Preserved Lemons…the Beginning

 

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I heard about preserved lemons on a cooking show a few weekends back and felt motivated to try them.  Basically, you put lemons and salt in a jar with lots of lemon juice and let it sit for one month.  My kind of recipe!!  The radio talk show host discussed in length all the different things you could do with preserved lemons and the juice: marinades, salad dressings, sauces, sprinkle it on chicken or potatoes, etc.  I was intrigued and decided to try it.  I found many recipes on how to construct this apparently life changing stuff, and in the end went with this one from the radio show that I was listening to when I first heard of them.  I liked the idea of “sil gris” (or gray sea salt) over regular salt.  Made me feel special to use such a fancy ingredient (doesn’t take much to impress me!).  My dad picked this up at All Spice for me…$8 for a big bag (I used about half).Lemons4

I did not add the optional Juniper Berries because I have no idea what they are or where to get them….and I didn’t want them to go to waste should this incredibly simple recipe not turn out how I hope (which may very well be the case – since I am one of those “the easier it is, the more likely I am to mess it up” people).  So far, preserved lemons = easy as can be!

Step 1: Wash lemons.

Lemons1Step 2: Cut the tips off the lemons.

Lemons2Step 3: Cut each lemon into quarters lengthwise, leaving them attached at one end.

Lemons3Step 4: Pack lemons with salt (sel gris if you prefer to feel fancy).

Lemons5Step 5: Cram them into a jar and fill with lemon juice until lemons are covered. Seal jar.

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Step 6: Wait 4 weeks, agitating daily and adding more juice, should the lemons become exposed.

*tick tock tick tock*

My note on this recipe so far are this:

1) Get more than 8 lemons if you use the same side jar that I did.  I crammed about 8 lemons in the jar, but used the juice of another 5 lemons to fill the jar.

2) Pick lemons that are more long and narrow than round and fat.  I had a hard time getting mine into the jar, so I cut some of them in half and shoved them in.  I hope this doesn’t completely ruin the whole thing! (But how could it really?)

4) If you have any little cuts on your hands for whatever reason, you might want to slap on a pair of rubber gloves first!

Anyone ever cooked with this stuff before?  I’m dying to hear some first hand accounts. 🙂

 

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Wordless Wednesday: I’m New Here

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Easy and Impressive Stuffed Brownies

It’s snowing outside.  I was panicked about what to do yesterday with a squirrelly 2 year old, so we baked these:OreoBrownies1

 

Yes…its snowing so we baked.  And Yes, it’s May 3rd and there is a blizzard going on.  We are having the most bizarre weather here in Iowa!!  This is what we were doing on Monday (normal for this time of year)…

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And this is what it looks like outside today…

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I am regretful about jumping the gun and planting my garden last weekend when it was 75 degrees and sunny, but luckily I have a raised garden bed that can be moved into the garage for such strange occasions.  My herbs are very sad without sunshine!  And so am I…and so are my kids.  Just when I thought cabin fever was clear for take off, it’s back in full force.

So, I bake.

And I thank the blogging gods for Sally.

Just when I get bored with a recipe, she swoops in with a tastey twist on something simple and it makes my day.  She posted these brownies a while back.  Her method : put Oreo’s inside your brownies before you bake them (she added frosting, too, but I left that out).OreoBrownies2

 

Do you have a box of brownie mix?  Do you have 12 oreos?  Then make these.  Now.  It’s easy!

  • After you make the batter, pour half into your prepared pan.
  • Add a layer of Oreo’s.
  • Cover with the rest of the batter.
  • Bake.

Easy and they impress your friends (just don’t tell them how easy they are).  OreoBrownies3

 

The cookies get really soft and fudge-like as the brownies bake.  The brownies come out fudgy as can be and the cookies add another dimension to the already delicious chocolate flavor.  You could also do a homemade brownie recipe with these if you have guilt about using a box mix, but over achieving is hardly in my vocabulary lately!

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Wordless Wednesday: Do You Hear What I Hear?

Wordless Wednesday: Do You Hear What I Hear?

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Wordless Wednesday: Around the Farm

 

 

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New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I believe everyone has a Holy Grail of some sorts in their life – you know, something they chase after but never seem to find.  For me that is the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe.  There are so many out there with so many different ingredient options!  I stumbled up on this recipe for New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies yesterday (let’s be honest, there was no stumling – it was Pinterest).  I was intrigued by the specific ingredient measurements (like 1 cup of flour minus 1 tablespoon), so I decided to give this recipe a try.  Sure glad I did, too.  I’m dubbing it “Damn Near The Most Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe.”

