It’s been nonstop nesting since January 2009. When work doesn’t get in the way, I bake. Then bake some more. Then maybe make dinner. And bake again. I will talk about all of this earth-shattering stuff here, on my blog, a diary of sorts giving voice to my Vermont life, scraps and all. If you like to bake, if you like to cook, if you like to eat, if you like snow (or majestic green mountains … or golden fall foliage), if you like tales of folks blindly starting over in life in their 30s, I hope you will stick around and let me know what you think, what you bake, what you cook for those you love, what model shovel you have. I really want to know.
Top of the Notch
For those of you who aren’t grilling this Memorial Day and find yourself with a hankering for turkey, try this recipe from my aunt.
It’s simple and features my all-time favorite herb, rosemary, a sprinkling of brown sugar, a bunch of garlic cloves, and salt and pepper. Throw it all in the slow cooker and, 4-6 hours later, you’re experiencing turkey nirvana.
In the words of my aunt, “So easy, so moist, so good!”
Get thee to your slow cooker.
Rosemary Turkey Breast, Slow-Cooker Style
1 bone-in turkey breast (6-7 pounds)
6 fresh rosemary sprigs
5 garlic cloves, peeled
1-1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Place turkey breast (breast side up) on top of 4 rosemary sprigs in slow cooker.
Place garlic and remaining rosemary around turkey.
Combine brown sugar, salt and pepper; sprinkle over turkey.
Cover and cook on low 4 to 6 hours or until turkey is tender.
Note: My aunt has “an ancient, small old-time crockpot and a 7-pound breast filled it, so [she] just put all the garlic and rosemary in the bottom of the cooker.”
However you smoosh it all in there, you won’t be disappointed.
We All Scream
I remember my first taste of Ben & Jerry’s. It was outside the IGA in East Hampton, CT, with my friend Rachel. We were eighth-graders, loitering in the grocery store parking lot after school as only teenagers seem to enjoy doing. We each had a pint of Cherry Garcia — Rachel insisted we each have our own pint — and marveled at the generous chunks, the perfect cherries.
Never, EVER has ice cream tasted as good as it did on that hot day, sitting on the hot sidewalk, with my best friend.
Except maybe this past weekend. With my nephews. And the man in my life. And obscene quantities of frozen sweet cream that no 5-year-old, 10-year-old or 30-something-year-old has any business ordering. Servings larger than some of our heads. Servings that would later be regretted by a few of us.
But, really, we had to do it. We had journeyed to the mother ship, Ben & Jerry’s HQ in Waterbury, VT, and there was no going back.
We toured. We bought. We binged.
Sliders for the Slacker
|Simple Sliders (my Honey Barbecue Chicken Burgers in miniature), originally published in Kids VT magazine.|
I do. And I did. And I probably will again.
It’s my nature to slack off when not toiling away at work or making dinner or cleaning the toilet or running errands or otherwise managing the day-to-day doings of my life.
Good things happen when I let my slacker ways take over, I say. For one, I started this blog during a period of slackdom. For another, I discovered new television passions like “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” and “Game of Thrones” — not to mention the beauty of DVR.
But slacking has its downside. It’s made me (made me, I tell you!) neglect this blog for far too long. Love & Scraps’ 199 Facebook fans are disappointed in my performance, I know. Or maybe they don’t care and haven’t noticed. Either way, it’s time to get back into the blogging saddle.
So here goes: Check out this link to my latest (and last) cooking column in Kids VT magazine. It features my recipe for Simple Sliders (my Honey-Barbecue Chicken Burgers in miniature). They’re moist. They’re delicious. And they’re pretty healthy, all things considered. Made with ground chicken, these baby burgers are given a boost by grated carrot, onion and Worcestershire sauce. Top them off with toasted mini-burger buns (aka dinner rolls) and your favorite cheese, and all is right with the world.
Make them today and eat them by the fistfuls while you and your loved ones slack away on this lazy Sunday afternoon.
Honey Barbecue Chicken Sliders
(written by moi for Kids VT magazine)
(makes about 12 sliders)
2 pounds ground chicken
½ medium sweet onion, grated
1-2 carrots, grated*
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, or more to taste
salt and pepper to taste
½ medium sweet onion, diced (optional)
1 cup barbecue sauce
¼ cup honey
12 mini-burger buns (dinner rolls work well), split and toasted
6 slices cheese of choice, divided in half (to make 12 pieces)
In a mixing bowl, combine ground chicken, grated carrot and onion, olive oil and Worcestershire sauce. Season mixture with salt and pepper. Form 12 patties from mixture.
