Monday, December 7, 2009

Cream Biscuit Recipe

I tried this biscuit recipe this weekend and had to pass it on! I've been a Betty Crocker biscuit fan for a long time, but I think this is going to be my new favorite. These are really light and fluffy, and simpler than anything I've tried before. Are they more fattening than a recipe that uses Crisco and milk? I think it depends on the milk you usually use. I normally cook with fat free milk, so these cream biscuits are probably a little more fattening, but if you usually cook with milk that has fat these are probably about the same in fat content. Enjoy!

Cream Biscuits
Makes 8-10 biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the surface
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream (up to 1/4 c. more, if needed)

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or foil). Sift two cups flour, the baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Fold in 1 1/4 cups cream. If the dough is not soft or easily handled, fold in the remaining 1/4 cup cream, little by little.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and roll to a thickness of about 3/4 inch. Cut into rounds, 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Gather dough scraps and continue to make rounds. Bake until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately, or flash freeze for future use. [Biscuits can be baked straight from the freezer, and additional few minutes baking time will be needed, usually around 3 to 5.]

Friday, September 4, 2009

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

I made this recipe on Monday. I replaced the butter with applesauce, and it still turned out great. I thought the peanut butter would be overwhelming. Although it smelled like a lot like peanut butter when it was baking, it only had a nice hint of peanut butter taste. It was also very filling--my husband loved that!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Eating Vegetables Never Tasted So Good!

A Book Review of Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld.

I first heard of Deceptively Delicious a little over a year ago at a bridal shower where this book had been given as a gift. As the bride unveiled the charmingly classic cover, the room filled with shrieks of delight. “I hear that book is amazing,” one girl said. The bride obviously had heard the same and was very excited about the gift. I had not heard of the book at all, so when the unwrapping was all over I asked to take a look.

At first glance, vegetable purees, the “secret” method in Deceptively Delicious, looked like excessive work. But several months later, when I had some extra time on my hands, I remembered the book from the bridal shower and grew curious. Luckily, I found a copy from my library.

Before trying a single recipe, I leafed through Deceptively Delicious and read it nearly cover to cover. I was immediately impressed by Jessica’s upbeat approach to cooking and parenting. Overall, the abundant instruction and tips throughout the book are as encouraging and inventive as the recipes themselves are inviting. At the front of the book are basics in stocking and organizing a kitchen and instruction on making the vegetable purees. Although I was turned off by the idea of purees and how much prep-work they would involve, Jessica’s instructions were simple and easy to follow, and soon making purees became a fun game for both my husband and me.

All-in-all, my experience with Deceptively Delicious was a sincere success. I had to buy my own copy even before it was due at the library so I would not have to go a day without it! I have tried most of the recipes already and have not found a bad one yet. Surprisingly, the simplest ones have been the best. For myself, I have always been a big experimenter in the kitchen. Trying Jessica’s recipes has been a lot of fun, but I’ve found that mainly I take her puree suggestions and add them to the recipes I normally use for the things I usually eat, like my own French toast, muffins, scrambled eggs, banana bread, pancakes, coffee cake, oatmeal, meatballs, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, beef stew, pizza, macaroni and cheese, pasta, burgers, quesadillas, potato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, baked potatoes, sloppy joes, tacos, and chili recipes (and she has even more suggestions than that!).

As far as the extra work involved with purees, making purees, following Jessica’s instructions, has taught me how to cook with many vegetables that I normally don’t use, like butternut squash and sweet potatoes. I loved Jessica’s idea of freezing purees. This allowed me to stock my freezer all at once. She recommends freezing portions in plastic bags according to what you need in your favorite recipes. I bypassed the guesswork by instead freezing purees in ice-trays. The average ice-tray section holds about 2 Tablespoons, or 1/8 Cup. I freeze the purees in ice trays, and then dump the frozen puree cubes into a labeled freezer bag. For me, it’s a lot easier to grab as many cubes as I need rather than fretting that I have to defrost a ½ Cup bag of puree when I only need ¼ Cup. Additionally, if you need it, making vegetable purees to cook with will also make you homemade baby food at the same time!

The one thing that I felt like the book was lacking was nutrition facts for the recipes, but the only recipe book I have that does that is Better Homes and Garden. There are pictures for most of the recipes, which I found very inviting and helpful.

Another author who uses vegetable purees in her recipes is Missy Lapine, the Sneaky Chef. I have looked over the Sneaky Chef books, and I really like them too. They are full of more great ideas about cooking healthy food. The design and enthusiastically optimistic tone of Deceptively Delicious were what appealed to me over the Sneaky Chef, but both authors have great contributions. Seinfeld’s book is more geared towards parenting, and Lapine has books for cooking for your husbands and cooking for kids. Seinfeld mostly uses vegetable purees, with a few other suggestions of healthier ingredients, while Lapine encourages the use of wheat flour, flax seed, and other healthy ingredients in addition to vegetables. The Sneaky Chef’s program involves make-ahead puree mixes of several vegetables a time. Deceptively Delicious’ puree suggestions are simpler, but Lapine has a much more helpful website and blog.

I get so excited about any new cooking technique that makes my meal healthier. Deceptively Delicious and the Sneaky Chef’s books have a big success for me and my family. Eating a Deceptively Delicious or Sneaky meal, or just adding one of its puree suggestions to a recipe I already regularly use, gives me a satisfied feeling. In the back of my mind, I’m saying to myself, “This tastes so good, and is way better for me than I think!”

