Sunday, December 5, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls

I woke up one day earlier this year with a craving for Cinnamon Rolls.  I tried to ignore it for as long as I could... but then I gave in and looked up a recipe and baked these irresistibly delicious rolls.

I do have to say, also, that I LOVE Paula Deen and her appreciation for butter.


Cinnamon Rolls
Servings: 12-15 rolls (depending on how thin you cut them) 
Prep Time: about 1 hour 20 min, Cook Time: 30 min

1/4 ounce package yeast
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup butter
1 tsp. salt
1 egg
3 1/2 - 4 cups flour

1/3 cup melted butter, plus more for the pan
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2-3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, or pecans (optional)(I've also crushed some sliced almonds and used those)

4 tablespoons butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1-2 teaspoon vanilla
3-6 tablespoons of hot water (enough to make it smooth)

In a large bowl, mix yeast, about two cups of flour, sugar and salt.  In a mircowave safe measuring cup, mix water, milk and butter, heat until butter is just melted, not until very hot.  Add liquid mixture to large bowl, add egg and mix until smooth.  Add about two cups more of flour and mix until the dough comes together and is easy to handle.  Gently knead dough on lightly floured surface (or in the bowl), the more you knead the tougher the dough will get, so DON'T over knead, just enough to incorporate everything plus a little.  Place in well-greased bowl (or keep in the bowl you were using, I don't grease mine) and let rise until doubled, usually 1 - 1 1/2 hours. I usually cover mine with a damp cloth and put it in a barely warm oven.

When doubled, punch down dough.  Roll out on flour surface into a 15x9 inch rectangle.  Spread melted butter all over dough, I softened my butter and spread it out leaving about a 1-2" bar across the top of my rectangle free from butter.  Mix sugar, cinnamon and optional walnuts or pecans and sprinkle over buttered dough.

Beginning at 15 inch side role up dough and pinch edge together to seal.  Cut into 12-15 slices; thin, serrated knives work well.  Coat bottom of baking pan with butter and sprinkle with sugar.

Place cinnamon roll slices close together in the pan and let rise until dough is doubled, about 45 minutes.  Again, I like putting the pan in a barely warm oven with a dish of hot water underneath, because I think it makes them more moist.

Bake (with a dish of water underneath) at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes or until nicely browned.

Once rolls are done baking, mix melted butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla.  Add hot water 1 tablespoon at a time until the glaze reaches desired consistency.  Spread over slightly cooled rolls.  Serve warm.

Based on Paula Deen's Recipe with my own additional suggestions.


Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum, which can be used in both sweet and savory foods. Cinnamon trees are native to South East Asia. It was imported to Egypt as early as 2000 BC.

The Old Testament makes specific mention of the spice many times: first when Moses is commanded to use both sweet cinnamon and cassia in the holy anointing oil; in Proverbs where the lover's bed is perfumed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.  In Song of Solomon, song describing the beauty of his beloved, cinnamon scents her garments like the smell of Lebanon.

It was so highly prized among ancient nations that it was regarded as a gift fit for monarchs and even for a god: records show that gifts of cinnamon and cassia were brought to the temple of Apollo at Miletus.  It was too expensive to be commonly used on funeral pyres in Rome, but the Emperor Nero is said to have burned a year's worth of the city's supply at the funeral for his wife Poppaea Sabina in A.D. 65.

Through the Middle Ages, the source of cinnamon was a mystery to the Western world.  Sieur de Joinville accompanied his king to Egypt during the crusades  in 1248, and reported that cinnamon was fished up in nets at the source of the Nile out at the edge of the world.  In Herodotus and other authors, Arabia was the source of cinnamon: giant Cinnamon birds collected the cinnamon sticks from an unknown land where the cinnamon trees grew and used them to construct their nests; the Arabs employed a trick to obtain the sticks.  This story was current as late as 1310, although in the first century, Pliny the Elder had written that the traders had made this up in order to charge more.

Portuguese traders finally landed in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) at the beginning of the 1500's and restructured the traditional production and management of cinnamon by the Sinhalese, who later held the monopoly for cinnamon in Ceylon. The Portuguese established a fort on the island in 1518 and protected their own monopoly for over a hundred years.

Dutch traders finally dislodged the Portuguese in 1638.  The Dutch East India Company continued to overhaul the methods of harvesting in the wild and eventually began to cultivate its own trees.

The British took control of the island from the Dutch in 1796. However, the importance of the monopoly of Ceylon was already declining, as cultivation of the cinnamon tree spread to other areas, and coffee, tea, sugar and chocolate were becoming more popular than traditional spices.

