Monday, September 27, 2010

September's Daring Bears

When you talk about September in my neighbourhood....chances are good bears will enter the conversation.  Just last week while I was away there was a mother and cub (black bears) wandering from yard to yard looking for tasty apples and berries to see them through the long winter.  As the bears become so  'Daring' that noisy neighbourhood activity no longer frightens them away......this can become a problem with sad consequences for the bears.  With all the bear activity around here, it seemed appropriate as I pawed through my cookie cutter collection that I should choose the bear shaped one of this month's challenge with the Daring Bakers.
The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.
Since I am out of town for a good chunk of the coming week again....I decided to bake up just a few of the batch and to store the remaining dough for rolling when I return home.  As a modification I used rum flavouring and added 1/4 tsp ground fresh nutmeg to the recipe below.  I am leaving these little bear cookies for Ike to have for lunch while I am away so I will have to update with his thoughts on their flavour.  The dough was very easy to work with and I can comment that the dough was quite tasty too:)
Basic Sugar Cookies:
Makes Approximately 36x 10cm / 4" Cookies
200g / 7oz / ½ cup + 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
400g / 14oz / 3 cups + 3 Tbsp All Purpose / Plain Flour
200g / 7oz / 1 cup Caster Sugar / Superfine Sugar
1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
5ml / 1 tsp Vanilla Extract / Or seeds from 1 vanilla bean
• Cream together the butter, sugar and any flavourings you’re using. Beat until just becoming
creamy in texture.
Tip: Don’t over mix otherwise you’ll incorporate too much air and the cookies will spread during
baking, losing their shape.

• Beat in the egg until well combined, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the sifted flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms.
Tip: I don’t have a stand mixer so I find it easier to switch to dough hooks at this stage to avoid
flour flying everywhere.

• Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces.
• Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 5mm/1/5 inch (0.2 inch)
• Refrigerate for a minimum of 30mins.
Tip: Recipes commonly just wrap the whole ball of dough in clingwrap and then refrigerate it for an
hour or overnight, but by rolling the dough between parchment, this shortens the chilling time and
then it’s also been rolled out while still soft making it easier and quicker.

• Once chilled, peel off parchment and place dough on a lightly floured surface.
• Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife.
• Arrange shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for another 30mins to an hour.
Tip: It’s very important you chill them again otherwise they’ll spread while baking.
• Re-roll scraps and follow the above process until all scraps are used up.
• Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted) / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
• Bake until golden around the edges, about 8-15mins depending on the size of the cookies.
Tip: Bake same sized cookies together otherwise mixing smaller with larger cookies could result in
some cookies being baked before others are done.

Tip: Rotate baking sheets half way through baking if your oven bakes unevenly.
• Leave to cool on cooling racks.
• Once completely cooled, decorate as desired.
Tip: If wrapped in tinfoil/cling wrap or kept in airtight containers in a cool place, un-decorated
cookies can last up to a month.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Off My Needles....Socks

There is something about fall that just suits knitting!  You should see a wee bit more in my future as I have signed up for two knitting swaps for for a hat and one for a scarf.  Also, I finally finished off the socks I started during my summer holiday back home in Ontario.  I used a few long plane flights as an opportunity to work on them.  On the flight back from Chicago I had the second of the pair very nearly finished.  And this morning, I finally got  them off my needles.  Fall weather is definitely here now and I enjoyed a bit of it as I took a few pictures of my new socks.....just to prove they are done.  I've been wearing them all day now, and they feel like socks.....and they look like socks!  I must have done OK:)
The pattern for these socks came on the inside of the ball band of the Premier Yarns Serenity Sock yarn I picked up for super cheap at a Joannes this summer down in Oregon.  The pattern was very simple and straight forward for a beginner at sock knitting.  The pattern is also available online at Premier Yarns if you'd like to try it.  They are very basic socks.   I liked the concept of the self striping yarn too!  Now I feel ready to try something a bit fancier for my next pair.  I got a huge bag of Reggia sock yarn in solid navy blue at a thrift store last year and now I feel a bit closer to being ready to tackle it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Who Likes Cub Scouts??

