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Recipes and Stories

12 June 2020: Rising to the Occasion—Cream Biscuit Raisin Cinnamon Rolls

Cream Biscuit Cinnamon Raisin Rolls, here finished with a dusting of powdered sugar

 

Probably the biggest challenge to comfort baking during the pandemic quarantine has been the shortage of basic ingredients. Early hoarding made flour scarce, but now, while it's still not plentiful, it is available; leavening, on the other hand, continues to be in very short supply. The yeast and baking powder shelves at most markets have been empty for weeks now, and while mail-order sources haven't dried up, on-line ordering is expensive and usually means ordering more than most of us can use.

 

One fall back alternative is self-rising flour, which is regularly, if unevenly, available. But self-rising flour can't be used for yeast baking, for thickening, or for most pastry,  Read More 

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12 December 2019: Fruitcake Season

My Christmas Fruitcake. Photography by Rich Burkhart.

For more than twenty years, beginning in the early days of researching my first cookbook when the handsome antique recipes first captured my cook's imagination, fruitcake making was one of my favorite holiday chores.

 

There was something soothingly nostalgic about it, even though it wasn't part of my childhood. My mother was a fine baker and had made the family fruitcakes in her youth, but she stopped making them when she married a minister and became a working mother with three rowdy boys.

 

And yet, candying my own citrus peel, picking over the pecans, hydrating the dried fruit and steeping it in whiskey, mixing the spice-and-sherry-laced pound cake batter, was always like a refreshing visit back to childhood. And the aroma after it went into the oven was worth every minute of the trouble it had taken to get it there.

 

Then, rather abruptly, I stopped—and not because I got tired of it. Read More 

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22 December 2018: Old-Fashioned Thumbprint Cookies

Old-Fashioned Thumbprint Cookies

Once upon a time, I was very organized. Any holiday baking that I did would’ve been long ago planned out and done by now. But life, as the saying goes, has been too much with us lately, and other things have had to take precedence over it.

Moreover, with our grandchildren a full day’s drive away, and most of my friends and neighbors either watching waistlines or already inundated with treats, the only people here to eat Christmas cookies are the two of us. Now, two people and multiple tins of homemade Christmas cookies, cheese straws, and fruitcake is a deadly combination.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a few homemade treats in the house, and there’s always someone who’s holiday will be brightened by a gift of things we’ve made ourselves. Read More 

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20 December 2015: Sour Cream Cheddar Drop Biscuits

Sour Cream Cheddar Drop Biscuits. Photography by Richard Burkhart

A simple way to dress up and stretch a family meal for unexpected company during the holidays, or just make it seem a little more special for the home folks, is a bread basket filled with piping hot, freshly baked biscuits. They never fail to impress, and make everyone think you’ve gone to a lot more trouble than you really have.  Read More 

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