To Every Thing There Is A Season

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.”(Eccl. 3:1)

We’ve loved the time we’ve shared with you, dear writers and readers of Delightfully Insightful.  As many of you know, Ashley and I are now working with the young women in our ward and are unable to continue as editors of this site.  So as of now, the Relief Society presidency is retiring the blog.  While you won’t see any new posts, we hope you continue to use the archives still brimming with great ideas, recipes, advice, and more.

Many thanks to all who supported this effort.  It’s been so much fun to be part of this season of your lives as together we’ve created this fabulous connection.

Sincerely,

Christy R.

Time

Photo Essay by Ashley M.

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Baking’s Best

by Kari H.

Ice Cream

My husband is an ice cream guy.  Of course.  I bake and bake and bake (you can follow my adventures in baking at http://virtualgoodyplate.blogspot.com/)  and at the end of the day all he really wants is a bowl of ice cream.  We got a great electric ice cream machine for our wedding but have faced years of glacial disappointment due to bad recipes and lack of air conditioning.  For the first seven years of our marriage we lived on the top floors of apartment buildings with no air conditioning, and it’s just too hot for the ice cream to freeze.  (Even in the winter, when the super would blast the heat.  We would open all the windows and it was still too hot!)  Anyway.  Over time I became so discouraged that I stopped trying to make ice cream and just bought it.

But then we moved to Virginia.  And got air conditioning.  Which makes all the difference.  The cooler the air, the better your ice cream will set up.  So even though we are still learning the hard way that there are a lot of lame ice cream recipes out there, I have at least three tried-and-true winners for you this month.

Toasted Coconut Ice Cream
Like coconut?  This ice cream will become your new obsession.  Don’t like coconut?  (I didn’t.)  This ice cream will convert you.  (Did me.)  It is pictured with flourles chocolate cake – you can find the recipe here.

1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup half-and-half
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract

1. If using electric ice cream maker, freeze bowl at least 1 to 2 days in advance. We have a Krups and for some reason it really needs 2 days or more to freeze good and hard.

2. Preheat oven to 400. Spread the coconut on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Place in hot oven for 2 to 3 minutes or until coconut turns a light brown. WATCH IT CLOSELY – it burns quickly!!! Remove from oven and allow to cool.

3. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the sugar into the eggs with a hand held mixer until thickened and pale yellow. Beat in the cornstarch and salt. Set aside.

4. Combine the half-and-half with the coconut milk in a heavy medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat and slowly beat the hot liquid into the eggs and sugar.

5. Briefly rinse your saucepan and rub dry with paper towel to get the scum off. Pour the eggs/sugar mixture back into the saucepan and place over low heat. Stir constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon until the custard thickens slightly. Be careful not to let the mixture boil or the eggs will scramble – gross! Remove from the heat and pour the hot custard through a strainer into a large, clean bowl. Allow the custard to cool slightly, about 5 minutes, then stir in toasted coconut, heavy cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until cold (about 5 hours) or overnight.

6. Stir the chilled custard, then freeze in your ice cream machine. When finished, the ice cream will be soft but ready to eat. For firmer ice cream, transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for at least 3 hours.

Recipe and photographs (with permission) from The Hungry Housewife

Sour Cream Ice Cream
The original recipe called for raw eggs, no cooking. I just didn’t want to try it so I adjusted the recipe to cook the eggs a bit like custard – don’t know how the original turns out but mine is better!  This is your new perfect vanilla ice cream – that sour cream really adds the something all the others are missing.  It is pictured with blueberry pot pie – you can find the recipe here.

1 1/4 cups half-and-half
3/4 cup plus 2 T sugar
3 eggs
8 oz. sour cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Dash of salt

1. In a medium saucepan whisk half-and-half, sugar and eggs. Cook, stirring, over medium heat until thick and steaming, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and bring to room temperature or cooler in refrigerator, several hours.