Some interesting Health Benefits of Cinnamon:
  • Just 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon per day can lower LDL cholesterol.
  • Cinnamon may have a regulatory effect on blood sugar, making it especially beneficial for people with diabetes. 
  • Cinnamon has shown an amazing ability to stop medication-resistant yeast infections.
  • Cinnamon has been shown to reduce the proliferation of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells.
  • It has an anti-clotting effect on the blood.
  • Patients given half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder combined with one tablespoon of honey every morning before breakfast had significant relief in arthritis pain after one week and could walk without pain within one month.
  • When added to food, it inhibits bacterial growth and food spoilage, making it a natural food preservative.
  • Smelling cinnamon can boost cognitive function and memory.
  • Cinnamon fights the E. coli bacteria in unpasteurized juices.
  • Cinnamon is a great source of manganese, fiber, iron, and calcium.

(Citations: Paula Deen's Website, Wikipedia: Cinnamon, 10 Health Benefits of Cinnamon)

Update: This is what I found on the Husband's plate after he ate THREE cinnamon rolls:

They are obviously Husband approved.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Real Butter Beer

The second to the last Harry Potter movie came out not too long ago.  I was going to post this then, but I forgot for a while... so, without further ado:  Butter Beer

The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook: From Cauldron Cakes to Knickerbocker Glory--More Than 150 Magical Recipes for Muggles and WizardsIf you want more Harry Potter recipes, you can check out this book (but it's mostly made for young adults and will not contain my recipe for Butter Beer, because I didn't write the book). Also, I don't actually have this book, but it looked like it might be fun.
I started researching Butter Beer after I first read about it in the Harry Potter books.  According to Mugglenet, this is the recipe for Butter Beer:
1 cup (8 oz) club soda or cream soda
½ cup (4 oz) butterscotch syrup (ice cream topping)
½ tablespoon butter

Step 1: Measure butterscotch and butter into a 2 cup (16 oz) glass. Microwave on high for 1 to 1½ minutes, or until syrup is bubbly and butter is completely incorporated.
Step 2: Stir and cool for 30 seconds, then slowly mix in club soda. Mixture will fizz quite a bit.
Step 3: Serve in two coffee mugs or small glasses

This sounds disgusting to me.  I will admit that I haven't tried it.  But I can imagine it.  Maybe for some people it would taste good.  And that's fine, you go ahead and try it, and I'll believe you if you say you liked it.

Also, I know (from reading the Harry Potter books) that Butter Beer is supposed to "warm you up" because it has ALCOHOL.

In the UK, underage drinking does not get quite the same reaction as it does here in he US.  In much of Europe, adults will allow their children a glass of wine with dinner, it's not a big deal.  In some ways, I agree with this method, because it allows the parents to have some influence on their children's first experiences with alcohol.  And really, who would you rather have your kids learning from? You? Or their friends?  I don't have any problem with people disagreeing with me about this...

I also have no problem with people that want a non-alcoholic version because they don't drink.  That's totally fine, you just can't have my Butter Beer, and I'm sorry for that.

I enjoyed Harry Potter.  I enjoyed the books and the movies (though I did want to kill Harry in the 5th book, but I'm not going to talk about that).  Once I knew about Butter Beer, I tried to think how it would taste.  I thought about what might be in it.  But I didn't ultimately have a break through until I read this: Bacon Vodka.

Now, I know you're wondering: "How did you get a break through in making authentic Butter Beer by reading about Bacon Vodka?"  Well, I'll tell you.

At about the same time, a friend mentioned scotch and cloves in a facebook post, which gave me the idea of combining the two because the Bacon Vodka concept was still fresh in my memory.  I went to the store and bought a bottle of whiskey (cheap stuff because I am living on a tight budget).  I added spices I had in my cupboard and let it sit in a jar for several weeks.  I had vaguely forgotten about it until I remembered that Harry Potter was coming out soon and I remembered my ideas about Butter Beer.  I bought some Butterscotch Schnapps and A&W vanilla cream soda.  I added  the Butterscotch Schnapps to the spiced whiskey and then two tablespoons of my spiced butterscotchy-whiskey to a glass and poured in the cream soda.

It was everything I had ever hoped.  It was delicious.  So for the sake of humanity and all that is delicious, here is the recipe.


To make spiced Whiskey:
1 bottle whiskey
3-5 cinnamon sticks
20-25 whole cloves
1/4-1/2 tsp grated nutmeg (or about of quarter to a half of a whole nutmeg)
1 index finger size piece of ginger (or about 1 tsp ground ginger)

Mix the ingredients into the whiskey (I put it all in the bottle, since I wanted to make a lot of spiced whiskey).  Put in a cool dark place for several (about 6) weeks, until it gets very dark brown.  You can technically leave it for longer than six weeks.  Then strain out the sediment from the liquid.  Or you can just strain it whenever you want to make butter beer and leave the cinnamon sticks, cloves, etc until you get to the bottom of the bottle.

To make Butter Beer:
1-1 1/2 part Spiced Whiskey
1 1/2-2 parts Butterscotch Schnapps
2-3 Tbsp of the above mixture
1 12-oz can of Vanilla Cream soda

Mix the whiskey and schnapps together, then put 2-3 TBSp of that mixture in the bottom of a cup, pour in the cream soda  and mix well with a spoon.  The exact amounts are somewhat based on your individual taste.  If you like things sweeter, then more schnapps and less whiskey.  Otherwise, vice versa.  You can chill the ingredients first, or leave them at room temperature.  Also, for a creamier option, put 1 scoop of vanilla ice cream in before you add the other ingredients to the cup... it's a really delicious butter beer float!


