Pets, Photography

Emergency Caramel Corn

Caramel Corn Experiment #food #snacks #caramel #caramelcorn
The Caramel

Into the Oven #caramelcorn #food #snacks #cooking
Into the Oven

Caramel Corn #snacks #food #caramelcorn #cooking

1C white sugar
1/4 C dark corn syrup
1/4 C molasses
Stick of butter

Melt and cook on medium heat until soft ball stage. Remove from heat.

Add 3/4 tsp of baking soda. Stir. Drizzle over popcorn and toss until coated. (I air popped 1/2 cup of corn.)

Spread on cookie sheet and bake for about an hour at 200F. When you take it out ot the oven, let it cool for a minute, then break it up and transfer to a large serving/storage bowl.

Wants caramel corn. #dogs #pitbulls #pitbullterriers #bullydogs #beggingbeggardogs

Franny wants someone to deposit the whole bowl in her belleh.


More Cake

Cranberry Cake

I’m obsessed with this cake. It started out as my great grandma Nell’s rhubarb cake, but I swapped out the shortening for butter and the rhubarb for cranberries. It’s super good and easy to make. I remember making it when I was, like, 10 years old, so it’s pretty fool-proof.

Cranberry Cake
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
dash of salt
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups cranberries, chopped (I measured before giving a quick pulse in the food processor)

Cream the butter and sugar, add the vanilla and egg and beat until fluffy, then add the buttermilk and mix. Add the flour, salt, and baking soda and mix until combined. Add the cranberries. Pour into greased 9 x 11 inch pan and bake at 350 for about 35 minutes.

(The original recipe calls for topping it with 1/2 cup of brown sugar before baking, but that made it too sweet. I’m going without this time. If it’s not sweet enough, which is unlikely, I’ve got some cream cheese and can make frosting for it. This is more of a naked cake, though, so I don’t think that’ll be necessary.)

If you want to try the original version, just substitute 1 1/2 cups of finely diced raw rhubarb for the cranberries.



I wanted a something, but didn’t know what. Cookies? Brownies? Bread? Crackers! So I hunted down a recipe and went to work.


The recipe is easy peasy:

1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt (I lowered the amount from 1/2 teaspoon because I added cheese, which is salty)
2 tablespoons cold butter
1/4-1/2 cup water (more or less as needed)
4 ounces or so of shredded cheese
1 tablespoon coarsely ground garlic powder
flour for rolling out

Preheat oven to 400F and lightly cover a cookie sheet with cornmeal.

Dump the flour and salt into a bowl, then use a grater to shred the butter. Add it slowly and toss with the flour so that each strand gets coated separately. Add about half the cheese. Add enough water to bring everything together, then turn out on a floured board and roll it out to about 1/8 inch thickness (thinner = crispier). Place onto cookie sheet, sprinkle with the rest of the shredded cheese, then score with a knife or cut into pieces with a pizza cutter.

Bake for about 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack. Then NOM.


Cheddar-Onion Corn Muffins


Cheddar-Onion Corn Muffins
1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 large eggs (beaten)
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
4 tbls. butter (melted)
1 1/4 cup green onions (sliced thinly)
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet in another. Add the wet to the dry, mix, then add the onions and cheese, mix. Line a muffin tin with cupcake papers and spoon the mix into the papers. Bake at 375F for about 25 minutes

They’re just as good the second day, either plain or cut in half, warmed in the toaster oven, and lightly buttered.


Summer Brownies

It’s too hot to turn on the oven, but I was craving brownies, so I thought I’d re-visit the thought of making them in the microwave. If nothing else, this is way cheaper and healthier than those microwavable brownie bowls from Betty Crocker.

This is basically my regular brownie recipe, halved, with a couple of tweaks.

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa (dark is best!)
pinch of salt*
4 Tbls olive oil*
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla (or do what I do, and just slosh a little bit into the bowl)

Add the dry ingredients together and mix thoroughly, then add the wet and mix. It will be fairly stiff (half-way between cake batter and cookie dough in consistency). Spoon into a shallow, greased soup bowl. (I used the left-over olive oil that had collected in the bottom of the measuring cup.)

