Monday, June 29, 2015

Aunt Gussie's Chocolate Cake

This weekend was my husband's birthday, and because he'd already had his favorite cake (we visited his parents the week prior, and his mom made it), I decided to try my hand at an old family recipe from my side. This recipe comes to us by way of a photo-text message from my mom - a recipe card, in my grandma's handwriting. I never knew my Great-Great Aunt Gussie, but it felt special to make this recipe that was hers, that my family has made for generations.
I used butter instead of shortening, because I don't tend to
buy shortening, and my mom said it was ok.
Thanks, ma!
I just realized that I forgot the baking soda. That could explain why the cake didn't rise very much. I just thought that was the style. And DAMN, I had bragged about how I followed the recipe exactly, to the T (I usually improvise)! Le sigh. I did get compliments on how dense, but not too rich, the cake was, so I guess people liked it anyway. Now I have to make it again to do it right!

A little hard to read, but it says 1 pt whipping cream, and 4
heaping tbsp cocoa.
I'd never used whipped cream as frosting before, but it was dang good! I love making whipped cream. Never buy the canned stuff anymore, because it's just too easy and delicious to make it the real way!

The final cake. Got a little sloppier on the
frosting than I'd have liked to (the parchment
paper slipped) but nobody seemed to notice. 
One tiny piece left. Perfect for breakfast cake!

This was a stupendous cake - spicy from the brown sugar, tangy from the buttermilk. The frosting is elegant and light, complementing the cake beautifully. I may make it again this weekend.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Presenting: Lazy Pickles

About a week ago, I shared with you my "recipe" for Lazy Pickles. And I know. You've been sitting here waiting anxiously to see if my pickles turned out ok. Well, friends, I'm here to let you know that they did. Photo-journalism-style (aka lazy-blogging-style).

Sunday, June 14. 5:30pm.
Raw as can be. Just jarred.
And yes, the dill is from my garden.
Everything else is from the store.
Thursday, June 18. 6:30pm.
Getting a little picklier.
Thursday, June 18. 10:30pm.
I punched down the kraut.
What does that mean? 
Literally, take off the lid. Stick your fist in the jar.
Smoosh (or "punch" gently) the kraut down. This
forces the liquid out of the cabbage, putting it
underwater and also making it softer? Either way,
it is a very important thing to do.
Because science.
At this point, we went away for the weekend. The spears/romanesco looked and smelled done, so we put them in the fridge to stop the fermentation process. The rest got to chill on the counter for two more days.

Monday, June 23. 6:30pm.
I think they're done. The kraut tastes like kraut.
The pickles are briny as hell!
Check out how cloudy that brine is!
Full of fermentation and good bacteria!

Time to eat! We had a few pickle spears as a pre-dinner snack last night, and they were sour, salty, dilly, briney deliciousness. I used English Cucumbers from Trader Joe's - I think if I'd used *actual* pickling cucumbers, they might not be as soft. But I really don't mind. They're totally delicious, and I kind of like the softness...reminds me of the super old pickles from the Jewish delis I grew up with. Next time, I might use even more dill, and maybe either a firmer cucumber, or just a slightly shorter fermentation period.

And there you have it. 8 days. 5 days for the spears. Super lazy. Super delicious. PICKLES.

Some resources if you want to read more about this fun world: pickling vs fermenting, a little about sour pickles, basically self-fermented foods like kraut and pickles are medicine.

Questions about my methodology? Pickling stories of your own to share? Did eating fermented food save your life? Let's chat in the comments below!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Lazy Pickling

I'm a lazy pickler. When I decided to try making my own pickles a year or so ago, I looked up the easiest possible ways, aside from "refrigerator pickles" which are a little too quick for my tastes - I like my pickles old and briney.

I found a recipe that described self-fermentation, which sounded like something I could get behind. And it's brilliant. 

Take an assortment of pickling spices, your items to be pickled, put in a jar, and cover with water. Leave 'em on the counter for about a week, and store in the fridge. They're not shelf stable, but that's ok with me. It's so quick and easy, and I don't need to make more than. Jar of two at a time (which fit easily in the fridge) anyway. 

I also learned how to make sauerkraut, which is so easy it's embarrassing. Shred cabbage. Put in bowl. Add salt. Mush around with fingers until it's soft and wet. Stuff into jars. Leave on counter for about a week, opening the jars to stuff the cabbage back under the water level every few days. Store in fridge when it tastes sauerkrauty enough to you.

I made a few jars today in honor of the copious amount of dill that's already grown in our garden. Summer has begun. 

L-R: plain kraut, caraway kraut, whole pickles (first time!), sliced pickles with romanesco. Day 1.