasionally.  Serve with corn chips.  Keep warm in chafing dish.  If it thickens too much, thin with beer.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Gommie Hungry and Aunt Banana

Orange Monkey Bread

2 can refrigerator biscuits
½ stick oleo
2/3 cup sugar, plus 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup orange juice

Open containers of biscuits and quarter each circle. Coat in 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 cup sugar (in bowl or zipper bag). Layer biscuits in Bundt pan coated in cooking spray. Melt oleo and remaining sugar; add juice and pour over biscuits. Bake at 350°F til brown (15-25 minutes).
*Note: I didn't think there was enough orange "sauce" and would consider doubling the oj, sugar, and butter next time but worry that it won't cook--maybe add some sauce halfway through cooking?

Mommy Hungry, via Gommie Hungry

Mushroom Quiche

Preheat oven to 400F. Prepare pie crust (we had store-bought) and line a 10" quiche pan with it. Prick intersection of rim and bottom with a fork and line pie crust with foil and weight with dried beans, corn, or lentils. Bake 5-10 minutes or until edges of the crust are a very light brown. Remove foil and beans and turn oven down to 375F. Remove pie crust from oven.

Meanwhile, wip clean (do not wash) and slice 1 pound mushrooms. You may use button mushrooms (we did); these days we use oyster mushrooms. Finely chop 3 tablespoons onions and saute onions for about a minute in a large frying pan in 2 tablespoons butter. Add mushrooms; turn heat up high until liquid evaporates and they begin to brown. Stir occasionally. Add 1 teaspoons salt and 1/4 cup tawny port (we used sherry). Set aside.

Beat 3 eggs together in a mixer or a bowl. Add a grating of nutmeg, 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, and some fresh ground pepper.

Add mushrooms to pie crust (note: without any liquid they've dropped meanwhile). Sprinkle 1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese (we used a little more) over them and return pie to oven. Carefully add custard to the quiche. Bake until puffed and browned, 1/2 hour to 45 minutes. Individual pieces of quiche may be wrapped, frozen, and later reheated in a toasted oven (our note: it won't last that long!)

Best of Bloodroot: Vol 1, Vegetarian Recipes

Split Pea Soup

In a large soup pot, simmer 1 pound split peas in ample water to cover until just done. Do not add salt.

Chop 3 medium onions (we had 2) and 1/2 bunch celery (including leaves) and saute in 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (we had vegetable) in a frying pan. When medium brown, add 2 large cloves garlic, crushed, 3/4 teaspoon marjoram (we used herbes de provence), and 2 bay leaves. Stir until well browned.

Turn vegetables into kettle of cooked split peas. Deglaze frying pan by adding 1/2 cup red wine. Bring to a simmer, scrape up brown bits, and add to soup kettle.

Simmer soup at least 1/2 hour or until it seems done. Season with about 1 tablespoon salt and lots of fresh ground pepper. Any lentil or dried bean soup must be salted after hte beans are cooked to avoid toughness.

When soup is about done, peel, quarter, and dice 1 bunch carrots. Add to soup and continue cooking until carrots are just done.

Serve soup with a splash of port wine in each bowl.

The Best of Bloodroot: Vol 2, Vegan Recipes

Always ham for Easter and we’d pick off the chewy dark bits as soon as it was out of the oven.  Very good the next day cut up into macaroni and cheese.
To make red eye gravy, merely boil ham drippings and add water.  Some people add coffee.

Bake uncovered at 325°F for 1 1/2-2 hours.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Gommie Hungry

Green Bean Casserole
The old standby.  Everybody has this for the holidays.  Though, it is hard to remember where they keep those onions in the stores.  Mama had a devil of a time finding them the first year we made Thanksgiving.  She’d never had it before and now loves it.

2-16 oz. cans whole green beans, drained (can also use frozen)
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
½ cup milk
Dash pepper
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1-2.8 oz. can of French-Fried Onions

Combine soup, milk, soy sauce and pepper.  Stir in green beans and ½ can of onions.  Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes or until hot; stir.  Top with remaining onions.  Bake 5 minutes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Gommie Hungry

Somewhat Homemade Green Bean Casserole
2 pounds green beans, trimmed, cut in half, and steamed (8 to 10 minutes or until tender),
6 tablespoons butter
8 ounces mushrooms, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon salt
Pepper, to taste
2 ½ cups milk
1 tablespoon soy sauce
French's fried onions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook while stirring for 2 to 3 minutes.  Sprinkle in the flour and stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes, being careful not to let the flour burn. Stir in the salt and pepper.  Carefully whisk in the milk and soy sauce while scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Bring to a light boil. Whisk and cook until the sauce thickens to the consistency of a really thick soup, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Mix the sauce with the green beans and some fried onions in a casserole dish and toss to combine. Bake in the oven until bubbly, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and top with French's fried onions and bake until brown.

adapted from 100 Days of Real Food (they make their own onions)

Gommie’s Easy Stove-Top Macaroni and Cheese
I love this, especially with ham or spam.  And as a child, I never knew it was this easy.  I was always so amazed.