Microwave for about two minutes. This is the only tricky part, since every microwave is different. If you don’t nuke it long enough, it’ll be too gooey. Not that I believe there’s such a thing as too gooey. Too long, and it will burn, and that would be a sad thing, indeed. My microwave seems to be permanently stuck on Chernobyl, so two minutes works well for me. This also assumes your microwave has a turntable. If not, you may want to rotate 1/4 turn every 30 seconds or so.

* The original recipe calls for melted butter. I didn’t feel like melting it, so I used olive oil. If you use olive oil or unsalted butter, you’ll want to add a pinch of salt. If you use salted butter, omit the salt.


Ginger Cookies


These are chewy right out of the oven. After they cool, they harden around the edges, but they should retain a bit of chewiness in the center.

2 C flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger (The recipe called for 1 tsp, but the ginger smelled so good that I wanted to use more; I think it was a good choice.)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 C soft butter
1 C brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 C dark molasses (I used mild molasses, which suited me; use darker if that’s what you like.)
1 tsp vinegar

In the first bowl, combine first four ingredients (the recipe calls for sifting, but I just used a whisk to make sure any lumps were broken up). In the second bowl, cream butter until shiny. Add sugar and cream until thoroughly incorporated. Add egg and beat until fluffy. Add molasses, stir, then add vinegar and stir. Add half the dry mix to the wet mix, combine, then add the second half and stir until thoroughly incorporated. The batter should be fairly stiff.

Preheat oven to 374F. Grease cookie sheet with butter, then with buttery hands, roll dough into walnut-sized balls. Place on cookie sheet, about 2-3 inches apart (it will depend on how large you make them, but I fit 16 cookies on a 14 x 15 inch cookie sheet). Bake for 10-11 minutes, remove from oven and let set for about a minute, then move to a cooling rack or paper towels.

(Recipe adapted from Meta Given’s Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking, 1955, volume 1, p. 476-477.)




I’m heading out to the real OC in a little bit, to help Ms. Lea do some post-moving cleaning. I thought, since the house is pretty much empty, and because we’ll want something to eat, I’d make something to take with me. A crock pot of 15 bean soup and some cornbread seemed like an excellent idea. The cornbread turned out most excellently, so I thought I’d share my recipe. It’s tender, with a crispy crust, and a nutty, savory flavor. (I really don’t like sweet cornbread.)

  • 1 1/4 C flour
  • 3/4 C yellow corn meal
  • 1 tbls sugar
  • 4 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 C milk
  • 1/3 C melted butter or vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 425F. Lightly coat an iron skillet with oil and place in the oven while it’s preheating. The preheated skillet is secret to the crispy crust.

Mix the dry ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. In a separate container (I use a Pyrex measuring cup), mix the wet ingredients. If you measure out the oil and milk, then add the egg, you will not need to dirty another measuring cup. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix thoroughly. By this time, the oven and the skillet should be hot. Remove the skillet from the oven. Pour the batter into the skillet. The batter should sizzle when it hits the hot pan. Return the skillet to the oven, and bake for 25-30 minutes.

When it’s done, the edges should be slightly brown and be pulled away from the pan. You can also test it with a fork.

You can add things like corn (drained canned corn works fine), parsley, garlic, onion, cheese, and chilies to the batter, but I like it best plain.

Art, Collage, Journals

Cooking with Jesus

Guacamole / Sacred Heart (Composition Book Journal)
Sacred Heart / Guacamole
Composition book journal, 9 3/4 x 14 1/2 inches, 9 June 2006

I saved the stickers from the last time I made guacamole. At about the same time, I burned the end of one of my favorite Mexican candles. I soaked the candle so I could reuse the label, and placed it on the page opposite the vegetable stickers. Since guacamole is so simple to make and it’s such a healthy food, I thought I’d use this spread to share my easy-peasy recipe.

2 avocados, mashed
2 large tomatoes or 6 romas, diced (I prefer romas, because they aren’t as juicy)
1 lime (lemons will work in a pinch, but given the choice between lime and lemon, I always prefer the flavor of lime)
4 scallions, minced (use both the white and green portions)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
pinch of Kosher or sea salt (iodized salt will react with the citric acid, and will make the guacamole bitter tasting)

Note: All amounts are approximate. I aim for something that is more like diced tomato salad with an avocado-lime-garlic dressing. I like chunky guacamole that, when paired with toasted whole wheat pita, is a meal in itself.

