Category Archives: Cooking

Did You Know There Were So Many Kinds of Tea?

Various types of teas
So many types of tea! (Photo is not mine-from Ahmad Tea)

Who knew there were so many types of tea time? Certainly not me! Looking at these British definitions puts tea in a whole new light. In America, we are thirsty, we drink. No occasion, just a mug sitting on my desk, of coffee or tea, and there it stays with me slurping away while working and getting refills as needed. In my working years, I was so often drawn away to attend to other matters that my hot beverages were always stone cold by the time I returned. I learned to drink tea, coffee, and even “hot” chocolate when they were cold. It seemed too much time and trouble to wander down the hallway to the office microwave to reheat all the time. But look at this wonderful list of all the types of teas:

  • Cream Tea-This is what I think of when I think of tea. Tea and scones with toppings.
  • Elevensies-Morning coffee hour. Hmmm, I have this all morning long.
  • Afternoon Tea-Served with little sandwiches, scones, and sweets.
  • Low Tea-As above, using low chairs. So mine would be office chair tea?
  • Royale Tea-Tea¬† with Champaign or sherry. This sounds suspiciously like happy hour.
  • Celebration Tea-Afternoon Tea with cake. Cake does make everything better!
  • High Tea-Served in the late afternoon or early evening with a cooked dish. Sounds like supper to me.

I think the British got it right. These various tea types all sound like fun, making every day into a special occasion. Which sounds like more fun? “Would you like to join me for a slice of cake and a mug of coffee?” Or, “Would you care to attend Celebration Tea with me?” I vote for Celebration Tea. That’s why children don’t have coffee pot parties, they have tea parties. I suggest the next tea you offer a guest a cuppa, you ask them if they would like to attend Cream Tea. Let’s make our worlds a little more fun!

How Many Variations Can You Come Up With For This Cookie Recipe?

Orange ginger cinnamon cookies
Orange, Ginger Cinnamon Cookies

I love this cookie recipe! I got it from Pinterest, the source of most of my new recipes. Click on the following link for it. Easy Snickerdoodle Cookies Without Butter Recipe – The Frugal South Note that the recipe is not mine. The original recipe at the link above, is for snickerdoodles, but anyone who knows me, knows that I like to alter things.

I first found this recipe during the beginning of our state’s first stay at home order during the pandemic. I was looking for dessert recipes without butter because I was running low on it. This recipe uses oil instead of butter. The other great thing is, the recipe is easy! Always a plus. As the pandemic has dragged on, I have made many variations of this cookie and all have been delicious. One special note, which is pointed out on the link, do NOT over bake these cookies or they will get hard.

Some variations I have made on the original recipe follow. Add the ingredients in addition to those in the original recipe:

  • 1 box lemon jello, 1 teaspoon ginger, and 1 Tablespoon milk (or almond milk), add almond slice on top
  • 1 box lime jello, 1 teaspoon ginger, and 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 1 box orange jello, 1 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, and 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 1 cup oatmeal, 1 Tablespoon milk, and optional-1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/3 cup baking cocoa, 1 Tablespoon milk
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter

Any of these variations could have the following added too:

  • chocolate chips, or any flavor chips
  • walnuts, pecans, almonds, etc.
  • coconut
  • dried dates, apricots, craisins, raisins, etc.

I stopped adding the sugar and cinnamon mixture from the original snickerdoodle recipe to the top of each cookie, only to save time and make it easier. You could continue to do this, if you wanted.

snickerdoodle cookie recipe
Cookies fresh from the oven!

How many variations can you come up with for this recipe?

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Recipe For Coconut Walnut Cake

Coconut walnut cake
Coconut Walnut Cake

I was looking for a coffee cake recipe that didn’t require butter. I couldn’t find one so I adapted my old standby muffin recipe. The cake turned out to be exactly what I had in mind.

Muffin Recipe

Muffin recipe transformed to cake follows. Double the recipe above so there is sufficient volume for a Bundt pan. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. (I made adjustments to the time and temperature to accommodate a cake. )

First, combine the wet ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup liquid-I used vanilla almond milk
  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 eggs

Whisk the above ingredients until thoroughly combined.

Sift together the dry ingredients.

  • 2 1/3 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Add to wet ingredients and stir just until mixed. Then I greased a Bundt pan and added chopped walnuts to the bottom of the pan. Approximately 1/2 cup.

Then I folded the following into the batter.

