Apricot Bread

Apricot Bread

2 sticks of butter, melted and cooled
1 C granulated sugar
½ C brown sugar, packed
4 eggs
3 C flour, all purpose
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 C almonds, sliced
8 oz dried whole apricots
1 TBSP lemon juice
2 tsp almond extract

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease 2 9×3 loaf pans.

Chop the dried apricots into very small bits. Place in a small saucepan and cover with water. Add lemon juice. Simmer slowly until apricots well-hydrated, tender and most of the water has been absorbed or evaporated. Add the almond extract and stir. Cool completely.

Mix the butter and sugars well. Add the eggs and beat until well combined. Add the dry ingredients, including the almonds. Fold in the apricots.

Divide batter between the two pans. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until testing confirms the center is completely cooked.


Monday Rewards

Monday night is the perfect night for cookies. A new twist on an old favorite. I stopped using Crisco years ago but I must admit Crisco was the standard base for the Sanders Family cookie. I use Trader Joe’s BGH free unsalted butter that I but eight pounds at a time. Bustelo coffee gives it a undeniable snap and a insider’s nod the city of my birth: Miami. The added pecans count as protein and justify these as semi-healthy. Unbaked cookie

Baked cookie

Coffee Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies
¾ c butter
½ c white sugar
½ c dark brown sugar
2 T Turbinado sugar
1 egg
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1 T Bustelo Coffee grinds
1 ½ c white all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup chopped pecans
½ c chopped dark chocolate
Preheat oven 350F. Mix butter and sugars well. Add egg, vanilla and Bustelo. Add dry ingredients. Once well mixed, add the pecans and chocolate.  Bake 13 minutes.


Fall is here

Fall has arrived bringing a cool, foggy, sunless morning. This is my fourth fall season at Biddan Ridge and I slowly find a rhythm. For many months, I get up on Saturday mornings and go to a two-hour yoga class. This morning instead, I baked a large Honey Crisp apple tossed with dried cherries and topped with an oatmeal pecan topping. As it cools, I brew a pot of coffee – my favorite blend from the Kitchen & Spice store: Highlander Grogg. I opened all the windows in the house to capture the soft, steady breeze and set myself up to write. If only my wild turkeys would arrive as they did that first foggy fall morning.

The Hawks' Ridge gaggle of wild turkeys, DEC2012

The Hawks’ Ridge gaggle of wild turkeys, DEC2012


Instead I hear children in the house across the street. I have neighbors. I’ve made friends. I can lend a cup of sugar or borrow a ladder. Someone else occasionally gets a piece of my mail. I can share my honey or jams. It is home.

Baked applesBaked apples

Recipe: 1 apple peeled and sliced, 2 T dried cherries. Toss together and put in a oven safe dish. Topping: 3T brown sugar, 1/4 c quick cooking oats, 2 T flour, 1/4 c chopped pecans, 2 T melted butter or coconut oil.  Spread on the top of the apples. Cover with tin foil. Bake @ 375F for 25min, uncover and bake another 10 min. 1-2 servings depending on your generosity.



Carrot muffins

Romance carrots
The pelleted Romance carrots I planted in the fall weathered the days of freezing tempatures unscathed. I prefer the pelleted seeds because they space perfectly and grow perfectly. I developed a new recipe to follow my clean eating goals.

Carrot muffin ingredients
Soft white wheat berries
Carrot muffins
Muffins and eggs
Carrot Muffins

1 cup sugar
1 cup coconut oil, melted
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups finely shredded carrots
1 small can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup pecans, chopped
½ cup shredded coconut
¼ cup dried cherries
¼ cup chopped dates
1 T ginger chips
1 tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups fresh milled soft white wheat

Mix sugar and oil. Add eggs, carrots, coconut, pineapple, pecans, dried fruits, vanilla and mix. Add all dry ingredients. And mix. Scoop into greased muffin tins and bake 25 minutes at 350F. Makes 24 small muffins.


Peach Pecan Muffins

It’s the time of year when summer fruit is at its peak. But often, you get the fruit home from the grocery store and it ripens too fast. That suspended state the stores keep it in accelerates once it leaves the produce department. I swear that’s what happens. So, you’re left with mushy peaches. What to do? Yesterday was National Blueberry day and I missed making anything in honor of the day but I looked at the two over ripe peaches on the counter and decided to adapt the fantastic muffin recipe I always use for the blue berries for the peaches. They were so ripe they dripped when I peeled them. I diced them finely to avoid the fruit settling in the muffin cups. The outcome is awesome and this will become a new summer addition.

