The Frugal Baker & Soft Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

Friday, August 27, 2010

From the very beginning, home cooks have held firmly to the values of economy and thrift. We as bakers can carry on with that tradition in our daily lives by watching for opportiunities that will saave us a few dimes here and there. Not that the savings will make or break us. it's more for our psychic balance sheet, the satisfaction that comes with knowing we're putting our resources to full use instead of squandering them. That said, here are some baking habits up for adoption.

* Use butter wrappers to butter pans with. The best ones come from soft sticks of butter because more of the butter clings to the wrapper.

* Don't throw away any egg washes you glaze yeast breads with (or yolks or whites that are not needed in a recipe). Use them in pancakes, waffles, for an omelet, or anywhere else you'd use an egg. Another option, if the bread recipe itself includes and egg, is to beat the egg before adding it to the dough and then reserve a teaspoon or so of it for the wash.

* Use potato cooking water in bread. It's a shame to throw out that good stuff.

* By the same token, incorporate leftover mashed potatoes or squash in your baked goods, particularly yeast breads.

* Make bread crumbs from stale bread. I just use a box grater for this and then toast them briefly in the oven on a baking sheet. Or just give your stale bread to your backyard poultry.

* Wash out empty honey and molasses jars with a small amount of hot water. Put the lid on, shake it up, and use ut as parat of the liquid in yeast breads. Or loosen it by putting the entire jar in a saucepan of water set over a low heat.

* Turn your pastry scraps into something yummy!

* If you have the storage space and the cash, and you bake often, buy in bulk. This way you always pay less for honey, flour, maple syrup, whatever. One other nice thing about buying in bulk: you aren't always running out of something.

What are your best frugal baking tips?

Sharing one of my favorite everyday bread recipes.

Soft Oatmeal Sandwich Bread
(Printable Version)

1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
2 cups hot milk
½ cup honey
¼ cup lukewarm water
1 pkg (or 2-1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1/3 cup buttermilk
1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 large egg
1 Tbsp salt
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
3 to 3-1/2 cups unbleached flour
2 extra Tbsp of oats for sprinkling on top

Put the oats in a large mixing bowl and pour the hot milk over them. Stir in the honey and allow to cool to body temperature. Meanwhile, put the water in a small bowl and stir in the yeast. Set aside for 5 minutes to dissolve. Once the oats have cooled, stir in the dissolved yeast, the buttermilk and the whole wheat flour and beat vigorously for 1 minute with a wooden spoon. Cover this sponge with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes in a warm, draft-free spot.

Using a wooden spoon, beat in the egg, salt and butter until well blended. Add the unbleached flour, ½ cup at a time, beating well after each addition. When the dough is too dense to stir, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, periodically dusting your kneading surface with flour; knead gently at first to prevent the dough from sticking. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning it to coat the entire surface of the dough with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside, in a warm draft-free post, until the dough is doubled in bulk. Butter 2 4-1/2X8-1/2-inch loaf pans and sprinkle the inside pf each with about 1 Tbsp of oats.

When the dough has doubled, punch it down, kneed briefly, and divide in half. Shape the halves into loaves and place them into the prepared pans. Cover loosely and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, preheating the oven to 375°F when the loaves appear nearly doubled.

Bake the loaves for approximately 40 minutes, until nicely browned. When done, the bottom crusts should give a hollow sound when thumped with your finger. Cool the loaves on a rack before slicing. Store in sealed plastic bags. Makes 2 loaves.

Sharing at Michael Lee's Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum! Happy Friday Everyone!!

The Household Searchlight Recipe Book

Thursday, August 26, 2010
I have a small collection of vintage cookbooks. They include The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book by Fannie Merritt Farmer, The American Woman's Cook Book, and The Houshold Searchlight Recipe Book. All are dear to me but the one I LOVE is my 1936 copy of The Household Searchlight Recipe Book. It was a gift to me from my late Grandmother-in-law. The recipes from this book were contributed by readers of Household Magazine, published in the earlier half of the 20th century in Topeka, Kansas. There is even a complete copy of the magazine online (Household Magazine). Have you ever seen a copy of this great book? What cookbooks did your grandmother have in her collection. I NEVER saw a cookbook in my own Grandmother's house. Amazing since not only was she a great cook but also a wonderful baker!

