Bake to Savor those May Celebrations!

With the first brave rhubarb and asparagus pushing up in my garden comes the absolute confidence there will be a bounty of brunches. May has its way of making that happen.  From May Day to Memorial it’s one great opportunity after another to bake something simple, savory or sumptuous to share with mom, graduates, family, neighbors or veterans.

Simple: Biscuits are perfect, especially at the spur-of-the-moment because there are so many ways to go. Buttermilk, cream, rolled, drop, filled, drizzled, mile-high—all, when fresh baked and golden cannot fail.

An Herbed Cheddar Cheese Biscuit is fabulous with omelets, souffles or frittatas, Don’t hesitate to substitute 1 tablespoon fresh snipped chives for the dill – tis the season. Check out drop biscuit options at this site.

Don’t hesitate to go with old favorites like a cinnamon and raisin biscuit.

Sneak in chopped, drained fruit or toasted nuts in lieu of the raisins based on your company.

Then, prepare a glaze or drizzle to compliment.

How to make a glaze is a skill test kitchen pros are happy to share,

HOT TIME-SAVER TIP:  Prepare biscuit dough, cut biscuits and freeze (covered) on a sheet pan. Once frozen, pop individual biscuits into a freezer plastic bag. To bake: Preheat oven to 475°F. Bake frozen biscuits on sheet pan as usual for 8 minutes.  Turn off heat and leave in oven about 5 minutes, until golden. Serve with a freshly made Rhubarb-Strawberry jam.  There’ll be no need to preserve!

Savory includes pan, oven or grill-roasting fresh asparagus to simply top a

Rosemary Olive Oil bread.  Serve with cheeses, shaved meats or deviled eggs and fruit you’re done.

My new savory endeavor may just be a Breakfast Shakshukas, 

I think I’ll try prepping the dough and refrigerating it overnight to ease the schedule.

Sumptious sums up all breads shared from the National Festival of Breads competition.  These bakers pulled out all their skills and the flavor combinations, beautiful shapes and the aromas cannot be rivaled.  With sweet corn season coming soon in the south, tackle a Sweet Corn Blueberry Spiced Swirl Bread or any of the other savory or sweet beauties for your next brunch.

Bon Appetite!

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Bake for Locally Made Benefits

For all the cooks and bakers that have gone before me among family and friends, I doubt even one of them thought about their handiwork being “locally made,” or “earth-friendly.”  The carbon-reducing benefits of the “home chef” were tremendous as they put meals on the table from local food stores, gardens, 25 to 50-pound bags of flour, butter, eggs, a little sugar, salt and yeast.  Their hands-on approach meant a lot less plastic packaging and food transportation costs were involved per serving.  Earth Day was everyday. We can learn from them.

 First step: Choose to cook and bake simple foods to meet food needs.  The National Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Association provides their members caring for children and adults “away from home” fresh, healthy, cost-conservative, simple meal plans! Check out this just-launched micro-site   www.123mealplanning.com , recipes and more.

CACFP Meal Planning Guide

Second step: Build food skills, one recipe at a time.  Horace said:  “He/She who has begun is half done,” so start here!

You may start with a simple collection of Grilled Cheese specialties or “jiffy” breakfast, lunch or dinner recipes.

 Third step: Think like a “consumer scientist.”  Grab-and-go beverages, meals, and snacks can burn those hard-earned dollars rapidly, mount environmental waste, buzz past any possible family time and defer community get-togethers. Critically think about what you’re doing using the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, www.aafcs.org model.

My predecessors cooked three meals plus every day.  For our earth, family and communities, why not return “ready-to-eat” foods to the “once-a-week treat” category and “planning to cook or bake” to your daily calendar.  Getting Started 

 

 

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Today is Whole Grain Sampling Day

What if there were one day when, everywhere you went, there were opportunities to try delicious whole grain foods?

You’d stop into the cafeteria at your workplace, and you’d be offered a taste of quinoa salad. Your teenager would duck into a quick-serve restaurant, and they’d ask, “Would you like that on a whole grain wrap, instead of the usual bun?” In the park downtown, a food company would be passing out granola bars to joggers. At dinner, as you serve whole grain pasta to your family, your fourth-grader would report about the whole grain pizza in her school lunch.

Check out the Oldways Whole Grains Council video below, to get inspired about Whole Grain Sampling Day.

Check out some of these great whole grain recipes from the Home Baking Association:

Whole Wheat Sticky Bun Pumpkin Muffins

White Whole Wheat Carrot Cake

Whole Grain Blueberry Muffins

White Whole Wheat Muffins

How Can You Celebrate Whole Grain Sampling Day in Your School/Community?

■ Highlight Existing Whole Grain Menu Items! There’s no need to create new menu items – unless of course you want to. Since you’ve already got delicious whole grain dishes on your menu—feature those!

■ Sample Some New Whole Grain Items Whole Grain Sampling Day is a great time to let kids taste some new whole grain items you may be planning to introduce. Especially for elementary kids: provide whole grain stickers to everyone who tries your new whole grain item.

