Friday, February 29, 2008

Bean & Cod

There's a little specialty food shop on Main St. in Falmouth called Bean & Cod.
The greater Boston area which naturally extends to Cape Cod is rich in history and tradition. Boston Baked Beans are famous around here and the Cod fish is pretty well known too. Why do you think they called this Cape-Cape Cod?
This weekend you can buy one of my Fabulous Carrot Cakes, Supreme Lemon or Delicious Orange Pound Cakes at the Bean & Cod in downtown Falmouth.
Naturally, they are very fresh. I baked each of them with special care and I used only the finest and freshest of ingredients. My Carrot Cakes have three cups of fresh carrots. My Lemon Cakes have fresh squeezed lemon juice. My Orange Pound Cakes have grated orange peel and fresh squeezed orange juice.
Are you in the mood for some cake? If you are in Falmouth this weekend head to the Bean & Cod and pick up a simply delicious treat.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Building Baking into the Family

Baking is a way of life for me. By default it is a way of life for my family. Sometimes they have to accept that certain baked goods will have to go untouched by them because I am baking for a 'client' instead. They will have to put up with an excessively flour caked kitchen on a day that I am baking. They will have to understand that sometimes the butter that is in the freezer or the last three eggs in the refrigerator need to be used for something other than the breakfast they had in mind. If they need those eggs now they are simply going to have to wait until I can get to the market again. Or in the meantime have toast and oatmeal instead.
There are some notable benefits of life with a baker too. Our kitchen is often extra warm on a cold day. I always try to have some yummy treat left over in the freezer for them if a 'sweet craving' unexpectedly takes hold. They get simple satisfaction from life when a friend asks, 'did your mom make those cookies and that cake?' And then they often will follow with 'they were delicious'.

Friday, February 22, 2008

By the Look of Things & 'A New Earth'

By the look of things it is going to be a while until we can throw our swimsuits on around here. At first the snow is always so pretty-I welcome the change for now.
I just finished reading Eckhart Tolle's book "A New Earth". The gist of it suggests that we stop focusing on our Egos and choose instead to live more fully in the present moment.
With that in mind I am going to make a roast for dinner. I will fold the laundry I have been ignoring and get my kitchen organized for my upcoming week of baking.
I brought in some firewood from outside to dry. We are going to make some hot chocolate later. Good thing I picked up those wonderful mini marshmallows the last time I was at the store.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I Love LA & Comforts of Home

Our trip to LA was fun. The weather was a lot warmer and sunnier on the west coast than on Cape Cod. We even wriggled ourselves into our swimsuits a few times. We went out to eat a lot, walked on the beach, caught up with old friends.

I forgot how big smoothie shops are there. We had lots of fresh fruit smoothies. I forgot how people spend there winters on the beach in Hermosa Beach-volleyball, flag football and lots of beer and music from local bars. We watched many sunsets from our hotel room. I also forgot how warm and comfortable my own bed is. Isn't it great to be back home after a trip?
The picture is of the Hermosa Beach Pier taken from right in front of our hotel.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Oven is on Today & Comforts of Baking

Nora Ephron, American Journalist said, “What I love about cooking is that after a hard day, there is something comforting about the fact that if you melt butter and add flour and then hot stock, it will get thick! It's a sure thing! It's a sure thing in a world where nothing is sure; it has a mathematical certainty in a world where those of us who long for some kind of certainty are forced to settle for crossword puzzles".

In this vein I am making best banana bread and a batch of jumbo chocolate chip cookies to take with us on our winter vacation. Well at least for the ride to the airport.

Kids love little comforts of home to take with on the road and my baked goods never last long. I would extend what Ephron said to any kind of baking too. I think my oven may be a little lonely without me or maybe the truth is I am going to miss my oven (a little) while we are away.

Luckily, I have a new client to bake for when I return.

Monday, February 11, 2008

From "Sea to Shining Sea" & Winter Vacation

Before I moved back from Dallas to Cape Cod friends warned me to plan my vacations in the winter. It was fifteen degrees when the kids headed out for the bus this morning. I am starting to remember why.
Luckily I have been packing for a trip we are taking together over winter break to a warmer, sunnier climate.
I have packed swimsuits, flip-flops and a couple of pairs of shorts. We leave Falmouth later this week. We head to Boston, hop on a plane to New York where we will make a connecting flight to Los Angeles. We plan to rent a car and head down to Hermosa Beach for the week.
The place we are staying sits right on the Strand and has a heated outdoor pool. We plan to soak up lots of sun and sand.
I used to live in Hermosa Beach. It's where I met my husband. At the time, I worked mostly in restaurants to help put myself through College at UCLA where I eventually earned a degree in English Literature.
I practiced my baking a lot when I lived there. I'd make cookies and breads for friends. There was a little French bakery/cafe on Pier Ave. that I used to like to order French Roast Coffee and Chocolate Croissants from. They had a little outdoor patio where we used to sit and soak up the sun.
I wonder if it's still there. I wonder what else has changed about Hermosa. Hopefully, not the warmer temperatures.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Truly Texas: Recipe for Pecan Bread

