Sunday, December 17, 2017

Homemade Brownies with a touch of Orange

I have nothing against boxed cake or even brownie mixes.  I don't judge.

But brownies are really easy to make.  

And if you bake at all, you are likely to have the ingredients you need if you suddenly HAVE TO HAVE BROWNIES (I don't know if that happens to you but it does to me).

Here's how I make them.  You don't have to add the orange, but a hint of orange with chocolate is really good.

  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Cocoa
  • 3/4 Cup flour
  • tsp salt
  • Zest 1/4 - 1/2 Orange
  • 1 Tbl Orange liqueor
  • 1 tspVanilla

Mix the sugar with melted butter.  Add eggs, zest, liqueor and vanilla.  Beat well.  Add salt., Add the cocoa, mix well.  Then add the flour. Just mix enough to moisten everything.  DO NOT OVER MIX!

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes are so.  You want it to be a little underbaked. 

Sift powdered sugar,  and spring red, green and gold sugar over the top.  

There.  Wasn't that easy???

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Banana Bread with Bourbon Lemon Browned Butter Glaze

I  used to write deep theological treatises – like No Such Thing as Too Much Grace.

Now I just cook. 

Lately, I try to eat a banana every day.  I think it’s good for me.  But I can’t always keep up with them and I don’t like a brown mushy banana.  So, time for banana bread.  I went a little crazy today with a Bourbon Lemon Brown Butter Glaze over it.

Tip- I never buy buttermilk.  

Don’t use it enough to make it worth it.  You know if you put a TBL of vinegar or lemon juice in a cup of milk it makes buttermilk, right?  That’s what I do.

If I was making this only for me, I'd stick some pecans on the top but my son likes banana bread without nuts and I'm sharing with him so no nuts.  But you could do it if you wanted. 

Spray a regular loaf pan.  My trick—instead of flouring your pan, dump about ¼ cup sugar in the pan after you spray and coat it with sugar.  It doesn’t stick and it tastes better than flour.

The bread:

  • Three or 4 overripe bananas
  • 1 stick soft or partially melted butter. (this isn’t like cookies so it can be melted)
  • ¼ Cup Buttermilk
  • ¾ Cup Brown Sugar
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • A little cinnamon
  • 1 tsp bourbon
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt

Mash up the banana.  Add sugar and mix with a mixer.  Then add buttermilk, cinnamon bourbon & vanilla and mix that.  

Beat eggs well in another bowl.  Then add to the mix and mix that all up.  Then add dry ingredients and mix that with a spoon until well mixed.  Don’t overmix.

Pour it into a pan.  I sprinkle a little white decorative sugar on the top.  Because you can never have too much sugar. Well, you can.  But I’m not saying you should eat this every day.

Now for the glaze:

  • 1 half stick butter
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 shot bourbon
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • A little milk to thin it – you just eyeball this
  • 1 ½ cup powdered sugar
  • A little salt 

Melt a half stick of butter in a pan and then keep cooking it on medium-low heat until it’s a golden-brown color.  

Turn heat way down and add the brown sugar, lemon and salt and whisk that up.  

It will get a little grainy, don’t worry about it.  Add the bourbon and about ¾ cup powdered sugar.  Wisk that until it’s well mixed.  Add the rest of the powdered sugar and add milk to get the consistency you want.  

This is not science.  

Adjust milk and sugar to get the taste and consistency you want.   There’s no right way other than the way you like it. But you want it on the thin side because it’s a glaze, not a frosting.   

Pour over your bread while it’s still warm. Good huh?

Thursday, July 6, 2017


So I went to Spain at the end of April and walked the last part of the Camino from Sarria to Santiago de Compestella.  I'll write about that one of these days. (In the meantime you can see my photos)

I had a lot of good cheap wine.  And Sangria.  I used to think Sangria was like punch and sweet wine that I hate.  Oh no.  Real Sangria is really good.  So I made my own when I came back.  With stuff I like.

Note.  I do not add soda water or soda pop to my Sangria.  They don't do that in Spain either.  Nor do I put soda in my Bourbon Old Fashioned.  If I wanted pop I would order pop.  

Red Wine Sangria

1 orange, sliced
1 lime, sliced
1/2 apple, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
1 TBL sugar
2 shots Bourbon
1 shot raspberry liqueur 
1 bottle Merlot
Couple shakes of Orange Bitters

Citrus Tequila Sangria

Juice of 1 half pink grapefruit
Juice of 2 limes
juice of 1 lemon
juice of  1 orange
2 slices pink grapefruit
1/2 orange sliced
2 limes, sliced
1/2 lemon sliced
1/2 cup simple syrup
2 TBL sugar
2 shots tequila
1 bottle Moscato
couple shakes Orange Bitters

Let these soak up the fruit flavors in the fridge for a few hours before serving.

