Archive for the 'baking' Category


Triple Chocolate Cookies

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Dark Chocolate Cakey Cookies

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Gingerbread Muffins with Fresh Ginger

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Ginormous Rib Roasts and Smashed Senatorial Cakes: Favorite Food Memories

This month’s Real Simple has an article from my favorite food blogger from the Washington Post, Kim O’Donnel.  She writes about “10 things cooking has taught me about life” and tells the stories that taught her these life lessons.  I wish I could link to it, but it’s in the hard copy of the magazine only.  Highly recommend checking it out (and it’s a great issue all around — lots of good holiday tips).  This got me thinking about my favorite food-and-cooking related memories.  I don’t have any pithy anecdotes to convey life lessons, but it is fun to think back to good times with food.  These are some of my favorite memories in no particular order, and now that I’m thinking about it, I’m sure I’ll have more to add to this list:

  • My grandmother Mama Grande buying a rib roast so huge she had to saw it in half to fit it in the oven.  The next time we visited her, did she buy a smaller rib roast?  No, she had installed a humongous industrial size oven.  The look on her face in this photo is priceless.  She prevailed over that rib roast, but it was close.


  • My grandmother Murr’s chicken fried steak.  For those of you who don’t know, it is a piece of steak pounded flat, breaded and fried kind of like fried chicken.  I have lots of fond memories of holidays at her house when she would make this for us with white gravy, slices of white bread and green beans.  What a meal.  I think I need to recreate that at some point in the near future.
  • My mom making homemade cinnamon rolls and sausage links on Christmas morning, always eaten well after we reveled in what Santa brought us for a couple of hours.
  • My dad making chile con queso before having people over at the house.  This is part of the getting-ready ritual, just like cleaning the house.  Only my dad can make this chile con queso with that certain something that makes it addictive.  I can see that old yellow crock pot sitting on the counter with a big bag of tostadas — about half the batch would be devoured by our family before the guests arrived.
  • This Thanksgiving, cooking with my mother-in-law to get food ready to take to the family gathering. I love holiday mornings when everyone is just lounging around relaxing. We did our cooking, a lot of food actually, but it was a really relaxed morning and just fun hanging out time.

So, here’s to fun food memories over the holidays.  I know we will make many more.

PS — Just remembered another funny one, more of a mishap.  When I was a young Senate staffer, my office sent me to pick up the Senator’s birthday cake from the fancy bakery that had iced his grinning mug on the front of the cake.  Well, the box slid off my passenger seat and half the cake and the Senior Senator’s face were smashed in by the time I got it to the office.  WHOOPS.  Talk about mortification.  We used some toothpicks and plastic spoons to perform reconstructive surgery before the guest of honor arrived.  Somehow I survived that one and managed to stay there another seven years.  Good thing the power-that-be had a sense of humor.


Homemade Bread


As I mentioned in my previous post, it’s snowy and 25 degrees in Minneapolis this morning and I didn’t want to go to the store.  We just got back from a week-long trip, so there’s basically no food in our house.  Decided to make some homemade bread instead of braving the elements.  This also solves the problem of ending up with stale bread every time I buy it at the store.


I found this step-by-step recipe on how to make homemade bread at The Simple Dollar.  The process and directions were good except for one small issue I noticed with the part about the yeast.  The Simple Dollar directions say “Mix up the yeast according to the directions on the packet. Usually, it will say something along the lines of ‘add a cup of warm water to the yeast and stir.'”  The yeast package says use 1/4 cup warm water. This is not enough.  You should use 1 cup.  On my first batch of dough, I only used 1/4 cup and ended up having to add water while mixing the dough.  It ruined the consistency and made the dough a little tough.  I ended up baking that batch anyway, but it didn’t turn out quite as well as the second batch I made using 1 cup of water. In the photo below, the loaf on the left had the correct amount of water to start with (1 cup) and the one on the right had too little.


Other than the water, I followed the recipe exactly.  The bread was ready in 25 minutes instead of the 30 called for.  We cut into the better-looking loaf first and it tasted great.  No more stale storebought bread for us!


For lunch we heated up some bowls of Dad’s Quick Chile con Carne I had frozen the last time I made it.  Great food for a cold day!



Don’t Forget Your Booties ‘Cause It’s COLD Outside!

And bake some homemade bread while you’re at it.  It’s 25 degrees and snowy today in Minneapolis… here are some shots of what it looks like outside.  Fred, our Boston terrier, was wishing he had some booties when he went out onto the balcony to check out the snow.  He dove into the blanket on the couch when we got back in –don’t think he appreciated that little field trip too much.  Anyway, it’s a great day for some baking and I decided to make homemade bread.  Pics and recipe forthcoming shortly…





What to take to Thanksgiving Dinner?


I’m going to make a couple things to take to my husband’s family’s Thanksgiving celebration.  My job is a side-dish and a dessert.  I picked two things already posted on this blog:  Roasted Root Vegetables and Alayne’s Pumpkin Bars.  Why these recipes?  They’re both easy to scale for a crowd, fairly simple to prepare, tried-and-true recipes (so no ugly surprises the day of the party) and I think both dishes have pretty broad appeal.  Also, I think these items will travel fairly easily in covered dishes. We’ll see how it goes!


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