Saturday, August 27, 2011

fresh cream corn

Earlier this month (and last), corn had become a staple in our weekly veggie box from Grow Alabama.  Conrad and I both LOVE corn.  Guy and Teague will eat it, but could easily could live without it.  Most weeks, we'd soak the corn and throw it on the grill whichever night we were grilling dinner.  Some nights we'd even top the corn with chilli powder, butter and lime juice.  YUMMY!  But we'd all grown weary of picking corn from our teeth.  I hate that feeling - don't you? So I decided to try cream corn.  I've made it before and it's been fine, but never stellar.  I think I finally got it right.  Not sure if it was the recipe or the iron skillet, but it worked! 

I can't for the life of me find the recipe I used online, but I found my notes.  As soon as I locate it, I'll give credit where credit is due.  I usually look for recipes from Giada de Laurentis, Ina Garten, or Alton Brown (hubbie's go-to for recipes), but I thought I better go with someone southern for a cream corn recipe.  I'm certain it was The Neeley's.  For the life of me I can't find it.  So, this is not my original recipe, but here goes...

4 ears corn
1 tablespoon sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup cold water
2 tablespoons bacon grease
1 tablespoon butter

Cut kernels from four ears of corn.  Using back of knife, scrape the corn cob releasing the milk into your bowl of kernels.  This is very important to get a good cream corn.

Whisk together sugar, salt, pepper, and flour.  Add to corn.  Stir cream and cold water into corn mixture.

Heat bacon grease in iron skillet over medium heat.  Add corn.  Turn heat to medium-low.  Stir until cream.  Just before serving stir in butter.

Enjoy!  If you try it, let me know how it turns out!

Today's happy...fresh, delicious, melt-in-your-mouth cream corn.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Savings Celebration

As a stay-at-home mom, I try to contribute financially by saving us a few bucks with our shopping.  We mainly save on toiletries, household supplies, yogurt, cereal, and granola bars.  We try to buy mostly fresh produce and meats and there are rarely any coupons for that.  I'm not one who will buy an item just because it's on sale.  I try to shop and meal plan by the sale, but I won't cut my family's nutritional needs to save money.  We LOVE cereal as an easy breakfast.  We love granola bars, but we limit those for snacks on the go and snacks for Guy to take to work.   He goes through A LOT of granola bars! 

So, when I see a deal on cereal and granola bars that we like, I grab it up!

I haven't been to CVS in a while and was excited to find everything I was looking for today!

I got :
Multigrain Cheerios
Chocolate Cheerios
Raisin Bran Crunch x 2
Pampers Diapers 36 count
Fiber One Bars x 2
Nature Valley Bars x 4
Nutri Grain Bards x 2
Kid's Colgate Toothpaste x 2
Colgate Total Whitening Toothpaste
Garnier Fructis  Curl Sculpting Cream Gel x 2
Garnier Fructis Pure and Clean Shampoo
 $10 Shell Gift Card

TOTAL of $31.94  (really $21.94)
SAVINGS OF  $56.47

I look at it as $21.94 out of pocket because I look at the $10 gas card as a $10 coupon.  It's a reward for spending $30 on certain products. I'll be spending the $10 on gas anyway.  

Here's what I did:

Key:  Q = coupon      OOP = out of pocket      
ECB = Extra Care Bucks (spends like cash at CVS)

Transaction #1
3 Garnier Fructis items:  3 for $10 - $3 (3 $1 off Qs) = $7 OOP  get $3 ECB
1 Pampers Diapers: $8.99 - $2 Q =  $6.99 00P get $3 ECB
Total OOP = $13.99  
Received $6 ECB to use on next transaction

Transaction #2
2 Cheerios: $2.50 each    $5- $1 Q = $4
2 Raisin Bran Crunch:  $2.50 each    $5- $1 Q = $4
2 Fiber One Bars: $2.50 each    $5 - 0.80 Qs = $4.20
4 Nature Valley Bars: $2.50 each  $10 - $1.50 Qs = $8.50
2 Nutri Grain Bars: $2.50 each   $5 - $1 Q = $4
3 Colgate Items: 3 for $5 - 0.75 Q= $4.25
TOTAL For Items:  $28.95 - $5/$25 CVS purchase Q = $23.95
                               $23.95 - $6 ECB from Transaction #1 = $17.95 

Transaction #2 Total:
$17.95 OOP    Recieved $10 Shell Gas Card
 *  I count that as $7.95 OOP because I reimburse my grocery money with $10 of gas money for the gift card.