2. Mix in vanilla, sour cream and salt. If necessary, continue to chill until nice and cold.

3. Pour mixture into freezer can of an ice-cream maker; freeze according to machine instructions. Spoon ice cream into a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze 1 hour or until firm.

Recipe adapted from Cottage Living, April 2005

Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Yes, you are reading this right – THREE CUPS of mint leaves are called for.  Ask around, there are some sources in the ward.  You’ve never had mint ice cream like this before, and it will forever ruin you for that neon green stuff.  It’s like eating a leaf off the bush.  Except there’s cream, sugar and chocolate, too, so it’s even better.  This ice cream is not quick-and-easy but it is worth your time and it is great on a hot summer night!

3 cups fresh mint leaves, rinsed, drained, packed
1 cup milk
2 cups heavy cream (divided, 1 cup and 1 cup)
2/3 cup sugar
A pinch of salt
6 egg yolks
6 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped fine, keep in freezer until used

1. Put the mint leaves in a heavy saucepan with the 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of the cream. Heat until just steaming (do not let boil), remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 30 minutes. Reheat the mixture until steaming, remove from heat and let stand for 15 more minutes.

2. While the mint is infusing in step 1, prepare the remaining cream over an ice bath. Pour the remaining 1 cup of cream into a medium size metal bowl, set in ice water (with lots of ice) over a larger bowl. Set a mesh strainer on top of the bowls. Set aside. (*I just put the remaining cream in the carton in the freezer for about an hour until it was needed – it was nice and cold when I needed it.)

3. Strain the milk cream mixture into a bowl, pressing against the mint leaves with a rubber spatula in the sieve to get the most liquid out of them. Return the milk cream mixture to the saucepan. Add sugar and salt to the mixture. Heat until just steaming again, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat.

4. Whisk the egg yolks in a medium sized bowl. Slowly pour the heated milk cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly so that the egg yolks are tempered by the warm mixture, but not cooked by it. Scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

5. Return the saucepan to the stove, stirring the mixture constantly over medium heat with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spoon so that you can run your finger across the coating and have the coating not run. This can take about 5 to 10 minutes.

6. Pour the custard through the strainer (from step 2) and stir into the cold cream to stop the cooking.

7. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator (at least a couple of hours) or stir the mixture in the bowl placed over the ice bath until thoroughly chilled (20 minutes or so). Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

8. Once the ice cream has been made in the ice cream maker it should be pretty soft. Gently fold in the finely chopped chocolate. Put in an airtight container and place in the freezer for at least an hour, preferably several hours. If it has been frozen for more than a day, you may need to let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften it before serving. Makes 1 quart

Recipe from Simply Recipes

Kitchen Gadget – Scoops

Scoops have come a long way in my lifetime.  My parents had a big metal paddle thing with a green handle and was it ever hard to get anything but a scraping out!  But now we have choices, so many choices!  Take this Scoop n’ Stack by Cuispro – it claims to cut through the hardest ice cream with a twist-and-lift action to create cylindrical blocks of ice cream for your bowl, cone or creation.  I haven’t tried it, but I am very intrigued.  Or there’s this electric scoop from Deni that heats up to create perfect curled scoops, plus release off the nonstick surface and it has a drip-guard.  Might even do your laundry.

My personal favorite is our trusty anti-freeze-filled metal scoop from Crate & Barrel (Zyliss makes one, too.)  It is no-frills but gets the job done with its self-defrosting fluid in the handle, for pretty and easy scoops every time.

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Vacation

Photo Essay by Sue M.

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Eating Out

Anonymous

One of our friends recently posed the following: “We have a rare chance to dine sans kids. Where around DC do you recommend for our dining date?” This rather open query was geared to my foodie husband, who I should have known would respond with interest. When I chanced a glance at his “casual” response, I thought, “move over Tom Sietsema, this beats most dining guides I’ve read!”

