16 December, 2017

Fire That Stove Up. I've Got A Powerful Hankering To Bake Something

I musta gone nuts or something. I became a cooking fool today.

I started off this morning about six-thirty, slicing up a loaf of whole wheat bread I made (well, the bread making machine, actually), yesterday. I let my loaves sit and rest in open-air for about 24-hours so that the crusts firm up. So, we have sannich fixin's for the rest of the week.

Next, at about 8:30 AM, I ran (drove) up to One Mall, our huge new grocery/everything store on the highway, to get some of the stuff I need for another pork rib dinner. When I got home, I mixed the dry ingredients and rubbed each of the monster rib bits, then covered them and stuck them in the fridge to slowly marinate, if that's the right term. To absorb some of the flavors of the rub over the weekend till they get tossed in the Instant Pot on Monday.

Then, after that, Dianna and I had been trying to convince Karen our housekeeper, that she needed to do an apple crumble for dessert for a dinner she's going to. Only trouble was, we had no recipe.

We contacted Bruce Steege, a cooking fool friend of ours for any ideas. After a bit of prodding, he sent back an old recipe he retrieved from his grandmother's Amish cookbook. It did call for a couple of things I wasn't sure about, cream of tartar, and buttermilk.

I've never seen buttermilk in the stores here in Corozal, so I went online to look and see if I could find a substitute. There was an easy one. Just add some lemon juice to milk and away you go.

Pretty much the same thing with the cream of tartar, which is one of those things that gets right into the chemistry of cooking. I looked it up on Wikipedia and learned more than I wanted to know about all that. I did find a substitute for that as well.

I rewrote the recipe so that it was a bit clearer than what Bruce had sent me, and I included the tips for the two substitutions that were needed.
Bruce's Grandmother's Amish Apple Crumble Cake
This is the first thing I've baked that I built totally from scratch. I peeled the apples, mixed all the ingredients, used the substitutions, partly to see if they would work, and partly, because we didn't have access to buttermilk or to cream of tartar. I even separated the whites of two eggs by using the time-honored method of cracking the shell and then passing the yolk back and forth between the two shell halves. Dianna told me how to do that. Easy peasy.

Old-Fashioned Amish Apple Crumble Cake

Thanks to Bruce Steege for the recipe, which is from his grandmother’s Amish cookbook.

This makes a moist coffee cake that is enhanced when eaten with applesauce, peaches, or pears. It needs no icing.

  • 3 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Cups brown sugar
  • ½ Cup shortening, butter, or margarine
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 Cups peeled, diced apples
  • 2 Tbs. Cinnamon
  • 1 Cup buttermilk (See substitute #1 below)
  • 1 tsp. Baking soda
  • 1 tsp. Cream of tartar (See substitute #2 below)
  • Mix flour and brown sugar together.
  • Cut in shortening until mixture is crumbly.
  • Take out 1 Cup of the crumb mixture for topping.
  • Add to remaining crumb mixture, the egg, buttermilk (See #1 Below), soda, cream of tartar (See #2 below), followed by the apples and cinnamon, in that order.
  • Mix well after each addition.
  • Pour into a greased 9”x13” baking pan.
  • Sprinkle reserved Cup of crumb mixture over top.
  • Bake at 375 (f) for 25-30 minutes. You may need to bake it a bit longer, to cook down the apples.
  • Use a toothpick to test when cake is browned, it should come out clean.
#1 - Substitute milk and lemon, or vinegar. In a 1-cup measuring cup, add 1 Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. Top the lemon juice with skim, low fat or whole milk. Stir and let sit for two minutes.
#2 - Substitute fresh lemon juice or white vinegar for the cream of tartar. For every 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar in the recipe, use 1 teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar. ... Add 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice per egg white.

Dianna and I just cut into it and gave it a try. Beginner's luck you might say because it just tasted superb!

I used a bunch more apples than the recipe called for. The recipe only called for two cups of apples. I diced up four Washington state Granny Smith apples. Amazing, we're 3,000+ miles from there and we can get fresh Washington Apple Commision approved and tagged apples, and I used all of them, four-plus cups - except the cores. I used an 11" x 18" pan instead of the 9" x 13" called for. Must have been the extra apples that helped fill up the space.

11 December, 2017

Looking Back

One of the problems of getting old is becoming obsolete. Not me, of course. It's my technology.

The Old Photo Box
I was rooting around in one of our boxes of photos Dianna and I have. It's this one on the left. You know the box. Everyone has had one at one time or another, full of photos that you intended to put into albums. Somehow, the contents of that box just grew and grew, until it became too daunting to even consider.

Anyway, over the years, and various glitches with computers, hard drive crashes, lost files, etc., I realized I had lost a sizeable collection of vacation photos. I had captured most of the ones I was looking for on little 'mini' CDs, that held around 120Mb of data. They were the hot thing at the time.
Just Like My Mavica
I had purchased a brand new Sony Mavica camera for the vacation specifically so I could capture a lot of photos in very little space. Of course, within a year, it was displaced by something smaller, faster, more convenient and so on.

Anyway, I knew I had saved those mini CDs, so I was fairly sure I could replace the lost photos off the CDs.

So, I was rooting around in the box, looking for the CDs when I came upon this stack of 3.5" floppies. These are from the same trip the CDs are supposed to cover.

I don't remember taking any photos with a film camera on that trip. I must have because getting a floppy disk back instead of prints was the new thing, and here they are.

Photos Trapped By Obsolescence
I'm hoping to be able to find someone in the local Corozal area who is either still using floppies in their PC or that has an external floppy drive so that I can capture these long lost gems.

Oh, before I forget. That gold-colored CD in the background. That too has photos.from that same trip. Now, what's weird is that around that time, I did have a Macintosh computer, an SE-30. But it only used Mac 3.5" floppies, never had the capability of using mini or regular-sized CDs. I'd like to recover these photos as well.

That's probably going to be easier than recovering the photos off the floppies. Anyway, the search is on.

10 December, 2017

Brrrrr... Baby, It's Cold Outside

Nothing like waking up and having to chip ice out of your sink so you can make coffee.

Well, Okay, maybe it isn't that cold out. Still, when you're used to eighty- to ninety-degree Fahrenheit nighttime temperatures, with humidity percentages in the mid to upper eighties, you have to admit that our low last night (as reported by Winjama Weather) was 55℉.

Without the luxury of central heating, or even anything other than a kitchen stove to heat your house, not to mention little to no insulation in the structure, and damn few winter clothes or even a blanket to choose from, 55℉ is going to be cold.

According to meticulous records maintained on one blog entry (http://www.winjama.net/2010/12/its-all-my-fault.html), our low-temperature record for Corozal happened on 27 December 2010, when it got all the way down to 51.6℉.

That's cold enough, that when you walk the doggies, you've got your long pants on (assuming you still own some), socks (which feel really weird), a toque (knit cap) pulled low over your ears, and a pair of knitted gloves on, and you're still cold. You can see your breath as you're walking, there's steam rising from the waters of the bay, and you can feel your breath condensing onto your mustache and beard. Did I mention that it was cold?

Thanks to Don Squire for reminding me in a FaceBook post this morning, that our coconut oil has frozen too. It's now about the consistency of marshmallow stuff that comes in a jar.