Saturday, 29 September 2012

Let's Play

It's a day off!

For a shift worker like me, not all Saturdays are days off....sometime my "weekend" comes on a Monday/Tuesday.  My "Sunday" can be a Wednesday, and my "Friday", a Thursday.

Today is actually a true Saturday for me.

I've looked forward to this day for a couple of weeks.  My next shift is a several days away, so the pressure of being in the strict work mode is off for a tad.  I'm thankful.  There are many things that I could be doing today, but today, really, is meant to be a day off.

I just said to Dean that there's a whole lot of things on my things I'd love to do today list - "let's watch a movie-let's go shopping-I'd love to go to the library-I want to go to Little Red-I want to do a photo shoot of the boys-clean the shed with me-let's sit outside on our red lawn chairs-I want to read read read-how about a campfire-I want......" 

If I were a kid, I'd run outside right now to play pretend.

I'd find my secret clubhouse in the park and pack a lunch and run away with my dolls.

I'd write notes in my secret journal using invisible ink and live in fear that someone might someday read my notes and that would be so embarrassing!!

Oh to be a kid again!  I think my best pretend years were during Grade 5.  I did have a sort of secret playhouse where a lot of 'let's pretend' happened.  I devoured Trixie Beldon books and dreamed of living this alter-ego life where I was hero and where all my dreams came true.

Etc., etc.

I'm just in that kind of mood today.  The world is my oyster.  For the moment anyway.  I know that there's housework to be done, we're having company for supper and turkey is on the menu, I have things to prepare for tomorrow.  But I want to fly like a fairy through them and try not to absort the heavy responsibility of them. 

Today is MY day. 

It's a mind game.

Think it'll work?  ;)

You might know me enough to know that cooking is almost always "play" for me. I did have a minor meltdown on Tuesday where cooking was NOT fun and I might have banged a few pots around the kitchen in the process.

But Wednesday, well Wednesday was a good cooking day for me.  I worked a short 8 hour shift (an unusual gift, how nice to be done at 3 p.m.!) and, well, the snack cupboards were bare so I thought I should bake.

Muffins?  Nope, did that a few days ago.
Cookies?  Too much work, all that 'dropping by teaspoonful'.
Cake?  Nobody eats a big cake here...too much icing, cake's too thick.
Pie?  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!  No.

For some silly reason, I like slab cakes.  A slab cake is, well, a cake, but you bake it in a cookie sheet so you get a nice thin slice of moist cake.  Easy to eat, no plate required.  Easy to make, usually very moist and light and seldom needs icing.  Bakes up in  20 minutes.  Win win win.

I have this thing about efficiency lately, too....and that is this belief that if I'm baking ONE cake, I might as well bake, um, er, more than ONE.  The stand mixer IS out of the cupboard after all.  Mix, bake, wash dishes, mix, bake, wash dishes....

So, yeah, I made 3 cakes.  The recipes for each cake is below.  The only change that I would make would be to substitute some applesauce for some of the oil - maybe 1/2 cup applesauce + 1/2 cup oil (= 1 cup of oil).  Cakes like this are pretty forgiving.

The banana cake was a hit for Ben.  This is huge for me.  Ben is very picky has a selective palate when it comes to baking.  He loved this.  Will definitely make it again.

The chocolate zucchini cake is a great texas brownie cake/chocolate zucchini cake marriage. 

And, the piece de resistance, the pumpkin cake was the only one that I frosted.  How can you go wrong with pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting?  Loverly.

The best part of all?  There are still a few pieces left today!  It is not unusual for a batch of cookies to be consumed in less than 24 hours over here. 

For your baking pleasure, here they are!

PUMPKIN CAKE BARS OR SHEET CAKE

Content Copyright © 2012 Cooks.com - All rights reserved.
4 large eggs
1 c. oil
2 c. sugar
1 lb. can pumpkin (I used the ?395mls size)
2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ginger
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
Beat until blended eggs, oil and sugar in large bowl. Thoroughly mix in pumpkin. Sift together rest of ingredients. Add gradually to pumpkin mixture. Pour into a greased and floured jelly roll pan 17 x 11 inches or 2 greased 9 x 9 inch pans. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. When cool, frost with cream cheese frosting.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
3 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
6 tbsp. butter, softened
1 tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 c. powdered sugar
Beat cream cheese until very soft. Add butter; beat until smooth. Beat in milk and vanilla. Gradually add powdered sugar.

