31 March 2011


0 remarks

As Ari has gotten older, I find myself enjoying the comics including Calvin's dad more and more.  When I was younger, I remember not being that interested in them because I didn't really appreciate the humor.  Well, that has certainly changed now.  I don't know if it is because I am a lot like Calvin's dad, or whether Ari is a lot like Calvin.  If it's the latter, I'm in trouble.

27 March 2011

Mississippi Mud Cake

2 remarks

It's hard to top chocolate cake.  Unless it's topped fresh from the oven with marshmallows, warm chocolate frosting, and toasted pecans.  This dessert, when served warm, has quickly become one of my favorites. 

I stumbled upon this recipe by accident.  I was looking for a recipe for Mississippi Mud Pie and I couldn't decide on what one to use.  Every recipe I found was drastically different from the next, and none of them sounded particularly good.  Most of them also called for pudding mix or whipped topping; which weren't ingredients I wanted to use.  Plus, having never eaten Mississippi Mud Pie, I didn't know which recipe was traditional or authentic. 

I went to the Food Network site to look for a recipe, and when I was typing in the search field, "Mississippi Mud Cake" was a suggested search option.  I looked through the cake recipes and decided to go with Emeril's rendition.  Bam!

This cake is best served warm.  The cake is moist, dense, rich, and not too sweet; and it goes nicely with the soft, warm, gooey sweetness of the marshmallows.  The liquid hot chocolate frosting also contributes to the gooey meltiness.  The subtle crunch and flavor of the toasted nuts is the perfect way to finish the cake. 

Mississippi Mud Cake
Recipe inspired by Emeril Lagasse
Printable Recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound unsalted butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 cup water
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 ounces mini marshmallows

For the frosting:
4 ounces unsalted butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup buttermilk
16 ounces confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch salt
3/4 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts), lightly toasted

For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 by 13-inch pan.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the cocoa and water.  Bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, add the cocoa mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Next, add the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla and stir until smooth. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the cake passes the toothpick test.

Transfer to a wire rack and immediately sprinkle the marshmallows over the hot cake.

For the frosting:
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and add the cocoa powder and buttermilk.  Bring the mixture to a boil. Then, remove from the heat and add the confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and salt and mix until smooth.

Immediately pour the icing over the marshmallows on the cake and sprinkle with nuts. Let the cake cool to lukewarm before serving.

20 March 2011

Orange Marmalade

2 remarks
The pressure was on!  I received a canning starter kit for Christmas and the proposition of making my own preserves stared me right in the face.  I love jams, jellies, and other preserves, but the thought of doing it myself intimidated me.  Now that I had the starter kit, I had no more excuses, it was time to start canning!

Orange marmalade came to mind when I first thought about what to make first.  I enjoy the sweetness of the jelly paired with the bitter if the rind.  A flavor sensation!  So, I picked up some organic oranges at the store, grabbed Alton Brown's orange marmalade recipe and got to work.

Orange Marmalade
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown
Printable Recipe

1 3/4 pounds oranges, 4 to 5 medium
1 lemon, zest finely grated and juiced
6 cups water
3 pounds plus 12 ounces sugar

Special Equipment: 10 (8-ounce) canning jars with rings and lids, funnel, tongs, ladle, and 12-quart pot

Wash the oranges and lemon thoroughly. Cut the oranges into 1/8-inch slices using a mandoline, removing the seeds as you go. Stack the orange slices and cut them into quarters. Place the oranges into an 8-quart stainless steel pot.

Add the lemon zest and juice and the water to the pot, set over high heat and bring to a boil, approximately 10 minutes. Once boiling, reduce the heat to maintain a rapid simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for 40 minutes or until the fruit is very soft.

While the fruit is cooking, fill a large pot (at least 12-quart) 3/4 full with water, set over high heat and bring to a boil. Place 10 (8-ounce) jars and rings, canning funnel, ladle, and tongs into the boiling water and make sure the water covers the jars by at least an inch. Boil for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the lids and leave everything in the pot until the marmalade is ready.