Here are a couple recipes from the book.

Pear Cranberry Jam

This old-fashioned jam recipe is from The Household Searchlight cookbook. Recommended methods for processing preserves have changed over the years. Remember to use 'proper canning' methods if you make this recipe!

2 Cups Dried Pears
3 Cups Water
2 Cups Cranberries
3 1/2 Cups Sugar
1 Cup Thinly Sliced Fresh Apples

Remove cores from pears. Wash pears. Chop. Wash cranberries. Combine fruits, water, and sugar. Simmer, stirring frequently, until thick and clear. Pour into sterilized glasses. Cover with melted paraffin.


This old-fashioned jam recipe is from the September 1934 issue of The Household Magazine. Recommended methods for processing preserves have changed over the years. Remember to use 'proper canning' methods if you make this recipe!

10 Sour Apples, Chopped
2 Green Peppers, Chopped
1 Onion, Chopped
1/2 Cup Chopped Preserved Ginger
1/2 Teaspoon Chili Powder
1/2 Cup Raisins
1/2 Teaspoon Ginger
1 1/2 Cups Vinegar
1/2 Cup Water
1 Tablespoon Mustard Seed
6 Whole Cloves
1/2 Teaspoon Allspice
1/2 Bay Leaf
2/3 Cup Brown Sugar
1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt

Combine ingredients. Simmer, stirring frequently, until thick. Pour into sterilized jars. Seal. -- Mrs. Howard E. Argabright, Wellston, Ohio.

Sharing at Suzanne's Vintage Thingie Thursday!

The Individual........servings that is!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I have a newer obsession. Individual serving-sized dishes. Look at this new Paula Deen's Best Dishes....she has caught on to my obsession, lol!

Call them ramakins, au gratins, bakers, souffle dishes or mini casseroles, I just LOVE them. Not only do I love them but they are always recieved very well when I serve them, whether to company or my family. Besides the wide array of these fun dishes available, there are some very practical reason for making individual servings. One is portion control. As someone who is always looking to lose another few pounds, it is nice having your serving already portioned temptation to have just 1 more scoop. Another reason is we're nearly empty nesters with active, working teens. Some nights I am not sure how many of us there will be for supper. If I have everything portioned up, I can freeze what we do not need for a particular meal (and have a stock of stuff in the freezer when I need something in a pinch).

The dishes can be everything from simple corningware to upscale Le Cruset. All the ones I have go from freezer to oven and are gorgeous for going right onto the table.

So what kinds of dishes lend themselves to individual servings? The obvious is casseroles type meals. I recently shared my Chicken Florentine Casserole which I serve in my orange individual chicken casseroles. Some others are quiches, pot pies, stews & stoops, sides like macaroni & cheese, scalloped potatoes and some of my low carb favorites, cauliflower gratin & creamed spinach. Anything you can divide between mutiple serving dishes and bake or freeze independantly is perfect. Mostly, comfort-style dishes and with fall right around the corner, I'll be working these sweet dishes a LOT!! Oh, and don't even get me started on individual desserts...that is another obsession, lol!

Cauliflower Gratin
(Printable Version)

To make this dish low carb, I simply omit the butter, flour and milk step and just add heavy cream instead. I also omit the bread crumb top and top with additional cheese. Very yummy!

1 (3-pound) head cauliflower, cut into large florets
Kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3/4 cup freshly grated Gruyere, divided
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Cook the cauliflower florets in a large pot of boiling salted water for 5 to 6 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture and stir until it comes to a boil. Boil, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, or until thickened. Off the heat, add 1 teaspoon of salt, the pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup of the Gruyere, and the Parmesan. Pour 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of an 8 by 11 by 2-inch baking dish. Place the drained cauliflower on top and then spread the rest of the sauce evenly on top. Combine the bread crumbs with the remaining 1/4 cup of Gruyere and sprinkle on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the gratin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Posting to the lovely Lisa's Tempt My Tummy Tuesday event! Thanks for hosting each week Lisa.

Projects and getting them DONE!

