Doughnuts and Life

Life… Life has been challenging and busy.

I went back to school this past semester and my teacher is totally kicking my butt. I’m taking a business course and I have a lot of homework. I’m doing a research project on a international corporation. We got to choose what company we wanted to research; Guess who I picked?! Yeah, that’s right: MONSANTO! I will have to report back on my findings.

This is a total rebel post. I really should be studying for a test but I have been struggling to post things once every two weeks and I wanted to post something. I have several ideas for posts and hope to get a couple done in the near future. I will have to work this post in with homework.

I feel guilty for not keeping up with Dark Days posts. Last week I was tempted to take a picture of a fried egg and post that. No words, just a picture of a very well done fried egg… This post is not a Dark Days post and I will need to take a couple weeks off. I will resume Dark Days stuff in March to finish up that challenge. I am eager to make that lasagna.

There is an update and here are my doughnuts:

I have a pretty clear memory from my childhood. I must have been in third grade. My dad and I where at the SA -Super America- on 7th and Main in Anoka early in the morning. I was sitting in the cab of our Ford F-250 and it was winter. Before my dad ran inside to pay for the gas that he just pumped, he asked if I would like a Super Mom’s doughnut. I told him that I didn’t want an old fashion one so he got me a ‘new style’ one.

What is the difference between the two? I’m not real sure. The old fashion one is a cake doughnut and the new one has yeast and is fried?

I have made doughnuts before and it sort-of sucks. Working with flour and dough just sucks ’cause it’s messy and it takes time. The flour covers your kitchen, you need to let the dough rise twice… They tasted like doughnuts but they weren’t awesome.

Last night when I got home from work I found sugar cookies sitting on the counter. My daughter helped make them and they tasted pretty good. That inspired me to give doughnuts another try.

Last time I used Alton Brown’s recipe. This time I found myself at The Pioneer Woman. Who the heck is this lady?! I have never heard of this blog before a couple months ago and I have used three of her recipes on this blog and I wasn’t seeking out her blog to use a recipe. Her blog looks awesome and she has good looking recipes.  She’s gotta be a mega blogging star and I just don’t know it.

I can’t follow her recipe dead on, right? That’s what adapting is, isn’t it? Instead of whole milk, I used just over a cup of local half and half that was left over from my ice cream. I mixed in 1/3 cup of co-op turbinado sugar. I put that on the stove over a very low heat just to dissolve the sugar and bring the mixture up to room temp. Then I added a yeast packet. I mixed 2 eggs in a large bowl and added 11 tbsp of butter (I’m going all Paula Deen.) After mixing the eggs and the butter real well I added the milk mixture and mixed that real well.

I took 1.5 cups of unbleached white flour and 2.5 cups of whole wheat pastry flour (it’s what I had) and slowly added it to the liquid. When all the flour was mixed in I used my hand mixture on it for 5 minutes. I then let it sit on a cool counter for several hours.

I rolled out the dough to 1/4-3/8″ and used whatever circular cutters I could find. I found a bowl and a sippy cup. I cut out doughnuts and set them on trays.  I left a few doughnut holes and a couple doughnut without the centers cut out. I let these sit for a while until I was ready to fry them.

I fried them in 375 degree oil. I used a small amount of oil for the first 6 doughnuts I cooked and it was really hard to keep the oil at 375. I would spike up to 400 and go down to 250. I then got a bigger pot of oil and the temperature was slightly easier to control. I fried the doughnuts for 30-60 seconds per side, they cooked pretty fast. Afterward I put them on a paper towel covered plate. I then tossed them with a sugar and cinnamon mixture.

They tasted pretty good. I liked these better than AB’s. I will have to experiment with toppings next time… and maybe even fillings! They were easier to make this time too. I guess when you have some practice it doesn’t seem like climbing a mountain.

So you know that whole life crap I was talking about?! The computer has a virus and we can’t get photos on the computer. Enjoy the delicious photo below. 🙂

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My Baby’s Chunky Monkey

Here is my Valentines Day post for the Dark Days Challenge.

On any Saturday night my baby and I will be sitting around. We will have sent the monsters to bed and have broke out the wine. About this time we start thinking of junk food. We play rock, paper, scissors to see who has to leave the comfort of the house and travel to Cub Foods to pick some up. On top of that list is some Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. My wife is Chunky Monkey and I am Phish Food.

