Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.


1 Comment

This is Herman

I’d like you to meet Herman.

Image

Herman is a sourdough starter. I got the recipe to make it from an old N.C. Extension Office cookbook from the ’80s. My mom used to make a lot of sourdough when I was growing up and I thought I’d try to make some. Turns out, her recipe and many others use instant potatoes or potato water for the starter. This one, for Herman, uses flour, water, sugar and yeast. Herman has been sitting out for 3 days at room temp. I kept it stirred everyday and, today, took out about 2 cups to make some sourdough bread. To the remaining starter I added more flour and water, stirred it and put it in the frig until I need to feed Herman again (in a few days with flour and water) or want to make more bread.

BTW, there’s a tradition of naming your sourdough starter, for some reason. A friend told me earlier today that she calls her starter “my pet” because, like a pet, she needs to keep it fed and watered. I’ve just started this process so my starter will keep the name Herman (the name of the recipe) until I come up with a different name. Kind of like when you adopt a dog that already had a name from a different family and you decide to give it a new name later.

The traditional way to make sourdough is to mix water and flour and leave it sitting out to “capture” yeast, which is naturally in the air. It could take several days, even a couple of weeks, to grow the starter before you can even use it. I’m worried about contaminating the starter with bad stuff (the starter will turn colors if the wrong things begin to grow) and wasting the tons of commercial yeast I have already, so I just used what I had on hand.

Here’s the bread I made today:

Image

Rolls for steak and onion sandwiches and a small loaf for soup or lunches later in the week. I think the crust may be a little too hard, but maybe it’s supposed to be that way? One source I read said this is a like a white bread, but with a thicker crust. I hope it tastes good, at least.


2 Comments

Zucchini Bread

For the National Scrapbooking Day scrap, our hostess, Judy, asked us to bring a snack (on Friday night) or dish (Saturday lunch) to share.

On Friday I took plain and roasted red pepper hummus and crackers. For Saturday, I warmed up the oven and made my first zucchini bread of the year.

I always get rave reviews when I make this bread. It’s almost like eating cake! And it freezes well, too.

Notes before you begin:
1. I never peel the zucchini. I always just wash it good and grate it with the skin on. I love the green flakes that show up in the bread. This is a good way to use up zucchini that may be a bit past it’s prime — a little too soft to cut up and saute but still good enough to eat.
2. I usually don’t add nuts to my baked goods because I don’t like the texture. But feel free to throw some in. I think pecans would go perfectly with this.
3. For this go round I cut the amount of sugar to 1 3/4 cup — 2 1/2 cups seemed like an awful lot for two loaves of bread and I knew there would be enough sweet things to munch on at the scrap. The bread still tasted wonderful, even with the less sugar!
4. Usually one medium zucchini will make the 2 cups you need for the recipe. I grated two because just one was a tad too small for the amount I needed. I used the extra grated zucchini in another recipe, which I’ll share tomorrow.

Here’s what you do:

3 eggs
1 cup oil
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups zucchini peeled and grated
3 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cups chopped nuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 325 and grease two loaf pans.
2. Beat the eggs and then add the oil, sugar, grated zucchini and vanilla. Mix until blended.
3. Add flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and nuts. Mix.
4. Pour into loaf pans and bake for 1 hour.

And, most importantly, don’t forget to share with someone special (see below).

Sidney’s waiting for me to drop some crumbs. She always helps me out in the kitchen! 🙂


1 Comment

Table solutions

In another post, I told you about how steam and heat from a recent batch of bread ruined our antique table. Yes, I’m still not over that. Still pretty upset about it.
So upset in fact, I baked a cake (which I set on the counter to cool, not the table) and placed it and the cake pan on the table over the offensive spot so I wouldn’t have to see it every time I walked by.
I’m in search of another way to fix the damage rather than going through the whole process of sanding and refinishing the whole table leaf. Besides being too time consuming, I’m worried the color, after refinishing, will not match the rest of the table or two other leaves.

While visiting with my grandparents this week, Nannie gave me an insert from one of her most recent “Taste of Home” magazines. The insert listed a variety of tips for home remedies, such as removing candle wax from carpet.
One of those tips happen to be about using a pecan to restain table scratches, etc. Supposedly the oil from the pecan would naturally dye the wood.
I figured I had nothing to lose so I thought I’d give it a try.
As you can see, the spot isn’t quite as . . . bright . . . as it once was. But it’s still there.
So, next up . . . the old trusty Old English polish.
But, unfortunately, I only have polish for lighter stained woods. So that didn’t work either.
If anyone has some suggestions or ideas, please share! Or any round table clothe to throw over the table would be appreciated too.


