Pumpkin Pie Disaster

We spent Thanksgiving at Darrin and Maura’s home – technically, they are dear friends but actually they are much, much more like family.  They are more like our grown children than plain old friends and their children are our grandchildren.  Being a part of their extended family is one of the things for which we are very thankful not only on Thanksgiving but every day.

My contribution to Thanksgiving dinner was to make enough dessert for a large, extended family gathering.  So, I decided to make four pumpkin pies (as many as fit in my oven).  Usually my pies turn out well, I always make my own pastry and don’t have any problems with that turning out the way it should.   These four pies just didn’t turn out well at all – not because of the pastry but because I put more than twice as much sugar in the pumpkin mixture as the recipe called for.

Pumpkin Pie Failure

It was late on the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving and I was trying to be quick about making the pies.  I didn’t bother to put my reading glasses on and thought the recipe said each pie needed 1 3/4 cup of sugar so I multiplied that by 4 and put 7 cups of sugar in for the 4 pies.  They should have finished baking in an hour but it took 2 1/2 hours for them to get firm.  By that time, I knew something was wrong – not just the long baking time but the smell was dreadful.  Instead of that wonderful pumpkin pie smell wafting from the oven there was a sickeningly sweet, burnt sugar smell filling the house.   A sticky sugar syrup was bubbling out of the pies and all over my oven, when I took the pies out of the oven the syrup was at the hard crack stage making long crispy strings as I lifted them out and put them on the counter.  It was a mess.  Anyway, I looked at the recipe again to see what on earth might have gone wrong (with glasses on) and saw that each pie only needed 3/4 cup of sugar!  For the 4 pies, I should have only used 3 cups of sugar and I used 7!

No one tasted these pies but I bet they tasted really awful.  They certainly smelled awful.  I put them out in the garage before I went to bed so they would quit stinking up the house and they were thrown out Thanksgiving morning.

Coconut Cranberry Bars

Thanksgiving morning, I baked Coconut Cranberry Bars to bring for dessert.  Luckily, I had all the ingredients they needed and they were quick and easy to make.  I had seen the recipe on the Land O’Lakes site several days earlier.  They turned out nicely and tasted great. 

Thanksgiving Dessert

Here is a link to the recipe:

Coconut Cranberry Bars

They turned out so well and people seemed to like them so much that I made them again to take to my Knitting Night on Tuesday.  Everyone there seemed to like them, too – at least they ate them and even asked for the recipe!

Coconut Cranberry Bars For Knitting Night

The Land O’Lakes site has many good recipes, they are easy to find and the pages don’t have any pop-ups or weird ads.  I’ve had good luck with any of the recipes I’ve tried from their recipe collection.

To see more pictures from Thanksgiving, here is a link to a set of pictures on Flickr:

Thanksgiving 2009

You can click on any of the pictures in this post to see a larger version.

This, That and The Other

This blog post is kind of a mixed bag – definitely a reflection of how life has been lately!

EarCozyHatI started on a quick. new knitting project – a hat for my husband.  It is based on a childrens’ hat pattern – Ear Cozy Hat by Fiber Trends – I redid the math to make the hat in a large adult size.  I’ve made this pattern numerous times in the small sizes.  It is really nice because it covers the ears and keeps them warm – however, the ear flaps are much nicer than most ear flap hats because they are made with short rows and don’t hang down strangely and they don’t need ties to keep them in place.

JackHatBeg

Jack Hat Beginning

The wool is lovely, Karabella Aurora Melange – it is so soft yet bouncy feeling and is 100% extrafine Merino Wool that is machine washable, always a plus for a hat.

In other knitting news, I finished up the Pet Bed I was knitting with Knit Picks bulky, hand dyed Wool of The Andes in the Island Breeze colorway.  It took three skeins.  Now, I need to felt it and see how it looks.  I’m hoping the fabric gets a lot thicker and the sides will stand up on their own.