Mash or dice the avocados and add the juice from half the lime. Sprinkle with a little salt. Dice the tomatoes, mince the scallions and garlic, and add to the avocados. Mix everything together, then taste. You may want to add more garlic, salt, or lime. You can also add green chilis, hot chilis, or tabasco sauce, if you like spiciness. If you want a bit of crunch, diced bell peppers are a nice addition.

If you want to serve with chips, be careful not to over salt. I like to serve it with toasted whole wheat pita triangles. They’re whole grain and not as fatty as chips, so they’re healthier, I think. I also really enjoy the warm, nutty flavor against the cool, creamy, freshness of the guacamole.


Brownies of Dqqm!1!!


I like my brownies to be chewy, with a crispy crust. They must also be rich tasting, with a nice balance between sweet, chocolatey goodness and salty (real) buttery-ness. After years of tweaking, I have finally achieved what I consider The Perfect Brownie. They’re easy peasy to make (prep takes about 5-10 minutes, tops), and don’t require any of what I consider “non-basic” ingredients, like baking chocolate. You can add chopped nuts, but I tend to be a purist.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/8 tsp salt
6 Tbls butter (not margarine or shortening!)
1 tsp vanilla (again, the real thing, not imitation, vanilla flavored gunk)
2 eggs

Add all the dry ingredients to a bowl and whisk together to blend and remove any lumpy bits. Microwave the butter in a microwave safe dish (I use a Pyrex measuring cup), just until melted. You don’t want it too hot, because it will cook the eggs when you add them. Remove and add the vanilla and eggs. Pierce the egg yolks and stir them into the butter until they’re loosely incorporated. Don’t whip them or worry about thoroughly mixing them, though. Less is more! Pour into the dry ingredients and gently mix until everything is blended. The batter will probably be thicker than what you are accustomed to when making brownies, but It’s Okay. Promise.

Pour into a greased 8″ or 9″ round pan and bake at 325F for about 20-30 minutes.  I’ve found that cooking time varies widely, even when baked in the same oven. Also, my oven is a runs hot, so you might need to adjust your temperature and/or cooking time accordingly.

This makes super chewy brownies, with a caramelized crust. They’re a little on the thin side, but that’s what allows them to be crispy and chewy. If they get much thicker, they become cakey, which would make them ineligible for the title of Brownies of Dqqm.


Instant Review: Baking a Cake

It’s cold and snowy, so baking a cake seemed like the obvious thing to do. One of my favorites is cockeyed cake–the cake you make when you don’t have any cake-making ingredients in the house. No butter? No eggs? No baking powder? No milk? No problem! Bake a cockeyed cake. Which I did. Except, as I was pulling it out of the oven, I dropped the pan and the cake landed on the oven rack, upside down. What a pain in the arse. I had bits of cake everywhere. Not to be deterred, though, I whipped up another one. I will have cake, damnit!

Cockeyed Cake
1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1/4 cup cooking oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup water
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbls vinegar
dash of salt

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix together the wet ingredients (I measure the water in a 2 cup Pyrex measuring cup, then add the rest of the wet ingredients to it and mix them together). Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix thoroughly. Pour into a greased cake pan and bake at 350F for 20-30 minutes (I really don’t know how long it takes. I test for doneness by pressing the center of the cake gently with a finger, or inserting a fork into it. If the fork comes out clean, it’s done.)

It’s nice and moist, so it’s good unfrosted. Occasionally, we’d make caramelly butterscotch sauce to pour over it. That, too, is easy peasy.

Caramelly Butterscotch Sauce
1 can sweetened condensed milk (you can substitute milk, cream, or evaporated milk, for a less sweet sauce)
1 stick butter (not margarine!)
1 cup brown sugar
dash of vanilla

Chuck it all in a sauce pan and let everything melt together. Bring to boil and cook to soft ball stage. It will brown slightly, which is fine. It’s a thin line between browned and burnt, though, so be careful not to overcook it. Let it cool slightly, then pour it over the warm cake and enjoy.

Cockeyed Cake with Caramel-Butterscotch Icing