Short-Cake

April 11, 2012

I love dessert. I know it is not typically healthy, but I do love a delicious taste of sweetness every now and again.

For the past several weeks, I’ve seen juicy ripe strawberries in all of the groceries stores where I shop – Whole Foods, Jungle Jim’s, Meijer, Kroger, Remke-Biggs… (Okay, I guess it is evident that I am somewhat of a food snob –now that I’ve admitted that I shop at so many places.)

The following is a fairly healthy dessert that features strawberries served over a home-made shortcake that is light and biscuit like rather than spongy like the ones available in the produce aisle.

In addition to the strawberries, I usually offer macerated oranges for an unexpected twist. It is a great dessert for spring and summer dining. I saw the original recipe in Cooking Light Magazine.

Shortcake Ingredients:

1/3 Cup “Softened” Butter (Equals 51/3 Tablespoons/pats)

1/2 Cup Sugar

1 1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour

1/2 Cup Oat Flour or Brown Rice Flour (It you don’t have either, use All Purpose)

1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1/4 teaspoon Salt

3/4 Cup Milk

1/4 teaspoon Almond Abstract

2 Egg Whites

1/8 teaspoon Cream of Tartar

2 Tablespoons Sugar

1 Tablespoon of Turbinado Sugar or Sugar in the Raw

Fruit:

2 Quarts Sliced Fresh Strawberries

2/3 Cup Sugar

4 Large Oranges, Peeled and Sectioned

1/2 Cup Sugar

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch round baking pan.

Next wash two quarts of fresh ripe strawberries. Remove the hulls and then slice each strawberry into thin sections. Gently place the thin slices into a non-metal bowl. Pour the 2/3 cup of sugar over the strawberries and gently stir. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and let sit for at least 30 minutes. The strawberries and sugar will become a delicious syrupy topping.  (You can add more or less sugar depending on your taste and the sweetness of the berries.)

Start sectioning each unpeeled orange by slicing the top and bottom off. Then following the curve of the fruit, remove the peel with a knife from top to bottom, a couple of inches at a time. Once the peel is off, place the orange on its side and cut between the membranes to get a juicy wedge. Go around the orange doing the same for each section. Whenever I do this, I feel like a real chef, because it really does make the orange wedges easier to eat and they look prettier too. Place the oranges in a non-reactive bowl and stir in the sugar, just like you did for the strawberries. Let them sit for at least a half an hour.

Place the butter that you have allowed to sit until soft into a stand mixer or large bowl. Mix on medium for a few minutes, then add 1/2 cup sugar and cream together until light and fluffy.

Stir the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt) together in a medium bowl. To create a smooth cake, alternately add and mix in the dry ingredients and milk. I usually add one-third of the flour mixture to the butter and sugar. Mix for two minutes. Then add and mix in half of the milk. I repeat by add one-third of the flour mixture, then the balance of the milk, followed by the last third of the flour mixture. Stir in the almond extract. The extract really adds a unique flavor that taste like cherries to me.

In a small bowl beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and 2 tablespoons of sugar until the eggs form stiff peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.

Pour the finished batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the pan with the tablespoon of raw sugar. This will give a sparkle to the short-cake when it is done.

Bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

I serve this as a pie wedged slice topped with strawberries or oranges. And of course a dollop of fresh whipped cream makes everything taste better.

Yummeh!

Home-ista Kelly

P.S. I typically add a whole grain flour to my all-purpose flour. I’ve been told this can increase the nutrition and most people think the desserts, cookies, pancakes etc, actually taste better.

Advertisements

For the love of pancakes

February 11, 2012

Valentine’s Day ‘86 was a special one for me. It opened the door for the first meaningful conversation I had with the young man who would become my husband. I was a junior at the University of Cincinnati and had pledged Delta Sigma Theta, a Black Greek Letter Organization, my sophomore year. On a whim, I politely asked, okay – big-sister demanded, the young women who were pledging that year, to get me a Valentine’s card from three different guys. I gave them the names of three eligible young men and several days after the 14th they came back with one… super… ridicules… card.

