Bookspiration · Food & Cooking

Bookspiration: Maple Indian Pudding

Oh. my. DELICIOUS. For my next bookspiration, I decided to try out a new recipe related to The Song of Hiawatha, and it turned out amazing! But before I go into the recipe, I’ll explain why I chose it. The stories told throughout The Song of Hiawatha were pulled from Chippewa (or Ojibwe) Indian tales, and much of the Chippewa tribe lived in Northern Michigan. The Chippewa Indians used a lot of birch bark for making teepees, canoes, and baskets (I’m thinking I’d really like to try making a birch bark basket!). And since the Chippewa living in Northern Michigan had a relatively short growing season, a lot of their harvest consisted of wild rice and maple syrup. Ah, sweet, lovely maple syrup.

I have a few American Indian cookbooks and craft books, and so I was searching through them to find the perfect recipe for A Song of Hiawatha. Finally, after much deliberation, I stumbled across recipes for Maple Indian Pudding, not in any of my cookbooks, but online! Without further adieu, here is how this yummy treat is made according to the recipe I chose:

IMG_20140603_200429_551After preheating your oven, you bring milk to a boil over medium heat. Then you add maple syrup and cook for four minutes. I used maple syrup I had leftover from making my Chocolate Maple Roll Cake, and I may or may not have looked at Facebook while stirring the syrup. After the four minutes is up, you add cornmeal, stirring constantly for 6-8 minutes. Since I was busy trying to take a picture while stirring, I ended up with a few lumps of cornmeal, but it didn’t seem to really effect anything. Still, I would recommend not taking a picture and just getting straight to stirring 😉

IMG_20140603_201253_784Once 6-8 minutes have passed, you’re going to add butter, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and salt to the mix before letting it cool for 5 minutes.

IMG_20140603_201919_357After the mixture cools, it looks a bit thicker, as shown in the picture above.

IMG_20140603_202117_708Next you add beaten eggs, whisking as you go. I was worried that the mixture would still be too hot to add the eggs, but with immediate whisking I had no problems at all. Once the eggs have been incorporated, it is time to pour the mixture into a baking dish and stick it in the oven.

IMG_20140603_211151_314The recipe said to cook “until the center is set,” but as I had never made a pudding in this sense before, I had to check what that meant. According to several websites and youtube videos, the pudding should be a slight golden brown, and when jiggled, the center should move in relation to the rest of the pudding (just slightly like…well…pudding). Once again, you can see how mine came out of the oven in the picture above.

IMG_20140603_211752_875I was a little nervous about trying my first bite, as I really wanted it to be good. Not sure what I was worried about because Maple Syrup=delicious. And my Maple Indian Pudding? Fantastic!

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Maple Indian Pudding

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 3 cups milk
  • 3/4 cups maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal (I used Quaker Yellow Cornmeal)
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • Whipped cream

Directions

  1. Prepare pudding: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 1-quart casserole dish with cooking spray**. In a large saucepan, bring milk to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, stir in maple syrup, and cook 4 minutes. Add cornmeal and cook, stirring constantly, 6 to 8 minutes. Add butter, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and nutmeg while stirring well. Remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes. Whisk eggs into the milk mixture until well combined.
  2. Bake pudding: Pour into prepared casserole dish and bake until the center is set, about 1 hour. Serve warm and top with whipped cream, if desired***.

**I only had a 2-quart baking dish, so I used that instead. The cooking time was still just under an hour.

***Please desire to eat it with whipped cream. It is fabulous.

(recipe adapted from Country Living)

 

Enjoy! xx

 

Bookspiration · Projects

Bookspiration: The Song of Hiawatha

Several years ago I received the book The Song of Hiawatha as a Christmas gift, and though I had read bits and pieces of the epic poem , a few weeks ago I finally got the chance to read the entire thing. It was difficult for me to decide what to make after finishing the book, but after much deliberation, I decided to put some of the text from The Song of Hiawatha over a picture from a recent walk at one of my favorite places in Michigan, Rosy Mound.

First, I chose my picture:

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Then, I spent what felt like three years trying to put text over it the way I wanted. I still didn’t quite achieve the look I was looking to create, but I decided the text was going to have to be good enough.