Well, there you have it.  Now you can enjoy a delicious drink.  Well, as long as you are ok drinking alcohol, and want to wait several weeks to drink it.  But that's not my fault.  If you were here visiting me, you would be able to taste a delicious drink.  So it's your own fault for not visiting me, obviously.

I'll just go ahead and put it out there: If you visit me at my apartment, I will give you Butter Beer.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Beans are amazing.

Yup, that's right.  Beans are amazing.  Sometimes I forget just how amazing beans are.

Beans are one of the longest-cultivated plants.  The cultivation of beans even predates ceramics!  Beans were an important source of protein throughout Old and New World history, and still are today. There are over 4,000 cultivated varieties of bean on record in the United States alone.  Certain beans, like Kidney beans are actually toxic, but don't worry because boiling them for at least 10 minutes destroys those toxins.  Another method of destroying the toxins (and making the beans more digestible for humans) is to ferment them.

Today, let's focus on fava beans (also known as: Broad Beans, Bell Beans, Tic Beans, Butter Beans, Windsor Beans, Horse Beans, English Beans, Feve Beans, Faba Beans, Haba or Habas)  These are not to be confused with Lima beans which are sometimes also called butter beans.
  • In ancient Greece and Rome, beans were used in voting; a white bean being used to cast a yes vote, and a black bean for no.  Also, beans were used as a food for the dead, especially during festivals. 
  • In Italy, broad beans are traditionally sown on November 2, All Souls Day. Small cakes made in the shape of broad beans (though not out of them) are known as fave dei morti or "beans of the dead". According to tradition, Sicily once experienced a failure of all crops other than the beans; the beans kept the population from starvation. Some people carry a broad bean for good luck; some believe that if one carries a broad bean, one will never be without the essentials of life. 
  • In Portugal, a Christmas cake called Bolo Rei ("King cake") is baked with a fava bean inside. Whoever eats the slice containing it, is supposed to buy next year's cake.
  • European folklore also claims that planting beans on Good Friday or during the night brings good luck.
Broad beans are rich in tyramine, and should be avoided by those taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).  Raw broad beans contain the alkaloids vicine, isouramil and convicine, which can induce hemolytic anemia in people with a glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency and can be fatal (also known as "favism").  Though, hemolysis resulting from "favism" may actually act as a protection against malaria.  Broad beans are also rich in L-dopa.  This substance is used medically in the treatment of Parkinson's disease.  It is also a natriuretic agent, which might help in controlling hypertension. 
According to the National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, one cup of cooked fava beans contains about 187 calories, 1 g of fat, 33 g of carbohydrates and 13 g of protein.  73% of calories come from carbohydrates, 3% from fat and 24% from protein.  They have 9 g of fiber (37% of the daily value).  Fava beans are a rich source of many essential vitamins, especially B vitamins.  Fava beans also contain many essential minerals. They are a good source of manganese, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and iron.  While fava beans are a good source of protein, the protein they contain is not complete and must be paired with complementary proteins, such as those contained in grain products. 
Alright, I'm sure that's enough information for all of you to realize that beans are really awesome.  Now, on to the recipe.

Citations: Wikipedia: Bean, Vicia faba, Cook's Thesaurus: Dry Beans)

A little background:
A bit over a year ago, I went to Scotland with Opal, her mom, and Rita.  Opal's mom has a jewelry company called Billy's a Bad Kitty, and they had a booth at a Scottish art fair during the Fringe Festival.  There was a little restaurant/cafe next to the art fair.  It carried some pies that we would sometimes eat for lunch.  One of those pies was "Butter bean and Brie Pie."  It was possibly the most wonderful taste experience of my life.  Imagine yourself in an extremely old Scottish cemetery.  It's drizzling rain.  You're a bit cold, wrapped up in warm clothes, and you go into the warm restaurant and buy a single serving pie with a beautifully golden puff pastry shell.  You take it back to the booth.  You cut into the pie with your fork and take a bite.  It's magical.  Buttery crust, perfectly cooked beans, flavorful but not overbearing brie, and a slightly creamy sauce  to tie it all together.

I'm drooling just thinking about it.

Well, I came home and dreamt about that pie.  I was still going through me "I don't like baking" stage, so I let it sit there in the back of my mind... waiting for the right moment to strike.

Life happened, I was home for Thanksgiving, and among the things I was sent back to Davis with (Thank you, Mom), was a 12 oz  bag of dry fava beans.  I couldn't figure out what I was going to do with them until I looked them up online, and found out that they're also called butter beans.  And then the pie sprang into my thoughts.  I went and bought a wedge of brie and some frozen puff pastry (yes, I could have made croissant dough... but I was feeling lazy).  I had all the other ingredients at home.  And so it began.