Sunday, August 22, 2010
I have SEVERAL projects hanging over my head. I have a whole list of excuses and some of them actually hold pretty true. I have been very preoccupied with my folk's 50th party AND it has been so blasted hot and humid...but mostly, I have just been putting stuff off. I decided that this weekend I was going to get some stuff done. I picked 2 projects and determined they would get finished this weekend. I am 50% done!

Months ago, I picked this bench up at our local Goodwill store for $10.00. I LOVE the turned legs and the sturdy construction but HATED the dated coloring. My plan was that it would go in my entryway. I always wanted a bench for that spot. At first I left it sit in the garage...then I brought it in and lived with the unattractive color for a few weeks while I thought of what color to paint it. That was motivation to get busy!

I finally decided on Licorice Rope by KILZ. I had lots of opinions and few of them saw my vision of painting it black but I kept that vision.

TaDa!! Isn't it just lovely?! I have a pillow project for this bench that I gleened from one of my favorite blogs. Check back on that one....I may not get to the pillows until after vacation.

I did say I was 50% finished. My other project is this little chest. I have prepped it and painted it with primer but the finishing will have to wait until this afternoon. BTW, this little beauty goes in my kitchen!

Sharing today at Stephanie Lynn's Showcase Sunday and Susan's Met Monday events! Thanks ladies for the inspiration to get things DONE!! I am also going to hook up with Craft-O-Maniac..thanks Jen for the invite.

Blue Ribbon Recipes ~ Country Chili Sauce

Friday, August 20, 2010

This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, Cooking from Quilt Country by Marcia Adams. Actually, I am a HUGE Marcia Adams fan and love all her cookbooks. I use chili sauce in many recipes that call for ketchup...especially 1000 Island Dressings and my meatloaf topping. It is more flavorful and a great substitution. This is a BLUE RIBBON recipe for sure!!

Country Chili Sauce
(Printable Version)

26 large tomatoes
2 large green bell peppers
2 large onions
1 1/2 cups of cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups of sugar
3 T of salt
1 T celery seed
1 T ground cinnamon
1 T ground cloves
1 t black pepper
1 t ground ginger
1 t ground allspice

Peel, core and chop the tomatoes, and place in a large, heavy saucepan. Wash, peel and chop the peppers, and onions and add to the tomatoes. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat, uncovered, for about 2 hours, or until mixture is as thick as you want. The amount of time will vary, depending on the amount of moisture in the tomatoes, which depends on the amount of rain the tomatoes received that particular summer. (It's this kind of unscientific stuff that drives cooks mad!) Stir frequently. Pour boiling hot, into 6 hot pint jars, leaving 1/4 -inch heading space. Process in a hot- water bath for 15 minutes, counting the time after the water comes to a full boil again.

Posting to Michael Lee's Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum!

Sunflowers & April Cornell Dishes

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Some things say summer....others scream SUMMER!! Sunflowers are screamers! I just love them. While we were vacationing we drove past fields and fields of sunflowers in western Nebraska.....BEAUTIFUL as far as the eye could see. If you've never seen a complete field of sunflowers, you have really missed out. Add the experience to your bucket list!

Sunflowers don't require fussy vases and fancy table linens. My choice of a vase is a 1/2 gallon canning jar. Just perfect to show off the flowers!

I've been holding on to some lovely April Cornell bowls that I picked up at Hobby Lobby on clearance a few months back until the *right* mood stuck me. The beauty of summer sunfowers was the inspiration I needed.

This covered butter dish came from Goodwill. I was thrilled when I found it!

Simple tablescape but may be my favorite one this year!

Sharing at the lovely Susan's Tablescape Thursday!

Zillions of Zucchini!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Zillions of Zucchini

In August, if you grow your own zucchini, you’ve probably worn out your welcome with friends and neighbors. People see you coming with a grocery bag in tow and lock their doors and your family is asking, Just how many ways can you prepare this veggie? Here are some easy-breezy ways to prepare zucchini that might make you more popular!

Caprese~ Bias-slice zucchini and grill with halved cherry tomatoes for 4-6 minutes, turning once. Toss on a platter with fresh mozzarella. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and snipped fresh basil.

Kabobs~ Thread zucchini, summer squash pieces and onion wedges onto skewers. Brush with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, fresh cracked black pepper and lemon zest. Grill 8-10 minutes.

