Why Yes, I Would Like A Sundae {Glass}

While I was at the office my coworker came in and said, “I’m having a parking lot sale—everythings free”.  They were going through his mother-in-laws items and of the items they decided to get rid of, he wanted to see if any of us wanted anything. He had his truck already filled, and it was at the office, so why not?

Initially I said, “I don’t need anymore junk”. Then I ate my words just as fast when I saw these adorable glasses.

They looked like they might be worth something, but he didn’t seem interested. Despite missing one glass, I snagged the other three knowing they would be put to good use around here either for ice cream or berries and whipped cream, or any other array of delightful treats I felt like using them for.

Once I got home I decided to take a chance and look them up to see if they were worth anything. You can imagine my surprise when I found out they were actually Anchor Hocking depression era glass—and replacement glasses were selling for $21.99 each.

As it turns out, the glasses I picked up because they were “cute” were actually $66.00 for three of them, and I just got them for free. I told my coworker the next day about their worth and I believe his words were, “you’ve got to be shitting me”. If he had asked for them back I would have given them back, but without a word otherwise they are indeed mine to keep. I can’t ever imagine paying that much for a sundae glass, and I likely won’t splurge on a fourth one.

So if you come over for ice cream and you get the odd glass don’t feel left out. It just means you’re the daily winner. Of uh…more ice cream—and a high five.

I guess I better figure out an ice cream or sorbet recipe, because I have some eating to do.

xo,

Heather

Orange Dandelion Blossom Syrup

I recently learned that the entire dandelion plant is edible not just the green leaf’s often heard about in salad, and they are extremely high in nutrients. Dandelion, except for the blossom, is a pretty bitter plant. When I saw this recipe for a dandelion blossom syrup (or ‘honey’ if you boil it down further) I knew I had to try it. Not only are dandelions healthy, but making a blossom syrup or honey means the dandelions can’t go to seed and multiply (though for us, there are plenty left to ensure we’ll have crop next year).

Before you jump out into your yard to get some dandelions to make this here are a few disclosures:

  • This is labor intensive, and you will only end up with a small amount of liquid at the end.
  • Don’t eat dandelions near the road, they are absorbing exhaust with each car that pasts.
  • Don’t pick dandelions that have been treated with chemicals. If you are unsure, err on the side of caution. You don’t need boiled RoundUp syrup.

With disclosures aside and understood-this was completely worth it. This is so sweet and tasty in a completely different way than your traditional syrup. I liked it fine plain, but I liked it even more with orange in it.

The first step was collecting four cups of dandelion blossoms. This took about an hour in our back field, which I know isn’t treated with anything, to collect four fluffy cups.

You have to remove the green parts from around the blossom as they are bitter, and this bitterness will impart on your syrup. I’m not going to say this didn’t take a lot of time, it did. I used a pair of small rose pruners to snip the green off and then I hand peeled/picked the surrounding edge off of each one. Here’s a photo which explains it better.

Once you get all four cups, add them to four cups of cold water and stir. Bring to a boil for just about 3 minutes. Turn off, cover tightly and let steep for 12 hours.

After your 12 hour period, turn back on and boil for just a few more minutes. Then pour through a fine mesh strainer into a container, and press the blossom petals with the back of a rubber spatula to push a lot of the liquid out. I composted the mash to bring it all back full circle.

Rinse your pot out so there are no blossoms left behind and clean, and then pour your liquid back in. Now here is where I completely diverge from the recipe. It calls for four cups of sugar. This blows my mind. I understand for preservation purposes higher levels of sugar help but I am a huge fan of low added sugar jams and syrups. It just seems counter-intuitive to take something from nature and then destroy the beautiful flavor with mounds of sugar. So instead of four cups, I only added 3/4 of a cup of raw sugar. I plan on consuming this fairly soon, and refrigerating it, so I’m not concerned.

If you do not want to add any orange or lemon skip this step. If you do, simply slice your orange and place it in a wrapped cheesecloth or stock sock to steep as you boil this down. Every once and a while press on the oranges with a spatula to release the juices.

Now turn that baby on medium and let simmer for at least an hour. Stir every once in a while. Eventually you’ll see bubbles that look thick in the sense that they will be slower to rise to the top and will take longer to pop. This means you’re reaching syrup stage. As well a light syrup will easily pour off a spoon while leaving the spoon coated.

