Thursday, October 13, 2011

Apple Dumplings Maddness

Wow, I think I have finally recovered from my semi-comatose state caused by last weekend’s festival activities!  While I don’t know any official numbers, rumors have it that nearly 120,000 people were in town on Saturday alone, and I know the ambulance company deposited over $20,000 for the two-day event.  I’d say that’s success, huh?!

Preparing the stand for sales.

As I have for the past three years, I spent most of Saturday night baking more dumplings for the Sunday crowd.  I volunteer to do this so that others may rest and get some sleep… and so that I don’t have to be up early to be at the stand.  Yup, I’m selfish like that.

Baking went smoothly.  I snapped a few pics, to get your mouth watering.  Why would I want your mouth to be watering?  Because… ta-da!  I have the recipes for the apple dumplings!  Unfortunately, I did not obtain permission to post said recipes.  No dumplings for you!  Sorry… I tried, they didn’t want to give it up.

Ok, it may look good to you, but I am sick of these...
Syrup making was non-stop all weekend!

Exhaustion was common.
However, I DID get permission to give out the syrup recipe.  Why is this important, you ask?  Well, because not only is this syrup good on apple dumplings… it’s also fantastic on pancakes, waffles, or to just take a steaming cup and sip it down.  Don’t judge.  Recipe to follow in a separate post.

And the best part of baking overnight… I get to use their restaurant-quality kitchen to cook for myself!  It takes about two hours for a batch of dumplings to bake completely, which was perfect for me, since I had a few recipes I wanted to try out.

First up – Pumpkin Butter, from Julia at the Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body blog.

I won’t repeat the recipe here, since I followed it to a T.  Didn’t want to mess with something that seems perfect to begin with.  And oh my, was it ever!  Soon as it was done, I made up two pieces of toast and smothered them with this beauty.  Perfect snack for 0200!  And now, five days later, it’s nearly gone.

My second recipe was for breakfast.  I tried Chelsey’s Overnight Oats recipe, from Clean Eating Chelsey, although I made some changes as I went… and while I had to wait until morning to try it, I must say – it was a perfect start to the day after spending all night slaving over the ovens!

Ok, so we only had HUGE pots at the station... still worked.

The comments I got from leaving this in the station fridge were priceless!

Overnight Oats

1/3 Cup Oats (overflowing)
1/2 Cup water
2/3 Cup Almond Milk
2 Tbsp. Vanilla
1 Tbsp. Chia Seeds
1 Banana
2 Tablespoons Cinnamon (since it was laying around)

Served with:
1 heaping scoop of creamy peanut butter
2-3 second swirl of local honey

1.      Pour oats, water and almond milk into sauce pan.  Heat on high.
2.      While pan is heating, add vanilla and chia seeds.  Stir.  (Note to self: don’t tip pan, or chia seeds will stick to sides of pot)
3.      Unpeel banana and slice real thin into pot.  Add cinnamon.
4.      Wait for pot to boil.  Let boil for about 30 seconds.
5.      Whip banana into oats using fork for about 1 minute or until consistency desired.
6.      Pour into airtight container.  Cover, and place in fridge overnight.
7.      In morning, add 1-2 Tbsp. water and whip with a fork to loosen oats.
8.      Place in bowl, add honey, extra cinnamon, blueberries, peanut butter, etc. as desired.
9.      Can be heated or eaten cold.

Another tip – if you make both of these recipes, the pumpkin butter is simple heaven mixed in with a helping of the overnight oats!  That’s been my breakfast twice this week.

So tell me, how do you like your oats?  And until then, get those knives up!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Baking success and failure

Last weekend, I did something I haven’t done in a long, long time… I baked!  Truth be told, my freezer was starting to be overtaken by frozen bananas, so this baking experience was more to reclaim my freezer than anything else.  But any excuse works, especially if it turns out with something yummy.  The bread turned out PERFECT, although, I think after I let it cool, wrapped it and put it in the fridge (per my mom’s recipe…), it deflated a bit.  Odd.  Still tastes good, so I don’t mind so much.  My pictures didn’t turn out well, but since I’ve got more bananas, I plan to make another loaf (or two or three…)  Pictures and recipe to follow!

