Saturday, January 28, 2012

Eggshell pots- very random

I needed to spend an afternoon in the kitchen taking care of various chores, chopping veg for soup, making bread, taking care of the eggshells (keep reading) and cleaning. I love to be in my kitchen, but I HATE cleaning it. Especially wiping down the stove. Despicable chore. Say hello to my rising sour dough.

"Hello Sourdough!"

A few weeks ago on Pinterest I was seeing all of these pins about using eggshells as mini pots to start out your seedlings. This sounded like a good idea to me as they are all natural and I adore eggs. A fried egg is one of my favorite lunches. However, I am becoming a preemptive egg snob as my husband and I are preparing to get chickens this spring. I've been reading as many chicken books as I can get my hands on and talking to the internets to get as much chicken information into my brain as possible. And what I've learned is this 1) converting that weird horse stall on our property into a chicken coop is going to be harder than I thought and 2) grocery store eggs are crap and not worth $1.20 a dozen. So in my snobbish frugality, I have not been buying as many eggs as usual and thus if I'm going to have enough egg shells to start my 500 tomato plants come March, I need to start now.


The sites I checked said to gently wash out the eggshell. Yeah right. Can you picture me washing an eggshell? Plan B, I decided to bake the shells to solidify and dry any extra egg white left inside to keep them from decomposing over the next two months (eww).

Set your oven to 350. Place shells on the floor of your oven. You could put them on a cookie sheet or in a muffin tin, but why add more dishes.

These are only going to bake off for 2 or 3 minutes. In the time it took me to move my onions into the sunlight and snap a few pictures, my shells got a little over cooked. Pull them out when they look like this. They don't need to be darker

I use a spoon to scoop them off the floor of the oven, and I'm storing them stacked in a plastic container uncovered.

And speaking of gardening, my godfather who has owned a greenhouse for most of his adult life, told me if I want good onions this fall, I need to start them from seeds in January. So last weekend I took my mini pots, because I don't have enough eggshells yet, and chipped away enough of my frozen compost pile to plant 40 onion seeds. Then the new kitten sat on the sprouts and if that wasn't enough, he also started eating them.

The survivors

And speaking of onions, my sister was telling me that the last time she bought green onions she threw the roots in a cup of water and grew new onions. So I tried it and it really works. I had a small batch so to start I put mine in a shot glass. They had grown half an inch IN THE FIRST DAY! I could not believe it. These are definitely helping my gardener's soul survive the cold, dark, dreaded month of January. About a week or a week and a half in they graduated to a real cup. You just pull them out and change out the water if it starts to look cloudy. Mine have enough roots now that they're sucking down the water before it needs changed so I just need to add more when it gets low.

Oh I love things that are green! I hope you're finding something that helps you get through the cold, dark nights as well. Spring is coming!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chocolate orange bundt cake experiment or Wow, I think my pictures are getting better

It has been a few weeks since I've baked anything sweet and I felt like I was neglecting my husband's caloric needs. I really didn't want cookies today so I went for a cake. Chocolate cake. Chocolate bundt cake, I thought. It should be very easy to find a chocolate bundt cake recipe online. Wrong! I found one bundt cake recipe that didn't call for a "box mix" (soo not a real ingredient!!!) and it was a tropical fruit cake. So, I took it upon myself to make a recipe for a chocolate bundt cake.
Start with 3/4 cup of softened butter. What? You've never had to microwave your butter to soften it before? Well, aren't you just Jonny-on-the-ball?

To that add 1 1/2 cups of sugar.

Combining butter and sugar is called creaming. Combine or cream the butter and sugar.

Referencing the tropical recipe, it called for buttermilk. Yeah right. I may actually have buttermilk in my house if I actually had a cow or goat to make butter with. I do not. P Dubs over at The Pioneer Woman taught me how to make a buttermilk substitute using milk and vinear. I had to do math to convert her measurements. My head hurt. Add 1/4 cup whole milk and 3/4 teaspoons of white vinegar stirred together. (Just a tip, in general, white vinegar is NOT okay to use in cooking. It's disgusting, nasty stuff. I keep this industralized jug around for cleaning purposes.)

Add 1/2 cup cocoa powder (not the drinking kind) and 1 3/4 cups AP flour. Did you know that cocoa powder acts like flour in baking? Whenever I want to make a recipe chocolaty, I substitute 1/4 to 1/2 cups of the flour for cocoa powder.

Let's all take a moment to admire the timing of the next photo. No, it is not what we would call a clear photo, but I CRACKED THE EGG WITH ONE HAND AND TOOK THE PICTURE WITH THE OTHER! Using my iPad no less, not even a regular sized camera. Add 3 eggs.

Checking the island fruit recipe to see if my ratios were doing okay, I noticed that she included bananas. I had bananas, but I really didn't want to use them in the cake. I figured an orange would add about the same moisture and sweetness as the bananas. That's how this became chocolate orange bundt cake. Add the zest and juice of one orange.

I don't cook with citrus enough to own a microplane or a juicer so I juice the orange with a fork. This meant that some of the pulp got into the cake batter. Trust me, this was a good thing!

2 teaspoons of vanilla.

1 and 1/4 teaspoons of baking soda.