Just like with maple syrup, some people prefer a darker thicker syrup (dark amber) and some people prefer a lighter thinner syrup (light amber or fancy syrup). I’m somewhere between the lighter and middle category which you guessed it, is called medium amber. If you want it thicker though, keep on boiling and if you want it thinner, stop earlier. If you boil far enough it will turn into a super thick honey like consistency. If you want to go this route, I would suggest at least double or tripling this recipe. With four cups of liquid and blossoms, I ended up with approximately two cups of syrup for a more or less medium amber.

Once done, simply place in a glass container, or let cool fully before placing in a plastic container, and enjoy!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:1]

If you can’t beat em, eat em.

Happy Dandelion Hunting,

Heather

Sun Tea for Three

*tap tap* Is this thing on?

Ahh good. You’re still there. I didn’t post last week because frankly, I had nothing to say. I mean I had plenty to say. I’m a talker, everyone knows that. I just didn’t have much to announce in blog world. It’s been pretty miserable weather so there hasn’t been much outside, and aside from an utterly boring post about me doing laundry, or cleaning the dogs ears, there hasn’t been too much worth discussing. So I spared you. However, last weekend we got things going again, so I’ll have a couple posts to share with you this week. Including a deck post. Eep!

Let’s ease into this by giving you the absolutely easiest recipe ever, next to Rachel Rays “Late Night Bacon” recipe. You should go read that recipe and then read the comments. They are fairly hilarious and sarcastic. What I’m about to share with you I’m not even sure qualifies as a recipe. It’s more like, a couple steps. So feel free to pile on the hilarious and sarcastic comments here as well. I’m pretty sure I deserve it.

When Andy was a kid, some ladies in his family used to make something called Sun Tea a lot. I’ve heard about it for years but we never made it; until this weekend when Andy found a drink dispenser I had bought (and not used) for our wedding. There’s something fun about making this, and I don’t know why. Just do it. You’ll think it’s fun too.

Sun Tea

Ingredients:

  • Clear drink pitcher, dispenser, large mason jar, etc.
  • Tea bags (about 5)
  • Water (about one gallon)
  • Sunny Day

Directions:

  1. Hang on to your panties. These directions might blow your culinary mind. And just for this I will pronounce it “Q-linary” because this is very sophisticated.
  2. Put water in dispenser/jar/pitcher.
  3. Add tea bags.
  4. Let sit in sun. For a few hours.
  5. Add sugar and ice to the entire shindig once it’s brewed, if you want. (I prefer mine plain. Andy prefers his with sugar. Just don’t add milk. Especially if you’re going to continue to let this sit out. Yikes. You might as well make tuna and mayo and let that sit out too. Just kidding. Don’t.)

Can I tell you a secret? This makes more than tea for three. It’s just that there were three of us sitting around drinking it—and it rhymes with tea.  I bet we’ll likely make a jug of this pretty often now that we remembered we had these jars.

Also, I’m sorry for assaulting you with such a complex recipe. The Food Network will be banging on my door any day now. It does after all include at least a few more steps than “put bacon in microwave”. Though, putting bacon in the microwave isn’t a half bad idea.

Happy Sunning,

Heather

Peanut Butter Cookie Delightfulness

I was going to post the beginnings of our deck renovation for you, but then the darn rain came in and the lumber is awaiting dryer weather. So in the mean time-I made cookies.

It’s been a pretty long time since I’ve posted any kind of sweet treat for the simple fact that I’m a savory girl. Given the choice between a triple decker chocolate cake and chips and salsa, I’ll go for the chips and salsa.

Oh let’s get real. I’d go for both. But I’d go for the chips and salsa second so it was the last taste in my mouth.

I don’t do sweet very much in my own kitchen. It’s just not my thing. Neither is baking since I’m fairly stunted in the precise-measuring department. I’ve mentioned it time and time again that a pantry chef does not equate to a fantastic baker—at least in this maison. But I’m getting better. And man, was I craving chewy warm peanut butter cookies with slightly crisp edges. These cookies were entirely edible, and delicious.  Even if I did forget to put the sugar in and make it all fluffy before I added the other dry goods.

Before I go any further I would like to ask if you have ever tasted peanut butter and butter creamed together? If you haven’t I highly suggest you block out the fact you’re eating butter and peanut butter combined, and that your heart is clogging simultaneously, and you try it at least once. That’s what I did and it was delightful; I didn’t feel an ounce of guilt about consuming creamed butter and peanut butter. I would do it again.

