Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bad Drivers

I know I haven't been seen around these parts for a while, but I've sort of been busy lazy. And I haven't really done a lot of cooking or baking that is blog-worthy. All of last weekend I was fortunate enough to be fed by my sister, because my parents were in town, and that's always a great delight. It's always better when someone else cooks, don't you think? I should have taken pictures of what her and my dad made, but I didn't. Oops. I did help my sister make a peach/blackberry/raspberry crisp though. That was tasty.

Anyways, to the point of this post. I have a rant. I, at times, enjoy a good rant. Sometimes, I just like to get things off my chest, you know?

Right. So, bad drivers. Everyone sees bad drivers every day, I'm sure. You, and I, could very possibly be considered bad drivers at times (though, probably not, right?). But, there are some things that people do when they are driving around a 2 ton weapon, and yes, a car really is a weapon. If you don't agree with me, you're wrong. End of story. I have a few major pet peeves, which I will tell you about. Well, I'm sure there are more than a few, but these are the few that I have been seeing a lot lately, so that is why they come to mind. Maybe this will be a multiple-part post, who knows.

1) People who do not brush the snow off of their back windows. We live in Canada, folks. And it snows in the winter. Where I live, it sometimes snows in the summer. This means that you should buy a brush for your car, so you can brush the snow off, and scrape the windows when it's icy. Pretty sure these brushes cost $5. And if you're seriously too cheap to buy one of those, use your coat, it takes about 7.3 seconds to brush off the back window. And if you don't? How are you going to see stuff out of your back window? Sure, you have side mirrors, but using your rear view mirror is important. And if you have snow on your window, you can't use your rear view mirror. What if there is an ambulance or fire truck behind you, and your music is already blasting so loud you can't hear the sirens, and then you also can't see the flashing lights because you're the idiot who didn't clean off their back window when you left your house that day. Hi. Use your common sense. Or do you not have any?

2) People who do not use their signal lights. These babies are on your car for a reason. It barely takes any effort to flick the lever up or down, depending on which way you're going. For example, a good time to use your signal light is when you are changing lanes. It's really nice to know if someone is going to be cutting me off. At least if you use your signal light, I'll probably slow down and give you more room so it's easier for you to get in. Instead of you being a total douchebag, and just fighting your way in. That kind of crap causes accidents. And it also makes me yell at you if my windows are closed and you can't really hear me. Oh, but if you have snow on your back window, you probably would have barely been able to see me so close to you when you stupidly decided to change lanes without signaling anyways.

3) And finally, this:

Yes. People who suck at parking. That dirty little black car is mine, and the silver one is some anonymous person. Ok, so, backing into a parking spot is maybe a little more difficult than just pulling in the regular way. And, maybe backing into a parking spot is a little more convenient, because then you can just drive out of it when you leave. But if you suck at it? And you are going to be in the parking spot next to you when you do it, then just don't even try. Or, at least readjust your crappy parking job before you get out, leaving the person next to you having a difficult time opening their door, because you're so inconsiderate. It's not that hard to park a car. I promise. Sometimes it takes a little bit of practice, and you may need to try a couple of times before you get in the lines, but it's really and truly not that difficult. Especially if you aren't driving a massive vehicle that doesn't fit into a spot anyways. If you practice parking, and get better at it, I'll bake you cookies. How does that sound?

Well, that turned out to be longer than I expected. Glad I got that off my chest! Thanks for listening.


Hope you had a good day!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Whole wheat bread

Did you know that kneading bread is actually somewhat comforting? And a good way to relieve some frustration. Seriously. Get mad about something, and then go knead some dough. You'll feel better, and then you will almost have some delicious home-made bread.

But first you have to do some other things. Like, heat up some milk, let some yeast sit in water, wait for the milk to cool, add a few ingredients together, mix a little bit. And then....clean your counters off so you have space to knead the dough (ugh). It sure is worth it though. Even just the smell of bread baking in the oven is delightful. And that smell makes everyhthing feel cozy, and like you're back at your parents' house when they made bread every week or two. Ahhh the good ol' days when I didn't have to fend for myself.