Peach Pecan Muffins

Peach Pecan Muffins Peach Pecan muffins

Peach Pecan Muffins

12 muffins
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 cups flour
½ cup milk
2 RIPE peaches, peeled, and diced finely
½ cup chopped pecans
Mix the sugar and butter until fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla, baking powder and salt. Add the flour and then the milk. Add the diced peaches and nuts and gently fold into batter. Make sure to spray the cups and the surface of the muffins pan. Makes 12 standard muffins. Bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes.



Onion Bialys

I enjoy baking bread as it allows me to make fresh, natural bread without any questionable ingredients. There are few pleasures in life as delightful as warm, fresh baked bread. I am going to make a batch of roasted tomato-pepper-garlic soup for dinner and football watching. What would go better with that than an onion bialys and some sharp cheddar cheese? I discovered if you use the back of the spoon to depress the bialys after scoping the onion-poppy seeds onto the dough, you get a better well. I am fortunate to have two ovens so I could bake all 12 at the same time. This would not be a bread to bake in the summer but when it is 36F outside, having the ovens heating the central part of the house is simply perfect. I also roasted tomatoes, red peppers and two dozen cloves of garlic for an hour and they will get pureed in the food processor and turned into tomato soup using the recipe from Smitten Kitchen here.

Onion Bialys

Onion Bialys


The Sponge

2 ¼ c warm water (105-115F)

2 ¼ tsp yeast

2 tsp sugar

2 Tbsp shortening

1/3 c onion, minced

1 tsp black pepper

3 c bread flour



Mix yeast, pinch of sugar and ¼ cup of the warm water in a glass bowl. Set aside and let froth, about 5 minutes.


Melt shortening in a small skillet and sauté the onion until soft. Place the onions into the mixer bowl with the paddle attachment. Add the remaining 2 cups warm water, the sugar and the black pepper. Add the yeast mixture and the 3 cups of flour.  Once mixed, beat for another 3-5 minutes. . Scrape bowl and paddle, cover mixing bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 1 hour.


The Topping

2 TBsp oil

1 c onion, minced

2 tsp poppy seeds



Heat the oil in a pan, add the onions and the poppy seeds and cook for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat, add pepper to taste and set aside to cool.


The Bread

The sponge

1 Tbsp salt

3 cups bread flour

2 Tbsp butter melted


Brush inside of large bowl with butter. Reserve the remaining butter. Add salt and the remaining 3 cups of flour to the mixing bowl. With a dough hook attachment, mix for 5 minutes. Turn out onto a floured surface and swiftly knead the bowl. Place dough in the large buttered bowl and brush the top with the remaining butter. Cover bowl with plastic and a towel and set to rise for 1 ½ hours.


Preheat oven to 500F. Set to lowest rack in the oven. You will need 4 ice cubes for steaming the dough as it bakes. You will bake each half of the dough separately.

Divide dough in half and keep the half you are not working with covered with a towel. Divide the half of the dough into 6 equal pieces. Shape into balls and place on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray and dusted with corn meal. Press the center of each ball to create a deep dimple. Spoon some of the onion-poppy seed mixture into the center and set pan aside.


Repeat for the second half of the dough while the 1st half is baking.


To Bake:

Place pan onto the lowest rack in the oven, toss 4 ice cubes into the bottom of the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Lower heat to 450F and bake an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven and return heat to 500F for next pan. 


Apple Honey Challah

I love the recipe from Smitten Kitchen for Honey Apple Challah. I’ve made it a half dozen times, sometimes giving the loaves away to my Jewish friends celebrating the Sabbath or a holiday. I’ve made it with and without the apples. I prefer to make it in a three strand braid instead of the four strand knit that Smitten Kitchen uses. I’ve substituted butter for the oil and it is good, but the oil is best. I’ve used pecan oil and peanut oil as well as the standard vegetable oil. I used whole wheat flour for part of the flour, too. You can grate orange peel into the dough and it adds some depth. But following Smitten Kitchen’s recipe exactly is a sure fire winner. It never fails.

Honey Apple Challah

Apple Honey Challah


2 1/4 teaspoons (1 standard 1/4-ounce packet) active dry yeast
1/3 cup (79 ml) plus 1 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup (79 ml) neutral oil, plus more for the bowl
2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons (8 grams) table salt
4 1/4 cups all-purpose (530 grams) or bread flour (578 grams), plus more for your work surface


Apple filling
2 medium baking apples, cut on a mandolin into matchstick pieces

Squeeze of lemon juice, to keep them from browning


Egg wash
1 large egg
Coarse or pearl sugar for sprinkling (optional)


Make your dough: Whisk yeast and 1 teaspoon honey into 2/3 cup warm water and let stand until foamy, a few minutes.


