Monday, June 28, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I’ll be busy getting ready for a big garage sale this week, but we still have to eat! Here’s what’s on the menu:

  • Meatloaf; Pan fried okra
  • Fajitas; Spanish Rice
  • Chicken in foil with Pasta (a rollover from last week)
  • Pork (not sure how I’m going to cook it…); Brown rice; Cream peas

I’m hoping for a little more inspiration to come up with at least one more meal, but since we won’t be home Friday night or Saturday for lunch, we’ll just have to see how it goes!

Have a great week!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Cooling Off

Tuesday evening, Travis and I were outside planting flowers in the front bed. To keep Elizabeth cool and from picking off all of the flowers, we set up her little pool in the front yard where we were working.

She decided that this was the perfect opportunity to sit in the pool and enjoy a half-ripe tomato. She ate it like an apple, eating around the core that was still a little tough for her. Too bad that was our one nice looking tomato! I had meant for it to make it inside the house whole so it could ripen fully. Elizabeth had other plans!

Oh, well. At least it got eaten!







Thursday, June 24, 2010

Poppy Seed Rolls

We love poppy seed rolls, so for Travis’ birthday, I made rolls instead of a cake. After searching high and low for a great dough recipe, I think I found “The One”!

Granny and Papa gave Kate a dough recipe that they had been using and she gave it to me to try. It is a fantastic dough! I’ve tried many recipes and this one just works so well for me. It is neither too wet or too dry and does not make an unmanageable amount of dough. When I say unmanageable, I mean I’ve tried recipes that make six dozen kolaches. Way too many for us!

This recipe makes two nice size rolls and the dough stays nice and moist for a few days after baking. Making rolls or kolaches does take a time commitment, but it is well worth the work! You know, I just realized that a lot of what I do takes a “time commitment”…from now on, I think “time commitment” is just understood unless otherwise noted!

The full recipes for the dough and the filling are at the bottom of the post. Let’s get started!


You’ll need yeast, warm water, milk, butter, sugar, salt, egg yolks, and flour.

Yeast and Milk Prep

Mix the yeast into the warm water and set aside to activate. Heat the milk until it is just boiling. Cut the butter into smaller pieces for easy melting.

Milk Mixture

Once the milk has just begun to boil, take it off of the heat, add the butter, and stir until the butter is all dissolved. Then add the sugar and salt and stir until that is all dissolved. Let the mixture cool.

Tempering Eggs

Place the egg yolks into a bowl (at least an 8 cup bowl) and slightly beat. Add the milk/butter/sugar mixture a little at a time to the eggs, beating constantly. (The beating constantly is not such a big deal if your milk has cooled to near room temperature, but it is still good to take the time to do it anyway.) Add the water/yeast to the egg/milk mixture and stir to combine.

Adding Flour

Add half of the flour into the dough and stir until well combined. This takes a little time and some elbow grease. When the first half is completely incorporated, add the remaining flour and mix again.

Oil or grease a bowl, place the dough in and turn so the dough is completely greased. This will keep the dough from sticking so much to the bowl while rising and when you need to turn it out.

Place into a warm place until it has doubled in size. Roughly one hour. My house does not have a good “warm place” so I preheat my oven to 200F and then turn it off. I place a shallow pan of boiling water in the oven on the lower rack and put my bowl of dough in on the top rack. It does a very nice job of proofing. Just remember to take out the water before you bake!


While your dough is rising, it’s time to make the filling! You’ll need ground Poppy Seed, milk, sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla.

Grinding Poppyseed

Travis does a good job of grinding Poppy Seed for me. He’s much better at watching the consistency of the grind than I am. The seeds should be just cracked to release their flavor and oils, they don’t have to be completely ground into a paste.

Cooking Poppy Seed

Boil your milk and add the Poppy Seed, sugar, and cornstarch. I have found that the cornstarch dissolves and “acts” much better when it is mixed in with the sugar. So do that!

Cook until the filling is thick.

Cool down to room temperature…or very close to it! I use an ice bath to cool down my filling when I don’t have time to wait on it to cool down naturally.

