it’s beginning to taste a lot like christmas

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This past Saturday, my little Main-Street-USA town hosted its annual Christmas parade.  I look forward to this event each year, as it marks the introduction of the holiday season.  Hubs was up and at’em early, since he had to gather his band together to march, and I had a few hours in between the parade and my mom and my mother-in-law both joining me for the festivities.

my town juxtaposed: the red hat ladies and the hunters, oh my.



how's this for a float, macys?

don't fall out of the sleigh, Santa!

So of course, I decided to bake! And since this was a day to share with both my mother and my mother-in-law, I decided to bake one of my mother-in-law’s famous dishes:  orange poppyseed bread.

It is the most delectable.

Last winter, she and I spent some time in the kitchen and she taught me in the way of the most delicious–and hubs, Mama Jill, and I spent the afternoon decorating her Christmas trees and munching on this bread.  Now,  I taste this bread and am instantly brought back to that wintry afternoon, but you can definitely make this bread any time of year.

So this loaf was made on Saturday, and by Sunday evening it was all gone.
How’s that for proof of good, eh?

MAMA JILL’S ORANGE POPPY SEED BREAD

1–Preheat oven to 350 and go ahead and butter/flour two 9 x 5 loaf pans, or six mini-loaf pans.

2–In a separate bowl, mix together 3 cups flour, 2 1/4 cups sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, 2 tsp. poppy seeds, and 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder.

3–Add to the dry mixture the following:  3 eggs slightly beaten, 1 1/8 cup vegetable oil, 1 1/2 c. milk,  and 1 1/2 tsp EACH of almond extract, vanilla extract, and butter flavoring. Combine until JUST wet.

action shot!

**NOTE–butter flavoring can be found by all of the other extracts and flavorings.  I had no idea until I made this recipe, since I have never used it in anything else.  In case you are like me and weren’t sure, now you know—you’re welcome!

4–Mix (with a handheld or electric mixer) for 2 minutes only! No more, no less.

5–Pour batter into loaf pan(s) and bake for one hour, or until a toothpick test shows clean.

it's really ok if it oozes a bit, really. it's ok.

6–While your delicious bread bakes, make the glaze:  whisk up 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup orange juice, and 1/2 tsp. EACH of the flavorings used above. (I used TROPICANA orange juice, because that’s the only kind I buy.  Seriously.  I ought to buy stock in Tropicana.  I can’t start my day without it.  You know how some people have to have their coffee in the mornings?  That’s how I am with o.j.  If there’s no Tropicana in the house, I flip out.  Anyhoo, you get the idea and I digresss…)

7–While your bread is still hot, pour the glaze over it.  Yes, right on top.  Make sure not to get any on your counter or it might dry into superglue-like substance.  While this is not true for how it dries on bread, it is true for how it dries on countertops.  Or so I have been told by Mama Jill.  I heed her warnings, and you should, too.

8–Let bread cool completely before removing from loaf pan……..or act like Farley and myself, whose bread never wholey leaves the pan since we eat it straight out.

Mmmmmmm……..citrusy and Christmasy………

 

Be on the lookout for more holiday cooking from Feeding Farley!
And enjoy!


the south does it better

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When you are married to a band director, and when it’s autumn, you will always feel like you have more free time than your spouse, no matter what you do for a living.  Marching band season puts high demands on my man’s time.

Today was hubs’ first completely band-free weekend in months–MONTHS I SAY!!!– so we had major plans.

And I had a major surprise!  My plan was to fix my hubbsy a delicious make-ahead breakfast so we could laze around a little longer in the morning.

The breakfast you’re about to check out is simply mahhhhvelous, dahhhling.
It comes from Charleston, South Carolina, or inasmuch inspired.

(In the spring of 2005,  Etsuko (my former college roomie) and I headed on down to the syrupy Southern goodness of Charleston, South Carolina, hunting for seafood, fried green tomatoes, and more seafood.  Our visit to the luscious city proved to be a culinary extravaganza, indeed. We ate at Hyman’s every day for lunch, and I think we went back for dinner at least twice.)

scallop po'boy at Hymans

At the Cafe Cafe, you will eat the one of the most delectable breakfasts you can get in the South.   Eating this strata is like eating custardy bread pudding for breakfast–rich and heavenly.  This is serious, syrupy Southern goodness. Even though it’s a French-toast base, well, the French ain’t got nothin‘ on the South.

I swear my house smelled like Thanksgiving or Christmas morning while this was baking.  And then it tasted like Thanksgiving or Christmas morning in my mouth.  And then the hubs thus loved the breakfast lazy surprise and therefore declared we will eat this again on the following occasions:  1.  when we have special overnight/out-of-town guests   2.  when it’s a holiday   3.  when we are snowed in and 4. when we have  friends over for our next brunchy double-date.

(You, however, should make this whenever you like.)

A word to the hungry: you can make this up to 24  hours ahead of time,  or in as little as 2 hours ahead of time.

Another word to the hungry: this is quite rich.  I mean it’s right up there with Bill Gates rich.  Hope Diamond rich.

Hunker on down with your  coffee and eat this baby up:

FRENCH TOAST STRATA WITH APPLE CIDER SYRUP

1–Grease/Pam up a 3 quart rectangular baking dish (I use my lasagna dish, which you can get here)

2–Chop up a loaf of French bread into 1-inch cubes, (they can be a little bigger and nothing will get hurt, promise) Put half of the cubes in the pan.

3–Dice up  1 package of cream cheese (8 oz of Philly’ll do ya good) and sprinkle amidst the French bread cubes.  Cover the cheese with the rest of of the bread.  Sprinkle the whole mess with 1-2 tsp. cinnamon (depending on your taste).  You could most definitely do a fat-free, or reduced fat version if you are watching calories—but what the heck are you doing reading through this recipe if you are watching calories? Hmmmmm?

4–Mix up in a bowl the following:  8 eggs, 6 T melted butter,  2 1/2 cups half & half, and 1/4 cup maple syrup. Stir that sucker up good and pour over your bread mixture
**NOTE–I split the half/half mixture between half&half and skim milk**

5–Smush the mixture down with a spatula so everything gets all good and soaky and then cover with plastic wrap until ready to bake!

6–In a 350 degree oven, bake the strata, uncovered for 35-40 minutes or until golden, puffy, gotta-get-your-fork-ready.  Let sit for 10 minutes before serving and voila! Get your apple cider syrup and eat this up.

APPLE CIDER SYRUP

*You can use this syrup on your Aunt Jemima waffles and pancakes if you choose, but if you decide to dollop it on your strata, get this going a good 10-15 minutes before the strata is due*

1–Combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, and 4 tsp. cornstarch in your small saucepan.

2–Stir in 1 cup apple juice, 1 T. lemon juice and cook and stir over medium heat until thick and bubbly! When it gets thick and bubbly, cook it for at max 2 more minutes.

3–Off heat, add 2 T. butter and stir in.

 

Yeah. Like I said, hope diamond rich, but well worth an extra lap or two in the pool.


Enjoy and happy eating!