Friday, October 23, 2020

Homemade Hamburger Buns!

I don't like going to the store for hamburger buns.  I don't know why, but it always seems like such an ordeal to buy hamburger buns.  They seem so expensive for what they are - even the generic store brands seem kind of, well, high.  And then when we put sloppy joe filling on them, they fall apart.

So I started searching for recipes. But most homemade bread recipes take four hours to make, which again seems a little too much effort for hamburger buns, and what if I want them on the spur of the moment?  

Well, I found this recipe, and it fills the bill.  It's quick and easy and takes less than 45 minutes to make.  I tested it with my sloppy joe recipe, and the buns didn't disintegrate!

40-Minute Hamburger Buns

2 T active dry yeast

1 c warm water (110 to 115 degrees)

1/3 c vegetable oil

1/4 c sugar

1 large egg

2 t salt

3 to 4 c bread flour

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water.  Add oil and sugar, mix, and let stand for 5 minutes.  Add the egg, salt, and enough flour to form a soft dough.

On a floured surface, knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes.  Do not let rise.  Divide into  8  pieces, shape each into a ball, and place 2 inches apart on a greased baking sheets.  Cover and let rest 10 minutes.  Bake until golden brown, about 14-15 minutes.

Spray tops with non-stick spray or brush with vegetable oil or melted butter right out of the oven, then remove from pans to a wire rack to cool.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Persimmon Pudding - It's a Hoosier Thing!

One of our nephews texted me a couple of years ago asking for the recipe for "permission pudding."  I'm sure autocorrect caused that, but I got a big laugh out it!

If you're from the midwest, you've probably heard about persimmon pudding, even if you haven't ever eaten it.  It's a Hoosier thing, like sugar cream pie.  One of those regional things that natives take for granted and incomers need to learn about!

Persimmon pudding is "pudding" in the British sense, where "pudding" means "dessert."  Instead of a creamy custard-like dessert, it's more like a super-moist cake.

Mitchell, a small town in southern Indiana, puts on a persimmon festival in late September.   It's also home to Spring Mill State Park, and persimmon pudding is always on the menu at the Spring Mill Inn dining room.  The park is also home to a pioneer village, and at the beginning of the path to the village from the parking lot is a stand of persimmon trees.

Persimmon trees don't grow very tall.  In the late summer and fall, you'll find the 1 1/2-inch round, orange-y fruits hanging on the tree, but don't pick them!  Until they fall from the tree, they're super sour and will pucker up your mouth and shrivel your entire body (not really, but it will feel that way if you eat them)!  After the first hard frost, they'll fall, and at that point they are soft, sticky, and sweet, ready to be gathered and processed into pulp.

Those without a source of home-processed persimmon pulp can find it frozen at farm stands and markets.  We're lucky - another of our nephews has persimmon trees in his yard and he brings frozen pulp at Thanksgiving.

Here's the recipe I got about 30 years ago from a friend of my parents.  There are plenty more recipes online, some more like regular cake, some wetter.  This is one of the moderately wet types, but by no means is it the wettest I've had.

Persimmon Pudding

1 c persimmon pulp

2 eggs, beaten

3/4 c milk

2 T melted butter

1/2 t vanilla

3/4 c sugar

1 c flour

1/4 t baking soda

1/4 t cinnamon

1/4 t nutmeg

1/2 t salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray an 8" x 8" baking pan.  Mix the wet ingredients together in a bowl.  Add the sugar and mix well.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the rest of the dry ingredients, then add to the wet mixture and mix well.  Pour into the baking pan.  Bake 1 hour.  The "pudding" will be VERY moist.  Serve warm with whipped cream.  Refrigerate to store.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Watercolor Redux - An Autumn Leaf Study

I've been playing with my watercolors again!

The watercolor study.
Our front yard is completely carpeted with maple leaves.  I went out, picked up and examined some leaves, looking for color and curl, and finally chose one.

The chosen leaf!
The original leaf.
I sat down with my trusty mechanical pencil and sketched the chosen leaf, then mixed up some watercolors and applied a series of washes over the sketch.  

I'm pretty happy with the result!  

I haven't done any botanicals until now.  I may do some more to see whether this was a fluke.

Plenty of leaves to choose from!

Saturday, October 10, 2020

French Onion Soup, Revisited

 When I hit the grocery recently, I saw Vidalia onions again.  Usually you think of Vidalias in the spring, but here it is, officially autumn, and there they were, big as life.  So I bought myself five pounds of Oniony Goodness from Georgia and made another batch of French onion soup.

Those Other People in the house aren't as fond of it as I am, so I figured I'd have to preserve it.  Well, the darned freezer is packed completely full, so I had to find another way to save the pot of soup.  In one of my canning/preserving books, there it was - French onion soup.  The recipe was almost identical to the one I use, and at the end there were canning directions!  So, I got out the pressure canner and making sure the soup had been brought to a boil, I put 3 quarts of boiling water and the canner's rack into the canner and filled jars with hot soup.  The canning procedure is the same as for broth, except the times are longer - 60 minutes for pints, 65 minutes for quarts. 

Ladle soup into each jar to 1 inch below the rim (if you're using a canning funnel, that's just below the bottom of the funnel).  Wipe any drips or spills off the jar's rim to ensure the lids will seal.  Place a lid on each jar, and tighten the ring to just finger tight.  Place the jars on the rack in the canner, close the lid, and turn on the heat, about medium-high.  Vent the canner according to its instructions. 

After venting 10 minutes, place the weight on the vent (yes, even a canner with a dial regulator will have a weight to place on the vent).  Allow the pressure to build to 10 pounds (a weighted regulator - the weight will rock gently on its own) or 11 pounds (a dial regulator).  The pressure relief valve will rise and lock the lid.  Start timing when the correct pressure has been reached.  Adjust the heat to maintain pressure. 

Process the jars, 60 minutes for pints and 65 minutes for quarts.  When the correct time has elapsed, turn off the heat and let the pressure release.  You won't be able to open the lid until the lid lock has dropped.  When it has dropped, wait an additional 10 minutes before opening the lid. 

Remove the jars from the canner.  Place them on a towel to cool.  Don't tighten or remove the rings.  Drape another towel over the jars to keep them out of any drafts.  You'll hear the lids click as they cool.  Let them sit overnight.  Don't touch them until then!  Check the lids to be sure they've sealed - they should be concave and stay that way.  You can remove the rings at this point. Label the jars and store them.  If any of the jars don't seal, you can put those in the refrigerator and use them within a couple of weeks, or reprocess.