Stuff in the oven….

make pie!

A happiest of New Year to all of you. I have once again been a bit out of the blogging loop since Solstice.
This is not intentional, we have a few items in the oven right now. There’s always somethin!

Two doctors said they are pretty sure I tore my ACL skiing after Christmas so no more skiing for me for awhile…. but I’m up and walking and getting around and using the ice pack a lot. I probably will not opt for the surgery. At least not right away.
When I want to go skiing again I’ll have to wear a brace, but I can live with that. The surgery takes about a year’s recuperation. I don’t wanna’ do that.

This morning I found leftover pumpkin pie filling.
So I decided to make a different kind of pie – carrot and pumpkin pie with pecans. (Say that five times fast!) This is
a shot of it as it went into the oven unbaked. Since our son gave me a very hip apron for Christmas I decided I needed
to brush up on my baking since the Holidays. This pie is equal parts carrot and pumpkin using the standard custard
pumpkin pie recipe.
Disclaimer:  I did not use heavy cream today since Matt and I are counting calories. I used Evaporated milk
and left out the cardamon since I added the carrot puree. I always seem to use more cloves, allspice and ginger than most recipes call for too.

Le Pie just came out of the oven so we’ll allow it to cool and see how it tastes. Then we’ll share with family.  Come on over for a piece!

Hot Chocolate Recipe

  • 6 cups of whole milk
  • 8 ounces of chocolate
  • 4 teaspoons of sugar (powdered if possible)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt

1 Finely chop the chocolate into small pieces. The pieces have to be able to dissolve easily in the liquid.

2 Place the milk into a small, thick-bottomed pot on low heat and bring to a low simmer. Whisk once in a while to ensure that the milk doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

3 Add the vanilla,  sugar, salt, and chocolate and whisk vigorously until the chocolate has melted.  If using liquors add them now to the hot chocolate.

4 Heat for another 3 minutes stirring frequently.

Add a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Serve with Italian Biscotti.  The recipe for Biscotti I posted last year is here.

Serves 4-5.

Pumpkin Curry Soup

baked pumpkin

There is no substitute for a hearty soup on a cold Autumn day.
Here is my recipe:

2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon chili pepper
3 teaspoons curry powder
8 cups of chopped, roasted pumpkin; pureed in the blender
5 cups of chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarian option)
1 large carrot chopped finely
1 diced yellow or sweet onion chopped finely
salt and pepper to taste (I use a lot of black pepper)

~~Combine in a pot and simmer for two hours stirring occasionally
add small pieces of chicken or tofu if you wish, then add:

1 cup of previously mashed potatoes
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream

Experiment with the brown sugar and heavy cream if you prefer your soup richer and sweeter.
The pumpkin I used from my garden was already pretty sweet. Try not to hard boil the soup after
the cream is added; simmer some more and serve.

The Aeropress Coffee maker, a review…

If you are like us here at Quiet Paths, you love coffee. And since you love coffee, you’ve been through every method of making coffee known on this planet. You probably have owned at least a couple of french presses, you have burned through several thousand Melita cone filters, and you’ve even ( in a fit of insanity) purchased a Bunn drip coffee machine that would have been more at home in the Whistlestop Cafe. You’ve owned several espresso machines, and a couple of aluminum stovetop espresso makers from Italy. You’ve even served your prospective spouse “cowboy coffee”, and went on to fall in love and get married anyway. So when a totally new way of making coffee shows up on the radar, you sit up and take notice. And when it makes very good coffee like the Aeropress does, it gets your full attention.

The Aeropress is the invention of Stanford engineer Alan Adler, better know perhaps for his flying toys such as the Aerobie. It consists of two polycarbonite cylinders, one that holds the ground coffee and one that has a rubber plunger that acts as a syringe to force the coffee through a paper filter under considerable air pressure. It produces intensely strong shots of espresso-like coffee that can be used in a variety of ways, from making lattes, mochas and Americanos to iced coffees and flavoring for other drinks. The concentrate the Aeropress produces, though strong, is very low in acid. A bit of milk mixed with a bit of concentrate, topped off with water produces an incredibly fine tasting cup of coffee; smooth and complex with the actual flavor of the coffee being used.