Someone here has just joined cub scouts......and is totally stoked on it.  It has only been 2 weeks into it and there has already been an over night camp out in a historical fort a few hours drive away.  Fort St James is a small fur trading fort that is run by Parks Canada and is a common stop for school tour groups.  I was away unfortunately or I would have tagged along.......but I hear it was just awesome fun!  Well now the race is on to collect cub scout badges.....and while there are a few that I can help him with.....we decided to work on the most obvious today.  So Ike made supper tonight.  DH is away golfing so it was the perfect night for a pancake supper with all the fixings.....and all from scratch...way to go Ike!  Ike even decided to make his own version of the McDonalds Pancake and egg sandwich......and according to's pretty darned good:)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Tomatoey Challenge

Things are crazy here at the moment, so this will be a quick one. The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.
I do try to do some canning every fall, so this challenge fit perfectly into my plans.  Apples are not quite ready here yet.....but I did end up with a large amount of green I tried a recipe for Green Tomato Mincemeat.  Mincemeat is something I have never made before and only tasted a few times in my life.  I was very pleasantly surprised with this recipe though and will be making it again next year when I find I have an abundance of green tomatoes.  A friend of mine happily inherited a liter of mincemeat and has already baked up some mincemeat tarts.  They were delicious, and I cannot wait for Christmas to get here so I can try to make some this year for the first time:)  I will have to make some as having made 1/2 of the recipe still made 15 pints of mincemeat.......YUM!  If you've got a whole lot of green tomatoes laying around, and you like mincemeat......give this recipe a try.....I highly recommend it!   After all those green tomatoes were used up I still had plenty of red then we tried a salsa recipe which I did not like too much so no point in sharing that one!
Green Tomato Mincemeat
(adapted from Allrecipes)
8 quarts of mince green tomatoes
8 quarts of minced cored and peeled apples
1/2 pound of suet
6 lbs brown sugar
1 cup cider vinegar
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp cinnamon
2 tbsp cloves
2 tbsp allspice
2 lbs raisins and currants combined
32 oz mixed citrus peel
7 oranges, peeled, sectioned and chopped
2 lemons, peeled and finely chopped

Combine all in a large pot and heat over low heat for 3 hours.  Sterilize jars (30 pints) and process with boiling water bath for 25 minutes with 1/2 inch head space.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Socks To Go

These last few weeks have gone so quickly with so much to do......and it continues.  After bringing Ike and his cookie submission to the fall fair, baking cookies for his lemonade stand the next morning, arranging our junk for a neighbourhood garage sale, getting school supplies, preparing for the first school PAC meeting, and dealing with a laundry without a drier......I'm running out the door to catch a plane.  On my way to Naperville.  Don't get's for work:(  At the last minute I grabbed my WIP after making sure that knitting needles are acceptable carry on baggage for United Airlines.  And I'm off.  See you when I get back:)  Hopefully the other half of the pair will be finished on my return:)

Friday, September 3, 2010

It's Mystery Fish for Friday

Summer is almost at an end here but seems to be still going strong back in Thunder Bay......with more 90 F weather in their future.  The fishing season there still continues.  My brother is one of the most avid fishermen I know and will go to great lengths to catch fish.......he has far more patience than I.  This is one of his favourite fish to catch and for the size of it (about 4 pound).....this was a pretty impressive catch.  He had more information to share with me on this fish than I thought someone could tell without actually cutting it open.  So lets see if anyone has any ideas.  Anyone have a guess at what kind of fish this is???? and do you figure it looks like a girl or a boy fish??  I will post an update tomorrow containing the information he shared with me about this tasty friend:)  Have a great weekend!
Update:  This is a male brook trout in fall spawning colours.  Caught on a river north of Thunder Bay Ontario Canada.  This is the first trout European settlers would have encountered when they came to North America. In Ontario, the Labour Day weekend is the end of fishing season for this species. Many think it is the tastiest of the trout family.