Sunday, June 17, 2012

Summer Treats

Many have asked me, how do I come up with ideas each week for my blog postings. Well sometimes an idea will hit early in the week, giving me time to work on it all week long. Allowing for a smooth and easy to read posting. Other times it can be like a being hit by a freight train out of the blue, and entirely off of the cuff so to speak. Those tend to just flow out of me at the last minute, just in time for my deadline. Now the deadline that I've set for myself, is to be posted by Monday at 9pm EST of each week. That was my chosen deadline when I had Mondays off. Currently I work on Mondays, so now I'm trying to post by Sundays ~ Time will tell how long before my posting day will shift again. As to how the ideas come to me, I still do not know.

OK, let's get to the meat of this posting. It is June in the northern hemisphere, That means late Spring into early Summer. The days are getting longer and hotter. People are camping and hiking and biking and generally enjoying the outdoors a whole lot more. Now unless you have a summer kitchen (not many do anymore), then the kitchen in your house or apartment is really hot and sticky if you do much cooking. So Dad gets to barbecue a whole lot more. Here is a quick reference for summer kitchens, generally they are screened in gazebos with weather louvers that an be closed against the rain. Also they are usually located under a big shade tree. We had one back on the farm, not far from our garden. That way it could also be used as our harvest kitchen.

Well so much for a short and quick introduction. Ah well, I do like to talk. At any rate with temperatures rising, I thought that you all might enjoy some more of the recipes that I like in the summer time heat. Let's start with Crepes, shall we. Endless filling combinations inside of these paper thin pancakes, can make for a hearty breakfast or a light lunch or a satisfying evening meal, along with delectable desert possibilities. So here is your basic crepe shell batter:
Basic Crepe Batter
          1 cup all purpose flour
          2 eggs
          1/2 cup milk
          1/2 cup water
          1/4 teaspoon salt
          2 tablespoon butter - melted
          1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
          1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon (optional)
          1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
          1/8 teaspoon ground clove (optional)
 ~ In a large mixing bowl whisk together the eggs and flour. Gradually adding the milk and water, then add in the salt and butter and any flavorings, beat until smooth.
 ~ Heat a small griddle or skillet over medium high heat, while melting a tablespoon of butter in the skillet. Swirl it around to coat the hot surface, then pour off the excess and reserve. Now ladle about a 1/4 cup of the batter into the hot buttered skillet, tilt and gently swirl the batter in a circular motion until the crepe starts to set. 
 ~ Cook until bottom is light brown (1 - 2 minutes). Loosen with spatula and flip, cook other side about 1 minute. Turn out onto a warm plate and cover with cheese cloth. Now cook off the rest of your batter the same way, stacking each with cheese cloth for ease of use later. You should get about a dozen crepes. If you google crepe fillings and I think that you will be surprised by the number of response listings. The number that I got was 219,000 response hits. Now it's your turn, so have some fun.

Now for some really fun ones. That can be made up at home for snacks or trail energy boosts or maybe made by fire light when camping, instead of s'mores :
Peanut Butter Balls
          1/2 cup peanut butter - creamy
          1/2 cup honey
          1/2 cup crushed nuts - personally I use cashew halves and pieces ground in a blender
          3/4 cup wheat germ
          1/2 cup powdered milk
 ~ Mix all of the ingredients together in a large pot or bowl. Now pull out golf ball sized globs and roll into balls, then roll them in sprinkles packing them on. NOTE if these are made with kids around, when the last ball is fully coated ... then there may be no more left for you to nibble on. Better make a double batch. Enjoy.
Trail Mix Goop
          1/2 cup granola
          1/2 cup powdered milk
          1/4 cup brown sugar
          1/4 cup raisins
          1/2 cup finely chopped tropical trail mix
          1/2 cup chopped nuts - personally I use cashew halves and pieces ground in a blender
          1 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
          cooked white rice - well drained
 ~ Mix granola, milk, sugar, raisins, nuts, trail mix and peanut butter in a large pot. Slowly add a handful of well drained cooked rice to stiffen the dough - if still loose add more rice. Roll into golf ball sized balls, then coat with shredded coconut and shaved sweet bakers chocolate (white or dark). 
* If you want any of these ~ guard them well. Great for cycle touring. Enjoy.
Sweet Potato Tag-a-longs
 ~ Wash a number of sweet potatoes, some people peel them, I do not. Cut into strips of 1/2 inch thick, about an inch wide and 3 to 4 inches long, basically steak fries. Shallow fry these in a large skillet with 4 tablespoons each of olive oil (extra virgin) and butter. Toss the sweet potato steak fries in the combined hot oils to coat them, then fry them about 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Potatoes should be crispy outside and tender inside. Sprinkle with sweet potato seasoning (below). When cool place in double zip lock bags, great for a cycle touring light lunch. Enjoy.
Sweet Potato Tag-a-long Seasoning
          2 tablespoon brown sugar
          1 tablespoon Cinnamon
          1 teaspoon nutmeg
          1 teaspoon ground ginger
          1/2 teaspoon ground clove
          2 tablespoon salt
          1/4 teaspoon black pepper
 ~ Thoroughly mix all ingredients in a large bowl with a whisk. Then put in a shaker jar with a screw on lid. It is ready to use. NOTE - a few grains of uncooked white rice will maintain a dry mix - dry.
 * This is my seasoning mix, remember that recipes are not written in stone - to accommodate personal taste.
Almost Peanut Butter Cups
          1/4 cup butter
          3/4 creamy peanut butter
          1/2 pound powdered sugar
          3/4 cup ground Oreo cookies
          1 1/2 cup chocolate chips
 ~ Melt butter in a pot, mix in creamy peanut butter, sugar and ground Oreo cookies. Press into bottoms of a cupcake tin. Now melt chocolate chips and pour over the crust. Chill until firm ~ if you can wait that long.
Peanut Brittle (Cashew Brittle)
          1/4 cup butter
          1 1/2 cup sugar
          1/4 teaspoon salt
          2 cups dry roasted peanuts - personally I prefer dry roasted cashews
 ~ Melt the butter in a pot, dissolve the sugar in the butter. Stirring constantly because this mixture likes to burn. I like to use a whisk for this reason. You can tell when the mixture is ready by splattering the whisk over cold water, if little balls of candy form it's done. At this point stir in the peanuts (cashews). Cool immediately by placing the mixture in but not under cold water. What I like to do is to pour the mixture into a walled cookie sheet, then set in a larger walled cookie sheet that has cool running under and around the smaller pan. When cooled, dry the cookie sheet with your brittle in it and put it in the fridge for at least one hour. After which time remove your brittle and smack the flat of the cookie sheet on a hard surface, to break up your brittle. Enjoy.

There you go my friends, half a dozen recipes to tantalize and tickle your taste buds. You all should have noticed that if the recipe called for butter, I wrote butter. You can use margarine if you like, but butter tastes better and is better for you. So no matter what you do in the great outdoors, eat healthy, be smart about your surroundings at all times and stay safe my friends.

Oh No, Mister Bear This Is My Berry Patch,
AHHH ... !!!

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