October Baking good for foodies

The Foodie Column for October 1

By T. Myers

Can October be a better than average month for baking? YES! Because it gets cooler and there is still a lot of daylight where you are working hard to get ready for fall and winter- burning off the calories like crazy- well just when you need a good cookie- it is the right time to bake ‘em up!

 

I just love using some of the newer dried fruits- especially the dried sour cherries and I came up with a great recipe for Cherry Oatmeal Chews and with the addition of chocolate chips and chopped walnuts or pecans- OMG they are great!

Recipe:

2 cups white sugar

1 cup of butter, cream together and add

2 eggs and beat well

1 teaspoon of vanilla and 1 teas salt and 1 teaspoon soda go into the wet ingredients. Beat well.

Add 2 cups of flour, 1 cup dried cherries and 2 cups of oats. You can stop now but 6 oz. chocolate chips and ¾ cup chopped nuts make these perfect!

Beat together and scoop out into 3 oz. balls and bake on a sheet of six (they spread. For 14 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove to a rack for cooling. These will keep for days, freeze for months or get eaten as soon as they are tasted! It is a chewy cookie because of the sugar.

Cookie basics?

1 cup sugar, 1 cup butter or shortening, 2 eggs, 2 cups of flour, salt, soda and flavorings are the basics. Add a little spice for a spice cookie, add nuts and coconut and dried pineapple for a Hawaiian cookie, add chocolate chips for a good cc cookie, lemon flavoring and a little lemon zest makes these cookies a citrus favorite. Add more flour and roll out for cut out cookies. Add more sugar for chewy cookies, more eggs for cakelike cookies, add more flour for harder cookies. It is up to you. Just bake at 350 for 10 minutes when the ball of dough is the size of a walnut, more or less for different sizes and cool on racks for best results.

It is also a great time for tea tasting.

What do you drink now- an orange pekoe tea like Lipton’s is an all-time favorite. You might want to try a green tea for a grassier and earthier cup. The fermented black teas offer a different taste. There are Indian and Chinese types of teas and you can get an assorted box of different teas at nearly every grocery store. A real connoisseur will try to visit a tea shop and try blends and flavored offerings just for fun. Portland offers a few tea shops that are online; Hawthorne Teas is my favorite. They will package up an assortment and try the California gold with a hint of apricot and orange!

One of my fall favorites is the constant comment tea with spices and orange undertones- made even better with a touch of sugar, you cannot go wrong!

 

Have a good day baking and Bon Appetit!

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The Back to School Foodie for Sept 1

The Foodie Column for Sept 1

By T. Myers

Back to school time! Can we believe that summer is over for our little ones and that they are already heading back to school? Before we start with foodie ideas, let me remind you that children today are not taught much about safety when walking on or near roads that carry traffic and as drivers, we need to be vigilant about young students crossing streets- when they feel they want to cross and not at the corners. Since we have few painted crosswalks, some of them can be very confused about what is a safe way to cross the streets, so help them get adjusted to the new rhythm of school days as we move into the school season! Be ready to take extra time to help them.

It is time to take a few minutes to plan for back to school lunches. There is nothing worse for a child to suffer through the unplanned and embarrassing lunch bag full of the usual Pb&j, a cookie and drink of some kind when it is just as easy to dazzle your little ones with an assortment of specially packed goodies to make a young tummy say A-h-h-h!

Don’t kid yourself- even if you do not have children to send lunches with, there are lunches for any person who goes to work and this will work for big and little people!

I go to the dollar stores and purchase a few of the plastic container packs that they sell for cheap and then I go shopping for the bags of goodies from Costco, Walmart or other big box store.

On Sunday afternoon I set up a week’s worth of containers for crispy snacks, dessert snacks, veggies, fruits, crackers, cheese, sandwich items and drink boxes. When I open the bags, I put them into the containers and seal the bags for next week. With veggies, I clean them and slices of apples etc., and dip the apples or other fruit pieces in lemon water and set the prepared items on the shelf in the fridge. I do the same for cheese (don’t overlook cottage cheese and canned fruit options) and meat pieces, pickles, olives and other go to nibbles.

By the end of an hour or so, I have amassed a collection of containers I can choose from every week day without getting completely bored.

Packing a ¼ sandwich works- take two they’re small! Cupcakes and 2 inch cookies fit well in a small container.

