Currant Affairs

No, that’s not a spelling mistake. I do mean “currant” with an “a.”

Here’s what happened.

First thing in the morning I go into the kitchen to put the coffee on.

Hmph! No coffee ground.

Get the beans and pour them into the grinder. I have dark roast and medium roast. These look like … can’t really tell …should have labeled the jar.

Oh well,  here goes. Put the cap on the grinder and … wait a minute! These look like awfully small beans ….

WHAAAAT? That’s not coffee! I taste a “bean” to be sure. They’re currants!

I’m struggling to wake up. My eyes are only half open. And as you can see in the photo below, one of the pot lights has a burned out bulb. They are connected three to a switch and only two of this set are on.

I made scones the other day and put currants in them. I always put away the ingredients when I finish baking, but I hadn’t put away the jar with currants in them. As you can see below, they look very much like the coffee beans that I keep on the counter because I’m always needing to grind more coffee.

With the poor lighting from the burnt out bulb, I couldn’t see that one jar had something other than coffee beans in it.  So maybe there are two dimbulbs around here.

Of course, I can forgive myself for almost making pureed currants.

I hadn’t had my first cup of coffee yet.

Gingerbread Man

At Christmastime, I bake gingersnaps. The Captain’s mother, the Admiral, always made gingersnaps for Christmas. It was my job to take up the flag, as it were, and carry on the tradition. I’m getting better, but they’re never as good as the Admiral’s. One thing she always did was to make a gingerbread man from the last bit of leftover dough.  As I made the gingersnaps today, the last bit of dough looked to me like the shape of a deer’s head, so I cut out the rest of its shape. Then I still had enough to make a gingerbread man. This year my man has a broken leg so I gave the gingerbread man an aircast boot and two crutches. He looks a bit ghoulish but I’m sure he felt that way in his first days of hobbling around, so maybe it’s appropriate.dscn7600

If you’re feeling inspired to make gingersnaps (and why wouldn’t you feel inspired after seeing these? – If I can do it, anyone can) the recipe follows:

Gingersnaps

Put in pot and let come to boil:

1 c. butter

1 c. molasses (I like fancy molasses but the other kinds work too.)

½ c. brown sugar

I let it boil for about a minute, stirring all the time. Remove from heat. Put in bowl. Be careful. The boiled syrup is VERY hot.

Add:

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. ground ginger

3 – 3 ½ c. flour

*Candied ginger pieces can be added to the dough.  Also grated fresh ginger root may be added.

Cool in fridge for a few hours or overnight. I divide the dough into four pieces and then cool it. Otherwise it becomes a challenge to roll out as one big piece. The dough will be quite hard but don’t give up when you roll it out. Slice or cut with cookie cutter.

No need to butter the cookie sheet as the dough is buttery enough.

Bake at 350* for 8 minutes.

The cookies freeze well so it’s easy to haul out a few when friends drop in.

Scones

I love to have a scone with my tea or coffee. They are small enough to be a tidbit, but big enough to fill the gap when it’s a while before dinner. Having scones on hand makes life easier if someone drops in and you don’t know what to serve as a “little something” with your beverage. Keep them in a ziploc in the freezer, and thaw for a few seconds in the microwave, and you’re all set.

I have a book of many scone recipes. I don’t particularly like any of them so I took the best of each and made up my own version.

All the dry ingredients go into the food processor:

3 cups flour

1/2 tsp. salt

3 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

3 Tbsp. sugar (which I forgot to put into this batch, but it turned out fine just the same)

Then add about 3/4 cup of butter and pulse the food processor until the butter is cut into the flour mixture evenly.

In a measuring cup, stir an egg with a fork and then add enough milk to make a cup. (At this point I also add, as part of that one cup of liquid, whatever I have on hand – yogurt, sour cream, or a squeeze of lemon or lime – just to get the baking soda working well). You may have to add a drop more liquid if you use sour cream or yogurt.

Pour in the liquid and give it a few pulses, add a handful of currants (or raisins, if you prefer), and pulse again. You don’t want to mash the currants so these go in last and are just barely mixed in.

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I dump out the dough onto a lightly floured board and smoosh it together into a rectangular lump. I fold the lump in half, press it down, fold it in half again and press it down, and maybe do it a third time. The main thing is not to knead or handle the dough too much.

Place the square of dough onto a buttered baking sheet and roll it to about 1/2 inch thickness with a rolling pin. Then cut it into about 24 pieces. Notice I use the word “about” a lot. If you want to make the scones come out with a nice glaze on top, this is a good time to brush egg on top. I’m usually too lazy.

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The recipes all say 425 degrees for half an hour but I found that this is too hot for too long. “About” 400 for 22 minutes was plenty for this batch, but you have to do what suits your oven’s quirkiness, and watch the time.

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Put the finished scones onto a cooling rack and then hurry to get the butter and the blackberry jam you made the other day. Try out your scones and then … try out another … and another. Enjoy.

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Ciabatta Bread

Even in the trailer for this road trip, when I wasn’t going to be doing much “domesticating,” I ended up baking bread. At home, I bake different kinds of bread but I wasn’t prepared to do that much work while on holiday. Still, a craving for that home-baked flavour grew until it could no longer be ignored. I found an easy solution. Ciabatta bread.

The oven in the trailer is not very big and had never been used. I could see why. If the bread rose very much it would bake onto the ceiling of the oven. It was chilly in the trailer too–tolerable but not ideal for dough to rise. Since ciabatta dough doesn’t need it to be toasty warm, just barely room temperature, and I had few ingredients, I decided that it was the perfect bread to try. It didn’t rise really high as a free-form loaf in the wide pan. Turned out perfect. The hardest part was lighting the gas oven without blowing up the trailer.dscn7110

Desperation recipe for ciabatta bread:

Remember that I faked and fudged it.

4 cups white flour

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. fast rising yeast

2 cups warm water

Stir until it forms a wet dough. Cover and set in a “warmish” place overnight.

In the morning, butter the baking pan and flop the dough into it, roughly shaping it into a loaf. Let it sit for an hour or two. Bake at 350 or 375 for about 40 minutes or until it is golden brown.

Cut off the heel tap and give it to the Captain. Cut another slice to give to your friend in the next RV rig.