Check out My YouTube Channel and see some recent videos of great food and tablescapes.  You'll love what you see!  I've posted pictures from the Made at Home Cooking Columns I've written for the Southern Illinoisan Newspaper in 2011.

Silver Christmas Video

I'm linking my video with Between Naps on the Porch!   Hope you enjoy and as always, special thanks to Susan who brings us together each week to share our lovely tables!  Take a look at the video, but click through to see the magazine article and additional photographs.

Wintertime Friendship Bread Starter & Recipes!

I love keeping a Friendship Bread Starter going during the winter months.  I know lots of folks never let their starter die and bake from the same one for years, but I start fresh every winter ... because I don't bake as much during the summer months!   Here's a good recipe for the yeast sourdough starter "sponge" ... and several recipes for using it.  Don't think you have to bake the same thing every week ... That's not the case at all!   Enjoy!

Friendship Bread Starter

2 Tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup warm water
2 packages active dry yeast
2 cups milk
1 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour

Sprinkle 2 Tablespoon sugar over the warm water;   sprinkle the yeast over this and leave it alone for ten minutes.   It will be doubled in size and bubbly.   Mix the yeast combination with the rest of the ingredients in a glass or plastic bowl (that has a lid).  Stir it with a wooden spoon and cover it loosely.  Place it in a warm location and let it stand overnight.

The next morning, stir the mixture, cover it again and place it in the refrigerator.   Each day, stir the “starter”, returning it to the refrigerator.  On the fifth day, take out one cup of the starter to bake with, and then feed it with:  1 cup flour, 1 cup milk and ½ cup of sugar.  Continue to stir it each day and on every fifth day, remove 1 cup to bake with and feed it again with the previously listed ingredients.  If you don’t want to bake, give your cup of starter to a friend.   For every cup you remove, you should feed the starter accordingly.

Friendship White Bread

1 envelope of active dry yeast
1½ cups warm water
3 Tablespoons canola oil
1 cup of friendship bread starter
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
Approximately 5 cups of flour

In a big bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water; add the starter, salt, sugar and oil..  Blend well; cover and let rise for 2 hours until double.   Combine with the baking soda and half the flour; blend well and then begin to work in the remainder of the flour.   On a floured board, knead for five minutes; divide in half and for into two round loaves.  Score the tops of the loaves and let it rise again for 1 hour until it doubles in size.   Bake at 400 degrees for 30 – 35 minutes.  The bread will brown and sound hollow when tapped.   For a soft crust, brush the loaf with butter or spray it with cooking spray.

Friendship Cinnamon Rolls

3 cups flour
2 cups friendship bread starter
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
2 eggs, beaten

To prepare the rolls:
1 stick melted butter
2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
¼ cup raisins

Combine half the flour, starter, baking powder, baking soda, salt, warm water and eggs.  Blend well to form a sticky dough.   Gently fold in the remaining flour and knead for five minutes.   Place in a bowl, drizzle it with oil and turn it to coat the dough, so it doesn’t stick to the bowl.  Cover and let it rise for an hour, until doubled.  Punch down the dough and roll it into a 10 x 20 inch rectangle.

Brush the melted butter on the dough; sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon, nuts and raisins.  Roll it up; slice into 18 – 24 sections and place them in a prepared 11x15 inch baking pan.  Cover with a towel and let rise again, until doubled.

Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes.  While still warm, drizzle with icing made with confectioner’s sugar thinned with milk.

Apple Bread

1-1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1 cup friendship bread starter
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Fold in by hand:
1 cup chopped nuts
3 cups diced fresh apples

Pour into 2 well greased loaf pans. Bake at 375 degrees F 50-60 minutes.

Caramel Apple Bread

Combine these ingredients:  The batter will be very stiff.
1-1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup oil
1 tsp almond extract
2 cups flour
1tsp cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs
1 cup friendship bread starter
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Fold in:
1/2 cup milk
1 cup chopped peanuts
1 cup butterscotch chips
3 cups diced fresh apples

The batter will become much more moist with the addition of the apples.