Small stone fruits and grape tomatoes, carrot sticks and humuus is always good.

Have fun helping your students and big people who need good lunches be amused and delighted with their lunch time surprises. Bon Appetit starts with surprise lunches from your kitchen to their lunch table!

 


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(No Title)

The Foodie Column for July 1, 2015

By T. Myers

While we go into Frontier Days and La Pine Rodeo Mode and our company gathers to celebrate the 4th of July, we can make it easy on our guests and ourselves by setting up a little advance food prep to be ready to pull together easy meals in the heat of the day- and we are looking at triple digits this year- with variety for the household and ease for the hostess.

What do we like to eat? We want the traditional foods that come with the mid-summer holiday and we want to eat when we feel hungry. There is never anything wrong with the barbeque, but when it is really hot, cooking over any hot fire is not always the thing to do. Besides there are other things to focus on- like bug spray and sunscreen on everyone and keeping the pool clean and setting up the water balloon fights.

Try this: We can make up burger patties, cook and reheat them by doing a little bbq work on one night to make everything for the weekend a day or two in advance. Cook your burgers, chicken and even hot dogs and put them in Tupperware to grab and heat in the microwave or with a steamer on top of the stove if you are doing it for a crowd. A selection of buns at the ready can also be filled with simple tuna or chicken salad.

Fix a big container of grab and eat veggies that can be served with a bottle of ranch dressing. Get a big watermelon and a couple of cantaloupe that can be wedged and served for breakfast or dinner. Boxes of cereal for am and a gallon of milk will cover breakfast. Add some good toast and a jar of peanut butter and you can go from toast to PB and J sandwiches that are easy and quick. I love to make muffins and biscuits for breakfast and a big skillet of scrambled eggs can go from breakfast to dinner if you add a salad with vinaigrette. Good coffee in the Am and good Decaf in the PM, some juices, and an assortment of sliced and cubed cheeses and sandwich meat or a baked ham will help you pull together good meals in a hurry. Don’t forget the potato or macaroni salad- always good in picnic mode. Potato and corn chips, dips and cookies from the store or your oven complete the snack list. Keep salad things ready, too.

Jell-O salads can be dessert or side and there are so many recipes, but on the 4th– that crazy pretzel, cream cheese, strawberry and gelatin dessert topped with fresh whip cream and blue berries and strawberries is always a winner. And the kids love strawberry poke cake!

Follow directions for a white cake mix in a 9X13 pan. Cool and take a wood handle spoon and poke holes all over the cake. Mix up a batch of Strawberry or raspberry Jell-O and pour the jello all over the cake to fill the holes you make. Put it in the fridge to cool and top with fresh whip cream when you are ready to serve. Line up a few rows of berries across the top. I love a few sprinkles of coconut for texture and cut and serve to show the red streaks going through the cake. This is pretty and easy to do and will keep for a few days while you eat every morsel.

If you have lots of company, try a Texas Chocolate Sheet cake. Big flat pieces of cake with yummy frosting will satisfy a crowd! The nuts make it extraordinary!

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Frosting, below
  • ***Frosting***
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 box (1 pound) confectioners’ sugar, sifted (4 1/4 cups sifted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional
  • Preparation
  • Cake: Combine 1 cup butter, water, and 1/4 cup cocoa in saucepan over medium heat; heat until butter melts. Add sugar, flour, salt, eggs, soda, sour cream, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla; mix well.
  • Pour into a 15x10x1-inch jelly roll pan.
  • Bake at 350° for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Frost while still hot.

Frosting: When the cake is almost finished baking, combine 1/2 cup of butter, 1/4 cup of cocoa, and milk in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Add the confectioners’ sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla mix well with electric mixer. Stir in pecans, if using, and pour over the cake.

Spread to cover the hot cake

Bon Appetit!


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Foodie 7/15 hot weather tips

The Foodie Column for July 15th

By T. Myers

Hot weather tips:

Use what you can buy at the store and turn those items into special dishes in no time without cooking!

I was at Costco and I rarely- if ever- can pass up the rotisserie chickens because the price is great and the meat is wonderful and juicy. I do a little food serving on the weekend days and the crews of workers are hungry, but do not want heavy food, so figuring out meals that will satisfy them and still be light and cool are what we try to figure out. This week with the two chickens, I will create a chicken salad for one day and use the leftover sliced chicken for sandwiches the next day followed by the carcasses in a stew pot for chicken veggie soup coming up in the near future!