So, all that for $13.99 + $7.95 = $21.94 OOP  SAVED $56.47

A savings of 72% MAKES MY HEART HAPPY!   
Now, if those snacks will last Guy more than a week I'll be REALLY HAPPY!  :)  Hee!  Hee!   Love you, honey! 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Creative Outlet

So, for a couple years now I've been creating, invitations, announcements, greeting cards, gift tags...anything.  Through word of mouth I've had the privilege of creating stationary for a number of people.  I love it!  I get to be creative.  I get to see the smile on someones face when they go through the custom designs and find just the one they had in mind.  I get to work with people during important events in their life.  I LOVE IT!  It's my therapy! 

I started an Etsy shop before I got pregnant with Lenwood.  That was going pretty well, but when I went on bedrest I put my shop on vacation.  Then Lenwood was in the NICU.  Then he came home and I had a new baby keeping me up all night.  Then life just got busy.  I continued creating custom designs through my word-of-mouth work, but I never fully got things off the ground.  I've been working on a great line up of stationary items including something new for me...address labels!  I'm working at night and during nap time.  I'm working on a Facebook business page and my etsy page listings.  When Conrad and Teague go back to school in a few weeks, I'll have more time to finish getting things off the ground.  So for now, here is a sneak peak of a little of what you'll see when I roll out my Facebook page and re-roll out my etsy shop.

Hope you like what you see!  Much more to come in a few weeks!

Today's happy ...creative therapy!

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Peach Cobbler Success

This weekend, Guy's youngest brother and his wife were in town for a visit!  We had a family dinner on Sunday to gather and enjoy time together.  When I asked Guy's mom what I could bring, she suggested I make a peach cobbler with some peaches she had that weren't going to last much longer.  My first thought was, "Oh no, I have to make something I've never made before to serve at family dinner." You see, my mother-in-law is an AMAZING cook!  Everything she prepares is simply wonderful no matter how simple or complex.  She is truly talented in the kitchen.  Therefore, I'm always a little intimidated when I bring something to serve at her house. But, as soon as I had that first thought of intimidation, I immediately thought, "Hey, I've always wanted to try making cobbler.  This should be fun."  You see, the amazing thing about my mother-in-law is that she's incredibly talented AND incredibly humble. She always makes you feel like everything you do is just as amazing.  And in this case, the peach cobbler really was amazing!

I scoured the internet looking for the perfect cobbler recipe.  I prefer more of a crisp/crumble (which is it?) with a crunchy oat topping., My husband prefers a cobbler with a pie crust topping not a cake-like topping.  So, off  on the search for a pie crust-topped cobbler I went. I found a million cake-like topping recipes and a few with a pie crust topping. Finally came upon this recipe on a random blog, and it sounded amazing. It was!  So thank you Buster Buck for a great peach cobbler recipe!

Here's the recipe straight from Buck's Blog (in italics) with pictures of my baking process and finished product.  I did add a few notes in bold if I did something differently or had something to add.

2 cups all-purpose flour plus more sprinkling counters when rolling out dough
1 tsp salt
one and a half sticks of butter (3/4s of a cup) -- chilled
3 tbsp. lard (you can also use shortening)
iced water

Mix the  2 cups flour and salt in a bowl large enough for you to easily work your hands inside of it.
Chop the butter into pieces the size of marbles and drop them into the flour, and put in small pieces of the lard or shortening. Toss the butter and lard pieces in the flour, then begin to rub them into the flour with your fingers.

Here's the odd part: after you've mixed about half of the butter/lard -- meaning, you still have roughly half of the marble-sized pieces still in the flour, wet your hands at the tap, shake off the excess, then continue to mix the butter and flour with your fingers. You'll need to wet your hands 3 or 4 times while you're combining the flour and butter.
Leave some larger pieces of butter (about the size of peas) -- they will make your crust flaky.
Spoon about 5 tablespoons of the iced water in your flour, and then use a fork to slowly incorporate the water. It's okay to add more water -- most recipes don't include enough water. However, because you've wetted your hands with water you will notice that you won't need much more than the original 5 tablespoons. Five tablespoons was just about right for me.  Also, this gets messy so make sure you get your water ready and beside you before you begin dipping your hands.
Gather it into a ball and place it on plastic wrap. If there's a little bit on the bottom of your bowl that's still dry, it's okay. Press it onto the top of the ball of dough, wrap it up tightly and put it into the fridge.