This is the description from Simple Simon's website:
butter beans are casseroled in a vegetable and white wine stock with a good dose of garlic and finished with parsley, cream and lemon juice. Brie is then added to the cooled ingredients prior to baking.

This is what I ended up with (measurements are approximate):

1lb Butter Beans (if you're starting with dried fava beans you'll have to soak them overnight, then blanch them in boiling water for 10min, then cool them and take off the outer shell/thick husk before you boil them with the other ingredients)
2 cups Vegetable stock (chicken broth also works)
3 dashes White wine (I had sherry, and I wasn't going to go buy a bottle of wine just for 1 recipe)
5 cloves Garlic, minced
1/4 large onion, chopped and sauted
1 tsp Parsley
1/4 cup Cream (or 1/2&1/2)
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 largish wedge of Brie cut into chunks

Cook beans in broth, wine and garlic until tender.  Stir in sauteed onion, parsley, cream and lemon juice into Butter bean mixture, let cool.

Preheat oven to 400.  Place puff pastry into a muffin pan (I wanted to make small pies) and spoon mixture in puff pastry shells, cover with more pastry, making sure the pies are sealed around the edges (use water or egg, according to puff pastry directions), bake about 10-15min until golden brown.  (For my pies, I ended up taking the pies out of the muffin pan and flipped them over onto a baking sheet and baked them another 5-10min so the bottoms were also browned and puffy).


I know it's cheating, but I really would recommend the Trader Joe's Frozen Puff Pastry... they worked very nicely.  The Husband even commented on how much he liked the pastry shells.

I know I'm going to end up making these again, because they are SO delicious.  Probably for a party this Christmas season.

The Husband is working on getting his finals done for school, so who knows when I'll post next, but I am hoping that I'll have more things to post over the winter break.  For now, I'll leave you with this:

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Marinara Sauce

Cooks aboard Napolitan ships invented marinara sauce in the mid-16th century after Spaniards introduced the tomato (a New World vegetable) to Europe. This meat-free sauce was easy to make and resisted spoiling due to the high acid content of tomatoes. This made it ideal for lengthy sea voyages hundreds of years before refrigeration methods were invented. (Wikipedia: Marinara Sauce)

Everyone has their own recipe for Marinara or Spaghetti Sauce.  I picked up a few ideas from my mom's recipe, and my husband's mom's recipe.  I added some touches of my own, and am happy to now share it with all of you.


Ground Turkey Marinara Sauce (in a crock pot)

1 Onion, Chopped
10 cloves garlic, minced (more or less depending on how you feel about garlic)
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1 package Lean Ground Turkey (1.25 lbs)
1 Red bell pepper, chopped
3-4 Tbsp dried basil
1 Tbsp dried parsley
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp fennel seed
3 large cans of crushed tomatos
1 small can tomato paste (if the sauce is not thick enough)
salt and pepper to taste

To a crock pot on high heat add onion, garlic, and olive oil.  Sweat the onions (I usually add a little salt to them) stirring occasionally.  Add the ground turkey, stir to break into small pieces.  Add bell pepper, basil, parsley, oregano, fennel, and pepper.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is cooked.
Add the crushed tomatoes, stir and cook on low, stirring occasionally.

Cook down for several hours to get a thicker consistency, or add tomato paste if the sauce is too watery.  Taste, add salt and pepper if needed.  Serve on pasta or use in lasagna or anything else that uses marinara.

This sauce can be made vegan by just removing the ground turkey from the recipe.


Tomatoes were originally found only in the New World (South America), but now are eaten freely throughout the world.  Their consumption is believed to benefit the heart among other organs.  They contain lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant.  Preliminary research has shown an inverse correlation between consumption of tomatoes and cancer risk, lycopene has been considered a potential agent for prevention of some types of cancers, particularly prostate cancer. Lycopene has also been shown to improve the skin's ability to protect against harmful UV rays. Tomato consumption has also been associated with decreased risk of breast cancer, head and neck cancers, and might be strongly protective against neurodegenerative diseases (like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Huntington’s Diseases).
Some tomato varieties are available with double the normal vitamin C, 40 times normal vitamin A, high levels of anthocyanin (resulting in blue tomatoes), and 2 to 4 times the normal amount of lycopene. (Wikipedia: Tomato, Lycopene)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Preparations of Duck throughout the years

A friend requested that I find any old recipes I had for duck, so let's talk about duck.

Wild ducks have been hunted for food, down, and feathers worldwide since prehistoric times.  In America during the 1800's, there became a thriving commercial waterfowl hunting industry because of the need for food and the vast supply of birds.  Currently, most ducks used for consumption are farm raised rather than wild.

Ducks have been farmed for thousands of years; most likely farming started in Southeast Asia. They are farmed for their meat, eggs, and down. A minority of ducks are also kept for foie gras production. Their eggs are blue-green to white depending on the breed.

Ducks are more expensive and less popular than chickens because they have less lean white meat and are more difficult to keep confined than chickens are. Duck appears less frequently in the mass market food industry and lower priced restaurants and stores because of it's higher price tag.  Duck is generally only popular in "haute cuisine." 