Live Together

It says:

“All your strength is in your union,

All your danger is in discord;

Therefore be at peace henceforward,

And as brothers live together.”

I printed an enlarged copy of the image at Walmart for about $6, and then modge podged it to an art board purchased for around $5 before a 40% off coupon at one of my local craft stores. Below you can sort of see how it turned out, though the lighting isn’t the best:

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I am not necessarily in love with how the project turned out, but I do love where the photo was taken, and I really like the passage from The Song of Hiawatha. I often think about the power of human connection when I go on walks through nature, and about how to I can be kinder and more loving to others. A message about unity totally seems fitting for a picture taken at Rosy Mound.

Here are some other pictures I took on the lovely spring day last week: IMG_0583

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Hope you got to enjoy some beautiful weather like we had in Michigan over the weekend 🙂

xx

Bookspiration · Food & Cooking

Bookspiration: Chocolate Temptations

And now the finale to all the fun I’ve had with Uncommon Grounds: An adventure involving coffee and chocolate, which are two of my favorite things on the planet. I found a recipe in 1000 Chocolate Baking and Dessert Recipes from Around the World for Chocolate Temptation cookies, and decided to give the recipe a try. They. were. GLORIOUS.

IMG_20140516_073130_495To start the recipe, you preheat your oven, grease a cookie sheet or parchment paper, and melt some chocolate, coffee and butter into a heat-proof bowl until the chocolate is almost melted.

IMG_20140516_073400_808 IMG_20140516_073751_979 Then, in a separate bowl, you beat some eggs until they’re fluffy before adding some sugar.

IMG_20140516_074136_356 IMG_20140516_074348_783From that point, you add in the chocolate, butter and coffee mixture, stirring until smooth.  IMG_20140516_075104_172Next up you sift a mixture of flour, baking powder, and salt into the mix, along with chocolate pieces and almond extract.

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Next, put tablespoonfuls of dough onto a greased baking sheet or greased parchment paper and stick them in the oven to bake!

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Once they’ve cooled, it’s time to pipe melted chocolate onto them (I used a ziplock bag!).

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I did the white chocolate first…

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…and then I did the milk chocolate!

The cookies turned out fantastic, though the coffee flavor was quite subtle. As you can see in the first picture above, I used Starbucks Breakfast Blend for my cookies, but that was just because that was what I had on hand. When I brought the cookies to work, we decided to do a tasting with a French press of Espresso roast, which goes well with nutty, chocolatey flavors. The pairing was FABULOUS, so I’m thinking that perhaps next time I make these cookies I’ll use a darker roast coffee brewed more strongly instead of the Breakfast Blend. Do you have a favorite recipe that incorporates coffee?

Chocolate Temptations (adapted from 1000 Chocolate Baking and Dessert Recipes from Around the World)

Ingredients

3 1/4 oz unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing

12 1/2 oz semisweet chocolate

1 tsp strong coffee

2 eggs

scant 3/4 cup brown sugar

generous 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

2 tsp almond extract

scant 2/3 cup chopped walnuts

scant 2/3 cup chopped hazelnuts

1 1/2 oz. white chocolate

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a large cookie sheet or parchment paper. Put 8 oz of the semisweet chocolate with the butter and coffee into a heatproof bowl and heat in 30 second bursts in the microwave, stirring in between each burst until chocolate is almost melted.

2. Meanwhile, beat eggs in a bowl until fluffy. Whisk in the sugar gradually until thick. Add the chocolate mixture and stir until combined.

3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and stir into the chocolate mixture. Chop 3 oz of semisweet chocolate into pieces and stir into the dough (or use semisweet chocolate chips to make things go even faster!). Stir in the almond extract and nuts.

4. Put tablespoonfuls of the dough onto a cookie sheet, transfer to the preheated oven, and bake for 16 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, or if using parchment paper, pull paper off cookie sheet and set aside to cool. To decorate, melt the remaining chocolate and spoon into pastry bags or ziplock bags with the ends cut off, then pipe lines onto the cookies.

Enjoy!
xx

Bookspiration · Projects

Bookspiration: The Coffee Belt

O Coffee! Thou dost dispel all care, thou are the object of desire to the scholar. This is the beverage of the friends of God.”

