Monday, January 30, 2012

Ice Fishing

This past weekend Ike's Scouting group had a family ice fishing trip planned....and it was loads of fun.  We were fortunate to enjoy good weather (slightly above freezing), good company, and good food.  The ice was a several feet thick, but the group leaders arrived an hour early and made quick work of the holes with a gas powered auger.  Fun times with friends, roasting hotdogs and marshmallows, and catching fish....all good things!  We almost had one, but it was the one that got away as it took the hook and the worm.  Surely it must have been huge!  I spent a lot of time trying to decide what to bring along for food to share and in the end just made a double batch of chocolate chip cookies.  You really cannot go wrong with those.
The kids each had their own hole to fish, and the people next to us caught two rainbow trout.  Ike's attention span for jigging was a little short, so much of the time his hook sat fairly still.  Still, it was nice to get outside with friends and do something a little different.  I hope your weekend was fun too!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Root Beer Cookies

I had specifically went in search of root beer extract quite some time ago.  I cannot even remember how long ago this was on my mind.  I had found recipes for root beer cup cakes, and cookies that had intrigued me.  Well, one day I found myself in the brew your own beer store and I spied the small bottles of root beer extract and decided that owning one would put me one step closer to trying one of these intriguing recipes. With Christmas approaching I found myself packing up a package for friends in New Zealand and having extra weight allowance in the package I decided to tuck my bottle of extract inside.  With Canada post you pay a flat rate for small package air service for any package between 1 and 2 kg.  So if you know will not be surprised to know that I stuffed that package to within 2 grams of 2 kilograms.  The lady running the postal outlet found this to be quite annoying.  But I'll be darned if I'm not going to get as much in as I can if I am paying for it! 

It is my understanding that root beer is not common in New now they have the option of following the instructions on the label to make themselves 17 L of homemade root beer.....or to try some root beer baking recipes.......Tough call based on the yumminess of these cookies......and the delicious sound of a homemade batch of root beer.  I think I might have to try that as well:)  While I have seen root beer extract in the grocery stores in the US, in  Canada it is less common and you will likely have to seek it out  in the you brew beer and wine stores.  I think most  you brew stores carry it.  

If you'd like to give the root beer cookies a try, have a look at the recipe over at Makes and Takes.  This is the recipe that I used and I found that I needed all of the water listed to make the dough 'sticky' as shown.  I also used golden brown sugar rather than dark (since that is what I had) and it did make the cookies a little lighter in colour......but delicious none the less.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Finished Object and a Pavlova

Clearly I love this pattern. This is the third one of these hats I've made now.  The pattern is getting easier, and this well as the second one...was made with beautiful yarn.  This time it's Manos of Uruguay Maxim in the colourway 'fire'.  Perfectly soft and with subtle changes in the colour tone to give it a little more depth.  Made for no one in particular, I will have to set it aside until I find someone to make use of it.
My family seems to have recovered from a bout of Norwalk virus that has been making its way around and brought all to a halt last week.  Finally, many days later, I felt like I could do some cooking again and we had a proper dinner and a Pavlova which my DH had been asking and asking and asking for.  It turned out thoroughly yummy and I could have turned right around and started making another.  But then, there are the left over yolks now.........I just need to figure out what to do with them.....hmmm any ideas???  I've read sponge for trifle as a suggestion and may give that a try??  Left over yolks aside......the trifle was delicious and had the most marshmallowy soft interior......
YUM:)  I'll definitley be making one again.....and next time I think I'll try banana split toppings.  If you'd like to try your hand at a Pavlova try this recipe.....It's very basic and super easy!!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

