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Archive for the ‘Homemade Baking’ Category

I am so excited about this Christmas. Germany definitely breeds the Christmas spirit with its busy Christmas markets, fresh white snow, and variety of Christmas traditions. What it doesn’t foster is that crazy Christmas materialism that so often comes in the US. Instead, I have been sweetly knitting gifts and crafting thoughtful tidbits for the people I care most about.

Here are the ravelry links to what I have knit; these could all be whipped together in one night if you were a quick knitter (unlike me):

 

Gingerbread House Kit

Label from Giverslogs

 

 

My coworkers are getting little gingerbread house kits. The idea and recipe are from Martha, but the label was adapted from the Giverslog. These are easy to make and could be pulled together in one evening. I hope they like them.

Merry Christmas.

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Photo by Timo

The river that winds through town here is surrounded by little parks and gorgeous old buildings. Since coming here, I have been inspired to pack a picnic and meet friends on its shores.  Before today, I had only managed to enjoy the picturesque views with take-out pizza and beer.  It was great, but I wanted more.

Today, a friend and I gathered our things and went to the park. She made a delicious salad with chicken and avocados and her signature homemade salad dressing. I brought along strawberry hand pies from Martha. The recipe worked well, but I was worried about them being too juicy (a common problem with hand pies and berry pies especially). So I added a little step to her directions. I followed someone’s advice and let the strawberries sit in the sugar for a while. Then, I poured the sugar/juice mixture into a pan and let it simmer on the stove until it had reduced to half. I added this condensed syrupy liquid back in with the strawberries. And continued to follow martha’s orignal recipe. Bake them on a silpat, if you have one, because these do stick to the pan. Otherwise, these hand pies were easy and delicious. Perfect picnic food.

Next time, I plan to make one or all of the following for our picnic:

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I love granola bars or more specially protein bars. It boils down to this: I’m a girl of habit and I’m not a morning person. So granola bars are perfect. They are my morning staple. Through the years, I have gone through some phases. I loved the crunchy granola bars, cliff bars, homemade granola, but here in Germany there really aren’t many options. There are tons of muesli options, which I do like, but requires doing dishes afterwards. There just aren’t a lot of option for breakfast bars. The only widely available option is called “corny”– with no granola in it at all.  So this week’s challenge was to make something delicious, filling and easy — that wouldn’t need to be supplemented by scrambled eggs like last weeks ginger scones.

I started with this granola bar recipe from smitten kitchen (found via domestifluff and originally adapted from King Arthur). I made some changes, partially because of what was available here in Germany and partially cause, well, I made some mistakes that actually ended well.

Rather than copy the recipe here with my simple changes, just follow the links above, but keep my substitution in mind. I didn’t have a food processor so I substituted “oat flour,” which is just processed oats, with finely ground coconut (readily available here) and two tablespoons of wheat flour.  For dried fruits, I used 1 cup chopped prunes. For nuts, I used a package of “salad seeds” which included pumpkin seeds *highly recommended,*  sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds. After baking, I realized these are too sweet and a little too thick, so make your own call, but maybe less than a 1/2 cup of sugar and thinner. With a wax paper or tin foil lined pan, these come out really easily. Just cut them up when cooled and enjoy.  I know, I will.

Hopefully, they will make it so I can enjoy more sleep and have a hearty breakfast. These bars could have saved me on Friday, when I woke up a 5am for work/breakfast and stayed out until 4am. Ug.

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Living in German definitely has its perks, one of which is the forced leisure on Sundays. Stores (and many restaurants) are closed, so people spend the day relaxing. I have found Sundays to be the perfect day for baking.  I had originally planned to make cinnamon rolls, but I forgot cinnamon and like I said no place was open. So I looked in my kitchen for something to make. I knew I wanted to bake something for breakfast on Monday. Monday is a big day for us here. It’s the start of classes and all of the teachers are a little stressed. So I had 2 lemons, 1 ginger root, basic baking ingredients and a baking sheet. I decided to make the most out of that. I made three delicious things.