Meanwhile, place a small plate in the freezer. Increase the heat under the orange mixture to return to full boil. Add the sugar and stir the mixture continually, until it reaches 222 to 223 degrees F on a deep-fry or candy thermometer, and darkens in color, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. You may need to adjust the heat in order to prevent boil over. Test the readiness of the marmalade by placing a teaspoon of the mixture onto the chilled plate and allowing it to sit for 30 seconds. Tilt the plate. The mixture should be a soft gel that moves slightly. If mixture is thin and runs easily, it is not ready.

Remove jars from the water and drain on a clean towel. Place a canning funnel onto the top of 1 of the jars and ladle in the marmalade just to below the bottom of the threads of the jar. Repeat until all of the mixture has been used. The amount of marmalade may vary by 1 to 2 jars. Wipe the rims and threads of the jars with a moist paper towel and top each with a lid. Place a ring on each jar and tighten.

Return the jars to the pot with boiling water, being certain that they don't touch the bottom of the pot or each other. (If you don't have a jar rack, try a round cake rack, or metal mesh basket. Even a folded kitchen towel on the pot bottom will do in a pinch.) Add additional water if necessary to cover the jars by at least an inch. Boil for 10 minutes. Using canning tongs, carefully remove the jars from the water, place in a cool dry place and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 24 hours before opening. Once open, store in the refrigerator. Unopened marmalade will last for up to 6 months.

The canning process wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be.  It was actually a lot of fun, and the jars of marmalade were so beautiful to look at.  The twenty-four wait before I could open my first jar was gruelling, but well worth it.  I made biscuits that evening just for the occasion.

The marmalade is even better than I could have dreamed.  It's the perfect balance between sweet and bitter and the texture of the orange rind is almost like candy.  It was wonderful on the biscuits, but is also very tasty on toast.

My first canning experience was a resounding success and I am already thinking about what to do next.  With strawberries coming into season, strawberry rhubarb preserves sound awfully tempting.  Oh, the possibilities!

17 March 2011

Lesson Learned

0 remarks

As we were leaving the house one morning on a cold and blustery day, I noticed the tulips had started to sprout out of the earth from their winters slumber.  As were driving around town, I noticed the trees starting to bud, preparing to burst with newborn leaves.

These sights caught me off guard because we have not had spring-like weather.  These are events I thought were triggered by warmer days; and we, by no means, had yet to have warm days.  With my curiosity peaked, I did some research on the matter, and found that temperature was only part of the equation.

Sunlight is the main cause for trees to bud, and perennials to sprout.  As the days get longer, the plants get more energy from the sun and begin to grow.  Just like in the fall, as the sunlight decreases, the trees know to shut down, lose their leaves, and prepare for winter.

At least I learned something from the cold clutches of winter refusing to give way to the revitalizing warmth of spring.  And warmer days are on the way!

14 March 2011

Egg Roll

0 remarks

I was in a funk.  Valerie and I spent the whole day deciding what we were going to do.  The day was almost over, and we still were just poking around the house not doing anything.  It was a cold, wet, drizzling Saturday, and we were craving Chinese.  The problem was, our favorite Chinese restaurant is over thirty minutes away, and nothing else in the city really compares.  

Neither of us would commit to anything or make a decision, and I got tired of sitting around.  I looked outside, and it was snowing.  Frustrated and annoyed, I hastily left the house in a huff to get some items we forgot to buy at the grocery store earlier in the day.  We didn't really need them, I was just getting stir crazy.  

With the snow beginning to fall harder, I assumed we wouldn't be going anywhere for dinner.  Then it hit me - I'll make my own egg rolls!  A smile came to my face and there was a spring to my step as I headed over to pick up the egg roll wrappers.  Having never made my own egg rolls before, I used the back of the package as a guide and made my way through the rest of the store to pick up ingredients.

I got home and joyously announced our new dinner plans and Valerie looked at me with a lot of doubt in her eyes.  I didn't care; I was going to make these egg rolls, and they were going to be darn good, too!  The filling came together in an instant and I was ready to roll them.  The filling consisted of Napa cabbage, sliced carrots, ground pork, ginger garlic paste, and oyster sauce.  Quite simple, really.