(citations: Wikipedia: Duck, Mallard, Domestic Duck)

I will now include the recipes I have found for Duck, plus a traditional meal plan and those other recipes as well.  At some point, I'm going to give some really awesome traditional dinner parties, so I can use all of these delicious sounding recipes, and post about them as well.

Seven Centuries of English Cooking: A Collection of RecipesIf you are at all interested in what cooking was like during and before the 1920's, you should check out  Seven Centuries of English Cooking: A Collection of Recipes by Maxime de la Falaise.  It's awesome, and has all kinds of interesting historical foods! 

A Mallard, Smothered; from Seven Centuries of English Cooking, Gervase Markham, 1660:
A 3 pound Mallard or wild duck
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup stock
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup chopped mixed herbs
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup chopped dates
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp powdered cinnamon
2 Tbsp wine vinegar or 1/2 cup gooseberries (or cranberries)
2 slices of toast, cut in sippets (A small piece of toast or bread soaked in gravy or other liquid or used as a garnish).

Dust the duck with flour and brown it in oil; brown the onions in the same oil. Braise the duck in the same pan and add the stock, wine and herbs. Simmer for about 1 hour; then add the currants and dates and simmer for another 30min or until the duck is tender.  Remove the bird and keep it warm.  Add the butter, sugar, cinnamon, wine vinegar or gooseberries, reduce the sauce and pour over the bird in a dish garnished with sippets.
Duck with Horseradish; from Seven Centuries of English Cooking, Charles Carter, 1732:
A 4-4 1/2 pound duck
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp butter
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup grated Horseradish.
Freshly grated Horseradish
1 sliced lemon

Dust the duck with flour and brown it in the butter on all sides. Add the chicken stock and grated horseradish and simmer gently until the duck is tender.  Remove the duck and carve it.  Arrange the pieces on a warm serving dish, then skim the fat from the surface of the sauce and pour the sauce over the bird. Arrange the fresh horseradish at each end of the dish and the sliced lemon around the edges.

To Stuff and roast a Turkey, or Fowl; from The First American Cookbook, 1796:
One pound soft wheat bread
3 ounces beef suet
3 eggs
a little sweet thyme
sweet marjoram
pepper and salt
and some add a gill (1/2 cup) wine

fill the bird therewith and sew up, hang down to a steady solid fire, basting frequently with salt and water, and roast until a steam emits from the breast, put one third of a pound of butter into the gravy, dust flour over the bird and baste with the gravy; serve up with boiled onions and cranberry-sauce, mangoes (a name sometimes given to the cantaloupe; and often attributed to any vegetable or fruit: melon, squash, green pepper, etc. that can be stuffed and pickled), pickles or celery.
2. Others omit the sweet herbs, and add parsley done with potatoes.
3. Boil and mash 3 pints potatoes, wet them with butter, add sweet herbs, pepper, salt, fill and roast as above.
To Stuff and Roast a Goslin; from The First American Cookbook, 1796:
Boil the inwards tender, chop them fine, put double quantity of grated bread, 4 ounces butter, pepper and salt, (sweet herbs if you like; sweet thyme, marjoram) 2 eggs moulded into the stuffing, parboil 4 onions and chop them into the stuffing, add wine, and roast the bird.  This is a good stuffing for every kind of Water Fowl, which requires onion sauce (or gravy cooked with onions).

1896 Boston Cooking-School CookbookThis one is also a great guide to historical (and modern) cooking.  It has everything!

Roast Duck Dinner Menu; from The 1896 Boston Cooking-School Cook Book:
Cream of Lima Bean Soup
Roast Duck
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Cauliflower au Gratin
Rice Croquettes with Currant Jelly
Grapes, Pears, Crackers, Cheese, and Cafe Noir.

Cream of Lima Bean Soup
1 cup dried lima beans
3 pints cold water
2 slices onion
4 slices carrot
1 cup cream or milk
4 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Soak the beans overnight; in the morning drain and add cold water; cook until soft, and rub through a sieve. Cut vegetables in small cubes, and cook five minutes in half the butter; remove vegetables, add flour, salt, and pepper, and stir into boiling soup.  Add cream, reheat, strain, and add remaining butter in small pieces.

Roast Duck
Dress and clean a wild duck and truss. Place on rack in dripping-pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cover breast with two very thin slices fat salt pork. Bake twenty to thirty minutes in a very hot oven, basting every five minutes with fat in pan; cut string and remove string and skewers.
Serve with Orange or Olive Sauce. Currant jelly should accompany a duck course. Domestic ducks should always be well cooked, requiring little more than twice the time allowed for wild ducks.
Ducks are sometimes stuffed with apples, pared, cored, and cut in quarters, or three small onions may be put in the body of duck to improve flavor.  Neither apples nor onions are to be served.

Olive Sauce: Remove stones from 10 olives, leaving meat in one piece. Cover with boiling water and cook five minutes.  Drain olives, add 2 cups Brown Sauce*.

