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)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Honey Bran Muffins

I have done it!  I recreated the taste of Mimi's Cafe's Honey bran muffins... and they are delicious.

I was thinking the other day that I do not have a whole lot of fiber in my diet.  Knowing the bran is amazingly good for you, I wanted to find a better way to eat it than Raisin Bran (which is gross because I don't like raisins).

Thus the search began for a recipe that would allow me to make delicious bran muffins.  I used to regularly order honey bran muffins at Mimi's... so I figured I would start with that.  There was a post on a forum about Mimi's bran muffins.  I was disappointed that they did not call for honey, but for dark corn syrup.  I decided to tweak the recipe a little since it also called for raisins pureed with water, which doesn't work because:
1) I don't like raisins, and
2) I don't have a blender of any kind in my apartment.

Please note that despite my looking for something "healthy," I must admit that these are basically like candy on the outside.  So other than the bran being good for me, the sugar and fat content is probably rather high.

Here, is my tweaked recipe: (Original found Here)


Honey Bran Muffin

Makes 12 regular sized muffins

dry ingredients:
1 cup flour
1 cup wheat bran
4 tsp dry milk powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
"liquid" ingredients:
1/3 cup brown sugar (it called for dark, but all I had was light)
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp molasses
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp grated orange zest (the orange flavor is a little overpowering, I'd probably reduce this to 1 Tablespoon or maybe even 2 teaspoons)

3 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp brown sugar, packed
3 Tbsp butter (very soft or slightly melted - I put this whole mixture on top of the fridge while I did the rest and it worked really well)
2 Tbsp honey
2 tsp water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Distribute about 1 Tbsp of the Glaze into each of your 12 muffin tins and be sure to coat the bottom and sides of each muffin tin. (I did this just before I mixed the wet and dry ingredients so that the glaze was fairly liquid, and I just spread it evenly between all 12 tins rather than measure)
In a medium bowl (or one with a pour spout) mix all the dry ingredients.
In a separate bowl (I didn't do this I just put all the wet ingredients into the middle of the dry ingredients and mixed them all together), mix the "liquid" ingredients.  Stir the liquids into the dry ingredients until just moistened.

Fill muffin tins 2/3 full, bake at 350 for 20min, until a toothpick comes out clean (be sure not to fill the muffins too full because even at 2/3rds they spring up over the tops a little.
Immediately invert the baked muffins onto foil or wax paper to cool.
I put mine on wax paper, and then enjoyed eating the carmelized rings on the muffin tin - if you make them, you'll know what I'm talking about.


Do you find yourself typing "brain" when you mean to type bran?  I certainly do.

Bran is the hard outer layer of a grain.  Wheat bran can usually be found in the supermarket; and though I have not really looked for them yet, oat and rice bran are also available (rice bran is used in several Japanese recipes). Bran can be milled from any grain: rice, corn, wheat, oats, barley and millet (rice bran comes from the layer that is removed when brown rice becomes white rice).

Apparently, wheat and barley bran do contain gluten (sorry to all of you with celiac disease/sprue). However, rice and corn bran do not contain gluten, and oat bran is somewhere in between.  If you have a mild gluten-intolerance, you might try that. (

Bran is REALLY good for you.  Not only does it contain a great amount of dietary fiber, but also essential fatty acids, starch, protein, vitamins and minerals!  Also, it's very filling.

(citations: Wikipedia, Grain picture in the public domain, Google Health, Medicinenet, therecipelink)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Orange Marmalade

I tend to cook more for other people than myself.  Often, once I'm done cooking, I'm no longer hungry for whatever I made.  So I usually check with my husband before I decide to make something that I may, or may not, be interested in eating later.

This allowed me to make the discovery that my husband likes Orange Marmalade.

I will be honest and also say that I was listening to a lot of Jeeves and Wooster by P.G. Wodehouse, and Wooster eats marmalade with his breakfast.

