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Archive for the ‘homemade’


Apricot-Cardamom Meringues 1

Posted on January 08, 2011 by crankycheryl

I’ve once again lost my camera, dangit.  So though I can’t provide any halfway-decent pictures, I still want to share a recipe that’s well-suited to January’s good intentions.

It came about  as a result of frustration with the weight I can’t seem to stop gaining, magnified by a radio piece on obesity in Vermont.  What a terrible realization to confront the fact that I’m on the wrong side of the statistics.  And this has for whatever reason troubled me enough that I’m ready to make real changes.  As of January 1, I’m only eating protein, fruit, and vegetables (i.e., dairy, meat, fish, beans, seeds, nuts, any fruit or vegetable or tuber, but no grains).  It’s an approach that works for me because it’s drastic enough that I have to pay attention, but still very, very simple.  There’s not much wiggle room, and that’s just what I need.

It also means that I’m eating whole foods, very close to their natural state.  I feel good and I’m eating well.  Of course I still want a treat or two, and here’s something I was able to make with what I had around.  I suspect it wouldn’t taste great to folks who are used to processed sugar, but for me after a week of going without, they tasted pretty darn swell.

The next time I make these, I plan to try pureed sweet potato (an idea from my friend Layla), and I also have some designs on unsweetened dried blueberries.  The proverbial possibilities are endless – and are likely to give good results with a couple of tips:

  • There’s very little effort, but the recipe does take a long time in both the soaking and the cooling down so be sure to plan for it.
  • Prepare ahead by soaking dried fruit in warm water overnight, or by roasting and pureeing sweet potatoes or beets or whatever you might be inclined to try.  You want the fruit-type ingredient to be fairly concentrated, and pureed until very smooth.
  • Because of the science of how proteins set and toughen, ones made without any added sugar will be tougher than those that do contain it, so you can make your own choice based on your needs.

And please do let me know how your efforts go if you do go ahead and give them a try.

Apricot-Cardamom Meringues
Makes about 24

  1. Preheat oven to 225.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Puree in a blender or with an immersion blender with just enough of the soaking liquid to get a good paste:
  • About 1 1/2 c. soaked and tender dried apricots, soaked until soft.
  • 1 pinch cardamom

You should end up with about 1 cup of puree.

3.  Whip until very firm and standing in peaks:

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/8 t. cream of tartar

4.  Beat in the fruit puree about 2 T. at a time until thoroughly incorporated.

5.  Drop by heaping tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets and bake for 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until firm.  Turn oven off and let cool completely, then remove and enjoy.  They’ll last a good long time if they’re kept in a closed container at room temperature, but shouldn’t be refrigerated or frozen.

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Thank You Cookies 0

Posted on December 17, 2010 by crankycheryl

These are the cookies we make to give our letter carrier, garbagemen, firefighters and our other year-round helpers.   And when Z.’s teacher asked his class to bring in something from a family holiday tradition, these were the first thing that came to mind.

They are chewy and fudgy, somewhere between brownies and cookies, delicious and chocolate-y and very addictive, which is why I only make them once a year.   (Though, full disclosure: 5-year old “Stewie” in Zander’s class didn’t like them because he doesn’t like fruit with his chocolate.)

Whatever, kid.

Herrick Family Thank You Cookies
Adapted from Martha Stewart Everyday Food Black Forest Cookies

Makes 36

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat liners and set aside.

2.   In a medium bowl, whisk together:

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, spooned and leveled
  • 2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
3.  Place in a large glass or otherwise heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water and stir until melted and smooth:
  • 8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

4.  Remove from heat, then whisk in separately and thoroughly:
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 T. molasses
  • 2 large eggs
Whisk until smooth.
5.   Whisk in flour mixture just until combined. Fold in:
  • 1 package (about 12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries or tart cherries
Cover well and refrigerate until firm, 30 to 45 minutes.
6.   Drop mounds of dough (equal to 2 level tablespoons) about 2 inches apart onto prepared sheets. Bake just until edges are firm, 11 to 13 minutes. Cool on baking sheets 1 to 2 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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S’more Cupcakes 2

Posted on October 16, 2010 by crankycheryl

I’m never sure what’s going to happen when I offer to donate goodies for charity auctions.  Sometimes they end up uncollected, and sometimes they end up being great big jobs that take days to prepare.  Still, we’ve got so many good causes around here, and it’s fun to be creative in unexpected ways.

