Bread and Butter Pickles

In which a glut of cucumbers leads me into experimentation.

Wow!  A lot of great comments on yesterday’s post.  Thank you!  I’d love to hear from anyone that has tried any of these recipes after I’ve posted them to share their experiences making them.  If you got a different result or hated something I liked, I’d love to know.  If you discovered a better way to do something, let me know that.

Now on to today’s recipe.

This is a recipe I found when I was originally putting together the cookbook for grandma’s birthday.  I had planted 4 cucumbers in my garden that year and was amazed at the number of cucumbers I got. DSCN2656I experimented with lacto-fermentation (I had one batch work and one that didn’t), I made a variety of pickles from one of my books.  I experimented with adding a chunk of horseradish and some hot peppers in with the cucumbers.  I was hoping that somewhere along the way, I would find the pickle recipe that would make all other pickle recipes seem insignificant and like a waste of cucumbers.  Not a single one of my experiments was as successful or eaten as quickly as these bread and butter pickles.  (Except for that one jar of spicy pickles that made it into a batch of dill pickle dip).  I ended up gifting a jar of these pickles to my grandma and grandpa hoping for it to trigger days of yore or something like that.  I don’t think it really worked, but they really are awesome pickles. DSCN2658You can get all fancy with these and use a crinkle cutter, but to get even slices, I usually use a mandoline. DSCN2660

Bread and Butter Pickles

4 qts sliced cucumbers
6 medium onions

Slice cucumbers (do not pare).  Add 1/3 cup salt and cover with ice cubes.  Mix thoroughly, let stand 3 hours.  Drain well.

Combine:
5 cups sugar
1 ½ tsp celery salt
2 TB mustard seed
1 ½ tsp turmeric
3 cups vinegar

Pour syrup over cucumbers.  Heat to boiling and seal in pints. (As always use safe canning practices.  If you have questions, there are great websites out there.)

 

Mystery Recipe?

In which I ask a procedural question.

This recipe looks delicious, or would if I had any idea how to make it.  Normally, the recipes that are lists of ingredients don’t bother me.  I know how to make a cake, I know how to make cookies.  These?  I don’t know if I am supposed to combine the peanut butter and condensed milk?  Do I make balls and dip them in the chocolate?  Do I combine all of the ingredients and it’s supposed to be like fudge?  Anyone?  Bueller?Scan_0073 (3)

Supper In a Bread Loaf

In which I do not make Beef Wellington

There are days where making supper is just hard.  I am crap at following recipes (before this).  I am a reforming bad meal planner and never seemed to have the right combination of ingredients in the house to make the meal that I really wanted.  I’d have to scour cookbooks and the internet in order to find something that I was in the mood for using the ingredients I had on hand.  If you don’t already realize it, this is a very bad, time consuming way to go about meal prepping and planning.  It can result in creative and tasty dishes, but ends up being very frustrating.  It seems much easier to just do take out than have to go through that stress every night.  It also doesn’t help when you ask the family what they want to eat and either no one has an idea or everyone has different ideas.  Making these decisions after a long day of making other far more important decisions is hard.  It’s a lot of pressure.  Making the decision to go through all of these recipes and make them all has taken a lot of pressure off.  I still don’t always have the right ingredients, but meal planning is significantly easier.  DSCN2433Supper in a bread loaf.  This recipe is the poor man’s version of Beef Wellington.  It is because of this recipe that I had frozen bread dough in the house for the French Apple Coffee Cake.  Had my house already been clean, my children all in school, etc, I might have taken extra bread dough and made beautiful decorations for this.  I might’ve egg washed it, made gorgeous cuts to make this into a work of art, but instead, I just did the most basic version of this dish.  Well, sort of.  The directions say “season to taste.”  For those of you that know me well, you know that my brain automatically shot in infinite directions.  “Oh, this could be good seasoned with taco seasoning.”  “Ooooohh, what about using my Krakow Nights seasoning?”  “I have some fresh herbs in the garden, but I think those might be the wrong choice.”  I settled on adding a bunch of Fox Point Seasoning.  I thought it would add flavor, but keep it true to the original intention of the dish.  I guess it worked. The kids inhaled the meal.  John took leftovers to work and was asked about it.  He said it was good reheated.  DSCN2439In order for busy people to make this dish in time for supper, there is some pre-planning that needs to happen.  The night before, get the bread dough out of the freezer and put it into the fridge.  It will start the thawing process.  When you get up in the morning, move the bread dough into a container on the counter and cover it with plastic wrap. (Speaking of plastic wrap, John told me that due to some environmental concerns, plastic wrap no longer has the coating on it that allows it to stick to anything, it now only sticks to itself.) Leave this on your counter until it’s time to actually make supper.  For this purpose, an overly lengthy rising time is not going to affect your end product enough that you will notice.  It may even allow some of the bread dough flavors to develop a little more.

