Showing posts with label nutmeg. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nutmeg. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Breakfast Three Ways

Heidi ho neglecterinos!
You can't blame me for not blogging enough this month. I have been on SPRING BREAK for a few days and the weather has been unbelievable. Like, in the 70s. IN MARCH. IN IOWA.
At any rate, I've been cooking and photographing a lot really, and can't wait to blog out a bunch of it. For this post I'd like to share some excellent breakfasts I've been making lately.

I'd like to begin with some super simple breakfasts that are inspired by Kath.

First is the more healthy (and thus Kath-like) of the two, a big bowl of oatmeal with a banana and flax seeds stirred in, and peanut butter and almonds on top. This is the kind of breakfast I make most days of the week at work in the microwave, but this morning it was a more relaxed stove-top affair.

Oatmeal really is the perfect weekday breakfast because it's so filling and there are endless options for embellishment. A personal favorite has become bananas or pumpkin, but Kath has a million better ideas, so check her out.

A slightly more indulgent option is a big bowl of yogurt with some No-Pudge brownie crumbles on top, also with oats and almonds. Served up with some blood orange slices, which are still really good right now.

This bowl began here-

That's right, I've been making my own yogurt! And I'll never look back. It's so much cheaper, and I always have yogurt on hand. Now, truth be told, you don't need a yogurt machine to make yogurt. (AB can show you how here.) But I like the convenience of the little containers with lids, and my mother was good enough to indulge my yogurt-making ambitions with the Donvier as a gift.

Making yogurt is so so easy. You start by heating up some milk in a pot with a heavy bottom. (Using your candy thermometer, of course.) I use 2% and add 1/2 c. powdered milk to get tart rich yogurt. Heat to between 180-190 f. (One of these days I'll teach you how to make those great beans in the background.)

Then let it cool to 110-115. You need some bacteria, which you can get either from your last batch of yogurt or a container of commercial yogurt that states it have "live active cultures" on the label. Once it's cooled, add some of the milk to 2 heaping tbsp.s of yogurt to temper it. Then add the mix back into the milk, and distribute the milk into the containers. (I find a Pyrex helpful for this.)

Ten hours later...voila! Yogurt! Lots of it!

It's plain, but it's perfect. I've finally solved my yogurt issues once and for all.

Last but certainly not least on the breakfast roll is my absolute desert-island favorite breakfast ever. If I had to choose my last meals, this would be my breakfast. (Give me another 20 years and I might have the lunch and dinner figured out)

Biscuits and Gravy


As with most things Southern, I turned to AB for advice on the perfect biscuits, and he delivered. These weren't the fluffiest I've had, but that's probably my fault for manhandling the dough. His recipe, my photos.

2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons shortening
1 cup buttermilk, chilled
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using your fingertips, rub butter and shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. (The faster the better, you don't want the fats to melt.) Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.

Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter, being sure to push straight down through the dough. Place biscuits on baking sheet so that they just touch. Reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting. (Biscuits from the second pass will not be quite as light as those from the first, but hey, that's life.)

Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, 15 to 20 minutes.

All cut out-

All baked up-

The goal of not messing to much with the dough is to get that nice rise you can see on some of these, which lets you peel apart the biscuits nicely, as you'll see soon.

I had a good guess for the gravy, and looked at a few recipes which confirmed my suspicion that it's just a white gravy with lots of sausage and black pepper. (I LOVE tons of black pepper in this.)

So brown up some spicy breakfast sausage. (None of that turkey crap, it's gotta be pork. I mean, if you want to ENJOY it.)

Pull out the sausage once it's cooked and well crumbled. In the rendered fat, start a roux with a couple tablespoons of flour.

Then add some milk, some freshly grated nutmeg, a little salt, and TONS of fresh black pepper. Cook this down until it reduces and thickens.

Toss back in the sausage.

Now take one of those warm biscuits and peel it in half. (mmm.fluffy.)

Pour a good serving of gravy on top. (click this one.)