When I told someone that I made bread, they said something along the lines of "Oh, you have a breadmaker?" Uh. No. I made those loaves by hand, friends. Breadmakers? I scoff at you.

Alright, so maybe breadmakers are easier? I don't really know, but that's now how I was taught to make bread. Plus, if you use a breadmaker, then you can't relieve that frustration. So, that's another reason breadmakers are out of the question.

I asked the bread-man (AKA, my dad), if he could help me with the recipe, since the only one I had made, I don't know, 25 loaves or something insane like that. He promptly sent me a recipe that I could use to make two loaves of bread, making them partially whole wheat. Hooray!

Note: Baking bread is NOT fast. You can't spend an hour working on this, and come out with delicious bread. It takes time. You have to wait for the bread to rise. Then you have to wait for it to rise again. That right there is 2-4 hours. And don't forget the prepping before the rising, and the baking after the rising. Plan to do this on a day when you have a few hours to spare.

One of the greatest things about baking bread at home is that you will likely have all of the ingredients in your house already. This means you don't have to spend insane amount on loaves of bread at the grocery store. A definite positive in my opinion.

Another note: This may come in handy. When prepping for baking bread, or really, anything, it might be a good idea to put your ingredients together in separate little bowls, so that you do'nt forget anything. You know, like they do on the cooking shows on the Food Network? I wish I had that channel. But if I think about it, it's probably a good thing I don't, because then I wouldn't do anything except for watch all the awesome shows on it...anyway...I digress. Put each ingredient in a little bowl, and then go back and check your recipe, making sure you have everything. That way, you are less likely to forget an ingredient, especially an important one. Like brown sugar. I don't do this, but maybe I should start. The only con is that afterwards, there are more dishes to do. Blech.

Whole wheat bread

1 tsp sugar                                           
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast                                   
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp margarine, softened
2 tsp salt
2 cups milk, scalded and cooled  (dissolve the sugar, salt and margarine in the milk while it’s hot and let it cool)
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
4 cups, approximately, white flour
First three items together to dissolve the yeast. I also added in the milk, margarine, sugar and salt at the same time, once it was cooled enough to room temperature, so as to not kill the yeast!

Add in the whole wheat flour and beat on medium till smooth. 
If you'd like, you can add an egg into this mix, as it will give more nutrients and body. Not necessary, and if you don't, your bread will just be lighter and fluffier. I added one. :)

Add the rest of the flour and when pulls away from the sides, put on counter and knead.
Add more flour as needed to make dough only slightly sticky. If you have ever made buns before, the bread dough should be less sticky than that. Let it rise for 1-2 hours.
Once the dough has risen the first time, punch it down, cut it in half, pinching the bottoms, and placing each half into a greased loaf pan. Once it is in there, poke 3 sets of holes into the top with a fork.
Let the bread rise again, another 1-2 hours. I turned my oven on for about 15 seconds, just to let it warm up. Turned it off, and then put the bread in, covered with a plastic bag. 
Once the dough is done rising in the loaf pans, stick it in a preheated oven set to 375 degrees for 25 minutes.
I can't make my loaves the same size either. I see at trend...

You will know they are done when you take the loaves out of the pans, and knock on the bottom. If it sounds hollow, you're set. Let it cool, or not. And have a slice.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Grilled cheese croutons

Have you ever wanted to eat some soup that NEEDS crackers in it, but you just don't have any crackers? Well. Do I have a solution for you! It's cheesey and easy and delicious!

I wasn't sure what to make for dinner the other night, so I just thought I'd stick with something simple. Tomato soup. But, I don't really like to eat tomato soup without crackers. I will sometimes, but I prefer it with. Now, I don't have any soda crackers right now, but I still wanted the soup, and since I sometimes eat tomato soup with grilled cheese (though more often it's peanut butter and jam so I can dunk it in. Don't judge!), I though, well, why don't I use those as crackers! Or, better yet, let's call them croutons so it sounds fancier.

Note: Your grilled cheese WILL get soggy, so if you are for some odd reason grossed out by that, don't do this. Though, if you dunk your grilled cheese into your tomato soup anyway, then you shouldn't be.

