Thursday, November 8, 2018

Thanksgiving Place Card Cookies

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A fall platter for Thanksgiving!
I love a holiday!  Actually I love a dinner party, a holiday dinner is nice because there isn't a lot of thought process to it.  I know that it's turkey on Thanksgiving, Prime Rib or Beef Wellington for Christmas, Lamb on Easter.  What I really love to do however, is set a table.  China, crystal, silver...chargers, napkins, tablecloths, I love to put it all together!

With Thanksgiving on the horizon, I am thinking place card cookies.  The first is a plaque with a little pumpkin, airbrushing gives it a little depth.  But the gilded pumpkin I made for a fall platter will be the cookie for this years table.  I just love the gold stem and the splatters.  I may even wrap the cookie and put the name on a tag instead of the cookies.  I didn't offer any place card cookies this year, so it is just for my family of 9.  I will have cookie platters for the masses!  Easy is the best way for me!  Happy Thanksgiving.  Don't eat too much turkey!

Thanks Pinterest!

Monday, November 5, 2018

The Good Old Days?

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As I scroll around social media, it is obvious the "algorithms" have pinpointed my weaknesses.  Ads and stories for kitchen remodels, recipes, what to buy at Trader Joes, the best at Aldi, ingredients that have fallen out of favor (sorry, I love sun dried tomatoes) and things Grandma taught us in the kitchen.  The most recent was a list of old things that used to happen in the kitchen.  It even referenced that the kitchen used to be the most popular room in the house.  I have news for you.  It still is, at least under my roof.

When I was a kid, the kitchen was a long way from our den where the big TV was., ( minuscule by today's standards...and no remote!)  We spent very little time in the den, maybe a couple hours at night.  My mom had a little black and white TV in the kitchen, but it didn't come on until 5 pm.  We'd watch the news and Hogan's Heroes waiting for my dad to get home from work.  In the morning, my mom was perched on an old milk can (which is in my kitchen now) and would sip her coffee and listen to the radio.  Wally Phillips did a morning show out of Chicago, and he was with us every morning.

This list I just read in one feed or another, was almost laughable for anyone who loves to cook or entertain.  The 9 Things You Won't Find in a Kitchen Anymore.  Shall we explore?

1. Grinding coffee, meat or nuts.  False.  One of my favorite recipes that I use as an appetizer is Aunt Evelyn's Ham Balls  and they are best made with a meat grinder!  Also I often use that same grinder for my Pimiento Cheese.  And grinding nuts?  Yes, all the time.  I love buying whole nuts and making them just the size I like.  And coffee?  Whatever.

2. Defrosting the freezer.  Granted, all new appliances probably have this defrost feature, and I haven't done it manually for a few years.  But if you have ever had a power outage or a freezer door left ajar, you have done the modern version of defrosting.

3. Coffee in a Percolator  I sold a lot of percolators at Williams Sonoma, and usually to people looking for a hot and strong cup of coffee.  I personally don't have one, but I do have a Toddy for cold brew, a Bialetti for stovetop espresso, a regular brew coffee pot, a Nespresso, a Japanese felt drip, a French Press, a pour over...  I love coffee and I am always trying different ways to make it.  If this article is trying to imply people are just going to Starbucks, I think it's wrong!

4. Using an actual cookbook.  Just no.  Sure we head to the internet for recipes, but cookbooks are still a mainstay for most of us cooks. Sometimes it's just for bedtime reading or inspiration!  I get that it is easier to find that same recipe online, but I love those books!  I have an enormous bookshelf that is just cookbooks.  I have an assortment of celebrities, Junior Leagues, restaurant chefs and ingredient specific.  Of course my signed cookbooks that we discussed at May I Have Your Autograph are some of my favorite!

5. Churning your own butter.  I'll give them this one.  I can't make Kerrygold in my kitchen.

6. Flour, Sugar Coffee canisters.  They might not be lined up on the counter like the old days, but where are we supposed to keep this stuff if it isn't in a canister?  We buy everything in bigger packages than the old days, so the airtight containers are in everyone's pantry.   I keep coffee in the fridge, so there's that!  And my sister somehow got my Grandma's old canisters and I would love to have those beauties on my counter! I'm not sure what I would even put in them, my flour comes in jumbo bags!