Packets~ Drizzle sliced zucchini with Italian or Balsamic salad dressing and wrap in foil packets. Grill packets 6-8 minutes.

Ribbons~ Slice zucchini lengthwise; brush with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill 3-4 minutes per side until softened and a bit charred. Sprinkle with feta cheese and fresh dill.

Tacos~ Halve and slice zucchini. Saute in extra virgin olive oil 3-4 minutes; season with chili powder and cumin. Serve with shredded chicken in warm tortillas.

Sauced~ Saute sliced or chopped zucchini in extra virgin olive oil with crushed garlic and sliced mushrooms about 4 minutes or until tender. Add a little heavy cream, and cook until thickened. Season to taste; serve over pasta. Top with freshly grated Parmesan.

Asian~ Julienne zucchini and saute in vegetable oil with chopped shallots for about 4 minutes or until tender. Season with toasted sesame seeds, sesame oil, soy sauce and crushed red pepper.

Fiesta~ Saute chopped zucchini, sliced onion and fresh corn cut off the cob in extra virgin olive oil for 4 minutes or until tender. Stir in some salsa; heat.

Appetizer Bites~ Slice zucchini and spread with garlic and herb flavored semisoft cheese. Sprinkle with chopped olives and snipped chives.

Mediterranean~ Toss sliced zucchini, halved cherry tomatoes and olives with Caesar salad dressing. Serve in lettuce cups and top with crumbled feta cheese.

Gazpacho~ Chop zucchini and stir into some V8 juice and chill. Add a splash of bottled hot pepper sauce to serve.
Marinated~ Marinate zucchini slices, fresh button mushrooms and sweet pepper pieces in vinaigrette salad dressing and a little finely shredded lemon peel for 8 to 24 hours.

Confetti Muffins~ Fold 1/2 cup shredded zucchini and 1/4 cup shredded carrot into prepared corn muffin mix. Bake according to package directions.

Gratin~ Slice zucchini and layer in a baking dish with snipped fresh herbs and shredded Parmesan mixed with panko. Drizzle layers with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in 375° oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden.

Chocolate Cake~ Stir 1 cup shredded zucchini into a prepared two-layer-size chocolate cake mix along with 1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate pieces. Spoon into a greased and floured fluted tube pan. Bake in a 350° oven about 40 minutes or until done.

Sharing at Lisa's Tempt My Tummy Tuesday! Thanks for hosting Lisa!

Kool Aid Days

Saturday, August 14, 2010
I live in Hastings, Nebraska and the claim to fame of my little town is that Kool Aid was invented here. So what do we do when summer is at it's hottest and most humid....we celebrate Kool Aid Days.

So if you're hot and parched today, think of a big pitcher of Kool Aid (yeah, I know it isn't 5 cents anymore) and the fact that there are a whole lot of people celebrating Kool Aid...small town living at it's best!

Enjoy your weekend! School starts here this week and summer is starting to wind down....bring on fall!

Chicken Florentine Casserole & Nebraska's Dorothy Lynch Salad Dressing

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Posting the recipes from our Funky Orange Chicken Supper last week!

Chicken Florentine Casserole
(Printable Version)

4 tablespoons butter
½ cup onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 tablespoons flour
1 ¼ cup milk or cream or a combination
¾ cup chicken broth
Salt & pepper to taste
2 packages frozen chopped spinach
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
5 cups cooked chicken, sliced or diced
6 thin slices ham, diced
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook spinach according to package instructions, drain well. In a skillet, melt 4 tablespoon butter and add the onion, cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add 4tablespoon flour and blend well as you cook this for 1 minute. Add the cream and chicken stock; bring to a boil and cook a few minutes until thickened, stirring constantly. Divide this sauce into two bowls. Add spinach and thyme to one half and add the ham to the other half. Place the spinach mixture into the bottom of a lightly buttered 2-quart casserole or baking dish. Cover with cooked chicken slices. Pour the sauce with the ham over chicken. Cover with grated Parmesan cheese. Bake at 400°F for 20-30 minutes, or until cheese is browned and casserole is bubbling. Serves 6.

This recipe has an interesting local history. St. Paul NE isn't far from us and is a pretty small town!

