Archive for May, 2010

Strawberry Yogurt Parfaits

Friday, May 21st, 2010

A Quick Treat For Breakfast,

Brunch and Light Dessert

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The sun is shining and the Oklahoma Pastry Cloth™ Company’s world is absolutely gorgeous. This morning’s haul of strawberries completed one of my favorite breakfast treats – strawberry-yogurt parfaits. They are gorgeous for light desserts and brunch when entertaining.

We have had a bumper crop of strawberries this year and it is so fun to find the red fruits peeping from under their green canopies like ruby gems hidden from would be thieves – slugs, turtles and birds. These lucious fruits have been plump and juicy; the products of an unusually cool Spring.
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Of course, what comes with a great crop of strawberries is strawberry shortcake, strawberry smoothies, strawberry topped cheesecake and strawberry muffins with homemade strawberry jam. Freezing and drying strawberries also gives the opportunity to enjoy these treats in the winter too.

And then, there is the strawberry-yogurt parfait. Ours are made with homemade yogurt, homemade granola and freshpicked strawberries. You can do any variation that you like, but I thought that I would explain how I put ours together and I suppose I should throw in how to make yogurt too!

For the parfaits, I use ice cream cups that you can get cheaply at any discount store, including Walmart and Dollar Tree. For each cup, I layer a total of 1/2 cup of sweetened strawberries and 1/2 cup of yogurt. Crumbled granola goes on top. If you don’t make homemade granola, the Nature’s Valley granola bar works great when broken in the package and then sprinkled on top. You can garnish with a strawberry, mint leaves or anything else your creative mind can concoct.
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Yogurt is very simple to make. I use a Salton Yogurt maker that I’ve had for years. You can find them online and I know that there are always some on ebay. Mine is the Cosmopolitan style and holds five 8 oz jars. However, if you do not have access to a yogurt maker, you can use your oven just as easily. You will need an oven thermometer to double-check your oven temp. You will also need a candy/jelly thermometer to place in the milk as you heat it and cool it. The following are the ingredients to gather together:

4 cups of milk (I use skim for nonfat yogurt)
1/2 cup instant nonfat milk
3 tablespoons plain, unsweetened yogurt
sweetener like sugar, splenda or stevia
5 – 8 oz jelly jars used for canning
5 rings and lids

Place the jelly jars onto a cookie sheet. Preheat oven to 110º. You can test the temperature with an oven thermometer. Place the milk and powdered milk into a saucepan and whisk until powdered milk is well dissolved. Continue stirring as you heat the milk to 180º. Do not bring the milk to a boil because you are just scalding it. At this point, some people cool the milk down quickly in a pan of ice water but I just let mine cool slowly until it reaches 110º. When the milk has cooled sufficiently, you can add sweetener and vanilla to your taste, or if you would like to have a variety of flavored and unflavored jars, you can add 1 tbsp sugar, 1/2 tbsp splenda or 1/4 tsp stevia to each of the jars that you wish to sweeten, and then put 1/4 tsp of vanilla as well. You will stir these once you put the milk into them.

Back to the milk…it has now cooled to 110º. In a glass jar or cup, place 3 tbsp yogurt and pour in about 1/3 cup of the warm milk. Stir with a plastic spoon until nice and smooth. There may be some small lumps. Pour this back into the pot of warmed milk and stir to incorporate throughout. Now you can pour the milk into each of the jelly jars. Place a lid and a ring over each jar and tighten. You can reuse the rings and lids for each new batch of yogurt, because you are not sealing the jars, just protecting them from contamination. Place the cookie sheet supporting the jars into the oven and leave overnight or for 8-10 hours for tasty and tangy yogurt. Remove from the oven and place in the refrigerator.
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I really love strawberry season and this one has been a dandy!
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I even puree strawberry jam with cream cheese for bagels!
Happy Cooking!!

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Tornado Alley

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

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A Shout Out To

Special Neighbors

This past week was a really rough one for many Oklahomans in the Oklahoma Pastry Cloth™ Company area. A total of 25 tornadoes pummeled our communities that left homes, businesses and churches in shambles and thousands of people hurting and baffled. Many are still without electricity. We, here, got to play “Little House on the Prairie”, ourselves, for three days.