There's a lot to love about Texas. The 'southern' hospitality, mild winters and some really good food. This week in my 'Fun & Fabulous Food' class we made a very simple but truly wonderful quick bread recipe loaded with pecans. It's an old favorite recipe of my husband's family.
The class meets through Falmouth Night School which is held in the kitchen at the Middle School. After packing up from class the other night the cleaning crew stopped me and wanted to know 'what had we made that smelled so good?' I wish I'd thought at the time to throw in an extra loaf to offer them.
Quick Breads are great. They don't take much effort to prepare and their rewards are obvious.

Truly Texas: Pecan Bread

2 1/2 C Flour
1 C Sugar
tsp Salt
2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 C Chopped Pecans
1 C Milk
1 Egg

Combine dry ingredients. Mix egg & Milk add to dry. Gently stir in pecans. Spoon dough into greased loaf pan. Let dough set for ten minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes. Let cool in pan for about ten minutes before releasing from pan.
There are so many ways to serve this bread. My favorite is with butter and a drizzle of honey. My son loves it with cream cheese.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

This Carrot Really Takes the Cake!

The results of my test kitchen are in!
This is the cake worth eating. It has so much yummy flavor and moistness. The cream cheese frosting is delicious but seriously this cake would be good plain.
I'd been calling my carrot cake Incredible Carrot Cake but since I am updating my recipe a little I am going to call it Fabulous Carrot Cake. I serve my large cakes in white pastry boxes. It looks pretty.
If you'd like to order a carrot cake you can call or email. They sell for $24.00.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

I Bake Therefore I Am & Fabulous Bread

It was Rene Descartes (French Philosopher 1596-1650) who said, "I think therefore I am". His style was to doubt everything as a way "to figure out what he could know with absolute certainty". As much as I love Philosophy it is really a luxury-to have an opportunity to pause and ponder about the world. I have baking to do.
I am in test kitchen mode today. I am trying two different carrot cake recipes to see which one I like best.
The baking class I called "Fun & Fabulous Food" started last week. The students are creative, resourceful and good bakers too.
I started the class by sharing Marianne Williamson's famous quote: "We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually who are you not to be?"
This week we will be baking a breakfast bread together. I am sure the bread will turn out fabulous.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Steele Family Chilli Recipe & Super Bowl Sunday

Neighbors have invited us over to watch the game later today. I made a batch of chilli this morning to bring with us. Chilli always tastes better when it has time to slow cook over a period of time. Here is the recipe I use:

Steele Family Chilli Recipe

2 lbs. ground beef, brown and drain
1 medium yellow onion, chopped fine and let brown in beef pan just before beef is done.
1 garlic clove, minced
48 oz red kidney beans
48 oz diced tomatoes
3 cups water
2 tbsp. chilli powder
2 tbsp. red pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in a crockpot or large sauce pan. Simmer on low heat for at least a couple of hours. Stir occasionally.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Lucid Dreams, Memories & Ta-dah!

I had the strangest dream last night. Family that I hardly see stopped by unexpectedly to bring me cheesecake! In the dream I tried a bite of each. I was also 'lucid dreaming' -where I knew at the time I was dreaming and in my dream I was 'thinking'. The thought I had in the dream was why are these people here and why did they bring me cheesecake?

Lucid dreaming refers to an awareness that you know you are in a dream. Years ago, I read a book on 'Lucid Dreaming' - I sought it out after the first time I had this type of experience.

I woke this morning recalling real time memories I have of these family members. I saw them often as a child. We went to there house for many Christmas Eve parties, birthdays and summer cookouts. I remember them always having amazing and delicious deserts. As a kid, it all looked so effortless. I just enjoyed eating them. Now I know how much labor it all took to put those treats together.

My Ta-dah for today is that I have already completed the baking tasks I set out for myself this week. I have made Lemon Cakes, Cranberry Biscotti with white Chocolate, Dreamy Island Cookies and of course the Special Valentine Heart Sugar Cookies.