Chunky Monkey is not exactly local (Banana ice cream, walnuts and chocolate chunks) so I will be making strawberry along with the chunky monkey.The Chunky Monkey ingredients will be legit: Sustainable and organic.

I like to be a little bit ghetto, I like a challenge, I want to be resourceful, I want to break some cooking rules so I am making ice cream without an ice cream maker. Mainly because I don’t have one… and ’cause I’m cool like that!

The basic recipe:

3 Cups Half and Half

1 Cup Heavy Cream

8 Large Egg Yolks

1 cup of Sweetener

Here’s how I started out both of the ice creams: I took 1 cup of heavy cream and 3 cups of half and half and slowly heated it to just a simmer.

Now things get tricky because I want to make a half batch for both ice creams (1.5 quarts total-.75 quarts per) and I need to use all local ingredients for the strawberry and non local for the chunky monkey.

For the chunky monkey I took 4 egg yolks and blended them real well. I then added 1/2 cup of turbinado sugar- good co-op stuff.

For the strawberry I took 4 egg yolks and blended them real well. I then added 1/2 cup of strawberry preserve that was made with honey. It’s a straight local ice cream including the sweetener!

I then took half of the heavy cream and half and half mixture and slowly mixed it into the egg and preserve mixture for the strawberry. I put that in a saucepan and added more preserves. I brought that up to 160 degrees and poured that into a quart mason jar- we use those for everything.

Same for the chunky monkey. I took the second half of the heavy cream and half and half mixture and slowly added that to the egg and sugar mixture. I put that in the sauce pan and I figure this is where I make the banana ice cream. I’m not sure if I used the right technique or the right amount. I cut up two medium sized bananas and put them into the sauce pan with the mixture and mixed it up real well. It came up to 160 degrees and it thickened up. I continued to mix it and put it in a quart jar.

I let the jars come down to room temp and put them in the fridge for 4 hours. I then transferred the jars to the freezer. I let them sit in there for an hour or so. I took them out to ‘turn’ the ice cream. I took one of the beaters from my hand mixer and attached it to my cordless power drill. Yes, I could have used the hand mixer but I felt the drill was more manly. I mixed up the freezing ice cream once every 45 minutes a total of three times. The second time I mixed up the chunky monkey I added the walnuts and the dark chocolate.

Strawberry on left- Chunky Monkey on right

The cost of both ice creams together was around $15. The strawberry really tasted like honey. It wasn’t over powering but I would have to call it strawberry/honey flavored ice cream. The chunky monkey was definitely thicker than the strawberry. I think next time I will saute the bananas with sugar before adding them to the ice cream. I wasn’t going for it but: The chunky monkey did not taste like Ben and Jerry’s AT ALL. The texture of both of them wasn’t as good as I wanted. I will need that KitchenAid stand mixer to correct that.

I love my baby! Each day we are together is a wonderful treat. We have been together for over 11 years and my love for her continues to deepen. I am enjoying and I am looking forward to going through life with her. I often picture us being old cootes sitting around a nursing home laughing and enjoy each others company. Here’s to another 67 years of your love! I love you baby! Happy Valentines Day!

Me and my baby

Chicken Alfredo

Dark Days

This is my third attempt at making homemade pasta. I am getting closer each time. I will do a quick run through on how I made the pasta. It’s very similar to the way I did it a couple weeks ago.

I used 1 pint of spelt flour and 4 eggs. I dumped out the flour on the counter and made a well in the center of it and put 2 eggs in. I combined the eggs and the flour with a fork. Seeing that I needed more liquid I added 2 more eggs. I combined the mixture and started to form a ball. At this point I looked at what I was doing: I had a pint of flour and 4 eggs on my counter, it looked pretty messy and I was wondering if it would turn out. The ball formed and I rolled that out as best I could on a very floured surface. When it got to be about 3ft long I cut it in thirds. For each of those thirds I rolled them out to about 2-2.5 feet. I then folded them in half three times and cut them as thin as I could. I fluffed the noodles up, unfolding them, and put them in a bowl. I set the bowl aside and started on the rest of the dish.

I browned the chicken breasts in a frying pan. I seasoned them with salt, pepper, smoked paprika and rosemary. I took them out of the pan and let them rest for 10 minutes. Then I cut them in bite size pieces and put them back in the frying pan for another minute on medium heat.