Server over ice.   I'm a red wine person but that Citrus Sangria with the grapefruit is really good too.  Packs a punch. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Some Unsolicited Advice for Republican Congress Reps Facing Hostile Crowds

I sent this email to Joni Ernst but it's good advice for all Republican Congress people facing hostile crowds:

Dear Senator Ernst
I understand you have had some frustrating experiences at your meetings with the public. I am sure it is unpleasant and a little disconcerting to meet with unruly crowds who are shouting things at you.
I wish people at these meetings would settle down and speak to you calmly. 
I read an article where you said they were not interested in listening to you.

(Ernst: Protesters 'not really there to listen')

That's true, people don't come to these meetings to listen to you.  
You have many opportunities to get your message out to the public and have them listen to you. 

These meetings are for YOU to listen to them.

I am a pastor and I have run into hostile angry people. In many ways, my position is similar to yours in that those of us that represent the church take the hostility that people have for the whole church, especially when the church as hurt them. 

In many ways, you are taking the brunt of the anger people have toward all of what they see the government doing to them since President Trump has been elected.

This is what I have found in 30 years of serving the church to be helpful. It may seem counter-intuitive, but avoiding people only makes it worse. 

If you can just keep showing up, let them shout and when you can get a word in don't tell them to listen, Say "I want to listen but I can't when you all talk at once" (Yes just like grade school) I think eventually they will calm down and tell you what they want you to know. 

But you have to listen.

I notice your colleague Senator Grassley has had better experiences at his meetings. People are still angry. They are going to be angry. Because they don't like what you are doing. But they are calmer because he listens.

Also, nobody is paying these people. 

These are not outside agitators. People in Iowa like the ACA. People in Iowa are happy with Planned Parenthood providing health care for women. People in Iowa think our public schools are pretty good. And they are.

I think if Republicans continue to tell themselves these people are not serious, you are going to be in for a surprise at midterms.

Also, I have to say I always enjoy speaking to your assistants when I call. Which is often. Because I don't like what's going on either. But as a fellow woman in the public, I thought I'd share this advice. For what it's worth.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Texas Style Chili

I don’t like beans so I never put beans in my chili.  But I do usually use tomato sauce.  Here’s a link to my usual chili recipe

Today I decided to go all Texas.  Just beef and chilies.  And beer. 

Marinade for chuck roast:

  • ½ Cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup lime juic2
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp ancho chili powder
  • ¼ tsp green chili powder
  • ½ tsp Mexican oregano
  • ¼ tsp coriander

 For the Chili:

  • 1 lb. stewing beef, or chuck roast, cut up into small pieces
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 5 dried New Mexico Chilies
  • 4 dried guajillo chilies
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 12 oz. bottle dark beer
  • 1 Tbl Sorghum (Or molasses)
  • ¼ Cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tb cumin
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1 TB chili powder
  • 1 tsp hot Hungarian paprika
  • 1 Tbl Chipotle powder
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 TB salt
  • 2 Tbl cocoa powder
  • ¼ Cup Masa Harina (corn flour found with Mexican food in grocery store – do not substitute corn meal)

The Night before: 

 Salt and pepper the chuck stewing beef and toss with marinade.  Put in a plastic ziplock bag in the fridge and let it marinade over night.

The Next morning:

Cook some bacon for breakfast.  Leave the bacon fat in the pan.  Add a tbsp of butter and sauté onions, bell peppers and jalapeno pepper in that until it is soft and caramelized.  I like to season every layer of flavor so add a little salt and ancho chili powder to this so it turns a nice red color.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Cut off the stems of the dried chilies, cut open and dump out seeds.  Heat them in a dry pan for a few minutes, just to give some color, do not burn or char.  Add about a half a cup of water and bring to a boil, then turn off heat and let steep in water for about 5 minutes.  

Cut the chilies into smaller pieces.  I do this with scissors and just leave them in the water.  Blend the water and chilies until pureed.  Set aside.

Brown the chuck roast in the same pan you cooked the onions and peppers.  Cook on high heat to brown the edges.  Remove from pan. 

Brown the hamburger.  Add salt pepper and chili powder.  When hamburger is brown, add the onions and bell peppers and stir.  Add the chuck and the pureed peppers.  Add all the spices but the cocoa.  Add the brown sugar. 

Stir and bring to a boil.  Turn heat down and let it simmer about 15 minutes. Add a little beer if it gets too thick.

After 15 minutes, dump it all in a slow cooker plus the rest of the beer.  Cook about 3-4  hours, until chuck is very tender.  (Slow cookers vary as to how long it takes).

Add cocoa powder after an hour of cooking. 

When the chuck is tender, add Masa to about ¼ cup water and mix, then mix that into chili to thicken it.  Serve with cheese and sour cream.