Food

An-ti-ci-pa-a-tion is Making Me Bake…. It’s keeping me ba-a-a-a-a-king…..

I did what I always end up doing while waiting for a four-legged loved one to recover from anesthesia, I made cookies. To keep my mind off the fact that it’s been eight hours and still no word.

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I dropped my Maximus Aurelius Rodriguez at the vet at 7 a.m. for a dental and now that it’s 3, I’m getting a little worried about my geriatric friend.

So I hit the sanctuary and baked.

Here’s what to do if you’re a little worried, too.

In a small bowl whisk together:

75 grams (5/8 c.) all-purpose flour
30 grams (1/4 c.) coconut flour
30 grams (1/4 c.) hazelnut flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
a pinch of cinnamon

In a larger bowl cream together:

5 oz. organic grass fed butter, softened
1/4 c. granulated sugar
3/8 c. date sugar (or brown)

Mix in:

1 organic free range egg
1/2 t. vanilla

Now slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.

Then stir in:

a whole bunch of callebaut semi-sweet chocolate chips, as many as you like.

Drop them by spoonfuls onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.

Flatten them.

Bake at 350 degrees in a convection oven or at 375 degrees in a conventional oven for 10 – 12 minutes.

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Light, tender, nutty and somewhat healthy.

They’ll get you through.

#anticipate

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Food

Light lemon-lavender blueberry scones

I was in the front yard gathering hazelnuts – or was I in the backyard on a treasure hunt? (you dog owners know what I mean) It doesn’t matter, I was out in the yard picking up something or other when I had a thought – which may or may not have been profound.

I was thinking that maybe I should have parlayed my brains into considerable cash rather than taking the path of ministry.

‘Cuz Facebook is full of fabulous pics of fabulous trips. And it might be nice to have a lot of dough.

But then I started remembering Moses.

And how his feet stood atop a high mountain here on earth AFTER he was dead and gone.

Remember the pow-wow he and Elijah had with Jesus?

Scripture doesn’t name the high mountain, but most scholars think it was Mt. Tabor in Israel.

In the promised land.

Moses, as you will recall, was not allowed to enter the promised land while he was alive because of a breach in attitude. But AFTER he was a resident of heaven, he stood right there on Mt. Tabor, IN the promised land.

Because God is cool that way.

So I’m thinking that even if I never have enough dough to take a fab vacay, my glorified feet WILL stand on The Emerald Isle.  In the land of my people.

Or anywhere else they want to stand.

I don’t think I’ll miss out on anything by choosing a low-paying life of ministry.

‘Cuz I think God is going to turn out to be way cooler than any of us bargained and saved and worked all our lives for.

I trimmed my raspberry bushes way back so I’ll have a bountiful second harvest in the fall.

Then I gathered more hazelnuts.  ‘Cuz my gorgeous hazel rains nuts all day long.

After working hard in the yard – kinda’ hard, it’s hot – I didn’t feel like working hard in the house.

So I made scones instead.

I’ll walk you through the recipe in case you want to make them, too.

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Wash and dry 1 cup of blueberries and stick them in your freezer.  Why? I don’t know. I read somewhere that you should so I do. I think it prevents them from busting open.

Preheat your oven. 400 degrees for a conventional oven, 375 degrees for a convection oven.

Put the mixer’s bowl on your kitchen scale and dump 240 grams of all purpose flour into it.  It’s a lot easier than measuring.

Don’t have a kitchen scale?  Get one.  And just for today measure out two cups of flour.

Add 1 TBSP baking powder, 3/4 tsp salt and 1/2 cup lemon-lavender sugar.

Don’t have lemon-lavender sugar? Make some. You’ll find the instructions here.

Mix well.

Cut 3 oz. (6 Tablespoons) of cold, unsalted butter into cubes and add them to the dry ingredients.  Mix well on low.

Whisk 1 large egg and 6 oz. (3/4 cup) heavy cream together.  While mixer is still on low, add the cream/egg mixture until just combined.  Don’t overwork the dough.

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Dump in the blueberries.  Fold them in gently with your clean hands to keep the blueberries from breaking.

Form dough into a circle.  Cut into 8 triangles. Try to separate them a little. *

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Pour a little more cream into the bowl you used to whisk the eggs and cream and brush it on the scones.

Sprinkle with more lemon-lavender sugar.

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See all the bits of lemon and lavender in there?

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

When the hub comes home he’ll say something smells really good.

Then he’ll ask what’s in the oven.

You’ll say “blueberry scones” and he’ll say, “yay!”

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While you’re finishing your post he’ll have one and say, “I’m going to eat five of these for dinner.”

Which is good, ‘cuz you worked too hard in kitchen to cook.

* Note: If you want smaller scones, divide the dough and shape it into 4 discs.  Wrap each disc in waxed paper and refrigerate an hour or so (or overnight).  This way the dough firms up a bit and is easier to cut.  It also keeps the scones from spreading too much in the oven.

Cut each disc into 4 triangles, separate, brush with cream and bake only 15 minutes (‘cuz they’re smaller).

Bon appetit.

 

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Food, life

It Came Upon a Midnight Lard

Why did I leave the warm glow of the Christmas tree, the glow of fellowship and cheer and gift opening to begin the five hour process of making braids when I could have/should have made them the day before? Because I am a spaz. A complete spaz.