 

 

 

If you cook extra ground beef, throw it in your freezer for something else.  It’s much easier to do dinner in a hurry when at least part of it is already cooked. DSCN2443Substitute chicken, turkey, pork, or whatever for the meat.  For a vegetarian version, use mushrooms, cooked lentils, or eggplant as your filling, add some sauteed greens.

This is one of those unapologetic dishes that is basic and filling.  It’s open to all sorts of interpretation.  Open up your fridge, your pantry, and your spice cabinet, get creative.  If you have a great version of this dish, please feel free to let me know about it. Supper In a Bread Loaf

Found on the Back: True Crime

While scanning recipes, I found this picture: Scan_0170 (3)

Who in the world is Edna Ruth Bullock and what does it mean “Told Her Husband”?  I decided to play Google detective and find out.  I had no idea that I was about to embark on a very dark journey down a rabbit hole.

I didn’t do a lot of in depth research into this, but at 25, Edna was accused of killing her 27 year old husband, James in 1958.  There was no evidence connecting her to the murder and she was not charged.  However, she had been previously married a dentist named Dr Glennon Engleman.  Engleman was eventually charged with at least 7 murders.  Some things I read said that he seduced women, got them to marry men, and then killed the men for a share of the life insurance.  Others said he was more of a hitman and just killed for profit.  Regardless, I think I might be happy that I’ve got 5 months until my next dental appointment.

Wikipedia Article on Glennon Engleman

Murderpedia Article

Article about the Movie “The Dentist”

Apple Butter Cake with Caramel Icing

It’s part of your American Heritage

I have this friend that has become quite the cook since I first started talking to him.  He takes trips to Italy and Morocco to learn about cuisine and comes home and replicates it in his kitchen.  He started baking bread a few years back and makes gorgeous loaves.  When the Great British Baking Show started being aired and he mentioned watching it, I knew it was a matter of time before he started to foray into cakes.  I think he made a game pie before he made his first cake.  I got pictures from him every step of the way.

I had a conversation with my neighbor the other day about baking cakes from scratch.  We usually talk with a fence between us.  It reminds me of the show Home Improvement.  We discussed how people just don’t make a lot of cakes from scratch any more, “But it’s not that hard” one of us said.  “And the cake is so much better.”  “You know everything that goes into it and it really doesn’t take that long.”  When I made this cake, I knew that we had to take her a piece.

This is not one of the sort of cakes you see on the Great British Baking Show, it’s not a delicate Angel Food cake full of air.  With every bite of this cake, you can taste your American heritage.  It’s a cake that just feels like it was developed on the prairies.  Something that, could they have afforded it, Ma Ingalls would’ve made for Pa, Laura, Mary, Carrie, and Grace for a special occasion.  Definitely something Laura would’ve made in her later years in Missouri. DSCN2864For this cake, I used my homemade apple butter.  If you don’t have homemade, just use whatever sort of apple butter you like or have access to.  (Apple butter is super easy in the crockpot, though, so you may want to try).

 

The Apple Butter cake is a butter cake.  There are a few types of cakes, and knowing which type of cake yours is can help determine what method to use while making it, even when just given a list of ingredients.  I used a 9×13 pan.

Ok, so after the cake was made and cooling on the counter, I knew it needed frosting.  But deciding which frosting is always a challenge.  I baked a jam cake in July and tempered the sweetness with some cream cheese frosting, but that didn’t seem right for this.  I dug around in the cookbook I made of my great-grandma’s recipes to find something suitable.  Caramel icing seemed perfect.  Making the caramel icing was not quite as easy as making the cake.  First of all, there is a HUGE typo in the recipe.  I verified on the original card to be sure.  Softball stage is 225, not 325.  I didn’t make the error, but felt necessary to call it out just in case.  Don’t skip the cooling down stage. And remember that frosting should take about 7 minutes to get really creamy and wonderful (it’s why there is a thing called 7 minute frosting).