The cover had a cartoon drawing of a laboratory beaker and read “Lick This.” On the inside were the words “Love Potion.” Hmmm. On top of that interesting message, the card was signed “Ken E. Luv.” Of course, he had gotten my attention.

Kenny Wilson – and I – have a lack of agreement as to what happened next. He says he came to my job one evening at the UC main campus library bearing a box of chocolates. I agree that he did visit my desk at the Periodicals Department. He was charming, full of one-liners, dapperly dressed and bought me a bag of M&Ms from the vending machine. Either way, we had a great conversation that led to a first date at the local Red Lobster. I was impressed by his financial sacrifice, two dinners at RL was a lot of money for a college student. He was pleased that I was a light eater, which is a topic for future blog. God-willing we will celebrate 22 years of marriage on 2/24/12. (We chose the 24th because it was the Saturday nearest to the day of that first date.)

Kelly & Kenny circa 1986

Now that we have a quiver of children, Valentine’s Day might be commemorated with chocolates and a card or we might have a romantic lunch while the kids are at school. One way to include them in the festivities is to share the story of the person called Saint Valentine. History.com tells it this way. “One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.”

In addition to a discussion on the merits of marriage, you can also make a kid-pleasing meal of pancakes from scratch. Prepare them for dinner or breakfast if you have time. They can be healthier if you include whole wheat or oat flour. Make them heart-shaped or use blueberries to make a heart on top of a round pancake. Don’t forget the maple syrup and ice-cold milk. Here’s my recipe:

Ingredients:

1 cup of Flour

(Use all-purpose flour or ¾ all-purpose and ¼ cup whole wheat or oat flour.)

1 Tablespoon Sugar

2 teaspoons Baking Power

½ Teaspoon Baking Soda

¼ Teaspoon Salt

1 cup Sour Milk

(I don’t usually have sour milk on hand. So make it by putting a tablespoon of vinegar in a glass measuring cup. Fill the cup with regular milk to the one-cup line. Let it sit for five minutes or until the milk looks curdled.)

1 Egg

1 Tablespoon melted butter (or use vegetable oil if you prefer.)

Oil for cooking

This recipe is very easy, but the taste is exceptional. Mix the dry ingredients together. Then add the milk and egg and stir until the mixture is just combined. As you mix in the butter, stir the big lumps out, but small lumps are okay. Over mixing the batter creates tougher cakes.

I typically place a large pan on the stove top to get it nice and hot after I stir the dry ingredients together. By the time I get the batter completed, the pan is ready for the oil. I pour in enough to cover the bottom of the pan. A tablespoon is a good starting point. Pancakes will stick when the pan is not hot enough. (If the oil starts to smoke, the pan is too hot, remove it from the heat and let it cool down a bit.) Of course, if you have a griddle, use that.

To make pancakes that are the same size, I use a metal ¼ cup dry measure. They often have a little spout to make the pouring easier. I can typically put three cakes in a large pan at one time. Ideally the edges shouldn’t be touching one another. Let each pancake cook until little bubbles form all over the top surface. When you see this, they are ready to flip. Use a thin spatula and get it all the way under the cake. This technique will help keep the pancake from folding back on itself. Cook the second side until it is brown on the bottom and serve warm with your favorite syrup or enjoy the way my mom likes her pancakes with jelly.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours,

Home-ista Kelly

“Are you really going to make mommy bake cookies with you tonight?” I said. “You promised,” said Koah, my persistent five-year old with a memory of steel. “It’s almost 7 o’clock, which is way too late to start making cookies. We’ve got to get ready for school tomorrow.” She looked at me with hope mixed with resolve. “You promised.”

It was Monday January 16, 2012 the day we celebrate the contributions of Martin Luther King, Jr. I had taken vacation time to be at home with our kids. When the day was young, I did promise to make celebration cookies. But, that was before I was before I knew that my husband would need to have me follow him to take his vehicle for a repair and that kiddo #2 would need to have his glasses replaced after losing them at a wrestling meet and that kiddo #1 would need some “supervision” to complete a writing assignment that I thought was already done. At this point in the evening, I really didn’t feel like making cookies.

