Sunday, July 24, 2016

It's Tomato Season!

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My favorite snack with a glass of wine.
Summer in the South. I know, many areas of the country are still thinking about 90° days, we are living them. My garden is bursting, I have already picked hot banana peppers, snipped off bunches of basil, cilantro and parsley, and my first plum tomato is reddening as we type with about 5 friends a week or so behind. I generally do not have the patience for tomatoes, but I found these Patio Tomatoes and decided to give them a try. They seem to be okay thus far, although they are a little scorched. We have had such incredible rains followed by intense heat, it makes a sauna out of the plants and tomatoes are especially prone to suffer. I suspect if they were planted in the ground it wouldn't be an issue. But the garden thrives.

I still frequent the farmer's markets for additional produce, and the Ripley Tomatoes are the best summer delight. Ripley is a town in Tennessee famous for their tomatoes, and sadly I don't think anyone else is lucky enough to get them, I am certain they are a West Tennessee phenomenon. The Ripley Tomato Festival is in early July, but if I'm close to getting tomatoes, they must be too. The huge ones I bought at the Farmer's Market came from Hardeman County, just East of Memphis, but it won't be long and all you will see is Ripley (heck, a Ripley sign is a sure fire way to sell tomatoes).

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and let them sit a little bit.
Then comes the question of how to eat them. This question in the South can stir up as many arguments as asking dressing or stuffing, Hellman's or Duke's, wet ribs or dry. Southerner's love their tomato sandwich. The white bread is a non-negotiable, a slice or two of tomato, and mayo. Here you go, Duke's or Hellman's? A little salt and pepper too.

The bread must be grilled.  Don't turn on the toaster oven!

Delicious I'm sure, but not my kind of food. I like the way we eat tomatoes in the South of Italy. A slice of bread, preferable artisan like a ciabatta or baguette, grilled dry on a cast iron grill until toasty, nice dark grill marks. Then top it with chopped tomatoes seasoned with salt and pepper and fresh basil. From the garden please. Believe it or not, a little sea salt and fresh pepper can make grocery store tomatoes from another state or another country perk right up. And before you dare take a bite, drizzle with a fruity extra virgin olive oil. In the summer time, paper plate and lots of napkins, in the winter, china and a nice chianti. Now that's what I'm talking about. Last Sunday we rushed off to church and never had breakfast, so when we got home we were famished. A little tomato bruschetta was perfect and we crumbled a little bacon on top for an Italian BLT. Molto Deliciozo!

Bacon?  Why not!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Super Oatmeal Chip Spring Cleaning Cookies

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Clean it all out!!!

Chewy, hearty and delicious!

I am super organized.  I keep everything in canning and working glass, I tape labels to it all, but I still seem to accumulate an assortment of baking supplies.  So as my spring cleaning headed to the kitchen, I decided to pull it all out and see what we could do with it.  There was coconut, butterscotch chips, a variety of chocolate chips, including white and even some christmas M&Ms!  

I love the surprise of a butterscotch chip

I also added oatmeal, my secret fiber ingredient. (Don't tell Mr. Preppy!) These cookies can handle about anything.  I made dozens, about 9 dozen, and froze them on trays and then tossed the balls in a freezer container.  So when the kids came home, or we needed a sweet, or I wanted to take a small, sweet happy to a friend, there were amazing cookies just minutes away from being ready. 

Freeze on a tray
Then fill a freezer container.  Try not to eat one!
Super Oatmeal Chip Spring Cleaning Cookies

2 cup butter, room temp
2 2/3 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
3  teaspoons vanilla
3 cups  flour
3 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
4 1/2 cups of stuff...raisins, chocolate chips, dried fruit, coconut, nuts, anything

A heavy duty mixer is a must!

Cream butter and sugar in electric mixer bowl until fluffy and no brown sugar lumps are visible.  Add the eggs and mix just until incorporated.  Add all dry ingredients up to the oats and mix well.  Fold in the oats and stuff.  Cover and chill the dough an hour or overnight.  It is easier to handle cold and the cookies won't spread as much.

Preheat oven to 340F on convection, 350F regular.  Make uniform mounds on Silpat or parchment lined pans and bake about 12 minutes, but check at 8 minutes.  The colder the dough the closer to 12 minutes, later batches will bake faster.  Rotate halfway through cooking time.  Cool on pan, then rack, when they are firm enough to move.  Make coffee and give me a ring...

Monday, April 18, 2016

Sugar Cookies For Everyone!

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There's been a whole lot of baking going on! Here's a little peek at some of my cookies.

A baby boy shower, she wanted elephants and chevrons....check!

If you read my blog, you know I am addicted to Pure Barre.  I have made cookies a number of times, but these were special.  My back barre buddy tucked off her 1000th class.  That's a lot of Pure Barre.  25 hours in plank and 38 days (24 hrs a day) of class!  Any way you slice it, it's an accomplishment to impress.

A one year old's birthday party favors.  I even made my own sprinkle mixture, that was fun!

So my Facebook friend had a birthday and someone posted this cool cupcake, so I whipped out some icing and made this cookie on the fly. I need to do another one, maybe more detail, and make it my FB signature pic for a birthday.

These are for the local children's hospital, LeBonheur.  They're special.

 An unconventional baby name, but some fun baby cookies for a shower.

A bridal shower in Tiffany Blue.  I saved a Tiffany box especially for this kind of request.  It matches!  Sweet Sugarbelle was my lifesaver.  Again.  Her bows are so dang perfect!
That's all for now.  Stay tuned!