Propitiously, DC Restaurant Week, an annual multi-course gourmet event, just happens to be next week, Aug 16th-22nd (more on that later). Whether you’re an enthusiast or a food newb, here are a few recommendations for the other 51 weeks of the year (freshly borrowed from my husband’s inbox):

——–

Hi John.

With regards to your culinary quandary… of course, I have many recommendations for dining.  Probably a whole lot more than you’d care to sift through.  Zagat has nothing on me.  Not knowing exactly what you’re looking for, though, I shall proceed to enumerate a few (in no particular order) in hopes that something strikes your fancy.  There are, of course, no chain restaurants!  Here’s my legend:

$ – $30ish for the meal (including tax & tip)

$$ -$60ish for the meal (including tax & tip)

$$$ – $90ish for the meal (including tax & tip)

I’ve included websites so you can look at menus. Of course, I’ve got a lot more… I’ve just pared the list down cuz it’s late, and I’m tired.  But if you’re looking for something in particular, let me know and I’ll see if I can make a recommendation that fits the bill.

1. Cava – (DC SE 8th St – $$)

http://dc.cavamezze.com/home

This is right over in my neck of the woods (just up from the Navy Yard, by the Marine Barracks at 8th and I st. SE).  They specialize in ‘mezze,’ or Mediterranean small plates.  This lets you sample a myriad of dishes (choosing just one is always such an agonizing process for me!) while deciding for yourself when you’ve had enough.  Turophiliacs will appreciate the fact that there’s an entire MENU heading for CHEESE MEZZE!!  (Saganaki, anyone?)  Dining is al fresco (which I always prefer), both indoors and out as the entire front of the dining room opens out to the patio.  After dinner enjoy a stroll through the beautiful, quiet neighborhoods of Capitol Hill and appreciate the residential urban beauty just a stone’s throw from our nation’s Capitol.

2.  Pupatella (Intersection of Wilson Blvd and George Mason Dr. in Arlington / $)

http://www.pupatella.com

These folks started out with a little cart in Ballston.  After a few years, they’d gotten successful enough to open this small restaurant a few blocks further up Wilson Blvd.  This is, bar none, the best, most authentic Vera Pizza Napolitana you’re going to find in the DC area.  Easily on par with 2 Amy’s or Pizzeria Orso at considerably lower prices.  We are Pupatellaholics.  Go there and you will be, too.  Fantastically authentic pizza cooked in a 1000 degree wood-fired oven, fresh ingredients, and an enticing selection of outstanding Gelato flavors make this place something of a hidden gem.  Now… it’s not long on ambience.  It’s a real Neapolitan experience.  Usually busy, often un-air-conditioned, and founded on the “God helps those who help themselves” ethic (you can expect to bus your own table and get your own water), it’s NOT a place for a quiet, romantic dinner.  If, however, the thought of beautiful slap-method crust, lightly salted and brushed with olive oil, and topped with basil, fresh mozzarella, arugula, and San Marzano tomatoes makes your heart go pitter patter, this is the place for you.

3.  Haandi (Falls Church – $$)

Hey Folks, Gather round.  Have a look at these plates I’m puttin’ down.  Hey, People, I’m your Haandi man.  O.k. – so maybe that’s not the way JT sang it, but then he probably never had Indian food like this.  The menu is huge, but, to borrow from the vernacular: “It’s all good.”  Short on ambience but long on flavor, this festival of South Asian culinary finery is one of the best the area has to offer, without pretense or the inflated prices of some of the hautier establishments.

4.  Taste of Morocco (Almost Clarendon – $$)

http://www.atasteofmorocco.com/

North African cooking provides some of the richest and most interesting flavors I’ve had, and ToM serves them all up with flair.  The way to go here is with one of the Moroccan Feasts, which include multiple courses and are meant for sharing.  From tandoor to tangine, the spices are the star here… except, of course, on Thursday nights, when there’s belly dancing!

