Saturday, April 11, 2015

Trying Something New

My granddaughter Corky likes to come over and cook with me occasionally, and it's a good way to pass along tips and shortcuts that I've discovered over the years. You can tell tell tell, but unless you show show show, things just don't get passed on to the next generation like they should.

We made this unusual Buttermilk Bran Loaf, and it turned out just great so I thought I'd pass the recipe along. It's heavy and moist and delicious, and it doesn't have any eggs in it. Yep--the only moisture is the buttermilk. Here it is.

Heat the oven 350 and oil a loaf pan. Mix 2 cups wheat bran cereal (like All-Bran, but I guess you could use flakes, too) with 2 cups whole wheat flour. Add 1 teaspoon soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 cup brown sugar. Then you stir in 2 cups of buttermilk. That's it. Oh, you can add a cup of raisins if you like, but it's good if you leave 'em out, too. Corky found golden raisins in my pantry and that's what we used. Turned out great. Anyway, let the batter stand in a warm place for half an hour before you scrape it into the pan. Bake 30 to 40 minutes until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean. This is so sweet and nutty tasting you don't need much more than butter on it when you serve it, although peanut butter would be good, too.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

It's Still Soup Weather

We're having an early spring out here in the West, though a cool snap this week is giving fruit growers some concern about their crops, but I say it's not too late for soup. In fact, you could probably get in to the last of your potatoes you stored over the winter and use up the last of them for this, except if they're Russets. Most people like those for bakers or hash browns, but for me they're too mealy in soup. Suit yourself. As my father used to say, to each his own said the farmer as he kissed the cow.

Back to the soup. It's best to use Yukon Gold or Red for a good creamy soup because the texture is smoother and they get soft and mushy easier, which thickens the soup. Innyhoo, chop up a pot full of those (you don't even have to peel them if you don't want to, but remember that the longer they're stored the thicker the skins get and maybe you don't want that in your soup) and cover them with water. Boil till they're good and mushy, adding some chopped celery and chopped onion too. When it all looks yummy, drop in a cube of butter--the real thing not that one-molecule-away-from-plastic stuff known as margarine.

Be sure to season it with salt and pepper. I use white pepper so people don't think their food has fly specks in it. Potatoes absorb a lot of salt, so be careful not to overdo it in that department. You can add some cream or milk for taste, and if it isn't thick enough already, sprinkle in a little bit of instant potatoes. That's easier than making a cream sauce to thicken it, but you can do the cream sauce if you like.

For a special protein touch, fry up some thick-sliced bacon or chop up some ham. If you're planning to use that, go easier on the salt earlier.

So that's a great spring soup to make before the crocuses are gone and the daffodils all die off. Let me know if you enjoy it or if you have your own special ingredients you like to add to it. I know some people like to throw in a handful of fresh spring peas. That's always good, too. I've been known to dump in a little leftover corn or a bit of shredded carrot. It's all good, but just remember it's potato soup.