I bought a big tub of seedless grapes and a tub of grape tomatoes and they can be the tomatoes on a salad with romaine and Caesar dressing, and the grapes can be halved with ½ cup of sweet onion- diced small, diced celery, some sliced almonds and cubed chicken pieces and a little mayo with a touch of curry powder for a delicious chicken salad to serve on torta rolls with leaves of lettuce and some fruit on the side. A platter full of hunks of bananas, grapes and strawberries is the plate for the first of the two days and the left over bananas go into a banana pudding for day two topped with whipped cream and a graham cracker crust on the bottom and sprinkle on the top!

A great dressing for fruit based salads:

½ cup mayo

1/3 cup honey

¼ cup fresh lime juice and a pinch of salt. It will turn a translucent golden color and you drizzle it over the top of the stuffed bread sandwich, pita or over a plated version on top of crispy green romaine leaves!

This salad can also be made with hunks or shreds of cheese and ranch dressing instead of the sweeter tangy version. It becomes more salad like and when you serve it on a lettuce leaf, it can hold its shape and be a wonderful salad to use to stuff tomato halves.

Torta rolls are Square flat rolls and I get them at Costco. They are chewy in texture and make a fine sandwich because they hold together well. If you split them, they are great buttered and browned in a skillet with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar with eggs for breakfast, too.

I put a devil’s food cake in the oven early this morning and I made some whipped cream flavored with Nestle Quik to make it chocolatey as a topping and then I added a topping on top of the whip cream of tiny chocolate chip cookies for fun and crunch. Big squares on a plate is the whole enchilada: creamy topping, crunch cookies and fresh cake! Yum!

Habitat for Humanity needs to form a volunteer crew of painters for interior finishing. Call Dan Varcoe to get information and sign up. In the meantime, I hope my summer food ideas go over with the crews I will feed this weekend. Bon Appetit!

food and breakfast 002


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Foodie: March 1, 2015 Cookies anytime!

The Foodie Column for March 1st, 2015

By T. Myers

We have waited for months to get our snow and here we are in March with warm 60+ degree days and no snow in sight. I have not really accepted the fact that winter is over, since I have been around when the snow didn’t melt until the 4th of July! As a matter of standards, the official planting date is the first day of summer in June and even after that date, morning frosts continue into July with the last week of July and the first week of August being the two weeks that do not have frost in the mornings!

So what do you cook when the weather is unpredictable? There is never anything wrong with cookies and bar cookies and you might try a real pound cake?

Here are a couple of my favorites:

Soft and Chewy chocolate chip cookies with or without nuts and Blondies with butterscotch chips and pecans! Yum!

Cookies: 3 cups of flour, 1 teas soda and 1 teas salt stirred together. 1 Cup of Brown and 1 Sup of White sugar mixed with a softened cup of good butter, three beaten eggs and ¼ cup water. ! Bag of Chocolate chips and 1 Cup walnuts (other nuts are fine). 1 Teas. Vanilla. Mix wet ingredients together and add the dry. Mix well and form balls of dough that are about 2 ounces (walnut sized bake for 10 minutes and 2 oz. balls bake for 12-14 at 325-350. You want them to brown slightly, but not get BROWN. Take off the pan and cool on racks. They should be moist and chewy. Keep in a covered container in the fridge or freezer and take out what you need.

I love brownies, but when it comes to a special treat, I bake a batch of my pecan Butterscotch Blondies.  Use 3 cups of flour 2 cups of white sugar, 1 teas salt, 1 teas soda and mix well and set aside. Beat three eggs and mix with 1 cup softened butter and 2 Tablespoons of molasses and 1 teas of vanilla. Mix wet with the dry and if needed add water 1 T at a time until your batter is soft enough to incorporate a cup of toasted pecans and a bag of good butterscotch chip,. (The new Guittard chips are the best). I have a special pan that bakes the brownies individually, but put the batter in a deep 9X13 pan if needed and bake at 325 for 20-25 minutes until the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan. Test the center with a toothpick and remove to cool for a few minutes before you cut them into bars. Set them on racks to cool completely before boxing them up. These little gems are full of flavor and buttery goodness. Did I mention calories, too? But, once you taste them the calories will not be important- at all!