Orange Sauce:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 1/3 cups Brown Stock*
1/2 tsp salt
Juice from 2 Oranges
2 Tbsp sherry wine
Rind of 1 orange cut in fancy shapes
dash of cayenne

Brown the butter, add flour, with salt and cayenne, and stir until well browned. Add stock gradually, and just before serving, orange juice, sherry, and pieces of rind.

*Brown Sauce: 2 Tbsp butter, 1/2 slice onion, 2 1/2 Tbsp flour, 1 cup Brown Stock, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper.  Cook onion in butter until slightly browned; remove onion and stir butter constantly until well browned; add flour mixed with seasonings, and brown the butter and flour then add stock gradually.

*Brown Stock: marrow bones, beef, poultry carcasses, carrots, turnips, leeks, celery, parsnips and onion. Simmered and skimmed for several hours producing a dark brown liquid.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes
To 2 cups boiled & riced or mashed sweet potatoes add three Tbsp butter, 1/2 tsp salt, and hot milk to moisten. Beat until light, and pile on a vegetable dish.

Cauliflower au Gratin
Place whole cooked cauliflower (or cut for easier serving) on a dish for serving, cover with buttered crumbs, and place on oven grate to brown crumbs; remove from oven and pour one cup Thin White Sauce around cauliflower.
Thin White Sauce:
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup scalded milk
1 1/2 Tbsp flour
1/4 tsp salt
dash of pepper
Melt butter in saucepan, add flour mixed with seasonings, stir until thoroughly blended. Gradually pour in milk, stirring until well mixed, then beating until smooth and glossy.

Rice Croquettes with Currant Jelly
1/2 cup rice
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup scalded milk
1/2 tsp salt
2 egg yolks
1 Tbsp butter

Wash rice, add to water with salt, cover and steam until rice has absorbed all the water. Then add milk, stir lightly with a fork, cover and steam until rice is soft. Remove from heat, add egg yolks and butter; spread on shallow plate to cool. Shape into balls, roll in breadcrumbs, then shape in form of nests. Dip in egg, again in crumbs, deep fry until golden and drain. Put a cube of currant jelly in each croquette. Garnish with parsley.

Sounds good, doesn't it?  I may have to go out and get myself a duck to try at least one of these preparations. In the mean time, I think I'm going to have to try those Rice Croquettes, and probably the cauliflower au gratin.  I'll let you know how they turn out!

(If you have any questions, suggestions or recommendations for recipes... Please feel free to comment on any posts, or send me an email:

Saturday, November 6, 2010

How to Dress a Turtle

The First American Cookbook: A Facsimile of "American Cookery," 1796     "Fill a boiler or kettle, with a quantity of water sufficient to scald the callapach* and Callapee*, the fins, &c. and about 9 o'clock hang up your Turtle by the hind fins, cut off the head and save the blood, take a sharp pointed knife and separate the callapach from the callapee, or the back from the belly part, down to the shoulders, so as to come at the entrails* which take out, and clean them, as you would those of any other animal, and throw them into a tub of clean water, taking great care not to break the gall*, but to cut it off from the liver and throw it away, then separate each distinctly and put the guts into another vessel, open them with a small pen-knife end to end, wash them clean, and draw them through a woolen cloth, in warm water, to clear away the slime and then put them in clean cold water till they are used with the other part of the entrails, which must be cut up small to be mixed in the baking dishes with the meat; this done, separate the back and belly pieces, entirely cutting away the fore fins by the upper joint, which scald*; peal off the loose skin and cut them into small pieces laying them by themselves, either in another vessel, or on the table, ready to be seasoned; then cut off the meat from the belly part, and clean the back from the lungs, kidneys, &c. and that meat cut into pieces as small as a walnut, laying it likewise by itself; after this you are to scald the back and belly pieces, pulling off the shell from the back, and the yellow skin from the belly, when all will be white and clean, and with the kitchen cleaver cut those up likewise into pieces about the bigness or breadth of a card; put those pieces into clean cold water, wash them and place them in a heap on the table, so that each part may lay by itself; the meat being thus prepared and laid separate for seasoning; mix two thirds parts of salt or rather more, and one third part of cyanne pepper, black pepper, and a nutmeg, and mace pounded fine, and mixt all together; the quantity, to be proportioned to the size of the Turtle, so that in each dish there may be about three spoonfuls of seasoning to every twelve pound of meat; your meat being thus seasoned, get some sweet herbs, such as thyme, savory, &c. let them be dryed and rub'd fine, and having provided some deep dishes to bake it in, which should be of the common brown ware, put in the coarsest part of the meat, put a quarter pound of butter at the bottom of each dish, and then put some of each of the several parcels of meat, so that the dishes may be all alike and have equal portions of the different parts of the Turtle, and between each laying of meat strew a little of the mixture of sweet herbs, fill your dishes within an inch an half, or two inches of the top; boil the blood of the Turtle, and put into it, then lay on the forcemeat* balls made of veal, highly seasoned with the same seasoning as the Turtle; put in each dish a gill* of Madeira Wine, and as much water as it will conveniently hold, then break over it five or six eggs to keep the meat from scorching at the top, and over that shake a handful of shread parsley, to make it look green, when done put your dishes into an oven made hot enough to bake bread, and in an hour and half, or two hours (according to the size of the dishes) it will be sufficiently done."
(I did change the font to more modern writing, but I kept in the "typos" or spelling/grammar differences from that time period, if you wish to see the original click on the title of the recipe.  I have also included a definition of certain terms with which some people might not be familiar.)

