Sprung into Spring

Everyone is cleaning up their outside areas. Everyone except me.

Yard work is just not my thing.  I love a beautiful garden  but the gardening not very so much .  Too many old flower beds, too many weeds, too many nasty burdocks.

My solution? Snip the best blooms from my scraggly landscape and bring them inside where I can exercise a little more control.

I’m only a little bit better about tending to my vegetable plot.  Raised beds are heavenly.

But what is really on my mind is my suitcase.  After all the ruckus over the volcano and ash clouds it seems trans-Atlantic flights are getting back to normal.  That means a long planned trip will actually come to pass.

Good bye untidy yard.  Off soon to well kept British gardens!


Lemon Poppy Seed Tea Cakes

Back around Easter time, when I was feeling the urge for the tastes of childhood holidays past, I pulled  How Sweet It Is Without the Sugar off my cookbook shelf and thumbed through for something lemony.  Jean Wade’s recipe for Lemon-Poppy Seed Tea Loaf looked like a good option but I didn’t want to wait her 55 -80 minute baking time plus cooling time to dig into the product.  So I opted to use her recipe but to bake the batter in my silicone brioche molds.

They are made using the basic “muffin method” — dry ingredients in bowl one, wet in bowl two,

then combine with as few strokes as you can manage so they remain tender.  Spoon the batter into the molds.

The results are attractive, no?

I did learn, however, that they don’t so great right out of the oven. They are so much better the 2nd or even 3rd day.

I enjoyed them best split in half with  a  nice thick slice of ham on top.

Just looking at them makes me wish I had lemons & ham on hand!

Drop Biscuits with Cheese, Garlic, & Bay

I had never made a drop biscuit in my life but I found a recipe on Tasty Kitchen that inspired me to abandon all the years of seeing my Grammy & Aunt making rolled biscuits.  I try to add some whole grain to my baked goods but I don’t like making or eating hockey pucks so I opted for half & half.   I almost always take a “half & half” approach to the shorting/butter option in biscuits or pie crust.  I have come to love buttermilk biscuits over plain milk biscuits – another abandonment of family tradition.

I did not have any buttermilk on hand so opted for my favorite pantry stand in,  powdered buttermilk.  I mixed the powder with skim milk instead of water for a little extra richness. But yes fresh buttermilk would be better.

Here are the ingredients for my Cheese, Garlic, & Bay Drop Biscuits:

  • 1 cup A P Flour
  • 1 cup King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 1/4  teaspoons Salt
  • 1/2 scant teaspoon ground bay
  • 2 cloves Garlic,  chopped finely
  • 1 stick Smart Balance 50/50 Blend
  • 1 cup Buttermilk
  • 1 cup Cheddar Cheese, Grated

Sift  both flours, baking powder,  baking soda, salt, & ground bay into a medium-sized bowl.

Add the chopped garlic & Smart Balance, in thin slices.  Use a pastry blender to combine until the mixture is sandy with pea-sized chunks of fat.

Make a slight well in the center before pouring in the buttermilk.  Stir together lightly before adding the grated cheese.  Finish stirring everything together gently.

Drop onto a baking sheet to make 8 large biscuits.  (Part of the beauty of drop biscuits is you can keep coming back to even out the size of each biscuit.)

Bake in a preheated 375 F oven until golden brown on tops & bottoms, about 12-15 minutes.

To serve split & top with a dab of soft butter or smart balance spread.

Yum!  Husband approved!!

Simple Ham Salad

My favorite use for leftover ham, if I had some, is an easy ham salad.  I never really have leftover ham as I’m the only one in my house who eats ham.  Therefore I often buy a small piece of ham with the intent of  using half simply sliced and the other half for a mini batch of ham salad.  I cut the ham into chunks & place them in the bowl of a food processor.  I had a few cornichons (French for tiny sour gherkins)  and pulse until close to the texture I like.  Add mayo to taste, pulse to combine, then scrap out of processor bowl.  Then I discipline my myself to not eat the whole batch with a spoon before getting it into the refrigerator.

The homemade ham salad I remember from childhood would have been made with my Gram’s  bread & butter pickles.  I think the ham was probably ground with one of those meat grinders that you clamped to your counter or table top.  Some things change a little over xx years but my desire for ham salad in springtime does not.

Beyond Hope

I was enjoying the forsythia branches from my neighbor and had intentions of snapping a photo when they peaked.  It looks like I waited a bit too long.
Do you think I tossed out the branches, cleaned up the table, and washed the vase right after taking this photo?

Well if you are thinking YES guess again!

I promise that I will clean up everything right away.

Sure, you are smart enough now to know that if it was a priority I would have done it already. Two words describe my behavior: 1- lazy,  2-inertia.  Certainly no one else in blog-land is such a self-confessed slob.