Try Pound Cake:

1 pound sugar, 1 pound butter, 1 pound of flour and 10 large beaten eggs (1 pound) and then you add 1 teas salt and beat together until you see a smooth batter. Add vanilla or lemon zest or orange zest and put into a large buttered and floured pan and bake for 55 to 65 minutes in a 325 degree oven until top is lightly browned and the toothpick test is clean from the center of the cake. Cool on a rack and slice to serve by itself or with fruit, ice cream or jam and whipped cream. Pound cake is delicious with chopped walnuts, too and you can’t go wrong with mini chocolate chips and orange zest for a wonderful anytime dessert with good coffee or tea!

Get outside and enjoy the extra sunny days we are getting in Central Oregon. Hope you love the weather and Bon Appetit!


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Foodie: February 2015 Simple Foods for cold weather

The Foodie Column for February 15th

Inspiration for Simple Foods

By T. Myers

After the holidays, when everything slows down, we celebrate Valentine’s Day and then it is about four weeks until St. Paddy’s Day and during that time, it is just nice to have a few simple dinners up your sleeve to let you relax during the busy work week and look forward to coming home for a quick hot meal with no fuss. (That is not my usual style- so when I say no fuss- I mean simple!)

I love soup and I love fresh bread and there is never anything wrong with preparing a meal that features both. Over the weekend I tried an oats, corn, wheat and rye combo for the bread and added flax seed and craisins.  (basic bread dough is 5 Cups of water with 2 T of yeast, 1/3 cup oil. 1 T salt and enough of the choice of flours to make a ball that you knead, raise and form loaves, raise again and bake at 350 for 40-60 minutes depending on the size of the loaves.) A hearty loaf is good with either a clear broth soup or a cream based soup and I made mushroom soup out of 4 oz. fresh sliced mushroom cooked slowly in 1-1/2 cup water that is salted mildly. Add a T of Brandy and some cracked black pepper. Mix up 1-1/2 cup milk and 1-2 T of cornstarch and add to the cooked mushroom mixture. Season to taste. I love to add fresh thyme leaves. Cook gently until thickened and float a pat of butter into the serving bowls and top with parmesan cheese.

Try French onion soup with a slice of toasted French bread that is smothered with gruyere and parmesan. The soup is usually cooked with beef broth and caramelized onions, thyme or fresh sage and salt and pepper. Using a good stock, add your onions and simmer with the herbs and serve up in heavy ceramic bowls that hold in the heat. It is a clear broth that also goes well with cognac, brandy or a splash of red wine as a seasoning addition.

For a good chowder, you can make potato soup and add bacon crumbles, onions, clams, corn, cooked celery, other kinds of seafood or fish and after cooking the items until tender, add salt, pepper, a dash of tabasco or cayenne pepper for heat and when the flavor is just right, add canned milk, thickening agents and let it cool to cold then bring it back up to serving temp to get the full bang out of the flavors. All of these soups keep in the fridge and can be microwaved hot, so plan on a few nights of good eating when you make a batch!

Sometimes it is just wonderful to oven roast some root veggies with a sprinkling of olive oil, salt and pepper and eat them hot with a slice of bread and cheese and a glass of wine!

Do you have some ham or sausage left overs? A Potato casserole of sliced potatoes and onions flavored with the bits of ham or sausage and cooked like an Au gratin with some cheese and milk stirred into the casserole will be a delicious use of the ends of meat and make a fresh meal that can be reheated and served as a side to another meal later?

Serve your soup and bread with some of this year’s good oranges sliced on a plate for a low calorie and tasty dessert. All of these meals with a glass of red or white wine will be more civilized and if you have a couple of glasses of wine, even better! Bon Appetit!


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Foodie: January 15 Winter Picnic

The Foodie Column for January 15th

By T. Myers

Where is the snow? We have snowmobilers from all over Oregon in our town and there is very little to play on! The La Pine Lodge Pole Dodgers organized the statewide event and as we go to press, with the help of COVA, the local club, the park district and the La Pine Chamber we welcomed our visitors to La Pine and before we knew it, the event was over and they were on their way home. During their visit, there were planned tours in the snow country and a convention that took place.