5.  Firefly (DuPont Circle – $$$)

http://www.firefly-dc.com/

Firefly, adjacent to (and owned by) the Kimpton-owned boutique Hotel Madera, has the sort of attention paid to the interior design and ambience I’ve come to expect from the Kimpton group.  It’s intimate, unexpected, and fresh.  You might say the same about the food.  Chef Daniel Bortnick (a local, from Rockville, MD) consistently programs a wonderful, seasonal menu.  It was here that J and I first experienced fiddle-head ferns, despite J’s having grown up in Washington state.  It was also he who introduced me to Rogue River creamery, creators of my all-time favorite fromage, Rogue River Smoky Blue.  An after-dinner stroll through Dupont Circle and up Connecticut Avenue brings the feel of the city even closer.  Stop in at the Claude Taylor photography gallery (http://www.travelphotography.net/) and enjoy the colors, sights, and auras of locales the world over, all  in a single shop.

6.  Willow  (Ballston – $$$)

http://www.willowva.com/

Willow is a diner’s delight.  This is haute cuisine at its hautiest.  The freshest and most exotic ingredients, the most traditional and intricate of techniques, Willow never fails to impress… whether you’re a culinary neophyte or a seasoned connoisseur.  Oh, and being that they’re in Arlington, taxes are lower and parking is easier (and cheaper!) to come by.  Looking for an unforgettable meal?  Chef O’Grady is the Natalie Cole of the poêle.  Did I mention they have a fabulous cheese menu?!

7.  The Italian Store (Arlington – Lyon Village / $)

http://www.italianstore.com

Has fantastic sandwiches using real Italian products (i.e., imported prosciutto, provolone, capicola, etc.).  Looking for a cheap-yet-culinarily-exquisite-while-feeling-euro-cool date?  Stop by and grab a couple of subs, a container of beautiful huge red Baresi olives, 2 cans of Aranciata (or Limonata, if you prefer), and a package of Berger cookies (They’re baked semi-locally in Baltimore and absurdly good.  Plus, you’ll have a few extras to take home to the kiddos). After procuring your comestibles, proceed a short drive to Fort C. F. Smith Park ( http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/ParksRecreation/fortcfsmith/ParksRecreationFortcfsmithFtCFSmith.aspx ).  Bring a book of Shakespearean love sonnets or serenade each other with Puccini while you enjoy your narfifulent fare in the beautiful setting of the Peace Garden and/or wildlife preserve.  When you’ve finished dining, you’re just a hop, skip, and a jump from Spout Run, which will give you easy access to downtown should you decide to cross the river to enjoy strolling through the monuments.

Oh.. and don’t forget DESSERT!!

Sometimes, we like to hit one restaurant for our meal, and another for dessert… oftentimes with an activity in between.  Having a little break in between meal and dessert sometimes gives the food a chance to settle; it gives you an opportunity to experience a different setting and/or different chefatorial ideas, and it’s sometimes nice to have a little time to sit down together and wrap up the evening.  Here are a few sweet spots:

1.  CoCo Sala  (DC – Penn Quarter / $$)

http://www.cocosala.com/

This is kind of a hip lounge-style restaurant… and while they have great small plates for dinner, their real forte is chocolate (as one might imagine from the title).  The 3 course chocolate desserts are exquisite, as are the confections from their chocolate shop.  Hip, swank, and luscious.

2.  Giffords (Dc – Penn Quarter / $)

http://www.giffords.com/store_info/store_info.cfm

Remember Giffords Ice Cream back when it used to be where Joe’s Place is now on Lee Highway?  Yes, they DID go out of business in the 80’s, but a few years back someone bought the whole shootin’ match from the original family and has now opened a few small Gifford’s shops with the original-recipe Gifford’s flavors, made just they way it used to be made.  This ice cream just rocks.  And, at least for me, there’s some nostalgia, too.