I am amazed at the Okie spirit that permeates the people here. No sooner had these wind monsters attacked and vanished, then neighbors, safe in storm shelters, emerged to check from home to home to make sure that fellow neighbors were OK. Just yesterday, we were amazed by the stories of two of our neighbors, one of whom we were helping to recover what was left of their yard and their home. It seems that the wife of this particular family sought shelter with her little boy in their cellar, only to have a tree fall on top of the cellar, while their house was being torn to bits. The two were trapped, unable to lift the door under the weight of the heavy tree. Another neighbor was checking each home and heard the wife screaming. With the help of others, the tree was removed and the scared and exhausted duo gratefully emerged to the shock of seeing their destroyed home.

The house immediately to their east looks like a giant game of “Pick-up Sticks” and the owner’s story is even more incredible. The same neighbor who discovered the two trapped in the cellar, saw that the only thing standing in the next home, was the very center of the home, next to where the garage had been and with door barely intact. Inside was the owner of the home. As his home disentegrated around him, this poor man was protected by the tiny closet in which he took refuge. He was obviously in shock when the neighbor found him, but he will be fine.

All across this area, friends, neighbors and even people from other cities have joined together in the cleanup effort, giving of time, money, food, clothes and household goods. In the subdivision where we worked on Wednesday and Thursday, alongside friends of ours, it was just amazing to see the tough resolve that the affected families exhibited. They cut downed trees, hauled load after load after load to the street curbs, piled bricks and two-by-fours, covered destroyed roofs if they had any roof left at all, starting at first light and finishing near dark, only to return to start again the next day. There was no anger and no bitterness, just a deep resolve to move on. The police officers at the entrance to the disaster areas have been friendly and sympathetic, asking for IDs, names and addresses in order to keep an accounting of people who enter and leave the areas. It has been announced that no looting has occurred. That is also amazing.

I just want to say that I am so proud to be an Oklahoman. We have been through so many tragedies including the Dust Bowl, the Oklahoma City bombing, the May 3rd, 1999 tornado that was the mother of all tornadoes, the collapse of the I-40 bridge at Gore and these tornadoes this week. Throughout this state’s history “True Grit” has been a characteristic and the character of the people who live here shines through every time. So here’s a shout out to the special people in the Sooner State. You know what the term “neighbor” really means!!

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In a neighborhood, where we were able to help with a large group of friends, nearly every home was damaged

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It was just painful to see the damage to the beautiful homes.

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Just over from the neighborhood, on I-40, Anderson’s Truck Plaza and Love’s Truck Plaza were obliterated.

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Those who just suffered roof damage had to work precariously to place tarps over the affected areas.

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Many people willingly volunteered to do the dirty work of cutting up mangled and toppled trees, piling debris and fixing meals for those doing the dirty work. Thanks everybody!!

Proud to be an Okie!

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Okie Quiche

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Real Men Eat Egg Pie

~~A recipe follows~~

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I have a certain soft spot in my heart for the French language. I took five years of French in school and feel sure that after all of this indepth study, I might be able to find the train station – la gare, a bathroom – salle de bains, flatter any waiter as “my little cabbage” – mon petite chou and wage war – la guerre, if ever I make it to that city of cities; Paris. I can read signs fairly efficiently, however, reading and speaking are two different things. I may be able to decifer words on a sign, but when speaking off-the-cuff, I eventually descend into a mixture of English and French with a voice growing ever louder as if the object of my discourse is deaf. Most Americans assume that if one does not understand English, the only problem is that the English is not being pronounced slowly or loudly enough.

One of my most memorable excursions into the world of translation occurred when I was in high school and I had finished my third year of this Romance language. We were visiting the Quebec Province of Canada, in a little town where nobody spoke English. Now, if you are honest with yourself about this know-it-all age of 14-18, you will admit that you thought yourself far superior to any adult with a college education and/or work experience. You were in high school and what you were learning was new and different and more advanced than anything adults could have possibly gotten when they were in school! I could regurgitate French phrases to a teacher, and noone else in my family could! Therefore, I was special. I was the authority when it came to coping with menus and the poulet, the bœuf and the jambon. It was with this air of superiority that I announced to my mother, who was anxious about all of our dirty clothes, that I would speak with the motel clerk and get directions to a laundramat.

I want to add here that I distinctly remember the price that we paid for our rooms. We had gotten three motel rooms in this tiny town, to accommodate my father and mother and then two each of us four girls in each room. The grand total of the bill for one night was $18. Even then, in the early ‘70’s, that was pretty incredible. It must have been, to have made such an impression on me. Anyway, I left our suite of rooms to traipse across the lawn to the motel office, little sister in tow. I had already looked in my English to French dictionary to make sure that I knew the word for “laundry”. Since there was no word for “laundramat” I decided that laundry – blanchisserie - was the next best thing. I entered the office and spoke to the nice lady behind the counter. My little sister looked up at me adoringly. I gathered all 5’4” of my high school ignorance and said, in perfect pronunciation – I must say – “Où est une blanchisserie?”

