The first thing people ask me when they find out from North Dakota is “is it cold there?” The answer is sometimes. I find that the definition of cold varies widely, In North Dakota, when the temperatures hit the 50’s, everyone puts on their shorts and t-shirts and celebrates the arrival of spring. My friend in Alabama says when the temperatures hit the 50’s it is time for winter boots, parkas and mittens to come out. And let’s not talk about what happens to people from Alabama when the temperatures are below 50. I think my friend said something about the end of the world. We both agreed that she probably shouldn’t visit North Dakota in January. #ifyouknowyouknow
What people who don’t live in cold climates don’t know is that cooler fall weather is the perfect excuse to turn on your oven and bake. So I made these soft, cake like, pumpkin cookies. My house smelled so good while the cookies were baking and my tummy was so happy when I was eating them.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine flour, spices and baking soda.
In another medium bowl, beat the butter, honey and brown sugar until creamy, about 4 minutes. Add the pumpkin, egg, and vanilla, on at a time beat well to combine.
Slowly, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just moistened. Mix in 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons white chocolate chips.
Drop by tablespoonfuls on to a baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between the cookies. Bake for 10-12 minutes. The cookies will look slightly underdone when they are taken out of the oven. Remove the cookies from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool. Once cool you can melt the remaining white chocolate chips and drizzle over the cookies for a “frosting” if you desire.
Today has been a rough day. It started with a trip to the vet with my beautiful Budgie, Annie, to confirm what I already suspected. My Budgie boy has fatty liver disease. Annie’s liver cells are slowly, thank God, being replaced by fat cells which will eventually cause liver failure. There is no way to stop it or treatment to slow it down. All I can do is make sure to trim Annie’s beak when it over grows ( a symptom of fatty liver disease is an over grown beak. Healthy parrots never need their beaks trimmed), so he can continue to eat and make him as comfortable as possible when the end comes. Right now you couldn’t tell Annie is sick, he is eating and squabbling with his cage mates and doing what happy Budgies do. So I am going to keep on caring for him and loving him just like I always have.
It’s always hard for me to mentally deal with a sick animal. I always feel like it’s my fault they are sick. I could have done something to prevent their illness. In my head, I know that isn’t true but it takes longer to convince my heart that there is absolutely nothing I could have done to prevent Annie from getting fatty liver disease.
So after getting home from the vet I sat with Annie for awhile and gave him a special treat then I went to kitchen and started cooking and baking. I don’t know why but the kitchen is my happy place. When I am there nothing seems too overwhelming or out of reach. The kitchen is the only place I have total control. I made a batch of birdie bread for the birds, gerbils and rats and a wonderful dinner for me. The dinner included these wonderful roasted Brussels sprouts. I am going to include them is my Thanksgiving dinner. I didn’t have balsamic vinegar so I substituted apple cider vinegar. You could substitute any vinegar for it, except maybe, distilled white vinegar.
Preheat oven to 425°F. Trim off the outer, dry leaves, cut the bottom off and slice sprouts lengthwise. In a large bowl, toss Brussels sprouts with 1 tablespoon olive oil, kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to coat thoroughly. Transfer the Brussels sprouts to baking sheet and roast until tender and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Place Brussels sprouts back in bowl. Add remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey and toss to coat evenly. Taste and season with kosher salt if necessary and serve.
I have 5 pounds of wheat bran in my pantry. I have no idea what I bought that much wheat bran for but it is there in my pantry so I have to find a way to use it up. So I was delighted to find a recipe for Honey Apple Bran muffins. Unlike most bran muffin recipes this one didn’t add a lot of excess sugar to disguise the fact there is bran in the muffins.
Honey Apple Bran Muffin
1/2 cup wheat bran
1/2 cup flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 TBS milk
2 TBS canola oil
2 TBS honey
3 TBS lightly beaten egg
1 cup tart apple, peeled and chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with non – stick cooking spray, set aside. In a small bowl, combine wheat bran, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; mix well. In another small bowl, combine the milk, oil, honey and egg; mix well. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir until the ingredients are just moistened. Fill each hole 2/3 full of batter. Bake for 15 -20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
This is the fourth soda bread recipe I have posted on A Solitary Feast so you would think I make soda bread all the time. I don’t. My soda bread recipes only come out when I make corned beef and cabbage, which is only a couple of times of year. That is really kind of sad. Soda bread is no harder to make then a batch of muffins and it goes with everything.
Soda bread can be sweet, almost like a muffin, or more bread like. This recipe is more bread like. It is a good recipe to experiment with.
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 cup oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 TBS honey
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray . In a medium bowl, Combine the flour, oats, baking soda and salt; mix well. Add the honey to the buttermilk and stir until honey is dissolved. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until the dough comes together. Stir in raisins. Dough should be only slightly sticky, so that it is easy to knead. If it is too dry, add an additional tbsp or two of buttermilk. Keeping the dough in the bowl, knead it for 1-2 minutes, turning Shape dough into a ball and place on prepared baking sheet. Flatten dough until it forms a disc about 1 – 1 1/2 inches thick.Bake for 30-35 minutes, until loaf is golden brown. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes on a wire rack before slicing.
On Black Friday I bought three cookbooks. I didn’t really need them but they were A Taste of Home cookbooks so I knew I would be able to find recipes I would like and want to spend time adapting for one or two. I promised myself I would try a minimum of 5 recipes from each cookbook.
This is the first recipe I tried from Taste of Home’s Best Loved Cookies and More cookbook. I chose to make the granola bars because I love them but had to give them up when I started removing processed food from my diet. I have tried making granola bars before but they all turned out to on the dry and crunchy side. There is nothing wrong with that but I prefer my granola bars on the soft, chewy side. These granola bars are soft and chewy and stay soft and chewy even when you leave them on the counter with only a towel over the for several days.
Feel free to experiment with different seeds, nuts, chips, kinds of flakes and extracts. This is a recipe you never have to make the same way twice.
2 cups oat meal
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 chopped salted peanuts
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chip
1/4 cup sunflower kernels
6 TBS butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1/2 tsp vanilla
In a bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, peanuts, chocolate chips, and sunflower kernels. Stir in butter, honey and vanilla. The oats will be crumbly. Press into a greased 8 x 8 inch baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until browned. Cool on a wire rack 15 minutes and score with a knife. Cool completely before removing from the pan.
Adapted from A Taste Home’s Best Loved Cookies and More