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Archive for April, 2010

As a southern girl, I grew up eating biscuits. They’re a breakfast staple! And though I may enjoy the flavor of biscuits from a can as much as the next gal, they never do quite measure up to fluffy, homemade, flaky biscuits. However! The biscuit gods have made it less than pleasant for us little cooks to make said fluffy masterpieces. In particular, I happen to despise using a pastry cutter to “cut” in the butter…

And then Alton Brown showed me the light. I love Alton Brown.

Not more than my husband of course…

moving on.

Lets gather our family of friendly ingredients!

Including: Shortening, baking powder, baking soda, salt, buttermilk, flour, and *not pictured* butter.

And….your food processor! That’s right baby, we are not breaking a sweat today! Let the food processor do allllll the work.

Go ahead and dump all your dry ingredients into the food processor.

And give them a whirl. Then add your shortening and cold butter. Process until the mixture looks like coarse sand. Like this!

It feels so nice to be cheating the biscuit gods. Alright, now this next part almost ended in disaster for me and my 7 cup food processor. Pour the buttermilk into the work bowl of your processor, and quicker than I did, turn it on to mix it all together. I waited too long to begin the mixing, and consequently, some of the buttermilk leaked out the bottom of my bowl…thankfully, my cheater machine and I are both still functioning mostly perfect. Anways…mix all the ingredients until it looks something like this.

Turn your dough out onto a floured surface.

Gently fold the dough over onto itself and knead for about 30 seconds, just until the dough is smooth.

Roll out your dough…

And grab your biscuit cutter…or the top of a ball jar lid if you’re me and don’t have any biscuit cutters…or cookie cutters that aren’t Christmas themed.

After you’ve run out of whole biscuits to cut from the dough, gather the pieces, re-roll the dough and cut out as many as you can.

Lay your biscuits on a (preferably aluminum) sheet pan, lightly press a shallow dent into the top of each biscuit to help the tops stay flat.

After you bake these babies you would not believe what comes out of the oven…

Sky high and fluffy biscuits! I slathered on sausage gravy with fresh pork sausage I got this weekend from my coop.

*sigh* These are inexplicably perfect.

Perfect Biscuits

Adapted from Alton Brown’s Southern Biscuits recipe in Good Eats: The Early Years

2 2/3 cups Flour

4 teaspoons Baking Powder

1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda

3/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt

2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, chilled

1/4 cup Shortening, chilled

1 cup Buttermilk, chilled

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Add all dry ingredients to the work bowl of a food processor with the dough blade attached. Pulse three times to mix together.

Place butter and shortening in work bowl and mix until it resembled coarse sand. Add buttermilk and mix until dough comes together.

Dump dough onto a floured surface and fold dough over onto itself, kneading it until it gets soft. Do not knead for over a minute or the heat of your hands will cause the dough to become too soft.

Roll dough out to 1/2 to 1 inch thick and press into 3 inch rounds. Place rounds onto sheet pan and bake until biscuits are a light gold on top, 15 to 20 minutes.

Eat and enjoy!

Eat well and love much you beautiful people,

Cheater Sarah

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All the beautiful birds

My grandmother was an inspiring woman. Her husband, my grandfather, died when my father was only six. At the time she had essentially no education and couldn’t even drive on her own because she didn’t have her drivers license. Her faith was unwavering and I remember just feeling comfortable in her presence.

Though I didn’t get to know her very well, one thing I remember best about her, and enjoy today myself, is her love for beautiful birds.

She had feeders in the back, front and even side yard.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Matthew 6: 25-26

Everytime I see the birds, I think of Grandma, and I remember the hope we have in Christ. I’m so thankful for all these beautiful birds.

Eat well and love much,

A little birdie

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Swedish sugar cookies are not, in fact swedish at all. At least as far as I know they aren’t. What they are is delectable little cookies that are tender on the inside with a wonderful sugar crunch on the top. Oh heavens, you have not partaken of sugar cookie greatness until you have tried these babies.

Let’s get bakin!

First of all lets gather our necessities:

Consisting of flour, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, cream of tartar, baking soda, butter, and this baby!

We went home to Cleburne last weekend and I got some farm fresh eggs and whole, raw milk. I mean just look at these guys!

Absolute perfection. Anyways, moving on!

First step toward a delicious cookie is to cream you butter and sugar.

Then go ahead and add your egg and make sure it gets well mixed in.

Lastly for our “wet” ingredients, add your vanilla and mix the whole thing together until it gets nice and fluffy.