It all started in the meat department at Costco. It was the Tuesday before Christmas and the store was packed. My mom put two beef tenderloins in our cart and then said she needed rolls. Navigating the heavy cart over to the bakery was going to be tough.

“I’ll make grandma’s braids,” I said. Her face lit up. “Really? You will?”

So I left my mom’s house that day with the recipe for grandma’s braided rolls. “You can just use shortening,” my mom said, as she handed over the recipe. Grandma was a really good cook and an even better baker. I was about to put on her really big shoes. “Just use shortening,” when grandma used lard? That’s not how I roll.

When I got home I googled “where can I buy organic lard in Michigan.” ‘Cuz if you’re going to eat lard, it ought to at least be organic, made from pasture raised heritage hogs.

My search yielded no stores, but I did learn a few things. I learned that “lard has 20 percent less saturated fat than butter; it’s higher in monounsaturated fats which are said to lower LDL cholesterol; and it has none of the trans fat that shortening does.”

I also learned that leaf lard – made specifically from the fat around the kidneys and loins – is the cadillac of lards. It’s definitely the lard you want to use for the flakiest pie crusts and biscuits.

And if you want your roasted veggies to be perfectly browned and crisp (like grandma’s), you have to use lard. Olive oil just doesn’t get you there.

Maybe Whole Foods has it. I searched the store, then I asked a worker in the dairy department where I might find the leaf lard.

“Whole Foods doesn’t sell lard,” he said with culinary snobbery, disgust and a look that judged me on several levels.

I turned and muttered, “What does Whole Foods have against lard?”

A fellow customer – a handsome young man – heard me and offered, “Kroger has it. I just saw it the other day. It’s in a blue box.”

Then he went on to tell me about his grandma’s pie crusts and how she used lard to make wonderfully crispy roasted potatoes. “I was just reading about that,” I said with glee.

I thanked him for the tip and then silently had a snobby thought of my own, I doubt the Kroger lard is organic.

I called a high end specialty store. “Leaf lard? What is that?” The young man put me on hold and then came back and said, “I’m sorry, we don’t sell lard, we only sell healthy food.”

“Lard is healthy,” I said, cheerfully. “It’s making a comeback, you should google it.”

“Oh, well maybe we can start carrying it.”

Lovely young man.

I called Trader Joe’s.

“We don’t sell lard,” he said in a voice that accused me of being trailer trash. No offense to all the lovely people who live in trailers.

I picked up the blue box at Kroger and read the label: Lard plus hydrogenated lard, BHT, BHA, to protect flavor.

Hydrogenated. Crap.

Back to the web I went. I could buy a five pound tub of raw, organic, pasture-raised heritage hog leaf fat from a farm in Minnesota for $30. I put it in my cart. Oh my. $19.99 for shipping and handling + another $9.99 for the cooler. $60 for a 2 quart yield of leaf lard? No. Plus it would not arrive in time.

Christmas Eve morning the hub and I were dressing to take his aunt, his sister and her husband out to a nice lunch – our Christmas gift to them. They all live an hour and a half southwest of here.

“Could we stop by that farm on our way home? The one where I get our Thanksgiving turkeys?”

“It’s not on our way home,” he said. “It’s northwest of here, we’re going southwest.”

“We could zip straight up 23.”

As lunch was winding down, the hub said, “We have to get going, we have hog fat to buy. He explained the situation and added, “This is my life.”

Yes, yes it is.

A 53 mile zip up 23 later, I had me some leaf fat – soon to be leaf lard.  Glorious leaf lard. Another 30 miles and we were home.

I immediately cut up the raw, frozen fat and put it in a large pot on low to begin rendering. At 9:15 pm I turned off the burner and told the hub to just leave it – it needed to cool.

I returned from the candlelight service after midnight, removed the cracklings and then strained the rendered fat into jars through cheesecloth. I went to bed exhausted but happy. Three jars of homemade leaf lard were solidifying in the fridge. In the morning they would be ready to perform light, flaky roll-making magic.

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While the rolls cooled, I made a bleu cheese walnut salad. I’m going to tell you how to make it because it goes SO well with beef tenderloin.

Put 2 ounces of good bleu cheese in the bottom of a salad bowl. Add 5 tablespoons of good olive oil, 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper. Mash it up real well with a fork and then stir in 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts.

Toss in a bunch of romaine lettuce pieces (a head or two) and toss until the leaves are coated. Top with another 2 ounces of bleu cheese, crumbled, and about a half cup of coarsely chopped walnuts.

Just do it.

I’ve been making this salad for thirty years. It never goes out of style.

At dinner, the sister to my left said, “When I retire, I am going to make rolls. I’ll need grandma’s recipe.” Another sister said, “Or Julie can just keep making them.” “Yes, they all agreed, Julie will be the designated rolls maker.”

They had no idea what they were saying. But it’s fine. Lard keeps in the freezer for a full year.

Next Christmas Eve, the rolls will be made BEFORE I go to the candlelight service.

I’ll  linger in the glow of Christmas morning, sipping coffee and mimosas. Maybe I’ll even make a nice breakfast. I wonder how hard it would be to make my own bacon…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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