The entire thing made me think of what is great to take out into the wilds in a winter adventure and I came up with a few favorites from my more adventurous years as an outdoor adventurer living at Mount Hood (literally at the foot of the mountain down in the snow line area of Brightwood)

A winter adventure takes a little planning, some good thermos containers and a finger food menu that everyone can grab when they are hungry. And, of course, there are the beverages, warm and comforting and delicious on a cold afternoon.

So let’s plan!

I purchased various hampers and such years ago and several people have gifted me with insulated carry bags that are handy to use in winter or summer so all I have to do is grab the things that I need and lay them out to pack up! With food containers ready to fill putting together a picnic for anytime of the year is lots easier.

When it comes to the foods, everyone always thinks about grilling. I am not a fan of grilling so putting together substantial menu options that will satisfy like a burnt piece of flesh is important. 

Think about serving a cheese based spread or dip with slices of good bread or whole grain crackers as one option. I love pimento cheese made from 8 oz. cream cheese; 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar, 1 small (2 OZ.) jar of drained and diced pimentos and 1/2 cup of mayonnaise. Mix up a day or two before the outing for best flavor. I add a little black pepper and a touch of garlic powder for more flavor.

A meaty pasta salad that is well seasoned with various veggies and sliced meat is always a winner and easy to serve in individual containers on the trail.  I love Gemelli or Bow Tie pasta, cooked and drained, and then I use grape or cherry tomatoes- that are left whole, chunks of salami, pepperoni slices, ham slices or other deli meats, chunks of good parmesan cheese or feta if you like the saltiness, slices of sautéed mushrooms and sweet onions that are cooked and cooled, broccoli flowerets to make the red white and green Italian color scape. Dress it with good Italian dressing and smooth it all out with sour cream to make it moist and creamy. Make this early and spoon it into the serving dishes and put in the fridge.

Bake up some good soft and chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies: 3 cups flour, 1 teas salt, 1 teaspoon soda mixed with ¼ cup warm water to add when dry ingredients are added to the wet. 1 cup of brown and 1 cup of white sugar, 1-1/2 cup butter, 3 eggs creamed together. Add the soda mixture and add the flour mixture with 12 oz. chocolate chips and 1 cup of chopped walnuts. The final ingredient is 2 Teaspoons vanilla mixed in right before scooping them onto baking sheets. I use a 4 oz. scoop for big cookies and bake at 325 degrees for almost 18-20 minutes until slightly browned across the top. Let cool and pack in Wax bags. Plan on two per person.

I have several thermoses and I love to take hot chocolate along, good coffee in another and some kind of punch with punch if you know what I mean! I always add bottles of water for everyone and top off the basket with packets of handi-wipes, napkins, the cups and silverware I need and  large drop cloth to spread out over the snow for a buffet presentation. When there are no chairs or picnic tables available those old fashioned Girl Scout Sit-upons come in handy to keep your bottom from getting cold when you hunker around the feast. Everyone can carry their own in and remember to carry out your trash to dispose of at home or in a garbage receptacle.

Snow picnics can be some of the best times ever. Enjoy and Bon Appetit!


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Foodie: Jan 1- Spice it up!

The Foodie Column for January 1, 2015

By T. Myers

Happy New Year! The Ball has dropped on another year and what a year 2014 turned out to be.  Personal highlights include the birth of our newest family member, my Grandson Rhys, and the news that we will have another baby joining the family in August when my nephew and his wife will have their first. I have had an up and down end of the year with health concerns and thanks to support from friends and family I am weathering that little tornado. I completed a few personal projects, had some engaging work with several local organizations and speaking in general, accomplished some good things while I enjoyed being part of a booming year of changes in our community!

How do you follow a busy year with good food advice? Since it is time for resolutions and reflection as I begin 2015, I will throw out a couple of ideas for all of you and hope that they sit right on top of your lists of ideas to consider!

A FOODIE IS A PERSON WHO IS JUST AS ENAMORED ABOUT THE JOURNEY HE/SHE MAKES TO FIND GOOD FOOD TO EAT AS HAVING GOOD FOOD!

