Posted in Momming Hard

Springtime Greetings, and a Recipe for “Beer Stein Milk Tea”

I’m happy to say that beautiful weather has finally arrived in Manitoba!  My tulips are blooming:

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Nearly every day, my sons bring me fresh dandelions for my windowsill:

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The sprinklers and kiddie pool have been in full operation:

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And we blew bubbles on the deck for the first time this year – always a momentous occasion:

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I went to the garden centre and purchased some annuals for my flower beds (can you believe these colors??):

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At times like these I love to have a cool, sweet drink to sip on while I’m outside.  Today’s recipe, like last year’s Easy, Breezy Iced Coffee is inspired by my husband, who is great at concocting yummy drinks at home.  It’s also inspired by bubble tea…which some people love, and some people hate.  I fall into the first category.  I even love the chewy tapioca, although my at-home version does not include it.  Like most of my recipes, this one is fast, imprecise, and un-fussy.  But it satisfies my craving for a treat-in-a-cup at those times when I can’t just go out and buy one.

So, join me for a cup of tea, will you?  Begin by brewing strong tea (I use orange pekoe) by placing one tea bag in a large mug or beer stein, and pouring about one cup of hot water over it, or enough to fill the mug just less than half way:

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Steep for 5 minutes.

Remove the tea bag, and add 3 teaspoons of sugar (adjust to taste), a few ice cubes to cool it off, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla (again, adjust to taste).  Stir.

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Pour a splash of 35% cream into the tea – enough to lighten the color and make it appear a little thicker.  You won’t need very much, if you use heavy cream.  (Yum!)

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Finally, top up the mug/stein with your choice of milk.  I use lactose-free, but regular milk or almond milk would also be good.

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I use a beer stein because it’s just the right size for me, and I don’t like beer – so hey, what else am I going to do with it?  But any large mug or even a glass would do.

If you make this, I hope you enjoy it.  And as you sip away, let me know in the comments what you have been up to lately.  Happy spring!

Warm wishes,

Lisa

Posted in Momming Hard

Easy, Breezy Iced Coffee

Recently, my husband and I were at McDonald’s (dollar drink days!) and he bought me an iced coffee.  Although I’m a huge coffee drinker, I had never really gotten into the iced variety (maybe because I’m already always cold). 😉

To my surprise, I really enjoyed it!  And since I realized how easy a great iced coffee is to make at home (and probably even cheaper than $1), I haven’t stopped guzzling them.

Here’s my oh-so-simple recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Strong brewed coffee (preferably cooled)
  • Ice (duh!)
  • Sweetened/flavoured coffee whitener (such as Coffee Mate)
  • 35% cream/whipping cream (why be skimpy?)
  • Milk

Directions:

Fill a glass about halfway with ice.  Add the brewed and cooled coffee, again until about the halfway mark.  Pour in a *splash* (technical term) of coffee whitener, and another splash of the 35% cream.  Fill the glass the rest of the way with milk, and stir it up.

Adjust all of the amounts to suit your preference.  I also use lactose-free milk in mine, because, well…you know.

I’m thinking of making a large jug of this concoction next week, when I plan to have a few ladies over.  Do you think they’ll like it?

If you make it, let me know in the comments what you think!

Warm wishes,

Lisa

Posted in Momming Hard

The Lost Art of the Roux

What do scalloped potatoes, creamy enchilada sauce, chicken pot pie, and cream of broccoli soup all have in common?  In my kitchen, a homemade roux is the foundation for all of them.

When I first learned to cook, I did so by opening cans.  My mom had given me a few of those Campbell’s soup recipe books, and I thought that was the only way to go.  I became the master of cream-soup-goop-based recipes.

And honestly, I don’t have anything against them.  I still use them from time to time.  However, I was troubled by the fact that unless I had those cans stocked up in my house, I couldn’t cook many of my favorite dishes.

How did they do it a-way-back-in-the-day…before Campbell’s soups??  (Gasp!)

I had been duped into thinking that a creamy, tasty foundation to a multitude of tasty dishes had to come from a can.

The truth is, that you can achieve the same flavour and texture quite easily by learning how to make a basic roux from scratch.