The young woman looked at me quizzically. She said, “Blanchisserie?” I said, “Oui.” My little sister was all the more impressed. We were having a conversation! The woman studied for a moment and then said, “Ahhh!! Oui!” and disappeared into the back room. The next thing we knew, she was bringing me a tall stack of extra towels and sheets with the definitive statement, “Blanchisserie!” I grimmaced and said, “Non. Non. Blanchisserie!” and fell into my best pantomime of washing clothes on a washboard. An air guitar expert had nothing on me. I washed the pretend clothes, wrung the pretend clothes and then hung them on a pretend line. The woman watched my antics with a frown, trying to discern the French words that I was spelling out in theatrics. “Ahhhhhhhh!” she finally said, with the joy of having figured out the answer to a game show question. “Une laundramat!” She drew me a map and I sheepishly took it to my mother and father. I couldn’t gloss over the incident and pretend that I had intelligently conversed with a native so fluently as to have obtained the directions we needed. There were two young eyes who witnessed the whole thing. The good Lord knows how to take us down a knotch.

So, it was with a continuation of that lesson learning, that I have discovered in my research that one of my favorite dishes, Quiche, did not originate in France. All of these years, I have taught my children that Quiche was created in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France, although it could be argued that it is logical that it was named after some Lorraine lady who love to eat it. Not so, mon frère! How will I ever be the brilliant authority figure in my progeny’s lives again? According to, Quiche originated in Germany. I bet you didn’t know or care that the Alsace-Lorraine was actually part of Germany until the late 1500’s! That is one of those things that we all should know. At that time, the area was known as Lothringen. The word ‘quiche’ is based on the German word for an open pie filled with an egg/cream custard and smoked bacon, ‘Kuchen’. The crust of this pie was made from bread dough. The French changed it to a pie crust, added cheese and onions and voila, came up with Quiche Lorraine. It didn’t become popular here in America until the 1950’s, after WWII, when eggs were no longer $1000 a dozen.

With that enthralling bit of information under your belt, you’ll find my recipe for Quiche below. For the base, I use my pie crust recipe that you can also find on the blog. Quiche is great for any meal – breakfast, lunch or dinner – and is fast and easy. You can even make it the night before, leave it in the frig and bake it the next morning.

Now that you know the real history behind this tasty dish, we can no longer say that real men don’t eat Quiche. All men eat eggs and all men love pies, therefore, all men eat egg pies. See? I learned deductive reasoning in high school too!

That Won’t Clog Your Arteries

Pie crust
6 whole large eggs
2 egg whites from large eggs
3 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
pepper to taste
4 spears asparagus in 1/2″ pieces
1 cup spinach leaves chopped (optional)
4 baby carrots sliced thin
3 mushrooms thinly sliced
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup Hormel bacon bits
or 4 slices cooked bacon
4 slices Swiss cheese
1 1/2 cup skim milk

Note: If you want a creamy, amazing Quiche, you can use half and half instead of milk or 1 cup half and half + 1/2 cup heavy cream. However, don’t blame me if your doctor puts you on life support.

Make pie crust according to directions and roll out into a circle. For ease in transfer to a quiche pan or pie pan, fold the crust in half and then in fourths.

Place the folded dough into the quiche pan or pie pan and open to a half circle. Open the rest of the dough to fill the pan. Press and shape to completely bring the dough up the sides and onto the lip.

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Cut dough flush with the edge of the quiche pan. Flute the dough by using the thumb and first finger as a crevice in which to push the dough with the blunt end of a knife. Pinch as you push the knife into the dough.

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In a deep bowl, scramble the eggs with the 3 tbsp of flour. Whip egg whites until stiff and fold into the eggs. Add salt, pepper and milk or cream and stir.

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Chop vegetables

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Place all of the vegetables into the pie shell and sprinkle with Hormel Crumbled Bacon or lay strips of bacon or ham across the veggies. Carefully pour half of the egg mixture over filling.

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Place slices of cheese to cover the surface and pour the rest of the egg mixture over the cheese. Dot with a few pats of butter.

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Bake in a preheated 375º oven for 35 minutes or until set, puffy and golden brown. Allow to cool slightly.

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Slice and serve with fruit or salad. Pictured here, the quiche is served with strawberries and vanilla yogurt.