Playing Catch Up: Easter, A Fond Farewell, First Smoke, & Biga

This Christmas I got a double 9"' x 13" size cake pan with a cover that holds a large 3-4 layer cake batter!
Playing catch up will start with a back story today.  We have three wonderful sons and I am humbled to be their Mother.  Our middle son Mike and his family have lived in the same subdivision as we do since our granddaughters were in grade school.  So we have been blessed to be with them as they have grown into beautiful young women.  Our son has taken a new position and his family will be moving to Georgia.  So Easter and the following days have been bitter sweet.

Our youngest son Joel and his wife invited us all to their home in Santa Claus, In. the Sat. before Easter and our oldest son Chris and hid family came from north of Indianapolis.  That is where I took the enormous cake pictured above!  It was my carrot cake recipe and I topped it with cream cheese frosting.  It also makes up in three large layers.

Yes, I still color Easter Eggs, I probably always will.
Easter Sunday we had an Easter egg hunt for our 7 year old twin grandsons.  Of course I made Easter Baskets for all the kids too.  They all are candy lovers!  We had a traditional meal with ham, sweet potatoes, green beans, deviled eggs, and both an Angel Food cake and the remainder of the Carrot cake.  I was over the top and didn't take pictures.  Not that I have found anyway!

Mike's Chocolate Chip Cookies.
I sent a care package with Mike when he went  this last round of some of his favorites:  Chocolate chip cookies and French Dip sandwiches.

After slow roasting a rump roast I wrap in foil and chill.  When cold I slice extra thin for French Dip sandwiches.
He has already ordered Vegetable soup and more cookies for the next trip!  I am happy to make it for them!

Sour cream and vanilla white yeast bread.
Our dog Molly got out of our fence during this time and our neighbors were nice enough to catch and return her one morning before the school bus even had come.  I baked them a loaf of white bread to thank them!

Smoked boneless pork loin roast.
Look at that smoke ring.  Delicious!
The next weekend Brian fired up the smoker and we smoked a boneless pork loin roast and 2 sticks of venison sausage.  We had eaten one and smoked the remaining 2 sausages and they are delicious!  The nice thing about the pork loin is that it will make us 3 different meals.  The first was sliced on Sunday.  Then Tuesday we had as a stir-fry with vegetables.  Next I sliced it very thinly and layered with BBQ sauce yesterday and will heat up tonight for an easy supper.

This is the beginning stage of the Biga.
Today I stirred up a Biga to start Cibatta (Italian Slipper Bread) tomorrow.  It needs to be started then to sit for 24 hours before making the finished loaves.  This is a new recipe I am trying because it makes 4 loaves and I will have 2 to send home with a friend of my husband's Saturday who is coming to help with a repair project.  With a little luck I will remember to take pictures and post the bread and the recipe tomorrow.  I also have set out all of the ingredients for my husband's favorite Oatmeal raisin and walnut cookies and plan to at least get them stirred up yet today.  I will bake them in the morning first thing.  Then in the late morning start the bread,  having given the Biga 24 hours to ripen into a sour deliciousness!


Deliscious Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies Made with HONEY.

Using a scoop and dipping the scoop in sugar in between scooping makes the dough more readily release and for nice uniform cookies!
Lately I have loved using more and more honey in my cooking.  It just adds some little extra somethin' somethin' I really like.  The fact that it never spoils leads me to think it may well act as somewhat of a preservative too.

At any rate I came across this recipe in my March issue of my King Arthur Catalog and have been meaning to try them.  I did adapt them a bit but I am sure they are delicious either way!

Ingredients for Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies with Honey:

6 T. soft butter
1/3 C. sugar
1/2 C. packed dark brown sugar
3 T. honey
2 t. vanilla bean paste (just use vanilla if you don't have)
1/2 t. Espresso powder (use instant coffee powder if you do not have)
3/4 t. salt
1 T. cider vinegar
1 large egg
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
2 C. King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
3 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare the baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Using a large bowl beat together the butter, sugars, honey, vanilla, Espresso powder, and salt.  Beat in vinegar, egg, baking soda, and baking powder until smooth.  Stir in the flour then the chocolate chips until just blended.

I scoop the cookie dough out onto a paper plate before chilling the batter as it makes it easier for me to get to it!
Refrigerate the dough for 20 or 30 minutes.  Use a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop, about 1 1/2" across to dip each cookie.  Keep a coffee cup with about 1/2 cup of sugar handy and swish the dipper well in the sugar before taking each scoop.

My helpful hint is to use a coffe cup with sugar in the bottom to swirl your cookie scoop into between dips of the cookie dough!
This really speeds things along as the cookie dough does not stick in the scoop and comes out much more readily!  Really speeds thing up for me!

They look very uniform all lined up and ready to go into my oven!
Bake for 10-11 minutes until just set.  DO NOT OVER BAKE.  Let the cookies cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing.  I yielded 3 and 1/3 dozen cookies.  I gave some to a friend to taste test and she texted me,  "OMG these are perfect!"  I agree!  They are great!

I also baked 2 pies today I had promised to folks, a raisin and a cherry so it was a nice day for baking!

Homemade cherry pie!  Brian is off delivering the raisin pie already this morning. I will deliver this one.
They turned out fine too.  I was happy and tired.


Hello it has been a tough winter!

Friends we have had a tough winter and I haven't been posting because of it!  Hope we are on a SPRING upswing and I can get back to some of my projects!  In a nutshell I fell the day after Labor Day and due to further injury to an existing condition  have been in a real mess.  My husband was injured the first week of Dec. while moving a milling machine when a 300+ pound motor atop it crashed down on him when the bolts attaching it broke.  We are both on the mend and feel blessed none of it was any worse than it was.

So thank you so much to all of you who missed me and this blog and especially to those who asked about us!  God Bless  you one and all.  Diane and Brian