Thursday, April 30, 2020

The Accidental Cracker

Because I made bread for Dave, I was thinking I could use some too.  I used to make a seed bread that I really loved and ran across a recipe for a keto seed bread I thought might be good.  I gathered the ingredients, mixed everything together and baked it.  The loaf came out dense, damp and dull.  I was so disappointed and I don't know what I did wrong.  I read through the comments from the recipe and saw that it was a 50/50 response as to wether people felt successful or not, so I figured I'd try it again.  I measured carefully, mixed, baked and....yuck.

So now I had two very expensive bricks.  Nuts and seeds are not cheap and I just wasted a lot of them.  I decided to cut the "bread", bake it again, kind of like biscotti are twice baked, and make some crackers.  I cut the loaves, baked low and slow, and it worked perfectly.  They are crisp, crunchy and perfect for cream cheese and jam, garlic herb cheese, or plain.  I love cheese crackers and salami for lunch and these are great just for that.  This is one baking mistake I'm glad I made.

Seed Crackers
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, pepitas
1 cup ground psyllium husks
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup warm water

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a loaf pan, set aside.
In a large bowl mix sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, psyllium husks and coconut flour.  Place half the mixture in a food processor or grinder and grind until a rough flour-like consistency is achieved.  Place flour back in bowl with whole seeds.  Add baking powder, salt, butter, eggs and warm water, mix well.

Pour into prepared loaf pan and smooth top.  Bake for 35 minutes.  Remove from oven and reduce oven temperature to 250°F. Let loaf cool slightly.  Slice into 18-20 thin pieces and place on a sheet tray with a wire rack to allow air flow across the top and bottom of the crackers.  Bake for 20 minutes, turning about half way through.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Crackers crisp as they cool.
Enjoy with your favorite toppings.

April 30, 2020   Sunrise 5:18 am  Sunset 10:19 pm  Temp. H 44/ L 26°F

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Potato Sandwich Bread and Getting the Lawn Ready

Spring is a wonderful time.  The days in Fairbanks are long, the sun is out, it is getting warmer, usually the high 40's to mid 50's.  Dave can't wait to get outside and work in the yard.  He likes to have the first green lawn and he has a few tricks that helps him get there.

When most of the snow is gone he likes to mow the lawn.  This starts to get the dead grass off and clean things up a little, even if you have to mow around the snow banks.

Then he begins to shovel the snowbanks and throw the snow around the yard so it melts faster.  

He will do this every day until the snow is all melted and he will mow again, about 4 times.  Then he aerates, then he vacuums, then he mows again.  When it gets warm enough he feeds and waters it and then mows twice a week all summer.  He puts a lot of work into our lawn and it does look beautiful.  So I decided to make him a treat.  He doesn't have a sweet tooth so cookies or a cake aren't for him.  He did mention he was craving some white sandwich bread.  I don't bake bread anymore since I don't eat it, and we never got in the habit of buying it so we usually just don't have it.  I do love to bake bread, I love the whole process of mixing, kneading, letting it rise, the yeasty smell of the dough, punching it down and shaping into loaves.... so I made him some.  And then I made him some hamburger buns.  He needs lots of energy to finish the lawn.

Potato Loaf Sandwich Bread and Buns

1 pkg. dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 Tbsp. sugar
3 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 Tbsp. instant mashed potato flakes
1 cup warm milk

In a small bowl mix 1/2 cup warm water with yeast and sugar, set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, or your stand mixer with a dough hook, add flour, salt, butter potato flakes and warm milk, add yeast mixture and stir or on low if using a stand mixer.  Mix well.  Then turn dough out and knead for 5-10 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic, adding as little extra flour as possible or knead in bowl on medium high for 5 minutes.
Spray bowl with oil and return dough to bowl, cover with a tea towel and let rise for 1 hour or until double in size.  Be sure to place bowl in a warm part of your kitchen (I turn the oven on, let it heat to 105°F, turn the oven off and then proof the dough in the oven with the door cracked).

In the meantime, grease a bread pan well with oil and set aside (if making buns grease a 9X13 pan).

