Saturday, August 30, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Visions of Madeleines dancing in my head

A few months ago I was probing through the vast Internet just searching away when I came across a recipe for Madeleines. Since I did not have a traditional Madeleine pan I quickly dismissed the idea that these spectacular french tea cakes would be baking in my oven anytime soon. It just so happened that I have an antique dealer friend who also does estates sale and she asked my to accompany and help her with a sale today. Guess what I found! Come on just guess....... yep, a never used Madeleine pan. And that isn't all. I also found some decorating tips for frosting and I am the proud new owner of a new cookbook. (My husband groaned but it had a lot of pictures and since we all know that I am picture kinda girl I couldn't pass it up)

The entire day at the estate sale I could not wait to get home and try baking Madeleines. And that is exactly what I did. And they were so good. My mom had one and told me how they reminded her of my grandmother's tea cakes. I used the following recipe from Cooks and they turned out great. I would, however, recommend turning the heat down to 375 so they don't get over brown.

Madeleine Recipe

4 eggs

2 c. sugar

2 c. flour

1 1/2 c. clarified butter (or Promise Spread)

1 tbsp. vanilla

Confectioners' sugar
Stir eggs and sugar into top of double boiler until creamy and lukewarm. Remove from heat and beat until cool; add flour gradually, mixing well. Fold in butter and vanilla.
Use special shell-shaped Madeline molds that have been buttered and floured (or small 1 1/2 inch muffin pans). Fill molds 2/3 full; fill muffin tins less than 1/2 full. Bake in a 425 degree oven for ten minutes or until lightly browned. Dust cooled tea cakes with powdered sugar. Yield: 5 dozen.

My $2 Madeleine find.

Look at the buttery goodness. Yum

My cake decorating find. Where were these when I need them yesterday while making Dale's birthday cake?

My new cookbook. I am sure that I will be posting adventures from here soon.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Omnivore's 100 (Very cool folks)

I found this over at I'm Mad and I Eat and am slightly intrigued. There are a lot of things that I will have to google. But it seems fun and maybe I will venture into trying something new.

Here is how it works:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating. (Ummm.. Not computer savoy enough to know how to so this, so all of my things I would not consider eating will be in italic and color them in red)
4) Optional: Post a comment at Very Good Taste, linking to your results.

MY OMNIVORE'S 100 (46 of 100): Gotta get out there more
1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile (I have had alligator)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht (I have actually made this... me being Polish and all.)
10. Baba ghanoush (I just googled this and I am intrigued. I would probably love this)
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich (An American staple)
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses (I might try this soon)
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (Having some blueberry wine right now)
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras (I am sure that this is good but for ethical reasons I cannot eat this)
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (Had the cognac but I am definitely not a smoker)
37. Clotted Cream Tea
38. Vodka Jelly/Jell-O (Jello shots are the most amazing party treat EVER)
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat's milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth $120 or more
46. Fugu (I don't think that it is a good idea to eat poisonous fish, even if only parts are poison.)
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine (I really must try this!)
60. Carob chips (Yucko.)
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian (Huh, I would like to try one.)
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini (Its a texture thing)
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang Souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom Yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky (not much of a candy fan)
84. 3 Michelin Star Tasting Menu
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

This was very interesting since I had no idea what some of these were and had to google them. I am gong to have to be much more adventurous from now on.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A tribute to pie!

Things around here have been pretty uneventful (which I love), leaving me an ample amount of time to snoop around and see what other people out there are doing. I have really taken a liking to reading Farm Girl Fare and Finny Knits, both are highly entertaining and have some wonderful cooking ideas. Tonight, hubby and I decided to make the tomato pie that both Farm girl and Finny made and changed a few things to make it our own. It was delicious! The crust designed by Farm Girl was the most amazing crust I think I have ever had. I highly suggest her recipe that you can click on above.