Why, you ask?  The use of coarse sea salt gives them that extra layer of flavor.  Who doesn’t like a little sweet and salty?  The use of cake flour AND bread flour (no all purpose here!) makes them chewy with a crisp bottom and refrigerating it for 24 hours (or just overnight if you’re  like me and have no patience) really keeps the dough from spreading into huge flat cookies upon baking.  Have I mentioned that they taste incredible?  Because they do.  They taste exactly like I would expect “Damn Near The Most Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie” to taste.  And so did the cookie dough.

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Print out this recipe (from the original site, Baked By Rachel) and make sure you purchase both bread flour and cake flour before embarking on this recipe.  My tip on shopping: look for cake flour in a box, not a bag.  It took me 2 trips to the store the first time I needed cake flour because I failed to look for a box of flour the first time.

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Next impossible task…keeping cookie dough in the refrigerator for 24 hours without doing this repeatedly…

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Which is why I made mine yesterday around 2:30pm and baked them this morning at 9:30.  Cookies came out fine and I didn’t eat more than one or two cookies worth of dough while waiting (to be fair, I was very busy yesterday evening).  I also got lazy and didn’t roll my cookies into balls as instructed by the recipe.  Bristol (my darling 3 month old daughter who is down and out with some bug or another right now) fell asleep in my arms and I didn’t want to risk setting her down and waking her.  So, I only had one hand to make the cookie balls with.  This cheater method (my favorite cookie helping tool, a large scooper) worked just fine, although I had to let the dough get a little softer before I could dig into it.

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Simply put, these cookies are worth a go round if you feel like trying a little bit of a different method for baking Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I personally managed not to muck it up too badly, which speaks volumes. 🙂

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Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookie Trial

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If you can’t tell from recipes I’ve posted, I enjoy baking.  Bread, cookies, cakes and so on.  So, you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that I go crazy trying recipes I find on Pinterest.  While scanning through my pinned recipes yesterday, I stumbled upon and amazing baking blog, Sally’s Baking Addiction.  I was instantly sucked in by her amazing photos, creative recipes and use of sprinkles in almost every recipe.  I immediately located all the sprinkles I had in my baking cabinet, selected a recipe and began baking.

 Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies were my maiden recipe from this blog.  Good decision.  The thing I like about Sally’s blog is that she creates, tests and photographs all of her own stuff.  Originality definitely pays off because the incorporation of cake mix into these cookies makes them totally irresistible.  Trust me…I’ve eaten 2 since I started writing this.  I can only imagine how crazy amazing the rest of her concoctions are.

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I made the cookie batter, subbing in shortening for butter.  Using the recommended technique of rolling the cookie dough taller rather than wider, I piled huge globs of cookie dough onto my parchment lined sheet.  They looked so beautiful in their doughy glory…sprinkles and all!

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Unfortunately, this is what they came out looking like.  Delicious, but hardly photo worthy.

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So, I put less cookies on the sheet, still using tall balls.  Same outcome.

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I guess these cookies are happier in a crowd! However, I accept full responsibility for this small flub in cookie baking.  Here’s what I should have done differently:

1) Followed the recipe and used butter instead of shortening!

2) Not used so much cookie dough for each cookie.  I guess I was greedy and wanted huge cookies so I could tell myself that eating only 1 cookie would be enough (which it wasn’t anyway, due to the deliciousness of these hummers!)

3) Use parchment paper!  I got lazy with my last 4 cookies and threw them directly on the cookie sheet.  Bad idea.

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Aesthetics aside, let me tell you…these cookies are to die for!  They really do taste like cake mix, the texture is more chewy than a regular chocolate chip cookie and the sprinkles that I thought were only for decoration actually add a second tiny crunch to each bite.  How come I never tried this before?  Party in your mouth, I tell you.  Party. In. Your mouth.

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So, the take home message here (besides to follow directions) is to check out Sally’s Blog, try this recipe, try her other recipes (and report back to me!) and buy some sprinkles.  If you are suffering from dreary weather as we are here in Iowa, your day could probably benefit from some sprinkly (is that a word?), fun, deliciousness!

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