10/27/14

It's How I Roll

Probably only another person who enjoys baking could understand my fondness for rolling pins. I have a modest collection by any standard, but I can see how my penchant for these rolling pins could easily cross the line to a collecting obsession.


Rolling pins come in so many different materials and sizes. My collection doesn't even begin to be a representation of the antique and new pins available, but I especially like the ones I have.






Two wooden pins are a part of my collection. The larger of these is circa 1948 and belonged to my mother. She used this same rolling pin from the first of her marriage until her death earlier this year. The smaller pin is from 1968 and was the one given to me as a new bride. Both these pins are the roller type of pin with the handles turning independently of the roller.






Rolling pins are manufactured in an assortment of materials. This blue and white pin is a roller type ceramic pin. The smaller gray pin is marble. The marble pin is an example of a rod type pin; the handles do not turn. For those who might consider using a rolling pin as a weapon, this marble one would be deadly. It may be small, but it is extremely heavy.




Similar to a pin made in the 1950's, this 20-inch long roller type pin is made of stainless steel. This pin is designed to be chilled in the refrigerator before use.





This glass rolling pin is an old one, and I understand it was designed to be filled with ice water before using. Because mine is not used for practical purposes I have filled it with jelly beans.





This is an example of a French rolling pin, or a rod pin. I am currently using this one in my kitchen. With so many types of rolling pins available, it might seem confusing as to which one to choose for daily use. I think that depends. First of all, the pin needs to be one you feel comfortable handling. Before you purchase a pin, pick it up and see how it feels. Consider the weight and the length. Something else to think about is how the pin needs to be cleaned and cared for. There are going to be some great points and trade offs with each type. Probably the best idea when it comes to rolling pins is to have more than one!


10/18/14

A Message From the Principal

Sometimes I get busy with what's going on in my house and in my head and totally miss things around me that signal change. For example, I'm so disappointed when I miss the awesome sight of my neighbor's ginkgo tree on the day it drops its lovely leaves. I'm also sad when I look up and realize I took no notice when the hummingbirds stopped coming to the feeder and flew away to the south.

Some signs of change make themselves known more abruptly, though. Yesterday I opened my email and read the weekly update from the school principal. He said starting Monday students can no longer wear shorts to school; long pants are required until spring. Really? Is it fall already? Obviously the answer is yes, because when I opened the front door to make the search for my morning newspaper, a gust of cold air hit me smack in the face. I hustled to the end of the driveway to retrieve the paper, and I'm sure my lips must have already been beginning to turn blue before I could get back inside. Checking the weather online, I found that today's low temperature is only 44 degrees. The principal was right -- kids, wear your long pants on Monday.

Well, now I've seen the signs, and I know what they mean. The beginning of cooler weather means making chili at our house. Chili comes in many different forms, and sometimes folks vehemently disagree on how a great pot of chili should be made. We have our own personal preferences, and I'd like to share a few of my favorite recipes today to kick off our cooler weather. If the weather is changing where you live, perhaps one of these could become your favorite too.




Playoff Chili (recipe here)







Savage Chili (recipe here)








Beef and Black Bean Chili (recipe here)



10/15/14

Gingerbread Loaf (Starbucks copy)

Trying to make something that tastes just like a favorite food at a restaurant or coffee shop can be daunting. Cooks have tried to duplicate everything from Kentucky Fried Chicken to Krispy Kreme Doughnuts at home, some with more success than others. The recipe I made today is one of those attempts to copy an original. There are different versions of this Starbucks copycat recipe in circulation, but I have tweaked until I have my own version. Getting it just like the authentic coffee shop cake is pretty hard to do, but this one might come close. Even copycat cake can be a delectable treat.






Print Recipe

Gingerbread Loaf (Starbucks copy)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon orange oil (or substitute 1 teaspoon orange extract)
1 egg
1 cup natural applesauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 7 x 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add orange extract and egg; mix well. Alternately add the applesauce with the flour mixture to the butter mixture; beat until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for about 45 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing from pan to continue cooling on wire rack.

Frosting

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon orange oil (or substitute 1/2 teaspoon orange extract)
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
Candied ginger, chopped (Optional)

In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla extract and orange oil. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until smooth. Frost top of cooled cake and sprinkle with candied ginger. Store leftover cake and frosting covered in refrigerator.






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Recipe shared at:
Full Plate Thursday