I was happy to donate a couple dozen custom cupcakes for our beloved Intervale Center’s recent auction.  The order turned out to be a rush job for an 8-year old’s birthday.  Lucky for me, she knew exactly what she wanted: s’more cupcakes – vanilla cupcake, marshmallow frosting, chocolate, and topped with graham cracker crumbs.  Super easy, and it gave me a chance to work with Fluff, which is very likely my favorite guilty pleasures.

S’more Cupcakes
1 dozen

For cupcakes, follow this recipe, which is as easy and yummy a regulation vanilla cupcake I’ve ever found.

Marshmallow Frosting
Whip together on high speed until fluffy (-er) and well combined:

  • 2 cups Fluff (our health food store also carries a vegan rice fluff-ish thing)
  • 1 cup organic non-hydrogenated type frosting (you can substitute unsalted butter if you prefer, but shortening will give you a firmer set and will hold better if you want to make this a day ahead
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar

To decorate:

Frost the cooled cupcakes.  Roll them on a diagonal in finely crushed crumbs from about:

  • 8 graham crackers

Then top with:

  • 1 small piece of chocolate (for my own family I would have used some Lake Champlain Chocolate squares, but I didn’t know if the birthday girl would tolerate deviation from regulation s’more ingredients)

Make ahead note:

  • You can make everything up to a day ahead, but don’t construct more than a few hours before you plan to serve.  Otherwise your crumbs will lose their crisp.
  • The cupcakes can be baked and cooled farther ahead and frozen.
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Pumpkin-Cinnamon Swirl Bread 1

Posted on October 14, 2010 by crankycheryl

We’re blessed with a whole flock of new babies in our lives, and that means baking for the new parents. There’s a simple rule I follow in providing food for new parents of second and third children:

Give them delicious and healthy food their older children will eat without whining.

This way, the parents can feed their firstborn, and snitch a bite or two and receive just enough nutrients to survive another round of round-the-clock babycare.

E.  & Z. & I had a lovely version of this when we popped in at Great Harvest recently.  It’s near where we’ve started martial arts classes, and it takes all the bribery and threats I can muster to get my #1 son there.  I definitely credit Great Harvest’s sugary offerings and riding toy collection with my being able to bamboozle him to the dojo last week.   And the bread was so good that even in my traumatized state I was inspired to go home and make some of our own, which we then gifted to some of the new parents in our lives.  It’s like a cinnamon roll in loaf form, and reasonably healthy-ish as far as these things go.

Pumpkin-Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Bread adapted from Joy of Cooking
Filling adapted from The Weekend Baker
Makes one loaf

1.  Stir together in a large bowl:

  • 1 c. bread flour
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 package (2 1/4 t.) active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 t. salt

Add and stir very well:

  • 1 c. very warm water
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. pureed pumpkin, acorn, or butternut squash

2.  Add 1/4 c. at a time, mixing by hand, or a hand-held blender:

  • 3/4 – 1 c. bread flour

Add flour until the dough is moist but not sticky.

3.  Turn your oven to 350 degrees for exactly one minute and then turn it off.

4.  Knead for 10 minutes, either by hand or in some fancy machine with a dough hook, until the dough is smooth and elastic.  But set the timer and don’t cheat your dough, even if it seems nice and elastic before you’ve kneaded for the whole time.  Then coat a large bowl with oil, place the dough in it, turn it over once to coat it, then cover with a damp tea towel.  Let rise in the oven (make sure you’ve turned it off!) for about 45 minutes, or until doubled in volume.

5.  While the dough is rising, prepare the cinnamon filling.  Beat together in a large bowl with a handheld mixer on medium speed until very thoroughly combined into a thick paste:

  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar*
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar*
  • 1/3 c. unbleached flour
  • 2 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. (4 T.) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 c. applesauce or apple butter

6. Preheat oven to 450.   Grease a standard (6-cup) loaf pan.  Punch down the dough, then stretch it out into an oblong about the width of the loaf pan and about 12″ long.  Leave a 1″ border on one short end, then spread the cinnamon filling to about 2″ from the other end, going to about 1″ from the sides of the dough.  (You can freeze any leftover filling or put it on your oatmeal or mix it into cookies.)

