The non-baker bakes

March 22, 2018

Lime pound cake, courtesy of fancy Bundt pan.

I’ve always said I was a cook and not a baker.

I guess I’m more of a baker than I used to be, by virtue of being a frequent baker of bread, but I’ve never been much  of one for baking cakes, pies and pastries, nor anything much beyond that. But you couldn’t tell it this week.

This week, I have made a lime pound cake, three little baby lime pound cakes, and four adolescent-sized lemon pound cakes. I will be well represented at the church rummage sale/bake sale this weekend.

What had happened was, I got in the notion for a citrus pound cake earlier this week. I had a bag of limes I’d picked up at Aldi because, well, they were $1.99 for a bag of 8, and it’s just hard to pass up cheap limes. I thought lime pound cake sounded good, so I found a recipe and made one. Indeed, I made four, because I made one in my fancy Bundt pan and three baby ones in my baby bundt pans. Decided the baby ones were plenty for us to eat at home, so I’d take the big one to the sale.

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Half of what I discarded. The rest went directly in the trash.

I am unconscionably proud of myself. I have cleaned out the refrigerator.

I am absolutely horrible at letting stuff get pushed to the back of the fridge, where it remains until it’s old enough to vote. (In the case of condiments in the fridge door shelves, they may live there until they’re old enough to draw Social Security.) But even I knew the fridge was getting out of control.

So…fridge cleanout time.

This project is hampered by the fact I cannot remove either the shelves or the crisper drawers from my refrigerator without pulling it out from the wall so I can open the door all the way back, something which, because of where it’s located adjacent to a wall, requires my 6’2″, 250-pound son-in-law to accomplish. But I did the best I could.

I unloaded a shelf at a time, cleaned it thoroughly with boiling water from my electric kettle (best thing to clean fridge shelves that have had gunk spilled on them, if you can’t get them out and get them over to the sink), and divided its contents into three categories: Keep, chunk, or put somewhere on a different shelf. I further divided the “chunk” category into two divisions: one that went directly into the trash, and another that went over to the sink, where the contents would be dumped down the drain and the containers washed, twice, in the dishwasher.

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A change of breakfast pace.

You are tired, sick to death of cereal, sausage and biscuits, even your beloved yogurt and granola and fresh fruit. You don’t want to bake a dozen muffins, and all your muffin recipes are for a dozen (you really don’t want a half a dozen). You don’t want to go out to the local diner for breakfast, never mind they make a fine one, because you don’t want to have to get out of your PJs and brush your hair.

You want something different.

You want a Dutch baby.

It’s easy, even easier if you possess a blender and a countertop oven. It’s relatively quick; you’ve got breakfast in less than 30 minutes. It’s tasty. It can go sweet or savory, as you please. It’s different.

All the boxes appear to be checked.

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Like Mama used to make

February 10, 2018

Ready for the meringue topping. Skimpy custard and all.

At least as well as I can remember. Since Mama, God rest her soul, has been gone for almost 25 years, and I don’t remember when she first baked a banana pudding prior to that.

My mama could make a KILLER banana pudding. She’d make the boiled custard, layer the vanilla wafers, whack me with a wooden spoon when I’d snatch too many of them, slice up the bananas and layer those, and pour the custard over it all. Then she’d whip the egg whites with a little sugar, mound the meringue up in pretty little peaks on top of the pudding, and slide it in the oven for a few, just to brown it.

Simple — the essence of simplicity. So simple you forget about making it. Just really, really good, that comfort food, make-your-tummy-happy, cure-whatever-ails-you good. Will feed a crowd (this is a good pot-luck dessert).

A friend at church brought one to a pot luck a couple of years ago. I scarfed a dish of it. I hunted her down, gave her a big hug, and told her, “My Mama’s been gone more than 20 years, but this makes me feel like she’s still here.”

Not too long after that, I broke my leg. They announced it at church. She called me and said, “Can I do anything for you?” And I said, “Yes. You can make me a banana pudding.”

It helped. I swear it’s why my leg healed so fast.

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Uhhhh….hello?

February 9, 2018

In a testament to procrastination, here’s Christmas dinner.

Can I come back in? Are y’all still speaking to me?

Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, for my protracted absence. I can plead illness and busy-as-hell since Christmas. After fighting the sinus infection from hell before the holiday, it crashed in on me with a vengeance after New Year’s, sending me to the doctor for a Z-pack, to the couch for a few days, and NOT to the kitchen much at all, as it had slaughtered my senses of taste and smell, and who cares about eating? I ate a lot of toast, and granola, and cheese and crackers.

And then it was catch-up time. Work catchup, that is. On the road a good bit, and chained to my desk a good bit more. I cooked, and there were a couple of exceptional things I’ll detail in coming days, but on the whole, nothing special.

So, anyway. That’s Christmas dinner, above. Pretty standard. Ham, roast beef, asparagus, brussels sprouts, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes (carbs-r-us!) rolls, cranberry salad. The fam was satiated. The kids washed dishes. It was a good day.

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It begins!

November 19, 2017

Pumpkin cheesecake, top center, flanked by plain ones.

Well, if we don’t have anything else for Thanksgiving, we’ll have appetizers and dessert, because those are made.

(Note to self: Need to take turkey out of the freezer tomorrow. Don’t forget that.)

I got up with the urge to get in the kitchen Saturday, and get in the kitchen I did. Included in the day’s production were three cheesecakes, two cheese balls, and two small baguettes’ worth of crostini.

In truth, it would have been just two cheesecakes, but for the fact my nine-inch springform pan has taken feet and walked away. I was planning on a cheesecake in it for pot-luck at church tomorrow, but it wound up being two cheesecake pies, instead. I need to top them with…something, yet to be determined what. It may be a pecan topping I found a recipe for (that I was going to use, because it’s for a pecan pie cheesecake, with a layer of pecan pie, a layer of cheesecake, and then the topping, and who wouldn’t love THAT?

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eggbites, plate

Ready to be bagged up for breakfast.

Well, some of it, anyway.

I have bulghur oatmeal bread on its first rise, egg bites in the Instant Pot (and leftovers in the CSO), granola in the oven, and trout filets brining in the fridge. The sirloin tip will move to the freezer to wait his turn, and the bottom round will go in the cure to be corned, since it has to sit for two weeks, anyway.

The trout likely will not get smoked until tomorrow. It may be the bottom round won’t go in the brine until tomorrow. We shall see. Given how I felt yesterday, I’m fairly well amazed I got as much done as I did.

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