Friday, July 17, 2015

Don the Tomato Man...

Don and Sue have been a part of my family's life since 1989.  We moved across the street from them and immediately formed a bond.  Well to be honest the bond started when our son Mitch would practice hitting golf balls across the street and into Don's garden!  Don would kindly bring over a hand full of golf balls and either a bowl full of his homegrown strawberries or tomatoes.  To this day Don loves to laugh about Mitch hitting golf balls into his gardens.  Don still tells me he would tell Mitch he plants his golf balls but no matter what he does he can't get them to grow!  Don is an avid gardener and raises the sweetest & juciest tomatoes you have ever put in your mouth!  This year Don planted 80 tomato plants!  I can't even manage to grow and produce a couple of plants, yet this sweet man, flourishing at the age of 86, has 80 thriving tomato plants!  I get a phone call at least twice a week from Don.  It's always the same… "Gwyn Day, we have tomatoes for you to enjoy!"  You don't have to tell me twice, I'm in the car and headed his way as soon as I hang up!  Mark and I have enjoyed BLTs and Caprese Salads all summer!  mmmmm… I know what I am making for dinner!

Sue has her favorite types of tomatoes and Don takes special care of those plants.  Sue has struggled with her health the past few years, and Don is there for her every step of the way.  If you look up caregiver I am most certain Don's picture would be found in the definition.  He is quite a man indeed!

I am continuing to sharpen my photography skills, thanks to Nelou.  For some time now, I have been wanting to photograph this sweet couple along with Don's beautiful garden…  And as luck would have it, Don and Sue were thrilled to have me come and snap a few pictures!  Side bar… I don't know how you photographers do it- photographing weddings, newborns, families etc.!!!  This I know for sure… I would never ever consider doing such a hard and demanding job!  Oh the pressure!  I think I'll stick to honing my skills on food and flowers!

Not everyone is as lucky as I am to have fresh homegrown tomatoes all summer long from a dear friend- so my advice to you… be sure to check out your local Farmer's Market.  Slice some fresh tomatoes, fry up some bacon and make yourself a yummy BLT.

Fresh sliced tomatoes
Crispy bacon
Miracle Whip
Peanut Butter
Toasted bread
You are probably saying "what?" peanut butter!  Don't knock it till you try it!  Toast the bread and spread one slice with a generous amount of peanut butter and place the bacon on top.  Spread miracle whip on the other slice of bread, add tomatoes on top of the bacon, followed by the lettuce, and top it off with the bread and enjoy!  Get in my mouth now!

Caprese Salad
Fresh sliced tomatoes
Fresh basil
Fresh mozzarella cheese
Excellent balsamic vinegar

Slice up your tomatoes, chop up some basil, add mozzarella cheese and drizzle with balsamic vinegar!  Enjoy!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Little Beach Street Bakery - A Novel

I'm sure summer is just around the corner… can you feel it?  Spring time in Oklahoma has been anything but sunshine and flowers blooming!  The sun is hiding and my flowers have all but drowned!  What's a girl to do when she can't get out and dig in the dirt?  Why… curl up with a good read and bake of course!  I have a stack of to be read books calling my name on my bedside table.  Side note, hop on over to Modern Mrs. Darcy.  Anne Bogel's blog is chalked full of great reads. Every book I have read from her blog has never disappointed.  I just read the last page of Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan.  Such a fun and yummy read.  A sweet story about a young woman starting over and finding her passion… baking!  I found myself being pulled to the kitchen and searched my pantry for something delicious to bake!  On one such trip to the kitchen after firing up the oven, I stumbled on some very ripe bananas.  Perfect for banana bread!  Instead of bread I wanted to try muffins.  So I started digging in my cookbooks looking for just the right recipe.  I love adding a dollop of sour cream to my muffins, cakes and scones but I couldn't find a recipe with the ingredients I wanted to use.  So wallah… I came up with my own!  Mark, my kids and grands were my taste testers.  I got a "two thumbs up" from the family!  Score!