In Praise of Coffee,” Arabic Poem (1511)

After practicing my calligraphy like a crazy person, I decided to test my new skills for a map I had planned to make while reading Uncommon Grounds. I was really happy with how my coffee belt map turned out, and doing the watercolor and calligraphy have helped me remember what flavor profiles the different regions of coffee are known for: Latin America for notes of cocoa, soft spice and nuts, Africa for floral, fruity and berry notes, and Asia for earthy, herbal notes. I also enjoyed making the little coffee cherry diagram, as it put an image to the descriptions I’ve read about coffee cherries. I was thinking that if I can figure out how, I’d like to submit my map to the really fun website They Draw and Travel.

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Please click on the image to see a larger version!

Now that I’ve written a bit about the Coffee Belt, where most of the world’s coffee is grown, here are twelve of my favorite facts gleaned from Uncommon Grounds:

1. “By 1700, there were more than two thousand London coffee houses, occupying more premises and paying more rent than any other trade. They came to be known as penny universities, because for that  price one could purchase a cup of coffee and sit for hours listening to extraordinary conversations…” (12). “‘The best stories [are told] over coffee,’ wrote a wise commentator in 1902, ‘as the aroma of the coffee opens the portals of [the] soul, and the story, long hidden, is winged for posterity'” (425).

2. “Wherever [coffee] has been introduced it has spelled revolution. It has been the world’s most radical drink in that its function has always been to make people think. And when the people began to think, they became dangerous to tyrants” (17).

3. “The caffeine content of coffee probably evolved as a natural pesticide to discourage predators” (43). “Although some bugs and fungi adapt to any chemical, it is quite likely that plants contain caffeine because it affects the nervous system of would-be consumers, discouraging them from eating it. Of course, that is precisely the attraction for the human animal” (412).

4. During the civil war, soldiers “preferred to carry whole beans and grind them as needed. Each company cook carried a portable grinder. A few Sharps carbines were designed to hold a coffee mill in the buttstock of the gun, so the soldier could always carry his grinder with him” (49). “Real coffee was so scarce in the war-torn south that it cost $5 a pound in Richmond, Virginia, while one Atlanta jeweler set coffee beans in breast pins in lieu of diamonds” (40.)

5. “In eighteenth-century Sweden twin brothers were sentenced to death for murder. King Gustav III commuted it to life sentences in order to study the then-controversial effects of tea and coffee, One brother drank large daily doses of tea, the other, coffee. The tea drinker died first, at eighty-three” (105).

6. A German housewife, Melitta Bentz, created the once-through drip method with a filter in 1908 (117).

7. During WWI, “Brazil also went to war with Germany, but only after the United States promised to purchase a million pounds of coffee for its expeditionary forces” (145).

8. During the prohibition, many coffee men were excited and hopeful for more coffee consumption:

“When there’s such a drink as this,

Liquor never need we miss.

All its virtues we repeat:

‘Coffee! Coffee! That’s the treat!'” (156).

9. “In Europe, economizing on coffee wasn’t so much a matter of choice as necessity. As late as 1947 coffee had been to scarce that it was used instead of money on the European black market” (245).

10. Howard Schultz of Starbucks hired Dawn Pinaud in the 1980’s and, with her staff, they created their own lingo. “…[Service] people weren’t soda jerks or flunkies. They were baristas, spotlighted as though on stage. A drink wasn’t small, medium or large. It was short, tall, or grande. A double espresso with a splash of milk was christened a doppio macchiato. ‘It’s amazing to me that these terms have become part of the language,’ Pinaud says. ‘A few of us sat in a conference room and just made them up’ (369).

11. Caffeinism is recognized as an ailment for those who consume excessive quantities of the drug, and caffeine intoxication is described similarly to a panic attack. “The only difference,” writes author Mark Pendergrast,” is that someone must have recently drunk coffee, tea, or soft drinks, which appears to have a circular diagnostic logic. At various times while writing this book, I have exhibited five of these symptoms, including restlessness, excitement, insomnia, periods of inexhaustibility, and particularly, rambling flow of thought. I drink only one or two daily cups of coffee, in the morning” (414).