  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Pour the batter into the pan. Place in oven for approximately 45 minutes. Remove from oven when toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5-10 minutes. Turn cake out onto a large plate. Allow cake to cool completely.

You could consider the cake done at this point. I decided to add an orange glaze. To do this I mixed together the following:

  • Juice of 1/2 an orange
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar

Blend these three ingredients to desired consistency. Add more juice if you want to thin the glaze. Add more sugar to thicken.

Use a spoon to drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake.

And you are done! Enjoy the cake with a scoop of ice cream on the side, or just with a warm cup of tea.

It’s Good to Have Options

Pumpkin Pie
Freshly baked pumpkin pie

Today was a baking day. We were out of dessert, so I decided to rectify the situation. We never did get pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving since we didn’t have a big family gathering this year. So I baked this pie right before dinner.

Brownie and ice cream
Brownies and ice cream

The oven was already on so I whipped up a batch of brownies from scratch and put those in to bake at the same time. Turns out, it’s a good thing I did. The pie wasn’t cool enough to have after supper. We had the brownies with ice cream instead.

It’s good to have options. And extra dessert!

A Little Christmas

Morty under the Christmas tree

The Christmas spirit has arrived at our house. It began to snow late this morning. It was a calm, light fluffy snow. The kind that invokes thoughts of good cheer and peace.

So I got out our little tree and decorated it. All of our animals love the tree, but especially the cats. They take up residence underneath and you can find one or the other of them there for the season. After a few squirts of Bitter Apple chew deterrent, they stop chewing it for the rest of the season.

Thumbprint cookies

After lunch, I made a couple batches of cookies we traditionally have around the holidays. First, I baked the thumbprint cookies and filled them.

Molasses crinkles

Then I made molasses crinkles from a recipe handed down from my mother’s Aunt Clara. Mine are never as good as Aunt Clara’s but they are delicious nonetheless. I suspect Aunt Clara used lard in her’s.

Now I am ready to relax for the evening with a couple of cookies and a good book.

First Pie in the New Oven

Our stove had been on its last legs for a while and finally died right before Thanksgiving. In this wonderful (sometimes!) age of being able to order things on-line, I was able to have another one here within a couple days without ever leaving the safety of home. And free delivery! I did have to adjust the temperature on the oven. It seemed to run a little low, but all is fine now.

Today I made the first pie in the new oven. I wanted to make a shoo fly pie and for some reason I got a recipe from Pinterest rather than using my usual one. In the mood for something different I guess. The recipe I went with is quite different. The crust has flour, butter, egg yolk, olive oil, and white wine. Yes, you read that right, white wine. And in addition to the molasses, the filling has black coffee.

While the pie is good, I think I prefer my old standby recipe, clipped from the newspaper years ago.

Harvesting and Processing Herbs

Mortar and Pestle with Thyme

Autumn is a flurry of chores to wind up the growing season. There was putting the vegetable garden to bed and now I am processing herbs that I recently harvested. I cut and dried thyme, oregano, and chives. These are perennials. Once they are dried, I strip the leaves off the stems and grind them up with my mortar and pestle. I store them for use throughout the winter.

Basil is an annual plant. I grow several of them. Just before frost I pull the entire plant up by the roots and hang them on the porch to dry. Then I follow the same procedure as above.

This year I think I will give some as gifts. It is easy to grow them yourself and reassuring to know they are all organic.

White Cake

Egg Whites

Yesterday was my first attempt at making a white cake from scratch. That’s what my husband requested for his birthday this year. This picture shows the six egg whites beaten until stiff and ready to fold into the rest of the batter.

White Cake From Scratch

I iced it with the requested buttercream frosting. It turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself. It involved 3/4 of a pound of butter. No wonder it was tasty.

When I bake cakes, I generally use a box mix as the base and make flavor additions and adjustments. I will be trying other cakes from scratch in the future.

Now to find something to do with those six egg yolks!

On Not Lounging

Well, today I was NOT sitting in a lounge chair enjoying the patio. And not just because it was so hot.

First I helped tie up some loose ends from a construction project. Then I picked up nails from said project. After that it was time to pick green beans. Picking beans seems to be my new hobby. Either that or cleaning and snapping them.

This afternoon consisted of making rice pudding for this evening’s dessert and then working on cleaning up the office. I never did get around to writing which was the whole point of cleaning up the office.

Oh well, as a line from a great movie says (in a wispy southern accent), “Tomorrow is another day. “