With a stand mixer: In the bowl of a stand mixture, whisk together yeast mixture, oil, remaining honey (1/3 cup), eggs and yolk. Switch to dough hook and add 4 1/4 cups flour and salt. Use dough hook on a moderate speed until it pulls all of the flour and wet ingredients together into a craggy mass. Lower the speed and let the dough hook knead the dough for 5 minutes, until smooth, elastic and a little sticky.


Both methods: Transfer dough to large oil-coated bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 1 hour, or until almost doubled in size.


Add apples to dough:  Turn dough out onto a floured counter and gently press it down into a flat, oblong shape. Spread apple over the flattened dough. Fold the dough over the apples and knead mixing the apple bits into the dough. Upend your empty bowl over and set it aside for another 30 minutes.

Weave your bread:  Divide dough into 3 pieces. Weave them like a traditional challah. Transfer the dough to a parchment-covered heavy baking sheet or baker’s peel (if you’ll be using a bread stone). Beat egg until smooth and brush over challah. Let challah rise for another hour but 45 minutes into this rise, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Bake your loaf: Before baking, brush loaf one more time with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar if you’re using it. Bake in middle of oven for 40 to 45 minutes. It should be beautifully bronzed. It is done in 40-45 minutes or when the center of the loaf should be 195 degrees.



Thanksgiving table

Back in the heat of the summer, I arranged to foster a turkey at Laughing Chicken Farms. Robin Popp is at the Alachua County farmers’ market on Saturdays with chickens and eggs. I made my down payment for my Thanksgiving feast. Two nights before Thanksgiving, I drove out to Trenton. The Laughing Chicken Farms is straight west about 13 miles. On Tuesday night it was storming and a squall was coming off the Gulf into Cedar Key. There were tornado warnings. I drove in my little sports cars down limerock roads in pitch darkness to get our turkey.

It was a very good turkey. Freshly slaughtered the night before. 22 lbs. We put it in a brine with apple cider vinegar, garlic, onions, fresh sage, clementine orange rinds, pepper and a stick of cinnamon. I wanted to set a table with as much fresh, local or nearby foods. I bought my yams at the farmers’ market along with peppers. I pulled my own carrots from my garden about an hour before we sat down for dinner. Garlic honey carrots

We made sweet potato biscuits with the yams and flour freshly milled from grains I bought from Breadbeckers in Woodstock, GA. I use honey collected last spring from my own hives. I use pure Vermont maple syrup I recanned from a gallon I was gifted by a patient last year. I ordered cheeses from Nature’s Harmony Farms in Georgia and their Georgia Gold (cheddar) was excellent. The Fortsonia was also yummy, like a hard Swiss. I will order from them again. My niece brought a fresh bottle of Richland Rum, distilled from sorghum grown in Richland, Georgia.

Richland RumEverything set upon the table was made from scratch (except the pie crusts…we cheated on the crusts). I believe in slow food, scratch made food, simplified and real. Real butter. Real cheese. Wheat flour. Farm eggs. Hand made. Home made. Yes, it takes more time. Yes, it cost more money. But….it’s real. It’s fresh. It’s live (or very recently was alive). I believe that these things matter.


Woven Apple Breakfast

Woven apple breakfast

Woven Apple Breakfast

400 F


1 sheet puff pastry, thawed overnight in the fridge

1 small to medium apple, peeled and thinly sliced

¼ c chopped nuts

¼ c dried fruit (cherries, raisin, blueberries, crannies)

¼ c brown sugar

1 egg, scrambled

Crystalline sugar for dusting


Mix the apple, dried fruit and brown sugar in a bowl. Set aside.

Roll puff pastry out onto a parchment line backing sheet to 10 x 14 inches. Cut herringbone ‘slats’ down each side.  Pile the apple mixture down the middle of the puff pastry. Fold in the two ends and then alternating from side to side, fold over the puff pastry slats as if braiding. Brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.


Bake at 400F for 20 minutes.


The Soup

I wanted Italian Wedding soup, the kind with the tiny little meatballs, but I am so picky about pre-prepared food items with ground “beef”. I suspect what is labeled as “beef” is really various cow parts. So, I found an easy recipe on-line for an Italian Wedding soup [here] and made a quick run to The Fresh Market at lunch. I made a slight substitution of half the pork for lamb. When we go home, The Younger Son helped me hand roll all the meatballs (2 lbs of meat). I doubled the recipe so we’d have meatballs in the freezer to make the soup again if it was a hit. It was a hit. I think I’ll finely julienne the curly endive the next go around.

Italian Wedding Soup

w/ a side of Butter dipsAfter dinner, we cut the Halloween cake I made. I got the recipe from Williams & Sonoma in honor of National Chocolate Day, which was Monday. Yum.

Halloween Cake