3.  Boccato Gelato (Clarendon / $)

http://www.boccato.com/

Makers and purveyors of really, really good gelato.  We love gelato.  MMMMMM.  GELATO.  Did I mention it’s really good? Cuz it is…!! Across Wilson Blvd. from Whole Foods in Clarendon.

4.  The Source (Downtown, in the Newseum / $$$)

http://www.wolfgangpuck.com/restaurants/fine-dining/3941

This is Wolfgang Puck’s signature restaurant in DC.  Of course, it’s hard to get a reservation, and expensive.  BUT… if you go there for dessert, you can sit at the bar or in the lounge seating and still enjoy your selection from their perfectly Pucky patisserie.  The 15 layer carrot cake is an experience to be had, and I still haven’t forgiven them for taking the filo-wrapped chocolate lava cake off the menu.

5.  Metro 29 Diner (Lee Highway and Glebe Rd. / $$)

Of course, you know this one.  It’s big, silver, and ugly.  But the desserts are incredible.  Pies as big as your head.  Cakes as big as a house.  This is comfort food at it’s best… and they’re open late.  Hey, they were even featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” show.  If Guy Fieri likes it, it’s gotta be good, right?

6.  Buzz (Alexandria, $)

http://www.buzzonslaters.com/

Buzz is so much more than a cupcakery… but truthfully it’s the bacon cupcakes that keep me coming back.  Yes, you heard right.  Bacon cupcakes.  And they’ve got good drinks for non-coffee-drinkers as well.  My personal favorite is the hot frothed milk.  It’s the perfect complement to a chocolate bite of bacony goodness.  Open ’til midnight, and conveniently located just south of Potomac Yards.

One final note – Restaurant week in DC is August 16-22.

http://washington.org/restaurantwk/

All the participating restaurants offer a 3 course dinner for $35.10 (before tax and tip).  This is often a good deal, although some places will cut down on portion sizes.  Even so, it gives you a great opportunity to try out places that otherwise might be kinda pricey.  Here’s my “hitlist” of rockin’ places that are participating in Restaurant Week.  I’ll give you the locale and the cuisine and/or chef… they’re all the same price.  I’ve tried to stay mainly in Penn Quarter, because it’s the closest to the Mall for post-dinner monument meanderings.

1789 (Georgetown, Continental)

2491 (Falls Church, Continental)

701 (Penn Quarter, Continental… REALLY easy Metro access)

Adour (at the St. Regis Hotel, 16th & K st. Downtown, it’s an Alain Ducasse export from NYC… absolutely top notch.)

Bistro D’Oc (Penn Quarter, Langued’oc [i.e. French])

Cafe’ Atlantico (Penn Quarter, Spanish-influenced Fresh.  One of the 4 Jose Andres’ restaurants on the same block.)

CoCo Sala (Penn Quarter, see entry above)

Firefly (Dupont Circle, See entry above)

Jaleo (Penn Quarter, Tapas / Jose Andres)

Oyamel (Penn Quarter, Mexican – it’s a Jose Andres ‘small plate’ joint… the goat taco is OUTSTANDING!!)

Potenza (Penn Quarter, Italian)

Sette Bello (Clarendon, Italian)

Willow (Ballston, see entry above)

Zatinya (Penn Quarter, it’s Jose Andres’ Mediterranean place.  Chef Andres just rocks!)

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Baking’s Best

by Kari H.

Ode to Buttermilk


I find all baking magical, even though I know there is chemistry behind the curtain.  Of those chemagical elements that work together to make fabulousness, buttermilk is one of the most multitalented.  It provides leavening, whiteness, tenderness and a rich flavor.  My grandmother used to drink a tall glass on a hot day for refreshment, which I personally find repulsive, but okay.  It was a different era.  My husband even downs a glass as prevention when he feels a cold sore coming on, and I do believe it works (buttermilk is full of “good bacteria,” much like yogurt.)  When I find buttermilk on the ingredient list for a recipe, my estimation of its potential goes up, and sometimes my mouth even starts to water.