1 Comment

Crackers!

Using Bill Neal’s “Biscuits, Spoonbread, and Sweet Potato Pie,” I poked my toe into the world of cracker-making.


Yep. Crackers. Didn’t know you could make ’em? That’s the same thing a colleague said to me when I told her I made some crackers the other week.

I’ve always wondered what dough was used to make crackers and how they were baked, etc. Turns out, it’s just biscuit dough, rolled to wafer thin.

In Neal’s book I found recipes for two types of crackers — one used with the old fashioned Southern biscuit dough (note — lots of beating involved) and the more modern biscuit flour that uses baking powder. I tried both.

The first batch weren’t too bad, but I wasn’t that impressed either. Neal literally tells the reader to find a rolling pin, broken broom end or hammer to knead/beat the dough for 15 minutes, no less. I got tired and gave up after 7 minutes of beating. I spent the last 8 minutes catching my breath and rolling out the dough for the crackers.

I didn’t add any additional toppings, such as salt, to the crackers. Just baked them for the 5-7 minutes. They seemed to be too biscuit like and didn’t have a lot of taste like store bought crackers. I assumed that I didn’t roll the crackers out thin enough and should have added salt. And with all that beating, they just weren’t worth it.

The second batch was easier. I used scrap dough from some biscuits I made over the weekend. I also made sure to prick the cut out crackers with a fork a few times (which I was supposed to do the first time, but forgot to do) and sprinkled a little salt on top. These turned out much better and reminded me more of crackers you’d expect to find in a store or restaurant.

This batch was thin, crisp and had just enough taste (salt).

I also had a little accident in the kitchen this weekend that nearly drove me to tears.

After baking a couple loaves of bread, I placed them on wire racks on the table to cool. Thinking myself wise, I placed a kitchen towel under the racks to catch any crumbs.

Instead this somehow was not a good idea. I caused heat and/or water damage to my antique table and I don’t know how.
See those white angel wings? That’s not the flash of the camera or a trick of the light. That’s damage from the steam and heat of the bread. Arrrrrggggghhhhhh!

Hubby thinks a little sanding and refinishing will take care of the problem. But that still doesn’t make me feel any better. 😦

From now on, all baked goods will cool on the counter!


Another go at baking bread

I’ve been attempting to make wheat bread for sandwiches, but haven’t had much luck. This time I took the bread out of the oven a few minutes sooner and I let it cool longer before slicing. This is what I got:

The bread turned out much better and made a great salami-cheddar sandwich for lunch today.

Once I started slicing the bread, I noticed it was still a little warm in the middle and some slices still crumbled some. Mom told me to think of it like cookies . . . the bread sets more the longer it cools. It just takes much longer than cookies because it’s so much thicker.

So next time I’ll try to be patient and find something else to occupy my time instead of hovering over the loaves, waiting to slice into them. I’m bad about that with cake, either removing it from the pan or waiting for the cake to totally cool before icing it. Just can’t make myself wait that long! I’m ready to eat it then! That’s why I love cookies. I eat them as soon as them come out of the oven, it all their mushy, warm goodness. 🙂

Pictured with the bread is some yummy pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins. My friend, Adria, loves these and we have lunch plans later this week. She’s also has a birthday coming up in a couple of weeks so I thought she’d enjoy some of these to celebrate. I won’t share her age as she may hurt me. She’s already said she’s not celebrating with big plans this year. I feel the same way with my birthday coming up in five months.

I also made my first batch of corn bread from scratch yesterday and it turned out really good. I made some honey butter to sweeten ’em up. Next time, I may add honey or more sugar to the recipe to make the bread taste better. I’m a big fan of Jiffy corn muffin mix, which is really sweet and delicious. Hope I can come close to Jiffy’s yumminess!

I also made chocolate pudding pie for my hubby. With some Vanilla Wafers, butter and sugar, I made a vanilla crust to went really well with the chocolate. I normally use graham crackes, since that’s what Chris’ mom uses, but we didn’t have any so I had to substitute.
And with another furlough day today, I was able to enjoy a three-day weekend that allowed me time to finish this project:

This is a crocheted shirt pattern from Debbie Stoller’s “Stitch ‘N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker.” As I’ve said before, this is a great book for novice hookers and a great resource with cool patterns for even more mature hook welders.
I have some sweet tank tops and long sleeved shirts that’ll look great with this shirt. The pattern also suggests tying a ribbon along the neckline.