Once dough is double in size, remove from bowl, knead a few times to remove any large air bubbles and shape into a loaf or into about 9-12 buns (I like to weigh my dough and make 2 oz. buns for burgers).  Place dough into pan, cover and let rise a second time for 45-60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Bake for 25-35 minutes until top is golden brown and loaf sounds a bit hollow when tapped.  Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes, remove from pan and cool completely before cutting.

April 28, 2020  Sunrise 5:25 am  Sunset 10:12 pm  Temp. h46/ L 26°F

Friday, April 24, 2020

Raspberry Gin Daisy and Being Graceful

I want everyone to know, if I end up in the hospital and I am covered in bruises, my husband does not beat me, I am just that clumsy.  Dave likes to say that grace hits once every 15 seconds wether I need it or not...I always need it, but I don't think it shows up that often.

Yesterday morning, I was working away and needed to refill my coffee cup.  I went into the employee kitchen, plopped my mug under the Keurig and started a fresh cup.  I remembered I wanted to show Dave something on my phone so I turned around and headed down the hall to my office to find my phone.  I was thinking about where my phone was and talking to Dave when I tripped over the gate at the end of the hallway, bounced off the trim to the laundry room and fell flat on my face.  Not my most graceful moment.  Dave heard me bounce and came running.  I took a minute to make sure everything was still working (everything did), checked the wall for cracks or blood smears (there weren't any) and began to feel foolish.  I never did show Dave what ever it was that I thought I needed to show him, I went back for my coffee and got right back to work to hide my embarrassment and lick my wounds.

Well, after a fall like that I decided I needed an adult beverage that evening.  I made a Raspberry Gin Daisy.  Make this with this raspberry simple syrup for a fruity pink spin on the drink, or you can use plain simple syrup and add a little orange flavoring for a citrusy drink.  You'll have to have one of each to see which you like better.  But if you do, be careful, you'll be walking (and falling) like I did yesterday morning.

Gin Daisy
2 oz. gin
1 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. raspberry simple syrup or 1 oz. plain simple syrup and 1/4 tsp. orange extract
sparkling water
fresh or frozen raspberries for garnish, optional

In a shaker full of ice add gin, lemon juice, simple syrup (and orange extract if using).  Shake until very cold, strain into an old fashioned glass and top with a little sparkling water.

April 24, 20202   Sunrise 5:40 am  Sunset 9:59 pm  Temp. H 38/ L 26°F

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Zoom lunch

I had lunch with a friend the other day.  I think she read my blog and was feeling sorry for me, so she scheduled a lunch meeting.  She sat in her house in Colorado and I sat in mine in Alaska and we ate our lunch and visited.  And I realized that I really need a haircut!

She caught me up on their house projects, the girls and the pups.  I whined  told her about not leaving the house for 5 weeks, work and caught her up with all my kids.  It was such a nice break and made me really miss when they were our backyard neighbors and the summer evenings on our deck when we would share a bottle of wine and laugh into the night.

It's the little things like this lunch date and Facetime with Gman, Donna and my parents that are keeping us going.  That and jail breaks the fact that I snuck out of the house last week and went on an adventure to JoAnn's.

Dave was busy in a zoom meeting for work and I had to go to the parking lot of my work to get on the wifi and download some forms from our server.  I also needed some supplies for mask making I was doing for the kids.  The California kids need masks to go out of the house or face fines, and the Seattle kids needed a couple extra each so I planned on making masks over the weekend. 

I told Dave I was going to head over to the parking lot to download the forms I needed and he logged on to his zoom meeting. 
I grabbed my laptop, my mask and I was out the door.  I went to work and got what I needed without leaving the car and then I drove over to Joann's.  I donned my mask and headed into the store for a few things.  I was home in about 45 minutes total and Dave asked what took me so long.  I explained about the mask making items and how I wore my mask and I went straight to the sink to wash my hands. 

I'm grounded now. 

