Eat good food and share!

Posts tagged ‘Baking’

Proofing Bread Dough

A reader has asked me to further explain the term “proofing” used in my post Honey White Bread.

In my own words, proofing is the second rising of your dough. It works better at a warm temperature, so many cooks proof their bread dough in a warm (not very warm though!) oven.My oven has a proofing feature, so it does the work for me. However, if your oven doesn’t have that feature, merely turn your oven on for a few moments, then turn it off. This should make the temperature inside your oven around 100 degrees F… perfect for proofing your bread dough.

Also, please take a look at this video which further explains “proofing.”


The Chestnut Cafe – Earlham

As many of you probably know, I live in a small town. A *real* small town. So when I was at the grocery store yesterday and picked up our local paper, imagine my surprise upon reading that a new cafe had opened up in Earlham (125 S Chestnut Ave.), and had totally flown below my radar!  I not only felt scooped, but pretty oblivious as well. So bright and early this morning, I ventured uptown to check it out. Janet at the grocery store let me know that the hours are 6:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., and that they served breakfast until 11:00, so I decided to do breakfast.

The outside of The Chestnut Cafe is much the same as other businesses in town. It is housed in a turn-of-the-century building with a brick facade and BIG windows. I stepped inside and was greeted first by a gorgeous interior. Authentic pressed tin ceiling, white plaster walls and black and white photographs of things small town people and farmers like. A lot. Old well pumps, a barbed wire fence and fencepost. Very classy. Like a piece of Court Avenue in Earlham!

The owner of The Chestnut Cafe, Michele Brant, greeted me warmly. I ordered from their breakfast pastry menu… a cinnamon roll and a diet Coke, please. I introduced myself and asked about doing a blogpost. Ms. Brant came over, sat down with me and chatted for a few minutes. I already love this place!

Michele and her mother Beverly Mills run the cafe, as well as taking orders for baked goods (*see below). Bev is known in the Des Moines area for her Bev’s Cakes. A trip to Bev’s website told me that she uses the freshest ingredients possible, and can make any occasion cake… wedding, birthday, anniversary, graduation, and any kind of “fun” cake you can imagine! (And they love Elvis!)

A few hours later in the day, I was feeling the need for a little something to eat, so I went back to the cafe for lunch. They have a create-your-own style sandwich menu, along with the soup of the day and several (non-fried) side dishes. My sandwich was very good, as was the camaraderie. I can see The Chestnut Cafe filling a social meeting-place need in Earlham. I ran into several people I knew during breakfast and also lunch. That makes me happy and kind of nostalgic, because the location of the cafe used to be the beauty salon… also a social meeting place (of sorts) back in the day. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!

*Baked goods available to order – Muffins, Cinnamon rolls, Scones, Cookies, Bars and Cupcakes

Comfort food

Recently I had an irresistible urge for comfort food. However, I didn’t feel like putting much effort into said food, either. So… I decided this would be an ideal time to check out the free items that the people at Mrs. Cubbison’s recently sent me for review.

The meat loaf was super-easy. I purchased approx. 2 1/2 lb. hamburger and mixed it with the meat loaf mix. All you have to do is mix some water into the meat loaf mix, but I was pretty sure I could handle that.

Next, mix ground meat with the wet meat loaf mix… put it into a baking pan and bake! As simple as that! They called for the meat loaf to be baked for one hour, but I usually bake my meat loaf a little longer than most recipes call for. I like the crispy crunchy end pieces! Also, I put (gasp) ketchup on top of the meat loaf before baking. I like it, and it’s not a sin… so… do it!

With meat loaf safely inside the warm oven, I decided to go all-out and make some “instant” stuffing, too. Again, the idea germinated because the box of Mrs. Cubbison’s was sitting on the counter screaming at me to make it. Holy cow. One of the recipes to make the “instant” stuffing called for more butter than anybody should eat in a week! So. Of course I used that version! I did have to chop up onions and celery for the stuffing but hey… the promise of stuffing made with a bucket of butter is a great motivator to chop and dice!

Ingredients –
2 – 6 oz. bags Mrs. C’s Seasoned Dressing
1 cup melted butter
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 c. broth or water

Combine dressing with butter and vegetables (if desired, you may saute vegetables in butter until transparent prior to combining with the dressing). Stir liquid in gradually, blend lightly and spoon into a 3 qt. greased casserole dish. Bake covered 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove cover and bake 5 to 10 minutes longer for a crisp top.

That’s it! Eat your warm comfort food and try not to think about all that butter. I dare you.

Birthday party!

Cover of "Back to the Future - The Comple...

Cover via Amazon

My kids gave me a small birthday party last night. I don’t really have any recipes to share, but… it WAS a food adventure! So I thought I would share the experience with my readers.

My middle daughter, Niki, has bragged about her boyfriend’s sushi-making abilities, so I asked if Mr. Smith would make sushi… and… he did! While we (we being me and my girls, Heather, Niki and Miya) were in the living room watching Back to the Future, Mr. Smith (aka Ryan) was slaving away in the kitchen making us sushi.

I *did* find out what “fillings” Mr. Smith used… he had sliced mango, avocado and cucumber as well as smoked salmon and cream cheese. We asked for various combinations of the above, and promptly ate them. Actually, “promptly ate them” isn’t reallly accurate. Swooped like a bunch of vultures is more accurate.

After several sushi rolls, Ryan was finally able to come into the living room and socialize. That didn’t last long. Ryan and Miya decided that it would be really fun to race remote control cars through the living room while the rest of us were watching the second movie. It was noisy, crazy, and I loved it!

Presents were ALL food-related. Naturally. A coffee pot, coffee grinder, coffe! and Julia Child’s book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

After presents, I managed to borrow Ryan’s computer and check my email. Lo and behold! Two in one day! I had an email notifying me that my request to receive Hearst grass-fed flank steaks for review have been approved! So… that will also be an upcoming blogpost!

Finally, it was time for cake. Or rather, cupcakes. Niki went to our family’s favorite Des Moines (Windsor Heights) bake shop, the Bake Shoppe. No, the name isn’t terribly creative BUT the baked goods are! Their champagne cakes and cupcakes are incredible! Needless to say, those didn’t last long either.

Before we knew it,  all three movies were over and it was time to go home. A memorable foodie birthday for me! Thanks kids!

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