Category: snacks

Another year older (and deeper in debt) …plus donuts.

Happy birthday to me! So, I am officially 34 years old! Holy balls. Time fucking flies, man. All you youngin’s out there, take heed. The years begin to move by so quickly you won’t have time to even comprehend it. Yes- another year has passed, and what a year it was! As the song says “Another year (day) older and deeper in debt…”

We faced illness and overcame it. We got married, and we bought a house. Here’s Lola (one of my favorite birthday gifts ever) at home, in her natural habitat: the kitchen.

Lola the mixer, at home.(Painting by the lovely and talented Mrs. Christine Comis-Villareal)

 

Lots of things can happen in one year, clearly. Lots of good, maybe some bad. But it all balances out in the end. I decided to skip the “Life List” this year, because honestly? After all the bullshit this year I’m just glad to be here- literally and figuratively. I’m thankful for so many things & people, thankful that I’m healthy and here to celebrate another birthday.

I’m also thankful for donuts.

Baked chocolate donuts with pink icing!

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Milton’s gluten-free goodness giveaway!

Milton's Gluten Free!

You guys, I have to tell you something. I never ever try something and give it a good review unless it’s actually good. I swear that to you. On my life- really. I’ve been doing this blog a long time and I’ve hosted a lot of giveaways, and reviewed a lot of products. If I try something and it sucks, or I hate it, I will not rave about it and I will certainly not host a giveaway. I won’t post about it at all, actually, because I won’t give something press- even bad press- if its not up to my standards. Either way, I don’t lie. And I especially don’t lie to get something for free.

I never have to worry about any of that with Milton’s Craft Bakers. I’ve done a few giveaways with them before and every single product they’ve sent me has been awesome. Milton’s has been in business for 20 years now, and they’re committed to creating healthy snacks.

This time they offered to send me a gluten-free assortment of crackers, and while at first I was a bit skeptical, I said, “Why not?” I mean, like I said, I have never had anything but great experiences with them & their products. And I love crackers. A lot.

Milton's Craft Bakers gluten free crackers!

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Donegal oatcakes.

Donegal oatcakes.

I grew up my whole life thinking that my Irish family was from Sligo. That’s it. Just Sligo. I never grew up hearing about anywhere else. My one Irish ancestor who came direct from the Emerald Isle that I heard the most stories from/about passed away in 1936, she was my great-great-grandmother Winifred Macken (Mackin) née Mahon. She was poor, and came here and worked as a maid. Never learned to read or write. She was very secretive and didn’t like to talk about the past- this only adds to the air of mystery surrounding her in my mind. Including the fact that she was married twice and nobody was 100% sure of the names of either man. Anyway, it’s very possible that she was indeed from Sligo (I can’t find a trace of her anywhere either way), but the other Irish side that came here around the same time, the Kieran/Rooney’s, hailed directly from Louth. We have plenty of info on them, including the house that Jane Rooney (née Kieran) was born in, which is still standing.

Sufficient to say, however: I have no family (that I know of) from Donegal.

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Pseudo-Dutch potato salad.

It just so happens, I am part Dutch. Not Pennsylvania Dutch, just Dutch. From the Netherlands. Land of the wooden shoes. I’m many things actually- but yes, Dutch is one of them. However I’m not a big fan of potato salad (Dutch or otherwise). I come from a family who LOVES all kinds of mayonnaise-dressed carbohydrate salads; macaroni, potato, etc. And coleslaw too. I did not inherit the love.

But ’tis the season to have barbecues, picnics and eat outside in general. And those usually include a type of salad; be it made with lettuces & greens or potatoes, macaroni or eggs.

Pseudo-Dutch potato salad.

I used farm fresh eggs from Queens County Farm. Obviously, any eggs will do. But just in case you were wondering where I got the blue egg, that should explain it. *wink*

A few of the farm eggs were on the small side, so I made an extra few. If you’re using regular store-bought large eggs, use only 5. For me, the farm fresh unpasteurized eggs seem to boil quicker, maybe because they’re sizes are so varied its hard to figure out the exact timing for boiling a bunch but I always end up with a bit of a darker circle around the yolk when using them. It’s harmless (it’s just ferrous sulfide) so it doesn’t bother me.

Easy pseudo-Dutch potato salad with hardboiled eggs, pickles & optional bacon.

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Garden vegetable quick pickles.

It’s nearing the end of a quiet, still, warm summer day. Its just about 5 p.m. The birds are still chirping, and it’s still light out, but the light is diffused; not so strong as it was just two or three hours ago. Everyone is just getting home from work or the beach, and kids are just pulling up on their bikes after a day out with friends.

And me? Well, I decide to make pickles.

What can I say… it cures what ails me. If I’m stressed or worried or angry, making something helps. When my Nana passed away I basically spent the whole summer pickling. It just kind of helped with the anxiety & grief. Same goes for that weird unsettled feeling. And it just so happens sometimes on really nice summer days… I get unsettled.

Who knows why. Either way, there’s pickles.

Garden vegetable quick pickles- no canning!

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Martini pickles, Mr. Bond? Shaken… not stirred.

A couple of years ago, I made Molotov cocktail pickles with vodka. Before that I made maple whiskey/whiskey pickles & hop pickles. There was also a grilled pickle recipe I made a while back. Maybe I’m kinda known for making odd or unique pickles at this point.

So when the idea struck me for these I don’t think anyone was surprised.

See, in Russia, apparently it’s a thing to serve pickles with vodka. Not only that, but it’s a big process with shots of vodka, dill pickles & a piece of pumpernickel bread. I didn’t know this, which maybe I should considering Jay is part Russian. And very Russian at that: his great-grandfather fought in the Russian Army in the 19-teens.

Martini pickles!But at any rate as soon as I heard this little bit of information it got me thinking (just like how the idea of pickle backs got me thinking of whiskey pickles). First I thought of just adding vodka to regular pickles, then I figured why not go all the way…

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Hearty spent grain French bread.

Just a few days ago I posted about bagels, now it’s bread. I know, it’s crazy. But winter time is time to bake a lot of warming, comforting things. And bread is definitely one of those, don’t you think?

Back in August I told you all about my friend Pete, and his home-brew supply store, Homebrews & Handgrenades. I told you all about how he gave me a ton of spent brewing grain to bake with, and I made that bread.

Well things have been a bit busy around here since then. I remodeled almost the entire place, had no appliances, and then there was Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. It hasn’t been conducive to insane recipe experimentation like is required when you get something brand new, like spent grain. So whatever I haven’t used yet is sitting in jars in my freezer, waiting for me to decide what to do.

What is spent grain?
Spent Grain is a byproduct from brewing process. The chemical composition of wet spent grains is given below:
– Water, 80%
– Protein, 5%
– N-free extract, 9%
– Fat, 2%
– Cellulose fibres, 4%
– Minerals, 1%

source

Spent brewing grain, drying in the oven (click through for cracker recipe).

First, I dried out a bunch of the grain by laying it out on a cookie sheet and baking it at my oven’s lowest setting (170° F) for 7 hours or so, basically “overnight.” This was important because the grain was wet when I got it, and I froze it immediately. That means there was a lot of moisture trapped in there!

Once it was dried (and a little toasted, ’cause I raised the temperature a bit for the last hour), I let it cool completely. Then I used my KitchenAid grain mill attachment to grind it into a flour. I used a somewhat medium grind, it wasn’t too fine but not too coarse. And then- voila- I had spent grain flour! Which, by the way, you can store in your pantry in sealed container for as long as you like.

Spent brewing grain French bread.

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