Ready for the step by step?

Get a can of soup, any soup. My victim for the evening was campbells tomato soup. Dump that sucker out into a pot, and then add a can of milk. Please, please add a can of milk and not water. I tried this with water once, because I hadn't made it for so long and forgot, and it was GROSS. If you're used to it with water, and have never had it with milk, try it. You will never go back to water.

While your soup is cooking, prepare your grilled cheese! I use cheese slices. Yeah, whatever. Cheese slices are good for grilled cheese. I prefer those over when making grilled cheese sandwiches. But use whatever cheese you fancy. Don't forget to either put butter on your bread, or grease your pan.

Cook your grilled cheese sandwich to perfection. Whatever your perfection is. Mine is golden on both sides. Not too dark, because then I just get mad. I don't like burnt bread!

Then! Cut your grilled cheese into little cubes.

Pour your soup into a bowl.

Now for the hard part.

Pick up the grilled cheese cubes and put them in your soup!! Ok ok. That wasn't hard I know. But that was the point. Kind of sarcastic.

Ta-da! Tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons. Simple. And a great alternative if you don't have any crackers :)

Caution: It's hot!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Banana Chocolate Chip Loaf turned into Muffins

Banana-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na MUFFINS....sung to the tune of that Batman song....or something.

I like banana bread. But for some reason, I don't eat it as quickly as banana muffins. Ok, so maybe it's due to being slightly lazy because with the loaf, I have to actually cut it to have a piece, but with a muffin, I can just grab one and go. Convenient. Muffins are convenient.

I should have made these with whole wheat flour, because then they would have been healthier. I didn't think of that until afterwards though. Next time!

Do you know what is delicious with bananas? Chocolate. Duh. Bananas and chocolate, add some peanutbutter, and that's pretty much heaven. But I didn't add peanut butter either. Boy am I slacking.

I did add butterscotch chips too though! I wasn't sure how that would taste, so I only added them into a few of the muffins, but I'm sure glad I did, because they were delicious!

I was slightly concerned with how brown they ended up being on top, but they weren't burnt or anything, and not crunchy, so I think it was all good. The muffins needed half the time in the oven as the loaf does. Less surface area to cook, so it takes less time? Maybe something like that.

If anyone tries these with whole wheat flour, let me know how they are!

Banana Muffins:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3 mashed frozen bananas
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips
Cream margarine and sugar until fluffy. Add in eggs one at a time, and beat until smooth. Stir in the mashed bananas.

Mix dry ingredients together, and add to the wet ingredients slowly blending as you go.

Fold in chocolate chips. And when I say fold, I don't mean beat them in with your hand mixer or your electric mixer. I mean, take a spatula out of the drawer, and fold them in gently.

Either line muffin tins with papers, or spray them with Pam to grease them so the muffins come out easily when they are finished. If you're making a loaf, then grease the loaf pan.

If you want to make each of the muffins the same size, use an icecream scoop, or a 1/3 cup measuring cup to plop the batter into the tins. You've probably guessed that I didn't do that. I guestimated (yeah, that's a word), and surprise surprise, the muffins weren't the same size. But,  uh, some days I might want a bigger muffin than others. Yeah...that's why I did it that way.

Bake the muffins for 25-30 minutes, making sure you use a toothpick/knife to see if they are cooked. If you're making a loaf, bake it for 1 hour, checking the same way to make sure it is done. Don't worry if your muffins are a dark brown on top! Just make sure they don't burn. So if your oven runs hot, either turn the heat down 10 degrees, or cook for 20 minutes and check them before putting them in longer. Maybe wait until they are a little cooler to shove in your face though. They burn your mouth when they are still hot.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Pepper and sauteed mushroom and onion pizza

So I made pizza!

I never used to make homemade pizza, but, uh. It's really easy. And, in my opinion, better than bought pizza. It's healthier, or, well, you can make it healthier if you want. I also think it tastes better!

BUT IT'S EASY. Seriously. And you can put absolutely anything you'd like on it! I decided to try a combination that is good together on other things, but I hadn't actually tried on a pizza before.

