Thursday, December 1, 2011

Quick and Easy Fudge from Scratch

No special ingredients needed here to make this wonderful fudge from scratch. No waiting for the mixture to cook, then cool, etc, etc. With the holiday season upon us, this is the quickest "from scratch fudge" I've ever come across. If you're interested in saving time, but serving up a great batch of fudge, try this out. It's definitely a winner!

You'll never guess where it came from...our local newspaper and it was submitted by Carla Maddox. (Giving credit where credit is due!)

Easy Microwave Fudge (Oh yes, it does take a microwave - apologies to all of you who are down on microwaves. I don't use them much either, but they are handy at times.)

4 cups of powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup baking cocoa (powdered form)
1/4 lb of butter (1 stick)
1/4 cup of milk
1 Tablespoon of vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts (or less)

Line an 8x8 baking pan with either waxed paper or plastic wrap. Blend sugar and cocoa in a 2 qt. glass mixing bowl and add milk and butter. Cook on High 1 minute and 45 seconds. Remove from microwave and beat by hand until smooth. Add vanilla and nuts and stir until blended. Pour fudge into the lined pan. Refrigerate until firm. To serve, run knife along edge of baking dish. Turn upside down on plate. Remove waxed paper or plastic wrap. Place fudge right side up on cutting board and cut as desired. Enjoy or wrap and give as a very special homemade "from scratch" gift.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cooking from Scratch

When I think about cooking from scratch I'm not thinking about going back to the way things were done in the old days (like when I was a kid.) I actually remember butchering chickens using our old wringer washer galvanized rinse tubs. How in the world did my mother ever get those clean enough again to use them for clothes? I don't remember that part. I digress and I've barely started!

Cooking and baking from scratch with the help of modern conveniences makes it possible to cook from scratch in a flash! I'm all for efficiency while maintaining quality.

One of the things I refuse to do without in my kitchen is my bread maker! That may seem like a strange modern day convenience to choose, but it makes my life so much easier. I can take about 3 or 4 minutes to fill the bread maker before going to bed at night and wake up with enough fresh bread for the next two days. Plus it will be made with whole grains and all natural ingredients without chemicals and preservatives. For those of you who may have a weight problem, you'll probably have to restrain yourself from eating too much. I find that if it isn't all going to be eaten in a couple of days, it's better to put half of it in the freezer. That way, it will be just as fresh as if you baked it that day. Don't store your bread in the refrigerator, however. That's the best way to ruin a good loaf of bread.

My bread maker, a Dak Turbo Baker, is one of the first that came on the market many years ago so it takes the dry ingredients first, then the wet. If your bread maker is different, be sure to follow the directions that come with it. Most of the more recent models require putting the wet ingredients in first, followed by the dry ingredients and the yeast last.

My bread machine, purchased from a Goodwill store about 3 years ago for only $10 is almost on its last legs. I think I've gotten my money's worth after several years of making bread in it at least 3 times a week! This is the one I'm thinking about getting next. The reviews are overwhelmingly positive and the price is extremely low compared to many other brands: Sunbeam 5891 2-Pound Programmable Breadmaker.

Now for my favorite recipe:

Oatmeal Bread

Boil 1 cup of water and add 1/2 cup of old fashioned rolled oats to it. Let cool for about half an hour (or more - until lukewarm).

Place slightly less than 1 Tablespoon of granular yeast in the bread pan.
Add 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour and
1 1/2 cups bread flour (for best results please use bread flour, NOT all purpose flour).

To the cooled oatmeal, add 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 Tablespoons of oil and 1/2 cup very warm water. Mix these and add to the dry ingredients in the bread maker.

Turn on and observe, if the dough doesn't form a nice ball on top of the paddle, add another tablespoon or two of warm water. If the dough is too wet and mounds up into a point or seems too sticky, add one teaspoon (or more) of flour.

Then walk away and come back when it's done and enjoy. My bread maker seems to make the nicest, softest crust if I do not remove it immediately from the machine. Hence I usually make it in the late evening, let it bake overnight and remove it when it's completely cooled in the morning. Bread machines differ so yours may or may not work this way. Or you may prefer a crunchier crust. I like mine soft. But you may need to just experiment.

Have fun cooking from scratch! I know you'll have more fun eating what you've made from scratch. Plus you'll save a ton of money.