Pour into 2 well greased loaf pans. Bake at 375 degrees F 50-60 minutes.

Chocolate Brownies

In a bowl, combine and mix well:
1 cup oil
1/2 cup milk
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup friendship bread starter

In a separate bowl combine the following dry ingredients and mix well:
2 cups flour
1- 1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 - (5.1 oz) box instant chocolate pudding
3 heaping Tablespoon of cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup pecans or walnuts

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Mix and pour into two well greased and sugared bread pans. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour.

Friendship Chocolate Cake

Cream together:
2/3 cup shortening
1- 2/3 cup sugar

3 eggs
1 cup of friendship bread starter
1 tsp vanilla

Beat 2 minutes on medium speed.

2/3 cup cocoa
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

Add flour mixture to batter alternately with 3/4 cup cold water. Beat 1 minute on medium speed. Mix in by hand 1 cup chopped nuts. Pour into greased and floured 9x13 pan. Bake at 375 degrees F for 30-40 minutes.

Friendship Cookies

1 cup of friendship bread starter
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon molasses
3/4 cup butter
2 tsp vanilla

Mix well.

Sift together:
2 Cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt.

Chocolate Chip Option: Add 1 extra cup flour. Add 2 cups chocolate chips and 1 cup chopped nuts.

Oatmeal Option:  Add 2 cups oatmeal, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 cup chocolate chips and 1 cup raisins.

Drop the cookies by teaspoonful on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 10 to 13 minutes.

Onion Rye Bread

1 cup of starter
1 package of active dry yeast
¼ cup minced dried onions
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons melted butter
¼ cup warm water
½ cup warm milk
2 cups rye flour
2 cups white flour

Stir the package of yeast into the warm water (180 degrees) and let it set until it bubbles.  Hydrate the dried onions in the warm milk.  Combine the starter, olive oil, melted butter and onion-milk combination and stir it to combine.  Gently stir in the yeast and water.  Stir in the rye flour and begin adding the white flour ½ cup at a time.   The dough will go from being sticky to becoming dry and should be kneaded for about five minutes. Form the dough into a smooth ball.  The entire mixing and kneading process can be done in a food processer or with an electric mixer and a dough hook. 

Pour about ¼ cup of olive oil in a bowl and place the dough in the oil, turning it to get oil on the entire surface.  Cover the bowl and place it in a warm location and let the bread rise until it is double in size.   Rye bread takes a little longer to rise than white bread, so this could take as long as two hours.  After it has doubled, punch the dough down, so the air releases and form the dough into two loaves.  You can do this freeform on baking sheets or place the dough in oiled pans.  I like to bake my rye bread in round bowls.   Cover the loaves and let the dough double in size again.  Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 40-50 minutes, until the bread sounds hollow when tapped with a spoon.  Remove the bread from the oven to cool.  Brush it with additional oil or melted butter to soften the crust.

Silver Christmas Photo Shoot!

I've posted a pretty slide show from the photo shoot done in my dining room months ago for inclusion in the Life & Style magazine, published by the Southern Illinoisan Newspaper.  If you click the video, you should get a full screen view and make sure you turn on the sound button!

You can view the article online by clicking through right here!  I couldn't share the photos I took until now ... giving the magazine plenty of time to circulate.  However, the professional shots are much better than mine, so you will definitely want to view the actual article!   If you'd like a copy of the actual magazine, don't hesitate to email me and ask for it.  I'd be happy to send you one.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!   I've been swamped in the last few months and haven't spent much time blogging for fun!  Instead, I've been working on a new social media for the tourism bureau. We've chased Santa all over Carbondale, filming "Santa Sightings" to post .. and I have to say we had a blast doing that.  I'll be back on the creative blog scene in the new year, but for now, enjoy this collage ... with the most important girl in my life front and center!  She just turned 5 and she is more fun than a new puppy!

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