*'d terms: 
Callapach; also, calipash: That part of the turtle adjoining the upper shell; Turtle meat adhering to
the upper shell. 
Callapee; also, calipee: That part of the turtle adjoining the lower shell; Turtle meat adhering to the under shell. 
Forcemeat; also, forced meat: Chopped and ground flesh, usually seasoned and bulked with bread crumbs, oatmeal, and eggs, and used as a filling; or, simply that meat has been forced through a grinder; in other words meatballs.  
Entrails; also, guts: the internal organs of a person or animal.
Gall; also, Gall bladder: it contains bile which tastes extremely bitter and breaking it would transfer that taste to anything the bile came in contact with. 
Gill: A small liquid measure holding one fourth of a pint = 1/2 cup.
Scald: To treat with boiling water (in this case boil it a little so that the skin comes off more easily).

This appears to be a very handy page for definitions of old cooking terms: Feeding America

I don't know if I'll ever run into a situation where I need to "Dress a Turtle," but at least I'll know how to if I ever do!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Apologies, Technical Difficulties, and More!

It's been a while.  Actually, quite a while since I last posted.  I am sorry, but I was at least upfront and honest that I am lazy.

In other news, I completely forgot to bring my camera home with me after a delightful trip to my parent's house (for their birthdays, which happen in the same week in October) and so am unable to put up those delightful pictures you're all used to.  Luckily, I have a few pictures on my computer that can be used until I get my camera back over Thanksgiving.

Also, I went on a cookbook hunt recently, and procured a few rather inexpensive books from  As I'm sure most of you know, I love old things.  So in addition to the Fanny Farmer Cookbook, I also got The First American Cookbook: A facsimile of "American Cookery," 1796 by Amelia Simmons.  It's fascinating!  I was reading last night "To Dress a Turtle."  I didn't even know that American's ate turtle!  And I am also amazed by just how much housewives had to know about anatomy!  It is written in an older font, which means that some of those letters that look like "f" are actually "s"... but it's definitely worth the $3.50 I paid for it.

On to the Birthday Gifts!
I made some rather silly things for my parents this year.  For my Dad, since he has a new Droid phone, I made the adorable little icon into an adorable little stuffed critter.
You know you want one of your very own!
That's florescent green swimsuit fabric, a little bamboo fiber fill for the antenna, arms and legs, and those tiny polyester beads filled the body.  I was really careful at first and didn't spill hardly any of the beads (though they stick like crazy to everything) but near the end of filling this little guy, I managed to spray little white beads everywhere!  I'm still finding them, every once in a while, but a swiffer and vacuum combo seemed to get most of the pesky things.
The pattern I made up entirely.  It took some "advanced math" to figure out how to make the rounded shape, but I got some assistance here.  Though, I did kind of end up just cutting until the paper shape looked right to me... and I did a lot of reshaping/folding under/top stitching by hand after it was sewn together.  At first the white strip in the middle was too wide, so after filling as much as I could, I stitched him closed and then folded the whole white strip thinner and stitched all the way around by hand. It made him pleasantly plump, I think.

For Mom, I knitted a dozen flowers using this pattern.  They turned out great!  That's them but with just the flowers on the wood skewers I used for the stems.  I then knitted a bunch of stems (pun intended).  Hopefully, when I have the camera back, I can get a better picture.  They were super quick to put together, and I usually completed one or two while watching a couple episodes of whatever cartoon I was watching at the time.
I also made a "villain" to be the rival of the Android... but unfortunately, I didn't download the pictures of him to my computer before I left my camera at my parent's house.  Oh well, you'll all have to wait and see him later.

(Cites: Amazon.comXWiki: To Sew a Sphere, Andrew Craig Williams Blog)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cranberry Cream Scones

"The scone is a small British quick bread (or cake if recipe includes sugar) of Scottish origin. Scones are especially popular in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland, but are eaten in many other countries. They are usually made of wheat, barley or oatmeal, with baking powder as a leavening agent. The scone is a basic component of the cream tea or Devonshire tea." - Wikipedia

I have always been fascinated by Great Britain.  I love the literature, the climate, the costume dramas... and, of course, the food.  While British food, in general, might be a little on the bland side, they definitely know how to make buttery, delicious breads.  Though, I do have to note, that a lot of the good British things came from Scotland.

Today, I'm making scones.  But not just any scones.  Cranberry Cream Scones.


