Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Banana Poppyseed Muffins

One more post tonight...it's nice to have a chance to catch up finally. I made these muffins last night, and they will definitely be worth making again!

I love poppyseed bread and muffins, so when I saw this recipe in my Just Like Grandma's muffin recipe book (Just Like Grandma's is a bed and breakast/tearoom/lots of other little shops business in Osakis, Minnesota), I just knew that they would be worth a try.

As a bonus, they're fairly low in fat for muffins, with only 1/4 cup vegetable oil for a generous dozen muffins. I added walnuts to the recipe, simply because nearly every muffin tastes better with walnuts.

1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
2-1/2 tsp. poppy seed
2 ripe bananas
1-1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda

Mix together egg, oil, and sugar. Add in milk, poppy seeds, and mashed bananas. Sift together dry ingredients and then add to the wet mixture all at once and mix until just moistened. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Makes about 12 muffins.

Bonus! As I was typing out this recipe, I just realized that I know the lady who submitted this recipe for the book! How fun! Now I'll need to call her to tell her how much I enjoyed them! :-)

A Baby Quilt for Church

I made this Irish chain baby quilt top for a lady's group at my church that ties and finishes baby quilts to give to each church family on the arrival of their first and their fifth babies...A number of families have several children, so they decided to give a fifth baby quilt as well as a first.

Earlier this year, there was a notice in our church newsletter asking for quilters to make quilt tops for the lady's group to finish. So I decided to make one in honor and memory of my mother, who taught me to quilt...I've been finding at least one "memorial" project in honor of her since she passed away in 2003.

This was a very satisfying project for me, probably because of its nature. It's going to be finished by women I don't know (yet anyway) to be a gift for a family I may or may not know, and they will never know that I made it. So, even though everything we do should be done for the glory of God, this somehow feels even more like a labor of love for my Savior Jesus Christ, done for one of the "least of these"...Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to do this.

More 5-Minute Artisan Bread

I'm back into bread baking again, with another recipe from the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book.

This one is the Rustic Peasant Loaf, a combination of rye, wheat, and white flour. It was, as the other recipes I've tried from that book, easy and fast to make, and very good. What a treat to have fresh-baked bread without much effort, and to enjoy that crisp crunchy crust and chewy crumb!

A birthday bunny!

Another gift I made and gave away recently is this sweet crochet amigarumi bunny made from another free Lion Brand pattern and two different colors of Wool-Ease yarn.

It was really fun to make, and it was equally fun to give it to one of my dear friends with an April birthday. I was also really happy to find a gift bag at Wal-Mart that nearly matches the gift, and a birthday napkin that I could make into a card.

I was so glad to see that it brought a smile to my friend's face when I gave it to her. I had hoped that it would. It still makes me smile to see the photo here.

My husband has been busy with projects, too!

While I've been busy with crafts and cooking (as well as my full-time job at the ministry), my husband has been busy at home, too.

Work has been slow for him since the economy started to weaken last fall, so he has had more time than usual to work around the house. By the Lord's mercy and grace, all of our bills are getting paid, and by an equal amount of mercy and grace, my sweetheart has made our home a little nicer.

Earlier this month, he put up shelving around part of the perimeter of our kitchen and, as you can see in this photo, I've fully made use of it for storage of dried goods in my antique canning jars, and for storage of a few appliances to clear off my counter tops. I love the clear counters for working, and I'm really enjoying seeing my dried goods in their antique jars. I've found that I'm more likely to use things now that I can see what I have.

I'm so thankful for a sweet and thoughtful husband who always seems to be looking for ways to make our home a little nicer and my life a little easier.

An Afghan for a Special Young Man

My sister's oldest is graduating from college this spring, and his school colors are blue and white. So, I started work last winter on an afghan for him. I finished it at the start of this month.

I used a free pattern on the Lion Brand website, to crochet the afghan using two different colors of Wool-Ease yarn. It was really easy and fun, and I know that our nephew will enjoy this gift.

His maternal grandmother, my mother, would have made him an afghan or quilt, if she could have lived to see him graduate. So I guess this gift not only honors our graduate, but also memorializes my Mom.

I still remember Mom telling me one time how her grandson (this nephew) told her when he was 10 years old that he always slept better under one of his Nana's quilts (he and his sister always called her Nana), because it was like sleeping in her hug.