Once the filling has cooled, add the vanilla, stir, and use!


Meanwhile, back in your warm place, dough is rising. One reason I like to use a large measuring bowl is so you can clearly see when you have reached double. My dough was just at 4 1/2 cups before rising which means it needs to be around 9 cups before I can call it doubled. This is just right!

Prepping Dough

Turn your dough out onto a floured surface. Knead a few times until the dough is a little more elastic and then cut into half for two rolls.

Rolling and Buttering

Take one half of the dough and roll out into a rectangular-ish shape. Brush the dough with melted butter.

Spreading Filling

Add filling to the buttered dough and spread evenly. Please, make sure that you get dough all the way to the edge of the roll. No one likes to get the end with no filling!

Rolling up with Filling

Now you are ready to roll! Roll the dough over the filling and place seam side down on the baking sheet. Either grease the baking sheet first or line it with parchment paper. Butter the top of the roll.

Repeat with the other half of the dough. The best part about making two rolls at the same time is that they don’t have to have the same filling! You could make it cream cheese, apple, apricot…the choices are endless!

Before and After

Bake in a 350F oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. I like to turn the pan half way through the bake time so they brown evenly. Travis was sweet enough to put these in the oven for me because I had a meeting and I didn’t tell him to turn the pan. They turned out just fine anyway.


Once they have finished baking, let them cool down some and then serve! They’re gorgeous and good! I put some serving suggestions down at the end of the recipe for those who need a little topping!



Here’s the full recipe for the dough:

  • 1 package of yeast
  • 1/4 cup of warm water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter (cut into small cubes)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 egg yolks beaten
  • 4 1/4 cup flour
  1. Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water (~90F)
  2. Heat the milk until just boiling
  3. Add butter to the milk and stir until melted
  4. Add the sugar and salt and stir until dissolved
  5. Let the milk mixture cool and pour onto the beaten egg yolks a little at a time (this is to temper them so that they don’t cook)
  6. Add the water/yeast mixture to the egg/milk mixture
  7. Add half of the flour and stir in until well incorporated. Then add the other half and mix again.
  8. Place dough in a greased bowl, butter the top of the dough and cover with a towel. Set in a warm place (~100-120F) until dough has doubled in size.
  9. Turn out onto a floured surface. Knead a few times so it’s not sticky and then cut in half.
  10. Take one half and roll out into a rectangle-ish shape.
  11. Butter the rolled out dough.
  12. Spread the filling all over the dough.
  13. Roll.
  14. Place on a rimmed baking sheet either sprayed with non-stick spray or lined with parchment paper.
  15. Butter the top of the rolls
  16. Repeat steps 10-14 with the other half of the dough.
  17. Let the rolls rise in a warm place for 30 minutes or so.
  18. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. I like to turn the baking sheet half way through so they brown evenly.
  19. To Serve:
    1. Make a simple powdered sugar/milk icing and drizzle over the top;
    2. Butter again (lightly!) and sprinkle white sugar on the top;
    3. A little dollop of sweetened whipped cream;
    4. Serve plain!
  20. Enjoy…finally!


Here’s the recipe for the Poppy Seed Filling:

  • 2 cups ground Poppy Seed
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup boiling milk
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  1. Bring the milk to a boil
  2. Add the Poppy Seed, sugar and cornstarch.
    1. I have found that you have a much smoother filling if you mix the cornstarch and sugar together. My cornstarch, when added alone, tends to make hard lumps and does not do it’s thickening job.
  3. Cook until thick.
  4. Let cool to close to room temp. Room temp is best if you can wait.
  5. Stir in the vanilla.
  6. Use!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Plum Jam

This year, our tree made so many plums that we made a ton of jam. Other than pitting all of the plums (this was before I bought my plum pitter), making jam is quite simple.


When plums are ripe and ready, they tend to have a dull finish to their skin. And these had just come out of the fridge, so that’s why they look a little white; they’re just warming up.

Chopping Plums

Weigh out three pounds of plums; pit; and coarsely chop in a food processor.


