Sunday, December 20, 2020

Ten Years Ago In Blogging

Many things remained the same in the 3rd and beginning of the 4th year of blogging. I still enjoyed doing some Daring Baker challenges, but I also joined a cake baking group, The Cake Slice Bakers. I continued to bake bread a few times a month at a minimum and often participated in Yeastspotting, a great group event, hosted by Susan of Wild Yeast, where bloggers sent in photos and links for breads they baked that week. Over the years Yeastspotting's archives have been a source of lots of inspiration and some recipes, too. I also was invited to join the Bread Baking Babes in July. I had made some of their challenges as a Buddy, like the Naan in January, but being a full fledged Babe is something I never expected. I'm still actively baking with the Babes. We post on the 16th of the month (or a little later in some gets in the way now and then) so you can click on almost any month in any year from July of 2010 to see what we baked. You might become inspired. 

My first bread with the Babes was not successful, but successive bakes were better.

Three of my favorite, often used, recipes were posted this year. In September I made cupcakes and iced them with Coffee Rum Buttercream. This buttercream recipe is the best! You can flavor it lots of other ways, and it really can make your cake or cupcake seem very it's delicious! The other recipe is for what I call Lemon Quick Chick...a fast lemon chicken recipe that uses cut-up chicken breasts and whole, sliced, all goes into the pan so you get strong lemon flavor and a bit of tang from the zest and pith. Some chicken broth, some seasonings, a bit of flour and oil and you too can make this quick entree. I serve it over a starch like rice or mashed potatoes, but it is also good over toasted toaster waffles from the freezer if you are really, really in a hurry. 

The last recipe is a Black Bean, Tomato and Corn Salad and here is what I wrote about it:  Even if you are a proficient cook, this is a great meal to have in your repertoire, especially if you keep some of the ingredients on hand. You can pull it together at a moment's notice when you have unexpected guests or are just too tired to do 'real' cooking. Just remember, the best reason to make this salad is that it tastes great! 

This is the year when Sweetie and I re-did the upstairs bathroom. It was not my favorite project to work on with him, but it did end up being a very nice bathroom and all these years later it still is a fine room to use. This link is also too a wonderful chocolate zucchini loaf recipe.

 We also took a trip in the fall to Utah and Arizona to visit both Bryce and Zion parks and the Grand Canyon north rim. The same link also included a recipe for a fruit and nut braided bread that would be a great item to have on hand for Christmas or to give as a gift. 

A much closer trip was to Berkeley for our anniversary. We were married in Berkeley so it was fun to hang out around town and see what was the same and what had changed. 

A trip where you meet up with wonderful bloggers is always a good one and in February I flew to Seattle. As part of the trip I met up with Peabody blogging at the time at Culinary Concoctions by Peabody, but now at Sweet ReciPEAS and Cookie Baker Lynn. Wonderful women and great in the kitchen, plus lots of fun to hang out with.

One of the recipes that has become popular during the pandemic is for mug cakes; single serving cakes that you microwave in a mug. I made one all those years ago that had apple, plum and caramel. You might want to try it and now seems like a good time!

If you know anything about me I'll bet that you know that I love to cook and bake with young people. It's a bit about passing on skills and the love of kitchen craft, but young people also bring and enthusiasm to the tasks, and a wonder when it all works, which is enchanting. The summer of 2010 the teenaged Captain came to visit and we took in the sights, he scared me by climbing a very tall rock out in the water at Bodega Head (I had no idea that he is an excellent climber - and now a professional boat rigger), and decided to make Bear Claws and Burger Buns. Delicious and a fun bake.

Most things that are baked or cooked are not scary, but when I made grilled pizza in the summer I was really nervous. Sweetie usually mans the grill and getting all the toppings on and heated/melted before the bottom burned was challenging. In the end it all worked out and was delicious, but I prefer the way I do it now, with a baking stone.

Another area where I'm not as experienced as I might be is making savory dishes that include fruit. I tried a dish with chicken and fresh blueberries in late June that worked out well, the savory elements coming from lemon and thyme and the punch of cayenne pepper.

A third challenge that I set for myself was making fancy eggs benedict, using fresh asparagus instead of Canadian bacon. The real challenge was the timing and keeping the hollandaise sauce hot. Still, I did it and it was so delicious, and pretty. There's a great recipe for easy hollandaise sauce too.

Sometimes the thing that grabs me about a post is the photos. I'm particularly fond of one of the photos of the fresh strawberry tart I made in the spring. The background is blue check cloth, the berries are bright red and the cream filling in the tart is almost white...and then the tart crust and pan tie it all together.

One of my more creative breads was made this year - Soft Cheese Bread with Apricots and Brie. The inspiration was an apricot beer that Sweetie had me try. The next day I saw an artisan bread recipe that used beer so I figured out what would go in such a bread if the beer was flavored with apricot...and I ended up with this delicious, soft bread that doesn't even need butter.

Another bread that was a challenge was the BBB November bread - a bread cornucopia! I enjoyed the challenge of shaping it so that it could hold harvest items while still tasting good when we took it apart and ate it. Except for the tiny pumpkins, everything in the cornucopia is from our garden, trees and vines.

Recipes from the 50s and 60s of the last century often were full of things like canned soup and jello. Towards the beginning of the year my sister-in-law gave me a wonderful recipe from that era that had none of that, just good ingredients and a deep and delicious flavor. Pork and Black Bean Over Rice also has oranges and is a great braise for winter. I might have to make it again soon!

As a baker I'm always on the lookout for new techniques. I found one early in the year. When I was young we made 7-Minute Frosting for things like Coconut Cake by beating the egg whites and sugar in a double boiler with a hand held electric mixer, with lots of steam rising...and it took a long time. This new technique yields a frosting very much like the 7-Minute of my youth, but most of the work is done by the stand mixer...a vast improvement. The link also takes you to recipes for lemon curd and coconut cake.

Last, but not least, is a recipe that I made while growing up and continued to make most winters because it is hearty and delicious and warms you up plus fills you up. The Beef Barley Soup with Vegetables recipe came from the barley package. I think it's a Quaker product, but the nice thing is that it is rolled barley, not the roundish kind, so it cooks faster. You can, of course, substitute ground turkey or chicken and use chicken broth, but try it with beef. I think you'll like it.

Thanks for following me through the year. Hope that you found some interesting things to cook or bake and enjoy. If it seems like a long time between post on blogging years, it's because it takes a couple of days to find the things to talk about, do the links, and find the right photos and add them.

Stay safe and healthy!

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