Sunday, January 23, 2011

Snow and Ice, Ice and Snow

The cold just won't seem to go away around here and so I thought I would post some pictures of the ice storm that passed through a couple of weekends ago.  As a survivor of the ice storm of 1994 I can tell you that I was a little fearful of what this weather might bring. In 1994 my house was without power for 10, yes TEN!, days and even though we were safe and warm with relatives I do not remember that time with much fondness. Thankfully, Matt made a last minute trip around town and found the supplies we needed just in case.

We woke up Monday morning to way less snow than predicted but also to our city shut down because of ice.  Thankfully the power lines were not frozen but the roads were and so, with no where to go, we headed outside to explore the icy wonderland.  This was the ice covered path out of our house...

It was such a strange day because it really was like everything stopped and there was nothing to do but stay home and enjoy some family time.  I liked it...I liked it a lot. 

This is our friend "Shhhhhh".  He is on a neighbor's tree and he seemed to be speaking to us all as we walked past him with no sound other than the ice crunching under our feet and the occasional squeal of someone sledding down a hill.

This was what we found when we made it to the little shops at the end of our street.

Not surprisingly, everything was closed and I imagine it stayed that way all day long. Hannah and Lily had some fun exploring and enjoyed that even the middle of the street was their playground.

When we made it home we found some friends sledding down the hill in front of their house on a boogie board.  Boogie board: good for surf and sand AND snow and ice.  Hannah, only slightly terrified, joined in on the fun.

Lily happily watched perched on Matt's hip with absolutely no desire to try sliding down a hill with the other kids.   Soon enough though we were all frozen and ready to thaw out with some hot chocolate so we headed inside.

While we were out looking around I took some photographs of the ice.  I thought it was pretty spectacular especially since this is not something we see a lot of around here.  The trees, the mailboxes, the cars were all covered in this beautiful coat of ice and here is some of what we saw...

Just looking at these pictures makes me cold.  I hope you all are having a warm and cozy weekend!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Apple Bread with a side of Lily

Santa left me a new cookbook under the tree this year and I been in the kitchen testing out some recipes over the past couple of weeks.  The cookbook is called Apples for Jam and I highly recommend it as a great addition to your kitchen library.  I actually checked it out from our local library last year and, after making some yummy banana bread and a meatloaf that Matt said was "restaurant quality", knew that I should put it at the top of my Christmas wish list. I have now tested out the fried buttermilk chicken and the pan fried potatoes with rosemary and sage, both of which are fried in olive oil and are super good.  We also loved the grilled beef and bread kebabs and chicken sauteed with cheese and milk.  Everything I have made so far is simple, relatively healthy and very good.  The author Tessa Kiros is all about cooking as a way to both nourish your family and to show your love for those who sit around your table. So far I have not found a recipe we did not all like, and that really says a lot around here.

Anyhoo, last Friday I needed something good and quick to take to a church guild meeting so I pulled out Apples for Jam and Hannah and I spent some time together making the Apple Bread with sugar and cinnamon topping.

My lovely assistant Hannah helped me peel, sift, butter and stir...

We started by using my other favorite Christmas gift to peel our apples.  If you don't have this Pampered Chef apple peeler corer thingamabob you should totally get one.  We had our apples ready - peeled, cored and cut - in about 2 minutes flat.  This gadget comes in handy big time if you make apple butter.  I borrowed my sister's in November and had 15 apples peeled and ready to go in less than 10 minutes.  Oh, and I peeled them while sitting in a chair and drinking a cup of hot chocolate.  Can't beat that!

With our apples ready to go we sat them aside, beat together 3/4 cup of sugar and a stick + 3 tablespoons of butter until fluffy and added 2 eggs to the mixture...

After the eggs were beaten in well we sifted all our dry ingredients into the mix.  A cup of all-purpose flour, a teaspoon of baking soda, a teaspoon of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, and a pinch of salt.

After everything was mixed together I added my apples and a teaspoon of vanilla extract.  We stirred it all up and put it in our buttered pan.

For the topping we mixed a 1/3 of a cup of lightly packed brown sugar and a teaspoon of ground cinnamon together...

Put this on top of our bread mixture and popped it in the oven...

This has to bake for 45 minutes so Hannah and I had a little time to wait before our bread was ready. Hannah headed to her room for some rest time while I went to clean up the kitchen. It was about this time that Lily woke up from her nap and I heard her calling for me. I went to her room and opened the door to these on the floor...

I, of course, ran over to her bed to make sure that disaster had not struck if you know what I mean.  Thankfully her diaper was dry and she was proudly grinning ear to ear.  She then informed me that she had taken her diaper off.  I told her I was quite aware of that fact. S-T-I-N-K-E-R.

Once Lily was again fully clothed and I had gotten all the cuddles I could get out of her I went to the kitchen to clean up while she had a little snack.  We timed it about perfectly because once all of this was done the bread was ready.

Hannah devoured it and Matt called it "maybe the best thing he had ever put in his mouth."  I would call that a success wouldn't you?!

Here is the recipe  in case you feel the need to run to your kitchen and make this pronto.  *I put my comments in red alongside the recipe.  Also, I left the nuts out of ours because we don't give the girls nuts yet...long story.  In hindsight since I made two loaves I wish I had made one with the nuts and one without.

Scant 3/4 cup sugar
1/4 pund plus 3 tablespoons butter, softened
2 eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I bumped this amount up to about 1 tsp)
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (I didn't have this so I left it out)
about 2 apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely grated (I put them in chopped)
2/3 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a 12 x 4-inch loaf pan.  Beat together the sugar and butter until fluffy.  Add the eggs, and beat them in well.  Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cardamom, and cinnamon in, and add a pinch of salt.  Mix well.  Add the apples, walnuts, and vanilla, and mix those through well.  Scrape the mixture into the pan.

For the topping, mix together the walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon, and then scatter abundantly over the top of the batter.  Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the top is crusty brown and a skewer poked into the middle comes out clean.  Check after 30 minutes and cover the top with foil if it is already quite brown.

Cool slightly before turning out carefully.  Serve warm or at room temperature.