When I began to write the column, years ago, I was trying to teach about how we eat with our eyes first, setting an atmosphere for a good meal and providing ways to serve the unexpected on a budget. After ten years, it seems that we are all pretty good at saving money (what with food prices going up and cautionary tales about how to be safe when we eat) and serving up food that we love to eat and being satisfied with different choices in our everyday menus. For me though, it is about sharing the meals that we serve with family and friends giving weight to the meal and a sense of importance to those we dine with. It is also about dining. The difference between grabbing a plate of food and dining is enormous and it is the one thing that we can do consistently to make a difference in our daily lives. Consider the following:

A dinner comprised of a protein, a carb and vegetables is a complete meal. If you are a salad eater, just switching up the variety of things you serve on a particular salad can make the meal special. (My dad loved salad. It was iceberg lettuce with blue cheese dressing on it. And it went on the plate with a baked potato and sour cream and some kind of burnt flesh- especially offerings of the bovine variety- the man was in hog heaven.) Using the different lettuces and a few unusual chopped veggies or fruits on a salad and serving that with a good homemade dressing- or blue cheese- will make the entire meal exciting- and it is easy to do!

What if you just change up the protein? Beef, pork, chicken, fish, lentils, eggs, cottage cheese, Spam, or a pasta variation would be precisely the ticket to greatness as far as the family is concerned- especially if they don’t expect what they get!.

I love a baked potato, but how about trying a nice baked spud topped with two lovely over easy eggs and some bacon crumbles with a side salad for dinner? Make up a batch of rice pilaf by using the several of the many varieties of rice available and adding some dried spice mix. Use cumin, cardamom, garlic, lemon, black pepper, curry powder and a touch of cinnamon for a middle eastern rice mix with a piece of chicken or white fish. Add a bunch of grapes and a few favorite vegetables that are cooked in the rice and voila! A new experience will unfold for your family over a regular meal turned “Foodie”

Arab Spice Mix:                                                        Norwegian Spice Mix:

2 T Cardamom                                                                        (not an oxymoron!)

2 T Garlic powder                                                       2 T Dill weed                                                 

2 T Curry powder                                                        1 T caraway (crushed)

2 T Cumin                                                                   1 T White Pepper

1 Teaspoon Black Pepper                                            2 T coarse Salt

1 T Salt                                                                                    2 T dried lemon peel (crushed)

½ teas. Cinnamon                                                       Mix and Sprinkle on meats and veggies

Lemon peel. Mix and sprinkle

 

Enjoy your food journey in 2015 Bon Appetit!

 


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Foodie: Dec 15th Christmas

The Foodie Column for December 15th 2014

By T. Myers

Ho, Ho, Ho! ‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house the children were thinking of sugar plums and cookie treats and, true to our traditions, it is up to us to make sure that all of their dreams come true with our homemade versions of the perfect Christmas cookie!

Going up to the Gingerbread display at Sunriver Lodger for the season, you can see your gingerbread dreams become realities and get all kinds of ideas for what you can do for your own family. (The event is spectacular and free and it runs until January 5th every day!)

Let’s talk about how to make your season brighter! With a few candles, a few Christmas decorations and some clean white table linens; you can make any gathering look special for family and friends. Think about creating a reusable small wreath with a center candle that sits in the center of your table to start. Add some colorful napkins and you will be able to perk up your table setting to be a wonderful and attractive way to start a party! Think about serving sparkling wines with desserts for a fun get together. Add Champagne to any occasion and it is like the adage of everything is better with butter/champagne. Cheese plates and finger foods are always great and don’t forget a batch of Chex Mix to get the party nibblers to a state of Nirvana.

On my family traditional Christmases, we always served an abundance of Christmas cookies, coffee, milk and without a doubt by the time Santa showed up there would be a plate just for him along with a bunch or reindeer carrots.

Here is a Cookie Basic Recipe that can be converted into many different interpretations:

#3 cups flour, 1 teas soda, 1 teas salt and you add the spices by the teaspoonful. Mix and set aside.

In a separate bowl beat three eggs, 2 cups of white, brown or a combo of ½ of each type of sugar and add two softened sticks of butter and cream the ingredients until light and fluffy. (You can add ¼ cup of molasses for spicy cookies or 1 Teas good vanilla for most other cookie recipes.

Substitute ¼ cup flour with cocoa powder for chocolate favorites.

Combine the ingredients and scoop out into 2 oz. balls and bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees for a soft chewy cookie.