To make the sauce I melted 4 tablespoons of butter in a medium sauce pan and added 3 cloves of mined garlic. I let that cook for 3 minutes and added 3/4 of a pint of heavy cream. I seasoned that with dried parsley then added 1/4 pound of cream cheese. I let that melt, just come up to a boil and I shut off the heat.

Before I plated the noodles I pan fried them for a couple minutes to ‘help’ them taste better?! The noodles just didn’t do it for me.

At this point I dished up some noodles, added some chicken, put some sauce on the top and added salt and pepper.

The chicken and the sauce were very good. The chicken was tender and the rosemary was a very nice touch. The sauce was garlic, butter, heavy cream and cream cheese; How couldn’t that be good?

The noodles: I made them myself, they tasted like whole wheat noodles, the texture was different, they were not uniform (I’m not a machine),  I coated them with sunflower oil,  I don’t know! They were noodles but the were just not that good. I think I will have to try a different flour… Maybe something more Italian?

Overall I think that this was a success. It was local (beyond the spices) and homemade. I learned a few tricks on making the pasta. I also learned I can make a good Alfredo sauce. Kristina thought it was very good. Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on my noodles.

Notes for next time-

The meal is cooked, the post is made and in the editing process. I Google ‘homemade pasta’ and find out that The Pioneer Women has a recipe. I used this website for my braised short ribs. I looked at the recipe for her pasta and learn I didn’t knead my pasta ball long enough. I will know for next time. Dude, that’s frustrating! The joys of cooking and allowing others to see your mistakes.

Pasta

Growing up I would ask my parents to make lasagna and they always told me no. I asked why and they said it was too difficult to make. As an adult, I have never made lasagna because I thought it would be too difficult to make. You have: meat and sauce and noodles and cheese and more cheese and baking and left overs… Well for one of my Dark Days post I would like to make a lasagna from scratch. Well, as unprocessed as possible; meaning I need to make my own noodles. I guess I won’t try to make the cheese…this time!

I found a couple videos on Youtube to make your own pasta. Man, there are some fancy pasta makers out there! I don’t have a pasta maker, so I am doing it by hand. This year I really would like to get two things for my kitchen. 1. A Kitchen Aid stand mixer. Yes… I know, it is a must have. I need the ice cream maker attachment too… I have some wild ideas! 2. A dutch oven. A Lodge cast iron 7 quart dutch oven to be specific. I do most of my cooking on cast iron.

Back to the pasta. The recipe is like 1 cup of all purpose flour, 1 egg and salt. Mix the flour and salt, add a beaten egg and mix up until it makes a ball. Then knead for a couple minutes and roll out to as thin as you want. Finally cut it into noodles. Simple stuff. I made pasta once like this and I can remember not being too impressed.

I think it’s funny that when we think of pasta it’s always the cheap dried crap down the grocery aisle. You can pick up a pound of dried pasta noodles for a buck. There is the whole wheat kind or the fancy imported kind for around two bucks. That’s it. It seams like they all taste the same. I have never known anyone to regularly make their own noodles.

If you can get a recipe that works for you, think of some of the possibilities: Stuffed ravioli- OK, you could do a traditional thing like spinach and olive oil. BUT what if you got crazy and did a wild green and wild mushroom stuffed ravioli. Or another possibility- You are at home you want a spaghetti and you don’t have noodles. You would have the know how to make a quick batch of noodles. (Not to mention Asian stuff or soups!)

My noodles turned out. They were a little too thick. They would have made a good noodle for an Alfredo, but not for spaghetti. I thought I rolled them out pretty thin… I will need to experiment with different flours too. I cooked them for 3 minutes and tossed them with some butter, olive oil, salt, pepper and Parmesan. It made for a quick meal and a good first attempt on noodle making. I am one step closer to that local lasagna. Maybe I should have my parents over for dinner that night…

Home Cooking

I call this a Food Blog but I have reviewed my posts and I don’t have much of anything for everyday home cooking recipes. I like it like that! I make a good pizza but there are a lot of good recipes for pizza out there. I feel I wouldn’t be sharing the recipe so much as the experience of making it.

Last year I have a different view of this blog. It would be more foodie, more mainstream: Food Network meets Anthony Bourdain-ish. I could give you a good pizza recipe but I would have a strong urge swear or make fun of someone in there.

I want to write what I am inspired to write. Lately that has been foraging, political, non-Food Network stuff. We gave up our cable TV this past spring so I can’t hang out with Alton Brown and The Barefoot Contessa. If I did have cable this blog may have a different feel.