7.  Roll up the dough as tightly as you can, beginning on the short end with the filling that comes closest to the edge.  Tuck and push as you roll to get the neatest loaf possible.  Place in the loaf pan and bake for 10 minutes, then turn oven down to 350 and bake for 30 more, or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped.  Remove loaf to a rack and let cool completely.  Eat within three days, or freeze for up to two months.

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Best Freaking Apple Pie Ever 4

Posted on September 24, 2010 by crankycheryl

First: if you’re here in northern Vermont too and are after apples, you must go to the UVM Hort Farm.  If you have even an iota of apple love or food geekiness, you will fall in love with the shed and its many, changing varieties of apples and how folks from all walks of life come through for their $1/lb. apples.  And not just any apples, but many that you can’t get in stores, from the organic and IPM orchards in which UVM grows different varieties to test for various traits.

I went a little crazy, which I’m sure you’ll find hard to believe, and found myself leaving with 18 pounds of fruit, with a sample of each posed here.

Starting from the red spotty one and going clockwise, that’s Speckles (NY-75414-1), Arlet, Silken, Gala, Jubilee Fuji, NY-74828,  and in the middle must be CQR 12-t-50.

And then it was sometime around then that we got an invite to an Apple Pie Fest for a friend’s birthday.  A contest, even, with prizes for all who entered.  E. isn’t terribly into cooking these days, but I grabbed him long enough to get his votes: sweet or savory crust?  Double or single crust?  I got out all sorts of aromatic spices and let the boys choose which we’d use, and after a lot of sniffing we settled on cinnamon.  So traditional it was.

We got out the excellent Cooking with Shelburne Farms and gave their recipe a whirl.  It was the best pie I’ve ever made.  Maybe it’s because I was in teaching mode and explaining why this thing is cold and why we pulse in the liquid just so as the crust is coming together and so I was actually following directions.  The directions are a bit long, but just follow them and you too will be in for a fall treat.

Apple Pie
Adapted with permission from Cooking with Shelburne Farms

Makes one 10-inch pie (I doubled and made two, which was perfect for both our weekend parties)

Crust:

1.  Place in the freezer to chill:

  • 1/2 c. milk

2.  In a food processor, pulse together:

  • 3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour (we used 2 cups white and 1 cup whole wheat pastry)
  • 2 T. white sugar
  • 1/2 t. salt

3.  Cut into small pieces and then work into the flour with six short pulses:

  • 6 T. cold vegetable shortening (we used the non-hydrogenated palm oil kind)

Repeat with:

  • 2 sticks cold unsalted butter

Pulse a few additional times, until the mixture is pebbly with small bits of the butter still visible.

4.  Pour:

  • 1/4 c. chilled milk

through the food processor tube, and pulse three or four times.  Add the rest of the milk one tablespoon at a time, with short pulses, just until the dough starts to come together (it won’t do so like bread dough does, and it’s better to under-work your crust than overwork it so err on the side of under-mixing it if you’re unsure).

Get out two plastic bags or two large squares of plastic wrap.  Turn the dough out into a large bowl and gather it together in two equal balls.  Flatten them slightly into round disks, place in bags or wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450.

The Filling

5.  Peel, core and slice:

  • 3 lbs. (6 – 8 large) apples

Given our Hort Farm adventure, we used a mix of Arlet, Speckles and Galas.  Pie apples are a matter of much debate, with very strong preferences given for particular varieties.  Use what you like.

Toss them with:

  • 3/4 – 1 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 2-3 T. unbleached flour (add 2 T. and then see if you seem to have extra-juicy fruit and add the additional T. if necessary)
  • 1/4 t. salt

6.  Unwrap one chilled ball of dough and place it on a large, lightly floured surface.  With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the ball from the center out until the dough is in a circle about 1/3″ thick and about 13″ in diameter.  If there are cracks and tears as you roll, go ahead and patch and pinch together to repair.