12. “Inviting a woman for coffee in Finland is a sure sign of romantic interest. Finnish personal ads seeking a ‘day-coffee companion’ are understood to be ads for casual sex. In nearby Norway, distances used to be measured by ‘coffee boils’–the number of times someone had to stop to prepare coffee along the way” (420).

I hope you enjoyed these segments I learned about from Uncommon Grounds as much as I did. When was the last time you had an engaging conversation over coffee? Would you be satisfied with coffee if you lived during the prohibition? How many ‘coffee boils’ would it take for you to get to where I’m from: Michigan? 🙂

xx

Bookspiration · Food & Cooking

Bookspiration: Uncommon Grounds

I’ve finally finished the behemoth book Uncommon Grounds, and am happy to say that I learned a lot. It’s quite possible my coworkers don’t feel the same joy I do, since upon starting the book I’ve been spouting out all kinds of random facts to them.  In my defense, we are in the coffee business, so telling them interesting things I learned should be perfectly acceptable. I also should get an award for finishing the giant coffee history book, but perhaps that’s just my opinion.

Anyway, in honor of Uncommon Grounds I wanted to do a coffee tasting (I may or may not do coffee tastings all the time, but that’s beside the point 😉 ). I chose to give the medium roast coffee, Guatamala Antigua, a try. I tried this Starbucks coffee in a French press when I first started working as a barista, and after it was mentioned briefly in Uncommon Grounds, I thought I should give it another go. My palette for coffee tasting has improved a bit, so I was hoping to be able to recognize the notes of cocoa and soft spice this time around. Because the Guatamala Antigua pairs well with caramel, I decided to try it with one of my favorite treats: Stroopwafles!

20140428-190055.jpgI found some stroopwafles at my local grocery store, and though they weren’t the brand I normally get, I purchased them. The last time I went to the fabulous DeBoer Bakery in Holland, MI, a cashier recommended putting a stroopwafle on top of a cup of coffee or tea so that the caramel in the center would warm up, so that was a must for this tasting.

20140428-190107.jpgAfter waiting for the press to finish, it was finally time to try my pairing. I poured some coffee into my cup and set a stroopwafle on top. In that moment, it was like dreams were coming true. *sighs happily* I smelled the coffee and slurped it, noticing the medium body and acidity of the roast. Then, I tried a bite of my stroopwafle and…MY DREAMS WERE DASHED! The stroopwafle tasted quite stale, and it paled in comparison to stroopwafles of my past. (Chad and I were fortunate enough to try stroopwafles in Amsterdam a couple years ago, and since then the best brand I’ve tried is Daelmans. I’ve decided to make amends for the serious sadness of this tasting by getting proper stroopwafles and trying them with another press of the Guatamala!)

Despite the heart-breaking taste of the stroopwafles, the Guatamala Antigua paired so well with caramel that it actually improved the flavor of the stroopwafle. Good coffee and food pairings are supposed to compliment each other that way: the food should bring out the best of the coffee, and the coffee should bring out the best of the food, so that you’re sitting there wanting to take bite after sip after bite after sip.

20140428-190116.jpgI didn’t finish my stroopwafle, but I finished the delicious Guatamala. I’ll keep you posted on how the next tasting goes, and I’ll share some of my favorite facts from Uncommon Grounds, too! What’s your favorite coffee pairing?

xx

Bookspiration · Food & Cooking

Bookspiration: Dame Eyola’s Lemon Tart

This weekend was full of Easter treats! I made some super easy, dangerously yummy Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Easter Eggs, some pretty pastel-colored deviled eggs, and a lovely lemon tart.

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Pretty Deviled Eggs ❤

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Sweet treats: top left and right: Chocolate Peanut Butter Easter Eggs (made for work, but definitely sampled at home!), bottom left: my mom’s amazing carrot cake, and bottom right: too many desserts! Carrot Cake, Lemon Tart & Cheesecake.

I decided to make the lemon tart in honor of Dame Eyola from The Neverending Story. The recipe is sort of a glorified lemon bar recipe, but I figured Dame Eyola grew fabulous fruit, so why not glamor up a lemon bar recipe with her in mind?