It might just be the time of year but I have thinking more of cooking comfort food: onions, carrots, garlic, celery, potatoes and meat. We have some guests today and I am making a pot of soup. Let me tell you what I will be doing.

Lentil Soup

1 envelope of onion soup mix
1 quart of homemade chicken stock
Water- eyeball
3/4 cup lentils
1/2 cup rice
1/2 cup wild rice
2 large heirloom tomatoes frozen and diced from the garden
Carrots- eyeball
Celery- eyeball
Spices…basil- oregano- thyme- parsley- salt- pepper- eyeball
Dash of apple cider vinegar
1 pound of diced bone in ham

Toss everything in a stock pot and cook for an hour or so

Dandelion Root Beer

I just made some real, honest, non-alcoholic dandelion root beer! In the book Wild Fermentation  by: Sandor Ellix Kats, I rediscovered a recipe for ginger beer and I asked myself: How can I do this with what’s around me?

Last year I made Sandor’s ginger beer. It didn’t go as planned. Come to find out I let it ferment way too long, like weeks too long, and I had a one gallon glass bottle explode. I was hit with a piece of flying glass and I had one gallon of sweet ginger juice flood my entry way and go down into my heating vents.

This year I followed the same recipe, but with the ingredients that were around me. Instead of ginger root, I used dandelion root. And no, I didn’t buy the roots at some fancy store. I went out to the yard with a spoon and dug them out of my soil. The rosette of the dandelion plant is still in the grass, even if the stem and the flower are not, making them easy to spot.

The first step was to make a starter: 1 teaspoon of the diced dandelion root and one teaspoon of sugar. I want to be local, I want to do things myself, so for the sugar I used a mixture of local honey and local maple syrup. I mixed them because I didn’t have enough of one of them to make the brew. You put the root and sugar in a pint jar with one cup of water. Let that sit on the shelf with a paper towel over the top to gather wild yeast for a few days. The second day I added a teaspoon of maple syrup and a teaspoon of dandelion root. By the third day it was bubbling and ready to go. Continue to add the sugar and roots everyday or two until it starts to bubble. This process collects wild yeast. Yes, there is a big debate on types of yeast to use…I’m doing this one, you could do another.

I had to then brew a tea. I didn’t have enough dandelion root, so I added some hollyhock root I got from the yard this past summer. I washed the roots and threw ten of them in a pot with some dried and cut up hollyhock roots and let them boil for a few hours. I turned the heat off and let it cool over night.

The next day I added 1 cup of maple syrup and 1 cup of honey to a one gallon glass bottle. I then added the tea and the starter that was bubbling. I added some water and mixed it all up real well. At this point Sandor says to add 1/4 cup of lemon juice to the ginger brew. I can’t forage for lemons, so I needed to improvise.

Check this out! I went down to my favorite park in Saint Paul and foraged for some sumac. If you don’t know what sumac is; it makes a type of acidic drink often referred to as “sumac-aide.” The hairs on the red sumac fruit are acidic and it tastes similar to lemonade. To make some of this drink; Go forage for 7-10 sumac fruit clusters and put them in a pitcher. Pour some cold water over the top and let it sit for .5-12 hours. Strain out the fruit and you have a drink. I poured 2 quarts of that into the gallon glass jug to top off the dandelion brew. I put the jug on the “fermentation station” and let it sit for 24 hours.

I opened the stuff and poured it into a glass… It was lovely. It is similar to root beer. It is lighter than root beer, the honey and maple syrup add awesome flavors. It was well carbonated. It is honestly my favorite dandelion root beer I have ever had…and only. I drank two glasses of it, with intent to finish my gallon in the coming weeks. I gave some to Kristina and she wasn’t as impressed as I was. I’m not saying the stuff is perfect, but I am proud of it! I plan on drinking the whole gallon and foraging for materials to make more.