I attempted to stir this by hand, but I failed. Get out the mixer. You don't want to over stir and end up with a tough cake.

Spray the heck out of the bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray. (I think this is technically an angel food cake pan. I'm not really sure it makes a difference.) This is not an angel food cake that needs the edges of the pan to climb. This has 1 and 1/4 teaspoons of baking soda and will rise on it's own. But the less spray you use, the harder it will be to release from the pan.

As a side note, I licked the bowl, I liked the spoon, and I licked the beaters. The cake batter was delicious!

Referencing the island fruit cake again (which can be found here Tropical Island Bundt Cake) it said to bake at 325 for 60 to 75 minutes. I did bake at 325, but when I checked at 55 minutes it was perfectly done. So check it early. You can check it by poking the cake in the middle with a long toothpick. If the stick comes out clean it is done.

Let the cake cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes, then invert onto your cake plate and let cool completely before glazing. I prefer a vanilla glaze. This is pretty much the same thing I use on cinnamon rolls.
*1 lb of powdered sugar. This is half of a 2 lb bag. Because 2 divided by 2 is 1. ;) I never actually measure this, just eyeball it. *2 teaspoons of vanilla extract*approx 2 tablespoons of milk. Do not add it all at once. You just want to mix in the milk until the glaze is the consistency you want. You may need more or less milk. Just add the milk continuously stiring until it's right.

Once your cake is completely cooled, drizzle the glaze over the cake.

Slice and serve. Smile.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Should I click the link to have google add ads to my blog and possibly earn some money?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Oats-or how I survive 5:30 am

So I love my job. I really, really do. At least that's what I keep telling myself. And I love my kids, okay, most of them. But I really do love the days that I'm done at NOON! It's just that I have to get up at 5:30 in order to be done at noon. For over a year I made two fried eggs for breakfast everyday. But I just don't have time for that crap anymore. So now I make breakfast the night before.

This serves two. I start with a heaping 1/2 cup of steal cut oats. This goes into my 1.5 qt slow cooker.

To that I add 1 whole fruit or about 4 oz frozen fruit. I usually get 3 servings out of the regular sized frozen bags. We had mixed berries this day.

Next you can add your extras. How about mixed berry hazelnut spread flavored breakfast? I've got about 1 1/2 tablespoons of hazelnut spread here. It gets all over the sides of the crockpot and that's okay. If you use a spoon instead of a knife it will be much hard to get into the crockpot.

Next, I add 2 tablespoons of sugar. If you're *too healthy* for the sugar you don't have to add it. But I will judge you for it. Also, I've lost more weight since I started eating this for breakfast than I have my entire life. (Christmas weight doesn't count). Okay, since I originally wrote this post, almost a year and a half ago, I have cut way back on the sugar in our diet. I never cook with processed sugar anymore, and use raw if I absolutely have to have sugar, or honey and real maple syrup when I need something sweet. Most mornings, I just add a banana for natural sweetness and leave out anything extra. 

The last ingredient is the water. 2 cups and a shot as I tell my husband or 2 cups and 2 tablespoons if you insist on measuring. Give it a stir. The spread will not stir in and that's okay.

When we started this we bought one of those plug in timers like what you use for Christmas lights. You set it to start 3 1/2 hours before you wake up and to shut off a half hour before you wake up. Cook time 3 hours on high. You want it to set for about 30 minutes and the crock pot will keep it very warm. You'll cook it on high. After we bought our timer, I read online a lot of recipes where you turn it on low when you go to bed and it cooks all night. I haven't tried this way yet. I apologize for not having a picture of the finished product. If you would like to stop over tomorrow morning at 5:30 to see what it looks like, feel free. Bring your camera. The first thing I do in the morning is take the lid off of the crock pot and give it a stir. If there's any extra moisture in the oats, it will evaporate in the time you spend getting dressed. This also lets it cool down so you can eat it when it's time to eat instead of burning your mouth. Here are several combinations we've tried. You should play around and find out what you enjoy.

  • Apple cinnamon: heaping 1/2 cup of steal cut oats, 1 apple, we use honey crips, minced, 1 tablespoon molasses, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 2 cups and a shot of water. 
  •  Raisins and cinnamon: heaping 1/2 cup of steal cut oats, 1/2 cup raisins, 1 tablespoon molasses  2 and 1/4 cups water. You need the extra water if you're using dried fruit like raisins because they will absorb the water. 
  • Banana chocolate chip* MY FAVORITE: heaping 1/2 cup of steal cut oats, 1 banana sliced, 2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips, 2 cups and a shot of water. 
  • Strawberry: heaping 1/2 cup of steal cut oats, 4 oz frozen strawberries (You can leave these whole, they will break down as they cook), 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 cups and a shot of water. 
  • Mixed berry hazelnut: heaping 1/2 cup of steal cut oats, 4 oz mixed berries, 1 1/2 tablespoons of hazelnut spread, 2 cups and a shot of water.
  • Blueberry Banana: heaping 1/2 cup of steal cut oats, 1/3 cup frozen blueberries, 1 banana sliced, 2 cups and a shot of water

Add the hazelnut spread, cinnamon, or chocolate chips to whatever fruit you want to make it your own.