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Dame Eyola’s Lemon Tart

Ingredients

1 1/4 c. chilled butter                                     2 c. sugar

2 c. all-purpose flour                                     1/4 c. lemon juice

1 c. powdered sugar (plus a little extra for dusting)

4 eggs                                                                candied lemon zest

                                                                          blueberries (for garnish)

IMG_04311. Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Then cut butter into flour and powdered sugar until crumbly; press into an ungreased tart pan. Make sure you spread the crust high enough over the edges that you’ll have a high “wall” for holding in the lemon filling later. Bake for 30 minutes.

IMG_04352. Meanwhile, you can make your candied lemon zest. I didn’t take any pictures of the process, but it’s super easy and wonderful directions and pictures can be found by clicking here. Basically, you zest a lemon (the directions say to peel and slice the zest, but I just used my zester), boil the zest in a sugar-water simple syrup, drain it, dry it, and coat in more sugar. Can’t go wrong! Set your zest aside and make your filling. Squeeze out the lemon juice from your zested lemon (it should equal about a 1/4 cup, at least), or use lemon juice from a jar. Then blend eggs, sugar and lemon juice together.

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Here is my crust after pulling it out of the oven.

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3. Slowly pour lemon mixture over crust. (Be careful!–I got a little over excited and some of my filling spilled over the sides of my crust, leaking through the bottom of my tart pan and onto the counter! *cries*) Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes; cool.

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Here is the tart after cooling.

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4. Once the tart has cooled, sift some powdered sugar on top for decoration.

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5. Next, add your pretty candied lemon zest.

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6. Lastly, add some blueberries for a nice, colorful contrast. The tart will taste best chilled, so I recommend keeping it refrigerated for at least an hour before serving.

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Oo la la!

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Enjoy!

I had a lot of fun making and eating Easter delights over the weekend, and was happy to make Dame Eyola’s Lemon Tart: a spring treat that was book-inspired! Did you enjoy any special treats over the weekend?

Bookspiration · Projects

Bookspiration: The Neverending Story

“So you think it’s a hat I’ve got on my head? Not at all, dear boy. It all grows out of me. Just as your hair grows out of you. That should show you how glad I am you’ve finally come. That’s why I’m flowering and bearing fruit. If I were sad, I’d whither. But come now, don’t forget to eat.” –Dame Eyola

A couple of months ago we had a bad snowstorm in Michigan in which the wind was so strong the snow was blowing sideways. Looking outside, I was reminded of a scene from the movie The Neverending Story, and proceeded to do a little research on the movie. Come to find out, like many movies, The Neverending Story was first a book, and–as often happens–the movie strayed from the book in several ways. I decided to give the book a read, and enjoyed a light-hearted, imaginative tale.

When it came to thinking of a project to go along with the book, I thought I should try an oil pastel. It’s been ages since I’ve used oil pastels as a medium, and I thought they would be a good way to illustrate the colorful, dreamy world created in “The Neverending Story.” Initially, I wanted to do an oil pastel of the lion Grograman, also known as The Many Colored Death. Grograman changes colors depending on the color of the sand upon which he stands, and he is an important part of the main character, Bastian’s, journey in Fantastica. After seeing several cool renditions of Grograman online, however, I decided to change characters and instead illustrate the Dame Eyola.

20140418-195322.jpgThis was my first time trying oil pastel with a person as the subject, and I am pretty out of practice! But it was fun trying to bring the mother-like woman who looked like she was “wearing a broad hat covered in fruits and flowers” to life. In the book, Dame Eyola tells Bastian some kind words we could all use now and again. For example, she sings to him:

“Regardless whether good or bad,/you’ve suffered much and traveled far.

Take comfort for the trials you’ve had./We’ll take you just the way you are” (357).

Later, Dame Eyola talks to Bastian about choices he’s made on his journey, saying, “You went the way of wishes, and that is never straight. You went the long way around, but that was your way. And do you know why? Because you are one of those who can’t go back until they’ve found the fountain from which springs the Water of Life…” (365). I liked this conversation because I think it can be applied to anyone. No one is perfect, and we all make mistakes. But we’ll get through it on the crazy path we make for ourselves, and there are people (perhaps not sprouting fruit from their heads and bodies like Dame Eyola!) who will help us on our way.

xx