I also decided that I really needed to make a dessert pie since we all know you can never have enough pie. I had really wanted a blueberry pie with the frozen berries we had picked but i am soooo hoarding them for no apparent reason than greediness. And since strawberries were not on sale I opted for the "on sale" peaches. Gotta be frugal and all.

I experimented with with my crust once again and did add the shortening as suggested by my mother but it just wasn't perfect. In fact I had a small meltdown while rolling the dough and hubby had to come to the rescue. I did lattice the top and it turned out better than I thought it would with the dough being all stupid and all. I don't think I have ever sworn that much in the kitchen before and I seriously thought I might cry. The only thing that should make me cry in the kitchen are the onions, damnit!

Peach Filling

8-10 peaches, peeled and sliced

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

3 tsp cinnamon

3 tbsp flour

Other than than me swearing at the crust there were no other problems and the pie turned out very tasty. I suggest serving it warm with vanilla ice cream. Yum.

Friday, August 22, 2008

♫ A little song and dance for ya ♫

♫ Oh, give me a home
Where the buffalo roam,
Where the deer and the antelope play;
Where seldom is heard
A discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day♫
I have found myself humming this tune all week.... We (hubster and I) are seriously thinking of relocating to good ole country! I dont really know if there are buffalo there, but the tune seems to fit. We want to trade our perfectly good, up to date, clean, large house with no back yard for a small, wood heated, older farmhouse on 10 acres with a barn! Crazy, I know! I LOVE moving, as every move is a new adventure and I really want a farm. So if everything falls into place we could be treking across country for a new adventure.
Picture provided by Karen from her Picassa web album since I have never actually seen a buffalo and she has. Lucky you Karen!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Nothing Says Summer Like a Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

Mmmmm..... I can remember sitting in my Aunt Virgina's kitchen as a little girl staring at the cake underneath the glass cake stand. Just waiting..... I never had to ask, she knew. I would watch her remove the glass covering the cake, drooling as she placed it on my plate. More times than not, it was a pineapple-upside cake. Layers and layers of ooey-gooey goodness.

My Aunt Virgina passed away over 10 years ago taking her recipe with her and I have been on a mission to recreate her cakes for the last few years. Recently I tried a new to recreate her cake and although it was extremely good, it just wasn't hers. I had every intention of posting this recipe here but hubby threw it away! AHHH! Don't worry I will find it and post it soon.

The cake was made in my cast iron skillet which is very new to me. It was only one layer (Shame, shame on me) and was extremely moist. It just wasn't very pineapply <---- Love my made up words.

Carmelizing the brown sugar and butter.

Mmmmm.... Ready for the pineapples.

Layering the pineapple.

Ready for batter.

Pineapply goodness!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Photo Fun

Two words for you: Photofunia! I found this site through Angry Chicken and I am in love. I plan on taking some of these and framing them for around the house.
Lucas in an art gallary.
Evan on a mall billboard.
Pictures of Evan.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Blueberry Goodness!

Yesterday I decided that since my bff, Jen, was coming over now would be the perfect time to use some of those fresh blueberries that we had picked. After realizing that I had very minimal pantry options I choose a simple blueberry pie from my "Better Homes and Gardens: New Cook Book". I don't know why its titled "New" since its from the 60's but its all I really have. I made the dough using 2 1/3 cup flour, 1/2 cup oil, pinch of salt, and about 5 tbsp water. I was a little disappointed in the flakiness of the crust but I was informed by my mom today that I should use shortening or lard from now on. I did attempt to lattice the top of the pie for my very first time and I thought it looked really good (or so I though I thought until I saw this very amazing, puts my pie to shame pie. I now feel like an underachiever. For the blueberry mixture I used 4 cups fresh blueberries, 1 cup of sugar, dash of salt, dash of nutmeg, and about 4 tbsp flour. The mixture turned out pretty good but was a little runny (exactly how the hubby likes it). I cooked it in a 350 degree oven for about 35 minutes. It must have been really good because it was gone before I knew it and the hubby has at least 3 helpings. My next project is going to be a two layer pineapple upside down cake but I just have to wait until there is room in the hubby's tummy.
My amazing blueberry pie.

