Monday, November 23, 2015

Pumpkin Bread Makes A Great Gift for a Neighbor

This tasty pumpkin bread comes out more like a subtle spice cake than bread.

You can use pumpkin puree from the jack-o-lantern that sat on your front porch during October. But if you don't have any fresh, it's okay. Canned pumpkin turns out great. Be sure to use plain canned pumpkin, not the pumpkin pie mix.

There are no special tricks or experience needed to make this bread. I baked it for the first time this weekend and it was wonderful. Here's the recipe. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients:
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs
1 can pumpkin (15 oz.) or 1 1/2 cups puree
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk (or water)
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Mix thoroughly and pour into two generously greased 8 inch bread pans.
Bake for one hour at 350 degrees. Mine was done in 57 minutes since my oven runs hot.
Cool in the pan for ten minutes before transferring to a cake rack.

I wrapped each loaf in Glad Press 'n Seal wrap, then a layer of wax paper. For the second loaf, once it was completely cool, I wrapped it again in aluminum foil and put it in the freezer.

Sunday afternoon we enjoyed a nice hot cup of tea with a thick slice of Pumpkin Bread. It was yummy!
The recipe makes two loaves, making this ideal for the holidays to share the extra one.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Reading My Way Through the Candidates, This Week's Review

Working my way through the books that our Presidential hopefuls have written, this is my second venture in a series of book reviews.

How To Make America Great Again-Crippled America, by Donald J. Trump

When we think about politicians and candidates for office, it is important to understand their philosophy and check their records when it comes to accomplishments and to know what they have undertaken in the past. Their successes and failures tell an important story.

The first in the series was by Ben Carson, MD. In his book, One Nation - What We Can All Do To Save America's Future, he recommends that we challenge ourselves to learn a new fact about American history each day for one month. I like that idea along with his recommendation that we study the political candidates and check the facts.

One of my favorite mentors of all time used to question people who say, "I just don't know where all my money goes." His tongue-in-cheek response was "perhaps we should put them in charge of a corporation. Or in charge of our country." If we can't manage small funds, how can we run a country?

With the candidates that are running for President in 2016, we need to take a look at their track record; what they view as important contributions to the world, to the economy, to our health and welfare, and to our systems of government, as well as their personal accomplishments.

The people who represent us at the moment have earned little respect from the masses. The constant political divisiveness has left many of us discouraged and with a bad taste for politics. The idea of a United States seems frequently overrun by a tone of us against them - Democrats versus Republicans.

Not all of us will agree on the best plan of action to return our country to a nation respected around the world, restore a system of commerce that is successful and on how to control our spending. We do long for a return to the Made in America manufacturing and jobs that once supported families who have since lost their homes to foreclosure and bankruptcy. We want to help the homeless and those who want to come to our country. What is the best way to do it?

It seems a good time to look into who has a solid plan to address the needs of We The People and then vote accordingly.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Dog Treats in a Jiffy

Making dog treats at home is so much fun. The expressions on my Labrador's face was worth any effort it took to put together these homemade dog treats.

Made with peanut butter and bacon, they contain few ingredients other than whole wheat flour, old-fashioned oats, non-fat dry milk, one egg, bacon, baking powder and water.

The dough whipped up easily using my Kitchen-aid mixer and the aroma when they were baking had me tempted to try one out.

Tony, the official taste tester.
Tony proved to be my best friend and baking buddy during the whole process. Once I mentioned the word Treat he was all ears.

Some recipes call for adding parsley to help with doggy breath. But according to Dr. Oz, this is a wive's tale.

Other recipes contain a bit of Parmesan cheese or beef broth rather than water. 

For dogs with wheat allergies, substitutions can be made to eliminate the wheat by adding oat bran.

Peanut butter, egg, non-fat dry milk
1 cup smooth peanut butter
3/4 cup non-fat dry milk
1 large egg

Blend the first three ingredients together to form a paste, then add the following:

2 cups whole wheat flour (or substitute 1 cup regular flour and 1 cup of bran cereal)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/3 cup Rolled Oats, old fashioned or quick cooking oats.

Blend together. 

The mixture looks like a boxed cake mix.

At this point, I added three pieces of well-cooked bacon that were left over from breakfast and crumbled it into small pieces.

3 Pieces of well-cooked bacon.

Add about 3/4 cup of cold water, just enough until the mixture forms a thick dough.

Dividing the dough in half makes it easier to work with when rolling it out.

Line two baking sheets with parchment or dust lightly with some flour.

I worked the dough with my hands as you would modeling clay to form a round, flattened ball.

Transfer the dough to a floured surface. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough to about one-quarter inch (1/4") thick.

Using a bone shaped cookie cutter, begin cutting out individual biscuits and transfer them to the cookie sheet. They don't spread so they can be pretty close to one another on the cookie sheet.

I found the 2.5 inch bone cutter on Amazon for under ten dollars and it came with two other cutters in doggy shapes.

Gather the leftover pieces of dough and form a new ball and roll it out again until the remaining dough is used.

These are ready to go into the oven. Bake at 320 degrees for around twenty (20) minutes. It doesn't hurt to bake a little longer and make them really crisp.

This is how they look after they're baked. Tony couldn't wait to taste test them.

This recipe made about three dozen (36) dog biscuits using the cookie cutter. They can also be made into one inch squares and baked.

Storing them in Ziplock containers, I froze about half of them and kept the other half for easy treats on the regular schedule that Tony has imposed.

He insists on having a biscuit before breakfast, one at eleven (he calls it second breakfasts), at four pm and at bedtime. Maybe he is a little bit spoiled, but we don't mind.

Many thanks to my Facebook friend Eileen whose cool photo of her dog inspired me to bake these.