1 ½ cup elbow macaroni
Cook macaroni in boiling, salted water til tender (8-10 minutes); drain.
Add cheese to flavor.  Cheese can be slices or chunks of Velveeta.  Stir and melt.

Roasted Potatoes

Potatoes we fell in love with in England 2002, mainly at the Swan with whatever they were serving.  And so, for Super Bowl Sunday, Mama made roast beef in a great marinade and these potatoes.  The recipe comes from Jenny Baker’s Kettle Broth to Gooseberry Fool:  A Celebration of Simple English Cooking, a book we found at the Waterstone’s on our last full day in London.  Mama's note:  The entire time is 2 hours, prep to eating. 

2 lbs potatoes
oil (something light—olive or sunflower)

Heat the oven to 400°F.  Peel the potatoes and cut them into even-sized pieces.  Put them into a saucepan and cover with water.  Add a little salt and bring to a boil.  Simmer for five minutes and drain well.

  While simmering, pour sufficient oil into a roasting pan to cover the base generously.  Heat in the oven for 5 minutes, then add the potatoes and turn them over and over to coat evenly.  Put into the oven and roast for about 1 hour, turning once or twice during this time. 

Jenny Baker’s Kettle Broth to Gooseberry Fool:
A Celebration of Simple English Cooking

Roasted Asparagus

2 bunches (1 ½ lbs) asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
coarse salt and ground pepper
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450°F. Trim tough ends from asparagus. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss asparagus with olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Spread in an even layer. Sprinkle with cheese. Roast until asparagus is tender and cheese is melted, 10-15 minutes. Serve immediately.
Everyday Food

Miss B's Dinner Rolls

1 1/4 cup water (less 1 tablespoon if you use liquid milk)
1 tablespoon skim milk powder (Miss B just uses milk)
2 tablespoons shortening
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1 1/2 teaspoon yeast

Combine ingredients in container of bread machine. Use on dough setting.

Remove dough from machine. Punch down. Roll into dough log and pinch into 12 balls. Place in greased muffin tin. Brush with melted butter. Cover with towel and set in warm place to rise 20-25 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375F. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown (can partially bake, 7-11 minutes and then freeze and/or reheat/finish off later).

Miss B

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits
Mama had been telling me about these for years and I finally got to have them while we were in Dulles, VA for her training.  They were my favorite part of dinner—fried catfish and popcorn shrimp—at Red Lobster!  Pipping hot, tender, salty goodness!  I got the recipe off the internet—and it worked pretty well.  The butter/seasoning is the trick, not the cheese.

2 cup Bisquick
¾ cup milk
¾ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
¼ cup butter, melted
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning

Heat oven to 450° F. Mix Bisquick, cheese and milk; stir until soft dough forms. Drop by spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 7-9 min. Combine butter & spices; brush over warm biscuits. Serve immediately.

Orange Ambrosia (“Bride’s Dessert”)
From Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking, which is really becoming one of my favorite cookbooks (3/02).  It just sounds so cool and refreshing.  Easter note:  Wow!  This was really wonderful.  So light and refreshing.  Definitely a do-again.  The in-law ate a plate to themselves and I was sorry to have to share with Goo and Mama.  Pretty too. 6 navel oranges
bourbon, Cointreau, tangerine brandy
shredded coconut
maraschino cherries
Peel 6 navel oranges.  Get off as much of the white skin as you can and slice into very thin rounds.  Arrange prettily on a glass plate.

Sprinkle with alcohol and let sit in the refrigerator.  The idea is to get to oranges really cold.

Half an hour before serving, sprinkle with a little shredded coconut.  The traditional garnish is maraschino cherries. 

Marion's Carrot Cake 
2 cups flour
2 tsp. Baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1-8 oz. can crushed pineapple
1 1/2 cups grated carrot
3 oz. flaked coconut
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional: I've never used it)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon. Set aside.
Combine eggs, oil, buttermilk, sugar, vanilla. Beat until smooth.  Stir in flour mixture, raisins, chocolate chips, pineapple, carrots, coconuts, and walnuts.
Pour into two greased and floured 9' round pans.  Bake at

Cream cheese frosting

3/4 cup of softened butter
4-3 oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
Combine butter and cream cheese, beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and sugar and beat until smooth.

Citrus Crown Cake

For Easter 2002, I used the marmalade that Uncle Sis had bought at Sarabeth’s—a divine apricot orange with thick pieces of peel!   I added toasted almonds after unmolding the cake, which gave it a nice crunchy and a pretty finish.  I  also think you could make this recipe with coconut and pineapple, a kind of pina colada cake.  Or chocolate and raspberry jam.  The possibilities are endless.