So since I don’t bake often, I googled around until I found this amazing recipe from Everyday Home Cook. I just wanted something simple. Something I could follow. Something that would be done quickly because my attention span for baking is close to zero unless I’m really in the zone. And I wasn’t in the zone. I just wanted some peanut butter cookies.

Soft & Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies Adapted From Everyday Home Cook

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk shhh, don’t tell anyone I used vanilla soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt I add a smidge more than this, but that’s just a preference. It doesn’t make too much of a difference.

Directions

  1. Beat together butter and peanut butter until well combined.  Then eat some. Please. Just do it once in your life.
  2. Add sugars and beat until fluffy. Don’t eff up and miss this step like I did and then have to add it at the end. Or do. They still tasted all awesome.
  3.  Add egg, milk, and vanilla extract and mix until smooth.
  4. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and mix just until blended.  I sifted these all together first to make it easier to incorporate and it worked like a charm.
  5. Roll balls of dough in white sugar before placing on an ungreased baking sheet.  And then smush down lightly with a fork. Alternate—put a piece of parchment paper on your baking sheet and put your rolls on that. I prefer to do this because my cookies almost always stick. Every. Single. Time. This works like a charm.
  6. My step: throw in the freezer for about 10 minutes before putting in the oven. I did one batch this way, and one batch without and the freezer batch turned out a lot better for reasons I am unaware of. Alton Brown might know, but I don’t. All I know is it worked.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes.  I like mine baked a little longer. My brother-in-law and I thoroughly agreed a good 15-17 minutes gave them the right amount of crispy exterior when cooled with a chewy interior.
  8. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for at least 3 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Yeah. If they last that long.

Makes 4 to 4 1/2 dozen Or in my case about one dozen. Either I make my cookies huge, or this recipe is meant to make the tiniest cookies this side of the Mississippi. I would still eat tiny peanut butter cookies though, and lots of them.

Happy Eating Delicious Cookies,

Heather

Blueberry Lemon Pancake Jam

This is pretty similar to a blueberry lime jam I made a few summers ago, and I decided to give it another go only slightly thinner as a pancake topping. Excuse me while I pat myself on the back.

This is a slightly tart, slightly sweet topping which makes a nice alternative when you run out of real maple syrup.

After you’ve already made your pancakes.

Son of a bee sting.

Pretty much Mr. A asked for homemade pancakes for breakfast this morning, and you don’t have to twist my arm to hard to get me to make blueberry pancakes. I sort of love them. I also sort of love homemade maple syrup. By the way, anywhere you drive in Maine right now you’ll see tapped maple trees everywhere – it’s maple syrup season! While we have no maple trees on our property, we also had no maple syrup this morning.

It was time to get crafty.

The recipe below is only for the jam, since most everyone has a family favorite pancake recipe. In trying new things, I used the cornmeal pancake recipe (minus the cornmeal, hah) from the Veganomicon cook book. Welcome to Tasty Town U.S.A.

As a disclaimer before you start: this is a tart jam, it is not super (or even mainly) sweet. Mr. A thought it was slightly too tart, I thought it was perfect. As with all of my recipes – alter to taste.

Ingredients

  • About 2 tablespoons butter (or vegan butter substitute)
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • About 1 cup of blueberries
  • About 1/2 to 1 cup of brown sugar

Directions

  1. In a small pot or sauce pan, add your butter, lemon juice and blueberries.
  2. Let simmer and continue to stir until butter is melted and incorporated and your berries have reduced slightly.
  3. Add in your sugar, about a 1/4 cup at a time and dissolve. The amount of sugar in this is highly of personal preference, so add more in to get to your flavor. Berries in general typically require a lot of sugar to make them sweet (especially with lemon juice added in). I prefer to let the tartness of the blueberries come through but it’s all up to you (hey, it’s your kitchen).
  4. Over low heat let the mixture simmer until reduced and the mixture coats your spoon easily. This will end up not as thick as a jam, so don’t over cook it.

Once you have it to a taste and consistency you like, pour over your pancakes. Or ice cream. Or cake. Or muffins. Or whatever you like. I love cut up bananas on top of my pancake, plus it adds some more fruit and natural sugar to the whole shebang, topped with this mix.

Sometimes it’s fun to step outside the box and see where cooking takes you. Even at 7:30 on a Saturday morning after your dog has consistently kept you up wanting to play since 5:45am.

Oh Winnie. Now you want a nap?

Xo,

Heather