To the chopped plums, add 1/2 cup of water. Bring this mixture to a boil and then turn down and simmer for 5 minutes.


After the plums have simmered, measure out 4 1/2 cups of the cooked plums.


Add the 4 1/2 cups of plums to 7 1/2 cups of sugar.


Bring to a full rolling boil on high heat; stirring constantly.


Once the sugar and plums are at a full rolling boil, add one pouch of Certo fruit pectin, return to a full boil rolling boil and boil for one minute, stirring constantly.


After one minute, remove from the heat and pour into prepared jars. Fill 1/8” from the top.


Prepare your lids and rings and then seal your jars.


Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.


After 10 minutes, remove the jars and place on a towel to cool overnight. Once the jars have cooled, check each lid to make sure that it has sealed. So far this year, all of my lids for jam have! (Knock on wood!)

Store in a cool, dark place and enjoy!

We’re on our first jar of Plum Jam and it is delicious!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Freezing Squash

There are times during the season where squash seems to produce like crazy in the garden. It’s these times where you just can’t eat enough squash to keep up with the plants and you’re not ready to throw it all out that you look to for the best way to store it for later.

For me, the best way to store squash is to freeze it. Travis loves squash casserole during the cooler months, and frozen squash is perfect for that.


I like to freeze yellow squash and zucchini together in the same bag. That way I’m not worried about keeping everything separate once the processing gets under way.

Wash the squash. I like to use a brush just to loosen up the dirt.


Then chop off the stem and blossom ends. The skin can get a little tough, so I like to take a peeler and “stripe” the squash so there’s not so much peel.


Slice into thick slices. My slices averaged 3/4”.


Blanch in boiling water for three minutes.


Drain and place into an ice bath to stop the cooking. I like to stir them around to make sure they all cool quickly.


After they’re cool, drain them from the ice water and place onto a towel to drain.


I like to dry them off a little more with another towel before I bag them.


Label your bags…


And fill…


Remove all of the air and seal. Then (for lack of a better word) squish the squash flat in the bag.


When they’re flat, they freeze faster and store in the freezer neater.

Freezing squash is a great way to use up some of your garden’s bounty and still have home-grown food in the freezer for winter!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

We weren’t home much last week, but we will be this week! So, even though I’m in a little bit of a culinary rut, here’s what we’re having this week:

  • Saucy Pork Chops; leftover brown rice; leftover cream peas; frozen dinner rolls
  • Rib-eye steak; Baked potatoes; Pan fried Okra
  • Hot Dogs; chips; fruit
  • Chicken in a foil package (I’m thinking of using the Shrimp and Pasta Dinner recipe and just substituting chicken. I bet it will turn out just as delicious!); Fresh tomatoes
  • Roast; Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Carrots (Sunday evening)

There, that should get us through the week nicely!

I hope you all have a great week!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Freezing Peas

Mmm, peas! Not only are these little gems delicious, but they’re super easy to store for the winter, too!


Last week, I worked on putting up black-eyed peas and purple hull peas. They are very similar in size and shape. Like the name implies, one has a black “eye” and the other a purple “eye” as well as a purple colored hull.

IMG_5968 These were all black-eyes. Their pods will turn a pale green/yellow when they’re ready to pick. You can see that I picked a few a little on the green side and some were missed and they’re a little on the dry side. They all freeze beautifully, though!

IMG_5974 The peas in their pod!


Now for the freezing part! After you shell the peas, give them a good wash to get them nice and clean.


Drop into a pot of boiling water and boil for two minutes.


Drain the peas from the boiling water and pour into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.


I like to give them a good stir to make sure they’re all cooling off.

IMG_5985  Drain the peas again and scoop into quart bags.  

IMG_5987 I put about four cups of peas into each bag. Then, squeeze out as much of the air as you can and seal. Flatten out the bag and lay flat in the freezer. Once they’re frozen, you can easily stack them in your freezer!

We love peas at our house! Cream peas in the summer and boiled peas with corn bread in the winter! Yum, yum.

Give peas a try in your garden. When it comes to garden plants, they’re at the top of my favorites list. Mostly because they’re easy to pick!