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Local iPod Father

My husband and I love hiking. We love getting away from the city—from paved roads, fast food corners, and the demands of work—and escaping to forests, mountains, and wilderness. Several months ago, we went on a small hiking trip in a beautiful forest in Washington. The drive to the trailhead was a precarious incline on wet gravel, but as soon as we got out of the car and started on the trail we were enveloped with rich, dense rainforest. The reverence of the forest around us was profoundly silencing. I felt a natural urge to step carefully and quietly so that nothing would interrupt my feeling of awe. I could hear the rain—not a patter on a windshield or windowpane, but a light tinkling over pine needles or a tiny thud as water trickled through the high canopy overhead and landed on a branch or tree trunk. In response to the comforting balm inherent to nature, sometimes my husband and I talked quietly about ideas and things that came to mind. Not heavy, worrisome thoughts, but organic ones that seemed to grow up and out of our minds and hearts.

Our refreshing tromp through the forest was interrupted only by scattered passersby on the trail. We saw people of all kinds. Some were couples like us, old and young, who were quiet. A brief nod was enough recognition for them before we both moved on without interrupting each others’ thoughts too much. Others were louder, like a group of college students or a large family with several reluctant teenagers.

There were two parties on the trail that day who really stuck out to me because they contrasted so much. On our way up the trail, early on we passed a group that seemed to be two families—two young couples who each had an infant strapped to one parent or the other. Three of the adults were talking about their kids as they headed down the trail. One father, however, hung behind the rest about five feet. He was listening to an iPod. I contrasted that image with another father I saw on the trail. We passed him on the way up and he passed us on the way down. His son, probably about eighteen months, sat high in a child carrier above his father’s shoulders. It was just the two of them. The dad was a little slower than us going up, but a very fast hiker on the way down. We passed them a third time, however, just a quarter of a mile from the trailhead when we were nearly finished. The father had taken his son out of the carrier and was taking a picture of him crossing a little stream.

What a difference. In both cases the children were too small to hold a very reasonable conversation, but the father with the carrier was giving an experience to himself and his son. To himself he gave rigorous exercise and the enjoyment of the outdoors. To his son he gave an invitation to love those things as well. What an experience for that little boy! The iPod father, however, didn’t give anything to himself or his son but neglect and a missed opportunity.

I don’t want to knock iPods or people who use them, but I’m ashamed of anytime that I’ve acted like the local iPod father—-to family members or friends—-by shutting myself, them, and everything else besides an electronic media toy out of my life. There are times when I’ve shut out enriching opportunities just by my attitude, even without a handheld device. I hope that stops. I hope I can remember what I felt during the quiet, reverent moments on the trail that day and never exchange an experience like that for an hour with an iPod.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Are We Not All Beggars? by Brian and Jennifer Ricks

Honking horns and drumming rain on the windshield make it feel like just another drive through Seattle traffic. Suddenly, my wife points to a man standing at an intersection. I’ve never seen him before, but I flip on my emergency flashers and turn the wheel hard to the left. As the man steps towards me I wonder, “What’s going to happen this time?”

This routine started last summer when my wife and I moved to downtown Seattle for an internship. It didn’t take long to notice that between penthouse apartments and seafood restaurants there was a large population of homeless people. We wanted to help but didn’t feel comfortable handing money to every person asking for a donation. At the same time, we kept running across these words of King Benjamin in our family scripture study: “Ye will administer your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain” (Mosiah 4:16).

We resolved to prayerfully find a way to help those in need. After pondering the problem, we came up with the idea of “service bags.” We put non-perishable food items—such as crackers, meat jerky, granola bars, or natural fruit snacks—in brown paper lunch bags, which we kept in the car. Whenever we saw someone asking for help, we’d pull over and hand out a service bag.

After two summers of giving out service bags, we’re surprised by what we’ve learned:

• As far as we can tell, most beggars are not con artists or drug addicts who would turn down any donation except cash. Every person we have given a bag of food to has been extremely grateful. We’ve never had anything close to a negative response.

• We worried that pulling over in traffic would irritate other drivers. On the contrary, no one has ever honked or yelled when we stopped to give out a service bag.

• Seeing the plight of the destitute has made us more grateful, even when we are hungry on fast Sunday or think our apartment is small. It also has made us more willing to give a generous fast offering.

• Assisting strangers has made us feel more confident in contacting less-active families we home or visit teach. We also feel less nervous about discussing the gospel with nonmembers.

• We can’t help smiling after giving out a service bag.

Serving the needy has also given added meaning to these other verses from King Benjamin: “Are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance
which we have?” (Mosiah 4:19). Each of us is dependent upon the Lord for all of our needs and his blessings to us are manifestations of his mercy. King Benjamin continues, “And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy” (Mosiah 4:20).

The man at the intersection looks surprised as he grabs the paper bag. A smile creeps across his face. “God bless,” he says softly, revealing a row of misshapen teeth. As we pull away we watch in the rearview mirror as he opens the granola bar, and we remember that we too must daily “trust in the mercy of the Lord” (Psalms 52:8), He who “hath filled the hungry with good things” (Luke 1:53).

Friday, February 13, 2009

Soft-Spoken Parenting

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