PetBedUnfelted

Pet Bed Unfelted

This is the second Pet Bed I’ve knitted – the first one never ended up being felted because my dog, Gidget, likes it just the way it is.  She spends a lot of time sleeping on it and hates me to pick it up off the floor. There’s a picture of that in this post:  She Likes It .  For the first Pet Bed, I used a felted bowl pattern and just made it bigger.  I wasn’t totally happy with the how the bottom turned out, so, for this bed I came up with my own pattern that has 9 segments to form the circular bottom.  It seems to lie nice and flat.  After I felt it and see if it turns out well, I’ll write up the pattern and make it available on this blog.

Yesterday, I baked some Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins, they are based on a recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip muffins that Mary Jo baked recently for our knitting night.  I altered them a bit to make them more cake-like by adding less oil, one more egg, more flour, more cinnamon, a bit of nutmeg and a bit of milk.  They turned out well – not very sweet but very good.

PumppkinCranberryMuffins2

Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

Finally, I wanted to share this picture of our two grandsons having an after school snack and playing Nintendo DS – they bicker so much that it was wonderful to see them cooperating with each other!  You can see how much they really do love each other even though they tend to bicker over everything.

BrothersCooperation3

Brothers Cooperating

You can click on any of the pictures in this post to see a larger view.

Carrot Ginger Cookies and a New Knitting Project

CarrotCookies2-3_Blog

Carrot Ginger Cookies

These Carrot Ginger Cookies I made today turned out very well. They have lots of finely grated carrots in them along with freshly grated ginger. They are very light and delicate tasting – the fresh ginger gives them such a nice flavor. Even though they have LOTS of carrots in them – they really don’t taste like carrots. I think they will go very nicely with a cup of tea.

I rolled the balls of dough in coarse Demerara sugar before baking – next time, I will use a finer sugar. The crunchy, strong taste of the Demerara sugar kind of overpowered the cookie.

Carrot Ginger Cookies

1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 cup butter or margarine
1 egg + 1 egg white (if you double recipe, just use three eggs)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup finely grated carrot (about 3 normal sized carrots)
1 1/2 tsp. freshly grated ginger root (about 1 small root)
3 cups flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Stir in the carrots and ginger until well blended. Mix the cream of tartar, soda and salt with the flour. Stir in the flour a cup or so at a time and mix well.

Roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. If desired, roll balls in sugar before placing on baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 – 14 minutes until slightly browned and top springs back if touched.

The dough is quite soft, it might help to refrigerate it before rolling into balls. I usually make a double recipe (or even triple) of cookie dough and only bake one or two pans and then put the rest of the dough in the fridge in a tightly sealed container or bag. That way, you can bake a pan or two every day or so and always have fresh cookies on hand.

*****

In other news – I didn’t have to report for Jury Duty today (Friday)! It was such a relief – I was dreading it so much. I had called the phone number on the summons earlier in the day on Thursday and then again around 4pm to check on the status of the trial and the recorded message said the trial was still scheduled. So, I had started getting everything ready for the next day – clothes, charge cell phone, get purse packed up with the needed stuff, etc. For a couple of days, I had been trying to think of a small knitting project to bring along in the hopes I might knit to fill in the tedious hours of jury selection – finally decided to make the Shetland Shopper Market Bag. My friend, Emmy, knitted this bag and it turned out very well. So, I cast on for the bag with Adara (cotton/linen blend) from Elann and was happily knitting away on it when my husband came home from work.

He asked if I had called to check on the status of the trial, I told him I had and that it had not been cancelled. So, he called the number to check again and it WAS cancelled! I was in disbelief, it must have been cancelled at the last minute. I even called the number myself to make sure it really had been cancelled! What a relief – it seems like when you get all ready and prepared for something, then it never happens.

So, I shall think of the Shetland Shopper as my lucky knitting project!

Shetland Shopper Market Bag - Beginning

Shetland Shopper Market Bag - Beginning

I felt so happy and relieved today that I decided to bake the Carrot Ginger Cookies, had been meaning to try them for a while. It was originally a recipe for Bunny Carrot Cookies that I modified quite a bit.

You can click on the pictures for a larger view.

