Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer Kitchen

We are entering what the weather geeks are calling a "Dome of Heat"  with a lot of exclamation points and that edge of hysteria to the voice.  I will agree that the heat and humidity make it uncomfortable and that the utilities are being maxed out with demand.

So I got up at 6am to bake my cookies - new recipe based on some internet research and the totally delicious St. Hildegarde Cookies from Simply Divine Bakery in Ferdinand, Indiana.  We got the cookies as part of our monastic shopping spree at Gethsemani.  Also got stinky cheese and fruitcake, arnica and herb ointment and a pocket Thomas Merton.

I got the cookies made and my recipe is pretty close to the originals.  I may have cut them a little too thin, it looks like 3/16 inch or 1/2 centimeter is the correct thickness.  But the taste is spot-on.  I noticed that the purchased cookies listed almonds in the ingredients but none of the web recipes had them.  Also, the spices were all over the place.  These are supposed to be clove-forward, crunchy and spicey.


                    St. Hildegarde's Longevity Cookies

     3/4           cup  butter or margarine (1 1/2 sticks)
  1                cup  brown sugar
     1/2           cup  almonds -- chopped fine (whizzed them in the tiny Cuisinart)
  1                     egg
  1                tsp  baking powder
     1/4           tsp  salt
  1 1/2           cups  flour
  1                tsp  ground cinnamon
  1                tsp  ground nutmeg
     1/2           tsp  ground cloves

"Let butter soften and then cream it with the brown sugar and almonds.  Beat in the egg.

Sift together the dry ingredients.  Add half the dry ingredients and mix.  Add the other half and mix thoroughly. 

Work dough into shape in plastic wrap and chill 2 hours or overnight.  Log should have flat sides, forming a rectangle

Heat oven to 350 (degrees).  Slice 3/16 inch thick and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.   Bake 12-15 minutes (till edges of are golden brown.)  Cool for 5 minutes, remove from cookie sheet and finish cooling on racks."

This made about three dozen cookies.  And they should improve with some age since they are spice.

So this was all done at 7am and the outdoor temperature was 85 degrees.  Oven off, lights out, minimal heat generation.   Which leads to the subject of this entry - the summer kitchen.

Before the second world war it was not unusual for homes in warmer climate areas to have a second kitchen removed from the main body of the house.  Our great-grandmother had her basement equipped with stove, sink and refrigerator for cooking and preserving in the heat of the summer.  We do not have a basement, nor do we have the land for an outbuilding but we do have the screened in back porch and crockpots.

Yesterday we made pinto beans with ham in one crockpot and green tomato chow-chow in a second.  The smell was divine and carried over to all the neighbors.  Today I have a small crock filled with those adorable ball zuchinni stuffed with ground beef, cheese and onion in a marinara sauce.  And because I still had meat and sauce left, as well as more zuchinni, a second pot is layered with sauce, squash, meat and more sauce and will get a topping of mozzarella.  The bowl is today's tiny garden harvest.
Harvest!  First cucumber, second tomato, Okra, squash,
a couple strawberries
and some jalapenos

Summer Kitchen
Stuffed squash cooking away!

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