Use a thin metal spatula to nudge the dough around the rolling pin, and lift it to the pan, patching it as necessary.  Fill it with the apples, mounding them in the center.  Top with:

  • 2 T. slices of butter

6.  Roll out the second ball of dough in the same way as the first.  If you like, you can create a vent in the crust by using your favorite cookie cutter to remove a small shape from the center.  Brush the edges of the bottom crust with water, and then lay the top crust on top the same way the bottom one was moved.  Leave a 1/4″ overhang all around, trim the excess with a sharp knife as necessary and crimp the edges.

7.  Brush the top lightly with milk, cut vents if you decided not to remove the cookie shape in step 6, and sprinkle all over with sugar.  Set on a rack in the lower third of the oven and bake for 25 minutes.

8.  Lower the oven temperature to 350 and move the pie to the lowest setting in the oven.  If the edge of the crust is browning too fast, use a long thin piece of foil to protect only the edge.  Bake for another 25-30 minutes, or until the top crust is golden-brown and the apples are soft when pierced.

Remove from oven and let cool.  Then you can bring it to a party, where it can join a stellar line-up of pies, and maybe it too will win the “Tastiest Pie” medal.

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Maple Cornbread 4

Posted on September 17, 2010 by crankycheryl

I grew up with my mother’s copy of the Vegetarian Epicure, a classic source for soups and breads and vegetarian food from back in the days when no one was scared to cook with a boatload of cheese and butter.

In a pinch the other day, I turned to the newer edition for a cornbread recipe and now have my new favorite.  Moist, very slightly sweet, just the right density, and lovely for your fall go-with-soup needs.  We had it with an impromptu squash soup as a first round, when E. ate no soup, but did help himself to 6 pieces of this, warm and buttered.  It was hard to argue.

Maple-Kissed Buttermilk Cornbread
Adapted from The New Vegetarian Epicure
8 servings

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 12 x 15 baking dish and set aside.

Sift together:

  • 1 cup unbleached white, or white whole-wheat, flour
  • 1 1/2 c. cornmeal (if you’re in Vermont, maybe give Nitty Gritty a whirl)
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 3/4 t. salt

In a separate bowl whisk together:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 c. buttermilk
  • 3 T. maple syrup
  • 2 T. melted butter or olive oil

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just until the lumps are gone.    Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 – 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool for a few minutes, then cut into squares and serve.

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Maple-Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies 4

Posted on September 06, 2010 by crankycheryl

I have a predilection for inappropriate competitiveness that dovetails beautifully with culinary contests.  And when our fair’s Whoopie Pie competition ended up on a day I knew I’d have free, there was little chance of me missing it.

I’d been there earlier in the week, and had scoped out the scene of the King Arthur Flour-sponsored contests.  I hit the computer for a whoopie pie research and recipe.  I liked the concept, suggested by some, that the whoopie pie was sort of a working class macaron, a lovely little confection that’s always seemed entirely too fussy for me to consider making.

Knowing that my talents lie more in the region of presentation and flavor than technical baking, I decided that interesting flavors were the way to go.  I love the combo of maple and peanut butter, and thought I’d give it a whirl.

Given that KAF was the sponsor, I based my recipe on theirs.  My first try, using butter for the fat, was a failure in that the cookies ran together into flat pancakes.

Luckily, I had time for a second try, when I used organic unhydrogenated shortening to much better, more cookie-shaped, results.

I got to the fair to discover that I was the 10th of 12 contestants to enter the competition.   All I could see of the competitors’ was chocolate, and there’s no way to judge a whoopie pie from its appearance, so I sat down to wait and watch the judges with other Ladies Who Enter Fair Contests.  Together we tried to determine what the panel’s body language meant, and was it bad or good if your plate’s tag was in a particular position and other such arcane things.

Soon enough the agony was over and I didn’t win a ribbon.  When I tried the winners’ entries, I had to agree: a great whoopie pie is cakey and fairly thick; my cookies had great flavor, but were distinctly cookie-ish.   So it’s back to research to find a soft and cakey non-chocolate whoopie pie recipe, which doesn’t sound like too bad a winter’s hobby.  And in the meantime, here’s a really delicious maple-peanut butter cookie recipe for your fall enjoyment.

Maple-Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
About 9 sandwiches

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease baking sheets.

1.  Whisk together:

  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2.  In a separate bowl, whip until very light:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or natural shortening, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

When very fluffy and well combined, add in:

  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla

3.  Add dry mixture to wet in three parts, and stir just until combined.

4.  Drop batter by the 1/4 cup onto prepared baking sheets. With the back of a spoon spread batter into 4-inch circles, leaving approximately 2 inches between each cake.