Till fluffy! While your mixture is achieving ultimate fluffiness, mix all your dry ingredients in a separate bowl making sure you don’t have any clumps of baking soda or cream of tartar. That would be ultimate cookie yuckiness. Trust me, I’ve done it.

Just dump your dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix on LOW!

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT over mix this batter. Mix until everything just comes together. It is a very crumbly batter, but do not be afraid of the crumb. Be ye not afraid.

Here’s the fun part I just loved as a kid. From the dough into 1 inch-ish balls and place them on your cookie sheet that you covered with parchment paper. Why parchment paper? Because Alton Brown says cookies are very fragile after they come out of the oven, and you can prevent cookie cruelty by just sliding the paper with the cookies off onto a cooling rack after they are done cooking. I believe him. All hail the great Alton Brown!

Just pretend I have a picture of rolling the cookies into balls…:D

Now, grab a bowl and put some sugar in it. And if you’re taking pictures of the sugar, don’t put it in a white bowl like I did. Silly Sarah.

Now go grab a wide bottomed cup, drizzle some water over the bottom to get it moist, and stick it in the sugar so the sugar sticks to the bottom of the cup.

(ps- if you’ve got kids, let ’em do this part- they’ll love it!)

Take the sugared cup and lightly-ish press down on the cookie balls, being sure to re-sugar the bottom of your cup in between each cookie dough ball.

Until all your cookies look more or less like this!

The last part is trickiest part. As my mother wrote on the recipe for me, you bake them at 325 degrees Fahrenheit until set. Unfortunately even as I was baking these I didn’t find there to be a specific cook time that made them perfect. Mine all took over 8 minutes but sometimes as long as 12 minutes. Mom says they’re best when taken out just before or at the beginning of turning slightly golden on the edges.

And boy is she right! This is my favorite part!

That, my friends, is how you make the best sugar cookie in the world.

What’s your favorite cookie?

Swedish Sugar Cookies

1 Cup butter

1 Cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

2 1/2 Cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

Mix wet* ingredients (butter through vanilla) until fluffy. Mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Mix dry and moist together on low, just until batter comes together.

Form dough into 1 inch balls. Place balls 1 to 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Flatten balls with bottom of a glass dipped in sugar.

Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit until set. They’re best when taken out just before or at the beginning of turning slightly golden.

Pass out from the deliciousness. Yum!

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I love sweets and finger foods that go with tea and coffee. For example, I love cupcakes, candies, brownies, blondies…the list just goes on and on.

I love sugar and sugar loves me…

One delightful example of sweets that I love to make at home and have for breakfast, tea time, or coffee dates are these wonderful scones. My mom passed this awesome recipe to me. The complex flavor from the slight tang of sour cream makes these out of this world! Try ‘em now. You won’t regret it!

Sunrise Scones

Ingredients:

  • 1-½ cup Flour
  • ¼ cups Sugar
  • 1-½ teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • ½ cups Cold Butter, Cut
  • ½ cups Dried Fruit, Cut Into Small Pieces If Bigger Than Raisin Size
  • ¼ cups Sour Cream
  • ¼ cups Milk
  • 1 whole Egg, Lightly Beaten For Egg Wash (Optional)
  • Coarse Sugar, For Sprinkling

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt). Cut in butter with pastry cutter.

Stir in dried fruit (I love dried cranberries, sometimes mixed with chopped dried apricots), sour cream, and milk. I find it easiest to get in with my hands at this step, as the dough is a little crumbly without some manual help. Don’t use your hands too much though. You don’t want to melt the butter. We just want it to come together enough to roll the dough out.

Roll out the dough to 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick. Cut into whatever shape you fancy, brush with egg wash, and sprinkle coarse sugar on top.

Bake for 12-15 minutes at 400 degrees. When they come out, the sugar will have formed a crunchy crust and the tops of the scones will have a light brown tinge toward the edges. They’re so tender on the inside, you’ll wonder how you lived with Starbucks scones so long.

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This weekend I recieved some goodies from my mother in law that she cleared out of her house. They just recently put their property on the market, she cleaned house and I get to reap the benefits! Anyways, the point of all this is that I’ve had decorating and design on the brain lately and I found two great sites to share with you! And they’re both from Texas! I think…ok well at least one of them is from Austin.

Lets get on with the show!

First we have:

Holly Mathis Interiors!

Holly is a mom living in Austin, TX with her two boys, hubby, and a glorious 1941 cottage. Her style is simple, homey, and comforting. I found out about both these designers from the Pioneer Woman’s escapades with Hyacinth’s living room. Together Holly and The Lettered couple are part of Design Team Hyacinth that is striving to rescue Hyacinth’s living room from the cluches of a dingy zebra striped rug and crazy ottoman.