Heat large skillet over medium heat. Brush it with olive oil.
Place patties on the skillet, being sure not to crowd. Cook the patties for about 8 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking time, until juices run clear when a knife is inserted in center. It may be necessary to cook patties in 2 or 3 batches, depending on the size of the skillet.
Set aside cooked patties on a clean platter.
Add diced onion to skillet, if using, and cook until translucent. Add barbecue sauce and honey, whisking to loosen any bits from the bottom of the pan.
Reduce heat to medium-low and return patties to skillet, flipping them to coat with sauce.
Place toasted bun bottoms on a platter. Top each with cheese and a patty, scooping up a bit of sauce to drizzle over top. Cap with toasted bun tops and serve.
Eat 1, Freeze 1, Gift 1
There is one thing, though, that I have managed to do most every year since I was 15 years old, thanks to a recipe shared with me by my best friend growing up, Rachel.
When I say best friend, I mean best friend. Rachel knew me inside and out and loved me anyway. She was the one person who “got me.”
Years ago, I tucked away our many notes from high school, passed during biology lab and complete with illustrations, in a greeting card box — to be whipped out whenever I needed a good laugh or even a good cry. This box of notes is one of my prized possessions. It’s moved with me from Connecticut to Maine to Maryland to Florida to Connecticut (again) and finally here, to Vermont.
In these notes, we referred to each other as “Fat Ass” and “Jelly Belly.” We drew pictures of where we’d rather be. We talked about the boys we liked — actually, usually men — really attainable chaps like those who starred opposite Julia Ormond in period films like “Young Catherine” and the 25-year-old substitute teacher. We trusted each other with our deepest, sometimes dark, secrets.
We cried in each other’s arms, and I have never laughed as much as I did while hanging out with Rachel.
When Rachel became a vegetarian, I decided I would still love her. And when I moved out of state and left all my friends behind, Rachel decided she’d still love me.
Not long after we graduated college, Rachel died.
It’s still somewhat unbelievable to me that my young, beautiful, intelligent, compassionate best friend is gone — I miss her every day — and for a long time I couldn’t forgive myself that I wasn’t there with her at the end. Maybe I haven’t yet.
I was far away, in the throes of my early 20s, out of touch with the people in the small town we had grown up in, and I had no idea she was sick.
It happened that fast.
Making Rachel’s Bread, a braided breakfast or coffee bread, is the one tradition I manage to continue from year to year. Rachel taught me how to make it in her mother’s kitchen. She showed me how to fake a braid and turned me on to dried apricots. She also showed me that a little Christmas kitsch with maraschino cherries and white icing is a good thing.
(makes 3 loaves)
Note: Rachel’s original recipe uses active dry yeast (2 packages), mixed with water. I use instant dry yeast, so I mix it with the flour first before adding to the rest of the ingredients.
2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/2 cup warm water
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
Spice and Everything Nice
Pumpkin Bread is in the oven as I write this, filling the house with the scent of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and everyone’s favorite Thanksgiving squash that begins with a ‘P.’ I haven’t had breakfast or lunch yet today — it’s 1:45 p.m. EST — and I will be hard-pressed not to do things to that bread that I really shouldn’t. Things like slicing it fresh out of the oven. Or burying my face in it. Or licking it.
But I won’t.
I’ll let the loaves cool on wire racks — completely — before swaddling them in plastic wrap and aluminum foil. I’ll let them hang out for a day or two before I ravage them. I won’t lick them so that I might share them with others.
(I copied this recipe out of a magazine several years ago; wish I could give proper credit. … It makes 2 standard-size loaves.)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 3/4 cups brown sugar, packed
15 ounces pureed pumpkin
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour two standard-size loaf pans (9×5-ish inches).
Whisk together dry ingredients in small bowl. Set aside.
In large bowl, mix brown sugar, pumpkin, oil, eggs and water.
Stir in dry ingredients until thoroughly combined.
Divide batter equally between prepared pans and bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour.
Remove loaves from pans and let cool completely on wire racks.
A Saucy Reminder
Sweet Deal from The King
Love & Scraps fans: This post is especially for you.
King Arthur Flour shared with me an exclusive offer to share with you — 20 percent off a $90 (or more) order. Quick! Stock up your holiday baking supplies! This offer is valid through November 6 (that’s Sunday, tomorrow, so get on it).
I don’t normally put myself out there for products/brands/companies, but I make an exception for employee-owned KAF — generous, warm-hearted people and phenomenal products.
Follow this link to shop for your favorite baking goodies!