April 21, 2020  Sunrise 5:51am  Sunset 5:49pm  Temp. H 40/ L 34°F

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Keeping a Positive Attitude, Week 5

I'm finishing up week 5 of working from home.  I want to complain but I also understand how very fortunate I am that I can work from home, I have a warm home to shelter in place in, I have a wonderful husband, my children are all safe and healthy and sheltering in place in their own homes around the country, I have enough to eat, and I have toilet paper, with a few rolls to spare (no, I didn't hoard tp, I just bought a case at Costco, like I always do, in early February and we haven't used it all yet). So, I am getting a little tired of only my company during work hours, Dave winning 3 out of 4 games of cribbage after dinner, the terms "the new normal" and "unprecedented times" and snow, because we still have a butt-load of it.

I need to work on my attitude, even by gratitude journal is getting a little monotonous.  I'm trying to keep things in a routine (I do better with that), eating healthily, walking outside when possible, and touching base with family and friends, but I am over this.  I want everything to go back to how it was, I want to drive down to the fabric store and just wander around and shop, I want to meet a friend for coffee, I want to throw a tantrum....

I guess we all have those moments, and I'm having mine.  So I need to pull my big girl panties up and soldier on with a more positive attitude.  And when I need a more positive attitude, I make myself treats.  So this week for breakfast, I made myself some pumpkin spice toaster waffles (my little dash waffle maker makes the perfect size for the toaster) from All Day I Dream About Food.  I am eating them with some sugar free maple syrup and toasted pecans.  Add a couple of sausage links and the day is off to a better start.

Find the Pumpkin Waffles here.

For lunch, I've been craving salad.  So I made a lovely salad and eat them with these crackers from Sugar Free Mom.  I like to toast them in my air fryer so they are warm and crunchy. I used the recipe for her Quick Keto Toast and just cut them into smaller cracker size pieces.

And I've reinstated the daily drink, but with no alcohol.  I've been enjoying the Lava Flow from Maria Mind Body Health.  I made a whole batch but only mix the ice in with a single serving each evening.  Sometimes I add the  strawberry on top, sometimes I don't and sometimes I just mix the strawberry into the whole thing.  Any way it is a delicious way to end the day.

So I am working on my attitude, one meal at a time.  I'm walking outside more, riding my stationary bike, and still writing in my gratitude journal and meditating. What do you do to help you get through the hard days?

April 16, 2020  Sunrise 6:09 am  Sunset 9:33 pm  Temp H 42/ L 30°F 

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Home Made Toaster Pastries

When I was a kid, getting a box of Pop tarts was a big treat.  I loved the smell of the sugar when you opened the package, the hot toasty pastry when it came out of the toaster and the warm jam in the middle and the sugary frosting on the top.  As a kid, it was pure heaven. So, you can imagine my delight when I found these Further Food sugar free, grain free toaster pastries!
Close to my childhood memory, if it is toasted.
While they have some ingredients I wouldn't normally eat, they are a nice weekend treat, until I had them a couple days in a row with some unpleasant side effects. I re-read the ingredients and there is was, hiding about half way down...Allulose.  I don't tolerate Allulose so I was determined to find a substitute.  I've come pretty close with these, a warm toasty pastry, jam oozing from under the crust, I just need some frosting to complete these home made toaster pastries.

The pastry came from the blog Gnom-Gnom.  I added two tablespoons of Swerve to sweeten it up.  The jam came from my freezer.  Together, they were a warm delicious treat on a cold morning.  I warm them up in my air fryer, they are a little too delicate for the toaster, I'll keep working on them to see if I can make a pastry sturdy enough to pop in the toaster.  I'll just keep eating my practice batches.

Home Made Toaster Pastries
1 batch Gnom-Gnom's Pastry with 2 Tbsp. granulated Swerve added to the dry ingredients
1/2 cup sugar free jam of choice, I used this strawberry jam
1 egg, beaten for egg wash

Make pastry according to directions.  Press into a rectangle, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  Roll pastry to 1/8" thick, keeping it in a rectangle as much as possible.  Trim edges and press dough together to make pastry a rectangle.  Cut into 16 pieces.  Place 8 pieces of the pastry on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Press a small indention into bottom with a spoon.  Put about 1 Tbsp. of jam in indention.  Cover with another piece of pastry and press together.  Us a fork to crimp edges.  Freeze for about 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Beat 1 egg with a teaspoon of water.  Remove pastries from freezer.  Brush with egg wash and then cut vents into top of each.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until pastry is golden brown.