Man this was good. And it was even better the next day reheated! This didn't take too long to prepare, and was certainly worth the work for a good weekend breakfast. (I seem to be into those lately...)

Now take those leftover biscuits and slather some butter and apple butter on them! YUM!

OMG it's spring out there! Look!

and the seed starting apparatus is FINISHED! The last week of this month we'll start germinating.

Before, a root cellar-


I'm off to walk with the doggy and enjoy early spring!

Next time, we might discuss cookbooks. :) Until then, tell me. What's your favorite cookbook?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Indian Summer Part II: A Pumpkin Duo (Plus leftovers)

The Indian Summer continues, but winter is a short exhale away.
Today on A Prairie Home Companion, Garrison Keillor likened an Indian summer to having an intense love affair just after having a heart attack. Moving into the new house has drawn my attention closer to the trees in my neighborhood. They line most streets here. The slow mixing of colors resulted in some beautiful combinations. The trees are still in transition, though they're now moving from vibrant to bare. The temperature has allowed us to squeeze in a few more hours outside. I even rode my bike to work!

The walnut tree in our backyard is mostly bare (thank god it finally stopped dumping walnuts on our yard) but the massive pin oak and maple are still displaying their final colors. In this photo you can see the trunk of the pin oak and the tall grass growing in the back corner.

Here is the top of the oak, as seen from the front yard.

And the bright yellow maple that shares the backyard.

Halloween was all the more pleasant this year thanks to the weather. We had many interesting characters visit, and many complements on the Mario pumpkin, from adults and kids alike.

We've also been somewhat productive in the kitchen. Everything is rearranged, cabinets and hardware back on, and dining room painted.

On to the food. I bought a pie pumpkin on a whim and learned that one pumpkin makes a LOT of flesh. The following recipes barely made a dent in the 4-6 cups from my $2 pumpkin. The flavor is very different from canned pumpkin, as is the texture. I like the real stuff for risotto, but I think the poundcake would be better with the smoother canned stuff.

Pumpkin Risotto

Just like any risotto, use short grain arborio rice. (forgive the blur)

add 2 cups of pumpkin to your diced onions.

I found this great aluminum cup at a thrift store. I snagged it right away because my mom always had one. It's perfect for stuff like this at one cup.

Using chicken broth and sage, make your basic risotto.

Midway through cooking (you can really see in this photo that the middle of the pieces of rice are still opaque white. Their translucence is a good visual cue for correctly cooked risotto, but it can't stand in for tasting)

Creamy perfection.

This risotto is a filling dinner on its own or with a salad, but if you have leftovers, which we ALWAYS do, here's an interesting idea, thanks to Giada.

Mine is a simplified version.

Risotto Balls

Take a tsp. of risotto, roll it into a ball, and press a small piece of cheese inside. (Here I'm using string cheese (mozzarella) Any melter will do.)

Then, roll it up and coat it in breadcrumbs.

Get them all ready on a tray before frying them. No after picture, but, you know. Golden brown and delicious.

Finally, pumpkin pound cake.
Each fall I get the urge to make pumpkin bread. This fall, I tried to indulge that urge fully and make pound cake rather than bread. I found this recipe on the message boards at (love the message boards and added tons of spices to it.

Spiced Pumpkin Pound Cake

Use this recipe.
When you bake, be sure to always have dairy products at room temperature. Bake only until a toothpick comes out clean.

To that recipe, add freshly ground nutmeg, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger.

I coated 1/2 of my mini-loaves in a glaze of powdered sugar and water.


I thought I'd share an image with you. I have one relative, who shall remain nameless, who is a republican. (!) This photo illustrates their standing in my family well.

Finally, my mother gave me a nice plate with a fancy candle for my birthday. She also included a bunch of these chestnuts The tree that these came from was grown from a seed planted by my great grandfather.

Ok folks. Get out there and enjoy this weather. Soon winter will be here and we'll be suffering from S.A.D., so enjoy it while you can!!
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