I know, I know. Who has the time to make dough then chill it? But... hey... this step of chilling the dough is absolutely VITAL to making a phenomenal crust. The dough needs to chill for at least an hour, preferably two hours.  I only had time to chill barely one hour - two would have been a BIG help when rolling out the dough.
I usually make my dough in the morning, put it into the refrigerator, then later in the afternoon when I'm ready to make the cobbler, my crust-dough is ready to go.


Preparing Your Peaches

8-10 peaches
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup sugar plus more for sprinkling crust
1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg plus more for sprinkling crust
cinnamon for sprinkling crust

If you're using fresh peaches, simply drop them into boiling water for about 30 seconds (this makes it easy to remove the skin) then slice them into a bowl.

If you're using peaches from the freezer, you'll want to let them come to room temperature.

Combine 1/4 cup of cornstarch with one cup of sugar. It's important to combine these before you add them to your peaches.
To four cups of peaches add the sugar/cornstarch mixture and stir carefully.I used more than four cups peaches - I used 8-10 peaches.  One and a half peaches is about a cup.  I felt like it needed it to fill my 9x13 pan and you can see in the photos below it was just barely full.
Squeeze half of a lemon into your peaches then grate about one teaspoon of the lemon rind (the yellow part, not the white part) into the bowl then combine well.
Add in 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg (freshly grated is really delicious -- but, hey, if what you have is already grated, then use that.)

Spray your baking dish with Pam (makes it really easy to clean later -- and even an older dishwasher will be able to clean the dish if you do this) then pour your peaches into it.
Now you're ready to make your lattice crust.

I did not use foil. I rolled it out on my butcher block counters duster with flour
Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and press it into a flat disk with your hand. Using your roller, roll the dough from the center outward till it is about an 1/8th of an inch thick.
As you roll, you'll need to lift up the dough and sprinkle flour beneath it. I usually end up turning the dough a couple of times, to make sure it doesn't stick to the foil. You'll find that working with thoroughly chilled dough is SO much easier than working with dough you just mixed!
Slice the dough into long strips, and lay them in a criss-cross pattern on top of your peaches in the baking dish.

Final Touches

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
In the "holes" created by the lattice-crust, put small pieces of butter. I usually just slice off a thin sliver of butter from a stick, then cut that into fourths. Each of these "fourths" goes into a hole.
Sprinkle sugar on your crust, then carefully sprinkle grated nutmeg and a little cinnamon onto the crust. It doesn't take much, but adding nutmeg to the top of the crust will really increase the delicious aroma when you take it out of the oven.
Then I spray my cobbler with Pam. This will make your crust glisten in the same way that an egg-wash will make it glisten. The only difference? It takes me about 10 seconds to spray it with Pam, and quite a while to beat an egg with ice water and paint it onto the crust. In my opinion, the Pam looks better and it certainly is easy.  I used the Pam idea and it worked pretty well. 

Put your cobbler into the oven and set the timer for 45 minutes.
Depending on your oven, it may take as long as an hour -- you're looking for the crust to become a delicious, crusty brown. After all, part of the charm of a cobbler is the texture contrast of soft sweet peaches with crispy crust.  My cobbler really could have used five more minutes in the oven to get a good golden brown crust, but we had to leave for church.  Even without that extra five minutes, it was still crisp yet flaky and delicious.

Serve it with vanilla ice cream, and get ready for the raves!  You can reheat in the oven, but we ate ours at room temperature and it was great that way!  Vanilla ice cream is a perfect compliment.  This is sweet yet a little tart from the lemon juice and zest. 

This one is definitely a keeper!  I hope to try it with some other fresh fruits!  If you try it, let me know how it turns out!

Today's happy ....great food and amazing family time!  I am so blessed to have married into a family I adore!