■ Create Educational Games Take a pointer from other schools, and get creative with nutrition games and races that get kids excited about whole grains. We’ve included examples on the following page. We can also supply you with stickers, posters, handouts and more! Brainstorm with us now.

■ Invite Parents to a Tasting Event Kids will get more whole grains at home if you make sure their parents know about the whole grain foods kids love. Plan a tasting event for them, at morning drop-off time, after school, or in the evening.

Learn more about Whole Grain Baking with this very informative resource from the Home Baking Association.

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Educator Award Deadline is March 31st

More information, click here

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Meet Katie Brouwer! 2017 Educator Award Recipient!

Katie Brouwer, Roland Story High School, Story City, IA received the 2017 Educator Award.  Brouwer was a first year family & consumer sciences educator at Story High School. Brouwer’s winning lesson “The Muffin Man & the Healthy Kids Act” engaged students in problem-based learning to create a Healthy Kids Act approved muffin. Students researched substitutions; analyzed nutrition; and evaluated the product.  Brouwer received $1,000.  She and her husband attended the October Home Baking Association meeting in New Orleans, LA.

The Home Baking Association annually recognizes baking educators!  Anyone providing baking lessons, activities for the classroom, afterschool and community programs should enter the 2018 program.  Entry deadline is March 31.  The winning entrant will receive $1,000 and a trip for two to the 2018 Home Baking Association meeting September 30-October 2 at the Resort at Squaw Creek, Olympic Valley, California!  All entrants will receive teaching resources!

More details at HomeBaking.org!

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Celebrate Bake and Take Month this March

The simplest baked item made and delivered by you is therapy for all these days.  In Kansas this practice became “Bake and Take Day” more than 40 years ago, launched as an opportunity to celebrate relationships with friends and family.

Now a national promotion and celebrated throughout March, the Kansas Wheat Commission is teaming up with the Home

Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins

Baking Association to promote Bake and Take Month. “The purpose of Bake and Take Month is to encourage participants to bake a product made from wheat and take it to a neighbor, friend or relative,” said Cindy Falk, nutrition educator of Kansas Wheat and coordinator of Bake and Take Month.  “The personal visit to members of your community is as rewarding and important as the baked goods you take.”

We do so much “virtually” these days, it makes this personal touch even more priceless.  Five “takes” to tailor your baked item to the recipient include

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Bake for Family Fun Month

The virtual distractions are many these days, and I know more than a few parents concerned their children will become “screenagers.” The fear is real, with children, teens and many adults spending as much as 9 hours daily on phones, video games, computers and virtual entertainment.

Baking

  • can be a catalyst and a perk for children, teens, and adults to move from virtual to actual. Check out just a few of the benefits on Why Bake?
  • may start with a virtual recipe (go to a baking test kitchen) or “how-to” videos—Baking Tips, and the Kitchen Reference
  • is no fun unless it moves to actual production of something tasty, nourishing or to celebrate.
  • has all neurons firing and bodies moving to read the recipe, “mis en place” ingredients, measure, mix and portion, serve, package and CLEAN UP
  • grows true self-esteem by building essential life skills. Post a baker a “check list”  to show expanding expertise!

Getting started may be the toughest part.  Why not plug four “kitchen meetings” into your February calendar and let Bake for Family Fun Month’s weekly hot links help you dedicate time and ingredients to a baking tradition in your family.

Build solid baking practices.

  1. Review Safe Kitchen details together.
  2. Bust a baking myth
  3. Take One Minute and view Did you Know
  4. Post on your fridge, and apply, the Baking Food Safety Guide

Once the masterpieces are rolling out of the oven or off the griddle, DO go virtual! Share what’s actually baking at #HomeBaking or @HomeBaking!

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Home-Baked Hygge

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My half-Norwegian mother is smiling at the swirl of interest in “hygge” (pronounced hoo-guh).  She was a master at home made simple pleasures that are the roots to kinship and comfort.  We could all use a few hygge tools in our kit right now.  I think my mom would endorse these five hygge hints to ease the holiday hectic:

 #5:  Prep a hot beverage mix, then use it. Choose something with warm milk, less caffeine, chocolate and herbs for a little calm. I love hot cocoa mix:  Whirl in your food processor until powdery:  ½ cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 3 oz. roughly chopped semi-or bittersweet chocolate, ½ cup baking cocoa (Dutched cocoa is a deeper flavor), ¼ teaspoon vanilla or almond extract, and a pinch of salt.   Store in an airtight jar and use 3 tablespoons mix per medium mug of heated milk or water.  Thank you @smittenkitchen!

Love your coffee too? Unwind with friends with a decaf version of C&H Sugar’s Toffee Coffee.

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#4: Employ lavender’s magic. After holding your breath all day working the lists, breathe in one of HBA’s Writer’s Guild pro Nancy Baggett’s Lavender Place recipes Culinary lavender’s comforts range from sweet honey-spice snickerdoodles, to savory herbed popcorn for starters.