5.  Bake 15 minutes or until they are firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.

6.  While cookies are cooling, whip together until combined and fluffy:

  • 1/4 cup shortening or butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups Marshmallow Fluff
  • 2 T. smooth peanut butter

Pipe or spread onto one cookie and top with another and serve.

(And those too-flat cookies from the first batch?  I layered them with sliced local plums and mascarpone cheese and brought it to a friends for dinner after weighting it down and letting it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours.  Good – like some kind of simple trifle or riff on tiramisu.  I would have doused it with sherry or port but thought I’d leave off the alcohol as if my kids would eat it anyway.  Right.)

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Children of the Corn 4

Posted on August 25, 2010 by crankycheryl

Is it just me?

Wouldn’t you expect that your children and their two friends could stay at the petting zoo and playground for two minutes while you ran to get them a bottle of water since the poor little darlings were thirsty?

And if they had to run wild in the minutes you were gone, surely you’d think they could continue on with the petting zoo animals, or climbing the wooden tractor, or running across the wide, safe, open field.  What child of reading age would cross an acre, pass the “CLOSED” signs, and enter the corn maze?

This place, by the way, is a big old actual maze with paths that swirl around in traditionally confusing and re-doubling ways.  It wasn’t terrifying at 3:00 p.m., but I sure as heck wouldn’t want to be there after sundown.   I’ve seen the horror movies and I know what goes on.

Still, you and your younger child yourselves entered the forbidden rows, yelling for the trespassers and were at last reunited, after telling the offending three children that they were in TROUBLE and had ONE MINUTE to find their way to where you were (because if you tell people to do something impossible while YELLING, the laws of physics will change to accommodate your wishes), and then the farmer showed up to yell at them too.

So there we were with glaring adults and big-eyed children.  I was waiting for the finger-pointing and the meltdown and I was ready to dish out some Very Serious Consequences.  But that was when E. said, “Listen.  It’s my fault.  I went in and they came in to get me out.  I didn’t know I wasn’t allowed.”  The farmer looked at me and I think realized they were in much more trouble on the homefront than they were with the farm.  He asked, “So now you know you did something wrong?  And if I had a cable across that row you wouldn’t have gone in?  We want to make sure you’re safe, you know.”

I don’t know what you would have done but for me it was to give the children a hug.  And then we shared our first cider donuts of the season sitting around a picnic table talking about how to decide what’s allowed and what’s safe, about how smart it was to stay together and keep each other okay.

In the end it was one of those golden moments when our children show us the beautiful people they’re becoming, even if there’s plenty of crazy along the way.

And then we went home to make a dinner of our first 2010 local apples, some good Cabot cheddar, and a pile of crackers, since I had no energy left for cooking.  On the way, E. said, “Mommy, you know it’s not really my fault.  They should have signs showing how to get out of that place!  Can you believe there was only one picture of the whole thing?!”

Indeed.

And now that we’ve recovered I want to share with you this pure summer harvest celebration of a recipe that we enjoyed last week after a much less adventurous visit to our CSA farm.  It was Z.’s idea to mix, “corn … and cheese … and broccoli and water … and I’ll stir it all up!”  I’m sure he was thinking something more mudpie-ish, but to me it sounded like chowder, and that’s what we made.

Cheesy Corn Potato Chowder
About 6 servings

1.  Remove the kernels from:

  • 3 ears fresh corn

and set aside.

2.  Heat until rippling in a large sauce pan:

  • 2 T. butter or olive oil

3.  Adjust heat to medium-low, and add:

  • 2 cups diced potatoes, with peels unless you really hate them
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion

Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until carrots are softened, and onions are starting to brown gently.

4.  Stir in and mix very well:

  • 1/2 t. salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup flour (substitute your usual thickener if you’re going for gluten-free)

Then pour in, 1/2 cup at a time, and bring to a simmer while stirring.

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup water

5.  Stir in and cook at a low simmer just until broccoli turns bright green, about 3 minutes:

  • 2 c. shredded cheddar cheese (I use Cabot 50% reduced fat cheddar)
  • 1 cup finely chopped broccoli (or substitute spinach or chopped chard)
  • the reserved corn

Heat through, and serve.