The whole thing weighs very little and is easy to take with you if you travel. All you need is access to a means of heating water. Alternatively, since the Aeropress produces such pure coffee that keeps for quite a while, one could make up a bunch of concentrate at home and take it along to add to hot water later.

The Aeropress costs about $26 at Amazon. It’s built like a tank, and should last for years. You get about 300 filters with it, and new filters are about $4 for roughly a years worth. So, for roughly the price of a few days of stopping at Starbucks, you too can achieve coffee Nirvana…

We got ours at Amazon, though you may find one at your local trendy hipster coffee hangout. (Or you may, if you are like our son Ian and his sweetie, get one as a Christmas present…)

Italian Biscotti

The pecan pie I posted a couple days before Thanksgiving was a big hit.  I had to make my own Dad another pie last weekend because my folks were in Seattle over Thanksgiving and didn’t get any of the first pie.  Matthew’s Dad actually had a look of bliss on his face while he ate the pie which was quite fun and satisfying for me to watch him enjoy it.  I myself pondered its sugary sweetness a little too fondly.

Today we are snowed in; the oven is already hot from roasting some almonds, so Matthew is making Italian Biscotti which is a Holiday family favorite.  We are not Italian; this house hold is full of Scottish blood and probably some Roma too from my side but everyone loves Biscotti.  If you put it in a cool place it stays fresh for weeks.  I will write up this basic recipe for you all to try.  It is super easy.  All you need is a creative flair for flavors; just add whatever flavorings you prefer –lemon or orange peel, spices such as ginger, nutmeg, or cinnamon; then add walnuts, almonds, or chocolate, etc.- whatever is your fancy.  Just remember if you use nuts then chop them finely or the finished Biscotti tends to be difficult to slice otherwise.  It is interesting to note that giving the going rates for fresh Biscotti in a bakery or a local Starbucks you are most probably making at least $35 plus worth of Yummies here.

* 1/2 Cup olive oil
* 4 large eggs,
* 1 Cups brown sugar,
* 1/2 C cups white sugar,
* 1/2 cup Galliano, Fra Angelico, walnut or other liquors.  Kaluhua anyone?
* 1 tablespoons vanilla; 1/2 teaspoon salt; baking powder – 1 tsp.
* about 4 1/4 cups unbleached white flour.

Here is what the Biscotti loaves look like before the first bake.

Mix and roll out into delicate loaves.  First bake at 350 degrees for about 35-40 minutes.  Remove and let cool for a few minutes.  Turn down the oven to 300 degrees and slice diagonally into Biscotti portions.  Then place again on baking sheets and bake for another 15 minutes flipping them over half-way through so they are nice and brown on both sides.  Spread out over several baking sheets for the bake number two so the Biscotti have plenty of room.  Here is Matthew slicing the first baked loaves:

The birds at the feeders are ravenous and trying to store up enough energy to weather the sub-zero temperatures tonight.  The wind is picking up and the wind-chill is supposed to be scary.  Honey, is there any of that Fra Angelico left?  You all stay warm now.

Pecan Pie

My father in law requested a pecan pie for Thanksgiving when we talked to him on the phone last evening.  He rarely says a thing about what he’d like to eat – ever – so I thought I’d oblige him even though it’s not a choice I would usually make when venturing to make a pie.  He was raised in southern Illinois so I imagine his mom made pecan pies.  I prefer fruit pies; cherry and apple to be specific. Of course, I will make a pumpkin pie to ago along with this one for Thanksgiving.

The real problem with pecan pies I’ve tasted over the years is that they usually result in a sugar migraine about 10 minutes later.  This recipe is using Molasses and only a fourth cup of brown sugar.  I am going to cut down on the corn syrup too.  I’ll try it tomorrow and see how it goes.  It looks good.  I snagged this recipe from Simply Recipes.

2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp molasses
2 Tbsp melted butter
2 Tbsp flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups pecans, coarsely chopped

1 9-inch pie shell, chilled for an hour if freshly made, defrosted for 10 minutes if frozen. (See pie crust recipes.)

1 Preheat oven to 375°F. Spread pecans along the bottom of the pie shell. Mix the remaining ingredients and pour over pecans. The pecans will rise to the surface of the pie.