I also wanted to try out a bread machine.  My grandma had given me hers years ago, when she moved into her current apartment, but at the time, I was busy with classes, probably going through the divorce or something else like that, and the machine got pushed to the back of the storage cupboard.  So I pulled it out, did a little research to “healthy-ize” an old recipe, and gave it a shot!  And at this point, I need to decide whether to be honest or not. :-)  Ok, truth be told, the bread turned out like a solid brick.  Literally.  When I turned the pan upside down, it slid out and nearly cracked my countertop.  Not good.  I think I know what I did wrong – the cooking settings aren’t real clear when it comes to anything other than plain white bread, and I think I chose the wrong setting.  I will try again before passing judgment on bread machines…

I haven’t really mentioned it before, but the last two months have been pretty packed with fundraising efforts at the ambulance company.  Every year, the small mountain town I live in has a big arts and crafts festival, and the ambulance company sells homemade apple dumplings with a diabetic-coma inducing sugar syrup and ice cream.  It has become so successful that we pay for our annual mortgage payment off of this two-day event.  I am going to try to get the recipe for the dough and syrup, but if I can’t, I’ll be sure to at least post a few tips and how-to photos for you all.

And as an update to my running… as most remember, I have been training (not so consistently) for the Marine Corps Marathon.  Between the summer heat, some cracked ribs, and some ankle issues I’ve had on and off, my training has been… well, pathetic.  In the best interest of my health and well-being, I resignedly decided to defer my entry until 2012.  It just wasn’t safe for me to try to increase my mileage and speeds to the level I would’ve needed to.  But alas, I am not giving up on running, just taking a little longer to get to my goals.

For now, that's it, but be on the lookout for my apple dumpling post... coming soon!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

10 Personal Questions

I had a decent weekend in the kitchen, but I haven't had time to write it all down, so until I do, here's something "canned" to get you by... sometimes I wonder if I share to much with you... hmmm.

10 Personal Questions

What do you have on your bedside table?

On top:  My alarm clock, my cell charger, a Rosary, a pistol (I take home protection into my own hands… literally…) and a picture of a close friend.  Under, on the shelves:  Assorted books, a Bible, and the lockbox for said pistol.

Do you have a tattoo?

Two, actually.  One is an Native American symbol that represents peace, tranquility, and is often used in funeral ceremonies to represent the land after death.  The other is a custom design incorporating the Maltese Cross (firefighter symbol), the Star of Life (EMT symbol), some flames, and some angel wings.  I need to get my EKG added to it, though, to represent being an ALS provider now…

And don’t get me started on designs in progress!

Do you believe in abstinence prior to marriage?

I did not practice abstinence.  My ex-wife did.  There was a lot of issue with that difference.  She didn’t like that I wasn’t a virgin, I had trouble trying to get her to relax and explore herself more.  I am not condoning meaningless sex, but if it’s with someone special, then I believe it adds a new dimension of closeness to your relationship.  I do think teens should wait until they are with someone they care about, and not just whomever they are dating.  Sex is special, even if you don’t wait until marriage.

What is your worst habit?

I am stubborn, bullheaded – Irish and German in one person.  I live for the moment, usually at the expense of the future.  And I am infinitely insecure about who I am as a person… although, I am making strides in the right direction with that.  And I have a very long fuse that burns extremely quickly, with a bad temper behind it.

How do you handle finances in your relationship?  Or, how would you like to handle money in your future relationship?

My ex and I didn’t have any set rules – we each had our own accounts, and were responsible for set bills.  But we didn’t divide equally – while I made 60% of the income, I was responsible for 85% of the regular bills, so I always felt like I was falling behind, while she was stocking money in her bank account.  When we divorced, it became clear to me how unequal things had been.

If you could change your name, what would you change it to?

No clue.  Besides, I was recently told that the name Jason is sexy.  I’m cool with that… 

Where do you want to go on your next vacation?

Oh my.  I have a typed list that is five pages long of the places I want to go, things I want to see or do.  So it’s really hard to decide upon one.

What is one political cause you feel strongly about?

Our failing welfare system.  Why is it I have to take a drug test to get a job, but the millions on welfare don’t have to take one to get free money?!  And stop rewarding jobless people for having more kids – it’s more cost effective for them to get pregnant and live off of my taxes than it is to find a job.

Have you ever stolen anything?

Yes.  Not proud of that.

Tell us something embarrassing about yourself.

Curious George is my favorite “famous person”.  He lives life as if it’s his last day, and always looks for the positive, the fun, and the creative in everything he does.