Orange Marmalade Recipe

Makes about 6 half-pint jars (I ended up with 7 jars plus a little, but I also used a little more that 4 cups of fruit mixture)

4 Oranges
2 Lemons
2.5 cups Water
1/8 tsp baking soda
6 cups sugar
1 package powdered pectin
1/4 tsp butter (if needed)

It's probably possible to make marmalade without pectin, but after an ordeal with Crab Apple Jelly, I decided to go on the safe side and use pectin.
Clean your canning equipment and jars. Sterilize everything in boiling water. Wash the oranges and lemons, remove the outer peel with a vegetable peeler.  Thinly slice the rinds into smallish pieces and place in a 4-quart saucepan with the water and baking soda.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover, simmer for 20min, stirring occasionally.  While the rinds are cooking, remove as much white pith from the oranges and lemons as possible.  Finely chop the fruit and make sure to remove all the seeds.
After the rinds are cooked, add  the fruit and juice.  Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10min.
Measure 4 cups of cooked fruit and rind mixture, mine was a little over 4 cups, but it still set up fine and I just put the excess in the refrigerator to use now.
Put the 4 cups of fruit into a large pot, add pectin and butter (I didn't use any butter, since mine didn't foam at all).  Bring to a vigorous boil that cannot be stirred down. Boil for 1min.  Add sugar and return to a boil for 1min.  
Remove from heat and let stand 5min, stirring occasionally.
Ladle hot marmalade into sterile jars, leaving about 1/4 inch of space at the top.  Screw on lids tightly and process the jars in boiling water for 5min - make sure the jars are covered by at least 1 inch of water.
Let jars cool undisturbed for 12-24 hours, then check seals. Store in a dark, cool place.


The Greeks were probably one of the first to make preserves.  They used a relative of the apple called a quince and cooked it with honey.  When it cooled it would set into a kind of jam. Apples, guavas, quince, plums, gooseberries, oranges and other citrus fruits, contain large amounts of pectin, most have enough to set without using boxed pectin.  Soft fruits like cherries, grapes and strawberries contain small amounts of pectin, which is why we have to add pectin to make them set properly.

I'd love to get my hands on the Book of Ceremonies of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos.  It apparently has not only rules about etiquette for banqueting in the 9th Century, but also a catalog of foods and dishes prepared for them.

Fruit preserves, as we know them, came about in the Medieval times, but it usually had spices (not that that's a bad thing).  By the late 1600's there were several recipes for jellies and jams that were just fruit, juice and sugar.  These often include a fruit that has a lot of pectin in it, and a fairly long boiling time.
For the sake of disambiguation, I use Jam to mean fruit preserve with actual fruit chunks in it (excluding citrus fruits).  Jelly is a clear juice preserve, and marmalade is a citrus preserve.  

However, the word "marmalade" appeared in the English language in 1480.  It derives from the Greek word μελίμηλον (melímēlon), which is made up of "μέλι" (meli), "honey" + "μήλον" (mēlon), "apple".  The Greek word became melimelum, “honey apple” in Latin, which turned into the root word marmelo, "quince" (marmelada in Portuguese, marmelade in French).  The English borrowed the word, presumably, from the French.
(Citations: Wikipedia, Seven Centuries of English Cooking: A collection of recipes by Maxime de la Falaise)

The Start

I once said to a friend: "I don't like baking."  I have, however, started baking a lot more than I used to, and I think I know why: I am a nervous baker.

I thought my aversion was merely due to baking not being as creative as cooking (which I have always loved), then I thought that maybe it was because I always saw my sister as being the "better baker" in the family.  She seemed to love it.  But I think it's all been due to just not doing it very much... and not having my own kitchen to do it in.

Once I got married and moved northward, I got my own kitchen and oven.  But until this year, I didn't really do much baking.  Now, it seems, I can't help myself.  I've been making all kinds of delicious things.

So now, all of that deliciousness will be cataloged right here.