Here is the incredibly simple process:

Take equal parts butter (or margarine) and flour.  Melt the butter on the stove.  Add the flour, mix it in, and cook for a minute or two.  (It will look like a paste.)  Add liquid (broth or milk, or a combination of the two) gradually, whisking it in, until the mixture reaches your desired consistency.  Bring to a boil and simmer for a few minutes, stirring frequently.

Here are the quantities I use for 2 cups of roux (with a creamy, sauce-like consistency):

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups liquid (broth or milk or a combination of the two)

Since developing this skill, I find myself in the canned soup aisle very infrequently.  I feel great about making my food ‘from scratch,’ and can adjust the taste and consistency to my liking.

For additional flavour, you may cook chopped onions or garlic in the butter before adding the flour in the process I described above.  Salt, pepper, and other seasonings can also be used to adjust the flavour of your roux.

Do you use a roux in the dishes you make?  Do you use the same process/ingredients in your roux as I do?  I would love to hear your ideas in the comments section below.

Warm wishes,

Lisa

Posted in Momming Hard

Basic, All-Purpose, Single Batch Icing

I’ve spent a good portion of my mom life confused about icing.  It seems silly, because icing is one of the simplest things to make.  However, I’ve produced several botched attempts.  I’ve made it too buttery, too wet, or too dry.  I’ve curdled cooked icings in the pot somehow.  I’ve nearly broken my arm trying to mix it with a spoon, and then found myself in an icing sugar cloud when I turned on the mixer.

There are many icing recipes out there, but I’ve found some of them to be complicated or hard to duplicate.  (At least for an amateur like myself.)

Today I will share with you the proportions and method that I have settled upon.  I like the flavour and consistency of this icing.  It’s nothing spectacular, but when you need icing in a flash for cookies (it’s great on Soft White/Grandmother’s cookies) or a cake, and have only basic ingredients and a small amount of time – this is my go-to.  As a plus, the proportions are easy to remember.

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Basic, All-Purpose Icing

  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup cream or milk
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla (I just pour a splash in – yum!)
  • Food coloring (optional)

Place softened butter and icing sugar in a bowl.  Mix with hands until crumbly.  Pour in the cream or milk and vanilla.  Use an electric mixer and blend until smooth.  Add food coloring (optional) and mix in.

If you find the consistency too dry, add a few drops of milk/cream.  If too wet, add a small amount of icing sugar.

To ice a large cake (or if you like a LOT of icing), you may want to double this recipe.

 

Pretty easy, right?

I love how excited kids get about icing and sprinkles.  It’s just a sure-fire way to make the day special and put a smile on their face 🙂 .

Hope you enjoy, and if you make it, let me know in the comments how it works for you!

Warm wishes,

Lisa

Posted in Momming Hard

Soft White (Grandmother’s) Cookies

Welcome to my first ever Momming Hard Monday.  In these segments I will post some kind of super-mom idea that I have done or hope to do.

(Because I can’t always be super-mom. But one day per week, I can pretend to be!)

Today, I share an old family favorite: Soft White (or Grandmother’s) Cookies.  Where I live here in Mennonite-ville, they are made and loved by all.

Top them with your favorite icing and sprinkles for a truly authentic experience!

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Soft White Cookies

  • 2 cups sweet cream (whipping cream)
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup margarine (or butter)
  • 5 cups flour
  • 8 tsp baking powder
  • 1 (or 2) tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Blend sugar and softened margarine or butter together.  Add beaten eggs.  Add vanilla.  Blend dry ingredients together in separate bowl.  Add dry ingredients alternately with cream (begin and end with dry – 1/3 of dry, then 1/2 the cream, 1/3 of dry, other 1/2 cream, and then the rest of the dry).

Sprinkle flour on a clean surface and roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick.  Cut into shapes.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes.  I like mine slightly underdone, so I lean toward the 10 minute mark.

 

Have you made these before?  What’s your best icing recipe?  Let me know in the comments.

And by the way, in the future I will do my best to post closer to the BEGINNING of nap time. 😉

See you on Friday for the first of my weekly rambles!

Warm wishes

Lisa