OMG Fudgy Brownies has been a busy job of getting back to business after the Christmas holiday.  There has been as always...lots to do and lots of things on the go.  I will confess, that my Christmas tree is still up...hoping to get to that today.  Yesterday, after coming home at the end of a 'too busy' week.....I walked into the house and collapsed on the couch to grab a moment of rest.  Fortunately there were left overs for everyone to eat so I did not have to make dinner....just as well as I was beat.  Sadly I only managed to rest for maybe an hour before the 24 hour flu my son seemed to be suffering from kicked into high gear.  Poor little guy.  This morning he seems to have turned it around and it looks as though he will be able to keep down some food.  
I grabbed a nice cup of tea and some toast this morning only to notice that the pan of brownies I made the other day was down to its' last slice.  So I grabbed a picture of it because once everyone is up and won't stand a chance.  I was looking for something to bring to the PAC meeting at the school two days ago and decided to try this recipe.  Unfortunately, they did not cool quickly enough for me to take them to the we had to eat them.  Well, they turned out fabulously and I will most definitely make them again.  I did make a slight substitution as they called for Port Soaked dried Cherries.....which I am sure would be fabulous......but I just happened to have a jar of vodka soaked cranberries sitting on my counter that needed to be used up.  I had used the other half of the jar in a pound cake recipe some time I finally finished the jar.  They were delicious and as rich and fudgy as the recipe claimed it would be......and there was only cocoa powder in the no need for melted chocolate.  Some times, this is an issue for me, and it is nice to know that I have a nice fudgy brownie recipe to turn to in my hour of need when there is no chocolate to be found.  I was too lazy to try the delicious looking recipe for the ganache icing provided in the recipe....but let me assure you....this recipe is delicious enough to disappear in a day without the really doesn't need it!!!  Whether you include the booze soaked fruit or opt to add nuts or nothing at all....this is a great browning recipe to keep on hand for those times when you don't have any chocolate kicking around to make brownies.  These were so very good and easy...I hope you'll give them a try.  Just be sure to remove them from the oven before over baking them.  As an added addition to the cherry substitution I mentioned above......I was also out of butter so I used margarine.....and I only had Dutch processed cocoa...which I used rather than the natural cocoa called for....and it still turned out fabulously:)
Rich and Fudgy Brownies
1 cup unsalted butter, and more to grease the pan
2/3 cup flour, more to flour the pan
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Port soaked Cherries (optional see recipe below)
Port Ganache Topping (optional see recipe below)
Position rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 350F.  Butter and flour a nine inch square pan (I would recommend lining with parchment if you have it).
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar, followed by the eggs and vanilla.  Stir in the flour, cocoa, and baking powder slowly so as not to have it come flying out of the pan.  Stir more quickly as it become incorporated.  Stir until uniform...this should only take about a minute.  Add in the Port soaked cherries at this time if you are adding them....along with any liquid from the pan.  Spread the batter into the prepared pan and smooth evenly.  Bake until a toothpick inserted 3/4 inch deep into the center of the pan comes out with just a few moist clumps clinging to it.  This will be about 40 minutes.  ( I start testing after 30 minutes and wait until there is no wet batter clinging to the toothpick)  Remove pan and set on rack to cool completely.  If topping with the ganache, spread it evenly over the cooled brownies and let sit 1 hour before slicing.  The topping will still be quite gooey.  Keep covered at room temp for 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.
Port Soaked Cherries
1/2 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped (or whole dried cranberries)
1/2 cup tawny port
In a small sauce pan bring the cherries and port to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce the heat to low and cool for 2 minutes.  Take the pan off the heat and let cool to room temperature.
Port-Ganache Topping
1/2 cup tawny port
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
In a small sauce pan over medium heat, bring the port to a boil.  Boil until the port is reduced to 2 Tbsp. This should take 3 to 6 minutes.  Pour it into a small cup or bowl.  Rinse the pan well and bring heavy cream to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally.  Remove pan from the heat.  Stir in chopped chocolate and reduced port until the mixture is smooth and the chocolate melted.  Pour into a bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming.  Put the bowl ina cool area stirring occasionally.  When cooled spread over the cooled brownies, and let set up one hour before slicing.