A Tea-Time Table Runner

Another project I finished late in March was this scrap-quilt table runner. My sweet sister got me this pattern, which is super easy to make, and I used all spring-type fabrics from my scrap basket to make it.

All the while I was working on this project, I kept thinking that it looked like it belonged on a table set for a lady's tea. I'd love to do something like that sometime in my home, and invite family and friends to join me for a tea-time lunch.

But I might not keep this particular table runner. It depends on whether or not I get around to making another table runner before a wedding we're invited to attend in July. If I don't make another one, I'll give this one away and then vow to make another for myself.

New socks for me!

I'm a few weeks behind in blogging on my craft and cooking projects, so I actually finished these socks at the end of March.

I used the basic sock pattern offered free on the Lion Brand yarn site, and I found that it was easy and fun to use. My only problem was that they turned out a little big for my feet, but not so big that they won't work inside shoes. And I love the self-striping of the Lion Brand Sock-Ease yarn.

Next time, though, I'm going to use Sock-Ease with a different pattern, perhaps one that is meant for smaller feet so that they'll come out my size (and my feet are NOT small), since I'm guessing that I must tend to knit a little loose.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mom's Hot Cross Buns

Last year, I made my mother's Hot Cross Bun recipe for the first time, and I'm ashamed to say that they came out hard, almost like hockey pucks.

So this year I resolved that I would follow the recipe more closely, even taking time to sift the flour, and then use the scoop-and-level method of measuring it...
Well, lo and behold it really worked well! These were light and fluffy, just like I'd remembered when my mother made them. As one who has been cooking now for more than 30 years (I started when I was very young), I should know by now that sifting flour can really make a difference.

Another comment I could make about this recipe, which I made for our dinner on the day we celebrated our Lord's Resurrection, is that I think this recipe originally came from my maternal grandmother, who immigrated from Denmark with her family when she was seven years old. So she was old enough in the "old country" to remember Danish traditions, at least one of which involved these Hot Cross Buns.

As I remember Grandma telling us one year, the children in her village would take willow branches and wrap them with colored crepe paper, shaping them like a shepherd's crook. Then, they would knock on the doors of friends and neighbors and shout something like "Fah-stah-lahton rays" (written phonetically as well as I can remember it). Basically, it was like our modern-day traditional of trick-or-treating, but Grandma told us that they never did any tricks to anyone. They probably knew which houses would have hot cross buns to share with them, and wouldn't go there unless they knew they would be welcome.

I still miss my maternal grandmother. Actually, I miss all of my grandparents, but I'm so thankful that there are recipes and stories to help me to remember.


1 cup milk, scalded
2 Tbsp. shortening
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 pkg. rapid-rise yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 egg, well-beaten
3-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2/3 cup currants

Combine scalded milk, shortening, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cool to lukewarm. Soften yeast in lukewarm water and add to lukewarm milk mixture. Add egg. Then gradually stir in flour to make a soft dough. Add currants and mix to distribute evenly. Place dough in large greased bowl; cover; put in warm place to rise until double in size.

Form dough into small buns, flatten slightly and place about 2 inches apart on greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until double in size. Just before baking, cut a cross into the top of each bun with a sharp knife or kitchen scissors. Bake 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

A minute before the buns are done baking, brush top of buns with milk, sprinkle a little sugar and return to oven to glaze. After cooling, fill cross on top of each bun with confectioner's icing.

Really Crunchy Oatmeal Cookies

One of my husband's aunts recently shared a wonderful new cookie recipe with us. It came from the side of a box of Grape-Nuts cereal, and the original version of it had dried cranberries as well as the ingredients I've listed below. But my husband isn't fond of dried fruit in baked goods, and I didn't think the cranberries added much to the cookies, which were wonderful on their own.

I've made them twice now, and though they make a big batch they don't last long. They're the thinnest, crunchiest oatmeal cookies we've ever had...really good!

Grape-Nuts Oatmeal Cookies
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups Grape-Nuts cereal
2 cups quick-cooking oats

Mix flour and baking soda in a small bowl. Beat butter in a mixing bowl to soften. Gradually add sugars, beating until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well after each addition. Stir in cereal and oats. Drop by rounded tablespoonful onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8 minutes at 375 degrees, or until lightly browned. Cool 1 minute on pan and then remove to cookie sheets. Cool completely on wire racks. Makes 5 dozen.