Wrapping them was not as difficult as I imagined either.  I was afraid they would break open and spill their innards as I was frying them, but they all held together well.  When they were done frying, I was pleased that they looked like egg rolls.  The proof was in the tasting, and they were delicious!  The pork was flavorful and tender, and the cabbage and carrots were crisp and sweet. 

An evening that had all the makings to be dull and uneventful was suddenly transformed into something more.  It wasn't the most exciting, but it is always fun for me to try something new in the kitchen, especially when the results are as good as these egg rolls. 

11 March 2011

Introducing Family Tree-Eats!

2 remarks

Back in August, Eva and I had the idea to make a family recipe book.  We thought it would be wonderful to have all of Nonna's recipes together in one bound volume as well as the rest of the families tried-and-true recipes.  The recipes could be accompanied by stories and pictures; a true representation of our entire family.  Eva would be coming home for the holidays and we thought it would be a perfect time to put the book together.

The idea was there and excitement was in the air.  Eva put out a 'call for submissions' and we anxiously waited for the recipes to start rolling in.  We got a few recipes here and there, and lots of questions.  Whoever we talked to seemed excited about the book, and loved the idea.  Uncle Steve suggested the name "Schifferli Family Tree-eats" and Eva and I really liked the sound of it.  Everything was falling into place.

When Eva came home, we talked about getting together to make some of the recipes and take pictures.  With the hustle and bustle of the season we really didn't have the time to devote to such an undertaking.  I didn't realize how difficult it would be to put the whole thing together.  With the days ticking away before Eva had to leave, I came up with the idea for a recipe blog. 

With the blog format, we can work on the recipes at our leisure, and our family can submit recipes as they come across them.  Eventually, we can use the blog to create the book we originally intended.  It took us some time to create the blog, but Family Tree-Eats is now online with Eva doing the first post yesterday.  I also want to give a special "thank you" to Aunt Sue for letting me use the magnolia tree picture she took in 1971.  It is exactly what I was looking for!

I am so excited about Family Tree-Eats!  I hope it someday becomes your first stop for traditional, tried-and-true family recipes!

06 March 2011

Princess Zelda Quilt Templates

2 remarks
To put it lightly, Emilie is a big fan of princesses.  She knows all the Disney princesses, goes crazy whenever she sees Princess Peach, and likes to play Zelda on the DS.  When she started sleeping in her 'big girl' bed, she picked princess bed sheets; and we just put some Tangled wall clings up in her room.  So, I thought it would be fitting to make her a princess quilt for her bed.

Having success with with the square patterns from early Nintendo characters such as Mario and Link, I decided to check out what the princesses looked like.  I first looked up Princess Peach from Super Mario Bros.

Even though the squares are easily defined and not too small, I didn't like the looks of this Princess.  The other images of Princess Peach didn't really impress.  I then moved on to Princess Zelda to see if her 8-bit representation was any better.  I first checked the original Zelda design from The Legend of Zelda.

Although I thought this Princess Zelda looked better than Princess Peach, it still wasn't what I was looking for for Emilie's quilt.  So, I searched for other images of Zelda and found a couple that would translate well to the kind of quilt I want to make. 

Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons

Four Swords series

These two iterations of Zelda are both from handheld Nintendo systems, so the images I was able to find were all very small.  They were also quite blurry when I magnified them, so find the block pattern was a bit difficult.

I couldn't decide which pattern to use for the quilt, and I had a grand plan to take it to a vote here on latent chestnut.  Then it hit me, it's Emilie's quilt, I should let her decide.  So, I called her over to the computer and asked her which princess she wanted on her quilt.  She decided on the Zelda from Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons. 

I'm thinking about incorporating some new techniques with this quilt, as well.  I have found some flower patterns the I may put in the corners or around Zelda somehow.  Whatever I decide, I am definitely looking forward to me next quilting challenge.


Related Posts with Thumbnails