April 14, 2020   Sunrise 6:17am  Sunset 9:27pm  Temp H 45/ L 26°F

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Truck Update, Making Groceries Last and French 75

Dave has found some extra time to work on the truck.  It has been sitting for a while because he has decided he doesn't like working on it with me.  I am not strong enough, I don't know what I am doing, and I try his patience, so he works on the truck and I ooohhhh and aaaahhh over the results.  This is really a win-win because working on the truck isn't my favorite thing to do.
He has made a lot of progress.

So, he has made some progress.  The new fuel pump is on, the new carburetor is on, some rust stopping paint has been applied, new water pumps installed and the new fenders made it to town!  I am very excited.

While he is busy in the garage with the truck, I'm busy at work or in the house.  Dave did the grocery shopping about two weeks ago, and while we have plenty to last the next month, some of the fresh produce is at the end of its fresh life.  I roasted the last of the fresh tomatoes and will be making tomato soup. I froze the last two heads of cauliflower for later use, and I froze some bell peppers before they all had to be thrown away.

I have reinstated the one adult drink a week rule. I should make a rule about wearing real pants at least one day a week so be sure I can still fit in them, but I don't really need that kind of negativity right now.  This drink of the week, the French 75, is a classic.  You can make it with gin or vodka and you can make a simple syrup or just mix a little confectioner's Swerve into the drink to make it a bit easier.

French 75

1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup or 1 tsp. granulated Swerve, or sweetener of choice
1 oz. gin, I love Bombay Gin
3 oz. champagne
lemon twist

Cut a ribbon of lemon zest from a lemon, set aside.  Cut lemon and juice it, set aside.

In a shaker, filled with ice, add lemon juice, simple syrup or sweetener and gin.  Shake well, strain into glass.  Top with champagne.  Twist the lemon peel over the top of the drink and then add it.  Enjoy.
We woke up to this snow this weekend.  I don't know
why he is clearing the cars, it's not like we can
go anywhere!

1 year ago:    Rhubarb Coffee Cake and the Mean Trick
7 years ago:   Oven Baked Onion Rings

April 9, 2020  Sunrise 6:35 am  Sunset 9:11 pm  Temp H26/ L 8°F

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

No Netflix and Rhubarb Coffee Cake

I guess it is a sign of the times.  Everyone is staying home, so everyone is binging on Netflix.  After dinner, dishes and a game of cribbage, Dave and I watch something on tv.  Lately we've been watching Outlander on Starz.  The last several nights, when we tried to log on, we get the spinning wheel of death, and there isn't enough band width in our neighborhood to get the show.  We end up watching what ever is on regular tv and just going to bed early.

We also got more snow.  While most of the real world is turning green, we are still getting a ton of snow.  My daily checklist looks like this:
1)Who am I checkin on or connecting with today?  Dave, as we shovel snow.
2)What expectations of normal am I letting go of today? I'm not wearing real pants, only snow pants, so I can shovel snow.
3)How am I getting outside today? I'm going outside to shovel snow.
4)How am I moving my body today? I'm shoveling snow.
5)How am I expressing my creativity today?  I'm shoveling snow in patterns.
6)What type of self care am I practicing today?  I'm taking an epson salt bath after I shovel snow.
7)What am I grateful for today? That I'm getting a lot of steps in while I shovel snow.

I'm starting to feel like Spring will never get here.  One bright spot in my week is a newsletter I've started getting from the greenhouse I use every year.  When they start sending out their newsletter, I know there is hope for warmer weather.  And the pictures of the beautiful flowers from last year are always a bright spot in my day.

Now, in the real world, spring is a time for rhubarb.  In Alaska, rhubarb is still buried deep under the snow, but I did find one more container in my freezer.  So that, along with some frozen raspberries from my garden, made this delicious rhubarb coffee cake.  While it is still frozen and currently snowing outside, this coffee cake gave me a little taste of spring.