Although buttermilk is a major player in many recipes, chocolate cake among my favorites, for this homage I have chosen three recipes that are simple and straightforward; they truly let this key ingredient shine.  So pick up some buttermilk and let the magic begin!

Amazing Buttermilk Waffles with Buttermilk Syrup
Besides adoring these waffles, I love the story behind how I got the recipe.  One of our friends in New York, a wedding photographer, took a job to shoot a Mormon wedding in Arizona, at the Mesa temple.  We had him over to dinner before the trip so he could ask about the temple and understand why he couldn’t go in to shoot the ceremony and what it was all about.  He asked questions for hours and went off to Arizona well-prepared.

When he got back, I asked him how it went and he loved it.  He loved the families, he loved the temple, he loved the grounds, he loved it all.  He also had more questions, which we gladly answered.  But back to waffles.  On the morning of the wedding, he went to the bride’s house to photograph everyone getting ready.  The mother of the bride was in the kitchen making these buttermilk waffles for everyone in the house, including the photographer.  He begged for the recipe and when he came home, bought a waffle iron so he and his wife could make them.  In their family, they continue to call them Mormon Wedding waffles (talk about a good impression), but I call them just what they are:  Amazing Buttermilk Waffles.  (He doesn’t have pictures of that particular wedding up on his website anymore, but here is the site anyway: http://www.daverobbinsphotography.com/I especially love the cake pictures near the end of portfolio 2.)


Amazing Buttermilk Waffles
4 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt (plain, banana or strawberry will also work)
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 T sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

1.  Plug in and heat up your waffle iron.  Spray with nonstick cooking spray before cooking the first batch.

2.  Whisk together the wet ingredients (eggs through vanilla).  Add the dry ingredients (flour through salt) and whisk until well combined and there are minimal lumps.  Cook according to waffle iron instructions.  Makes about 14 waffles

Buttermilk Syrup
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 to 4 T butter
1 tsp light Karo syrup
1 tsp baking soda

Place all ingredients in a large saucepan.  It is going to foam up so you need plenty of room.  Cook, stirring often, over medium to medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, it comes to a boil and foams.  Remove from heat.  Serve warm and foamy over waffles.  Yields 1 cup

Cat Head Biscuits

I was flipping through my most recent Cook’s Country magazine one night while dinner cooked in the oven, and this recipe stopped me dead in my tracks.  I skimmed the description.  Drool.  I ran down the ingredient list and directions, hoping against hope.  Sure enough, I had everything on hand and just enough time to whip them up to have with dinner that night.  So I did.  And I will continue to do so – and for breakfast – every chance I get.  Clouds, these are.  Pillows of melt-in-your-mouthness.  And super easy to boot.  And don’t worry about the name.  It’s just because they’re about as big as a cat’s head.  It’s a southern thing.

Cat Heat Biscuits
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and softened
4 T vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 425. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position. Grease 9-inch round cake pan. Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Rub butter and shortening into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. (I use my hands at first, and then switch to a pastry cutter to achieve the right texture.) Stir in buttermilk until combined.

2. Use a greased 1/2-cup measure (that’s what I used) or large spring-loaded ice cream scoop (I gotta get me one of those – perfect for muffins and biscuits!) to transfer 6 heaping portions of dough into prepared pan. One goes in the middle, five around the perimeter.

3. Bake until puffed and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack. Serve.  Makes 6 big ol’ biscuits. They can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Recipe from Cook’s Country, April/May 2010

Brigham Young’s Buttermilk Doughnuts

I take no credit for this one except for having been clever enough to obtain the recipe.  These darlings are a Pioneer Day tradition in Shanna S.’s family.  And if any of you came to Popcorn Night* at my house in November, or have ever tasted Shanna’s, or her mom’s, cooking, you know what a good thing that is.  Mmm…doughnuts!