Nebraska's Dorothy Lynch Salad Dressing
(Printable Version)

3/4 cup to 1 cup sugar
3/4 cup to 1 cup oil (I use light olive oil)
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) condensed tomato soup, undiluted
1/2 cup vinegar (I use cider vinegar)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Place all ingredients except oil in blender cup. Blend, drizzling oil into mixture slowly until emulsified. Chill well. Makes 1 quart.

(In the late 1940s, Dorothy Lynch and her husband ran the restaurant at the local Legion Club in St. Paul, Nebraska. This is where the original recipe for Dorothy Lynch Home Style Dressing was born. As the Legion Club members were introduced to this delicious recipe the legend of Dorothy Lynch began to grow and the dressing fast became a "must-have" favorite. Stories of local people bringing their own bottle or jug to town to have it filled with "that delicious Dorothy Lynch salad dressing" were quite common. In 1964, Tasty-Toppings, Inc. purchased the recipe and rights to Dorothy Lynch and built a production facility in Columbus, Nebraska. The company later expanded its production capacity with a modern 64,000 square foot plant in Duncan, Nebraska. This is where every bottle of Dorothy Lynch Home Style is produced today.)

Posting to Michael Lee's Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum!

50th Anniversary Tables

Wednesday, August 11, 2010
So many have left the sweetest comments regarding my parents 50th Wedding Anniversary Celebration. Thank you! I thought I would share some of our tabletops from the party. We held the party at Haynes Park in Rio Rancho, NM. We used the Rotary Pavilion and it was the most wonderful setting for our celebration.

Each table was dressed in a burgundy cloth and had a plant and well as gold framed photos. The plants were in the cutest buckets that my sister Donna found in San Diego and painted gold and my sister Glenda took care of all the framed pictures.

See this lovely photo of my Grandmother, Ruby Mae Eavenson and my Mom & Uncle Bob. Love that picture!

One of the food tables. The caterer's set the buffet up on the countertop behind this table.

My contribution...the cake!

The memory table which held lots more pictures, the guest book and the lovely memory albums made by sister Glenda.

Sharing at Tablescape Thursday today. Thanks to Susan for hosting this lovely inspiring event each week!


Thursday, August 5, 2010
I've compiled this post in advance and will be visiting each and every rooster party post but it will have to wait until I get back from my folk's 50th Anniversary Celebration. Thanks for understanding. I just couldn't miss all the fun!

I am thrilled that the lovely Barb from Bella Vista is again hosting Rooster Party!! Last years event was a blast. Here is my post from last year. Like I explained last year, my personal experience with roosters (the real kind) has not been too terribly pleasant. That said, I still think them terribly handsome fellas but am partial to hens. You'll see I've included hens with my roosters.

Brooster the Rooster is crowing his little heart out!

This lovely vintage rooster came from the Goodwill. He is a little crazed and chippy but I just thought him too cute to not bring home.

He usually resides in the kitchen on my little kitchen shelf. In fact I'd venture to say all my chickens (the house ones anyway) reside either in the kitchen or in my dish closet.

My calendar which has a new rooster for each month of the can it possibly be August already?!

A tablescape from earlier this year.

I just love these plates from the Country Living line at Kmart.

Notice the BIG wire hen in the center of the table. I aquired her at a garage sale. Her color was that rusty, raw wire color but I sprayed her cream. She holds a rack of eggs and usually resides atop the refrigerator.

Such a pretty table. VERY me!

Another tablescape featuring another item from the Country Living line...the toile tablecloth in red....a perfect place for my vintage nesting hen....

and her coopmate!

I found this lovely brown transferware tea pot at Goodwill.

It has spent the summer hanging out on my hutch.

My kitchen Island almost always sports a Gooseberry Patch Cookbook in my hen easel. I just LOVE Gooseberry Patch. This one is a favorite, Recipes for Comfort.

Look closely and what do you see?

And I couldn't help including my latest chicken tablecape...I called this one Funky Orange Chicken Tablescape.

Aren't these just sweet and I think an unexpected treat in orange!

Have fun peeking at everyone's roosters and I am looking forward to checking out all the posts! Thank you Barb for hosting us!