Raspberry Rhubarb Coffee Cake
for cake:
2 cups rhubarb
1 cup raspberries
1/2 cup granulated Swerve, or granulated sweetener of choice, divided
3 cup almond flour
1/3 cup unflavored whey protein powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla extract

for topping:
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 Tbsp. pecans, chopped
1 Tbsp. granulated Swerve, or granulated sweetener of choice
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a 9" springform pan well.

In a medium bowl, mix rhubarb, raspberries and 2 Tbsp. sweetener, set aside.

In a large bowl mix almond flour, whey protein powder, baking powder, the remaining sweetener and salt.  Add melted butter, eggs, water and vanilla extract, mix well.  Pour half the mixture into prepared pan, top with rhubarb and raspberries, top with the rest of the batter, carefully spreading to cover rhubarb.
Bake for 30 minutes.

While cake is baking mix almond flour, coconut, pecans, sweetener and butter until it makes coarse crumbs.  Remove cake from oven, top with crumble, cover with foil and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes, until the center is firm to the touch.  Remove from oven and run a sharp knife around the edge of the cake.  Let cool 30 minutes, run a sharp knife around edge again and carefully remove ring of springform pan.  Let cool completely.

1 year ago:    Update on the Truck and Cheese Wrapped Hotdogs
7 years ago:   Failed Quiche

April 7, 2020  Sunrise 6:42 am  Sunset 9:04 pm  Temp H 28 / L 1°F

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Chicken Parmigiana

Dave and I are adjusting to working from home.  Things are getting a little quiet for him and he has some time on his hands.  I have plenty to do so I am working away in my office.  Every once in a while he'll stop by my door with a joke or a funny picture.  He'll want to visit a bit as he heads to the employee bathroom down the hall from my office, or he'll bring me a cup of tea. 
I had a peeping Tom one morning.

Yesterday, the project he was going to work on fell through because he needed to get some missing materials, and you know, no shopping.  I think he was a little bored.  He came to get me in the middle of the afternoon and made me go outside for some vitamin D because it fights that virus.  Then, after a snack and I went back to work, he called me on my cell phone.  He was on the back deck texting one of our kids and asked me to go to Amazon and find a specific item for him.  I told him I could do that when I got off work, but I was busy at that moment.  Then he says, "o.k. I'll see you when I get home from work." I laughed through the last hour of my workday.

Well, my commute home from work is pretty short these days.  You would think I would spend that extra time on dinner or something, but no.  I've been parked in front of the news every evening and then I rush to get dinner on the table.  This is a quick, delicious keto dinner.  I use pork dust instead of flour for the coating.  You can buy it now, it's called Pork Panko but I just make my own.  That evening we watched the news, dinner was delicious,  and it is so fast I even had time to do that shopping on Amazon for him.

Chicken Parmigiana

2 chicken breasts
1 egg
2 Tbsp. coconut flour
1/2 cup ground pork rinds
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. avocado oil, or oil of choice to sauté chicken
1 cup sugar free marinara sauce
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
4 tsp. shredded parmesan cheese

Slice chicken breasts horizontally into two pieces each, making 4 pieces total. Gently pound each piece of chicken into an evenly thick cutlet. Salt and pepper each cutlet.

Make breading station using three large bowls or pie plates.
place coconut flour in one bowl
beat egg with 1 Tbsp. water in one bowl
mix grated parmesan cheese and pork rinds in a bowl

Starting with the coconut flour, then egg wash, then cheese mixture, bread each cutlet and set set aside.

In a heavy bottomed sauté pan or cast iron pan, heat oil to medium-high.  Once the oil is hot, carefully place the cutlets into the pan and cook, about 3-5 minutes per side, depending on thickness.  Remove from heat onto a paper towel lined plate.

Heat marinara sauce in a small saucepan. 

To serve, place one cutlet on a plate, cover with 1/4 cup marinara sauce and 2 Tbsp. of mozzarella cheese and 1 tsp. parmesan cheese
Makes 4 servings

1 year ago:     Brownie Bark for a Road Trip
5 years ago:   Flank Steak with Grilled Apricots
7 years ago:   Beer Marinated Pork Roast

April 2, 2020  Sunrise 7:01 am  Sunset 8:49 pm  Temp. H 33/ L 19°F