But Psalm 15:4 was in my head from the daily Bible passage and it including this phrase in the New Living Translation, (the godly) keep their promises even when it hurts.

I took a deep breath, then got the ingredients out and told Koah to wash her hands. She was thrilled. She began to select several small shakers of colored sprinkles from the cookie decorating stash. We made the dough, using two-thirds all-purpose and one-third oat flour. (It makes me feel better about eating sugar cookies if whole grain is included.) We rolled and cut out the cookies. They are baked, cooled and decorated. Working side-by-side, smiling, laughing, enjoying each other and even the process we are finished after an hour. Koah chose two of the cookies she decorated and drank a small cup of milk. I decided to leave the kitchen in the state of cookie production mess, and got her cleaned up and into bed. While the teenager finished his assignment at the desk nearby, I worked on the kitchen. It was late – but I still ate a couple of cookies with milk myself. They are probably the best tasting cookies we have ever made.

Several days later, the true lesson begins to emerge, as I see a message on my computer about deleting computer cookies. According to wisegeek.com, “a computer cookie is a small text file which contains a unique ID tag, that placed on your computer by a website.” As I understand it, cookie technology allows users to keep track of information entered at a site for future reference. For example, if you submit a registration form, the site associates the information you filled in, with you, as you travel through the site’s pages. If there were no cookie file, every time you clicked on a different page in the site, the site would lose the information that is attached to you, forcing you to re-enter it.

Interesting. Maybe… the making of “sugar cookies” gave me a vehicle to leave some “positive memory cookies” on the hard drive of my daughter’s heart. Hmmm. How amazing that God can use something so simple as an evening spent, baking, laughing, talking, and sharing to potentially reinforce important things that I want her to know.

Like: 1. Mom loves Koah. I like to spend time with her, even though the many demands on my time sometimes keep me from doing what I set out to do.

And 2. To the best of my ability, mom wants to be a “promise-keeper.” If I say it, for the most part, you can trust it.

So… from today on I will try to remember that small things can really be big things in disguise. And now that I have this new analogy, I want to intentionally deposit positive relationship cookies into my friends and loved ones… along with the sugar variety.

Koah & Kyler Making Cookies at CHRISTmas

Our Cookie Recipe (It is based upon Sugar Cookie Cutouts, from Better Homes and Gardens, New Cook Book, 1989.)

Ingredients

1/3 cup Butter

1/3 cup Crisco shortening

1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour

1/2 cup Oat Flour (We typically use Bob’s Red Mill Oat Flour)

1 Egg

¾ cup Sugar

1 Tablespoon Milk

1 teaspoon Baking Powder

1/8 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon Vanilla

Cream the butter and shortening with an electric mixer for one minute. To this add the sugar, half of the flour, baking powder, the egg, salt and the milk. Mix again until the ingredients are combined, and you have a loose batter. Add the vanilla and then mix in the balance of the flour. Shape the dough into a flat disk. Chill in the refrigerator wrapped in waxed paper for at least 15 minutes. If you have time, chill for a few hours.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly flour a flat surface and roll out half of the dough to a depth of 1/8 or ¼ inch. Use floured cutters or a knife to make cookies that are about the same size, so they will cook evenly. Bake cookies on an ungreased baking sheet for 8-10 minutes, or till the edges are lightly browned and the centers are firm. Cool on a clean brown paper bags, or a baking rack if you have one.

Decorate with icing made from powdered sugar mixed with milk until it is the consistency that you want for spreading or piping. We add a bit of fresh lemon juice for great flavor and use plastic condiment bottles (from Walmart) to make designs. And we usually sprinkle with nonpareils for added bling.

Kyler making swirls with a condiment bottle

We hope you will enjoy, Home-ista Kelly