And, since I should be honest...I used to hate mushrooms. I would never eat them. Well, I would never eat them if I knew they were in something. The absolutely delicious spaghetti sauce my mom made growing up didn't have mushrooms in it, right? WRONG. When I asked if there were mushrooms in it, I got "No! Of course there isn't." And then I grew up. And learned that yes, in fact, there were mushrooms in that sauce, just food processed together with a bunch of other vegetables, so we would have no idea. Sneaky sneaky mom. (Smart though.)

I like mushrooms now though! If they are cooked. And especially if they are cooked with mushrooms. Sauteed actually, in butter. And I sauteed the bejeezus out of these mushrooms. No word of a lie, they were in a frying pan for over half an hour. They got all brown, and caramelized, and delicious. I added the onions near the end, because I didn't want them cooked as much as the mushrooms, but I wanted them soft and transparent.

I just threw the peppers on top, chopped up and raw. It worked out well.

I used a whole wheat crust, and I got the recipe from here.

The only difference was in technique, rather than ingredients, as I've mentioned with a different bread recipe. I let the yeast sit with the lukewarm water for 10-15 minutes first, and added that in to the rest of the ingredients. I also only let it rise for about half an hour. This happened for two reasons.
1) I'm impatient.
2) My dad once said something about letting pizza dough rise for shorter time than bread, and so I listened to him.

Mostly number 1 though.

I suggest you do this. Even if you just try the crust, because it's quite good. Try your own combination. But take it from me....this one is good.

Mmmm pizza.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Prepare yourself.

These are the best brownies ever. And I'm going to mess with them. But first, I'm going to show you the original.

I swear, the poor iPod photo does NOT do this justice. It's all gooey, and warm, and delicious.

These are Grandma Terry brownies, so, my dad's mom's recipe. They are best eaten warm, straight out of the pan. And the trick with these is that you MUST, and I mean it is an absolute MUST, ice these brownies while they are still warm. It's not your typical buttercream icing, but it is absolutely heavenly. These brownies will not disappoint, I promise.

But I have a confession to make. The original way to make these is with the nuts in them, but I prefer them without. I don't generally enjoy my chocolate with nuts. Well, sometimes I chocolate covered almonds, but these brownies, in my opinion, are better without (sorry dad!). I will still eat them with nuts in them, because, who would turn down a brownie? But when I make them, they are sans nuts.

A single batch of these brownies is made in an 8x8 or 9x9 square pan, but a single batch makes a thin brownie. So, if you like thin brownies, then by all means, make a single batch. Or make a double batch, and put it in a 9x13 pan. I enjoy a nice hunk of brownie when I get to eat one, so I generally make a double batch, and put it in an 8x8 square pan. I suggest you do this as well. And of course, if you like a thick layer of icing, double that too. Though, this batch is just a single, apparently I didn't have enough eggs to make a double. Woops!

Someone told me once that brownies aren't supposed to have icing on them. What? That seems weird to me. In my mind, a brownie without icing is just...a slab of...well...brownie I guess, but not real brownie. Fake brownie. Incomplete brownie. Whatever you want to call it, a brownie without icing isn't a brownie!

Grandma Terry's Brownies

1/2 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
pinch of salt
3 tbsp cocoa
Cream the margarine and sugar together, but make sure that you use the right size bowl the first time, so you don't have to dirty another one. Like I did.
Once the margarine and sugar are creamed/fluffed, beat in the eggs.
Mix the flour, salt, and cocoa together, and then mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Put in an 8x8 dish and bake at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes. Making sure you test with a toothpick, which will come out clean when they are done. Or a knife. If you don't buy toothpicks....
See the knife hole?


1 tbsp margarine or butter
1 cup icing sugar
pinch of salt
3 tbsp cocoa
2-3 tbsp boiling water

Mix all of these ingredients together. The icing shouldn't be too thick. At least mine isn't! Add the water in one tablespoon at a time, so it doesn't get too runny.

And DO NOT FORGET to ice the brownies while warm. If there is one thing you follow to a T in this recipe, it is that. Ice while still warm.


Oh my counter?