Lemon Poppyseed Shortbread

Recently, I purchased two Nordicware Shortbread pans.  They are very nice heavy pans made of cast aluminum.  For some strange reason, I have this “thing”  (not enough of a “thing” to really be a fetish) for pans and kitchen equipment – I love to get kitchen stuff and then end up not using a lot of it.

Shortbread Pans

Shortbread Pans

So, I decided to make some Lemon Poppyseed Shortbread to try out the new pans – before they just became some more dust collecting clutter in my kitchen.

Pressing Shortbread Dough In Pans

Pressing Shortbread Dough In Pans

This is the recipe I  used:

Lemon Poppyseed Shortbread

1 Pound of Butter – Softened (Two Sticks – be sure to use Real Butter NOT margarine)

1 Cup of Powdered Sugar (Sometimes called Confectioner’s or Icing Sugar)

2 Cups of Flour

2 Heaping Tablespoons Freshly Grated Lemon Rind or Zest (You can use even more if you’d like)

2 Tablespoons Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

1 Heaping Tablespoon Poppy Seeds

(One large lemon should be enough – grate the skin and then squeeze it)

Microplane Grater/Zester

Microplane Grater/Zester

In preparation, grate the zest (skin) on the lemon, I love to use my Microplane Grater/Zester for this – it makes short work of making mountains of lemon zest!  After grating the skin cut the lemon in half and squeeze out the juice.

Cream the butter and powdered sugar together in a large bowl.  Add the lemon zest and juice and the poppyseeds.  Start mixing in the flour a bit at a time.  I usually just use my hands to knead the flour in.  Keep kneading until you get a nice smooth dough.

Press the dough evenly into the shortbread pan – or, into a 9 inch square or round cake pan or pie pan.  If you aren’t using a shortbread pan, you can sprinkle some granulated or coarse sugar on the top before baking.

Put into a preheated 300 degrees F oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until slightly browned around the edges.

Out of the Oven

Out of the Oven

If using shortbread pans let the pans cool 5 minutes or so before removing the shortbread.  To remove, put a cutting board over the pan – hold the cutting board and pan together and turn them upside down quickly. Set them down on the counter and lift the pan off the shortbread – it should come right off. Shortbread has so much butter that is never sticks.  Cut along the lines left from the pan with a sharp knife while still warm – it will crumble if you wait till it is totally cool to cut it.  If you are using 9 inch square or round pan – let the pan cool a few minutes than cut the shortbread into pieces with a sharp knife, then when the shortbread is cool recut along the same lines and remove from the pan.  It will crumble if you wait until it is completely cool to cut it.  Round pans look nice cut into wedges.

Shortbread from Snowflake Pan

Shortbread from Snowflake Pan

Shortbread from darker Pan

Shortbread from darker Pan

As you can see from the pictures – I made a double recipe.  This Lemon Poppyseed Shortbread is really good – it is tender and has a wonderful lemon flavor with that nutty taste of poppy seeds!  It stores well in a tin or plastic container with a lid that seals tightly. Put some parchment or wax paper in the container before storing the shortbread – plain white paper towel works, too. 

Lemon Poppyseed Shortbread

Lemon Poppyseed Shortbread

Enjoy your Lemon Poppyseed Shortbread!

This recipe shouldn’t need any adjustment for altitude.  I live and bake at a high altitude (7,605 feet) and it turned out perfectly.  Since shortbread has no levening – baking it at a lower altitude shouldn’t make much difference.  The baking time might be less at a lower altitude.  It took 35 minutes to bake this.

Cookies

Cookies are my favorite things to bake. I like to make triple and double recipes and bake one or two pans of 16 cookies and store the rest of the dough tightly covered in the fridge and make some more the next day and the next and the next….. It is so handy having the dough in the fridge – you can make a fresh batch of cookies to bring to someone in just a few minutes.

My grandkids love to “bake cookies” – they like the kind of dough you roll in balls and then roll around in sugar before putting them on the pan. They can put the pans of cookies in the oven and help take them out and use a spatula to take them off the pan – it makes us happy to make cookies together.

Tonight, I baked up the last of the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie dough in the fridge and mixed up a big batch of Ginger Cookies and baked one pan of them and put the rest of the dough in the fridge.

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