Do you have a favorite quote that you return to again and again? What is it, and why does it move you?
I have three quotations posted in my kitchen:
1. A woman’s environment will speak for her life, whether she likes it or not. — Edith Wharton
2. No mean woman can cook well, for it calls for a light head, a generous spirit, and a large heart. –Paul Gauguin
3. There is always a best way of doing everything. — R.W. Emerson
I am a bit of a slob by nature but I enjoy tidy rooms. That is a big part of why I have the Edith Wharton quote in my kitchen. I may look up at it and say to myself clean up the mess around you, do you really want someone to see and say this clutter is who you are.
I enjoy cooking, especially baking. I came of age during a time when ‘domestic skills’ were not valued much. Women were quick (and proud) to say they were working and did not have time to cook etc. For me the Paul Gauguin quote makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. It reassures me it is indeed of value to be a homebody instead of a high-powered “killer” woman. (Please do not think I do not admire women who have devoted the bulk of their life to professional accomplishments. I do. I for a time thought my profession would be primary outlet and source of pride but I quickly found it not to be the right path for me.)
There are many ways to do most things but I have since a young age felt that there was one correct choice to be made admist many wrong ones. I really do understand it is not so in truth but I still like the sentiment behind the R.W. Emerson quote. And it my kitchen it can make me think what is the best way for me to accomplish a task. Maybe should I take the time to chop veggies by hand or maybe they be fine thrown into the food processor for a particular recipe.
I have been on a cornbread kick this winter. The bread pictured above is a Maple Cornbread variation of the Cornbread recipe found on pp. 556-557 of the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Cookbook.
But I am going to devote the rest of this post to another recipe.
I have always loved cornbread but until sometime last fall I was not happy with the recipes I had tried. Guess what turned things around for me — the recipe on the back of the Quaker Corn Meal canister called Easy Corn Bread. I make two or three little tweaks to recipe depending on whether I am making just for myself or to share. For just me I substitute roughly half of the All Purpose Flour with Whole Wheat Pastry Flour. I skip the sugar all together and use just a packet or two of a stevia product like SweetLeaf or truvia. My final substitution is to use buttermilk in place of the regular milk. I usually bake this recipe in a preheated 8-inch iron skillet.
As you see from the shapes of cornbread above I am lucky to have a iron cornstick mold that was pasted down to me. I don’t pull it out all that often as it needs to be really well-greased in order to release the bread. But it gives eye appeal and a crispy exterior. If you want to do a small cornbread portion then a mini muffin pan works great. They are very useful for a finger food buffet when split and served with cream cheese and smoked salmon.
I may not like everything about my 20th & 21st century lifestyle but I am very thankful it has made me exempt from open heart cooking.
Tender baked goods depend on not over mixing once you add your flour. This batter for pistachio & orange cookies called for creaming the butter & sugar, beating in the eggs, then folding in the flour & other dry ingredients. Over working the flour would activate the gluten, making the cookies tough. This principle is especially important when making muffins & other quick breads. It also applies to creating flaky biscuits.
Come Thanksgiving the main object of the feast will be the turkey. I will not be cooking that day, but this afternoon I put two plump roasting chickens into my oven. This is how they looked coming out:
I like to be able to refer to my collection of cookbooks even if an online search yields quicker results.
Not all of my cookbooks are on these shelves, but these are my favorites. I have others tucked away in a cupboard.
A midweek grocery buy waiting to be unpacked from identical reusable bags. (Thank you Martha — with the addition of contact covered cardboard on the bottom these fee-bees they have become my husband’s favorites.)
What is the purpose of miniature chocolate chips? I guess they would melt faster. I do prefer them in brownies to their full size cousins.
No one is indispensable, or so the saying goes. And I usually agree. But when someone arrives a little bit late for lunch because they took the time to pick you some of the last flowers of the season & has the good sense to have them all arranged in a pickle jar (so you don’t have to run looking for a vase or worry about returning their container) I must say their thoughtfulness is rather indispensable. If the same person cheerfully stays nearly 2 hours after the gathering to do the dishes for a party of 10, gathers & shakes out all the linens, and would do even more if you were to think of it, well that person is indispensable. (One of those good friends I mentioned in another post that I do not have a photo of.)