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What are you cooking?

As we continue with our lives and try to live and do things as normal as possible, the one thing we can’t do without is our food.

When you wake up in the morning, do you experience the same problem as I do? When my husband wakes up the first thing I hear is the question, “What’s for breakfast”. He never lets me forget that it is time for breakfast right after he finishes watching John Hagee on the TBN television network.

The other issue is that he wants something different and a variety and not the same thing everyday. At one time, he used to make me breakfast, consisting of eggs and bacon with toast one day and pancakes the next day with or without eggs. Breakfast was the only thing he knew how to do and was good at doing. Somehow, however, for some reason, he stopped cooking breakfast and now it is just a rare occasion for him to cook for me.

It really feels good to have someone cook for me now and then. We have friends who are very skeptical about inviting us for dinner, although I would like to be invited, because of fear that I would be critical of their cooking or they would not be extravagant preparing as many different dishes as I do when we have people over. I do enjoy trying other people dishes and cooking, plus seeing the different spices and ingredients they use.

Cooking is a secret talent that all of us that love to cook have. The secret is to be able to mix ingredients with spices and come up with a delicious dish. If you have a picky husband or children like I do, then you need to stick to what they like and what makes them happy. (Many times I spend hours preparing a dish only to put it on the table and to see a unhappy face). That tells me that I better stick with my basic recipes and what they like and use my creations when I have company. I am the type of cook that gets excited being in the kitchen and trying new dishes and I tell my kids not to get disappointed if something doesn’t come out like you were hoping. Keep trying and the next time it will turn out better. I am thrilled because all my seven granddaughters at a very young age are into cooking. I love seeing them in the kitchen and trying their best to turn out a delicious dish — they always bring me a sample and are thrilled when I praise them.

I know I overdo dinners and prepare way more food than people can eat, but I enjoy cooking and with a choice, people can find something they like and not return home hungry.

Below I have some helpful hints you can use when it comes time to make bread, biscuits, muffins and rolls.

As you may have read in the newspaper the Annual Parkersburg News & Sentinel Cookbook Contest will take place like every year with some restrictions due to the virus. I always look forward to judging foods prepared by some of the best cooks in the Mid Ohio Valley.

Till next week!

Hints:

* Overripe bananas can be peeled and frozen in a plastic container until it’s time to bake.

* When baking bread, a small dish of water in the oven will help keep the crust from getting too hard or brown.

* Use shortening, not margarine or oil, to grease pans, as margarine and oil absorb more readily into the dough or batter.

* To make self-rising flour, mix 4 cups flour, 2 teaspoons salt and 2 tablespoons baking powder and store in a tightly covered container.

* Always sift flour before measuring.

* When baking in a glass pan, reduce the oven temperature by 25.

* When baking bread, you get a finer texture if you use milk. Water makes a coarser bread.

* If your biscuits are dry, it could be from too much handling or the oven temperature may not have been hot enough.

* Nut breads are better if stored 24 hours before serving.

* To make bread crumbs, toast the heels of bread and chop in a food processor.

* Cracked eggs should not be used because they may contain bacteria.

* The freshness of eggs can be tested by placing them in a large bowl of cold water; if they float, do not use them.

***

Banana Bread

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon soda

2-3 ripe bananas

1/3 cup shortening

1 cup nuts, optional

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1/3 cup sour milk or regular milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2/3 cup sugar

Blend eggs, shortening, bananas, sugar, milk and vanilla. Stir in soda, baking powder, salt, flour and nuts. Put in loaf pan and bake at 350-375 for 45 minutes or until done.

***

Angel Biscuits

5 cups flour

3/4 cup shortening or 1/2 cup oil

1 teaspoon soda

1 teaspoon salt

3 teaspoons baking powder

3 tablespoons sugar

1 package yeast

2 cups buttermilk

Sift dry ingredients together. Cut in shortening, buttermilk and yeast, dissolved in 1/3 cup warm water. Mix with a spoon until all flour is moistened. Cover bowl and put in refrigerator until ready to use. Roll out onto a floured board 1/2-inch thick, cut and bake at 400 for 12 minutes.

***

French Toast Loaf

2 cups half and half

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

4 cups bread cubes

Preheat oven to 350. Coat a 9×5 loaf pan with nonstick spray. Use a large bowl and mix all ingredients except bread very well. Stir in bread and let set 10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Spoon in loaf pan and bake 55-60 minutes. Remove, slice and serve.

***

Zucchini Bread

3 eggs

1 3/4 cups sugar or 1/2 cup honey

1 cup oil

2 cups grated zucchini

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 cups flour

Combine first 5 ingredients until smooth. Add cinnamon, baking soda and baking powder. Gradually add flour and mix throughly. Pour batter into 2 large, greased loaf pans. Bake at 375 for 55 minutes.

***

Date and Nut Bread

1 cup boiling water

1 1/2 cups pitted dates, cut fine

1 teaspoon soda

1 egg

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups sifted flour

3/4 cup chopped nuts

Pour boiling water over dates. Add soda nad let mixture cool. In separate bowl beat egg, add sugar and mix well. Stir in date mixture and remaining ingredients; mix well. Bake in loaf pan, greased or lined with wax paper for 1 hour at 350. Ice with plain frosting if desired.

***

Strawberry Bread

2 10-ounce packages frozen strawberries, thawed

4 eggs

1 1/4 cups salad oil

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

3 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 2 loaf pans; set aside. In a medium bowl, stir thawed strawberries, eggs and oil. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, soda, salt and nuts. Add strawberry mixture to dry ingredients and stir just until blended. Pour into pans and bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

***

Blueberry Muffins

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 can blueberries in syrup, drained

Grease bottoms of muffin tin or use baking cups. In a mixing bowl, beat egg slightly with a fork. Measure and stir in milk and oil. Measure and blend in flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add all at once to liquid mixture. Stir just enough to moisten dry ingredients. Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full. Place in preheated 350 oven. Bake 20-25 minutes. Remove to cooling rack.

***

Kiki Angelos is a food columnist for the Parkersburg News and Sentinel.

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