#3: Break down prep time…try making dough and freezing ready-to-bake. Just thinking, you might have time to get the dough made…but no time to bake! HBA member test kitchens lead the way on how to freeze cookie, yeast and scone dough to pop in the oven at any time.  Try this Freeze and Bake Scones example

 #2:  Drop, don’t roll.  For some of us, rolling out dough of ANY kind is challenging. Go with a drop or “scoopable” version —there are many sweet and savory options!  Butternut Softies are a great holiday fruit and nut drop cookie and Drop Biscuits are naturally comfort food.

Batterway-Whole-Wheat-Bread-compressed

 #1:  Often, eat simply.  Try a whole grain batter yeast bread served with a favorite veggie, lentil or bean soup and soak in the comfort of home.

Even these Top Five cannot guarantee coziness, simple pleasures and kinship when you focus on them alone. Include someone in one of these gifts, and hygge will come quickly to your heart and hearth!

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Easy Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

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Rolled sugar cookies ready for decorating. With a new method for mixing there’s no need to soften the butter or chill the dough before cutting out cookies!

This great recipe was provided by Land O’Lakes. Go to http://www.Landolakes.com for more holiday recipes.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup cold butter cut into chunks
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

How to make

  1. STEP 1Heat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. STEP 2Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in small bowl; set aside.
  3. STEP 3Place sugar and cold butter into bowl of heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat at medium speed until well combined. Add egg, vanilla, and almond extract; beat until well mixed. Gradually add flour mixture, beating at low speed until just combined.
  4. STEP 4While removing dough from bowl, knead to incorporate crumbs and form a smooth dough. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness.
  5. STEP 5Cut into shapes with 2 1/2-inch cookie cutter. Place onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes or until just beginning to brown around edges. Cool on cookie sheet 2 minutes; remove to cooling rack. Cool completely.

Tip #1

If planning to cut with intricate cutters, chill dough 30 minutes before rolling and cutting. This ensures your cookies will hold their detailed shape.

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Super Fudgy Raspberry-Lavender Brownies

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Brownies are one of America’s best baking inventions. They first turned up, without any fanfare, in the 1906 edition of Fannie Farmer’s The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book.  No, Mrs. Farmer’s brownies did not contain lavender.  But they were rich, dark, and full of chocolate flavor, so she got us off to a very good start!

These are in Mrs. Farmer’s classic brownie style (no chocolate chips, no cheesecake swirls, no icing), but with a surprising and enticing taste twist provided by raspberry jam and lavender. They are fruity and nearly as rich and deeply chocolaty as fudge—also a very good thing!

  • Tip: The baking time depends greatly on the pan used, so check frequently for signs of doneness. In a heavy, dull metal pan that absorbs and holds heat readily, the brownies may be done in only about 20 minutes. But a glass or shiny metal pan they may take up to 8 minutes longer. Use the toothpick test to tell.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup raspberry jam or preserves combined with 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons dried culinary lavender buds
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose white flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 11 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, broken up or coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon raspberry extract or homemade lavender extract, optional
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  1. Heat the jam-water mixture and butter almost to boiling in a small saucepan, then set aside. Stir in the lavender buds and let stand while readying the other ingredients.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9- by 13-inch baking pan with heavy aluminum foil; let it overhang the narrow ends. Grease or coat the foil with nonstick spray or cooking oil.
  3. In a medium bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, cocoa powder and salt; set aside.
  4. Strain the butter mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a large saucepan; press down to force through as much of the mixture as possible.
  5. Stir the sugar into the saucepan. Heat, stirring, just until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot but not boiling; don’t worry if it looks curdled or oily.
  6. Remove it from the heat.
  7. Add the chocolate, stirring until completely melted.
  8. Set aside until cooled to just slightly warm (if the mixture is hot, the eggs may curdle when added).
  9. Stir the vanilla and raspberry or lavender extract (if using) into the pan.
  10. Vigorously stir in the eggs one at a time.
  11. Stir in the dry ingredients just until the batter is evenly blended.
  12. Turn out the batter into the baking pan, spreading to the edges.
  13. Bake (middle rack) for 20 minutes, then begin frequently testing for doneness: When the center top is barely firm when tapped and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean except for the bottom 1/8-inch (which will look wet), the brownies are done.
  14. Transfer the pan to a wire rack.
  15. Let stand until cooled to warm, about 20 minutes, then, for easiest cutting, refrigerate until chilled.
  16. Using the overhanging foil as handles, carefully transfer the brownie slab to a cutting board.
  17. If desired, trim away the uneven edges using a large, sharp knife. Cutting through the foil, cut the slab in half crosswise. Carefully peel off and discard the foil from the bottoms.
  18. Cut each brownie slab into 2 1/8 by 2 1/4-inch bars, or as desired; remember they are very rich. Wipe the knife clean with damp paper towels between cuts.
  19. Stored airtight, the brownies will keep well for 2 or 3 days. They also freeze well for up to a month. If freezing, leave the brownie slab whole, then cut into portions when partially thawed.

Makes 32  2 1/8- by 2 1/4-inch bars.

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