Cranberry Cream Scones (from Alton Brown)

2 cups all-purpose flour (I made these with 1.5 cups all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour)
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup sugar
4 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons shortening
3/4 cup cream
1 egg
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut butter into small cubes and chill.  In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Add chilled butter and shortening, mix until it looks like mealy. I use a pastry blender, but you can also squeeze the butter into the flour with your fingers.

In a separate bowl (I use a measuring cup) mix the cream and egg (beat them together), then add to the flour mixture and stir in the fruit.  Turn the dough onto a floured surface.  Gently knead once or twice to make sure the cranberries are evenly distributed.  Roll out to about 1/2inch thick and cut into biscuit sized rounds.  You can make them pretty much any shape, they puff up the best if they have a cut edge rather than just spooning them down.

Bake for 15min until golden brown and delicious.


These delicious scones go amazingly well with clotted cream and honey.  They are a perfect match with tea.  And I have made them with about 2 Tablespoons of chopped up candied ginger and they're awesome.  I used the same recipe to make plain scones (leave out the cranberries) and cheese, chive & garlic scones - I kept the sugar in, but you could leave it out to make them more savory.

At some point in the near future, I will probably try making them with protein powder, since I have been trying to figure out some way of taking protein after workouts that doesn't involve chugging a shake.

(citations: Wikipedia, Alton Brown via Food Network)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Vegetable Soup

Do you have vegetables slowly wilting in your refrigerator?  Don't know what to do with those chicken bones left over from your Friday night dinner extravaganza?  Well, it's time to make some delicious Vegetable Soup!

We had friends over Friday night last week, and it being the first time we'd seen them since the beginning of summer, I decided to roast a chicken.  I thought about killing a fatted calf, but I didn't happen to have one on hand.

The roasted chicken (with sliced vegetables) was a little on the bland side, but once we had finished picking the meat off the bones, I through all the rest of it (bones, skin, and all) into a pot and covered them with water and added some "Poultry Seasoning" from my spice rack.  After simmering for most of a day , I decided that it was done, and strained the broth.  It sat in the fridge for 2 days.  I skimmed off the fat that solidified on the surface.  I left some smaller pieces because we all know that's where the flavor comes from.

Thus I had created: Chicken Stock. 

Now you may be wondering (like I was just a moment ago): What is the difference between Chicken Stock and Chicken Broth?  Aren't they the same thing?

The answer is no.  Chicken Stock is made from the bones and stuff you wouldn't normally eat on the chicken.  Chicken Broth is usually made from the meat.  Stock tends to have a richer flavor because some of the gelatin is released by cooking the bones.  (Thanks, Food Network). For more go here: Wikipedia.

But enough about chicken.  We're making Vegetable soup today!


Vegetable Soup
Recipe by The Lazy Wife

1/2 Onion, chopped - I used red, but you could use any kind
1 TBsp Olive oil
4-5 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 medium Potatoes, small cubes - I left the skin on and made the cubes small, potato skin is good for you!
2 stalks Celery, chopped
4 cups Chicken Stock - Chicken broth should work, or make it vegan/vegetarian friendly and use vegetable broth
1/4 cup Sherry
1 large Leek, cut lengthwise and then in strips
2 Mushrooms, diced
10 baby carrots, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup frozen peas
1-2 cups water
1 Bay Leaf
Salt and Pepper to taste
You know you love the pretty colors!

Wash and cut up your vegetables.  Sauté the onions in a pot with the olive oil and some salt and pepper, add the garlic after the onion is soft.  Then toss in the potatoes, celery, chicken stock and sherry (you could leave this out, but I like the flavor it gives) add water at any point if the broth does not cover the vegetables enough.  After the potatoes are soft (about 15min) use a potato masher to break the potatoes into smaller pieces and give the broth more texture.

Then add the bay leaf, leek, mushrooms, carrots, bell pepper, peas and corn (as I said, empty your refrigerator... you could use whatever vegetables you want in this).

Simmer until the vegetables are soft and serve with some toast or croutons.  You could even put a little bacon on top, or add ham, chicken, rice or barley to it.  It would be very delicious with barley.


 Now let's talk about the potato.  Not only is it fun to say... but it's a very nutritious tuber.

Potatoes are in the same plant family as deadly nightshade (belladonna).  But don't worry too much, because so are Tomatoes and Eggplants.  This family also includes Mandrake, Paprika, Chili peppers, Tobacco and Petunias.

this image is in the public domain
Potatoes have vitamin C, Potassium, vitamin B6, as well as a good amount of fiber.  With it's skin on a potato has about the same amount of fiber as whole grain bread, cereal or pasta.

Most people worry about the starch/carbohydrate content of potatoes.  But some of the starch in potatoes is actually resistant to digestion in the stomach, and has similar beneficial effects to fiber.  The amount of this resistant starch is related to how the potato is prepared.  Potatoes that are cooked and then cooled (such as in potato salad) have more insoluble starch than hot potatoes (by nearly double).  Maybe next time we'll be making Potato Salad.

(citations: Food Network, Wikipedia, potato image, Recipe inspired by Suzanne Welsh)