Tuesday, June 28, 2011

And now for the healthy stuff

I confess, I have an annoying sweet tooth.  When it kicks in, I usually go for the chocolate.  I've tried the 12-step program but have never made it past step 2.  However homemade granola, especially sprinkled on top of yogurt can often satisfy even the most nagging sweet tooth - not to mention the fiber and calcium, which is important for someone of my increasingly advancing age.  This is one of our favorites ...

Combine 1/3 cup of honey with 2 tablespoons of butter in a small microwave safe bowl and microwave about 30 seconds or until melted and bubbly.

In a large bowl stir together 4 cups of old-fashioned oats, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 cups of nuts.  I usually choose walnuts and almonds, although I found a few tablespoons of pecans in the pantry and threw them in for good measure.  Drizzle with the honey mixture and stir to coat.

Spread mixture on baking sheet and bake about 25 minutes at 350 degrees, stirring several times, until golden brown.  If you line the sheet with foil it makes for much quicker clean up although you need to watch the granola more closely in case it bakes quicker ... I'll take my chances and opt for the shorter cleaning time. 

Let the granola mix cool a bit then pour back into your bowl and stir in about 1 1/2 cups of assorted dried fruits.  I used golden raisins, dried cranberries and diced, dried apricots.

Now I don't have any excuse for grabbing that bag of candy-coated chocolate candies, even if they do melt in your mouth and not in your hand ... the plain variety is my bag of choice. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

It was a cold, wintry night ...

... in 1962 at a shaped note singing school at Chestnut Ridge Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Tennessee when the Waymakers Quartet was formed.  Group members were Floyd Huskey, Louise Huskey, Fred Waller, and sisters Patsy Huskey and Merrilyn Huskey.  The youngest sister - that would be yours truly - was too young at the time.  Daddy sang bass, but in this case Momma didn't sing tenor, she sang soprano.  What followed was 26 years of traveling and singing Southern Gospel at churches, schools and community centers all over Middle Tennessee, Northern Alabama and other contiguous areas. 

My growing up years were filled with Friday and Saturday night sings, week-long summer revivals, and countless Sunday afternoon homecomings with all day singing and dinner on the ground ... which as you fellow Southerners know, dinner means the mid-day meal.

As a visiting quartet, we were always invited to join in the dinner spread.  Mother loved to scout out new dishes and if she was lucky, the cook responsible would be willing to share the recipe and better yet, recite it from memory.  As a result, my collection from Mother has a few handwritten recipes like the one here scribbled on a paper napkin.

I have no idea where we were on that particular Sunday afternoon, but I know Mother was looking good for the singing that followed.  She had carefully reapplied her favorite shade of Revlon Red and blotted on the back
of that same napkin.  

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Strawberry Cookies with Citrus Glaze

Chris is completing a successful run at the local cardiac rehab and wanted to take a treat to the nurses to celebrate.  He chose these Strawberry Cookies.  I've actually made them before but decided to change them up a bit this time.  

Start by dicing about 12 ounces, or 2 cups. of fresh strawberries.  Add 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar.  Stir together and set aside.  After you get the strawberries diced, the rest of the recipe goes pretty quickly.

In a large bowl whisk together 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, and 7 tablespoons granulated sugar.  Cut in 6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter using a pastry cutter until flour mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  And yes, that is a label on the flour canister which saves the guessing game ... is it all-purpose or self-rising?  Love my Dymo labelmaker.

Stir in 2/3 cup of heavy cream until dough starts to come together.  Add 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest and the strawberries, stirring until well blended.

Using a tablespoon scoop dough and drop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing evenly.  Sprinkle with sanding sugar.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes until golden brown.  Let cool about one minute on baking sheet then transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.

Mix together the citrus glaze and drizzle over cookies ... 
1/4 cups powdered sugar
3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons water, or enough to make a good consistency

This recipe yields about 3 dozen cookies.  Keep refrigerated, it's a soft cookie, almost cakelike.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cabinet #1

 ... note the pink scissor handles peeking innocently out of the basket on the top shelf and always at the ready to support my habit.
I might add however, a goodly portion of this cabinet came from my Mother, so the clipping addiction comes quite naturally. 

No cooking tonight, I've worked on too many spreadsheets today ... not sure I would know the difference between a 1/4 teaspoon and a 1/4 cup.  Probably safer to stay away from the oven and watch The Next Food Network Star instead. 
Got some Strawberry Cookies planned for the weekend, so stay tuned.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Most recent effort

 Here are the sad remains of a luscious Key Lime Pound Cake courtesy of Southern Living.  Took to the mountains with us this weekend and sent most of it back to college with Sarah to share with her cohorts.  Serves two functions ... provides a little love from home for the college student plus it gets the calories and the fat grams out of the house.  Easy to put together and bakes nicely ... not too sweet and a crisp citrus bite that cries for a good cup of Joe.  If you have the March 2011 issue it's a definite keeper.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

First try

Roaring Fork Loop
Just back from a weekend in the Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg, Tennessee ... one of my most favorite places to be.  Since daughter Sarah couldn't get home from college for Father's Day we took Father's Day to her and celebrated with our favorite Italian food Saturday night and the best pancakes ever from The Pantry on Sunday morning.  It just doesn't get much better!  Happy day to my wonderful husband, Chris who is also a pretty fabulous Dad to both Sarah and our son, Jonathan. 

The picture above was taken on our drive on the Roaring Fork Nature Trail loop.  We intended to hike to Grotto Falls but just before we got to the trailhead the heavens opened and blessed us with a downpour and a half ... the hail I could have done without, though.  Never thought I would take up hiking in my old age but I guess it gives the ticker a good workout and hopefully tightens up a few muscles here and there.  As you can see, I made it to the top of Clingman's Dome a couple of weeks ago and with enough energy left to give the lookout tower a bit of support!  But nevertheless, in spite of the weekend rain the Roaring Fork drive was lovely and the rain added a freshness and perkiness to the rhododendrums in bloom and the summer greenery, and even cleared enough for an occasional stroll.

This was also the weekend I decided to start a blog.  Chris, with the patience of Job, walked me through the setup and now you have The Bean Counter at the Kitchen Counter.  I crunch numbers all day in my real job but after hours enjoy cooking and trying new recipes - especially cakes, cookies, breads and all other things of a baked inclination.  This page will record my meandering through a fairly decent assortment of cookbooks and recipes collected from family and friends - add to that a sizeable pile of magazine clippings.  To me a good road trip isn't complete without a stack of magazines to go through, clipping out all the recipes that I may want to try some day.  After several feeble attempts over the past few months to sort and organize and conquer my ever-growing "some day" collection it seems the only thing left to do is to start cooking ... so, here you go.