Can you think of any sound more soothing than the gentle tippy tappy chorus of rain falling on a rooftop or the plippy plop of rain drops into a puddle? Nope, me either, Dear Readers. Okay, that’s not entirely true... there is. Listening to the falling rain while dozing in a comfy chair, cuddled under a cozy blanket while wearing cozy clothing. Rainy days like today require an easy, comfort meal like slow-roasted anything, stacks of good movies at the ready and both a mug of hot chocolate and and the promise of more dozing. Wishing you all a lovely, lazy Sunday.
Stoked About Stroopwafels
I have been binge watching one of my favorite Netflix shows, The Great British Baking Show. I have been motivated and inspired to research new pastries and long forgotten recipes. They bake, I research. They succeed or fail with the grace that only a British human can seem to muster under heat, pressure and cameras. The contestants break eggs, meringue and equipment a like, all while being filmed, interviewed and harassed.
One episode from the 2017 season focused on caramel and one of the treats the group was assigned were stroopwafels, a classic Dutch nibble. I have had stroopwafel in Holland several times and it is readily found in Dutch flag-colored cellophane bags on grocery store shelves so both our daughter Mia and I found it difficult to believe most of the contestants had never heard of the crispy, caramel-filled circles of yumminess.
What I didn’t know about stroopwafles is that they are a yeasted dough so of course I had to give them a try. The batch I made, shown above, was a bit fiddley to say the least. On the show, They did a short feature at a Dutch bakery where the treats have been made for years and years so I used that as a basis of how large each glom of dough should be and to determine the consistency of the dough as well. I own an ice cream cone waffle maker so that is what I used to make the cookies. I used a very thin long knife to slit each biscuit open immediately after removing it from the iron. As you can see from the reasonably inconsistent color of the cookies shown in the photo, I am working out the details as far as how long each should bake but it’s somewhere between 30 seconds and 35 seconds. (Did I mention stroopwafles are a bit fiddley?) I’m not going to post the recipe as yet because I am still working out the details and believe it needs more cinnamon and vanilla and possibly even a bit more salt the next time I make it. A treat this labor-intensive and dangerous to make needs to be scrumptious and totally perfect or it’s not worth the bother. The caramel filling I made is extremely sweet and I’m not sure it’s perfect either although the consistency is pretty good but it might be too chewy as yet because it began with a corn syrup base. (For those of you “caramel purists” please do not judge, I needed to begin somewhere...)
Anyway, through dough preparation and baking and cutting process where I could have easily gotten badly burned or cut, I am still stoked about stroopwafels and will share my recipe as soon as it’s good enough, I promise. Until then, I will daintily dip an imperfect stroopwafle into a glass of cold milk and say “proost!”
Sunflowers are such sunny flowers. On a cloudy day, you can look out over your garden and see bright golden bursts of sunshine that just make you smile! But, did you know, Dear Readers, that sunflowers are completely edible from top to bottom? Yep. There is more to a sunflower than just the seed.
Pesticide-free sunflower seedlings (picked to thin a crop) may be eaten right from the ground or in a salad, although you may wish to wash them first but no judging. Cook and prep the mature leaves as you would other greens like Swiss chard or kale, removing tough bits and either boiling or braising on the stovetop. The buds taste similar to an artichoke and may be prepared the same way, perhaps with a touch of butter and good salt. Trim young stalks and slice (they taste similar to celery) and then trim the ends off the petals and toss in a salad for a bright and bitter addition to crispy lettuce. I am drying some petals to play with later and plan to grind them up with coarse, grey sea salt and use the salt to finish a dish or two. Of course there are the seeds to dry and munch but you can see you have plenty of options for using the entire plant!
Visit https://www.livestrong.com (or other internet sites) for more ideas and drying directings, I did.
Dishes, Drinks and Doings
Summer is a time of sunbeams and sunflowers. It is a time for evening walks, gardening among fireflies and grilling. Summer means Mai Tais, mosquitoes and outdoor concerts. Summer has come to an official end, even if our weather or white socks with sandals wardrobe doesn’t reflect it, so allow me to usher in fall and all the glorious dishes, drinks and doings that come with cooler weather.
My favorite fall fall dish is roasted pork. Roasted pork is one of those, leave the oven on all day while you binge watch Harry Potter-kind of meals. Roast pork melts in the mouth and can be eaten by the handful, tossed into pasta, stirred in barbecue sauce for a sloppy sandwich that harkens back to days of summer or simply draped across a salad to turn greens into greatness. Another favorite fall dish is pie. There are the apple pies and berry pies made from preserved summer harvests and there are the festive pies of thanksgiving. Can you think of anything that says “Home” more than pie? Me either. Finally, fall brings favorite drinks. Fall ushers in the holidays which mean gatherings of people we love over warm cocktails and things that bubble. Fall is sounding pretty delectable right? Right. Let’s shake off those end-of-summer blues and look forward to all the bright and beautiful treats fall has to offer!
A Fun Time at the Fair
These past few days I have sipped and sampled my way through The Great Allentown Fair. I cooked, competed and judged contests. I went, I saw and I savored. The fair is a celebration of local chefs, craftsman and community celebrities alike. The fair participants come together each year to catch up and stand up and cheer for everything from acrobatic dogs and famous performers to pineapple upside cake and chopped-style food and (gloriously) drink competitions. It was a treat to eat treats and be part of the treat-making. It really was a fun time at the fair!
Kissing Some Man in the Corn
There were puppets. There was dancing. There were glasses clinking. There was a brave husband who joined in mixology competition. There were pineapples on cakes and heads and there was a Grain to Glass competition I sipped my way through to emerge kissing some man in the corn. That can only mean one thing, Dear Readers, fun at the Great Allentown Fair!
Loser is a Winner
I participated in a “Chopped” competition yesterday at the Great Allentown Fair. Participating was not on my agenda until the afternoon before when the scheduled chef had to cancel. I was not supposed to be there and had no idea what to expect. I have not watched the show, did not know the rules and did not have a plan. I was not nervous, panicked or ticking off an agenda of expectations. I made something I knew yet forgot both basic steps and additions from the hamper so I did what any red-blooded human would do, I lied like a rug’when asked what I “prepared.” I made a giant mess and had a great time. I had one goal to accomplish, to not get injured and I achieved that goal, so this loser is a winner!
Avid home cook and passionate instructor