Dandelion Beer

Time expected to brew: 3 days- 1 week

Ingredients-for one gallon:
Water
7-10 heads of sumac
1 cup of honey
1.25 cups of maple syrup
1 cup of dandelion root- diced
1/2 cup of hollyhock root- diced

Process:

Starter:
Pour one cup of water into a glass pint jar
Add one teaspoon of maple syrup and one teaspoon of dandelion root
Put the glass on a shelf with paper towel covering the top
Check on it every day to see if it’s bubbling
If it’s not bubbling- add one teaspoon of maple syrup and one teaspoon of dandelion root

Sumac-Aide:
Fill a half gallon jar with the sumac
Pour cold water over the top until jar is full
Let sit in the fridge overnight
Strain out the sumac saving the water

Tea:
Take the hollyhock root and the rest of the dandelion roots and add them to a 4 quart pot with a lid
Add 3 quarts of water
Cover and boil for an hour
Let tea cool overnight
Strain out roots

Filling the jar:
Add the sumac-aide, the tea and the starter to the jar
Add the rest of the maple syrup and the honey to the jar
Mix real well
Top off to one gallon with water if necessary
Cap and set on the shelf for one day
Put in fridge to cool down and stop the fermentation
Once it is cool, open and pour it into a glass

Dandelion Root Beer on Punk Domestics

Wine

It is grape season! Vineyards are having events along with the U of M to celebrate wine grapes.

I know very little about wine. I like light, sweet and bubbly wine. I don’t like dry wines.  I like the wine that is made by the Italian dude that comes in a gallon glass bottle- Carlo Rossi. My wife likes dry wine. When I go get wine I don’t like to buy too much, but we don’t always agree on what to buy. I learned a trick in bartending school- pour soda in your wine. So I buy a dry wine and fill my glass with half wine and the rest with 7 UP. That is my basic knowledge of wines. From listening to The Splendid Table, I think you have had to have a few bottles of wine to start to appreciate the different tastes… and it will cost some money.

I have seven grapevines in my yard. We have have fresh eating grapes and wine grapes. We have: Niagara, Catawba, St. Croix (2), Edelweiss, Frontenac and Marquette grapes. We harvest all of our grapes and throw them in a large bucket and make something out of all of them. Last year it was good jelly. This year it’s wine.

I bought this book last year called, “Wild Fermentation,”  by Sandor Ellix Kraut. I have said this before on this blog and I will say it again: Dude is good! He has a recipe for Ethiopian wine, made from honey and water. It’s straight honey and water. I made a batch last year. I made the quick version and did not let it age. I should have let it age; I did not “appreciate” the taste. The wine I am making now I am gonna make off that recipe, bottle it and let it age.

I just harvested our grapes. We are in the process of selling the land our “vineyard” is on and we want to take the “vineyard” with us. While harvesting our grapes I pruned all the vines way down to transport them. They grew awesome this year. I am not sure where we are going to put them yet. I know I won’t plant them all in the yard we have with the rental house. I am thinking guerrilla gardening stuff. If you have any ideas or may want one let me know.

I took the grapes off the clusters and washed them. I ran the grapes through a food mill getting out over three quarts of juice. I poured the juice in a large stock pot and cover it with a clean t-shirt. I let that sit on the shelf for a few days gathering wild yeast. I mixed in just over 3 cups of raw honey and let it continue to sit on the shelf a few days until it got nice and bubbly. The very top of the wine is very frothy and you should mix that in twice a day. The smell of this stuff was wonderful! It was like wine. It smelled like grape juice, honey, and alcohol. I put my head in that pot several times a day to get a good whiff. After it gathered the yeast I poured it into a Carlo Rossi wine bottle. It’s a 4 liter, which is just over a gallon, glass jug. I got it with wine for $12. Then I put an airlock on the top and put it in the pantry. It has been consistently letting gas go every 1-2 seconds, 24/7 since I capped it with the airlock It’s pretty cool to pop my head in the pantry and see it doing its thing. I will leave it like that for a month or so then siphon it into bottles. After the siphoning I will age it for 18 months or so.

I want to mention why I use wild yeast. There are a couple of reasons: The first is that it’s free. It comes from where I live, this drink will taste like my land. The second is I want to do things myself. If I can get a “excellent” wine yeast from Italy, or where ever good wine yeast comes from and keep it alive or allow it to multiply- I will think about it. I don’t want to be dependent on living near a home-brew shop and I don’t want to be told which yeast will give me the best wine. I am doing this to be free from marketing and trends. I just want to make a descent tasting alcoholic beverage.

I invite you to make your own homemade wine and let it age. We can get drunk together in the summer of 2013. We can bring our mystery-tasting wines together and have a unveiling. If you say you have no grape vines in your yard- I say there are a lot of wild grapes in Minnesota. I have seen some in parks in Saint Paul, a State Park in Saint Paul and I was up near the river in Anoka foraging for sumac and I stumbled across some as-well. Or you could buy some wine grapes from vineyards or some grocery stores.