 

I topped mine with pecans because I like a little crunch.  Leave them off if you don’t like them

DSCN2868No one complained about eating this cake for dessert 3 days in a row and they were a little sad there was none left on the 4th day.

Apple Butter Cake

Caramel Frosting

1 cup white sugar
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 tsp salt
2 TB butter

Combine sugar (white and brown), salt and milk, cook until syrup forms a soft ball (325° F) in cold water.  Remove from heat, add butter, and let cool.  Beat until cool and good spreading consistency.

Apple Walnut Cookies

It’s the time of the year for the Festive Fall Bucket List.  The time of the year when moms like me start to cringe about all of those moms that have more time, energy, and money who enthusiastically put on their mom uniforms and with their PSL (that’s code for Pumpkin Spice Latte) in one hand and their camera or phone in the other hand, pack their kids into their perfectly clean vans or SUVs and head out to do ALL the fall things.  Every weekend is a corn maze, an apple orchard, or a pumpkin patch.  There are hikes in the woods to collect leaves to make the perfect wreath for the front door.  And then there is me.  I love fall, I really do.  I manage to get the kids out to a corn maze or a pumpkin patch or an orchard once before Halloween.  We usually meet my brother’s family and do something apple and pumpkin-y.  (We need to do something more corn or pumpkin-y this year, though, I don’t need/want more apples.)  But I don’t have time to spend every weekend that way.  Planned fun isn’t always fun anyway. Sometimes it’s those spontaneous moments, the random stops, and even the car trip there that are the most fun moments.  DSCN2813As I was raking apples from under the trees the other day, I realized that I am very much in the ant portion of my life.  You know the fable of the ant and the grasshopper? The ants spend all summer (and probably fall) collecting food and storing it away while the grasshopper spent all summer playing in the grass and doing silly things.  When winter hit, the ants had food, the grasshopper had none, the ants invited the grasshopper in to share what they had. This is where I could start to lecture about enabling grasshoppers, but I’ll refrain.  My point is that I am very aware that this is the part of my life where I need to be putting in the time and effort.  And I’m good with that.

 

When I was growing up, we used to go to the Bayfield Apple Fest.  I remember watching the apple peeling contest one year.  When I peel apples now, I think of that.  I try to see if I can get the peel off in one single ribbon.  When I dawdle, I try to make it as long and thin as possible.  I’m in a contest with no one but myself, but I compete anyway.

I peeled and chopped my way through 3 apples before I had enough to make these cookies.  I had spotted this recipe a while back and wasn’t sure I’d ever get around to making it this year, but I’d had enough of making applesauce for a while and was ready for something different.  It was time to have some cookies in the house again because it had been a while. After they were completed, I nearly cursed myself for waiting so long.  I tucked 2 dozen into the freezer for later consumption.DSCN2827These cookies are autumnal and amazing.  They are soft and spicy and sweet.  I thought that the large amount of clove may be overwhelming and slightly numbing, but it wasn’t. The cinnamon was warm and perfect. I used some orange salt that I made last year instead of regular salt.  This is the sort of cookie you want with you on fall adventures. If you want a healthier cookie, this is one that could stand up to the addition of whole wheat flour without detracting from the overall texture of the cookie.  Substitute another nut if you don’t like walnuts.  However, mom suggested toasting the walnuts for a few minutes before adding them and I think it made a big difference.  If you are like my kids and don’t like raisins, I think you could leave them out without affecting the quality of the cookie. These cookies would be excellent dipped in a brown butter frosting.

Because there are no real instructions on how to make these, as with most cookies, sift the dry ingredients together.  Beat the fat and the sugar, add the eggs.  Alternate additions of the dry ingredients and the milk.  Fold in the apples, raisins, and walnuts at the end.  I found that in my oven 11-14 minutes at 400 wasn’t quite right.  I had better success with 14 minutes at 375.

Apple Walnut Cookies