Friday, July 30, 2010

Cookie Friday: Snickerdoodles

Happy Cookie Friday, everyone!  Today, I'm sharing a recipe for an all-time classic -- Snickerdoodles!

Sorry if this photo doesn't really "sell" these cookies.  I was in a bit of rush to take this photo before I shared these cookies with my co-workers, who gobbled them up quickly.

This recipe comes from the 2008 Iowa State Fair Cookbook.  (I can't wait for the state fair to start in a couple weeks!  I've been craving corn dogs in the worst way.)

Bake up a batch of snickerdoodles, and enjoy a taste of the Iowa State Fair from home.


From the 2008 Iowa State Fair Cookbook

  • 1 C. butter or margarine
  • 1-1/2 C. + 2 T. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2-3/4 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon

Cream together butter or margarine and 1-1/2 cups of the sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Sift together flour, baking soda and cream of tartar and gradually add to creamed mixture.  Combine remaining sugar and cinnamon.  Roll dough into balls.  Roll balls into cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Place on ungreased baking sheet.  Bake in 350 degree oven in 5 to 10 minutes.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A trip to the farm

All the beautiful summer weather makes me want to venture out and explore.  I recently visited a local goat farm, Northern Prairie Chevre, in Woodward, Iowa, that was holding an open house.  The farm sells goat cheese from their shop, which they've named Miss Tillie's, after one of the favorite goats.

They had baby goats waiting for the visitors to see when they arrived.  So cute!

I came home with a dill goat cheese and feta from Miss Tillie's.  I really love their feta cheese; it's very smooth and not as tangy as those in the grocery store.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Inspired summer

Hello, everyone!  I don't know about you, but I'm loving all this hot summer weather.  Yes, it's been raining a lot here.  (I just heard the weatherman say we've had rain 37 out of the last 45 days. Yikes!)  But after such a long, cold winter, I just can't get enough of all this steamy, humid weather.

My energy level is incredibly high.  And I've been doing lots of things that I enjoy.  In particular, I'm baking bread again.  Here are my favorite dinner rolls:

And a nice crusty no-knead loaf courtesy of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.

I also made a batch of granola to go with my morning yogurt, a nice summer-appropriate break from hot oatmeal.

And I've been making a lot of day trips on the weekends.  I'll be sharing a few of my summertime adventures with you in future posts.  But until then, here's a visual preview to pique your curiosity.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Storm stories

I woke up to lightening and thunder last night.  I usually try to ignore the late-night storms, pull the covers over my head and go back to sleep.  But this one got my attention.  I could hear the wind rattling the windows.  And then I heard another big gust of wind, and my bed shook.  Seriously.  So I figured that was a sign that I should head for the basement.

The tornado sirens weren't blaring, which was a good sign.  But, boy, was the wind blowing.  I tried to turn on the TV to see the weather report, but then the power briefly went out.  After the wind died down and I felt safe the worst was over, I went back up to bed.  The clock read 2:45 a.m.  Ugh!

I woke up at 8:30 a.m. and took a camera on my Sunday morning run.  I was disappointed to see my garden flattened to the ground.  A few of the glads were snapped off.

My favorite coneflower and a pepper plant were horizontal.

But then when I checked out the rest of the neighborhood.  I realized how lucky we were not to have any branches -- or tree limbs -- in our yard.

Trees were snapped in half.  One of my neighbors was hosing off big blobs of mud stuck to the siding of her house.  I saw trees on top of houses and on top of vans.  And, creepily, I had to avoid stepping on a few dead birds that must have got shaken from the trees.  Yikes.

Yep, that tree fell on top of a house.  Like I said, we were lucky.  Now the sun is out, and there is absolutely no breeze outside.  It's amazing how peaceful nature is after a storm.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Raspberry jewels

I convinced my hubby to join me in berry pickin' the other day.  I've been trying to make every-other-week trips to Berry Patch Farms in Nevada.  They have at least a half dozen different varieties of fruits and berries growing on their farm, and something new is ready to pick every time I visit.

We decided to pick raspberries this time, because I've been fantasizing about making raspberry jam ever since my hubby bought me a food mill for my B-day.

The weather was perfect for berry picking.  Unfortunately, the raspberries were overpicked in the spot where they directed us.  The farmer said we could visit another spot, but we'd had our fill of mosquito bites and thistle scratches for the day.  So we only came home with 2-1/2 pounds of raspberries, not quite enough to make a batch of jam.