7. Making preserves and canning them.  I love to can.  I don't do a lot of jellies and jams, but I love to pickle the peppers! I have boxes of jars, a canning pot and an enormous garden full of an assortment of peppers.

8. Beautiful Jadeite displays.  My mom didn't have jadeite, and neither do I.  But I do have some milk glass, some McCarty Pottery, Ruby Glass and other collectibles that we use for various holidays, courses and foods. A piece of crystal here, pottery there makes things interesting and less sterile.  I hope my great grandchildren eat pudding out of one of my Grandma's beautiful goblets one day, I did as did my children!

9.  Making things from scratch.  Seriously? I make almost everything from scratch!  Do you know what I hate to make? Reservations!  Going out to eat is expensive, a hassle and almost always a disappointment.  I started this blog a jillion years ago because I was amazed at how many people didn't make their own Pizzelles , Biscotti, Salsa, Sloppy Joes, even Dog Treats and Kettle Corn!  
Am I above a Trader Joe's frozen Onion Soup?  Nope, love it.  A take out pizza? Love that too!  But I find great joy in creating in the kitchen, and I seriously hope this little article has it mostly wrong. 

So what are you waiting for?  Get in there and cook!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Caramel Brownies with Brown Sugar Icing

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So it's back to school here in the South, as in today, I saw the buses running.  The thermometer will reach 100 degree heat index.  That just doesn't seem proper does it?  Back in my day, school started after Labor Day, and that first day you scooted out of the house in a wool plaid skirt and new stiff leather shoes.  I'm sure it was warm, but not this inferno!  All I need is a yellow school bus to start thinking about fall, and I am dreaming of Halloween cookie designs and my favorite molasses cookies, but decided to start with a brown sugar blondie instead. Blondie is the term for today, but in my day we would call these a frosted bar.  Bar cookies were the rage, and these did not disappoint.  I never had a bar like this growing up, I really think the brown sugar pecan flavor is truly Southern!

This recipe comes from the Women's Exchange of Memphis.  Founded in 1885, it remains an icon in Memphis history.  Basically a consignment store for seamstresses and crafters, it is a volunteer organization with some of the cutest stuff around.  The very best place to buy a baby gift, and their tearoom is a popular lunch spot.  So when I came across these brownies (actually a blondie), I decided they were perfect to kick off fall.  Even though it's still summer.

I made these in an 8 X 10, and they are quite thick, better for a dessert, a small slice with ice cream.  They can be made 9X13 which would make them thinner, not a terrible thing.  They are really rich! The very worse thing that can happen here though is over baking!  So watch carefully...when the edges are crisping, the center should be about there.  If you make a larger pan with thinner blondie, the baking time will be significantly shorter!  Here's how they went:

Caramel Brownies With Brown Sugar Icing

2 c. light brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
1 ¾ cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt
1 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 325°.  Blend butter and sugar until well beaten.  Add eggs.  When eggs are incorporated, add remaining ingredients and mix.  Pour into greased pan, minw was 8X10, and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Check for the sides to crisp before the center, but do not overbake!  Cool before frosting.

Brown Sugar Icing

1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups powdered sugar (sifted is a good idea!)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt the butter in a saucepan, and then add the brown sugar and stir until the mixture begins to boil.  Stir constantly and boil for 2 minutes.  Add the milk and salt, bring back to a boil and then remove from heat.  Cool until lukewarm.  Add the sifted powdered sugar beating with a mixer, and add vanilla.  While the icing is pliable, spread on cooled brownies.

I am loving this whole brown sugar business, so warm and different from traditional buttercream. We thought these would be delicious without the icing as well, and delicious with a scoop of frozen yogurt. Either way, these are a winner for sure.  So, what are you waiting for?  Get in there and bake!!