Secondly we have The Lettered Cottage!  

The Lettered Cottage couple are another part of Design Team Hyacinth and because of this website, I am on such a beach house kick! They just finished a vacation on Tybee Island, GA and touring some of the most beautiful beach cottages I’ve ever seen. It just makes me want to hop in the car and drive to Georgia right now! Well now I’ve warned you though, so don’t come cryin’ to me when you get the itch to go to Paula Deen’s Ya’ll Come Inn beach house after looking at this website.

Eat well and love much,

Beach Baby

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Lemon-limeade

The birds outside the window and the sunshine on my face are screaming out that it’s finally spring! In the spirit of this glorious season I gladly bring you lemon-limeade not from a powder or can! And even better, you don’t necessarily have to squeeze your own lemons, although you may if you so desire. With these proportions in your pocket as guidelines be as creative as you like!
Lets begin!

First gather your friendly lemon-limeade ingredients.

Today our family of ingredients are: Sugar (I’m using Florida Crystals organic), Lemon juice, Lime juice, and Pure Almond exract. Oh! And your favorite pitcher.

Measure out 1/2 cup total of lemon and lime juice. You can mix them together however you like, including straight lemonade or straight limeade. I just happened to be short on both so mine was about equal parts.

Next measure out 1 cup of sugar. I know, I know. This is NOT a low cal drink, but…I promise it’s worth it :D.

Now go ahead and pour both the sugar and lemon/lime juice in the pitcher of your choice and stir them together.

After muddling the juice and sugar together fill your pitcher up the rest of the way with water and stir that all together until it seems like the sugar is pretty well dissolved. I’m not entirely sure the size of my pitcher but I’m thinking its somewhere around 50-60 oz.

Before you start to gulp down our delicious concoction lets not forget the last ingredient…

To finish our lemon-limeade out I like to add a 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract to the pitcher. It adds a little je ne sais quoi and rounds out the sharpness of the lemon/lime perfectly.

After all this not-at-all hard work go reward yourself with a nice tall glass of lemon-limeade. It’ll feel like spring has finally sprung.

Recipe

Lemon-limeade

1/2 cup total lemon/lime juice

1 cup sugar

1/4 tsp pure almond extract

water

Directions:

Muddle together lemon/lime juice and sugar in pitcher. Fill pitcher with cold water. Add almond extract and stir until sugar dissolves. Serve and enjoy!

Eat well and love much all you beautiful people,

Lemon-drop Lady

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you realize nothing is as it once seemed.

When I was growing up and learning to cook life was pretty simple. Mom taught me how to cook healthy and homey food and the rest seemed to fall into place. A vegetable was a vegetable and beef was the stuff in the shrink wrapped packages at the store that came from the farm down the street.

At least that’s what I thought. I didn’t know it then but I was experiencing the continuing trend of Americans. Mom and dad did a good job steering us away from the many processed boxed meals found at the grocery store. Over the summers my brother and I would occaisionally splurge on a Hamburger Helper and cream of chicken and mushroom was as big a staple as it still is in most southern households.

Moving to Denton after J and I married was a tiny culture shock. My perspective from west Texas and a small home town to what is now my beloved hippie town changed a lot. I first started hearing about people like the Rozell’s  right around February of last year. I admit the thought  of homeopathic medicine, all organic food, and home births was more than a little strange. It’s simply not part of my experience number one, and number two isn’t the food I buy generally healthy in moderation, or just healthy in general. Isn’t an apple an apple?

A little over a year later, in late February I broke down and watched a movie (with J) that has been making waves across America called Food, Inc.

I definitely had been avoiding it. Somehow I knew the information in this film would change how I looked at the most basic of things, our food. I can’t tell you everything I want to in this post. What I can tell you is that with the knowledge I gleaned from Food, Inc. and other resources, I am now motivated to not only buy organic as much as feesible, but to support my local farmer.  

I’ll end my ramblings by asking you to watch Food, Inc. Educate yourself when possible with the facts, and don’t think its food just because it says its food. You just may be ingesting ammonia with your ground beef right this moment and you don’t even know it yet.

Do the research.

Eat well and love much,

Sarah

P.S. – these photos are from my in-laws ranch in east Texas

P.S.S. – I may or may not post about this film later, but if you’re a woman and want to have children in the future, watch The Business of Being Born but do be aware of nudity. I would not watch this movie in mixed audiences unless the males can be blindfolded.

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