First, I made candied ginger. It’s perfect for nervous stomaches. The candied ginger recipe was adapted from Alton Brown. I followed his basic directions, but I used one ginger root and 1 and 1/2 cups of sugar.   Basically, after boiling the ginger, strain it and boil it in simple syrup until the sugar re-crystalizes.

Next, I used the liquid that the ginger had been boiling in (and was strained off) to make ginger ale. I added some simple syrup, a little lemon juice, and sparkling water. I haven’t really been looking, but I haven’t seen ginger ale here. This was so good that even if I do find it, I wouldn’t buy it. It would make this!

The third ginger project of the day was ginger scones. I used this lemon ginger scone recipe and added a glaze on top. It used most of my candied ginger, but I had a few big chunks set aside to enjoy later. I am usually not a scone person… but wow! The texture was perfect. So moist. And the flavor was incredible.

I am so happy with each of these. When I moved into my little apartment, where the kitchen is literally in a closet and the only oven is a toaster oven, I thought all attempts at baking would be worthless. But my sweet coworker told me not to underestimate my toaster oven. And he was right. That thing is pretty powerful. I haven’t exactly figured out cooking times and temperatures, but that’s just more reason to bake.

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Ginger SnapsI am making little thank you packages for the lovely professors reviewing my thesis. The first cookie in their package is gingersnaps. I bet they would be great with the mango sorbet from yesterday and the recipe makes more the enough for the three packages.

The good thing about making something classic like gingersnaps is that there are a million recipes. I got the idea from this ginger strips recipe from Betty Crocker online. Then, I looked in Joy of Cooking and my Better Homes and Gardens books. I mixed and matched the three recipes, but I think it most closely resembled the Better Homes recipe. Anyway, I recommend you do the same. Mix and match recipes to get what you want. I wanted to use whole wheat flour and extra ginger. And of course I wanted to roll them in sugar.

Gingersnaps (based most closely on Better Homes and Garden Recipe)

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. ginger
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
a sprinkling of clove
1 1/4 cup white flour
Sugar for dusting

Mix all the ingredients together (except the white flour and sugar for dusting). Add white flour slowly to mixture. Form dough into 1/2 teaspoon size balls. Roll in sugar. Bake for 6 minutes at 375 degrees. Enjoy!

And the clothing remake story is coming tomorrow maybe… I promise.

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Picture by Joyosity.

Image by Joyosity.

Ok. It seems a little funny to post my third food processor recipe here. But you know what, I love my food processor. If you don’t have one, go to Goodwill immediately and buy one. It is worthy the five bucks. Actually it might be worth it to buy one new, but I don’t know. Mine is purple and green from the 1980’s.

So here it is mango sorbet made in a food processor…

3 ripe mangos
1 cup sugar (a little less would be lovely too)
1 1/2 cup sugar orange juice

Mix it together in the food processor. (try not to eat the blended goodness) Freeze for about 2 hours. Blend in food processor again. Return to freezer or place sorbet immediately in bowls to devour. (Recipe based on this one)

Ohh and I am defending my thesis this week, so I have been doing many craft projects. A lot of little projects to blow off steam. I’ll try to post tomorrow on a little clothing remake project.

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Honestly, nothing is easier than making hummus. I make it everytime I have a party because 1. it’s easy and 2. everyone raves. I made a small batch this time, but honestly it got eaten so quickly that I should have made more.

Put 1/2 can chick peas and 2 cloves or garlic in the food processor. Mix. Add olive oil until it is your desired consistency. Scoop into cute glass container and store.

Doesn’t that look great with the whole wheat version of the no knead bread. The bread has two cups of whole wheat flour and one of white. The comments on no martha advised against a whole wheat version, but mine was perfect. Used Bob’s Red Mill organic whole wheat flour.

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