Scoot to your local book store or order your copy of Little Beach Street Bakery and bake up some muffins.  Make time this summer to curl up with a good book and just enjoy!

Streusel Banana Nut Muffins
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup or a little more pecans, if desired

Streusel Topping:
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup butter softened at room temperature

Mix all topping ingredients until crumbly.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together and set aside.  In a separate bowl mash bananas- I use a fork but fingers work quite well!  Add the egg, brown sugar, sour cream, melted butter and vanilla, mix well.  Combine banana mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well.  Stir in the nuts if so desired.  Line muffin tins with muffin papers and fill about 2/3 full.  This recipe makes about 16 muffins.  Cover each muffin with streusel topping and bake in a 350 degree oven 25 - 30 minutes.  Muffins are done when you touch them and they spring back.

Now pour a tall glass of ice cold milk and lather up a muffin with a pat or two of butter, grab your book and enjoy the goodness!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

don't try this at home...

Epic Fail…  If you read my bio I boldly stated I would share my "epic fails!"  Here is one for the books!  On Sunday we had the family over to celebrate Wyatt's birthday.  I thought I would kick the cupcakes up a notch for Wyatt.  In my head I had visions of him sharing with his friends "wow you should have seen what my GG made for my birthday!"  Well I can honestly say I didn't even show him this disaster!  I've seen this on Pinterest several times and thought, "I can do this!"  I used a basic chocolate cake mix and filled the ice cream cones part way as the directions indicated.  What came out of the oven isn't even close to the pictures pinned.  The batter over flowed all over the cone and when I took the "test" bite I quickly spit it out in the sink!  The cone tasted like moist cardboard!  I can assure you I will never try this again!  If anyone out in cyber world has tried these and has had success please share the secret!  I think I will stick with filling the cones with ice cream as it was intended to be!  Guess some things just can't be improved… but hey, I tried!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Cinnachip Muffins

Everyone's mom, grandma, sister, aunt or friend claims they have the best muffin recipe.  I decided to kick these muffins up a notch or two and make the best cinnachip muffins you have ever put in your mouth!  This rich muffin is filled with cinnamon popping in your mouth… well maybe not popping, more like melting in your mouth!  Mark, the master taste tester calls them "cupcakes!"  I need to educate him regarding the difference between a "cupcake" and a "muffin!"  Just because they both are baked in paper liners doesn't make them both "cupcakes!"  geez…  Oh and by the way, be sure to remove the paper before eating!  Just sayin…  The boys, (Roscoe and Wally) are hot on his heels when they hear a container open in the kitchen!  I swear they can smell cinnamon or chocolate from the next county!  I made two batches of these muffins with two different brands of cinnamon chips.  Let's just say I ordered one brand (of which I won't mention the name) from a "speciality" shop and the other was none other than Hershey Brand Cinnamon Chips purchased in the baking aisle at your local grocer's.  Well the Hershey brand won the taste test hands down!  In the future I will only be using Hershey brand cinnamon chips!  Dig out your muffin tins and bake a batch of these scrumptious muffins!  The aroma that fills your house is aaamazing!!!  Enjoy!

Cinnachip Muffins

3 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar (the dark brown has a richer molasses flavor, but light works well also)
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 extra large eggs
1 stick unsalted melted butter
10 oz package Hershey Cinnamon Mini Chips
Paper Liners

Streusel Topping:
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup dark or light brown sugar
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 stick of cold unsalted butter cut in pieces
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Add kosher salt and whisk, set aside.  Whisk eggs, milk and sour cream in a large bowl.  Add flour mixture and melted butter.  Mix well.  Add cinnamon chips and mix.  Line 2 - 12 cup muffin tins with paper liners.  I use an ice cream scoop to fill the paper liners.  Fill almost to the top of the liner.

