|Daughter's heart-healthy Christmas gift basket, emptied of its goodies|
After some discussion with my sister and many requests by Daughter to put favorite family recipes online, I will begin to do just that. I mention my sister because I wanted to check with her first in case she had any objections. She has been wanting to get a family cookbook published for some time now with entries from all members--at least the adult ones--but we, as a family, can't seem to get our act together and comply with her wishes. Daughter wants her favorite recipes in one place where she can find them with a few keystrokes rather than searching through a wooden box filled with worn-out, food-stained index cards. Some of them get misplaced too, stuck in between pages of cookbooks to mark some other recipe.
Two of my all-time favorites--most often prepared--are for piecrust and sweet roll dough. Both of them are versatile. The piecrust recipe can be used for dessert pies or main dishes (quiche, for instance). The sweet roll dough can be prepared as dinner rolls or filled with fruit and sugar/spice mixtures for breakfast or dessert. I've been preparing this recipe since my stint in 4-H when I was a teenager. I won a trip to the Illinois State Fair as a prize for winning third place in the Jackson County food demonstration. Whoop-de-do! As I recall, "heart" is one of the H's in 4-H. Does anyone remember what the other three stand for?
As you can probably tell from the ingredients, these recipes would probably not qualify as being "heart-healthy," but if comfort and joy have any value for keeping the old pump working then maybe they shouldn't be entirely eliminated from a diet. Everything in moderation is my motto. It works well with just about anything, including cooking:
Water-Whip Double Piecrust
3/4 cup vegetable shortening (I use Crisco)
1/4 cup boiling water
1 Tablespoon milk
2 cups all-purpose (unbleached) flour
1 teaspoon salt
Measure the shortening in a medium bowl. Add boiling water and milk and whip with a fork until mixture resembles sour cream. Stir in flour and salt until mixture "rounds up" into a ball. Divide in half and place one-half between two pieces of wax paper. Wipe counter top with a wet dishrag and place paper on the moist (not wet) surface. Roll out dough with rolling pin until piece will fit into a 9-inch pie plate and overlap it slightly. Dough will probably be about 1/4-inch thick. Peel off top paper and invert dough onto pie plate, letting it settle in, and then carefully remove other paper. Roll out the other half similarly. It may be used as a top crust or as the base for another pie. Trim and crimp edge as desired. Fill and bake as directed by recipes calling for empty pie shells or double crusts. This recipe is fairly "forgiving" (doesn't usually get tough), but it shouldn't be over-whipped or rolled out repeatedly. You don't want to develop the gluten (glue-like stuff made of proteins in the flour) like you would in the next recipe:
Sweet Roll Dough
Two packets of active dry yeast (not rapid-rise)
1/2 cup of hot water (not boiling but more than lukewarm)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups milk, heated to more than lukewarm
2 large eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour (may use half whole-wheat)
2 teaspoons salt
Dissolve yeast in water. Set aside. Combine sugar, shortening, and heated milk in a large bowl. Stir vigorously for a couple of minutes. Add eggs and beat them into the mixture. Add dissolved yeast and about half of the flour and all of the salt. Stir until mixture is thick. Add almost all of the remaining flour and stir until mixture "rounds up" in the bowl. Put some of the remaining flour on counter and turn dough out of bowl. Begin kneading, adding flour as necessary to keep dough from being too sticky but don't be extravagant with it. Depending on the humidity level in the kitchen and type of flour used, you may need a little more or less than 4 cups of flour. Whole-wheat flour makes the dough a little drier, so less is better. More economical, you might say. My dad once told me that peasants used to console themselves with the thought that their dark bread was healthier than what their "betters" were eating. The whiter their bread, the quicker they're dead was a little rhyme from childhood that still comes to mind today when I make food choices. Continue kneading until dough is smooth and not sticky. Wash mixing bowl and dry. Add a little olive oil to the bowl and place dough in it, turning it over until oil covers the dough. This will keep it from sticking to the bowl. Cover dough lightly with plastic wrap and then a dish towel. Place in warm, dry location to rise for about one and a half hours, until dough doubles in size. Lightly punch the dough down and let rise again for about one-half hour. Divide dough into about four pieces and roll out as desired. I usually make crescent rolls by rolling out each piece into a circle, buttering it, and cutting small wedge shapes which are then rolled up, beginning from the wide end. Place rolls on ungreased baking sheets and cover with paper towels and then dish towels. Let rise until double (about 30 minutes) in a warm, dry location. Bake in a preheated 400-degree (Fahrenheit) oven for about 8-10 minutes. Remove immediately from baking sheets, cool on rack for storage (they freeze well), or enjoy them hot from the oven, slathered in butter!
|Cryptothecia rubrocincta, Christmas lichen, seen at Leon Sinks Geological Area|
|Mushrooms, maybe Lepista irina, seen at Leon Sinks Geological Area|
Mushrooms have never been high on SAM's list of favorite foods. I usually have to sneak them into my quiches and other main dish pies. He doesn't complain too much as long as I don't get carried away. The sweet roll dough, though, is definitely not mushroom territory, unless I use it to make calzone. Now there's a thought!
The writer of this blog does not assume any liability whatsoever for readers' overindulgence and possible weight gain. She's too busy trying to control her own voracious appetite. Please eat responsibly.