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Czech Plum Dumplings 4

Posted on August 15, 2010 by crankycheryl

The Vermont plums are in, and they are damned good.   So good that I find myself leaving the farmer’s market each week of their short season with far more than I really need or have plans for.  Which was what was happening a couple of weeks ago when I ran into a friend who told me about her old neighbor who made dumplings with the plums that grew in her yard.

Of course the word, “dumplings” piqued my interest.  So with quarts of plums at the ready, I went home to find a recipe.  Here’s what I found, and have so far made two batches – one to freeze for winter, and one we ate fresh with grilled sausage and a great deal of delight.

Plum Dumplings
Adapted from AllRecipes.com
The original recipe’s yield says 25, but 20 seems to be closer to the truth

1.  Peel, quarter, boil until tender and then mash:

  • 2 large or 4 small potatoes

2.  While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the plums.  Slice in half:

  • 25 prune plums (Who knows?  Maybe you’ll get 25 out of the recipe and will actually need each one.  If not, you’ve got sugary sweet plums as a snack, so it’s a low-risk situation.)

Remove each pit, and sprinkle a bit of sugar into the spot where it was.  Place plums in a bowl while you prepare the dough.

3.  Make the dough by sifting together:

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 t. powdered lemon peel
  • pinch ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Make a well in the center and add:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 cup mashed potato

Mix together with a wooden spoon until too hard to stir, and then knead until very smooth.

4.  Flour a cutting board well, and roll out half of the dough to 1/4″ thick.  Use a glass or biscuit cutter to cut out 3″ or 4″ rounds.  (Work fairly quickly so the circles don’t dry out.)  Place one round on the palm of one hand, rub the circle’s outside with a sugared plum to moisten the dough.

Stretch and seal the dough around the plum, trying your best to avoid any holes in the dough.  (If you do end up with a hole, just grab a scrap from the board and patch it.)

Repeat until all dough is used up, gathering and re-rolling as many scraps as you can.  (To freeze at this point, place in a single layer on a well-floured cookie sheet and stick in the freezer until hard, and then put in a container or bag.)

5.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and gently place dumplings in the water and boil for about 10 minutes. (Add about 4 minutes if you cook from frozen.)

6.  In a large sauce pan, melt together over medium-low heat and stir until warm and thick:

  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter
  • 1  c. brown sugar or your favorite jam or marmalade (we were lucky to have some peach butter bubbling away on the stove and so used that)
  • 1/4 c. bread crumbs to thicken if you like.

I’d like to come up with some brilliant summation here, but I’m a bit distracted as I’m here with a 5-year old here who insists it’s my birthday (it’s not) and that I have to go off to a party with Batman, a plastic dinosaur and some wooden milk.  You, on the other hand, should get yourself some plums and eat them in any way you can think of.

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Birthdays & Cupcakes In Spite of It All 1

Posted on July 06, 2010 by crankycheryl

This video this is supposed to be funny, like stupid ha-ha.

But maybe because it’s late, or maybe because a birthday makes a mom notice how fast time passes, I think it’s right on.

Friends, readers, loved ones, thank you for being here – whether it’s your birthday or not.  And it’s cool if you didn’t get a promotion or a new degree or cure anything or finally make a perfect meringue.

I’m just glad you didn’t die this year. Really: nice job with that.

Thanks for not jumping off a bridge in spite of these crazy oil-spill, immigrant-hating, war-mongering, Fox-news-yelling, unemployment-up-the-wazoo days.  In spite of all that’s going on in your own life that might have made it tempting.

And Z., my baby, my brilliant bubbly little shining birthday star. Thank you for coming into this world and being here with me.  Happy birthday.

Let’s have some silly cupcakes and give the whole thing another whirl.

(The fabulous Abby Dodge’s Emergency Blender Cupcakes, with Italian Buttercream Frosting, with candy-coated sunflower seeds and snipped licorice, peach gummy rings, and fruit leather.)

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    Cheryl Herrick's brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life. All original content (written, graphical, recipes or other), unless otherwise noted, is © and/or TM Cheryl Herrick. All rights reserved by the author. Want to reprint a recipe? Just get in touch and ask.

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