For Streusel Topping:
In food processor or using pastry cutter (food processor is fast and easy!)  combine all ingredients and pulse until mixture becomes crumbly.  Sprinkle about a tablespoon of streusel on top of the batter.  Bake at 375 degrees for 15-18 minutes.

Best enjoyed fresh, hot out of the oven with a steamy cup of coffee!  Muffins will keep for several days in air tight container or they also freeze well.

© photography and editing provided by  n e l o u G R A C E

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Something for the First Time...

     Something for the First Time is the theme this year at my church, St. Luke's United Methodist Church.  Each week Dr. Bob Long encourages us to try something for the first time.  Since the beginning of the year, I have thought about many things I want to try.  Most of the time the road takes me to the kitchen.  I have always loved scones.  A cup of Chamomile tea, with honey of course, a scrumptious scone with lemon curd and I'm in paradise!  I can certainly see me at Buckingham Palace (with a beautiful hat of course!) having tea with the Queen or Princess Kate!  Everything about "high tea" intrigues me… the tea cups, pretty dishes, tiny spoons, little sandwiches and cakes.  Mmmmmm makes me hungry!  It's got to be tea time somewhere! Maybe I will start treating myself to high tea every day,  or maybe once a week!  I see a fancy tea party with my granddaughters in the near future!  Ok, back to something for the first time!  I have never ever made a scone and was honestly a little intimidated at the thought of baking them.  I tried several recipes; some too dry, some too crumbly.  After combining 5 or so different recipes, I believe I have the perfect scone!  Everyone says their recipe is the perfect one right???  Of course there is always room for improvement in anything!  For me, I love this one and plan to stick with my creation.  The best thing about this recipe is you can add fresh fruit, different flavors of chips or just enjoy them plain!  The first time I made them, I used mini cinnamon chips.  Ooo la la… they were yummy!  But… I forgot to save a couple scones and take pictures!  A senior moment I guess!

I recently discovered King Arthur Flour.  I ordered lemon chips and sanding sugar and couldn't be happier.  Check out their website, good stuff!

Enjoy these sconealicious lemon scones.  Put the tea kettle on and have yourself a "tea party!"


2 cups flour + a few Tablespoons for rolling out dough
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (freeze the stick of butter, after frozen grate the butter with a cheese grater and place back in freezer)
1 extra large egg  (I use extra large eggs in all my baking)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups lemon chips
zest of a lemon
course sugar for sprinkling on top before baking (optional)

1 cup confectioners' sugar
3 Tablespoons milk/half and half or cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
lemon zest if desired

Preheat oven to 400F degrees.  I place my baking shelf in the middle.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking sheet works great as well.

In a good size bowl, whisk the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Remove the grated butter from the freezer and toss in the flour mixture.  Using a fork or pastry cutter combine until the mixture looks like course cornmeal.  Set aside.

Whisk the egg, sour cream and vanilla in a small bowl.  Pour over the mixture and then mix with a rubber spatula until everything is moistened.  Gently fold in the lemon chips.  Try to not over work the dough.  Don't start getting intimidated!!!  The dough is going to be pretty moist at this point.  Work the dough as best you can into a ball.  On a lightly floured surface pat the dough in an 8" round circle.  Cut the dough in 8 wedges.  Place wedges on the prepared baking sheet.  Give each scone some space.  Using a little cream, brush the wedges with the cream and if desired sprinkle with course sugar.

Bake 20 - 25 minutes or until lightly browned.  The first time I made them I over baked them a tad!  Remove from the oven and let the scones cool down a bit.  Meanwhile… whip up the glaze.  Drizzle the glaze over the scones.

Scones are best if enjoyed right away, well wait till the tea is ready!  If you have any leftovers, the scones keep well in an air tight container at room temperature for 2 or 3 days.

Now it's time to sit on the patio, garden, watching a good movie or soaking in the tub, enjoying a hot cup of tea and a sconealicious scone!

Once again big thanks to my sweet friend Nelou.  You encourage me to do better every day!