Brigham Young’s Buttermilk Doughnuts

2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. sugar
5 3/4 c. flour
2 tsp. soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 c. melted butter

1. Heat vegetable oil in a large pot or deep skillet so that it’s deep enough for the donuts to not touch the bottom. Use a candy thermometer to monitor heat – you want to get to 375.

2. In a large bowl, combine buttermilk, eggs and sugar. Blend well. Stir in melted butter.

3. Sift together dry ingredients and beat into buttermilk mixture.

4. Roll or pat out dough onto floured surface to about 1/4 inch. Cut with 2 1/2 in. cutter (make sure to flour the cutter so it doesn’t stick). A donut cutter is ideal, but if you don’t have one, use a biscuit cutter or glass and whatever you can figure out to cut out the hole (like a lid or tiny jar.)

5. Fry donuts and holes in vegetable oil that is 375 degrees – monitor heat between batches. If it is too cool the donuts will get too greasy while cooking; if it’s too hot they won’t cook all the way through. Add oil as needed so donuts don’t touch bottom of pan. Flip when golden brown to cook other side. Lay cooked donuts on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels. Cool slightly. Dip in glaze, then lay glaze side up on wax-paper-lined cookie sheet.

Glaze
1/2 c. boiling water
1 lb. powdered sugar
2 tsp. either vanilla or maple flavoring

Mix a little of the water into the powdered sugar to make a paste. Add the rest of the water. This should be a glaze, not a thick frosting. Add 2 tsp. of either vanilla or maple flavoring. Glaze only 1 side of the donut.

Kitchen Gadget – Doughnut Cutter
Sure, you’ve got cookie cutters.  You probably even have a biscuit cutter or two.  You could manage without one of these.  But that’s not really the point.  The point is having cool gadgets, and using them.  If you’re going to make doughnuts even once, you should have a cutter.  They come in several sizes, from mini to mongo, and are worth every penny (usually $4-8.)  It cuts the doughnut and the hole precisely each time.  You want one like in the picture, deep and sharp and with an open top so that if any dough gets stuck you can just poke it out with your finger.  Be sure to dip in flour every few cuts to avoid sticking.

I got mine at Fran’s Cake & Candy Supply in Fairfax for about $5 (http://www.franscakeandcandy.com/).

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Beach

Photo Essay by Brenna B.

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Get Organized

by Christi L.

Labels

I’ve come to realize that the best way to make sure your home remains tidy and organized (most of the time) is to decide where you want things to be stored and then make labels to ensure they actually end up there.  If everyone in your household knows where to find an item, and where to put it back, it will save everyone time and energy, remove lots of frustration finding misplaced items, and help teach your children that everything should be stored in its proper place.

Sound impossible?  It isn’t.  Let’s start with your children’s clothes drawers.  For years I’ve been making drawer dividers from foam core.  Measure your drawer.  Decide how many dividers you want each drawer to contain, then cut the foam core in lengths vertically and horizontally with wedges that fit inside one another.

Place the dividers in the drawer and label each compartment: socks, underwear, leggings/capris, etc.

In the linen closet, I got tired of pulling out top sheets for a queen bed when I really wanted a fitted sheet for a twin-sized bed.  To solve this problem, I made labels, attached them to a safety pin and then stored the labels in a small container inside the linen closet.  Every time I do laundry and fold the bedding, I attach the proper label to the folded piece of bedding and stack it in the closet.  I’m never surprised now when I pull out sheets.

I use labels to organize my closets and shelves so I can keep track of everything from toys and cleaning supplies, to  “next-size” and “last-size” children’s clothing, ribbon, and craft supplies.  I even have a plastic bin in the closet by our back door where I put purchased items that need to be returned.

Check Costco for good prices on labelmakers and replacement tape.  It may take a few hours to organize your drawers and closets, but your effort will save time and frustration day after day.

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