Monday, August 11, 2008


These past few years I must admit that I have gotten quite lazy with pictures. I take them with my digital camera and them file them away in the computer where they are forgotten. I recently realized that I have very few pictures of my family displayed around the house and I am a bit ashamed. I take the pictures with every intention on having them printed out and proudly displaying them all around the house but then my ADD kicks in and I forget. So this weekend I started organizing and putting a few pictures in a collage frame that I bought 2 years ago. I didn't get as far as I had hoped since I have come down with a summer cold but I will finish and hang it before the end of week. Well, that's my goal anyway. As you can see below I still have 5 pictures to fill the frame. The hard part is find which 5!

My unfinished photo project.

I also started sorting through my mother-in-laws old photos this weekend. They have been sitting in storage for about 3 years and I was worried that they would get ruined. I started piles for each one of her sons and their families and honestly I am glad I get to do the sorting since I get first pick. I really hope that Andy and Chris will appreciate them. I know that I found some great pictures of my husband as a boy.

Dale as a boy.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


Today Dale brought home all kinds of goodies from the farmer's market. Fresh collard greens, okra, beets, and lemon basil. For dinner we feasted on fried okra, collard greens, cornbread, ham, and mashed potatoes. It was an amazing dinner and I had every intention of taking pictures of this fine feast but it was gone before I could get my camera.
For my collard greens and my fried okra I used recipes from Paula Deen. Her recipes never disappoint. I have included the links to these recipes below and I highly recommend them.
As most of you know I am still learning the ropes in the kitchen and today I actually felt I faired well. It was extremely rewarding to watch the fruits of my labor get gobbled up by my loved ones. So much so that I cant wait for dinner tomorrow.
As Paula Deen would say, "Best Dishes Ya'll"

Preserving the taste of summer.

Summer is all about fresh and I wish it would last all year long. Although I cant make the weather maintain its sunny warmth all year, I can maintain a sense of summer at my table. Lately I have been freezing all of the left over herbs that did not get sold at the farmer's market. I wash them and place them into ice cube trays and freeze them. After my herbs are frozen into cubes, bag them into ziploc freezer bags. It is amazing. I used some frozen dill for fish the other day and it tasted like I had just plucked it from the garden.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

My In-laws

Two years ago my mother-in-law moved into an assisted living facility in Naperville. A very expensive facility. My husband and I were against this from the beginning, suggesting that she moved into a facility that takes public-aid so that once her money ran out the transition would be easier for her. We were outvoted. Well today I received an email from my brother-in-law Chris stating that she has no money and she can no longer remain in Naperville and that he and Andy (brother-in-law #2) decided that it would be best if my husband, Dale, and I take her in. Of course.... Don't listen to our advice and then stick us with her! I cannot take care of her. I have enough to take care of with work and kids. She requires 24 hour care and has already set my couch on fire 3 Thanksgiving ago. Not to mention that the last time she needed looking after she stayed with us for 6-7 weeks. I was very pregnant and working and Chris and Andy couldn't even come and take her for a weekend. Dale and I were arguing and finally he ended up dropping her off at Andy's house. She lasted 2 days there and Andy had her bags packed and settled into her new home.
Dale and I are trying very hard to make ends meet and find new jobs. We are already stressed enough and this is the icing on the cake. I spent ALL day on the phone trying to get her signed up with Pubic-aid and got no where. Chris was supposed to have filed for this months ago. Ughhhh....

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Blueberries, Blueberries, Blueberries

On Friday we packed up all the kids and headed down to Wilmington for blueberry picking at Tammen's U-Pick Blueberry farm. ( After 3 hours in the sun we emerged from the bushes with 14 lbs of berries! We took 12 lbs to the Plainfield Farmer's Market on Saturday and kept 2 for ourselves. I did manage to get some in the freezer for later before all the boys ate them and I am looking forward to baking with them.