Now, let’s talk about what you can add to make these special and unique.

  1.  ½ to 1 cup of nuts for crunch
  2. 6-12 oz. chocolate or other baking chips
  3. Cut up pieces of dried fruits or raisins ½ cup at a time
  4. 1 more egg with a cup of oats
  5. Candied fruit, raisins and oats for a fruitcake like cookie.

Play a little and this basic recipe will let you do everything you need to do to create a good chocolate chip cookie, a snicker doodle (rolled in cinnamon and sugar) or soft Vanilla drops that you sprinkle with colorful sprinkles.

If you add one more cup of flour, you can roll out dough for cutting shapes.  This makes a good recipe for many kinds of cookies.

Enjoy your Christmas and have fun developing your own touches for the family cookie platter. Bon Appetit!


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Foodie: Dec 1 Fruities

The Foodie from the forest Column for December 1, 2014

By T. Myers

I love to bake homemade goodies for my pals at Christmas time. Adding a simple goodie or two to a basket of purchased items can make something seem tailor made for specific individuals and they are unique- and I know how much I love to get baked goods and snacks, so I hope that the recipients of my goodie baskets love them just as much!

This is such a great time of year! Once you round the bend at Thanksgiving it seems like you barely wake up the next day and Christmas is staring you in the face. I have a few ideas for those of you who love to bake and here they are:

Fruities (or some other special loaf of goodness): I love to bake fruitcakes, but not the kind with the weird candied fruit for most of my friends. Instead, I love to use other dried fruits and I start my baking by cutting up dates, apricots or dried peaches, craisins, raisins of all colors (Trader Joe’s has a mixed raisin package with red, green, gold and dark raisins that add color and variety) coconut, walnuts or other favorite nuts  and you can add everything from fresh or dried apples to pumpkin, currants and pineapple tidbits, so pick your favorites and use them like this: 2 cups sugar, 1+ cups of butter/margarine, 4 eggs creamed. In another bowl add 1 cup of coconut, 1 cup of chopped walnuts, ½ cup craisins, and 1 cup of chopped apricots, 1 cup raisin mix, 2 cups of flour, 1 teas salt, 1 teas soda, 1 teas cinnamon and 3 cups of oatmeal. Mix dry ingredients well to coat the pieces and combine the wet and dry ingredients to bring the batter together. Scoop three ounce scoops into greased muffin tins or other forms and bake at 300-325 for twenty to thirty five minutes. Test by pushing down with your finger to check for springiness. They should be lightly browned and you can turn them out to cool and store them in a cold place. This recipe makes 3 dozen cakes and four cakes make a nice center piece in a basket- They are delicious!

Last time I told you about creating home-made cranberry sauce in tiny half pint jars to include in the basket. Small jars of jam, little wedges of cheese, crackers, Chex mix that you make and bag, a few pieces of fruit like pears or oranges that do not bruise and last a long time, and think about tea bags and a couple of mugs from the St. Vinnies to round out your holiday baskets. I try to budget a few dollars for each basket and you would be surprised how much you can put in a friend’s basket when you make part of the items yourself!

At the big box stores they have jars of candies and nuts that can be portioned out to add a little treat, too.

I find baskets at St. Vinnies and other second hand stores. I wash them with Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap and dry them carefully and you can really make things fancy when you cover your gift with clear cellophane and a ribbon. Maybe it is just as expensive when you put together a big present, but it will certainly will not be cookie cutter and it is fun to plan and make these for your pals.

Gingerbread Houses? We are baking for Gingerbread Junction and here is the dough recipe: 2 cups sugar, 2 cups shortening and two cups molasses cooked on low to melt together, 2 T cinnamon, 2 Teaspoons baking soda, 1 Teaspoon salt and 9-10 cups flour. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together, shape into a roll and divide into 5 pieces. Wrap each piece with plastic wrap (this dough dries out quickly) and when you roll out, be sure you leave 2 inches between the cut pieces. Bake ¼ inch thick for 10-12 minutes at 375 and cool completely before removing them from the pan. (Grease and flour your baking sheets. Side less works best) You can assemble you houses with royal icing, or use my friends secret weapon- a caulking gun since she never eats the houses, but other than that, you need a stiff frosting that will hold the architectural shape and the candies you use to decorate. Bon Appetit!


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