But I don't give up easily.  I went to our town's little grocery store and picked up a couple cartons of strawberries.  Then I made strawberry and raspberry jam.

I'm a little disappointed, however, because the batch didn't quite set.  It's not entirely liquid, but it's not entirely gelled, either.  My luck with jam-making is pretty hit and miss (mostly miss, but I'm a beginner, right?)

Yet the new food mill worked like a charm at removing most of the seeds from the jam.  So I'm learning something new, everytime I try.

Now if only my mosquito bites would quit itching...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Signs of the times

My work travels took me to the town of Woodbine in far west-central Iowa.  I discovered the old Lincoln Highway runs through Woodbine.  And the town is quite proud of its place in road-trip history.

Today, the Lincoln Highway is paved in bricks.  The old filling stations are still there, although it looks like one is now a cafe.

I loved all the old Main Street business signs in town.  I felt like I was walking on a 1950s movie set.

 And then I literally drove off into the sunset.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Cookie Friday: Citrus sandwich cookies

Happy Cookie Friday, everyone!  Sorry this post is so late.  And sorry, this post is going to be short.  I was on the road until late last night, worked a 15-hour day, then woke up early for work this morning.  Plus, I had to skip my lunch break today, because a person who promised to call me back at noon never did, and I didn't want to leave my desk in case she did call.  Urrgh!  So frustrating!

Anyhow, I'm super tired tonight. So excuse my typos.  I recently squeezed in some time to bake up a new cookie recipe, Citrus Sandwich Cookies from the Summer 2010 edition of King Arthur Flour's Baking Sheet.  (Such a great source for baking inspiration.)

These cookies were so much fun to bake, and so easy!  I didn't need to refrigerate the dough overnight, so I could get my sugar fix immediately.  I had to substitute quite a few ingredients (such as lemon powder?) because I knew they weren't available at our small-town grocery store.

I wasn't sure if my husband would like these cookies, but he ended up eating nearly all of them himself.  He even told me I should make these again for Christmas cookie swaps, because they will stand out from the other cookies people typically bring.  I love it when my husband tells me to make a recipe again!  I always take it as a compliment.



Citrus Sandwich Cookies
Adapted from King Arthur Flour's Baking Sheet
  • 1/2 C. unsalted butter, soft
  • 3/4 C. sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tbl. grated citrus zest
  • 1 Tbl. orange juice (I used lemon juice)
  • 1-1/2 C. King Arthur's Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 C. sugar (for dredging)
  • 1 pkg. (3 ounces) cream cheese
  • 1/4 C. vegetable shortening
  • 3 C. confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 Tbl. citrus zest
  • 1 to 2 tsp. citrus juice, as needed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease two cookie sheets, or line with parchment. In large bowl, cream together butter and sugar; beat in egg, citrus zest of your choice and orange juice. Scrape the bowl and mix in four, baking powder and salt. Scoop by teaspoonful and roll in sugar. Place on the prepared baking sheets, and press flat with the bottom of a glass dipped in the sugar. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, just until the edges turn light brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

For the filling: Cream the cream cheese and shortening together until fluffy. And the confectioners' sugar, 1 cup at a time. Beat in the zest. Add juice as needed until the filling is a spreadable consitency; remember to keep it pretty stiff (about the consistency of PlayDoh).

To assemble: Spread a tablespoon of filling on the bottom of one wafer cookie; press another cookie on top of the filling, bottom down. Yield: 40 wafers, enough for 20 sandwich cookies.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Mid-summer garden

Hello everyone!  Hope you had a great fourth of July.  I spent the weekend moving furniture in a U-Haul (not a really exciting holiday), but I did get to spend some quality time at home, which was wonderful.

It's been a while since I blogged about my garden.  I took a few pictures before the rains hit, again.  We've had above normal rainfall so far this summer, and it has really impacted my garden.  A lot of the vegetables I planted early (kohlrabi, banana peppers, cabbage) didn't survive the wet weather and the early-season insect pressure.


However, my container plants are doing very well.

The hollyhocks have never looked better.

 Yesterday, my husband and I were dropping off the U-Haul, and we found a roadside greenhouse offering all plants half off.  So we bought a couple more tomatoes and a few cucumber plants.  I know it's a little late in the year to plant them, but I don't like unused space in the garden.  Can't wait to see how they grow.
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