2 Bake at 375°F for 45-50 minutes until the filling has set. About 20 minutes into the cooking you may want to use a pie crust protector, or tent the edges of the pie crust with aluminum foil to prevent the pie crust edges from burning.

3 Remove from oven and let cool completely.  Serves 8.

The Sentry


Art for its own sake. This ceramic wolf is quite large and sits patiently waiting for Spring at the Archie Bray Ceramics Foundation in Helena, MT.   You can find more photos here.

Blogging is slow this week due to an influx of college student energy at our house.  Spring break is here and Mr. Ian has been home.  I have gone through an entire sack of flour this week baking many of his favorites.  I have baked something every day and then it is gone by evening or the next morning.  He is very appreciative and hungry.   I might have to set up a night patrol in the kitchen to intercept roving cake and pie bandits.  I normally bake for the other two men in the house but not this much.  Although he eats well at school he is always tired of the cafeteria food whenever he comes home, and they don’t do veggies well, as anyone who has done cafeteria food for awhile knows.  I’m grateful however because it makes me look like a star.

And, I am happy to say that my new Thai curry recipe was a big hit.  I didn’t have a written recipe per se, I just improvised, but I must add it was a bit too spicy for me and the leftovers the next day were even more so. That is the way the guys like it.  It was actually quite easy – one simply needs the curry, basil, and coconut milk on hand and then choose whatever meat or vegetables you wish.  Tofu is also a great option. It is interesting that only a couple years ago I could not find coconut milk anywhere and now we just walk into our local grocery and there it is on the shelf like it’s always been there.  That is really nice because we would be hard pressed to grow coconuts around here.

[tags]college, Thai curry recipes,food,home for Spring break[/tags]

Million Dollar Fudge

I have no idea where this fudge recipe came from other than out of the vast library of recipes which are my Mom’s. She brought three recipes with her the other day when they were visiting. I offered to make the fudge this year so she wanted me to have my choice. We both decided on this one selection because it is quick and it makes a large batch – it says five pounds but I have not yet weighed the dark, solidifying substance which is now cooling on my table.

This took us less than 15 minutes to assemble. You cook (boil) the sugar, evaporated milk and butter for six minutes then simply add it to the other ingredients. Then you get your big muscled friend to stir like crazy. He did too; we both did. It was a work-out! So, if you truly want to make holiday fudge this year but do not have a lot of time to stand at the stove, stir, and check the candy thermometer for 25 minutes then try this one. It is not the recipe handed down from my Grandmother, I’ll post that one some other time, but this Million Dollar Fudge is quite tasty.

3 large bars of any kind of chocolate with almonds (about a pound)

2 packages of chocolate chips (I buy ours in bulk, so I’d say about 24 ounces)

1 pint of marshmallow creme

1 Cup chopped walnuts

Prepare the above ingredients and combine into a large pot or bowl to mix. Keep in mind you will add the hot sugar mixture to all of this too.

Boil 4.5 Cups Sugar, 1 tall can of evaporated milk (that’s what it said: Tall) and 1 TBSP of Butter

Bring this sugar mixture to a boil and stir constantly for six minutes while it cooks on medium heat. Pour over first set of ingredients and beat by hand until thoroughly blended and thick. You have to move quickly to transfer it to a cooling cake pan or whatever you wish. Cool and cut into serving squares.

[tags]recipes,fudge,candy making,holiday treats[/tags]


* 6 eggs; beaten
* 2 Cups Milk
* 1/2 Cup Sugar
* 4 TB light rum
* 4 TB bourbon (we used brandy tonight)
* 1 Tsp vanilla
* 1 C whipping cream
* 2 TB Sugar
* 1 Tsp ground nutmeg and 1 Tsp freshly grated lemon at the last

In a large saucepan mix eggs, milk, and 1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture coats a metal spoon. Do not cook too long or it will separate. Remove from heat. Cool slightly and add liquor, vanilla. Sprinkle nutmeg on top of each steaming cup of Nog. Add fresh whipped cream and freshly grated lemon if you wish to guild the lily.

To serve cold, which I do not prefer: Cool EggNog up to 24 hours. In a bowl whip cream and 2 tablespoons sugar till soft peaks appear, transfer chilled egg mixture to a punch bowl. Fold in whipped cream mixture. Serve at once. Sprinkle each serving with nutmeg and fresh lemon grate to taste.