Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Shutterbug Spies, Week 2

Challenge: Patterns

This week's challenge was hard only b/c the options for patterns are vast. I settled on 2 entries-- the first is of one of my fish and the second is of a coleus leaf.

Heeeere fishy, fishy...

The fish is now a funny story. We became the proud owners of a ginormous fish tank a few months ago, when one of hubby's friends couldn't fit the tank in his moving truck. So, hubby did some research, and several trips to PetSmart later, we expanded our family by 2 Jack Dempseys, 2 convict cichlids and 2 algae eaters (aka 'the sucky fish'.) We lost a Dempsey and an algae eater, but the others seemed to thrive. One of the convict fish, in particular, has grown a ton.

So, as I was uploading photos today, I googled "convict cichlid". And I was surprised. B/c, I was fairly clueless about them, relying soley on my hubby's research in getting them. Do you know what I discovered? I discovered that convict fish are fairly hardy, that they establish monogamous bonds and, oh, hmm...what's that? They breed. Prolifically.

Which is why I currently have 35 baby fish in my tank.

Now, for something different...

It appears that I no longer suffer from a brown thumb, as my flowers are growing spectacularly this year. This is just one leaf of several, thriving coleus plants in my yard. I think it looks neat. So there.

Who made doughnuts?

I totally did. I rock. I even substituted whole grain flour for 1c of the flour, so we can pretend they're healthy. I didn't have a chance to let them rise as much as I should have, but I'll fix that next time (oh yes, there will be a next time.)

I cannot claim the recipe as my own. I got it from the chick at 101 Cookbooks.

1 1/3 cups warm milk, 95 to 105 degrees (divided)
1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
5 cups all-purpose flour (alternately, white whole wheat might work - haven't tried it yet)
A pinch or two of nutmeg, freshly grated
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Place 1/3 cup of the warm milk in the bowl of an electric mixer. Stir in the yeast and set aside for five minutes or so. Be sure your milk isn't too hot or it will kill the yeast. Stir the butter and sugar into the remaining cup of warm milk and add it to the yeast mixture. With a fork, stir in the eggs, flour, nutmeg, and salt - just until the flour is incorporated. With the dough hook attachment of your mixer beat the dough for a few minutes at medium speed. This is where you are going to need to make adjustments - if your dough is overly sticky, add flour a few tablespoons at a time. Too dry? Add more milk a bit at a time. You want the dough to pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl and eventually become supple and smooth. Turn it out onto a floured counter-top, knead a few times (the dough should be barely sticky), and shape into a ball.

Transfer the dough to a buttered (or oiled) bowl, cover, put in a warm place (I turn on the oven at this point and set the bowl on top), and let rise for an hour or until the dough has roughly doubled in size.

Punch down the dough and roll it out 1/2-inch thick on your floured countertop. Most people (like myself) don't have a doughnut cutter, instead I use a 2-3 inch cookie cutter to stamp out circles. Transfer the circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet and stamp out the smaller inner circles using a smaller cutter. If you cut the inner holes out any earlier, they become distorted when you attempt to move them. Cover with a clean cloth and let rise for another 45 minutes.

Bake in a 375 degree oven until the bottoms are just golden, 8 to 10 minutes - start checking around 8. While the doughnuts are baking, place the butter in a medium bowl. Place the sugar and cinnamon in a separate bowl.

Remove the doughnuts from the oven and let cool for just a minute or two. Dip each one in the melted butter and a quick toss in the sugar bowl. Eat immediately if not sooner.

Makes 1 1/2 - 2 dozen medium doughnuts.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Grandma's Zucchini Bread

One of my very fond memories of my grandmother was her incredibly yummy zucchini bread. I know, I know. Zucchini bread doesn't sound yummy. But it is. Even my sweet husband, who pretends he doesn't like anything other than meat, potatoes and Wonder bread likes it.


3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup shortening
3 eggs, beaten (Ener-G egg replacer may be used)
3 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 cups grated zucchini (do not peel zucchini)
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp cinnamon
1/2 chopped nuts


350 degree oven

Combine wet ingredients, gradually add dry. Grease 2 loaf pans. Divide batter between pans. Bake for 50 to 60 mins.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


A couple months ago, I bought a whole lotta limes without much of a plan as to what to do with said limes. After scouring teh interwebs for a suitable limeade recipe with little results, I improvised this one.

All are rough measurements.

2 cups water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups freshly squeezed lime juice (~10-12 limes)
2 cups cold water

Combine sugar and c water in saucepan, heat (stirring) until sugar is dissolved. Pour sugar water into a pitcher. Add lime juice. Add cold water and ice. Stir.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Shutterbug Spies

I spy with my little eye...

Shutterbug Spies (it'll be listed in my favorites...once I figure out how to do that, lol) is a blog chronicalling a series of photo challenges set forth by one of my groups. It's fun, and a chance to be creative. It also gives me an opportunity to become more familiar with My Big Fancy Camera. I've had My Big Fancy Camera for 7-ish months, and -- embarrassingly enough -- I know very little about how to operate it. Guess I better dust off the idiot sheet owner's manual, hmm??

Week 1's challenge was a self portrait. Here's mine:


My reflection in the oven. Apropos, no?

I l-l-l-l-l-lied

Yeah, I know. I slacked. However, I really have to start cataloging my recipes on here. You see, my youngest weethen is expanding his palate by EATING MY COOKBOOKS! So, before I end up making something like Rachael's meat trifle, I need to get to typin'.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Best Vanilla Cake Ever

2 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 egg whites
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

350 degree oven

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together three times.

Cream butter. Add 1 cup sugar, and cream together until light and fluffy. Add sifted ingredients alternately with milk, beating after each addition until smooth. Add vanilla. Batter will be on the thick side.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add 1/2 cup sugar gradually, and continue beating only until meringue will hold up in soft peaks.

Fold batter into egg whites.

Pour into 2 greased 9 inch round pans. Bake for 3o mins.

Cool in pans for 10-15 mins, then transfer to wire rack.