1 package Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Lemon Supreme Cake Mix
1 jar (12 ounces) orange marmalade
2/3 cup flaked coconut
¼ butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease generously and flour 10-inch Bundt pan
Combine marmalade, coconut and melted butter in small mixing bowl; pour into pan.
Prepare cake following package directions; pour batter over marmalade mixture.
Bake 50-55 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan 10 minutes.  Invert cake onto serving plate. Cool completely.  Tip: For best results, cut cake with a serrated knife; clean knife after each slice.

Great American Brand Name Baking

We made this years ago in Chicago, but will make it again this week for Easter, I think.  Bud will love it, even with frozen fruit (3/08).

 1/2 cup flour
1 cup milk
4 eggs
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
3 cups fresh fruit, sliced and, if very juicy, drained
powdered sugar
butter or margarine to grease the pan

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Slowly combine the flour and milk, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Add in the eggs, sugar, and vanilla, and beat until the mixture is foamy and thick. Spread the fruit in a well-greased 12x8" oblong or 12" round baking pan and pour egg/milk mixture over. Bake for 3-40 minutes until the custard is puffy and borwn and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. The clafouti will fall somewhat while cooking. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and seve warm or cool, by itself or with ice cream.

Circle Round

Lemon Bars

1 cup flour
½ cup butter, softened
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel, optional
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
powdered sugar

            Heat oven to 350°F.  Mix flour, butter, and powdered sugar.  Press in ungreased quare pan, building up ½ inch edges (8x8 or 9x9).  Bake 20 minutes.
            Beat remaining ingredients with electric mixer on high about 3 minutes or until light and fluffy.  Pour over hot crust.

            Bake 25-30 minutes or until no indentation remains when touched in center.  Cool completely in pan on wire rack.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Cut into 1 ½-inch squares.  

Gommie Hungry

Orange Marmalade Cake
adapted from the NYTimes (I changed the zests)

2/3 cup coarse-cut orange marmalade, divided (though plain ol’ Smuckers Sweet Orange Marmalade is what I had and it worked)
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus 1/2 tablespoon for glaze
¾ cup granulated sugar 
2 ½ teaspoons orange zest
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour 
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder 
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt 
4 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.

Beat together softened butter, sugar, and orange zest until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Beat in 1/3 cup marmalade and the orange juice.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Fold dry ingredients into wet until just combined. 

Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake until surface of cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer pan to a wire rack.

Cool 10 minutes; turn cake out of pan and place on rack right-side up. Place a rimmed baking sheet under rack to catch the glaze. 

Heat remaining 1/3 cup marmalade in a small pot over low heat until melted; whisk in confectioners’ sugar and 1/2 tablespoon butter until smooth. Slather warm glaze over top of cake, allowing some to drizzle down the sides. Cool completely before slicing. 

Chocolate Chess Pie

¼ butter
1 ½ cups sugar
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup evaporated milk
1 unbaked 9” pie shell

Melt the margarine in a small saucepan. Stir in the sugar and cocoa. Remove from heat. Stir in eggs; do not beat. Stir in the vanilla and evaporated milk. Pour into unbaked pie shell; cover edges with foil until last 5 minutes. Bake at 400°F for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set. Let stand until cool. Chill, covered, until serving time.
Meet Me at the Loveless cookbook

Cardamom Easter Braid

1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1 large egg
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom or 8 cardamom pods, crushed
2 3/4 teaspoons bread machine yeast
1 1/4 cups golden raisins or chopped glaceed dried fruit
1 egg white mixed with 1 teaspoon water for glaze
raw or decorating sugar, for sprinkling

Place the dough ingredients, except the raisins or fruit, in the pan according to the order in the manufacturer's instructions.  Program for the Dough cycle; press Start.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  When the machine beeps at the end of the cycle, press Stop and unplug the machine.  Immediately turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Pat into a fat rectangle and sprinkle with raisins or fruit.  Fold the dough over in thirds and knead gently to distribute evenly.  Cover with a clean tea towel and let rest on the work surface for 15 minutes to relax the dough.

Divide the dough into 3 equal portions.  Using your palms, roll each section into a fat rope about 15 inches long and tapered at each end.  Be sure the ropes are of equal size and shape.  Place the 3 ropes parallel to each other and braid like you are braiding hair.  Adjust or press the braid to make it look even.  Transfer to the baking sheet.  Tuck the ends under, pinching the ends into tapered points.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until the dough is almost doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Twenty minutes before baking, set the oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 375F.

Beat the egg white and water for the glaze with a fork until foamy.  Using a pastry brush, brush the tops fo the loaves with the egg glaze and sprinkle liberally with the sugar.  Bake for 40-45 mintues, or until the loaves are golden brown and the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom with your finger.  Cool on the baking sheet on a rack.  Let cool to room temperature before slicing.

Beth Hensperger, The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook