Monday, June 29, 2015

A Shout-Out from Better Homes and Gardens!

My publisher informed me this morning that two of my cookbooks are featured in the Better Homes and Gardens website. I'm so appreciative!

Here's the link:


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Amish Butter!

I popped into my local grocery store yesterday to pick up a few items and found this:
I couldn't resist! It's a two-pound slab and was not a good deal...and as it was $5.98 per pound and not organic, I paid way more than I'm wont to do. But I was a (temporary) sucker and purchased it anyway. And what's more, I don't have any regrets! But it will still probably be a one-time-only purchase because my frugal nature won't abide a continual supply at that price. Still...I'm happy!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Homemade Noodles Article and Recipe on Amish Wisdom website

Hello, all-

Several months ago, I wrote an article for Amish Wisdom and included a recipe for my homemade egg noodles. They reposted it today here:

If you have a few minutes, go check it out. The recipe is easy, cheap, tasty, and filling--my favorite kind!

We are in the middle of a grueling heat wave. If you are too, remember to stay hydrated (God's liquid--water--is the very best!) and do try to get out of the sun during the heat of the day.

Blessings to you and your loved ones,

Monday, June 22, 2015

It's Berry Season! Two Great Recipes for Berry Muffins

I live in the Pacific Northwest and I think we grow the best berries. Many berries are wild--in fact, blackberries are wildly overenthusiastic "weeds" in these parts (although incredibly welcome weeds, I must say!). But when they start ripening, you'll see people all over the place--beside major highways, even--buckets in hand, stripping the bushes of all that luscious free fruit.

So what can we do with all that bounty? Of course, at the top of the heap of "things to do with berries" are pies and cobblers, frozen whole berries (for winter smoothies--yum!), and jams and jellies. Still, if you have even more berries to use up, try berry muffins.

I'm going to share two with you. The first recipe can use any kind of berry you can think of, and the second recipe is one I've made for about forever, and uses blueberries, although I don't see why you couldn't try a different type of berry if that's what you have. But I must say that the blueberry muffin recipe is a treat like no other, so at least try it as written once. I've made these recipes using fresh, frozen (but thawed and drained first), and home canned berries and they're all good. So use what you can lay your hands on and I think you'll be pleased.

Berry Muffins

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 1 T. sugar, divided
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup berries (blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, etc.)

Grease muffin pans. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

In another bowl, stir together milk, butter, egg, and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and stir just until blended. Batter will be lumpy. Fold in berries.

Fill prepared muffin cups 3/4 full. Sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake 20 minutes or until done.

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup blueberries
sugar or cinnamon sugar for sprinkling

Stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Add the sugar and rolled oats and mix well.

In a large bowl, beat together the egg, milk, and butter. Add dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. Fold in blueberries.

Fill greased muffin tins about 2/3 full and sprinkle a bit of sugar on top of each muffin. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until done.

The only thing left to do is enjoy!

I hope all is well with you and your loved ones.

Blessings to you and yours,

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Little Dutch Maid Mixer

Woohoo! This one is mine!

I'm so excited about my latest purchase! It's the Little Dutch Maid Mixer, a hand-cranked beauty made by an Amish outfit in Ohio. I bought it online from Cottage Craftworks, out of Texas. Paul, the owner, is one of the few people who sells the Little Dutch Maid, and his price is good--although make no mistake--the Little Dutch Maid mixer is spendy. But I've wanted one for years, and I finally took the plunge.

Am I happy I did? Most definitely. Does it work well? Absolutely!

I have used it a lot since I got it. On purpose. I wanted to get a good feel for just how useful this mixer is for daily use. I am not disappointed!

As soon as I unboxed it, I washed and dried everything, and then I thought I'd try something easy. I whipped up some sweetened cream, and was impressed. It was so easy and efficient that I had whipped cream way sooner than I wanted because I was enjoying the effortless turning. Easy peasy.

Next, I decided to try whipping up mashed potatoes. According to the one page "manual" (I use that term loosely, mind you!), I could mash potatoes using the whips and the low cranking speed. It totally worked and my potatoes were lovely. (I'll never go back to using my old potato masher. And I know my kids will be thrilled because they don't like it when there are lumps of potato in the "mashies.") The Little Dutch Maid did a thorough job of it.
Mashed Potatoes
I whipped up some waffle batter and that was a piece of cake. So next, I decided to try making cookie dough. Creaming together the butter and sugar and mixing up a stiff dough would really put it to the test, I figured. I had bought the cookie paddles (they're extra, but worth the price in my opinion), so I used those--first on high-speed crank, and then on the low-speed crank once I started adding the flour. I couldn't believe how easy it was! This mixer really works, and it doesn't take so much energy that you'll be wanting to use an electric mixer instead.
Chocolate Cookie Dough

Note the Cookie Paddles
I've also made an extra large batch of Snickerdoodle cookies (gifts for my wonderful neighbors). Again, it was not a problem, even though I had a full bowl of dough.

I. Am. In. Love. :)

Here are some thoughts about the Little Dutch Maid mixer:

1) It's simple to use. Everything fits together well and getting it put together and ready to use is minimal.

2) Unlike most stand mixers, the top is open. (No head to come down over the bowl.) This makes for easy additions of ingredients, such as flour, etc. If you notice my first photo above, the Little Dutch Maid comes with a two-piece plastic top. The outer part is called a splash ring, so you can add ingredients by simply taking off the inner part. However, I don't use either. I just keep the bowl completely uncovered while using it. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that when you add something powdery (such as flour or cocoa powder), you want to make sure that you crank slowly at first so the flour doesn't fly out. And once it's been partially mixed in, you can crank faster.

3) Using the Little Dutch Maid--even for stiff doughs--doesn't require muscles. It's surprisingly easy to turn. I did find, however, that I used one of my hands to sort of press down on the base while cranking so it wouldn't move around. But it's also true that mostly I didn't need to do that. (I experimented!) The base part of the mixer probably weighs close to 20 pounds. Which brings up my next point:

4) The mixer is heavy duty, but it's still easy to move around if you need to do so. Also, it doesn't take up all that much counter space. I'd say no more than an electric stand mixer would.

5) It's quick. I was really amazed at just how little time it took to mix things. In my opinion, it doesn't seem to take any longer to mix than an electric mixer.

6) Cleanup is a breeze. I do wash everything by hand, but I don't think that's really necessary. Obviously you don't want to submerge the base into water, even though there are no electric parts to worry about, because you don't want things to rust inside. You can submerge the bowl in water when cleaning it.

Would I recommend buying a Little Dutch Maid hand-crank mixer? You bet I would! Yes, I know that spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $489 is steep, but to my way of thinking, it's totally worth it. If you, like me, enjoy the thought of using non-electric gadgets in the kitchen and around the house, the Little Dutch Maid mixer is right at the top of the list for useful tools to own.

Carry on!