BANANA SHEET CAKE

Content Copyright © 2012 Cooks.com - All rights reserved.
1 cup butter, melted (or 1 cup oil)
1/2 c. water
2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. milk
1 tsp. baking soda (added to milk)
1 c. bananas, ripe
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Add all ingredients together. Beat well. Mash bananas. Add. Pour on sheet cake pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI SHEET CAKE

Content Copyright © 2012 Cooks.com - All rights reserved.
2 c. sugar
1 c. vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. baking cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. milk
2 c. shredded fresh zucchini
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips
In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and oil. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt; gradually add to the egg mixture alternately with the milk. Stir in the zucchini and extract. Pour into a greased 15-inch x 10-inch x 1-inch baking pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips over batter prior to baking.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until cake tests done.  Cool on wire rack. Yield: 20 servings.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Peachy, Just Peachy

I feel like I'm a season behind.

Apples.  I should be doing something with apples.

Instead, I'm wrangling a case of peaches.

In the "it seemed like a good idea at the time" file, I bought a case of peaches the week that school started.  I had SO many good ideas for peachy things.

Like peach pie.

And..........................................................

??????????????????????????????????????

I don't think this case was necessary.




Help.




Yeeaaaahhhhh, ummmmmm, a case of peaches is a LOT of peaches.

What to do, what to do.

My wandering eye has been roaming through Pinterest, pinning APPLE things.  "I'll just bake the pie and maybe something else and the case will be done and the next day I can get at the apple things", she said.

She says, today, after the peachiness of the day today, tomorrow we rest for we all have need of a Sabbath.

At the end of the day today, I have a beautiful PEACH PIE to eat, one lovely cookie sheet of PEACH SLAB PIE to freeze and 6 glistening jars of PEACH JAM to remember these sunny summer autumn days in the cool of the winter.  I'm pretty happy with that. 

However, that's only half the case of peaches.  That means tomorrow I have to think of something else to do with the other half case.  I want my mommy. 

There's a good chance the rest will end up in freezer bags, a.k.a., "freeze-it-and-forget-it" until it is unearthed in the next freezer defrosting episode, in approximately 5 years.  I must do better at that.


For someone who's as violently opposed to making pies ungifted in the pie world as I am, I have really enjoyed making this following pie version. It is a recipe that I found on "Mennonite Girls Can Cook" and the dough is really forgiving.  And, ahem, in all fairness to me, I can make a pretty decent pie crust, I just don't enjoy the process.  Anyway, here's....

Peach Slab Pie 

Pastry:
  • 1 1/2 cup margarine
  • 3 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg yolk and milk to make 1 cup (reserve egg white to use as glaze)
Peach Filling:
  • 6 cups peaches (about 9-10), peeled, pitted and cut into thin slices.
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  1. Combine flour and salt. Cut in margarine to obtain coarse crumbs.
  2. Mix egg yolk mixture into flour mixture until dough holds together in a ball.
  3. Roll out half the dough on floured work surface....slightly larger than 12 x 16 inches.
  4. Spray 12 x 16 inch pan with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang on the long sides.
  5. Transfer dough to prepared pan. Trim edges of dough...leaving 1/2 inch to hang over edge.
  6. For filling, combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add sliced peaches and lemon juice and stir. Pour peach filling into prepared baking sheet.
  7. Roll out remaining dough. Place on top of filling. Trim edges of dough to hang over sides slightly. Fold edges under and pinch to seal.
  8. Beat egg white until foamy and brush over top crust.
  9. Bake at 375°F for about 45-50 minutes...or until golden and filling is bubbling.
  10. Allow to cool completely on wire rack (several hours). Then pull up parchment paper to remove.
  11. Cut into 20 pieces. Freezes wonderfully.
By the way, the pie is delicious!  Why don't you come over and have a slice with me?  My address is $#%^^ $%^%^$%FDGHGHJ%$%^^&$%#^&*((*^$.