Bzzzz October 25th, 2008

When I was a kid, my mom would make the same things over and over for dinner. I know there wasn’t a lot of money to throw around on fancy ingredients. And my dad was a beef and potatoes kind of fellow. But Mom came up with some pretty wacky food combinations. Hot dogs in Ragu over white rice anyone? And, as I recall, there was a good deal of hamburger and the occasional Spam meal.

Frankly, now that I am the head chef Chez Bumblebee I can empathize with her frustration cooking seven nights a week for a crowd with widely varied ideas about what constitutes a good meal.

But where my mom became truly inspired was in cooking desserts. We had big glass jars in the kitchen that Mom kept filled with cookies and sweet bars. There was always at least one cake, and often two, made from scratch. I don’t believe the sun ever went down on a day when I didn’t have a delicious homemade treat.

One of my favorite cakes was a fabulously rich Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Cake. We just called it Yum Yum Cake.

I loved the cake so much that before I went off to college I copied down the recipe—along with several of my other favorite cake recipes—on notebook paper. This yellowed notebook page is still in my recipe binder and now I regularly make this cake for my own family.

If you’ve never made a cake from scratch, this is a perfect one to try. Once you get the hang of baking cakes you’ll never want to buy store-bought again.

Cake Ingredients

1 cup sugar 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) 2 cups flour 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 egg 3/4 cup buttermilk 1 cup miniature marshmallows 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cream together sugar and butter with a mixer. Mix flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a bowl. Add egg, vanilla and buttermilk to the sugar and butter mixture. Gradually add the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Fold in marshmallows and chocolate chips by hand.

Spread batter into a well buttered 9″ x 13″ x 2″ baking pan. (I use a glass one.) The batter will be extremely thick.

Cook in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

Cool for about 10 to 15 minutes before topping.

Topping Ingredients

1 cup sugar 1/3 can evaporated milk 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) 6 ounces chocolate chips

Bring sugar, milk and butter to a boil. Remove from heat, add chips and stir until melted.

Bon appetit!

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Bzzzz September 23rd, 2008

The nip of fall in the air always makes me want to bake.  One reason is that the garden chores don’t feel nearly so urgent as in the spring and summer. It’s also easier to turn the oven on when the house isn’t above 80 degrees. But also, there is something about filling the house with the scent of baking bread, savory fruit muffins and chocolate that make me want to nestle in for the winter.

I’ve been droning on about chickens so much that I’ve been asked to join chicken blog directories. Who knew there were such things? Now, just to mix things up, I’ll throw in a recipe.

These are my favorite Very Simple Wild Blueberry Muffins. They take five minutes to toss together and less than 30 minutes to bake. So in about 35 minutes you can be sitting down with a glass of milk and a fresh blueberry muffin.

You could use fresh blueberries or frozen. If you use frozen, I recommend the Wyman’s brand of frozen wild blueberries. Wild blueberries are smaller than regular blueberries and the Wyman’s brand are the smallest I’ve seen.

Ingredients 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 1 cup packed light brown sugar, plus extra for topping 1/2 cup milk (I use skim since that’s all we keep in the house) 1 large egg (I use eggs from my own chickens, of course!) 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 cups blueberries

Directions Heat oven to 350 degrees and prepare muffin tins with paper liner or non-stick spray.

Mix butter, sugar, milk and egg until well blended. Add baking powder, cinnamon and salt, again mixing well. Gently fold in flour and mix, just until combined. Very gently fold in blueberries.

Divide batter into muffin cups. I usually make about nine from this recipe, but you can get 12 out of it, if you want smaller muffins.

Top each muffin with about 1/4 teaspoon of additional brown sugar.

Bake 25 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean.

Enjoy!

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